Best of NASA, and New HDR Tutorial soon!

Announcement!

We already have the very popular HDR Tutorial here on the site that shows you how to make these sorts of photos. But, I thought you’d like to know that I’m going to update the whole thing and show you how I made the first space shuttle shot below. I like to update the tutorial every three months or so, but this one will have many excellent updates… so get ready for that!

Best of NASA

I’m sad the Space Shuttle program is ending, but NASA says it’s not the end of human spaceflight for the US. Since I was lucky enough to be invited by NASA, I got to go into a cool area to see some of the next-generation capsules they’ll be putting atop new rockets.  I didn’t know if I was allowed to get photos or not…  but I will talk to them and see if we can arrange something special in the future.

Anyway, I wanted to put some of my favorite NASA shots below for you… sort of a celebration of awesomeness.

HDR Photo

I felt lucky to be one of the last people to get a NASA escort out to the launch pad, on this final night for the Space Shuttle program and the Atlantis. It was truly beautiful evening, and things were peaceful and calm. I felt like I had a personal moment with the mighty rocket… I’ll never forget it.

 

The Mighty Rocket Awaits Today I had a great day at NASA.  I've come back to the space coast in Florida to see the space shuttle Endeavor blast off, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.Around noon, I was invited out with a group of other Twitter peeps to see the RRS Rollback event.  This is the slow-motion but exciting time when they peel away to the Rotating Service Structure to reveal the shuttle.  It was so awesome that I almost forgot to send a tweet. - Trey Ratcliff Read more here at stuckincustoms.com.

There is an important retraction event that takes place about 24 hours before the actual launch… it is a special time… I think of it like an athlete taking off his sweats before an Olympic event.

 

HDR Photo

NASA also has all sorts of these awesome “relics” laying around, just generally sitting there and being awesome.  But, the Saturn V is already impossibly awesome.

NASA
18 minutes till the launch. Newsmen from around the world go live while they go through their Ron Burgundy vocal preparations.

HDR Photo
Both launches saw incredible storms hit the VAB (Vehicle Assembly Building) a day before the planned launch. This one rolled in the first time I visited NASA… I’ll never forget it because I was standing by Levar Burton and a NASA gal came out and said, “We have a Level 2 lighting alert! You have to get inside!” To this, Levar Burton asked, “Is that anything like a Level 3 Diagnostic?”

Space Shuttle

This is my favorite shot of Endeavor as it wormholed into the low cloud layer. It was still accelerating at this point, so it looked like the cloud literally “sucked” it up.

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Walking Across the Old Bridge

 

Your Favorite Cultural Clothes

What country/culture has your favorite clothes? Is it something exotic like ancient China, or modern like stylish India? Or maybe it’s something more tribal or more formal… I think most people tend to like stuff that is quite far away from where they live… and the further, the better and more exotic! But, I wondered what your favorite was…

Daily Photo – Walking Across the Old Bridge

While in China, one of the small towns I visited had several little low walking-bridges across the river. It was the sort of river that was too shallow for boats, but good for fishing and washing clothes.

This one was in a residential and commercial area. Many of the women wore colorful dresses and walked back and forth across… it all seemed very nice and peaceful so I grabbed an image.

Walking Across the Old BridgeWhile in China, one of the small towns I visited had several little low walking-bridges across the river.  It was the sort of river that was too shallow for boats, but good for fishing and washing clothes.  This one was in a residential and commercial area.  Many of the women wore colorful dresses and walked back and forth across... it all seemed very nice and peaceful so I grabbed an image.- Trey RatcliffRead more here at the Stuck in Customs blog.

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The Shuttle Rips Space/Time at the End of an Era

 

After the Shuttle Atlantis

HDR PhotoI had a great day at NASA. I haven’t slept much… I’m really on fumes at this point. But it was all worth it and a very nice experience all around.

After the shuttle went off and broke through the clouds, I turned around for a while to collect my thoughts… Unbeknownst to me, my friend Stu Maschwitz (from Prolost.com) took this photo of me… I don’t post a lot of these, but thought you might like to see it… BTW, Stu’s wife is making some awesome shuttle tees that are stylish and unique…might be worth a look if you are a fan of all this space stuff like me!

Robert Scoble also posted a photo of me before the launch itself. He ended up with a nice shot too… I told him right where to stand, and he was so excited when he got the shot! Haha it was hilarious because he came running across the field, waving his laptop in the air yelling, “I love you Trey! I love you Trey!” Hehe…but, besides the good advice on the spot, he still got a great shot at 400mm on his own.

Daily Photo – The Shuttle Rips Space/Time at the End of an Era

I’ll try to describe the sound.

Since this is as close as you can get, and this is 3 miles away, it takes a while for the sound to get to you. And it does rush across the water in a rumbling, tumbling way like you might expect. But then, after that, something other than sound starts to come across the water. It’s a series of concussive waves that vibrate your entire skeleton and thrum through your soul. It’s not a steady din of vibration, but a violent staccato rhythm of unseen forces that cause a tremulous cadence around and through your chest.

This is the final space shuttle launch of our lives. And so we could not help but be reminded of this finality when this unearthly sound combined with the final sight of the lonely craft arcing away into space.

HDR Photo

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The Endeavor Lifts Off

 

OTW To Florida

I’m coming in for the final shuttle launch and I heard about a secret thing… Nikon has a special room/building at NASA that is full of lenses and all kinds of awesome stuff! I just need my NPS (Nikon Professional Services) card and I can be a kid in a candy store. Now, all of this sounds way too good to be true, but I’ll swoop in there to get the full scoop and let you know. (I even heard they have a 1200mm prime laying around!)

Daily Photo – The Endeavor Lifts Off

So, when I took this, I was using two different cameras. The first one was my D3X with the 28-300mm lens on a tripod, and that is how I got this one. It’s an HDR from a single RAW.

Not long after this, the buffer filled up and it started to shoot slowly, so I went to my second camera around my neck, the D3S with a 50mm prime. And I got the second shot below.

The Endeavor Lifts OffSo, when I took this, I was using two different cameras. The first one was my D3X with the 28-300mm lens on a tripod, and that is how I got this one. It’s an HDR from a single RAW.Not long after this, the buffer filled up and it started to shoot slowly, so I went to my second camera around my neck, the D3S with a 50mm prime. And I got this shot.- Trey RatcliffRead the rest of this entry here at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Space Shuttle

 

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Shopkeeper in Beijing on Steps

Category Reminder

I’m usually pretty good about tagging the daily entries with categories.  If you see one that interests you, just click on the tag at the bottom.  For example, this one is in China, so clicking that will take you to all the China photos.  I only put up about 15 per page, so if you click “Previous” at the bottom, you’ll get another set of 15, and so on.

Daily Photo – Shopkeeper in Beijing on Steps

I carry around two cameras so I can get things like this.  I keep my main body affixed to my tripod with whatever lens fits the bill.  This is either a the 14-24 or the 28-300.  I keep my second camera with a prime — either the 50 or 85 prime.

I was taking photos of the festive street at dusk, and I noticed this shopkeeper out taking a rest.  I’ve always admired how people can rest in this position.  I can only sit in that position for about 15 seconds before I scream in agony and my patellas pop off at a hyperspeed tangent.

Shopkeeper in Beijing on StepsI carry around two cameras so I can get things like this.  I keep my main body affixed to my tripod with whatever lens fits the bill.  This is either a the 14-24 or the 28-300.  I keep my second camera with a prime -- either the 50 or 85 prime.I was taking photos of the festive street at dusk, and I noticed this shopkeeper out taking a rest.  I've always admired how people can rest in this position.  I can only sit in that position for about 15 seconds before I scream in agony and my patellas pop off at a hyperspeed tangent.- Trey RatcliffRead more here at the Stuck in Customs blog.

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Snowy the Snow Monkey

Travel Days

Tips for Managing Airports:

1) Bring snacks from home – You can’t ever find just what you want at the airport… and, when pressed, you may end up getting crappy food that makes you feel kind of junky on the plane.

2) Laugh at the TSA – It is indeed “security theater” as you watch them pat down grandmas and children. I’ve seen so many stupid things they do just to give the “impression” of security, that I try not to get mad any more… and I just try to remember that TSA stands for Tub Stacking Authority. And, also, whenever possible, travel outside of US Airports, where they treat you like a human and not a guy in line at Taco Bell. Try the Japanese airports and you will have a happy experience.

3) Watch people’s eyes – I like to analyze people by looking at the way they are taking in the world around them. It’s very interesting… maybe you can see it too… when people just have a look in their eye like they’ve given up on life. You know what I mean… and then you see the eye of some other people and they look amazingly full-of-life and ready to engage in the world.

Daily Photo – Snowy the Snow Monkey

This little guy and I had a little friendship after a few days.

I spent time all over the hills and rivers here outside of Nagano taking photos of these snow monkeys. And you get to know them after a while… there are a few that you see over and over again. I started giving them names… the same way my daughter gives names to everything… and all the names were quite childish… Like I called this guy, “Snowy.” It wasn’t very creative, but he didn’t seem to mind.

He followed me around morning and night. And he posed… oh how he loved to pose. Some other monkeys I got too close too and they gave me the wide-mouth attack move…. but I never got too close to Snowy. I didn’t want to ruin the little grizzly-man thing we had a-goin’ on.

HDR Photo

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The Airship Isabella

Daily Photo(s): The Airship Isabella

During SXSW, I ended up at a party that had a pretty big steampunk contingent, which is of course very cool to me. I thought I had some good steampunk stuff from Burning Man until I saw these guys…

This was at the Big Bang Bordello Party put on by True Ventures and Tunehopper. It was super-crowded, like most decent SXSW parties, and there was a raucous stage show with a bunch of gals in lingerie and stuff. Is it lame that I hung out with all the steampunk guys in the back? Yes, probably.

Many of them were crew from the Airship Isabella, and they had all kinds of inventive steam-powered goodies. What is Steampunk? Follow that link for the Wikipedia entry… and also, you may remember the Steampunk photo from Burning Man. If you’re looking for a good book in this genre, try “Boneshaker.”

HDR Photo

The Airship IsabellaDuring SXSW, I ended up at a party that had a pretty big steampunk contingent, which is of course very cool to me.  I thought I had some good steampunk stuff from Burning Man until I saw these guys...This was at the Big Bang Bordello Party put on by True Ventures and Tunehopper.  It was super-crowded, like most decent SXSW parties, and there was a raucous stage show with a bunch of gals in lingerie and stuff.  Is it lame that I hung out with all the steampunk guys in the back?  Yes, probably.Many of them were crew from the Airship Isabella, and they had all kinds of inventive steam-powered goodies.  What is Steampunk?  Follow that link for the Wikipedia entry...  and also, you may remember the Steampunk photo from Burning Man.- Trey RatcliffSee all three of these here at the Stuck in Customs blog.

HDR Photo

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Underwing

Twitter and Twitter Lists


It’s been a while since I mentioned this stuff, and I know a bunch of y’all are on Twitter. A while back, I put together a bunch of “Twitter Lists” that will be helpful if you are new to Twitter or simply looking for more people to follow.

Daily Photo – Underwing

Here’s another handheld job from the Air & Space Museum in Washington DC. I sent out a tweet a few weeks ago and got in touch with the gal that works in the public affairs office… I twitter-charmed her into giving me the thumbs up to use a tripod next time! It took 140 delicate characters to make that happen… there are still more steps, but I am well on the way to getting proper permission. It’s too hard to sneak a tripod into this place… just forget it… armed guards and that sort of thing…

UnderwingHere's another handheld job from the Air & Space Museum in Washington DC.  I sent out a tweet a few weeks ago and got in touch with the gal that works in the public affairs office...  I twitter-charmed her into giving me the thumbs up to use a tripod next time!  It took 140 delicate characters to make that happen...  there are still more steps, but I am well on the way to getting proper permission.  It's too hard to sneak a tripod into this place... just forget it... armed guards and that sort of thing...- Trey RatcliffRead more here at the Stuck in Customs Blog.

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The Golden Horse in Iceland

Charity Update

Thanks again everyone for contributing to Team Stuck In Customs on Kiva. I think we are over $11,000, and that is great. What have your experiences been like? Are people paying you back and you are reinvesting? I think all of my little loans have been paid back, so I gotta get back in there and find some new good entrepreneurs to support!

Daily Photo: The Golden Horse in Iceland

We worked on this one tonight in the webinar, and I hope people didn’t get too bored. It’s very strange, because I am talking to myself for over an hour, and I only get occasional feedback when Andrea stops watching reruns of Ricki Lake. Anyway, I’ll just assume that people like seeing it, since people keep showing up.

The Golden Horse in Iceland We worked on this one tonight in the webinar, and I hope people didn't get too bored.  It's very strange, because I am talking to myself for over an hour, and I only get occasional feedback when Andrea stops watching reruns of Ricki Lake.  Anyway, I'll just assume that people like seeing it, since people keep showing up. - Trey Ratcliff Read more here at www.stuckincustoms.com.

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Sad and Alone at Night

Free Photoshop Awarded

When I announced the prizes for the webinar, I also decided to give away an extra copy of Photoshop CS5 I had here at home. We got over 1400 comments, and 100 of them were from Theolonius Gonzo, who wins the most entertaining award (go read his long comments… you can’t miss ‘em!).

The randomly selected winner is Iain, who I hope doesn’t mind if I plug his website at Emptiful, which was embedded in his comment registration. I though this byline was kind of nice – it reads “photoblog of Iain Simmons: amateur husband, amateur photographer…”

Mostly Photo – Going Commando

I recorded this a few weeks ago, but I never posted it… I don’t know why! So, here it is… On this episode, Leo Laporte, Lisa Bettany and I talked about what kind of camera to get for entry-level DSLRs, the advantages/concerns of upgrading, and other general photography talk.

Daily Photo – Sad and Alone at Night

On one of my first evenings in Beijing, I walked around some of the older parts of the city to get a feel for it. Whenever I have extra time in a city, I usually don’t go too hardcore with the photography initially – choosing instead to explore on foot and get a sense of the place. But, you know, I do have my camera with me to get a few things here and there…just can’t help it. Between a few streets, I came across this little guy sitting on the seat of a small motorcycle.

High Dynamic Range Photo

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