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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