The Mighty Rocket Rests

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Daily Photo – The Mighty Rocket Rests

I had some time during the day while at NASA to visit the Kennedy Space Center. Inside was the insanely huge Saturn V rocket. It’s one of those things that would hurt like hell if you dropped it on your toe.

The shuttle only has one more launch before it is forever mothballed, like this… The final launch of the Atlantis is on July 8, the first day of my 40th revolution around the sun. That’s kinda cool I think…

HDR Photo

NASA Tweetup Recap

New Video Interview – While at NASA…

I did this video interview with Jesse from Aputure. I did this one while waiting around for the shuttle to go off last week… and you can see some other behind-the-scenes stuff I suppose. BTW, I am the worst at doing interviews in a timely manner. Jesse sent me this in November of 2010, and I am just now getting used to it… I have many other interviews queued up in my inbox… and I’ll get to them eventually. Sorry it’s just a busy time.

Daily Photo(s) – A collection from Cape Canaveral

I still have many unreleased shuttle photos, but I thought you might enjoy some of the other bits and pieces that I have posted below. I’ll put captions under each one for you.


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


Close to 1,000 tripods set up inside the NASA "circle of extreme lenses and egos"


last-minute preparations are made are the launch pad for Endeavour

Some Tweetup celebrities…

The Tweetup had a few people there that maybe you’ve heard of… First is Seth Green, who I first started watching on Buffy and Greg the Bunny (of which, I have seen every episode, I’m happy to say – see the Tardy the Turtle compilation for an idea of the show). Second there is his wife Clare Grant, who you might just enjoy in Geek and Gamer Girls video. The third photo is Abraham Benrubi, who you might remember from ER and Parker Lewis… also, don’t you think Abe should play one of the roles in Game of Thrones on HBO? I think so! Plus, like me, he’s memorized most of the book! Also, Abe is a regular visitor here to the site, which was a nice surprise to find out after meeting him.

Seth Green

Seth Green runs up the stairs at the Tweetup after some lame photographer tried to get a photo of him while inside the port-o-potty.

Clare Grant

Clare Grant tweets away on her computer while sitting by Seth inside the Tweetup tent.

Abe Benrubi

Abe Benrubi makes a face at his wife Nicole Solomon while she musses his hair to show how unruly it's become ever since he started growing it out.

More NASA & Space Shuttle Photos

I have many more NASA shots that I have posted and many more in the future…. to see them all, just visit the NASA category here on the site!

The Beautiful Space Shuttle Blooms Inside a Cloud

New and Free eBooks Available

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Daily Photo: The Beautiful Space Shuttle Blooms Inside a Cloud

This is a 600mm lens, the typical large type of lens that many photographers use when taking space shuttle photos. Note that I can only hold a lens like this for five seconds before I scream in agony and curl into a fetal ball of pain.

(Edit: Welcome NPR, Today Show, Gizmodo, MSNBC and others for enjoying the shuttle photos and visiting – enjoy your stay!)

Staying awake for two days before getting this shot made my nerves a little frayed. As the countdown got inside the final two hours, I could feel myself in a strange mix of extreme fatigue and excitement. It’s a very strange feeling! And since this is the first launch I had ever seen, all my spidey-senses were tingling. This was also the final launch of the space shuttle Endeavor, so there was an extra layer of meaning on top of everything else.

I arrived right at 3 AM to set up my tripod (which, surprisingly, I did not use for this shot, but I’ll get to that in a minute). I then went into the press room to get everything organized for the upcoming event. I was also still spending time editing together the video for the webinar, since I know a lot of people miss the live version and like to download it after the event. So by the time the actual event rolled around, I was really starting to feel tired.


And here is the 50mm lens I actually used to get the shot. /me lurves it. This photo is from maestropastelero (click photo for link), creative commons, on Flickr

Even though I had my Nikon D3X set up on a tripod with my 28-300 lens, I actually shot this picture with my 50mm prime lens on my Nikon D3S! Everything did go according to plan, and I had run through the routine a few times before the launch. The plan was to fire away on my main body during the first 15 seconds or so. At that point, the D3X starts to have bufferring problems, so I switched to my Chewbacca-bandolier D3S. I pulled it up into a vertical orientation and rapid-fired just as the shuttle tore into the clouds.

As soon as the Endeavour worm-holed into the cloud layer, the strange staccato-bass of torn air came skipping across the water into the press area. The sound was not at all what I expected, but it was awesome dot com.

Space Shuttle

The Mighty Rocket Awaits

A Super Long Day!

I woke up and jumped in the car immediately to head to NASA. I spent most of that on the little adventure I describe below, then came back to the hotel to run the webinar. After that, I worked on the photo below before editing together the video (which is still going on). And then I’ll begin a long upload before leaving just after 2 AM to get to NASA at 3AM. I gotta get my tripod set up in the perfect place for the launch that will happen a few hours later. No sleep… just rockets and photo-editing… a marathon of fun! But I’m doing it for Stu, Gordon, Abe, Scott, Cliff, and all my other friends like you guys that couldn’t be here with me.

Daily Photo – 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.

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

And, below, you can see a zoom in I took at 300mm. It shows one of the workers on the scaffolding making some final preparations for the launch.

This lens has quickly become one of my favorites. Some people complain that it is not very fast, but I don’t notice these things since I’m usually on a tripod. You can see more at the Nikon 28-300 Review.

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.Here you can see a zoom in I took at 300mm. It shows one of the workers on the scaffolding making some final preparations for the launch.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Webinar Grand Prize: Destination Austin with Trey

Great Prize Bundle – Thanks Photomatix!

Here’s a fun prize! This is open to all that have registered for the Photography Webinar. It starts tonight, but you can still join even up to a week late and just download the classes you missed!

  • Grand Prize: All Expenses Paid Trip to Austin to shoot an abandoned power plant with me – Thanks Photomatix for this prize
    • Plane, +Hotel (2 nights), +Car, +$100 in meals!
      • Note: Plane allotment covers anything below $750.  If you are overseas and want to make up the difference, then feel free to enter below!
  • Bonus Prize: Photoshop CS5 – I have another new copy I’ll give you when you arrive here in Austin.
  • To Enter: Leave a comment below!  People with more than one comment are disqualified.
  • Eligible: You must be registered for the Photography Webinar
  • Contest Ends May 15th at midnight CST. I’ll select a random winner and announce on May 16.
  • Questions? Contact [email protected]

And, of course there are many other prizes as well, such as a New Drobo every class. Pop over to the Webinar page to see them all listed out.

Daily Photo – The Megahangar at NASA

Here is a zoom-in of the image below to give you a sense of the size of this beast.

Imagine a giant skyscraper, but hollow and filled with people making rockets.  That’s what the VAB is.  To really get a sense of the size of this thing, look at the outline of the man standing in the distance, his body backlit by the door.

The VAB, or Vehicle Assembly Building, is the worlds largest single-story building, and it’s where NASA assembles many of the rockets, including the mighty Saturn V.  It’s also the tallest building in the US that’s not in a downtown area.   It’s situated at Launch Complex 39 at the Kennedy Space Center, and it’s awesome dot com.

The thing is so big that it even has its own weather system.  In fact, on humid days it can even rain inside the building!  In my photo below, you are really only seeing part of it.  Off to the right, they are fueling up the Atlantis for its upcoming mission.  Staring through the girders from another angle, you can easily see the giant orange tank going through its pre-launch ordeal.

Getting into this place was very difficult.  I felt privileged to even get through the various security screenings and get the governmental approval to go inside.  They let in little groups of us from the Tweetup, and I have to thank Stephanie Schierholz for making it all happen.  It’s one of the mysterious places on earth I’ve always wanted to visit, so I was very excited to be inside.  My next goal is to get back inside and get up higher… perhaps even get in while they are prepping the next rocket.

I have many more shots of this building that I’ll be sharing in coming weeks and months… you guys know how I like to keep these threads and stories open for a long time!

Epic Storm hits NASA before shuttle launch

A Long Day on the Cape

I’ll talk all about my day at NASA in a later post… I’m super-duper tired… but I wanted to share this photo I just took of a massive storm sweeping over the complex on the evening before the launch.

I was supposed to be going over to the actual launch pad as night was falling to get a shot, but this storm started to roll in, upsetting those plans. The big structure you see on the other side of the flag is the Vehicle Assembly Building, and that blue structure you see to the left is the famous countdown-clock you always see in front of the press area before the launch.

Right as I was taking this, an official lady from NASA ran into the field warning me that this was now a “Level 2 lightning alert!” I happen to be standing by another NASA Tweetup invitee, Lavar Burton. He asked, “Is that like a Level 3 diagnostic?” Greatness. He was a really cool guy, btw… I put up a photo of us together over on my Facebook Page.

HDR Photo

100 Cameras in 1 – Try it Free

We have a new free version! (iTunes Link) It comes with well over a dozen effects for free. You will have fun using this app and giving it a whirl. There are some options inside the app if you want to unlock more effects too.

Also, you’ll see we added a new camera interface that is very cool… I think you’ll like it. We have an iPad version too, of course. (4.5 stars with over 200 reviews – thanks!)

100 - Landscape

Journey of a Lifetime in Africa

Topaz Adjust Review and Problems

If you want to know more about how the photo below was made, and why it “pops” in that way, see my full Topaz Adjust Review.

So, I still use it from time to time to add some microcontrast to images, but I notice it is going super slow. Is anyone else having this problem? I have a pretty fast Mac Pro too… I just can’t figure it out. Also, I still have an old install of Topaz Adjust 3, which I tried out… but it crashes whenever I try to run it. What a pain!

Daily Photo – Journey of a Lifetime in Africa

I have never been to Africa, but it is very high on the list. Very very high. And I understand from many of my friends that it will get very deep into me, and I’ll want to go back many times. That’s okay… and I look forward to that feeling!

This photo below is taken in Disneyworld in the Animal Kingdom. The Imagineers run around and make everything look all Africa-ey and authentic… I don’t really know how authentic this is… but I certainly liked the feeling and style of this wall, so had to take a photo!

High Dynamic Range Photo

The Mystery of the Orient

All the DisneyWorld Photos

If you want to see all my them, click on the Disney World category. After you get to the bottom, click “Previous” to see another batch of 15 or so. I have a lot… and if you love Disney like me, maybe you’ll find a few in there you like.

Daily Photo – The Mystery of the Orient

The biggest mystery here, which you may have guessed by now, is that this is not in the orient at all. This is in the World Showcase area of Epcot. In some ways, I think, Epcot has the least exciting rides and attractions of the four Disney parks in Orlando. But what it lacks in rides, it makes up for in photo ops!

My best suggestion for photographers is the following. First, if you are staying in a Disney resort, then you get special “night hours” at different parks. Be there on the Epcot night, and make sure you are as far away from the exit as possible when the park closes. Then, you can take your time walking back to the entrance and take as many photos as you like! Everything is well lit, there is nobody around, and security doesn’t even seem to mind. No one rushes you out… it’s very relaxing and perfect. And, of course, the World Showcase has all sorts of cool buildings, architecture, and landscaping… countless opportunities for great compositions.

I took this photo right outside of a great Japanese restaurant. I forgot the name, but I had some pretty good sushi. I think this place and the California Grill have the best sushi at Disney, if you are into that sort of thing.

High Dynamic Range Photo

Balloons at Disney

Daily Photo – Balloons at Disney

I’ve been trying to capture a shot of balloons at Disney forever… it took a while before I found something with which I was happy!

Do you know these balloons cost $10?  TEN DOLLARS!  A ten dollar balloon…  but they do light up.  So that’s kinda cool.  What isn’t cool is that you have to buy one for every single kid in your retinue.

One other cool thing (kinda secret) is that if it ever goes flat or pops, you can bring it back to get a free one.  Technically, you could even bring it back the next year and still get a new one.  This might go against the spirit of the deal, but it is a ten dollar balloon for the love of Disney-god.

HDR Photo

Morning in America

HDR DVD and the Clubhouse

HDR Photo

We are having a good time in The Clubhouse! I hope that everyone that received the HDR DVD has successfully signed up and entered the Clubhouse. If you have not, be sure to contact support AT with the email address you used when ordering the DVD. They will be sure to get you set up!

Daily Photo – Sunrise in America

Early morning shoots are often coffee-challenging. The photography is fun and invigorating, but it can be a little distracting when half of your simian brain is thinking about warm drinks and food. Usually, these early mornings are a bit too early to get coffee from anyplace that sells the stuff. Sometimes, my hotel room will have some coffee inside, but not in a to-go cup. Besides, I have to wake up so early, I can’t imagine getting up an extra 30 minutes before just to have some coffee!

This was taken off the Florida coast on a warm summer morning. At this exact moment when the sun breaks the horizon — well, this is a time when I am not thinking of coffee.

Sunrise in America

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2016-08-12 06:11:06
  • Camera
  • Camera Make
  • Exposure Time
  • Aperturef/4
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length10mm (15mm in 35mm)
  • Flashflash did not fire
  • Exposure Programaperture priority
  • Exposure Bias

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