Landing in the Air & Space Museum

Daily Photo – Landing in the Air & Space Museum

I love this place! This was about the only place I was allowed to use my tripod (on the outside), so I spent a bit of time hunting about for best ways to capture the amazing building.

I sent the Air and Space Museum a tweet to ask if I could use my tripod.  They responded and sent me to a FAQ.  I didn’t even have to go to the FAQ to know what it should say.  I think, frankly, it would have just been easier if they had tweeted back a “no”.

So, as you can see in the collection below, I did the best I could with a few handheld HDRs.

There are a few handheld tricks I employ:

  • Lock your elbows inward, on top of your abdomen.
  • Hold your breath like a sniper
  • Increase your ISO so it takes the multiple exposures as fast as possible
  • Pray


The Inner Sanctum of the Cavernous Museum

The following photos were all previously published here on the site, but I thought it might be fun to put them all here in the same post.




  • Anthony Cáceres

    Trey, handheld and 5 shots? That’s amazing! I will try increase ISO, because I have no good results. Great blog!

  • Middle shot is my favorite!

    Yep, those are pretty much the steps I take when I shoot handheld. Raising the ISO, tho, is a quick way to find the limits of my camera. It only goes up to 1600, and at that speed it is so noisy it’s rough cleaning things up in photoshop afterwards. Someday I’ll get that full-frame body….

  • Awesome shots!

    You should visit Sweden, there’s never a problem with using tripods in our museums here. Or ever, basically.

  • Great shots! I love the place as well and captured a few images of the black bird there.

  • I came back a 5 days trip from The Hague, Netherland and took several HDR photos handheld. There wasn’t any problem with post-processing. Dont underestimate Photomatix! It does a great job aligning little movements.

  • Thanks!

    Henrik – that is another good reason to visit Sweden – you guys are on my list! 🙂

    Tracy – thanks for the link!

    Gyula – it is true… it does align pretty well in a pinch.

  • I have been hand holding my HDR shots for two years and have great results. The ISO tip is huge!!! I find HDR to be noisy by nature, so instead of cleaning it up, embrace the noise and use it as a style.
    Your stuff is amazing. I hope to run into you in Austin one day.

  • I’m not a big fan of HDR, but these are flat-out exceptional. The second one gets me; so much depth and energy. bravo

  • These are amazing Trey…you’d think the space museum would want someone as awesome as you to use a tripod to capture the amazing scenes in and around the museum…has anyone in charge of the museum seen these? They should really be purchasing your photography!!!

  • WOW!!!! Nice images & processing. Love the museum shots!!!

  • James

    Wow…I live right by the museum but have not been able to capture the inside like you did! Like JapanDave, I need a camera that has higher ISO than 1600!

  • Thanks for sharing these photos again, Trey. Now I have them on my laptop, too. Let me know when you go to Sweden so you can tell my brother hello. Right now he’s in NYC, but I expect he’ll be back in Sweden soon. You might enjoy taking photos of the churches he has served in over there. They are several hundred years old, not like here, amazing!

  • Photoshop seems to do a better job of aligning images for handheld shots. It adds some extra steps, so it’s a pain, but if you know for sure that you’ve got some movement, it’s worth it. The easiest way is to go file>Scrips>Load Files into Stack. This puts all the images in one document. Then select all the layers in the layers palette, go to Edit>Auto-Align Layers. When it’s done, you can then export each layer as its own file by going to File>Scripts>Export Layers to Files. Most of you probably knew this, but I thought I’d share it, since the Scripts menu is one some people rarely explore.

  • I definitely do MANY hand held shots. Holding your breath I find is one of THE most important things and I do some weird positioning with a wider stance and locked elbows at my sides, but hey, it works! You’d never guess some of my HDR photos are hand held.

    PS. Yours are awesome Trey!

  • casusan

    Wow! Love all of these Trey – hard to believe they are hand held!

  • Great photos… I hope you had a great International HDR Day, Trey! ;D I was in an HDR workshop all day… how appropriate!

  • Thanks all for the feedback… I really like the long comments too… I read ’em all!

  • Dennis Golombek

    Udvar-Hazy is like 10 minutes away from my daughter’s home and there was no HDR in my interest the last time I was there a few years ago. May have to make a trip down there soon. Thanks for the great shots.

  • Trey, long time enjoyer of your photos first time commenter. At the top of this blog you mention some techniques you use when taking handheld photos, when a tripod would have been a great advantage. From Job training and experience I have, I use the following techniques when taking handheld photos.
    1. Natural alignment to the subject, this seems an obvious statement, but taking a photo, say, standing on tip toes, learning over or straining to hold the camera in position may result in camera shake, due to the effort to maintain the position.
    2. A persons breathing cycle is on average 6 seconds, 1-1.5secs inhalation, 2-3 exhalation which leaves about 1-1.5 seconds of natural pause. This is the perfect time to take your photo. To hold you breath you must tense your muscles, which again after a short while will lead to straining and camera shake. You can check this out yourselves anytime 🙂
    3. If you are taking photos handheld you need to create a tripod of your own. Two of the legs are quite obvious, they would be your own two legs, but these still need to be positioned correctly. The must common position would be with both feet below your shoulders, but this position is still quite unstable. Positioning one foot slightly forward and one behind the shoulder line distributes your body weight better, reducing the need to tense muscles and strain to hold position.
    Now for the third leg, this is going to be the hand & arm supporting the lens. If there is a willing inanimate object around that you can, learn, brace or support yourself against then you’ve got your third leg. If not, then turning side on and positioning your lens supporting arm onto your hip bone, as its a solid support, you may also have to scrunch up a little to achieve this. When using this technique point the front foot at the subject and rear perpendicular to attain a solid base.
    4. As Trey & Jen mention locking your elbows to steady the camera. This technique is best utilised when exhaling, as you exhale you draw your arms in and on reaching the natural pause of your breathing cycle your arms are forming a sturdy support for your camera, without to much strain and shake.

    I hope this is helpful and i’ve not bored anyone.

  • Super! I really love those images.

  • Great place, I too would have liked to have a tripod there, but I do a lot of handheld HDR with results I’m fairly happy with.

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  • Alan

    Hi Trey,
    I am a photography newbie who stumbled upon your pictures on DPS by accident. I am completely blown away by your photography techniques. I was researching tips and trick of photographing fireworks (for 4th of July in DC) and your tutorials just about opened a whole new world of photography for me. Anyway, about these picture taken at the Air and space museum; I captured the exact same images two years ago and when I compare mine and yours, its like I photographed entirely different subjects! You inspire me and challenge me to put this new camera I have to good use. At this stage I have a relatively good camera for a beginner ( D5000) but may not be able to afford all the hardware and post processing software you recommend, although I have photoshop and lightroom. Plus, I am a PC user!
    I pray for a long life for you, so that I can soak up more knowledge from you, MAESTRO!
    Sincerely, Alan Ochieng

  • Hey Trey,

    I love your work. You are very talented photographer and have a great eye (and job indeed!).
    I also have lots of material in HDR (Architectural Photography is my passion), mostly from NYC, but also from other cities and countries.
    Please do feel free to check it out at: I hope I will see you there and comments are welcome. I wish I had the kind of traffic your website has.

    Best regards,


  • Hey Trey,
    I love your work. You are very talented photographer and have a great eye (and job indeed!).
    I also have lots of material in HDR (Architectural Photography is my passion), mostly from NYC, but also from other cities and countries.
    Please do feel free to check it out at: I hope I will see you there and comments are welcome. I wish I had the kind of traffic your website has.
    Best regards,

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