The Shuttle Prepares

Another Shuttle Launch

I’m so excited to be going back for the final launch of the Atlantis! It’s all so awesome… and, even be there, it will be during my 40th birthday. Even though my happenstance revolutions around the sun at 1 AU are a completely arbitrary measurement of age, it’s the one we all use, so there ya go.

Gordon’s Launch Experience

My friend Gordon Laing from made his own video when we were out there together, which he recently entered into the Queenstown Film Festival. It’s pretty cool – because he’s a friend, we stayed in the same hotel, and so on… the only difference is that I flew back for the actual launch while he watched from New Zealand. See his video here.

Daily Photo – The Shuttle Prepares

On the day before the launch, I was ushered out a few football fields away from the shuttle. It was surreal being so close, even though I wanted to be closer…closer…closer…. but the 28-300 (See the Nikon 28-300 Review) was plenty lens enough to get in tight so you can see all the details of the shuttle and the launch facility skunkworks…

See all my NASA shots here…

The Shuttle PreparesOn the day before the launch, I was ushered out a few football fields away from the shuttle.  It was surreal being so close, even though I wanted to be closer...closer...closer....  but the 28-300 (See the Nikon 28-300 Review) was plenty lens enough to get in tight so you can see all the details of the shuttle and the launch facility skunkworks...See all my NASA shots here...- Trey RatcliffRead more here at the Stuck in Customs blog.

  • Wow, look at all the details this picture has to offer. Shuttle launches look so cool.

  • I think I might be going as well. I just feel like it’s something all must see before it’s to late.

  • Patrick Ahles

    Awesome detail! What happened to the right SRB, it looks crooked? Is this a lens “feature”? πŸ˜‰

  • Fantastic close up mate, so glad (and very jealous!) that you’ll be there for the final launch… The Shuttle is certainly an amazing piece of engineering, I’ve been doing a lot of reading about it recently. Such a shame it’s due for retirement so soon. I too watched the launch live from here in Queenstown into the wee hours, and I’ll be doing the same for the next one. I know the feeling of wanting to get closer, hehe… My most recent shot was one I perhaps got a little too close to, interesting story attached πŸ˜‰

  • Very cool video he chopped together πŸ™‚

  • Deron

    Thanks for sharing all your shuttle launch photos with us! Glad to see the 28-300mm is getting some good use.

  • Very cool Trey! I’m going to be in Florida right by the launch site on the day it’s currently scheduled – I wish I had tickets to the launch, but didn’t get lucky enough to win the drawing. If you (or anyone else) knows of a nice location off the space center to shoot the launch from let me know. I was thinking down in the Cocoa Beach area. All I have for a lens is a silly little 55-300 from Nikon, nothing too fantastic, but I’m hoping to capture something of the last launch!

    Oh any tips are more then welcome! I know you’re busy so no worries if you can’t respond I’ll still come back here for more awesome photos! πŸ™‚

  • Simon Morris

    Wonderful detailed shot Trey – it has immense power written all over it! Just picking up on Eden’s comments – I also watched the launch live… from here in sleepy old Rangiora, NZ – a stark contrast from the dizzy heights of Florida! hehe πŸ˜‰

  • Excellent shot! I’ve been hoping to see an HDR shot of the shuttle for some time. You really did a good job on this one. Congrats!

  • Gail in Montana

    Wow, cool photo of the shuttle!! Glad you are visiting your sister. Is your Mom there, too?? I don’t see a post from her this morning. Thanks for sharing, have a great time visiting your sis. πŸ™‚

  • Vicki Wilson

    Great shot, I love all the details! How awesome to be going to the final launch, looking forward to seeing your photos of the Atlantis!

  • Trey, fantastic!!!!!!!! I’m jealous!! Have fun at the next launch!!

  • Great shot, Trey. This NASA coverage is fantastic. I really wanted to go but haven’t been able to because of sit parent stuff, so I can at least live vicariously through your shots!!

  • Great stuff Trey, what an incredible experience. Hope Gordon does well at the film festival, that video was superb. Cheers!

  • Awesome shot Trey. Digging the details and composition! Great job with this. πŸ˜‰

  • Thanks everyone!

    John, there are a few other good places to see the launch – I’d ask Gordon Laing from — he has scouted a few other locations that he likes as well.

  • Fascinating shot! I love all the texture detail on the orbiter. Enjoy the launch and say hello to 3 of my Austin colleagues if you bump into them on the causeway πŸ™‚

  • Why didn’t you take your 200-400mm f4.0 there ? I guess that would be even much better in regards of IQ and details for this kind of shot …

  • Harbles

    It’s great to hear you are going to be there for the last launch of a Shuttle EVAR. As it is a historic event the crowds are estimated to be about a million people scattered around the area to watch the launch. Launch Photography ( )has some suggestions for alternate launch viewing locations. I look forward to seeing Trey’s new Shuttle shots.

  • Susan

    Awesome shot Trey – sooo many details! Glad you get to go to the launch – it will be super fun!!

  • Wow. The level of detail is astonishing… Nice one Trey

  • Very nice picture and a first-class video today, thanks Tray.
    The last flight, simply a pity.

  • I’ve got Causeway tickets, so I’ll be there to take pics of the launch too! Gordon from will be going with me, so if anyone else will be viewing the launch from the Causeway, be sure to say “hi” if you see us!

  • Richard (oldhickory49)

    Beautiful shot, Trey. I like the semi-grungy industrial feel to it. I’m considering the 28-300mm since I have nothing in the way of a tele. I assume you’re happy with it? I’ve heard complaints about “chromatic aberration” and “fringing”, softness at the long end, yada yada. This looks pretty good to me… πŸ™‚

  • @photogoofer

    Trey, I looked at this first on Flickr (original size) and noticed a lot of purple fringing. I don’t see as much of that on this site (and SmugMug site). Is this a byproduct of the HDR process or is it a characteristic of the lens. It seems to me that Flickr has amplified these problems for me in the past. Just curious. Wish I could make it for the final launch. My company has a ton of railing around that launch site!

  • It’s funny as 2011 marks the 30th and final year of the space shuttleprogramme and is also the year I turn 30 so I’ve grown up with the spaceprogramme, seen the highs and the lows, got the books, documentaries andmovies and although it will be sad to see it all end i’m still lookingforward to hitting KSC in September to see the NASA facilities first hand.Oh and there’s a special 30th anniversary space shuttle programme patchthat I must pick up so I can add it to my camera bag – very, VERY exciting!

  • Thanks for linking to my Shuttle video Trey, and I hope you enjoy it! Do check out the other films we showed at the festival – it was really fun. I think there’s one more in there somne of you may recognise!

    As for Shuttle launch viewing locations, Cape Canaveral is so flat you can see it from almost anywhere. Cocoa Beach is lovely, but you won’t see the pad from there. If I wasn’t going to the Causeway, I’d probably go to Titusville and park up by the side of the road somewhere – along with the millions of others! You can do some good distance scouting on Google maps / Earth, then just drive around the day (or days) before checking for access. If you can see the cube of the VAB, you’ll almost certainly be able to see the pad and Shuttle alongside… good luck to everyone! NASA just announced a go-for-launch on the 8th, so fingers-crossed!

  • Cool that you are returning for final shuttle launch. Keep in touch πŸ™‚

  • This image begs to be viewed in full resolution!

  • Simon Morris

    Trey – I forgot to mention earlier, thanks for putting the link to Gordon’s video!
    Gordon – Fantastic video of your recent trip to the US… well done! So disappointed for you though when the launch got cancelled! Best of luck with the video at the Queenstown Film Festival πŸ™‚

  • Thanks again – and glad you liked the video! πŸ™‚

  • This is an awesome shot! If there was ever a photo that was made for HDR, this would be it. The way it emphasizes all the details is breathtaking.

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