Best of NASA, and New HDR Tutorial soon!


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

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.

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.<

  • A great collection of shuttle/NASA pictures Trey!

  • Harbles

    As I’ve heard someone say Awesome dot com. I hope you have lots more in the hopper to process but I appreciate that you have tens of thousands of shots ahead in the cue. Looking forward to pad cam shots (to be unveiled on Leo’s show?), and new Disney stuff as well.
    Enjoy a well earned rest.

  • Wow Trey – these are some fantastic shots, alright. I love the variety of content, context, and processing. The first shot of the shuttle on the launch pad just feels mature and dignified. What a moment. I also really enjoyed the vintage-looking “newsmen” shot. Very cool. That Saturn V looks amazing. Good use of HDR to make it Pop. And the wormhole? WOW! What an experience that must have been. Thank you for sharing. I’ve been looking forward to these shots. 🙂

  • Fantastic photos Trey – you really captured the moment… it still blows my mind just how incredibly clever some of those guys are at NASA… plus how incredibly brave those astronauts are, yeah! Awesome effort mate, well done! 🙂

  • Chris Ratzlaff

    Level 3 diagnostic! Bwahahaha! Apparently, you can take the actor out of Star Trek, but you can take the Star Trek out of the actor!

  • Great set of NASA shots. I really like the first one taken the night before. The last one of Endeavor is also cool as well. The picture of the Saturn V made me do a double take. My family had visited the Kennedy Space Center in December and I had taken a shot from the same location. Just posted it to Flickr –

  • I love the photo of the final shuttle, reflected in a liquid (oil/water I’d guess). The colours are fantastic – the blue sky contrasting with the copper tones of the fuel tank and the machinery. If I was a kid, I’d print it out and put it on my bedroom wall!


  • Steve

    Awesome set of shots trey, well done. Thanks for posting.

  • Susan

    Have loved all of your photos from NASA and the launches Trey – and so nice to hear about it first hand instead of a news show! Super job and know you enjoyed it – twit tv was good today too!

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  • Theresa Neethling

    You are inspirational, Thank you for sharing your talent. Love the tutorials and learning from you.

  • David Hendershot

    Awesoome, Awesome shots. Its unfourtunate that this was the last shuttle mission. Hopefully there will be a next chapter for NASA and rockets and I look forawrd to your photographing those.

  • Tom Gonzalez

    Trey, these are fantastic shots, I am super inspired and am going to start your tutorial asap! This is the coolist photography since….. well since sliced bread. That’s right, Trey Ratcliff’s HDR is cooler than sliced bread!
    If you are ever in Denver give me a shout out!

  • Trey, searched this site from TWIT and, even though everyone else said it, your photography is really amazing. I especially like the shot of the wormhole effect. Thank you and keep up the good work!

  • Rhett Rothberg

    The last one of Endeavour is one of those “you gotta be kidding me” good photos. I remember watching the launch live as the shuttle was swallowed by the cloud deck and capturing that moment in my head thinking how amazing that visual was. Your photo enhances that moment tenfold.

  • Grace

    I’m not a kid, but I still want to print out the Atlantis at night photo and put it on my wall! Are you going to make prints available for order of this and your other amazing shuttle shots? I witnessed the last shuttle launch from nearby Titusville, and want to display a few favorite shots from those who were closer with better cameras! Some amazing pictures that capture both how incredible and ephemeral the last launches were.

  • Trey, you have to see these…this guy was there for the Discovery launch.


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