STS-133: Discovery's Final Launch | Florida Photography

After much anticipation and many, many changes to the expected launch date, we finally got to see the last launch of space shuttle Discovery - mission STS-133.  It was a truly awesome thing to witness... even from 7.5 miles away.

We had tickets to view the launch from the Visitor Complex at Kennedy.  The weather was perfect.  They had screens and speakers set up so we could watch the goings-on at the command center there at Cape Canaveral and see what was happening inside the shuttle as the astronauts were getting strapped in and they were sealing the hatch via the white room.  We could hear the comms between Kennedy, Houston and Discovery and there was also a commentator to clarify some of what they were saying and to provide us with interesting facts throughout.

There were a couple of moments that had everyone nervous that the shuttle might not launch, especially since we'd been waiting for it for several months.  There was a small crack to one of the insulating tiles around the hatch, which it seems that they managed to repair in just a few minutes, and then there was an issue on the range.  It was down to T-5 before the range office gave a 'go' for launch.  Oh the anticipation!

Once it started getting close, you could feel the excited energy in the crowd.  It seemed that everyone knew the pre-launch milestones - removing the cap over the giant external tank, flooding the pad, igniting the sparklers and main engine ignition.  At every step, a cheer rose through the crowd. :)  Finally, after so many false starts and changed dates and trips back and forth to Kennedy, there was liftoff.  Discovery was going to space.

It took a moment for us to see the shuttle over the tree line after launch (we were 7.5 miles away), but once it happened, we could see it turning into the correct orientation (shuttle side down, tank side up) and watch it rise into the sky.  The process was slower than I had anticipated, which was quite nice and gave me a moment to appreciate it and not worry too much if I had one setting that was not quite right on the camera.  Mind you, within moments it was traveling thousands of miles per hour, but I was expecting it to only be a few seconds before it was completely out of sight.  

It was probably 1/3 to 1/2 of the way to the highest point in the sky visible from where we were when the sound hit us.  You could hear it rumbling through the miles of swamp and forest on its way to us. When it hit us, it was almost like a wave or a breeze.  You could feel the power of the sound as it passed by you.  Everyone shouted and cheered when it came to us.  

After it left Kennedy's airspace, the SRBs dropped off.  At that point, Kennedy issued the 'negative return' comm, and we could hear Discovery respond.  It was at that point (with more cheering) that all of us who had been waiting for this for months and months finally exhaled and realized that the launch really happened.  Discovery was on its way.  The photo below does show the SRBs falling away from the shuttle.  If you look closely at the bottom of the image you'll see a little V-shape with a bright spot in the middle.

Probably the most emotional moment for me was as Discovery was passing through the atmosphere and heading into orbit.  There was a camera between the ET and the shuttle facing down towards earth.  You could see the water below.  You could see earth from this shuttle which had been right here moments ago.  As the shuttle reached space, the camera showed the separation between the ET and the shuttle, and we watched it drift off into space.  I still get tingly thinking about that.

Check out the videos at nasa.gov or on youtube.  You'll be able to see this moment and several others from the launch day.


Bridge of Lions | St Augustine Photography

At long last, here are some of the photos from the bridge project.  These images are copyright protected and may not be used by any third party.


Century Plant (aka maguey or agave) | Gainesville Photography

Since the challenge has ended, I haven't forgotten about my camera, I promise!

This past weekend we were in St. Augustine doing a shoot of the Bridge of Lions.  I'm in the process of working through those photos and should post a handful tomorrow.  In the meantime, here are some detail shots of a century plant that was waaaay taller than me.  I love the texture of these plants... I have to touch it every time I pass one.


More letterpress items!

I just added these three items to Etsy... and I woke up to a lovely surprise: I had some mini-cards featured in a new Treasury!  Go check it out, there are some really unique items in there :)


Day 30: Door | 30 Day Challenge

Made it!  I had one or two days there where I wasn't sure it would happen, but it did!  Unfortunately, I didn't realize that yesterday was in fact Day 30, so I don't have any special picture to bring the whole thing full circle.  I think I'm ok with that :)

50mm 1.4, f/1.4, 1/250sec, ISO 800, no flash

Some observations:

- Low-light shooting is hard.  Doable, but hard.  
- Quickly flagging, editing, and posting the best of a bunch in LR: my time from downloading the image to posting it online has probably been halved.  This will be useful for a photography career :)
- Another lens would be lovely.  More variety, more sharp images... yeah....
- I am (almost) never to busy to just take one photo and post it, so I should just go ahead and do it.
- Next time I'm doing this during the summer so I'll have more daylight photos (yay!)
- I really like details and narrow DOF.
- Simple is good.
- Shapes and lines are good.
- I can avoid 30 days of mostly food pictures!
- I routinely take photos that are rotated about two degrees off... I never, ever, EVER take a level photo.
- Don't be afraid to try moving the clarity slider BACKWARDS!!!! Who knew? Sometimes it works.
- Never leave home without the camera.

Hope it was enjoyable for you and thanks for following :)

Day 29: I heart my letterpress | 30 Day Challenge

I just love my tiny press.  I like the sound it makes, the smell of the ink, the history of it, the worn-off paint, the heavy iron, the mechanics of it... it's really a great piece to be able to own and work off of.

So, in honor of my press, Day 29: I heart my letterpress!

50mm 1.4, f/1.4, 1/15sec, ISO 1600, no flash

Days 26, 27 & 28: Vogel | 30 Day Challenge

So yes, Vogel State Park in Georgia.  We were there Saturday through Monday with a group of Bo's friends, but I didn't actually get back to Gainesville until Tuesday morning... and I drove straight to work.  So I really still feel like I just got back even though tomorrow is Thursday.

Saturday we spent most of the day around the park and had a nice group dinner in a warm cabin with some wine and a fireplace.  Sunday a couple girls got up and did a 5am hike... we slept in until the ripe hour of 9am.  We had our breakfast, washed the dishes, got some more firewood and got ourselves ready and then it took a while for everyone to get themselves (and their tiny children) ready.  So we had a leisurely family-friendly hike late in the afternoon and I spent some time taking photos while Bo was exploring potential bouldering areas just off the trail.  We had another lovely evening and planned a more serious hike for Monday morning.  Mountains here we come!

Well... it rained all morning.  Rain and rain and rain.  So we checked out, hung around until everyone else was on their way out as well as the rain slowed down and went up to Brasstown Bald.  It was incredibly foggy, which was really quite nice.  It was one of the few times you can feel totally safe while experiencing weather on a mountain. Apparently the view is really great from up there and you can see four states, but we could barely see each other so.... maybe next time :)

As before, the first one in the group gets the exif data and is the one that I'm using for the challenge.

28-135 3.5-5.6 @75mm, f/5.6, 1/13sec, ISO 400, no flash, probably with polarization filter

My requisite sunflare shot (oh I have many from this trip!)

Pro tebe, Vašo!

28-135 3.5-5.6 @135mm, f/5.6, 1/32sec, ISO 200, no flash, polarization filter

28-135 3.5-5.6 @90mm, f/5.6, 1/200sec, ISO 400, no flash, no filter


Day 25: Mask | 30 Day Challenge

This past weekend we were in Georgia attempting to experience the mountains.  We didn't have much luck for a number of reasons, but at least we were up there.  The next post will feature shots from the trip... but at least now you know why it's taken me so long to post :)

I took this shot at Bo's house on Friday evening.  The theme for the current DGrin challenge is 'Unique or Ordinary', so I decided to do a photo of one of Bo's masks.  I'm really not a big mask person myself, but he has one or two (which are only mildly freaky) so I thought it might work.  

I'm also really tired, by the way... so if my writing seems not quite right, that's why!

Yes, photo.  Here it is:

50mm 1.4, f/2.0, 1/8sec, ISO 1000, no flash