The start of the New Year always brings on new goals and expectations. I am always on an never-ending quest to keep my photography fresh and different, this proves to sometimes be a challenge, especially when it comes to launch photography. While each launch is quite different, there are only so many locations around a launch pad where you can setup before every image starts looking like the last.
After having missed the December launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 V1.1 lofting SES-8 into orbit due to a couple scrubs and other commitments, I was able to be back in Florida for the first US launch of 2014. It to was a SpaceX Falcon 9 launching a communications satellite for Thaicom on the 6th of January. Unlike the launch of SES-8, SpaceX allowed us to set up remote cameras outside the pad fence. Not having much room to move around I did my best to make it work.
Unlike most launches where we set up the day before, remote camera setup for Thaicom 6 was the morning of launch, this ended up being quite convenient.
As we rode out to the pad, the 224ft tall Falcon 9 came into view. The morning fog made for a very cool and unique shot of the rocket.
The sun started to burn through the fog and onto the rocket. Time was limited for remote camera setup but luckily I had Justin Ray and Stephen Clark of SpaceflightNow.com to assist.
I set up two cameras for this launch, a wide shot and a telephoto shot.
While the weather was forecasted to be sunny, as is typical with Florida in the winter, it was cloudy. While this makes viewing a launch less than desirable, it typically provides for some sweet light.
The press site for this launch was from the ITL Causeway, roughly three miles from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
For the launch I would be shooting with a Canon 5D III and 500mm lens with a 1.4x teleconverter. I took a few shots of the liftoff in the landscape orientation before quickly turning my camera to line up a vertical shot as well.
Following the initial ascent, I quickly switched to my Canon 7D with a 24-105 lens for a wider shot and then back to my Canon 5D III. All of this occurring in a timeframe of around 15 seconds.
The launch was a success and I was even able to bring my girlfriend along to witness her first.
At around 45 minutes after the launch we headed out to the pad to retrieve our cameras.
Both cameras fired as expected, with the help of my Triggertrap V1 camera triggers. The closeup telephoto shot came out better than expected, partly due to the awesome light which made the details pop.
And that concludes a successful first launch of the year! Now it’s time to prepare for next weeks launch of NASA’s TDRS-L satellite which will launch from nearby launch pad LC-41 on an United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. The launch window opens at 9:05pm on January 24th. Launch updates can be found on SpaceflightNow.com.
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