It might not be very applicable to the vast majority of photographers, but NASA astronaut Captain Alan Pointdexter has written up a fascinating article over on Luminous Landscape in which he shares advice about doing photography in space. Taking photos on the ground is one thing, but imagine using not just the sun, but the earth itself as a source of light.
The goal, however, was the same as with any type of photography… to capture something beautiful and, in this case, very unique:
My crew and I were very serious about attempting to capture as much as we could of the beauty and wonder of being in space. After all, we were entrusted by the taxpayers, to be in a unique position and to image things that most people would never see first-hand, so we really wanted to do well and capture some great images. I hope that we didn’t disappoint.
As you can see, they certainly didn’t disappoint, in large part due to NASA providing the crew with the training and equipment necessary to make these incredibly images happen:
NASA does a wonderful job, and spares no expense, in training astronauts to be photographers… Photographically speaking, there were a number of hurdles. The dynamic range of the subject was potentially huge. The darkest darks you can imagine along with the brightest highlights. With no atmosphere, there is probably another stop or two of light on bright subjects. I would guess that the dynamic range of some scenes approaches 16 or 17 stops.
Of course most of us Earth-bound folk won’t be dealing with these issues; but next time you’re out doing some landscape photography, Captain Pointdexter’s insights might help you to better appreciate the feeling of solid ground beneath your feet (and an atmosphere over your head).
Image credits: Photographs by Alan Pointdexter/NASA