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This Video Shows a Photo Shoot on the Moon

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You know those iconic photos of NASA Apollo astronauts posing with the US flag on the moon? The 3-minute video above is a “behind-the-scenes” video that shows some of the portraits being shot.

The video was recorded by the Lunar Module during an extra-vehicular activity (EVA) session during the Apollo 15 mission, the fourth human lunar landing. We see NASA astronaut David Scott stick a flag into a holder and hop off screen to the left with a Hasselblad medium format camera strapped to his chest.

Apollo astronauts shot with Hasselblad cameras attached to their suits.
Apollo astronauts shot with Hasselblad cameras attached to their suits.

Astronaut James Irwin then stands next to the flag and poses for a series of photos. Phogotraphy found a transcript of the mission that documents what the astronauts were saying (the video’s dialog starts on page 737 of the PDF).

IRWIN: Let’s see, do you want to swing it around perpendicular to the camera, huh.
SCOTT: Okay. It’s pretty good.
IRWIN: Why don’t you stand there.
SCOTT: Let me get up on the high part.
IRWIN: Okay. Gee, I wish we had color.
SCOTT: Yes.
CAPCOM: We’ll have the color tomorrow, Dave. (Garble) especially for you.
SCOTT: (Garble). Okay. Okay.
IRWIN: Careful.
SCOTT: Can’t back up here so I can get all of that in there. There that’s good, good. Got the mountain, got the LM.

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IRWIN: Great. Got it?
SCOTT: Yep.
IRWIN: Dave.
SCOTT: (Garble).
CAPCOM: And Jim you’ll get a feed water tone in about a minute. Just wanted to warn you and we’re coming up on 20 minutes remaining 20.
IRWIN: Okay. That is a good picture.
SCOTT: A neat picture.

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IRWIN: A little to the left. Let’s try another study. How about an F 8.
SCOTT: Yes, try an F 8.
IRWIN: Look at that.
SCOTT: Yes.
IRWIN: That’s eleven there.
SCOTT: That’s what it call, Ed, in the –
IRWIN: Yes.

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SCOTT: Okay, now take you again (Garble).
IRWIN: Okay.
SCOTT: Ah, you look colorful.
IRWIN: Even with the dirt, huh.
SCOTT: Okay. You like that side there, Joe.
CAPCOM: It’s beautiful.
SCOTT: Yes, we think it’s pretty nice too.

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The portraits above were found in Apollo 15 Magazine 92/00, which was exposed on the second EVA of the mission. The next day, the astronauts carried out EVA 3 and reshot the same portraits using color film (the second shoot is found on Magazine 88/TT).

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Not bad, eh? Here’s the 37-page photography manual by NASA and Hasselblad that was used to teach astronauts the art of photography.

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