PhotoFAIL, Or, How I Flaked Out at the Shuttle Launch of STS-130 Endeavor

I had a great time at the shuttle launch Monday night (the second attempt). At one point Todd and I practiced the foxtrot to keep warm, which was harder on Monday than on Sunday, since we were out by the water (on the NASA causeway/parkway/405) for more than 3 hours in 45 degree temps. That’s why everyone here by the shuttle clock is so bundled up.

I had researched what exposure I needed for the launch itself: ISO 400, shuttle speed 1/125 of a second, and aperture of f8. The problem was, to get a picture of the shuttle before it launched, I needed a much longer exposure (5 seconds). And even with a tripod, the image was blurry (this is a tiny detail of the entire photograph, taken from 7 miles away with a 18-55 mm lens).If you squint, you can make out a shuttle shape. The problems began as the rocket boosters started up. If I had bothered to check my exposure then, I could have reset the shutter speed to 1/125 of a second. But at a 5-second exposure, this is what I got: a very bright light and shadows.It was lit, all right. And I just kept clicking away at those 5-second exposures.The clouds of steam are produced by the water involved in the noise suppression system. Eventually the shuttle got far enough away that my camera could record its shape again.Todd was happy afterward. He posted a detailed description of the launch and lots of links about STS-130 Endeavor.And we were both happier after breakfast at IHOP at the Days Inn in Titusville.