Photography

Bringing kinja into focus, one frame at a time

Falcon Heavy Night Launch

Wow. I didn’t put the launch pic as the header. You’re going to have to open the post to see it. Wow. What a launch. And landing. Wow.

I went over to Cape Canaveral on Monday for the SpaceX Falcon Heavy STP-2 launch. This would be the third Heavy launch and the first at night. We got there around 6:00pm and got a pretty good spot on the north edge of Jetty Park along the water. We were about 13.5 miles from the launch pad and just six miles from the landing site.

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I had planned to shoot wide enough to get the full launch arch in the shot. It wasn’t meant to be. There were some barges dredging the Port Canaveral channel that were hard at work all night. Their light were catching my lens in such a way that the lens flares were impossible to deal with. So I sacrificed quality for quantity.

My other original plan was to bring three cameras. That was a bit ambitious, so I went with the my main camera and my Minolta SLR which had a roll in it already with a few shots left. Except it didn’t. When the time came, I hit the shutter release for the Minolta and it wouldn’t lock into place. I let it out and went to wind the film to try again. No dice. That was the last shot of the roll. Oh well.

Over in Nikon land, I had run several test frames to make sure everything was good. I went with an aperture smaller than the last time I shot from Jetty Park. This launch would be brighter, but further away. I didn’t compensate enough. Not even close. This was the shot right out of the camera.

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Oops. I saw lots of other shots that had the same issue. It was far brighter than anyone thought. But there is hope, I promise.

So the launch itself was amazing. It was a ballet of impossible physics happening before your eyes. And what goes up must come down.

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The two side boosters separated, flipped around, and started their reentry. Those puppies come in so fast and fire the engines to slow then so late. But what a sight from six miles away. And the sound. Four sonic booms in the span of about two seconds. To say they were loud is not accurate. They were concussive. The pressure wave was almost painful. It was glorious. Wow.

Since the launch I’ve been messing around with my over exposed picture. I pulled some editing magic out of my butt. I layer the launch frame, the landing frame, and one taken in between. I don’t know how I did it, but I totally salvaged the shot. The initial liftoff is still blown out, but it is what it is. I’m happy with the finally result.

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This was one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen. Do yourself a favor and go see a Falcon Heavy launch. Seriously.

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Oh, the header pic up there was the sunset over Port Canaveral. Some dust and sand from the Sahara had blown across the Atlantic and made our sunsets extra amazing for a few days. I shot that on my iPhone while strolling around after setting up. It was way more impressive in person. Everyone there was in awe.

Also, I haven’t proofread this post, so sorry for weird typos or whatnot. 

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