Last weekend, I left St. Petersburg for the first time since at least early March. I really haven’t left the city limits. At all. But I had to. Because rocket.
SpaceX was launching another batch of Starlink satellites. But this was a pre-dawn launch. Crazy shit happens in the sky when rockets go up just before the sun rises. I had to go.
It was weird driving across the bridge for the first time in months. It was weird driving across the state. Into darkness, into a plague.
I met up with a photog friend who lives in Cape Canaveral. We went down to the Cocoa Beach Pier to get the shot. The rocket would be going off to the northwest. There were some clouds coming in from the north. Being this far south, about 13.5 miles, from the pad would give us the best view according to my inner weather nerd.
We got set up and I did some test shots.
Those clouds were on the way. My plan was to have the rocket come up from behind the pier, just in front of the lifeguard stand while still going behind the roof overhang. That didn’t happen.
My phone was having issues correctly pinging it’s location. When I tried to line everything up, I was off by maybe ten feet and at the wrong angle. This is the full launch streak shot.
Still a good shot. But after the first stage separates, that’s when the magic happens.
The second stage exhaust plume expands in space. The sun, still below the horizon, illuminates the plume. It is an amazing sight. In this shot, just below the curve of the exhaust plume, you can see the first stage’s reentry burn as it prepares for it’s trip through the atmosphere to land on the drone ship out at sea.
So after I started editing, I got to thinking. The launch shot and plume shots were all taken from the same spot while tripod mounted. They were taken with very different settings and shutter speeds. But what if, with a little help, they just happened to...
It took some doing and I had to make it all a little dreamy and soft, but it worked. I already had a proof printed to make sure it looks ok, and it does. It’s gorgeous.
I also took a film shot of the launch. That roll is almost done. I hope to have it and another done in the coming days. Then off to get developed. Can’t wait to see how it came out.