SpaceX Crew Dragon Launch – 22 April 2021

Launches from the Kennedy Space Center have ramped up in the last few years, and here in the Central Florida area, we’re blessed with a good view of them. Lynn and I often go out and watch from our driveway. At times, we’ll be disappointed when clouds block our view, or if a low trajectory keeps the the vehicle down behind our neighbor’s trees. But last Friday’s launch didn’t disappoint!

SpaceX Crew Dragon Launch SpaceX Crew Dragon Launch, from Winter Springs, Florida. About 2 1/2 minutes after lift off.

Photographing one like this is an interesting challenge. There are several approaches to try. I usually concentrate on the rocket itself. In the daytime, you might be able to use aperture priority and automatic focus. In the dark, shooting in full manual mode will likely give you better results. I preset my aperture to wide open and my shutter speed as slow as I think I can hand hold with image stabilization turned on. If your camera doesn’t have IS, use a tripod to stabilize it. I also pre-focus to infinity, since the small size of the rocket in the frame might make auto focus unreliable. While shooting, I adjust my ISO setting to get a good exposure. With mirrorless cameras I can see the effect of ISO changes in the viewfinder. If you’re using a DSLR, you’ll have to chimp to make sure your ISO is correct.

The photos above were made with a focal length equivalent of 525mm and exposure of f/6.3, 1/80 sec, ISO 2000. The one below was at 164mm eq., f/6.3, 1/80 sec, ISO 6400.

Crew Dragon and launch plume. About 3 minutes after lift off

I won’t talk about other techniques to try, but here are a couple of impressive examples from Friday’s launch: Chuck P. has a long exposure image at this link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/chuckpalmer/51133507223/in/pool-lm-pigs/. And Matthew P. has a composite from all the way over in Tampa at this link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/matthewpaulson/51132476677/in/dateposted/

I have my rocket launch blog posts collected here: https://edrosack.com/category/photo-ops-in-florida/rocket-launch/, and launch images are in this album on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157719054007165

I enjoy this type of photography, especially at night with such a pretty launch. Have you tried it?

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Take care of yourselves and each other. And when you can – photograph a launch!

©2021, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

4 thoughts on “SpaceX Crew Dragon Launch – 22 April 2021

  1. So nice to read about the launch and techniques. I love the launches from the Cape. ❤️

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