Dan Winters Shoots the Final Space Shuttle Launch
It’s one of the great ironies of journalism that it’s a lot easier to capture close-up images of the murderous business of war than of the peaceable work of putting people and payloads in space.
- Jeffrey Kluger of TIME Magazine
Jeffrey Kluger’s TIME Magazine article is a fascinating account behind one of Dan Winter’s photoshoots for his new book, Last Launch. The photographs in the book documented three space launches, including the 2011 launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis. It was the final liftoff of the now-retired Space Shuttle.
As the article pointed out, a lot of planning and preparation were needed in order for Dan to successfully capture these images. His arsenal of nine cameras were well within NASA’s no-go zone, the circular zone in and around the blast radius in which no human beings are allowed to enter during the launch. Some of his cameras were positioned as close as 700ft away from the launch pad.
One of the biggest challenges that Dan had to face was the massive amount of vibration during liftoff. The vibration can easily knock the tripods over, so Dan had to secure anchoring posts to all the tripods. Each of the posts was then anchored deep into the soil. On top of that, Dan weighted down each of the tripods’ legs with 50-lb sandbags.
Dan focused all the lenses manually, then taped down all the lenses’ zoom and focusing rings in order to prevent the vibration from knocking them out of focus. Finally, Dan fired off the cameras at 5 frames per second using vibration-sensitive triggers that automatically triggered the cameras when the rockets ignited.
After 30 years of active duty, the Space Shuttle Program is now officially retired. In the end, it is only fitting that one of the last people to photograph the iconic spacecraft is one of our generation’s most iconic photographers, Dan Winters.
To learn more and see more photos, be sure to read the rest of the article by Jeffrey Kluger on TIME Magazine.
Dan Winter’s book, Last Launch, will be available through the University of Texas Press in October, 2012.
Dan Winters is an award-winning photographer based in Austin, Los Angeles and Savannah. His work can be viewed on his website, DanWintersPhoto.com.