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PostPosted: Fri Apr 29, 2011 9:28 pm 
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Hi everyone, I've started an official thread to discuss the second last Space Shuttle launch: STS 134, Endeavour.

This launch is particularly close to my heart since I decided to bite the bullet and fulfill a lifelong dream of witnessing a launch in person. As such I'm in Florida right now, althought those who follow the news will already know by the timing of my post that the planned launch was scrubbed a few hours ago. I was on the coach on the way to the causeway too. Very frustrating and I'm unable to currently confirm whether I'll be able to extend my trip to catch the next attempt...

In happier news though, I do have a bag full of rented gear from Borrow Lenses.com which I'm having fun with, so I thought I'd share some images.

To kick-off, here's a photo of me yesterday testing the 500mm f4L lens on Cocoa Beach. This was taken by Scott Kublin who runs HDR Photography Blog. We were introduced by Trey Ratcliff who runs Stuck in Customs. Both are out here also hoping to catch the launch...

Anyway, Scott was trying out Canon's recent 70-300mm L zoom, another that I'd rented from Borrow Lenses on his EOS 7D, and snapped me snapping the kite surfers you'll see further below...

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Gordon with a 500mm f4L on Cocoa Beach by Cameralabs, on Flickr

PS - before this turns into a trip blog by yours truly, feel free to add any other news or comments relating to this mission here...


Last edited by Gordon Laing on Thu Jun 23, 2011 11:11 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 29, 2011 10:21 pm 
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That's amazing Gordon - I hope you get to stick around 'til Monday to see it. It's been a sort of dream of mine to go watch one as well, but I won't be able to make it to this one or the next. I tried to roll one of the launches into the honeymoon, but the timing didn't work. I'll have to settle for trying to get some long exposure shots as it flies past. It's launch flight path is supposed to be over (or close to being over) Newfoundland. I'll let you know how it goes! Have fun down there!


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 30, 2011 7:38 am 
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Hope it works out for you Gordon :)
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 30, 2011 12:57 pm 
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Bugger, hope you get to see the launch.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 30, 2011 3:17 pm 
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Thanks everyone, it if doesn't happen on Monday or Tuesday, it's looking highly unlikely I'll be able to stay out any longer...

In the meantime, I'm lugging around a 500mm f4L, so it'd be rude not to use it! Here's some more snaps, all taken with the 500mm f4L mounted on an EOS 7D - and therefore working at an equivalent of 800mm... all the following are uncropped and unretouched.

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Golden Gate Bridge with 500mm by Cameralabs, on Flickr

This first shot above was taken in San Francisco the evening before heading off to Florida. The road to the Marin headlands was closed for repairs, so I had to hike to the nearest viewing area! Not normally a problem, but slightly tough with 40lbs of camera bag!


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Cocoa Beach kite surfer with 500mm by Cameralabs, on Flickr

This shot above was what I was taking while sat on Cocoa Beach with the lens resting on my knee - as seen in the very first image at the top of this post. So please excuse the squint horizon, but it was handheld! (and I have limited photo editing tools with me, so I thought I'd upload and post images straight from the camera, unretouched).


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Cape Canaveral sunset with 500mm by Cameralabs, on Flickr

This shot above was last night's sunset, taken from close to Cape Canaveral port by a bridge. It actually has an uninterrupted view of the NASA Vehicle Assembly Building and the Space Shuttle Endeavour, although at about 13 miles away they were pretty small! Endeavour was also surrounded by a lot of heat rising, maybe the de-fueling process, which rendered it virtually invisible. I'll post some shots later though for scale.


Last edited by Gordon Laing on Sun May 15, 2011 10:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 30, 2011 3:25 pm 
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To pre-empt any requests, here's a photo of my camera bag!

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Camera bag, Florida trip by Cameralabs, on Flickr

NASA doesn't allow hard-sided or wheeled bags through security for launches and I wanted a fairly discreet-looking backback which could accommodate the 500mm lens, while also passing airport carry-on sizes.

I narrowed it down to a Lowepro Pro Trekker 400 and a Think Tank Airport Accelerator v2. Either would have done the job, but the choice was made by the latter due to availability and so far I'm very impressed. It's not too large, yet manages to squeeze in the 500mm f4L while mounted on a body. My pack fully loaded weighs a ton, but is surprisingly comfortable, although it was feeling a bit heavy after lugging it, my big tripod and a beach chair around Kennedy Space Centre yesterday...

As for the contents, it currently holds a Canon EOS 7D and two EOS 600D / T3i bodies, along with an EF 500mm f4L, EF 70-300mm L and EF-S 10-22mm. There's also two Rode microphones, a PowerShot S95 and a apir of small binocs in there.

Nestled in the various pouches and sleeves are batteries, cards and a small netbook.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 30, 2011 3:33 pm 
lol my back starts hurting from simply looking at the thing.. And so does my wallet for some strange reason..


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 30, 2011 7:57 pm 
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Some great shots and Im very envious.

We were scheduled to be able to see the shuttle and EFT about 30mins after launch here in the UK, if it didnt get delayed :(

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PostPosted: Sun May 01, 2011 1:27 am 
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wow that 500 is a big boy, never appreciated the size before, its not until you see it in the bag compared to the rest of the gear that you can tell how big it is.

What do you think of the 7-300L? :)

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PostPosted: Sun May 01, 2011 4:19 am 
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Hi maxjj, actually the 500mm is a lot smaller and lighter than you think - it looks particularly big in the bag because I've got the lens hood and cover reversed over the barrel. Admittedly it is still big and heavy, but it's the longest in the range you'd consider carrying for any length of time, or even attempting an occassional handhold. The next step up to the 600mm f4 is a monster in size and weight.

As for the 70-300mm, I've not had a chance to really examine any of the images yet, nor have I conducted any formal tests with it, BUT so far I'm really impressed. It's built very well, feels very confident, and the images - at first glance anyway - look to be sharp and well-corrected. I hope to do a formal review of it when I return at some point...


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PostPosted: Sun May 01, 2011 4:36 am 
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This thread is fast becoming a field report of the Canon EF 500mm f4L lens, but seriously, it's great fun to use, and in the absence of a rocket flying into the sky, it just begs to be pointed at something...

So today's photos are from the nearby Viera Wetlands, which are a bird paradise. I'm no expert on birds, so I'm relying on you all to tell me what I've taken photos of. I suspect they're all very common and uninteresting, but I really enjoyed doing it none-the-less!

All were taken with the EF 500mm f4L mounted on an EOS 7D body. This was in turn either handheld out of the car window, or hanging from a Manfrotto 393 head on 055CXPRO3 legs.

As before, all are straight from the camera, no processing, retouching or cropping.


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Bird photo taken with 500mm by Cameralabs, on Flickr


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Bird photo taken with 500mm by Cameralabs, on Flickr


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Bird photo taken with 500mm by Cameralabs, on Flickr


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Bird photo taken with 500mm by Cameralabs, on Flickr


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Bird photo taken with 500mm by Cameralabs, on Flickr


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Bird photo taken with 500mm by Cameralabs, on Flickr


Last edited by Gordon Laing on Sun May 15, 2011 10:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun May 01, 2011 8:00 am 
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I dont know what's better though, the photographer or the lens? :wink:

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PostPosted: Sun May 01, 2011 8:46 am 
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I'm sure others will give more details on the local wildlife but from a quick scan:

1: some kind of heron
2: Have to pass on this one
3+4: cormorant or shag
5: looks like a moorhen but I think the US one is a different species than the euro one
6: Egyptian Goose?

I can't see the exif, but were you running out of depth of field or is that a little motion blur in #5 as the head looks soft?

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PostPosted: Sun May 01, 2011 8:53 am 
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From the Latest Space Shuttle News page:
    Endeavour APU Issue Testing Under Way
    Sat, 30 Apr 2011 10:29:01 PM GMT

    Teams at NASA Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Pad 39A are testing various systems in space shuttle Endeavour to determine the cause of the heater issue associated with auxiliary power unit-1 (APU-1).

    Technicians gained access to the spacecraft earlier this afternoon. They were able to confirm the cockpit control fuse panel is working.

    Teams began testing thermostats associated with the heater connected to the fuel line for the APU. Initial reports indicate the thermostat side that failed during Friday’s launch countdown still is not working, as expected. Teams will continue additional testing to help determine whether the thermostat is receiving a current or whether the issue is being caused by another part of the system. Managers are not expected to decide until Sunday morning, at the earliest, whether a launch attempt on Monday is possible.

    Flight Dynamics at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston has refined the target launch time for Monday to 2:34:00 p.m. EDT.
Bob.

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PostPosted: Sun May 01, 2011 6:06 pm 
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Great shots, Gordon! Who needs a shuttle to use all this great gear?

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