Starlink Group 5-4 - Falcon 9 Block 5 - SpaceX - Space Launch Complex 40
A batch of 55 satellites for the Starlink mega-constellation
Trajectory: South East
I need to start this one off with...this girl is a morning lark not a night owl. Having gotten up at 4am this morning, this 12:10am launch was tough. I may have only just slightly wished it had been cancelled. Ok, maybe more than slightly.
When I set out from my house in Orlando, the weather was only 20% favorable for a launch. My house is 45mins from where we were meeting. As I'm driving towards the coast, I see a good bit of lightening in the distance. I was almost certain that by the time I arrived at our photography site we would get word that it had been cancelled.
I arrived at approximately 11pm so that gave me only an hour to get set up and get my test shots in. I should have given myself at least an hour and a half to two hours. An hour may seem like plenty of time, but with photography, it isn't. Or at least for me, with launches, it isn't. Too many things can go wrong that you wouldn't have time to trouble-shoot.
I met up with several other photographers on an extremely windy beach on the north side of the launch area. The sky was so clear and full of bright stars. That would make for a great arc image! I love the arc images they are my favorite. We were also hoping to get an image with the rocket and the moon that was set to rise around midnight just behind the launch area.
By 11:15, I had my camera set up and the clouds started pushing in. I began my test shots, I started my remote release and put the remote in my pocket. Which is what I always do. While that test shot was going. I began setting my 600mm long lens for its shot. About a minute or so later I noticed my long exposure had stopped on its own. It's not supposed to stop unless I push the button or set a timer.
By this time the sky briefly cleared up again, only to get covered again, by a thicker layer of clouds and sprinkles. I try again several times to trouble shoot my remote shutter issues, but it repeatedly happened. I have a second remote and try it...same thing happened. By now it is midnight, 10 minutes to launch. The clouds were sticking around but thankfully the light rain had subsided.
In a last-ditch effort, I changed all of the batteries in the remote and shutter release to see if that would fix it. 5 minutes until launch, I have everything back on my camera and ready, but no time to test it. Not to mention, I haven't had a chance to do a decent test shot, so I'm just going to have to go with my gut on this.
The moon rose around midnight. I was worried that it would add too much light for the long exposure, but I liked that it would give a nice shot with the rocket for my long lens. Our plan and hope was to get the rocket flying in front of the moon.
In the end, the launch was not scrubbed. My remote worked when needed. The moon did add more light than I wanted to my long exposure image, but I was able to salvage it. We missed the alignment of the rocket and the moon a bit, but I still like the image I got. So even when the weather looks horrible and things go wrong....don't give up, keep trying.
My long exposure settings were:
* SS 400 seconds (just over 6 minutes)
* ISO 800
* FL 16mm
Sony fisheye 2.8 16mm
Shot on a tripod with wireless remote (but almost chucked it in the river)
My long lens exposure settings were:
* SS 320
* ISO 2500
* FL 360
I am not sure why I only went to this FL. Definitely should have zoomed in more and it would have been a sharper image, but I was too distracted by my long exposure issues.