Waiting for NROL-76

April 30, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Waiting for NROL-76 Waiting for NROL-76

It seems that photographers (and firemen) only do two things: wait for things to happen or rush to where things are happening. The latter is easy - we know where we are going and what to do when we get there. The former is more difficult. Trying to make satisfying and productive use of what is otherwise "dead" time is a challenge. Sometimes we just force ourselves to do things that need doing, but aren't very satisfying. Cleaning lenses is a chore. I don't know many people who enjoy it. But sometimes it just pays to watch the world go by.

This morning, I got up before dawn to photograph the launch of a "spy satellite," NROL-76. I've shot more than a few launches, and know from experience that you need to get set up early to secure the best viewpoint. You setup your tripod and equipment and then you wait. More so with classified satellites, as they give you very wide launch windows and you don't know when it's actually going to go until the last few minutes. So, you wait. I always keep a spare body, with a wide-angle lens ready, to shoot contrails or "unprogrammed events" (bad things that happen to missiles.) It also serves as backup to the main camera in case of unprogrammed camera events.

This morning, as I stood around just waiting, what started as a very unremarkable dawn, yielded two very different shots in the matter of a couple of minutes.  The mission was scrubbed, so I get to get up early again tomorrow. But sometimes it just pays to watch the world go by. Enjoy!


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