The recent uptick in activity from NASA, SpaceX and others, creates opportunities for photographers to capture Florida launches at various times of day and night. Nighttime and twilight launches generate the most interesting and luminous trails. The “launch arc” capture is done with camera on a tripod and shutter open for 90 to 300 seconds. Getting an accurate exposure requires setting up in advanced and making test exposures. I start with an aperture of F-13 ,shutter speed of 300 seconds and ISO of 100 then make adjustments to ISO and aperture to get a balanced exposure.
At night this is easy–the light is constant and one can expose for the stars. Near sunrise or sunset–the ambient light reaching the camera is increasing or decreasing very quickly–and the test shots will have to be done minutes prior to launch. Its exciting, a bit nerve wracking, but ultimately rewarding when practice and luck come together!
Bob Gibson is a Jupiter Florida based landscape and wildlife photographer, photography instructor and Nikon Services Professional member. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org