Visiting Space Shuttle Discovery (Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum)

23 10 2012

First Sighting at James S. McDonnell Space Hangar. Photo credit: JR

I left for Los Angeles and my encounter with Endeavour just two days after returning from a visit to the Smithsonian’s┬áSteven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. The highlight of the Smithsonian visit was the Space Shuttle Discovery, of course, but after spending three days with Endeavour, I was a little hesitant to go back and look at my photos from my day at the museum. I was worried that the experience, even though it was so recent, wouldn’t hold up to the weekend following Endeavour. Of course, it doesn’t in many ways, but in others, seeing Discovery was also a great experience.

Landing Gear, Space Shuttle Discovery. Photo credit: JR

Endeavour’s landing gear was retracted during its move to the California Science Center, of course. I didn’t really think about it at the time, but when I started sorting through my Smithsonian photos, I realized how different the undersides of the two spacecrafts appeared, one staged for landing, the other staged for transport. The experience of scale was quite different, too. On the streets of L.A., Endeavour seemed like a behemoth, lumbering down the center lane. At Udvar-Hazy, Discovery seems quite small, although not as small as the Mercury capsule perched off to the side.

James S. McDonnell Space Hangar. Photo credit: JR

Otherwise, the real lesson I learned by comparing the two sets of photos: it’s vastly easier to figure out exposure and white balance when I’m outdoors in persistent lighting/weather conditions. Museum lighting continues to be a challenge for me. Most of my problems could be solved with a tripod, but white balance is always difficult in a creatively lit museum. It’s a good thing I’m not being paid for this.





Endeavour Day Two (Photos)

17 10 2012

Intersection of Crenshaw Dr., Crenshaw Blvd., 82nd. Photo credit: JR

I added Endeavour: Day Two photos to my flickr site last night (to go with Morning One, Afternoon One and Videos). It took me longer than I thought it would because I kept stopping to (re) watch the L.A. Times timelapse video of my weekend. Anyway, the Day Two collection is as much about the spectators as it is about the shuttle (don’t worry, there are plenty of Endeavour photos and all the engine porn you’d ever want). After being jostled around all day Friday—particularly at Randy’s Donuts—I was feeling a bit grumpy about the crowds. Saturday, I tried to use them to my advantage instead of fighting all the people. So, fewer clear sight lines, but more awesome moments of stranger happiness.

p.s. If you follow my twitter feed, you know I left the sidewalk unexpectedly at Crenshaw and King on Saturday night. A few days later, my right knee is definitely feeling the impact, but otherwise, all is good.





Endeavour Day One (Photos/Videos)

16 10 2012

See you later! Photo credit: JR

So far, my answers to the question “How was your weekend?” have been fairly inarticulate. “Amazing!!” is the quick answer, but even that extra exclamation point doesn’t convey the depth of my emotions. The people (friendly, excited), the sounds (beep-beep-beep-beep, endless-drone-of-LAPD-helicopter), the movement (slow and then slower), the spacecraft (OMFG)…it was overwhelming at times. In addition to sorting through all the meanings of the move for the history and future of the U.S. space program, I had to grapple with the idea of escorting the space shuttle through parts of the city known to me only as sites of social strife and political/racial oppression. My personal history with South Central L.A. meant that I couldn’t just chat blithely with my neighbor about the installation of the space shuttle at the California Science Center. Every conversation bumped up against a memory, many of them bad. For instance, on my second day, I walked through the intersection where I saw my first dead body in 1991—how weird is that? My mind was spinning simultaneously in fast-forward and reverse all weekend long and now I really need a nap. I’m going to need to rest before I can really process what this weekend meant for me, what it meant for the nation, what it meant for future space exploration. You know. The easy topics.

I’ve started the photo/video upload on my flickr site. If you want to see motion vignettes of the move, check out my Endeavour Videos collection. They’re short, from 20 to 90 seconds long, but some of them are pretty impressive (in terms of seeing Endeavour, not in terms of cellphone cinematography).

I’ve also uploaded a few photos from Day One: Morning and Day One: Afternoon. Day One┬ábegan at 12:30 a.m. October 12, 2012 and ended at 11:00 p.m. October 12, 2012 (yes, almost 24 hours on 2-1/2 hours of sleep!); the photos start at the point at which the public was allowed to view the shuttle—the corner of Sepulveda Westway and Manchester—and finish with the rush across the 405 freeway at the end of the day.

JR! Photo credit: some random stranger with my iPhone

More later, I promise.





Endeavour On the Move

12 10 2012

Endeavour’s passing. Photo credit: JR

Here’s just a bit to let you know how well it’s all going out here in L.A. That’s a close-up of Endeavour’s flank as she (it?) moves out of temporary holding in the parking lot of Bed, Bath & Beyond at Manchester near LAX. That move occupied my afternoon. My early morning hours… Well, my early morning hours were spent getting as close to Endeavour as possible (or as allowed by the LAPD). Here’s what I saw when I looked up at about 4:30 a.m.

More soon—must get some sleep before the next stage of the move!