January 6th, 2011 | Filed under Family, Photos, Technology, Travel
So, I might have found myself sitting in my parent’s basement over the Christmas holiday watching the NASA channel. What!?! We got rid of cable back home, which I highly recommend doing, and I couldn’t resist channel surfing now that I had an abundance of “quality” entertainment. Teressa was off baking with her mother, my parents were still at work, my brother was with his lady, and none of my friends were in town yet. I was bored, and while sitting in the recliner being a complete lazy bum I suddenly had an itch to head out take some photos. Being that I was engrossed in the NASA channel the Cos seemed like an obvious choice.
Growing up three blocks away from one of the premiere space museums in the world, also smithsonian affiliated by the way, I feel a serious bond with the museum. Not only did it seem like we took a field trip every year in elementary school, and we always took family members when they came to town, but back when my Dad ran the food service for the local community college we were there every week catering one meal or another. That was one place were helping my Dad never got old. This wasn’t some silly college-board-of-what-ever-meal, this was where they had stuff from SPACE!
We were even allowed “backstage” for lack of a better term, and my Dad always made sure to point out the new exhibits in progress and the pieces/parts of how things went together. On one trip we even got to play with the simulators as my Dad arranged a special tour for my Aunt Char who worked in the simulator industry at the time. It is/was a special place and I feel like most people from Hutchinson don’t appreciate what a truly amazing resource and experience the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center holds.
I feel about this place the way people feel about baseball, the Lincoln Memorial, or St. Peter’s. This is a museum that existed throughout my entire childhood and is an amazing place to go home too and kind of reset the internal life barometer. I know, cheesy right? But I’ve been fighting to put my feelings into words the past couple of days and this is the best I could do.
Now, the lobby is dominated by a giant Blackbird (SR-71), which is possibly one of the most amazing vehicles ever designed by man. Seeing one up close is like stepping back in time to an age where American might was displayed via engineering prowess and this was one of our crowning achievements. The “Rescue” photo and this one above are just two of the fantastic looks at this beauty the Cos provides. Oh, and did I mention that we’re still just in the lobby?
Once down in the actual “Hall of Space” Museum, at least it was called that when I was kid, I’m instantly at peace. What can I say? It’s one of my favorite most relaxing places in the world. Eighty years of rocket and space exploration related history washes over you from the German V2, to Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo and the largest collection of Russian space artifacts outside of Moscow. Oh did I mention that most of what is exhibited are actual space artifacts? Real honest to goodness shit that flew in SPACE, including Gemini 7. That’s right, the one that sunk to the bottom of the ocean, lovingly restored with original parts by the Cosmosphere craftsmen.
However, the crown jewel in mind is the actual Command Module from Apollo 13. Not some lame movie prop, although the Cos did built the amazing props for Ron Howard’s Apollo 13, but the real honest to goodness Aquarius that got the Astronauts there and back again.
The Apollo era is what I ended up photographing for the majority of my three hour stint in the museum. I pretty much camped out and shot the Aquarius from very every angle possible. Unfortunately, the reflections from all the other exhibits make it next to impossible to snag a decent wide angel photograph of the actual Command Module, so I concentrated on shooting the interiors of both the LEM and Aquarius, however there is an exterior shot below just for reference.
Also, taking advantage of the fact that my little Canon, with a nifty-fifty, can shoot stunning HD video, I spent some time on my tippy toes shooting into the cockpits of the various exhibits attempting to simulate being in the real thing. Considering it is the real thing, the only challenges were avoiding reflections, no small task as you can see above, and keeping the camera steady. After a bit of rolling shutter correction via The Foundry I was able to get a decent 3D track of the camera in PFTrack. I still need to use this data to smooth out the camera to make it less spastic, but it should turn out as a really great mograph/vfx shot once I add some super-fantastic elements. The best part is that the lighting inside the Aquarius was perfect and once I grade it I’m expecting things to look fantastic.
I could probably sum this post up with some grand bit of writing about space exploration and the dreams of young kid who wanted to be an astronaut…and who realized that was never going to happen and instead focused on learning how to make movies pretending people were astronauts, but that might be a little ridiculous and over the top. Instead, I just wanted to share some thoughts about a place I hadn’t visited in a long time, much like this blog, and share some of the nerd-ery I’ve been into lately.