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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Richard Seaman’s photographs of the SpaceShipOne flight on June 21st

All those readers of this who particularly liked Dale Amon’s reporting of and ruminating upon this, and whose reaction to this was: I want more! … should look at these.

These being, in English rather than pure linkese, a stunning set of photos taken by Richard Seaman of the first flight of SpaceShipOne into space, on June 21st 2004. (My thanks to Joseph Brennan for an email with the link.)

Great as the photos of the various air and space craft are, I especially like the very first photo, of all the people watching it, and of course photographing it. Although I doubt if many of them got photos as good as Richard Seaman’s.

Seaman used a Canon 1Ds digital SLR camera, a snip at $8,000.

Seaman is a fine photographer, but much of the genius of these photos lies in the automatic focus system that this camera has in it. More fuss should be made of the people who devise things like this, I think. Boy would I love one of these – but smaller and for nearer $80, in a couple of years time.

The 1Ds sports the same 45 point auto-focus system as its predecessor, the 1D. Users on the Canon chat group I follow insisted that the auto-focus system is not only effective in achieving sharp focus, it also does so blindingly fast. One story I remember hearing is that if you point a 1Ds and a D60 at the same object at the same time, and someone walks between the cameras and the object and keeps walking, then the 1Ds would refocus on the person and then back on the object, while the D60 wouldn’t react to the person at all!

Ideal for space ships, in other words. Although I recommend a general rootle around Seaman’s photographs. If that appeals, I suggest that this list of recent additions would be a fine place to start.

4 comments to Richard Seaman’s photographs of the SpaceShipOne flight on June 21st

  • His first photograph is indeed excellent and, IMHO, is typical of those taken by naturally good photographers. By looking away from the subject of the day, and by focusing on those witnessing it, he captures a great image.

    Everyone else is looking up, except for that one white bearded bloke with the straw hat on the right who seems to be looking straight at your featured photographer. He’s probaby a photographic genius.

  • I was pretty impressed with his photos too–they’re the best I’ve seen so far.

    You don’t need to buy a 1Ds for a good autofocus system, though–any high-end SLR will do as well, and for much less money (an EOS 3 is under $1000). That $8000 for the 1Ds is paying for an 11 megapixel full-frame CCD.

    A lens with a built-in motor is just as important as the body for good autofocus performance. Seaman mentions that he uses a 100-400mm image stabilization lens, which goes for at least $1300–and that’s actually pretty cheap as long lenses go.

  • punk boy

    Is it me or does anyone else sense that tectonic paradigm shift?

    punk boy

  • Jose Carlos Leite

    Thank’s for the photos of Sea Harrier.

    Feal free to send more.

    Loved them, can I put them in my site?