This interview with astronaut Randy Bresnik most likely holds the answers to some of the most pressing questions we may have about photography in outer space.
Jared Polin, who runs the Fro Knows Photo website and YouTube channel, had just one question in mind: “Do astronauts on the space station shoot RAW?” From it came an idea to interview one of the astronauts up there. While he wasn’t successful in doing so, he was able to have a chat with one who had recently arrived back to Earth. In Jared’s interview, astronaut Randy Bresnik answers some questions many of us probably have about photography in space.
Now, let’s pick some of the highlights of the interview to reinforce that picture of what’s it like to shoot way out there.
According to Randy, the biggest challenge about shooting in space is trying to get the photos to look like what they saw with the naked eye. “We’re able to see these incredible colors and vibrancy and all that. But then, you’re shooting through the atmosphere and that would show up in the photo,” he added.
As for Randy’s choice of lens, he liked using a 50 – 500mm lens for daytime photography, which allowed him to give a frame of reference then zoom in to take photos of particular areas. After switching from a Nikon D4 to a D5, he was also able to use its improved ISO capabilities with a 70 – 200mm lens for night photography.
When it comes to shooting outside the Space Station during the space walks, Randy mentioned having a GoPro mounted on his work station for taking videos. Also, they always had an EVA (Extra Vehicular Activity) camera — typically a 28mm lens on the Nikon D4 that they had onboard — around during these space walks.
What about Jared’s original question — do they shoot RAW up there? Randy said they definitely do. “We like to go ahead and shoot the best the camera can do and let them process it on the ground.”