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  So few in-flight photographs of the astronauts?

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Author Topic:   So few in-flight photographs of the astronauts?
Ted
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posted 10-18-2014 11:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ted     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Looking through the photographic files from Apollo 7 through Apollo 17, it strikes me that there are so few in-flight photographs of the astronauts. Apollo 17 seems to buck the trend a little, but of the other missions there might be one or two here or there but that is all.

Why was this? Lack of film? Told not to? Didn't think to? I'd be interested to hear the reasons. Thank you

Cozmosis22
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posted 10-18-2014 11:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Cozmosis22     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Back then they were interested in exploring and photographing space, not each other; and the age of silly "selfies" was decades away.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 10-18-2014 11:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The first in-space "selfie" was taken in 1966, so astronaut self-portraits are not really a recent thing. But the original question is not necessarily about selfies, but rather photographs taken of the astronauts by their fellow crew members.

I think the lack of in-flight photos inside the command module was in part due to the close confines of the spacecraft. There wasn't a whole lot of room for one astronaut to frame a photo of another.

Add to that concern of reserving film for mission photo requirements (reference the teasing between the Apollo 8 crew about taking photos of the Earthrise that were not on the list of planned shots), and you start to see why impromptu portraits were a relative rarity.

dabolton
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posted 10-18-2014 12:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dabolton   Click Here to Email dabolton     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
They had a limited supply of physical film which had an intended purpose; they didnt have unlimited digital film storage like we have now.

spaced out
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posted 10-19-2014 07:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaced out   Click Here to Email spaced out     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I would guess that the light level within the spacecraft was pretty low for photography.

Also I think they had great trouble focusing at the close distances inside, as evidenced by nearly all the photos they did try to take in the spacecraft.

The exception was on Apollo 17 where they had a 35mm camera with which they took plenty of great shots inside the spacecraft.

robsouth
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posted 10-19-2014 09:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for robsouth     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
John Young said that NASA didn't want photographs of the astronauts during Apollo.

The Apollo 9 crew took some inflight photos but they didn't turn out too clear. The Apollo 10 crew also took some but as with the previous missions interior shots it seems lighting/focusing was an issue. The Apollo 7 crew took some good shots inside the spacecraft.

It's a shame that recording the astronauts inflight wasn't made a mission objective, I guess that's the fault of Richard Underwood and his photography team.

Blackarrow
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posted 10-19-2014 12:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
On Apollo 11, there are one or two rather blurred pictures of Neil Armstrong inside the spacecraft either going to or returning from the Moon. There is, of course, a fine study of Buzz Aldrin inside the LM on the way to the Moon, but you will look in vain for any in-flight pictures of Michael Collins (other than TV or 16mm frames).

Skylon
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posted 10-19-2014 12:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Skylon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Apollo 7 crew pictures are interesting because it feels like the interior lights were turned off and the sun is the only illumination inside - they make for some very fascinating images - almost haunting in some way. I personally think the Apollo 9 crew did a fair job with the pictures released (there is a good one of Jim McDivitt aboard the command module). As for the Lunar flights, it does not surprise me that every frame of film was reserved for the Moon itself.

As far as "recording astronauts in flight" as an objective - Mike Mullane wrote that during the shuttle era Astronauts began to be dissuaded from recording on-orbit antics after NASA HQ felt like the only images news media outlets broadcast from STS-26 were of the crew goofing around, playing football, instead of footage of the TDRS deployment - the mission objective.

One Big Monkey
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posted 10-19-2014 12:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for One Big Monkey     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Apollo 17 35mm Nikon photographs have a good set of in-flight crew photos.

Magazines SS and TT have a very "end of term" feel to them!

LM-12
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posted 10-19-2014 01:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Blackarrow:
but you will look in vain for any in-flight pictures of Michael Collins (other than TV or 16mm frames).
AS11-36-5292 is an in-flight photo of Michael Collins.

nasamad
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posted 10-19-2014 02:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for nasamad   Click Here to Email nasamad     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There is a great Apollo 9 shot of McDivitt aboard the LM wearing his bubble helmet, it looks like he is looking thru the docking window. It is an awesome shot when it's edited for to bring out its detail. He was impressed with the shot a few years ago when I asked him to sign a print of it.

schnappsicle
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posted 10-20-2014 07:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for schnappsicle   Click Here to Email schnappsicle     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The one photo that always gets me is the Apollo 13 shot of Swigert holding the modified CO2 canister. It looks to me like it was shot with a flash mounted on the camera. I can't recall any other Apollo in-flight photos that were shot with a flash. Was there a flash taken aboard the Apollo flights, or is the Swigert photo just a piece of good luck with the lighting?

There are also a few good on board photos of some of the crew members during the Gemini flights. The two that come to mind immediately is the one that Cernan shot of Stafford and the McDivitt photos of White inside Gemini 4. My favorite on board photo of all time has to be the one Conrad shot of Gordon dumping the unneeded equipment overboard. Granted that was shot with the hatch open, but technically, its still an on board shot.

Going back to the main topic, I don't know if they were forbidden to take on board photos or not, but I'm sure they were discouraged. As a photographer, I think the lighting conditions were most prohibitive inside the cabin. When there was light, it was usually very harsh. As others have pointed out, the Apollo 7 and 9 crews were able to get some good shots in spite of the conditions.

As for the limited amount of film, it would have been foolish to have wasted precious film on the way to the moon, but I think that during the return trip, when the astronauts had relatively little to do and their mission was basically complete, would have been a great time to use up whatever film was left over to at least attempt to take a few on board shots of the crew.

For the most part, I'm not a huge fan of on board crew photos. The only exception being where there was no EVA, or where that particular astronaut did not venture outside, as in the case of the Collins photo cited above.

Ian Limbrey
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posted 10-21-2014 10:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ian Limbrey   Click Here to Email Ian Limbrey     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I suppose I can understand NASA not wanting to waste film on the astronauts themselves, but surely to have photos shortly after they had landed on the moon (helmets off) showing their facial expressions and also looking out through the LEM windows at the alien Lunar landscape, these photos would have been fantastic!!

Ronpur
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posted 10-21-2014 12:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ronpur   Click Here to Email Ronpur     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by schnappsicle:
My favorite on board photo of all time has to be the one Conrad shot of Gordon dumping the unneeded equipment overboard. Granted that was shot with the hatch open, but technically, its still an on board shot.
I have never seen this! Do you have a link?

schnappsicle
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posted 10-21-2014 12:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for schnappsicle   Click Here to Email schnappsicle     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's not the best resolution photo, but this is the only one I can find in the limited time I have to look. Just so you know, the caption is wrong in the linked page. Gordon told me the hatch was open when this photo was taken. Its obvious by looking at it that he is right.

The photo I have is in color and signed by Gordon. It looks great. I like it much better than the movie EVA photos he usually signs.

Blackarrow
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posted 10-21-2014 04:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by LM-12:
AS11-36-5292 is an in-flight photo of Michael Collins.
I stand corrected. I had been guided by the book "Apollo 11: Forty Years On" which, surprisingly, does not include the Collins photo (which, on reflection, I'm sure I've seen before).

LM-12
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posted 10-21-2014 07:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The photo was taken in Earth orbit.

DeepSea
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posted 10-22-2014 07:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for DeepSea     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Skylon:
...after NASA HQ felt like the only images news media outlets broadcast from STS-26 were of the crew goofing around, playing football
Ironic given that the post-flight film for STS-27 is almost entirely of the crew goofing around but, as Mullane says, there's not much else you can show the public from a DoD flight.

Space Cadet Carl
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posted 10-23-2014 06:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Space Cadet Carl   Click Here to Email Space Cadet Carl     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Regarding the lack of in-flight crew photos...

Does anyone think it might also have to do with these guys having two solid years of media people pointing cameras at them before flight?

Here's the Richard Gordon open hatch photo in color from Gemini 11.

robsouth
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posted 10-23-2014 04:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for robsouth     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Does anyone have a link to the James McDivitt image mentioned in a post above? I've seen the one of him in his snoopy cap but not one in his bubble helmet, did the bubble helmet have a more technical name?

Hart Sastrowardoyo
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posted 10-23-2014 08:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Skylon:
NASA HQ felt like the only images news media outlets broadcast from STS-26 were of the crew goofing around...
Which is ironic since while most presentations I've attended include footage of mission objectives, what most captures the audiences' attention and makes them laugh are what the astronaut themselves call "stupid astronaut tricks."

Ted
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posted 10-24-2014 04:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ted     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you all very much for your replies, very interesting.

If I could ask, so if photographic film was at a premium and there's so few in flight photographs of astronauts, how come we have "home movie" footage taken inside the command module?

Were the astronauts given this movie camera to film on board activities, or was it meant for other things — which of course begs the question why were they 'wasting'(for want of a better word) precious film on themselves instead of objectives? Or maybe they had a lot more movie film?

Personally, I love the home movies.

moorouge
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posted 10-24-2014 08:48 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think you'll find that the 'home movie' footage are extracts from TV transmissions made during the flights.

Ted
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posted 10-24-2014 03:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ted     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I should have made myself clearer. I meant the grainy super 8 type silent footage, not the tv transmissions. Thanks.

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