Space Shuttle Discovery over Washington DC

I rushed down to Washington DC yesterday morning to join a cast of thousands waiting for the Space Shuttle Discovery, mounted on its Boeing 747, to fly over the city. I got to my chosen spot about 15 minutes before the time the plane was due to arrive, but, thanks to some poor planning on someone’s part, the shuttle arrived 10 minutes early and flew low over our viewing location. Luckily, I had my camera, 70-200mm and 1.4x extender all ready and caught a great shot of the plane from the rear:

First fly past of Space Shuttle

My location by the Netherland Carillon was great for images showing all the monuments in DC in alignment and the shuttle’s first loop brought it reasonably close to the monument. The air was a bit misty though, and the plane was much further away than I think we all expected. However, I still got a nice location shot:

Space Shuttle over Washington

The plane was doing large loops around the city and luckily flew quite close to our spot each time. I was able to catch this side view through the trees over Arlington Cemetery:

Side view of Shuttle

Finally, I decided to create the image we were all expecting! I’m sure that with a really long lens and a bit clearer air, this could have been a real shot, as it did fly in this approximate location, but as you can see from my earlier shot, it was further than my lens could reach. However, here is an image of what we would have like to have taken!

Artist's impression!

OK, now for the stock talk. I quickly created an article on Demotix – the online news gathering site, and that was online a few hours after I took the pictures. I also used Alamy’s “urgent news” upload feature. If you haven’t used this, the upload bypasses their normal QC group and moves immediately into the “Manage your images” section. Here you can add the important keywords, complete the release section and get it ready for sale. So far so good – it was around 4pm by the time I had my three images ready for sale. What happens then confused me somewhat. It appears that images uploaded via news go into a special section of the database for images taken in the previous 48 hours – my images are there. After 48 hours they go into the main database as general RM images.

Also, one thing that I did wrong – if you use something like Lightroom for keywording and describing, the default categories for the image include Title and Description. If you look at the IPTC fields, there is also one called Headline. Alamy expect you to put the same phrase in Headline for all the batch of related images so that they show together on the site. A new lesson learned!

I’ve put the larger images of the space shuttle flyover on my Fine Art site if you want to see the details in close up. You can also purchase prints of the event for display on your wall by clicking buy this print on the site!


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Steve, you’re right! We must have been right next to each other. Next time don’s be shy and introduce yourself 😉

I actually got to the Netherlands Carillon a little after 10am so I missed the first low fly over. I’m glad I didn’t give up as some people were leaving when I was rushing in.

I got a few nice shots very similar to yours, I quite like this black and white version:

Check out more on my website!


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