Chris Hadfield is known primarily for his internet-friendly personality, his love of David Bowie and being one of the most charismatic commanders aboard the ISS. But he’s also an amazing photographer, and he had the opportunity to capture a subject many would die for—outer space.
But like everything in space, taking great photos also comes with its own unique set of challenges. Travel photographer Brendan van Son attended a Q&A with Hatfield where the former Canadian astronaut detailed some of awkwardness of trying to capture images in zero gravity. Here is one impressive insight:
It’s really difficult to get beautiful, smooth tracking, especially if something is going by at a steady rate…imagine if this camera were floating weightless in front of me, so I didn’t have to constantly push this force up this way then try and use fine motor skills. If instead, I’d just let go of the camera and it would stay right in front of me, and I’d just track it like this. We get so good at it in orbit that we can take free hand photos at night with long shutter times.
Hatfield goes on to explain how an astronaut’s greatest enemy in taking a perfect shot is his or her own heartbeat as it causes noticeable twitches in long-exposure, zero gravity photography. He also details the station’s camera setup, and how crews capture all those amazing time lapses through a small, scuffed-up window.