Taking launch pics?

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huxley

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I see great pics here of rockets launched in the air. I have been getting the 'ol smoke trail only pics with my digital camera stills! Do ya all use digital, 35mm or video to get these great pictures?

I will practice my timing more, but do not currently own a video camera (Stupid Sony cameras suck!)

Thank you,
Pat
 

cydermaster

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My digi camera has an 'auto-wind-type-function'. It takes pics about every 3/4sec, while I keep my finger on the button. Thats what I use - it doesn't always work, but when it does its a corker!

BTW - Welcome to the forum. :D
 

Mike

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I'm by no way an expert but here's how I take 'em with my digital camera...

First off, be familiar with your camera, the shutter button has two stages, you can press it halfway and the camera will focus and press it all the way to take the photo. Many people complain about digital cameras having a lag between pressing the button and taking the photo but this problem is very easy to work round. The lag is the camera focusing itself so to combat it you need to focus beforehand.

To do this, just before the flight frame your photo (more on this in a bit) and then press the shutter button halfway so the camera focuses on the rocket, now, if you keep the button half-pressed the focus should stay locked untill you release. Remember to focus the camera on the rocket/pad and don't try to focus on the sky coz that ain't gonna work! Experiment and see what does work.

The moment you see smoke coming out of the motor press the shutter all the way down (it should still have been half-pressed) and the time it takes for you to react will mean the rocket has had time to spring into life. If you want the rocket higher off the pad then try and slow your reaction slightly or put a short pause in.

Framing your photo is important too, think beforehand what shot you want, perhaps just clearing the rod etc. etc. Remember when framing the photo the rocket will be a few feet higher than what it is on the pad.

Again just experiment, you're using digital so you can see straight away if it's working, don't stick exactly to what people say just develop your own technqiue with whatever works for you.

HTH
 

Ryan S.

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wow mike that really helped thanks alot. I wish I knew to hold it down halfway before
 

Rocketjunkie

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I use a digital video camera so I have a picture every 1/30 second. Stills can be captured from any frame.
 

rocketsonly

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I use a digital video camera so I have a picture every 1/30 second. Stills can be captured from any frame.
Hey, RocketJunkie, what's the quality of each frame? How about in mb?
 

huxley

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I DID have the button half in and the focus was set. :( When I heard the engine start, I pushed the button - to no avial.

I wonder if setting the focus to manual is quicker?

I also was just behind my boy who launched it. I need to get farther back to get more area in the frame! I will practice more. :)

I haven't tried the video mode yet - I will - sounds like it will work!

Thanks,
Pat
 

Elapid

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on "one"
or for slower motors like the blackjacks, on "launch!"
if you try to pan with the rocket as it launches, it can improve the number of successful shots!

good luck!
and welcome to trf
 

Mike

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Originally posted by huxley
I DID have the button half in and the focus was set. :( When I heard the engine start, I pushed the button - to no avial.
Sounds like all you need is practice then!

Increasing the size of frame means you got more chance of capturing the rocket but the flip side is it's smaller in the frame. If your camera has a decent resoltuion you can always crop it down on your computer and still be left with a nice size image....for web use anyway.
 

astrowolf67

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If you are getting more smoke trails than rockets, there are two different ways that have helped me. One, stand farther back, or zoom back out. If your resolution is high enough, you can always crop and zoom with photo software. Two, aim the camera above the rocket. When looking through the viewfinder, put the tip of the nose at the bottom of the frame.

Other than that, practice, practice, practice!
 

cmmeyers

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Also, check your camera to see if it has a "burst mode", where you can set the camera to take multiple pictures in quick succession (usuall about 1/2 second apart). Many digital cameras have this feature, and it can increase your chances of getting a good liftoff shot.

Like other's have said here it's all timing, and that requires practice! I usually go by ear, and as soon as you hear the sizzle of the ignitor, press the shutter release. That gets a good picture nearly every time.
 

Rocketjunkie

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Originally posted by rocketsonly
Hey, RocketJunkie, what's the quality of each frame? How about in mb?
Frames are 640 x 480 pixels and typically run about 150KB as a jpeg.
 

qMaxx

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I've done everything that Mike mentioned above, but with the addition that just before launch, I point the camera up towards the sky a little, so that the pad and rocket are at the very bottom of the frame. I also set the resolution to the highest so that I can crop and zoom without getting artifacts.

Attached is the very first launch photo I ever took, period. I was using a 3.2mpixel digital camera that I've been using for a year and a half, so I was very familiar with how it works. This was taken less than a month ago. I was suprised that I actually got the rocket in the frame, even though I had read quite a few lists of tips for using digital cameras for launch pics. I took 2 other launch pics the same day, but only one had the rocket in the frame...the other, I hesitated and missed it.

The original pic was about 1600x1200 and 1.14mb in size.
 

Steward

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Don't feel bad... I've been shooting rockets for years, and I still don't get everyone right...

Everyones advice is solid... I have a rather cheap digital camera, and while I've practiced holding the shutter halfway in like described above... I still don't have much luck...

I shoot mostly 35mm... that way I'm comfortable with frames as well as shutter speeds... I have several different type lenses available. The down side is that I have to convert the film to digital... which takes a couple of days.. I can scan them into the computer... but with what I have (computer wise) is not all that good... so I try not to do that...

It still comes down to practice... Like they say.. you have to anticipate the launch... and give the rocket some lead time... and hope for the best...

Good luck...
Steward
 

flying_silverad

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For those of you that have this camera (and maybe other fuji digitals) you may know that this camera came with a bad rap of delayed shutter, resulting in action pictures with...not action.

Well, I don't have a clue where the rep came from cause mine works fine, if you follow this procedure.

Before countdown, frame shot with zoom if needed.

Press lightly (The focus detent) and let the camera focus. The picture in the finder will freeze and then un-freeze even while your finger is still at the first detent.

Listen for the countdown and press the shutter button the rest of the way when you just start to hear the hiss of the motor. If the rocket is on a MPR/HPR pad (farther away) your cue needs to be the countdown and not the hiss becasue by the time the sound reaches your ears at that distance...the rocket is gone.

Bottom line..trial and error...but it does work and you can get great shots!
 

Justin Horne

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I'm gonna be getting a sony Cybershot DSC-P100 in a few days. Anyone used one of these, or anything like it? It's 5 megpixels, So I'll certainly zoom all the way out then crop the rest off.
 

qMaxx

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Originally posted by flying_silverad
For those of you that have this camera (and maybe other fuji digitals) you may know that this camera came with a bad rap of delayed shutter, resulting in action pictures with...not action.
Hmmmm...mine is a Fuji Finepix 3800. I didn't seem to have a problem, but like I said above, I've been using it for non-rocketry related photography for about 18 months, so I'm used to its quirks.

I've taken it to 2 launches now, and I've got about a 66% success rate with using it...not too bad considering those shots were my first ever attempts.

Edit: Oh yeah...as an addendum to my tip a couple posts above, I also hold the camera on its side. That gives me more leeway for getting the shot.
 

huxley

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Thanks for all the great advise!

Stewart: You'd have'ta drag me back to 35mm. :D I've never looked back since going digital!

Justin: I have a Sony Cybershot P50, which is a 2.1 MP (which is plenty for me!). I like it alot - very intuitive, except the power supply went bad 4 months after I bought it. $140 flat fee later, it works great again. Also had a Sony analog video camera that has a broken lens after 6 months of owning it. I will NEVER buy Sony again! (/rant)

Beautiful pics there people! I really like Stewarts sncrarcher(?) rocket!

Going to Bear lake, UT this weekend. I'll practice taking launch pics! :)

Pat
 

Steward

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QUOTE: "Beautiful pics there people! I really like Stewarts sncrarcher(?) rocket!"...






I thought everyone knew what that was....LOL

actually the "s" designates the picture size...(for my sanity)
ncr= North Coast Rocketry
and of course it's a "Archer"

Oh well... at least I understand....LOL
 

Elbmod

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I have successfully used a variety of cameras, from 35 mm to my latest Fuji S602 Zoom. The trick for me is to be in sync with my launch partner - so you know exactly how fast they count. It means the first couple of shots are wasted but if you launch with the same people regularly it pays off in the end.
 

DJ Delorie

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Also, your technique needs to be different for 12v BP systems than either 6v BP or composite systems, as the 12v BPs launch as soon as the button is pressed; the other configurations need a second or two to get going. I noticed that at our scout launch; my cluster launcher ignited the motors a LOT faster than the kids' AA launchers.
 

Fore Check

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I have some fancy 5.0 megapixel Sony with a 10x optical zoom (I can't remember the model number, it's really my wife's camera.)

Anyway, it has two different settings for the 3 picture burst - "normal" and a second setting that takes three pictures in succession at progressively darker exposure with no flash (and I can't remember what that setting is called.)

The thing is, even with the half-depressed already focused button, it still lags about a second before the picture is taken on most settings.

Through trial and error, I discovered that the three picture burst of progressive exposure takes the first picture IMMEDIATELY when the button is pressed. So, I frame up, focus, and hit it when the engine sounds. I get a good launch pic and two pics of a smokey pad that quickly get deleted.

(and don't feel bad - it took me a *long* time to figure this out.)

The camera does have the capability to take short movies - I haven't tried it yet though.
 

Robin

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Why not put a digital camara under your launchpad and set it on video. You can film your rocket right up the bussiness-end while lifting off. Once you play the footage, pause it on the most spectacular moment and make a screenshot of it. That's all.
:)
Watch the attached file, it's a picture of my first Magnum Opus on an F24-7W.

Greetings

Robin Trap
Den Helder, Holland
 

JStarStar

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I have a Sony MVC-CD1000, which is now 4 years old, and is a great camera in many ways, but it does not have good shutter response - it always wants to autofocus again before it takes the pic.



It is cool because it stores its pics on a mini-CD for easy downloading, etc. But pretty soon, I'm gonna have to buy a new camera that's better at high-speed action stuff. If I don't spend all my money on rocket stuff first, that is...:p
 

North Star

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I've had a Fuji Finepix 2800 for nearly 3 years now and love it to bits for 'snapping' but it won't even catch a street tram (tried it in Austria on hols last year) I've used it at several airshows and the results are always empty sky. I have used Nikon and latterly Canon SLR film cameras and stick with them for all fast movers, though even they (and by that I mean ME) miss the occasional shot.
Until last week that is - when I sweet talked my wife into allowing me to order a Canon EOS20D. Its 20 frame 5 second burst should catch a few rockets - I'll let you know :D
 

Daedalus

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Originally posted by North Star
I've had a Fuji Finepix 2800 for nearly 3 years now and love it to bits for 'snapping' but it won't even catch a street tram (tried it in Austria on hols last year) I've used it at several airshows and the results are always empty sky. I have used Nikon and latterly Canon SLR film cameras and stick with them for all fast movers, though even they (and by that I mean ME) miss the occasional shot.
Until last week that is - when I sweet talked my wife into allowing me to order a Canon EOS20D. Its 20 frame 5 second burst should catch a few rockets - I'll let you know :D
Glad to hear you have ordered the EOS20D Brian - you won't regret it!!!!

I got a few good launch pictures at SERFS with mine yesterday. Much better than at K-LOB as I was much closer to the pads.

A bit more practice and a longer lens and I should be well away.
 

Daedalus

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My kit is hand holding a Canon EOS20D - pre focus and then at one just hold down the shutter release and blast away at 5 frames per second - and pan upwards as the model takes off.

Panning is not perfect but improves with practice - model rockets are harder to capture than high power as they tend to leave the pad faster - the HPRs catch up after a few feet. You really need to know what motor is in the model to get some idea of how much lead to have on the shot or how fast to start panning. Really just practice.

My other kit is my old film SLR (Canon A1 with a 5 FPS motor drive) The electronic remote shutter release is linked in to the launch controller and runs the entire time the ignition button is pressed. I have this tripod mounted close to the pad and pre-focused (it's an entirely manual camera) for the launch shot.

A big plus with this is that you can get the camera in danger close for the interesting looking up launch shot. (I haven't risked the camera on this one yet). From this I end up with probably 10 frames, one of which is a decent launch shot. It uses a lot of film but gets the shot.

WARNING - Before trying this - find out how your remote release works and design a circuit to operate it - DONT just hook the shutter up across your controler output - it will probably fry your camera, or launch the model the instant you hook up the leasds to the igniter.

I think basically it is a case of the more pictures you can take and the better you know your camera and the models you are photographing the more likely you are to get good results. I expect that I get less than 10% succesful pictures but I get a good picture from about 75% of launches because of the motor drive.
 

North Star

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Originally posted by Daedalus

I got a few good launch pictures at SERFS with mine yesterday. Much better than at K-LOB as I was much closer to the pads.
A bit more practice and a longer lens and I should be well away.
Greetings Dave ; It was nice to handle yours (oooh - errr missus!) at K-Lob, none of the dealers round here have any in stock, it should be arriving next week. I haven't any mega-travels lined up next year so I plan to get around the launches a bit more and I'm looking forward to taking plenty pics.

Fortunately My existing Canon lenses will give me plenty of telephoto length, 'specially the 300 zoom with the 1.6x focal length difference. I'm going to dig out the tripod and try do a decent job.
 

edwardw

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I use a 35mm SLR camera that shoots 5 FPS. I usually have a larger zoom lense on and it's sitting on my monopod. I set my f-stop pretty low, 16-22 so that I can have an all in focus shot. When the LCO gets to the end of 'one' I start shooting. I'm usually backed out pretty good for liftoff pictures and as it climbs I start to zoom in a little - usually the monopod comes off the ground. It has taken me a while to get consistent on my shots. You also have to know the motor and rocket so that you know how fast you'll have to move.

On an aside - when I go shooting for a particular shot for a calendar or job, it's not uncommon to only get 5 or 6 shots that will do on a roll for me. All of them can be really nice, but the ones with the perfect lighting, shadow, focus, lines, etc rarely appear in all frames. Practice a lot and it pays off.

Edward
 
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