Techniques for Capturing Photos of Earth from Space

Some of the most beautiful pictures of Earth were photographed by Chris Hadfield in the International Space Station. He focuses on the interesting patterns, shapes and textures from his point of view above Earth. In the following video, Chris explains the techniques he uses to take extraordinary photos of our planet from space:

Because he is so far above Earth, he uses a 400mm telephoto lens to be able to zoom in to the planet’s surface. He uses manual camera settings and the sunny 16 rule, in which the aperture is set to f16 and the shutter speed is set to be inversely proportional to the ISO setting. He suggests using an ISO setting of 200, which means the shutter speed would be set to 1/200. Although the camera has difficulty adjusting to the darkness of space and the brightness of Earth, the sunny 16 rule always produces the proper exposure.

chris hadfield snapshot from space sahara desert

Photo of the Sahara Desert taken by Chris Hadfield on the ISS

The International Space Station moves eight kilometers a second, which means the wide variety of potential photographs changes rapidly (Via Huffington Canada and Petapixel). Chris enjoys capturing photos of the Sun reflecting on bodies of water, and because he is moving so fast through space, the sunshine shifts its location quickly.

“The beauty of the space station is though, if it’s not here this time, tomorrow it might be. Or maybe next week, or maybe a month from now. There’s not a race to get a picture, you can be patient, like a hunter.”

Like This Article?

Don't Miss The Next One!

Join over 100,000 photographers of all experience levels who receive our free photography tips and articles to stay current:

2 Comments

  1. Gary says:

    I’ll be sure to use this next time I go to space. :P

  2. trex says:

    Does this topic prophesize that low-cost commercial mass space travel will become a reality in the next two years? I’ll be ready.

Leave a Comment

Personalize your comment with an avatar from Gravatar.com!

New! Want more photography tips? We now offer a free newsletter for photographers:

No, my photos are the best, close this forever