“We always sent cameras outside with the guys during the EVAs (Extra-Vehicular Activity – NASA speak for space-walk). They were mostly stock D2Xs, but had some minor mods in order to deal with the rigors of functioning in a vacuum with several hundred degree thermal swings. They had a custom fit thermal blanket wrapped around them, a large viewfinder so that they can be used with the helmet, and a big button that could be pushed with those oven-mitt gloves to release the shutter. We turned them on before they went into the airlock and used Program mode, then hoped for the best.” -Captain Alan Poindexter, Photography In Space
I usually steer far clear of gear and technique blogs, but this post on Luminous Landscape is worth a quick look. Taking pictures in space is no easy task, but with Captain Alan Poindexter’s help, you might return with a few keepers. Poindexter, astronaut and former commander of Space Shuttle Discovery, was picked to be lead Photo/TV crewmember on STS-122 in 2008, and shared a few of his experiences dealing with the difficulties of photographing in space. When taking pictures from space, you’ve got a lot to deal with. Light is very low, everything is in constant motion, and there’s a host of engines and fans causing most surfaces in the shuttle to vibrate. One of the images presented is a 4-second exposure of the coast of India against stars in space; during that exposure, the shuttle traveled 20 miles. And contemporary digital sensors allow the photographer to use light reflected off the Earth as a light source. Some scenes had 16 or 17 stops of dynamic range; and with the fast speed of the orbit, lighting conditions change quickly. Good luck on your next trip outside the Earth’s atmosphere!
While you’re at it, why not look through Hasselblad’s photography manual for NASA astronauts, or large collections of photography from the early Mercury and Gemini missions.