The camera is mounted on the tripod 50-100 ft away from the launch pad. Ideally, camera should be between the sun and the launch pad, so that the rocket is well lit by sunlight.
My favorite lens for photographing rockets is Canon 50mm f/1.8. Wide aperture allows faster shutter speed and lower noise (ISO). For dramatic shots, I use wide-angle Tokina 12-24mm f/4.
Typical camera settings:
|Focus||Manual focus||Pre-focus on rocket using LiveView (*)|
|Shutter speed||1/2000 – 1/8000|
|Aperture||Wide open||Use 1 F-stop less than widest aperture of the lens|
|White balance||Daylight or Cloudy|
|Drive mode||High-speed continuous||To capture more than one frame|
|Mirror lock-up||Off||Surprisingly, has no effect on shutter lag|
(*) Recipe: turn on auto-focus and switch on LiveView. Focus on rocket. Then, turn off LiveView and switch focus to Manual. Camera focus is now locked in.
(**) Recipe: measure the scene in shutter priority (Tv) mode and center-weighted exposure. Then, switch to manual mode and dial in the same values. Compensate by +2/3 F-stops to your liking. Adjust exposure as the Sun and clouds move around the field.