If you are planning to visit the space shuttle Endeavour hall at the California Science Center in Los Angeles and are looking for some tips and advices to photograph the Endeavour hall, this article might be interesting for you.
The space shuttle Endeavour is a retired orbiter from NASA’s Space Shuttle program and the fifth and final operational shuttle built in 1986 to replace Challenger. It was delivered to Los Angeles International Airport on September 21, 2012. The orbiter was slowly and carefully transported through the streets of Los Angeles to its final destination at the California Science Center in Exposition Park.
Planning your visit
You need to reserve an entry time (3$ fee) to the space shuttle orbiter hall. You book your entry in the California Science Centre website. Backpacks are allowed in the hall, so you don’t have to worry about that, you can take your photo bag without problem. Plan plenty of time ahead before the closing time, the Endeavour hall is impressive and fascinating besides the fact that no stress in photography is key !
Visiting the space shuttle orbiter hall
The orbiter can be visited in its dedicated hall whereas the external tank is outside the hall awaiting the construction of the space shuttle building. This future building will shelter the complete space shuttle including the orbiter, the external tank and two solid rocket boosters in launch position.
Space shuttle hall photography
As soon as you enter the hall you are welcomed by the striking view of Endeavour. This is arguably the best view you will get to make side shots. So, as most people starts making photos and selfies right away in this position just wait a few minutes if necessary to get an unbstructed view (I mean… without people making selfies on the bottom of your frame). If you are alone visiting and you want to have a shot of you with the orbiter in the background just ask one of the employees near the entrance. They know pretty well how to get the best angle to produce a nice souvenir of you and the orbiter in the frame.
In the hall you can circle all around and below the orbiter to have a glance of every details of this magnificent construction. Some people say it’s the most complex machine ever built by man even though some other think that the CERN particle accelerator in Geneva Switzerland is even more complex than the space shuttle. All around the hall, near the tail section there is a presentation of each flight made by all space shuttles with all crews and details of each mission. Unfortunately the pictures can only be taken at ground level in this hall. There is no additional levels to take photos from a little higher or above the orbiter but it seems that in the futur it will be possible. According to the futur new building model (photos above) there will be at least 3 levels.
As it is the case in several museums in the US, tripods are not allowed in the space shuttle Endeavour hall.
Unfortunately, as it is the case in several museums in the US, tripods are not allowed in the space shuttle Endeavour hall and this rule will be likely applied in the future building. I read about it on trip advisor prior to my visit but I took my tripod anyway (just in case). Sure enough, as soon as I deployed it, a museum employee showed up and told me in a loud voice that no tripod was allowed inside the hall unless I had a special signed authorisation from the museum itself and blablabla…, which, of course, I didn’t have. The employee kept talking to me loudly and I think by this point the whole hall was aware of what was going on (I’m a discreet Swiss guy for God sakes! 🙁 ). This ruined my initial project to have clean pictures and turned the project into capturing details from the orbiter instead. Sometimes you have to change course from your initial project and improvise something else.
Don’t call it the Space Shuttle… call it the orbiter ! The Space Shuttle is made of three main parts, the orbiter, the solid rocket boosters and the external tank (the whole shebang).
The good thing is you can stay the amount of time you want in the hall, you will have plenty of time to get your shots. If you’re passionate about the space shuttle I highly recommend to ask questions to the staff, some of them have worked in the space shuttle program and they have a great knowledge on the subject (and they will speak smoothly). Even those who haven’t worked on the program have very deep knowledge on the subject, one of them even pulled out of his bag me a sample of material of which the orbiter’s tiles are made from to show me.
Video of the Space Shuttle Orbiter Endeavour in the hall
What lense to use ?
I guess wide angle is the key word here. The building is certainly big but for most photographers still not big enough. It lacks of depth and you can only have the whole orbiter in the frame if you position yourself in one of the building’s corner. I was shooting with my full frame camera and the 24-105mm f/2.8 sense (low light conditions), 24mm was enough to take the whole thing. So, bring a wider lense with an APS-C camera if you want to have it all in the frame ! You are also better off with stabilised lense due to low light conditions. I would also recommend a telephoto lens (I had the 70-200mm) to make details shots.
Questions ? Comments ? ideas ? or more tips ?
I’m a photographer from Geneva/Switzerland and travel photography is my passion. If you have any question, tips or ideas about this article just feel free to leave a note in the comment section below. Don’t forget to share/like this post. Thanks for reading 🙂 AP