Space Shuttle Endeavour’s Journey Through Los Angeles

When I said in my last blog post that photographing Endeavour’s fly over of Los Angeles was one of the coolest assignments ever, I take it back. This was the coolest assignment ever and probably one of the most unique things I will ever photograph.

I started following it as it rolled off of LAX property early Friday morning around 2:00 a.m. and didn’t really stop from there. In all, it was about 50 hours of work in 2.5 days when you factor in all the wait time and early arrivals to get ahead of the shuttle to stake out positions. It was exciting and worth it though.

Space shuttle Endeavour made a tedious 12-mile crawl through city streets this weekend from Los Angeles International Airport to the California Science Center near the USC campus.

With a 78-foot wing span and a tail height of more than 50 feet, you can imagine how measured and coordinated everything had to be. Trees had to be cut down, utility poles removed, power lines raised and large metal plates placed on the streets to keep the 300,000 pounds of weight from crushing the infrastructure underneath. On the narrowest parts of the route, the shuttle’s wing tips came within a credit card’s width of street poles and trees.

Yet, despite this, the shuttle arrived at its new home Sunday without a single scratch.

Officials told us that more than 1 million people turned out at some point during the trek to catch a glimpse of what they called a “once-ever” opportunity. The shuttle was the biggest celebrity in Los Angeles.

To demonstrate that, at one point along the route, actors Robert De Niro and Luke Wilson were standing about 20 feet from us as the shuttle approached a narrow section along Crenshaw Drive. I looked over to a group of people I was standing with and said, “Hey, isn’t that Robert De Niro?” A few of them looked over for a second, said “ooooh, yeah, it is…” then turned straight back to the shuttle and continued taking photos with their cell phones.

Tell me another time when no one would care that Robert De Niro was standing in their front yard. That is how amazing the experience was for so many people.

Photographing Carmageddon II

Last weekend, all 10 lanes of the 405 Freeway through the Sepulveda Pass in Los Angeles shut down for construction work for the second time in a little more than a year. This 10-mile stretch of highway is one of the nation’s busiest with an average 250,000 cars passing through it each day. So, when you shut that who highway down, worries arise about deadly traffic jams. Thus, the nickname “Carmgeddon.”

I spent the whole weekend photographing the spectacle and it thankfully didn’t live up to its name. Because nobody really cared about it this year, it was challenging trying to get unique photos of anything besides workers working on a bridge. The challenge was getting a unique angle on everything and escaping the media viewing platform area. Here is what I came up with:

Space Shuttle Endeavour Los Angeles Fly Over

I was very lucky to witness history last Friday as Space Shuttle Endeavour, strapped to the back of a Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, performed low-altitude fly overs of L.A. landmarks before finally landing at LAX. It was the last time the world would ever seen a NASA space shuttle in any form of flight. As the wheels touched down at LAX, that was pretty much the end of the shuttle program. Very cool to see, but bittersweet at the same time.

I got to shoot the shuttle from the tarmac at LAX and arrived at around 4 a.m. to stake out a spot. The shuttle didn’t land until close to 1 p.m., so it was a lot of sitting around waiting, but totally worth it. Here are a few of my favorites:

Travel Reflections

Had a busy week of travel in July and it seems like I also took a lot of reflection photos.

The first photo was taken while transiting through Detroit Metro Airport’s McNamara Terminal and the second during a rain storm at Times Square in New York City.

Fountain in McNamara Terminal Detroit

Rain in Times Square, Reflection

Scuba Diving at Catalina Island

Had a very fun freelance assignment a couple of weeks ago photographing a professor and student from Georgia’s Agnes Scott College doing research out at Catalina Island. It was my first time scuba diving in California and it was beautiful. Thanks Agnes Scott for the opportunity!

Hermosa Beach Ironman: Run, Paddle, Puke

When I first heard of the Hermosa Beach Ironman, I thought it was going to be an actual Ironman (You know, the one where you swim a few miles, run a marathon, then bike over 100 miles).  Well, turns out, the Hermosa Beach Ironman — held every Fourth of July for more than 30 years — is not your typical triathlon.

At this Ironman, competitors must run a mile down the beach, paddle a mile on their board of choice and then return to the beach to chug a 6-pack of beer.  The kicker? You are disqualified if you puke. First person to finish without puking wins.

Needless to say, there was a lot of puking.