When he wasn’t singing “Space Oddity” during his five months aboard the International Space Station, astronaut (and member of the Order of Canada) Chris Hadfield took absolutely breathtaking photos of the Earth from his unique vantage point in space. Now that he’s back on Earth, he’s collected 200 of his photographs (many never-before-seen) into a book, You Are Here: Around the Earth in 92 Minutes. But how did he get all of those insane shots without a tripod or any sort of mounting equipment?
Travel photographer Brendan van Son was at a recent media Q&A with Hadfield and asked him about his setup. Hadfield explained that his secret is working in zero gravity: Whereas on Earth a 400mm camera would necessarily be heavier in the lens, and the photographer would have to constantly account for that slight gravitational pull, in space he can just let the camera float in zero-g without any need for tracking. Not having to constantly adjust the camera means that astronauts taking photos in space are even able to take freehand, long-exposure photos at night.
In fact, there’s only one limiting factor, Hadfield explained: “In space, the only [thing] you really have to think about is your heartbeat, because just the pulse of your heart will make the camera [tilt].”
Watch the whole explanation: