Saturday, July 30, 2011

Old Post Office

A little over a month ago the old Post Office in downtown Naperville closed it's doors. Naperville Bank & Trust owns the building, and they have some great plans for it. Soon construction will begin to convert the space into offices for the bank. If you're interested in all the details of the plan, you can read more here:
Old Post Office Plans
They had an open house for the public to come and see the building. But before that happened I was allowed inside to photograph the interior. Above is an image of the original post office boxes. Below is what they look like from behind. 
 There are definitely some areas with historic charm to them, and I'm glad it's not going to be knocked down. But there are also a few interior rooms that look like someone stumbled upon a sale of wood paneling in 1978. And of course there are a few pieces of old equipment that will need to be ripped out.
The most interesting thing is also the most unexpected- the secret passageways! I once worked in a old converted post office, so I've run into them before. Many early post offices had hidden tunnels and areas where the employees could be watched as they sorted the mail. They were painted all black, and very dark. The image below is misleading- it's a 30 second exposure! 
The passageways in this building are in very good condition, but I believe a few of them might have to be removed during the construction. 

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Behind the Scenes

The Shuttle Atlantis is landing early tomorrow morning. And while I'm SURE that they decided to end the Shuttle program on my birthday, other people I know are expressing skepticism.
I thought I'd share a few behind the scenes photos of what happens before and after a Shuttle launch. There are a bunch of early mornings like the one you see above. We often have to be out at the NASA press center before dawn so that the security and bomb-sniffing dogs can go through all our gear before we take it into secure areas.

There were a number of astronauts and dignitaries that stopped by the NASA-Tweetup tent to talk to that group. Whenever I had a moment I was stopping by to see who was speaking.
As the Atlantis Crew drove by in their special NASA transport van everyone rushed to the fence to wish them well-
I always have a great time partying with the Twitter crowd. Just like the last launch there was a monster multi-day party dubbed 'Endless BBQ' at one house.
Many of those same people came out to see the booster rockets as they were hauled back into Port Canaveral after the launch.
I thought I'd give you one more great shot of the launch taken by another Sony camera from a different angle.
And you simply HAVE to check this out- Jook is one of the team members of The Last Shuttle Project, and he is a wiz at creating awesome 360-VR images.  He was allowed into the Shuttle Discovery cockpit with Rhonda. I don't know if this will work on Ipad or Iphone, so please check it out on your computer-
360 VR of Discovery

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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Launch of Atlantis

It's been over a week now since the Space Shuttle Atlantis lifted off into space.  And I'm just now getting around to blogging about it!  I've been so busy, and the amount of data I had to sort through was so great, that I simply didn't have the time to go through everything.  But now I'm happy to share a few images with you.

The Atlantis was special to me because I saw it from the beginning stages; a stripped down machine without wheels or an engine.  And I got to watch the progress as it was carefully prepared for this final launch.  Here I am, last July, standing in the Orbital Processing Facility next to the nose of the Atlantis. 
And here she is a year later, sitting on the launch pad for the very last time.
I wasn't on the roof of the VAB like I was for the last two launches, but I still had a very unique spot over on Astronaut road.  NASA has an elevated mound there, and it allows for a great view of the launch pad.

Sony was very interested in our project, and they graciously donated a number of cameras that we places in different positions around the launch pad.  This is one of the images that we captured from one of the remote Sony cameras.
As the shuttle headed into the clouds you can see where strange vapor shapes formed over the solid rocket boosters.
John Page, another photographer on the Last Shuttle Project, captured my reaction as it disappeared above the clouds.
It's hard to believe that the Space Shuttle Program has come to an end.  I consider myself very fortunate to have been a witness to it's last days. I'll share one last thing with you, and that is an unexpected audio interview that Rhonda & I gave on the NASA Press Bus on our way back from the launch pad-
Space Kate Audio Interview

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Friday, July 8, 2011

Shuttle Atlantis Cameras

Hello, everyone!  We are hoping that a shuttle launches today, but the weather isn't looking very good for it.  Here is a video that we made early yesterday morning as we prepared to set our remote cameras in the field.  It was pretty early so I'm sorry if I'm not completely coherent.

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Monday, July 4, 2011

Up, Up & Away!

As I've mentioned before, I am the official photographer for Ribfest 2011.  Luckily the Ribfest organizers realized that they could get me up in the MetLife Blimp for some photos from above the festival this year. It was my first time in a blimp, and I was nervous about what it would be like. But I can honestly say that it was so much fun that I'd do it again in an instant. They removed several of the windows so that I could take pictures. 
Here is what Ribfest looked like from the blimp.
And here is a closer view of the main stage area

Of course I took photos of everything else I could see as we passed over it.  Here is a view of downtown Naperville.
Here is a shot of me sitting up front, taken by the pilot.  As you can see, it only seats four people.  This blimp is more for advertising purposes than transportation. And to answer the most asked question- No, there's isn't a bathroom on board :)

Finally it was time to head back to DuPage Airport.  I hope I get the chance to do this again next year.  It was an amazing experience, and I just want to say a final 'thank you' to the MetLife crew for their hospitality, and for Ribfest's Julie Lichter for helping to set this up.