Cover of The Astronauts Photography Manual 1984 Victor Hasselblad Inc./NASA
You’ve booked the most desirable plane ticket on planet earth – a trip into space with Virgin Galactic or some new Space Travel company. But, how are you going to capture those once-in-a-lifetime moments? You could do worse than looking at the Nasa/Hasselblad photo manual.
Photography has been intrinsic to manned-space travel, to document, communicate and sell big space budgets to the public. This manual (downloadable via Make) was produced by Hasselblad with Nasa’s Training and Man-Machine Divisions at the Johnson Space Center, describing best use of the Hasselblad 500 EL/M cameras used on the space shuttle.
Alongside practical detail on camera usage there is advice on composition, making use of the angle of the sun, and how to make aliens feel comfortable in front of the camera. OK. The last bit is made up but such is the level of useful detail in this manual it’s surprising there isn’t info on it.
Space Program obsessives (there are a few of us out there) might also want to have a look at the Brand Guidelines posted on Tim George’s Flickr account and on the AIGA Design Archives. Created by New York firm Danne and Blackburn in 1975, the hardcore modernism of the logo they developed (the “worm”) was light years away from the previous logo that was nicknamed the “meatball”.
This leap, the design equivalent of moving from a vertical rocket to the Space Shuttle, caused some consternation at the time. As Hilary Greenbaum recently reported in The New York Times, Danne and Blackburn’s Richard Danne recalls a conversation between NASA’s Administrator, Dr. James Fletcher, and Deputy Administrator, Dr. George Low:
“Fletcher: “I’m simply not comfortable with those letters, something is missing.”
Low: “Well, yes, the cross stroke is gone from the letter A.”
Fletcher: “Yes, and that bothers me.”
Fletcher: (long pause) “I just don’t feel we are getting our money’s worth.”
Apparently NASA administrators are divided between supporters of “the worm” and advocates of “the meaball”. In the meantime airlines offering trips into space might want to borrow some tips from the NASA/Hasselblad Photography manual for their in-flight mag.
And which is your favorite Nasa logo. The Worm or The Meatball?