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Marc W. Buie, Astronomer, inside Lowell Observatory, Flagstaff, AZ

Marc W. Buie
Astronomer, Lowell Observatory, Flagstaff, AZ ~ 5:15 PM on 3.28.1996

Environmental Portrait of Marc Buie for Air & Space Smithsonian Magazine.

Caroline Sheen, Photo Editor of Air & Space Smithsonian Magazine, called and asked for an environmental portrait of Marc Buie for the June/July 1996 issue. The article titled "Pluto's Portrait - Even the mighty Hubble has to strain to see this tiny, distant planet."

Flagstaff is about a 2.5 hour drive from Phoenix, so I scouted the location when I arrived. Marc gave me the tour of the facility and when I saw Clark Telescope I said "that's it, we're shooting in here." The lighting set up was 5 hours, but during that time we had to stop for two (30) minute tours to come through. It was also a chilly 50 degrees inside the observatory. A few other challenges during the shoot: Marc had been working some long days and nights leading up to the shoot, as some comet was flying through the solar system that week, so he yawned about every other exposure... and the Hasselblad 30mm lens was giving me some problems, misfiring a few times, but it all worked out. We ended up shooting 4 rolls of 120 film (48 exposures).

Strobist info / Lighting: (11) Dynalite strobes
Main light: Medium Chimera, Camera left. (10) more Dynalite heads with 10" reflectors, diffusion, 1/4 CTO & black wrap Cinefoil (to control spill light). ...one aimed at the telescope, six aimed at the floor (see the pools of light) in various places, and three aimed at the background area.

The only lights that are not mine are the (3) little red lights, the map light on top of the table (with the map on it), the two little wall lights, and the door window (which we ended up putting a lot of white rip stop nylon diffusion to keep it from over exposing more, because of the 8 second exposure).

Hasselblad 30mm lens, Exposure: 8 seconds @ f/8
Film: Fuji RDP
Photoshop: minimal
Photo Assistant: Lyle Moultrie

For years and years after this photo shoot, my assistant Lyle and I would work on different jobs, sometimes as we would drive away with film in hand we would look at each other and say... "Well, they all can't be Marc Buie"... meaning some shots are perfect and some are not... for me this is one of my best.

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