In his new book, You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes, astronaut Chris Hadfield shares his personal snaps of planet Earth. Here, he talks with Globe and Mail Photo Editor Moe Doiron about what he’s learned behind the lens in outer space.
A twist of cloud near Arica, Chile
On how being an astronaut led to being a photographer: Imagine if, while you and I were talking, we went from here to Australia and it was all pouring by the window. You can just ignore it, or you can take some pictures and look at them when you get home. But I thought, “This is too good to keep to myself.”
The Richat Structure in Mauritania, also known as the Eye of the Sahara
On the frustrations of space photography: You start to know parts of the world … like, “Oh man, I want to line up an afternoon sun angle, because that’ll be best for the hills where Mecca is. And I need a pass coming this direction.” And so you look ahead on your track for a week, and you go, “Oh no, it’s not till next month.” So, on that day, you set the alarm. You go racing in there, and here comes Mecca – and then it’s cloudy and you don’t get a picture.
Detroit, Michigan, right, and Windsor, Ontario, left.
And the rewards: I describe it as almost a relationship with the world. Every time I came around, it showed me something more, like it was pulling its petticoat up. I’m not the best photographer in the world, but I was there. And I got to know the world better and better, and did my best to capture what I could see.
The Sivash, a system of lagoons and marshes at the border of the Crimean peninsula and Ukraine’s mainland, where halo bacteria flourish as salinity increases
On the satisfactions of publishing his space photos: It’s nice to be able to take advantage of technology to share the experience of being human more completely. We’re lonely enough by design, right? It’s really nice to be able to share it. We need to continue to use the evolution of technology, I think, to do that sharing.
We make so many bad decisions in the world because of local and parochial thinking. If I could just get everybody on Earth to do a hundred orbits of the world with me [laughs]. No, I swear, it sounds trite: “Come to the window with me and do a hundred orbits of the world and you will behave differently.” But how do I do my best as a guy to share that?
Perereira Barreto, Brazil
Havana to Washington on a clear day
His advice for future space photographers: Don’t let your lack of knowledge force you to not understand what you’re seeing. Try and understand what it is you’re likely to see before you get there, so that you don’t miss it and you’re not just looking for shiny, sparkly things. And don’t keep it to yourself.
The End: The Nile, draining out into the Mediterranean. The bright lights of Cairo announce the opening of the north-flowing river's delta, with Jerusalem's answering high beams to the northeast
For an extended transcript of Moe Doiron’s interview with Chris Hadfield, please visit tgam.ca/hadfieldinterview/
All photos from You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes by Chris Hadfield. © NASA/Chris Hadfield, 2014. Reprinted by permission of Random House Canada.