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25. Smashed Camera Lens 

Destroyed during the first orbital launch attempt of SpaceX Starship on April 20, 2023. 

2023. On loan from Cooper Hime.

This lens was one of my first nicer lenses that I bought myself, actually this was my dream lens for the longest time. For anyone in the know, it’s one of the crowd favourite lenses for sub full-frame shooting. Over the years, I started using it less and less because I was getting into full-frame, but I was getting back into this type of lens because I would use them for the little cameras I place around the launch pad.

I had four cinema cameras that I needed to figure out an angle and a lens for on the launch date. I needed a lens that was wide enough for the close up shot and I was running out of lens by that point because they had all been deployed or loaned to friends—it was all hands on deck, everyone’s gear, every camera, every lens pointed out that damn thing when it lifts off. So I tried the 18-35, this lens, and zoomed way out and it was the perfect shot. Nice, wide, super, super close shot of this thing taking off and it’s just incredible. It’s my very best work.
Then the pad got destroyed by the launch, and there were concrete chunks just flying everywhere. And one of them was lined up just so to hit that lens, through the filter and right into the main element, though the camera body survived and I was able to send it out and recover the data. It did stop recording at some point. The last frames are just black frames, completely covered in dust. It looks like a Martian dust storm coming over. 

It’s kind of cool, because this is a lens I’ve shot so much of my favourite work on, and it went out in this final hurrah, in its best use. I wouldn’t have wanted this lens dying in any other way.

It's part of a wider passion project I’ve been working on for a long time, a cinematic documentary of this new space age. That’s my personal mission that I’ve taken on myself: making sure that we have an accurate and beautiful recollection of how we left the planet. 

I do get existential about it, this huge thing that feels like it’s on my shoulders. There aren’t that many people doing it, and it’s important that someone does it, so I feel a huge responsibility to get it done and keep the dream alive. I get a lot of value and enjoyment out of it, because I care about the story, and about telling it accurately. I want to hear where it goes. And I think we’ll regret it if we don’t have this. 

Forging Connections