The International Space Station buzzes overhead at a rapid 17,000 miles per hour. In the same view, the sights can be both blindingly bright and nearly pitch black. People on board, feeling no gravitational effects, can find themselves in odd orientations, with harsh and awkward lighting masking their faces. All of these effects combine to make photography just a little bit trickier than it would be here on Earth.
Don Pettit is a NASA astronaut, and pretty much everybody’s go-to favorite when it comes to talking cameras-in-space. Speaking at the recent Photoshelter Luminance conference in New York, Pettit gave a behind-the-scenes look into the quirks of weightless photography
Thanks to NASA’s liberal image use policies (pretty much everything is in the public domain, and can be used however you see fit), Pettit and the other astronauts’ images have been put together to create some breathtaking views of our little blue planet. Here are some recent favorites:
More from Smithsonian.com:
International Space Station Cameras Will Bring Earth to You, Live, 24/7
Beautiful New Earth-From-Space Footage from NASA
Feel Like You’re Flying at Warp Speed: Watch This Video of Stacked-Up Space Photos