Photos from the ISS

These days I'm generally pretty against social networking, however I do make one exception: Flickr.  While Flickr can sometimes be self-indulgent, it also can be a useful tool for photographers and art-lovers alike.  Most of the time these days I use Flickr to check out photos people have taken with gear I'm thinking about buying or to research types of photos or locations before a shoot.  Very rarely do I use Flickr simply to browse photos for the fun of it.  Today I came across one users photostream I strongly recommend taking a look at if you have a few free minutes.  The user, magisstra, is Paolo Nespoli (photostream here).  What separates Paolo from your average Flickr user is he is an astronaut of the European Space Agency who is currently in residence at the International Space Station (NASA shuttle Discovery just made it's last mission, STS-133, up to the ISS).  While other photographers such at Vincent Laforet and Chase Jarvis have done some impressive arial photography, nothing can compete with the view of earth from the ISS, which orbits the earth at an altitude of 173-286 miles (according to Wikipedia).  NASA has always worked with mainly [stock] Nikon gear alongside some other options and these days are no exception.  On the ISS is a host of Nikon equipment, including several d3s bodies and a host of lenses from the ultra-wide 14-24mm f2.8 to super-telephoto lenses such as the 500mm and 600mm f4, all of which is at the astronauts disposal.  Although the astronauts are incredibly busy on their missions, they do manage to take some time for photos, and the results can be quite stunning.  Take a look when you get a chance!