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Balloon launch         © 2011 Edouard Janssens.

Belgian fine-art photographer Edouard Janssens was keen to show the beauty of our planet, fragility of the atmosphere, and the curve of the earth from the best possible place - the stratosphere.

With his small team he designed a ship carried by a helium balloon, with a pair of Sony NEX-5 cameras triggered by gentLED-AUTO. The device also contained a GoPro Hero video camera, and three GSM and satellite tracking devices to help recover the cameras and equipment after its parachute assisted return to earth.

Designing such a ship is not easy, it has to be as light as possible and able to withstand temperatures down to -55°C. In additon close cooperation with Air Traffic Authorities is required, 33Km is three times higher than commercial jet aircraft fly! This is a serious undertaking, with an insurance policy, cooperation from the authorities, and the right weather.

NEX-5 and gentLED-AUTO at 33.8Km         © 2011 Edouard Janssens.

Flights started in October 2011. It takes about 90minutes to reach the highest point, and about 60minutes for the parachute assisted return to earth. Finally the ship has to be tracked and recovered, around 50Km to 100Km away from the launch site.

Here are the results (on the right), a shot taken of the earth from over 33Km high over Northern Europe. The Sony NEX-5, with its 14Mpixel APS-C sensor and 16mm pancake lens produces excellent results - even at -55°C!

Read the full story   and   Watch a video.
Thanks again to Edouard Janssens for sharing his creative use of gentLED-AUTO!

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