Radislav Sinyak has been chronicling the development of the Orion spacecraft with his OM-D E-M5 Mark II for over a year…

Can you tell us about your role within NASA and how this came about?

I work for Barrios Technology on a contract that supports the Orion Program Office at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. I am part of the communications team that’s helping tell the story of the Orion spacecraft, which will take humans beyond Earth’s orbit. As part of my duties, I am able to visit the facilities around the country involved in building the spacecraft. With my photography background, I was given the opportunity to capture progress during those trips. The uncrewed spacecraft will take a test flight in late 2020, 40,000 miles past the moon – farther than any spacecraft built for humans has gone.

Image by Radiaslav Sinyak

You use the OM-D EM-5 Mark II, but had previously shot on Nikon, what made you switch?

I’ve been shooting with Nikon since I graduated from college. As I started documenting the construction of Orion, I needed to add video capability to my kit. Since Nikon’s video capabilities at that time were not the best, I purchased a Sony FS100 and used my Nikon lenses on it with an adapter. That made for a bulky kit. After a bit of research, I decided to sell my gear and switch to Micro Four Thirds system. I purchased a GH4 for the 4K capability, but chose the OM-D EM-5 Mark II for stills. There is something about the layout of the controls that felt instantly comfortable.

What do you enjoy most about documenting such projects and why do you feel it is so important to capture the journey of them?

The International Space Station (ISS) orbits the Earth at an altitude of approx 250 miles. We are building a spacecraft that will travel a thousand times farther, allowing humans to explore the moon and, ultimately, Mars. I get to see this spacecraft start as a piece of metal and end up stacked atop the launch vehicle ready for flight.

Image by Radislav Sinyak

Are you given a daily schedule of what is happening in terms of what you can photograph, or do you explore at your own free will and capture what you think suits?

Our assembly facilities have many access restrictions. We plan a visit in advance and obtain all necessary permissions. The majority of the work is pre-visualising what we can shoot, then negotiating access to that location.

Are there any challenges with such documentation projects like this?

Orion is the most advanced spacecraft designed by NASA. A lot of the technology can’t be shown publicly, yet we still must document our progress. The challenge comes from capturing the story, without showing too much detail.

Image by Radislav Sinyak

You’ve captured a variety of images of the spacecraft and people working on the project, but what do you look for when taking photos?

I try to show the scale of the project: people working next to the spacecraft to show the size of the vehicle or wide-angle views to show the incredible volume of the production and testing facilities.

What lenses do you use for the mixture of close-ups and wide shots?

For work, I carry the M.ZUIKO f/2.8 lenses, including 7-14mm, 12-40mm and 40-150mm. For personal shooting I usually just take the M.ZUIKO 12mm f/2.

Given the opportunity, would you like to travel to space?


Image by Radislav Sinyak

Article featured in Olympus Magazine Issue 60 – to see the latest copy of this free digital magazine click here.