My daughter has been telling me since she was four years old that she wants to be an astronaut when she grows up. This all changed the other day when she visited a local science exhibit for kids on the topic of space exploration. There, some practical and very blunt German science teachers told her that when astronauts are preparing to go to space, they have to undergo zero-gravity training and g-force training, which will frequently cause trainees to vomit. Now she wants to work at NASA as a secretary.
Three years ago, about the time this phase kicked off, my sister-in-law sent the kids some amazing astronaut costumes for Christmas (they can be found on Amazon, but read the reviews to make sure you’re getting the good ones, not the cheap, falling-apart-before-they-arrive ones). We were very enthusiastic, but to be frank, we never could find a good location for a photo shoot, because the moon isn’t really open for cosplay and places that look like the moon are hard to come by in Germany. Or so I thought.
Switching gears, but I promise that this is related. Zach and I have been planning our dream home most of our married lives. We’re on about our eighth home design in one of those software packs you see advertised on HGTV, and we go back to the drawing board every time we visit a new country or see a new fabulous house with designs we want to incorporate (or spend too much time on Pinterest). The current model we have drawn up is loosely modeled after the Palace at Versailles, and we will definitely be able to afford it, assuming we win the next lottery. One day I was pondering stone countertops for said dream home. Then I began thinking of all the stone and granite and marble quarries here in Europe and wondering to myself if it would save money to buy the countertops for our still-imaginary house while we live on this side of the world, and then I began thinking of shipping things and postage costs (because I am very practically minded for a future lottery winner), and somehow I ended up at the moon– don’t really remember how that leap of association occurred– and THEN I remembered the costumes. A rock quarry would be perfect for a moon/Mars landing cosplay!
Anyway, that’s how we found Holzmaden, which is actually a fossil quarry half an hour or so outside Stuttgart (and is one of the few stone quarries that is open to the public). It’s one of the premier locations for fossils in this part of the world; who’da thunk it? There’s a small museum on-site with information on fossils and dinosaurs, a couple of life-size dinosaurs for the kids to admire, and for a very minimal fee, you can go in the pit and just have at it. The fossils are literally everywhere, in nearly every piece of slate you chip open. So we took our kids on a real, live, treasure hunt!
With an amazing photo shoot location and a fun afternoon activity thrown into the package, Zach and I felt as though we actually had won the lottery. Not a very large lottery. Maybe a $50 lottery. But after taxes, so $20. Still cool.
Oh, before I forget: to finish out the costumes, we added black rain boots. No gloves or helmets for us… but they are definitely out there!
And it was great. The kids got to travel to the moon (without throwing up) AND bang rocks together to find fossils (we brought home a couple of imaginary fossils, because two-year-olds), and it was the best photo shoot EVER, except-that-time-we-let-them-jump-off-the-couch-and-be-jedi. I still wonder what all the nice German people there thought when we hauled in there with our American astronaut kids and stood up a small American flag in the middle of the rock pit, but that’s what they get for ruining my daughter’s future career.
Obviously, we have a little Photoshop action going on in these pictures. The rock quarry was basically a big pit, surrounded by trees, grass, etc. In photos where those landscape features were present, we skimmed them away in photoshop and replaced them with a composite image Zach created out of several space scenes. In some shots, we used Photoshop to add a lens flare as well, to complement the backlight we were getting from the sun in real life.
For this photo shoot we used our Viking Lightroom Preset and just adjusted the exposure slightly.