I'd seen a lot of shuttles on screens. Faced with what was likely to be my only live shuttle viewing, and surrounded by people with far superior photo/video equipment, watching Discovery the old-fashioned way seemed like the way to go.
And, well, wow. There's a lot to say about the naked eye launch experience and I'm too ineloquent to say most of it. But here were a few things that surprised me:
I couldn't evade the documentary impulse entirely. On a friend's advice, I set my point-and-shoot camera to video mode and had it running at my side just prior to, and during, the liftoff. I only glanced at the viewfinder a couple times, so the result is predictably useless as a complete video; very shaky and the shuttle is only in the frame less than half the time.
But I find the rippling sound waves captured by the camera thrilling. (This probably isn't down to sound quality, but rather that I'm reminded of the physical sensations that went along with the sounds.) I found a short section of video which is watchable (or listenable, rather), as well as some decent still frames. The rest of my photos from the day are here on Flickr.