A fantastic view of the Augmented Target Docking Adapter (ATDA), side view, photographed with the Hasselblad 500C and its 80mm lens from an altitude of about 300 km at a range of 47 feet during the third rendezvous over the Earth.

Failure of the docking adapter protective cover to fully separate on the ATDA prevented the docking of the two spacecraft.

“It just came to my mind that it looked like an Angry Alligator. I called it a few other things too when I saw what it was. They wanted Cernan to go extravehicular and take a pair of snippers and try to unsnap it, but the more we looked at it we decided it was not a wise idea. The lines were loaded with some pretty heavy springs and some sharp edges.”

—Thomas Stafford (Schick and Van Haaften, pg. 52)

“We were hoping not to see that shroud at all. Every time we activated that docking target, the collar that we were to dock with, it would relieve tension on that band and the jaws would open and close.”

—Eugene Cernan (Schick and Van Haaften, pg. 61)

From the mission transcript when the photograph was taken:

022:42:51 Stafford:

Roger, Canary. We’re about 3 feet away from the Monster taking some pictures. Go ahead.

022:42:55 Capcom (Mission Control):

Okay. We’d like for you to do a 3-foot-per-second Retrograde Maneuver at your convenience and give us the time, please.

022:43:03 Stafford:

Roger. We’re still snapping pictures.

022:43:06 Capcom:

Okay. We’re standing by. All systems look good.

022:43:16 Cernan:

Except the one we’re taking a picture of. [...]

022:45:11 Capcom (Mission Control):

Gemini IX, we’d like for you to conserve as much fuel as you can from here on out and we’ll update you later on the flight time.

022:45:21 Stafford:

Okay. We are slowly drifting away from it and after we get squared away and finish our pictures here I won’t use any more fuel. We’ll go ahead and do 3-foot-per-second Retrograde.

022:45:30 Capcom:

Roger. Copy.

022:53:57 Capcom:

Gemini IX, Houston. Standing by.

022:53:59 Stafford:

Roger. We’re getting squared away for our 3-foot-per-second Retrograde Burn. We’ve still got him in sight, exposed a lot of film, and hope to give you a call over Carnarvon or Tananarive.