USAF Portrait

I was covering the Arizona & Aerospace 2010 airshow hosted on Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson, AZ. for Arizona Foothills Magazine back in March. Just general event photos of the static displays, and flying - but I wanted to add a little more depth to the project.

I had my own military escort from the Davis-Monthan Public Affairs Office, and I asked my escort if we could arrange a portrait of one of the pilots with his aircraft. His first response was that it would be almost impossible to do, but he would try. So, he calls his commander who suggests he call the commander of the fighter wing based at Davis-Monthan, the fighter wing commander loved the idea and suggested we do a portrait of Captain Joe Shetterly, the A-10 West Coast Demo Team pilot.

Captain Shetterly graciously accepted, and my side project turned into an assignment from the USAF. At first, everyone was thinking we would pose Capt. Shetterly with one of the A-10s on public display, but crowds of people, cluttered backgrounds, and mixed lighting had me assertively suggesting we utilize the actual aircraft Capt. Shetterly would fly during his routine, parked in a restricted area near the active runway.

Capt. Shetterly eagerly agreed, and I was cleared to leave the public area and enter the restricted area under escort of the Demo Team's crew chief.

For lighting, I brought along a pair of Norman 400b's, my usual location lighting set. I brought umbrellas, but because of the size of the aircraft, I needed the strobes pretty far back. I actually ended up just shooting the strobes bare.

Using the sun (from the left) as my rim light, I used the Normans for main lighting. To the right of the camera, both flashheads were placed at about 15' to the subject's left (about 45 degrees) one 6ft. off the ground, the other just below it about 4ft. off the ground for a combined 800WS of flash power.

As a tag-on: Part of the 'side-assignment' for the USAF, I photographed Capt. Shetterly's routine from the back of a pick-up truck out on the runway, so I was directly underneath the action, pretty cool access!

More photos from the session with Captain Shetterly, as well as the rest of the day's events can be found on Arizona Foothills Magazine's website at this link:


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