There are some perks of being in the military- you get to work with some pretty amazing stuff. In this case an F/A-18E Super Hornet and the weapons it can carry. I was asked back in May if I would shoot a command photo for the Outlaws of the Strike Fighter Weapons School onboard NAS Lemoore in California's central San Joaquin Valley. Of course I said yes!
I knew the lighting would be harsh, and I knew there wasn't really much I could do about it since I had very little control over where they parked the jet an hour or so before I showed up. That's part of this game- rolling with the punches. When I initially set up the shoot I was asked where I wanted the jet parked. I know the compound pretty well so I asked if they could park it under the shaded working area. When I got there I saw the jet parked just outside the shade in direct sun. Too late to move it now, oh well. It worked out though.
After looking at the scene I realized that if the jet had been parked under the shade in order to expose the jet and people properly I would have blown out the entire background and the rest of the flight line unless I lit them with some kind of off camera lighting. I wasn't about to take a bunch of lighting equipment out on the flight line with the potential to create a FOD hazard for any other jets taxiing by. At least now the light hitting the jet was the same light hitting the rest of the flight line in the background. This made me happy. So on to shooting!
They didn't want the typical "standing at attention" command photo that you would expect from a military unit. That was a bit of a relief because it just doesn't fit my style. They wanted something with a little attitude and edge- they are the "Outlaws" after all.
I'll be honest when I say that I'm not 100% happy with the results because I know the light would have been so much better either earlier in the morning or later in the evening but with the busy schedule that the command leads there wasn't much of a choice. Lots of "moving parts" involved with this shoot; from parking the jet, to loading it with weapons, to getting everyone in the command there at the same time. I do like the end result though.