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on May 13, 2013 in Aviation

Banzai Steve


I can’t get a sharp image to save my soul when I’m laughing! So last weekend at the Plane of Fame airshow, when I first heard “Banzai” exploding behind me, it at first startled me. When I turned around and saw this little guy in the perfect Japanese officer uniform from WWII waving the Rising Sun and yelling Banzai, I just smiled. I went back to shooting, that’s until the A6M Zero came around and Steve started to yell, “Kamikaze, Kamikaze off the port bow, shoot it down!” that I started to bust up.


But it’s not like he yelled just once, Steve at the top of his lungs did it for two days! He wasn’t more than 15-20′ away from us so he knew we were taking his photo and of course, that was the point. Reinactors put so much time and craft into their “dressing up” to be authentic, that they are a killer way to make more of the airshow experience. But Steve, well he just over the top. We seemed to hit it off pretty quick so for two days, we made the most of each other.


What really got me laughing was watching others when they first experienced Steve’s Banzai! It scared the daylights out of folks because Steve was so good at it, his intensity so intense, folks took him seriously at first. Watching those reactions and then trying to shoot knowing those reactions were occurring just kept us all in the Media Pit in stitches. It wasn’t until Steve started to yell Kamikaze that folks realized he was putting on a great show.


On day two, I caught up with Steve as he first came into the airshow. We talked and walked over to the Zero to take some photos of him in front of the Zero. Now his uniform is not that of a pilot, but that really didn’t matter. So with his voice not as strong as the day before and with him putting down his HUGE saki bottle that he was now carrying (he assured me it was filled with water), I pulled him out and away from the Zero to get some shot. He wasn’t too tall which we joked about. Photographically though, it required me to get down on one knee to shoot up on him. I wanted that angle to emphasize his posture. The overcast light was helpful because at this time, the gates were open and there were plenty of folks around. Steve was getting pulled from person to person to pose. Steve was great though and when I gave him the high sign, we would look at me so I could get the shot. With the conditions, I didn’t pull out the flash and just shot D4 with either the 80-400AFS or 18-35AFS (a great duo for airshows!). But even now, Steve knew I was an easy mark and had me laughing when I would put the camera to my eye. I like Steve!


Finishing was all done in ACR with the key being to bring up the shadows and bring down the highlights. The overcast light worked great! It not only made the shadows softer and more even, it really cranked up the saturation on the Rising Sun. By the end of Sunday, Steve’s voice was just about gone cause he gave it his all. I’ll never forget watching him leave. In the front seat of a golf cart with flag and saki bottle in hand, he looked at our group and with a big smile, tried to yell Banzai one more time.