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on Apr 18, 2014 in Aviation

Flying to Meet First Light


The day before started at 04:45 and ended at 00:30 the next day and nearly 10k images on the hard drive. It had been a very good day. I’m very fortunate that my relationship with my boys continues to grow even though they long ago left the house. On this occasion, Jake and I are at the Dixie Wing CAF working on three editorial pieces (and Brent will receive all the video to work his magic with). Again at it at 04:45, we head back to the Wing for an early morning flight. There was a fire the day before and the dew point was pretty low, so I was hoping for a moody start to the day. It did not disappoint. at 07:20 the engines are turning and we’re at the end of the runway warming up engines.


I’m sitting in the back of a SNJ which is the photo platform. Jake is in the back for a Japanese Kate piloted by the very talented “Legal Al.” Above, I’m rattling around in the back of the SNJ during warm up while the Kate (a repl created from a T6 long ago for the movies) is next to us warming up. I laid on the shutter of the D4s hoping to get just one sharp image. You see, the dew point creates the “smoke” off the tip of the props as it spins. But both aircraft are rattling around as the engines are warmed up. Of the 48 images I took of this one moment, I only had two that are sharp (I love the D4s buffer!!!). Once the runup is done, Legal Al turns the Kate broadside to us. This is when I count my blessings because I see my son there, sharing the same passions as dad and that we’re able to share them together. What a great way to start a Sunday!


This was my first air to air with the D4s and I had connected to it my faithful 80-400VR3. I shot using Auto Area AF and the metering set to Face-Priority Matrix. This combo along with the big ass card in the camera (Lexar 128GB) took care of me the entire flight. Here’s the deal, when you have such aircraft and pilots with the possibility of some magical light, you need to be able to focus completely on the moment and not the gear. So as we take off, the sun starts to crest the horizon. We were first to take to the skies, the Kate behind us. Watching for every possible great moment, I see this as the Kate rises in the sky. it’s why I get up early. The best part is that I was able to share the moment not only with my son, but the photos and story with you!