A few weeks ago I was tasked with taking a portrait of a SUNY Geneseo alum who was part of the restoration efforts of Whiskey 7 - a WWII warplane that dropped paratroopers in the blackness of night just before allied troops would storm Normandy, France. Those events occurred exactly 70 years ago today, and Craig (pictured above) played an instrumental part in both restoring and then flying one of the only operational WWII warplanes of its kind back to Normandy for the 70th anniversary services.
About the photo:
I was pressed for time as our department was informed of the ceremonial takeoff from the National Warplane Museum in Geneseo, NY just hours before it was due to actually leave. My portable power pack for studio strobes was dead but I knew I would need some sort of light to balance out the rising sun. I grabbed a canon speedlite, 40'' umbrella and headed down to the airfield. Luckily, Craig had already finished loading supplies for the journey onto the plane and managed to jump into his pilot gear just as I arrived. In these moments, when your subject isn't even aware that he or she will be having their picture taken, and also when they have a million other important things to do, you really only have a few minutes to set up a shot and then you need to be on your way. It was a little windy, so I needed someone to hold the umbrella pointing downwards at a 45 degree angle while I snapped the shot. Luckily my tiny speedlite had enough juice in it to light Craig in front of the plane and still manage to expose for most of the sky in the background. Check out the lighting diagram below for more information on how I composed and lit the photo.
The ceremonial flight has received national attention from The New York Times, and most recently last night with a great video segment on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams:
(Click tweet to be directed to video coverage)