I See You


McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet Multirole Carrier-based Strike Fighter.

At first glance, one would think that I took this image being escorted by military officials in an environment where the average photographer would never get access. Yes it was taken on an Air Force Base, and yes I did have a competitive advantage. Most people would never go to an Air Show when it is cold, raining and overcast. It’s miserable, you’re getting wet and no one is flying!

ISeeYouROrigThat’s my competitive advantage! Since it was cold the attendance was down, giving better access to to the display aircraft without the crowds. Since it was overcast people weren’t trying to use the wings as sun-shields, making it easier to get more of the aircraft into the frame. Since it was raining, there was this sheen that enhanced aircraft.

I’d like to say that when I saw this carrier based McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet aircraft that I was drawn by its unique geometric shapes, and spent several hours waiting for others step out of the frame and took hundreds of photos before settling on this particular one. But no, I was actually on my way to get in line for a tour of the Lockheed C-5 Galaxy and stopped to grab a snap shot. I actually only took one photo at this perspective, 3 photos total; the other two were of the nose and the intake part of the jet. What can I say, “it was raining,” and the line for the C-5 was forming underneath the wing of its enormous aircraft.

What actually drew me to this particular perspective was the symmetry of the fighter. The circles and inner circles of the engines looked like eyes, and the arresting hook looked kinda-like a nose.

In post processing: the color in the photo was a distraction, so I enhanced the photo in Lightroom to pull as much contrast as I dared, I then used Nik (now Google or should I say Alphabet) Silver Effects to convert to black & white. With all that; the majority of the editing was done in Photoshop to remove the feet of the spectators as well as all the tie-down flags and the oil leak catch bucket. The editing was not all that bad because of the symmetry of the aircraft I was able to select portions of the photo from one side, flip and use it to recover what was hidden by the obstruction I was trying to remove.

The result is a rarely photographed perspective of the back-end of this magnificent aircraft that kinda looks like the face of an Owl.

Location: Barns Air National Guard – 104th Fighter Wing, Massachusetts
Camera: Nikon D2x
Lens: Nikkor 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 @ 30mm
Exposure: ISO 100; f/4 @ 1/250 sec.
Tripod: none

About Richard Cox