You Put It Where?!

January 02, 2019  •  Leave a Comment

The best view, meaning eye-catching and communicative, is often not the obvious one. Not the "standard" one, the one that is expected. Sometimes you, or at least your camera, have to go to the unexpected place to make the exceptional image.

Sikorsky Aerospace Maintenance

Above, we peer down into the fuselage of an F-5 at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma where a maintainer is preparing the compartment for a new fuel cell. These are cramped quarters that, photographically, allowed only peeking through a small access panel. Retaining the visibility of that hole's perimeter emphasizes the tightness of the space — even our view is being squeezed.

Here's another top-down scenario at MCAS Yuma, this one of a maintainer wrenching on an engine. I positioned myself on a mezzanine above the action, which provides both a better view of that action and a more interesting image for the viewer.

Sikorsky Aerospace Maintenance

Where appropriate, go low instead of high, as represented here by photographer Michele Peterson*, both of us on the ramp at Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth. This is not an uncommon position for an aviation photographer, let me tell you! But except for the undeniable joy of lying on hard or gravelly ground that might be freezing or baking, why go so low?

For this: the "hero" shot I made in New Iberia, Louisiana, of a Bristow Academy S300 dominating all it surveys.

Air Logistics

Or maybe the more serious domination of a Bradley Fighting Vehicle on Fort Hood, Texas.

Another reason for going low, if not quite into the weeds, is to isolate the subject from an undesirable background. This Epic LT turboprop had distracting company so, to emphasize the exhaust stack, I merely knelt and framed everything against a clear blue sky. Isolation achieved.

Here's the front office of a QF-4 captured not from, well, it wouldn't have a pilot so, not from where the non-pilot's non-eyes would be, but from below the rim of the cockpit on the right side. This gives a a different and, thus more interesting, view of both the legacy steam gauges and the switchology added for unmanned operations. Wow, that's a lot of fiddly things!

Holloman AFB

Speaking of looking inside, here's the engine compartment of an F-16C on Davis-Monthan AFB. I'm going to declare this a surprisingly uncluttered space for all that goes on here, a condition emphasized with a simple and elegant composition. Fun fact: the engine is attached to, and delivers its thrust to, the aircraft through just those two gray mounting blocks visible at the 3 and 9 o'clock positions.

And finally, what the world looks like from inside a Bambi bucket. The Phoenix, Arizona, police aviation unit was practicing wildland firefighting with their AS350 and, while of course I photographed the operations from the outside, including air to air, here's a view I'd never seen. I reached my hand-with-camera into the space, pointed the lens back out, and made the shot. It's eye-catching and story-telling all in one. That's a good thing.

East Valley Wildland Fire training

Obviously, being on the ground with an aircraft, or armored vehicle, allows access to spaces and activities that are not available when photographing them in motion. Take advantage of that access and don't settle for the same ol' same ol' photography. Maybe go high or low, or just shove your camera somewhere and shoot!

* You can learn more about Michele, and see her work, at



No comments posted.