50 YEAR REUNION OF VIETNAM VETERANS DAY II

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On the second day with the Birddog unit I covered a memorial ceremony at Fort Rucker dedicating a Vietnam Memorial. It was a an extremely hot day, which is just like the south to give you blazing hot in the middle of fall. Despite that well over 300 people attended the memorial service. At the ceremony they requested that I take a picture of all the attendees, but the officiator dismissed the crowd and getting them back into place. There was still around 200 people paying enough attention to get the largest group shot I have ever taken. There was no shade, no cloud cover, just harsh direct sunlight. I shot in aperture priority mode allowing the camera to do most of the work for me.

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Following the memorial ceremony a barbecue luncheon was held at a hangar where they had two of the birddog planes and a few helicopters. On the one end were the massive hangar doors that filtered in a beautiful soft light, but only about a quarter of the way in. Past that the light dropped off quickly. The ceilings on the hanger were way to high to bounce light so I set up a small flash with softbox on a small lightstand that I could carry in one hand and operate the camera in the other. This let me move about the entire hanger capturing images of the event. Then near the doors I simply went with all natural light.

I also began photographing the different unit groups. These groups ranged from one or two men to groups of fifty. The only place large enough to photograph the groups without people behind them was along one of the exterior doors. With the sun slightly behind the hangar it provided me with an even light that that gave me consistent exposure from the front to the back of each group. The wall was plain metal so I composited in an American flag to the wall behind the groups.

Throughout the day they had been giving rides on the helicopter and one of the planes. As the end of the day approached most of the people had gone with only one or two people left and I got to grab a picture of one of the birddog planes before it took off.

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