Emporia, KS, the "Birthplace of Veterans Day" also had, according to an internet search of military aircraft static displays, a single Phantom F4-D. Since creating an actually awesome Facebook frame for us USAF veterans, and subsequently, one for those in relationships with us at the behest of GF, I'd had the idea to shoot her pin-up style against the backdrop of military aircraft. Coupled with GF's enthusiasm for fulfilling an (unbeknownst to me at the time) lifelong dream of pin-up modeling, we both set off on our separate paths to make this shoot a reality.
Though it was very late Friday night when she concluded her first makeup test, the results were so spectacular, I didn't want to waste the effort, so I shot her against the green screen and pasted her in photos I had taken of random static displays I'd found during our trip to Colorado earlier in the month. Alas, while fun, they were but facsimiles of what I'd hoped to accomplish. We'd planned to hit Emporia the next day, Sunday, and even arose early to accomplish this task, but the weather had not cooperated, being overcast and rainy the entirety of the day. Not waiting to again waste the effort of the second day of makeup, I followed her around the local shops in town grabbing shots where I could. This was cut short due to scheduled production maintenance which kept me up late again as well, which is why Sunday's trip to Emporia was such a madhouse.
We'd slept in. We'd had to in order to have the energy for the trip. But there were also kids to attend to, breakfast to make, and all the other things which go along with a Sunday morning ritual - most of which I performed solo while GF was working on her third and final day of victory rolls and pin-up makeup, which honestly went way over time, but only because we'd just changed over to Daylight Savings Time. It was going to get dark fast once we arrived at our destination, and with that, plummeting temperatures.
First the good news - the static display was completely open to the public - it was not behind an unsightly fence; we had unfettered access to the aircraft. Secondly, it was an actual USAF variant, which I wasn't expecting as the McConnell-Douglas F4 (Phantom) was initially produced as a Naval aircraft and eventually flown by the Marine Corps and Air Force as well. I will add here as well that seven years of Air Force Intelligence studying, among other things, Air Order of Battle and I had no idea the AF variant had a tailhook - so there's that - learning something new every day.
As for the bad, once I'd hauled my gear to the site from the vehicle, I'd found I'd once again left my memory card at home, attached to the computer. Not a problem, I learned early on to carry a hardpack with no fewer than 11 occupied slots. Only, somewhere in the confusion of the weekend, and the quickly approaching darkness, I'd left the hardpack at home. I had no memory cards. Resigning myself to losing light while backtracking into town in hopes of procuring some poorly performing generic card at one of the small-town country stores I remembered placing my backup camera in my tote just in case, which was sitting in the back of the car. I was saved!
I ended up not shooting with fill flash, utilizing the soft, ambient light filtered from the heavy cloud cover, but somehow disabled bracketing halfway through my shoot, and (beyond me) discovered I had my Sigma 50mm F/1.4 Art lens set to (gasp) f/5.6. WTAF? Once I correct that to f/1.4 everything magically fell into place and we had a successful (albeit short) shoot. Happy Veteran's Day!