To the Skies…

Every now and then I get an assignment that I’m truly excited about, in more than just normal excitement.  That sounds confusing and it should be unless you realize that I’m pretty easily excitable in most ways.  You can ask Shannon as the other night I was overly excited about a Burrito to the point where I ate one 3 meals in a row.  Not just the jump up and down excited because you get to meet someone famous excited, but like Going To SPACE! an opportunity that you get that could be wicked cool kind of excited.   Several weeks back I had just such an opportunity with the Lifeline at IU Health for a story that the Indiana Nursing Quarterly was doing on Helicopter Nurses.

(Nikon D3s, 100ISO, Nikon 24mmF1.4.  1/6400th@F1.8.  Nikon SB-900 zoomed to 200mm on a Sandbagged Stand shot through a 16″ Umbrella to camera left set to Epic Full Power.  Speedlight fired by a Pocket Wizard TT5, with a Pocket Wizard TT1 and Nikon SU-800 on the camera’s hotshoe.)

I’m sure you’re thinking of all the cool things that you would have done if you were out there too right?  I was amped.  The crew at the Indianapolis Heliport was incredibly helpful, and didn’t even balk when I asked if we could move the helicopter so that I could see the skyline.  Being a modern day newspaper photographer though I knew that my time was limited.  Gone are the days where a photographer could spend an entire day someplace to make sure they got the shots they needed to tell the story the best way possible.  Only people like Time, or National Geographic can do things like that anymore.  In some aspects I feel like maybe it makes newspaper photographers better because they have to learn to see or imagine things more quickly, while in other ways it makes me feel cheated as to some of the cool things that could be seen or photographed along the way.  For this assignment the skyline was very important to the story as it needed to show that this was very much Indianapolis and not some stock photo so most of the photos that I took have the skyline in them in some way.

(Nikon D3s, 100ISO, Nikon 28-70F2.8D@28mm.  1/160th@F11)

Of Course Photography can sometimes be like a Thriller at the movies, because you never know when a twist is going to take you in a direction you weren’t expecting.  That’s the Chopper crew preparing for takeoff.  If I had all the time in the world I’d have put a light in the back of the chopper to light up the crew a little more for photo purposes, but that’s where the twist comes in.  I’d like to say that frames following this one were me loading onto the chopper to go with them, but they aren’t.  An actual emergency arose about 40 minutes after I got there, and aside from a few chopper interiors and the Portraits that I took like the one above the shoot was pretty much over before it started.  During this time I learned quite a few things though.  For instance; everybody thinks that helicopters are the fastest way to the hospital, but that’s actually wrong.  Helicopters are the fastest way to transfer patients between hospitals, or to get people out of traffic wrecks where ambulances can’t leave; but for a regular accident a helicopter can actually take longer to get you to the care you need.  It took 10 minutes for the helicopter and crew to be ready to take off, as opposed to just hopping in and going.  It’s definitely some food for thought for the next time I stick a fork into an outlet to give myself that “Mad Scientist” hairdoo.

(Nikon D3s, 125ISO, Nikon 28-70F2.8D@65mm.  1/640th@F5)

The head pilot happened to be piloting this chopper to wherever it was they needed to go.  He agreed to let me stay out on the pad while they took off, along with the nurse that I had just photographed.  (Who primarily stayed there only so that if I blew away she could watch to try and find me).  I managed to fight the urge to run out there and grab onto the feet of the helicopter like James Bond or Ethan Hunt so that I could photograph the crew while on their mission long enough to watch the helicopter ascend into the sky and become small.  Then the shoot was over just as quickly as it started.  While I did get a few static shots inside the helicopter, within an hour and a half I had the coolest shoot I would go to all that month began, and abruptly ended.  While there was another IU Helicopter that can be seen in the frame above, it was not in any condition to be photographed as they had repair guys crawling all over it.  Ironically enough, about 20 minutes later as I had everything packed up the Helicopter retunred after experiencing a Rotor issue.  Not sure how they didn’t discover it in the pre-flight, or what happened to whatever emergency they were going to; but that’s ok.  My time limit on the Tarmac was up and it was time to go.  From there I went on the rest of the afternoon thinking about my time at the heliport and what I could have/should have done in the time I had before I was interrupted.  Of course none of that mattered as I was on deadline, and spent the rest of the afternoon shooting photos of pizza; as I’ve done so many other times before.  More Soon.