Friday, April 3, 2009

Sunset Superman

There is a story behind this shot. It is not your average sunset shot. I took this while on deployment in 1994. This is the one shot that made me take my photography hobby more seriously.
The runner is doing laps around the flight deck of the USS George Washington as it was anchored in the Red Sea. We were waiting to transit the Suez Canal the following day.
I was wandering the deck, after it was washed down, trying to get some decent shots of aircraft in the sunset. I saw the standing water and tried to get some reflections when this guy ran into the shot. I snapped it and forgot about it.
When I got the shots back I thumbed through them and liked about 6 shots, including this one.
It was at this point that my butter fingers changed everything... I would have left them in the envelope with the negatives and they would have found a home in a shoe box somewhere. But this shot had a different fate.
The envelope with all of the negatives and prints slipped out of my hands and into a sink full of water. I quickly grabbed them out before they were completely ruined. I threw them in a plastic bag and ran down to the Ship Photographer's lab and asked if there was anything that could be done to save them.
The photographer's mate said he could save them... Then to my complete horror he dropped them into a sink full of warm water.
I asked quite loudly what he was doing. "Fixing your stuff" he said as he completely drenched them through and hung them to dry.
Reluctantly I conceded, thenwent away and left them with him. When I came back to pick them up the next day he asked to keep two of them. I said sure but wanted to know why he wanted them and if he could make copies for me.
He told me that the Photography Officer saw them hanging to dry and wanted to know who took them. The P.O. picked out the two for inclusion in the ship's Deployment "Cruise Book".
I later had a meeting with the P.O. and the department Master Chief. They both advised me to get some training and encouraged me to keep shooting.
I took their advice to heart and signed up for the New York Institute of Photography correspondence course. While taking the course, NYI bought a copy of the shot after I used it for one of my assignments.
OK... Fast forward several years, I had moved back and forth across the Atlantic and the Continental United States, not once, but twice. Somewhere along the way I lost the negative and all my decent size copies of the shot.
Disappointed beyond words, I chalked it up to life experience and moved on.
Fast forward to two months ago... I need to solidify my Photoshop skills so I sign up for the "Photoshop for Photographers" correspondence course offered by NYI. When I got my first package from NYI it had a booklet called the "Photographer's Eye" and on the cover, staring back at me was my photo. I was more than just a little surprised.
I told NYI the story and asked for a high resolution copy since I had none. I just got the copy. So now I can share it with you on Sky Watch Friday.
The long and short of it is that butter fingers can sometimes lead to unexpected and interesting things.
Since that fateful drop in the sink this shot has been through alot... It certainly changed my hobby into actual photography.
BTW, I recommend both NYI courses.
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6 comments:

Holly said...

Love the shot and the story that goes with it... awesome :)

Jarart said...

Great photo and the story is so interesting. They say everything happens for a reason. I guess that's true in this case.

lynn said...

This is really stunning.

Babooshka said...

This is an incredible image. Timeless, classic and just had to be rescued. This will be as fresh in a 100 years from now. I am not surpried this got you into photography, it's a cracker.

Paul said...

A great photo. Funny old world sometimes, love the story.
Were you Navy?

aranred said...

Interesting story. My Father that is now 84 years old served in the calvery during World War II. He went to India towards the end of the War. He also did volunteer/missionary work in the eastern states of the U.S. I beleive it was the New York Institute that he attended to learn how to be a photographer. He still does photography today. I really like all of your pictures.