Seven years ago I had the privilege of meeting the last four remaining Doolittle Raiders and the aircraft that they flew on their dangerous mission over Japan on April 18th, 1942. Last week the last remaining Doolittle Raider, Lt. Colonel Dick Cole, passed away at 103 years in age. After many years, all the raiders are together again.
Today marks the 77th anniversary of the Doolittle Raid in which 16 planes took off from the carrier USS Hornet and bombed Japan. While it was not a mission out of revenge, it was designed to send a message that Japan was not untouchable. The planes would fly on to various countries in Asia where all but one crashed. The men had to find their own way home. While the history of the mission is important, it is the bravery, ingenuity, and determination of all involved that really matters.
Spring in Montana is never the same from one year to another and this spring is shaping up to be another one for the books. After the record cold temps in February and March, the ice packs and snowstorms haven’t melted away yet. As a result of this many rivers still, have shelf ice on them. Fishing them can be dangerous as a wrong step can lead to you plummeting down into the unknown but photographically they can be quite rewarding. It comes down to the contrast of having that cold element with a sport that is typically thought of as being warm. Not mention that having a three-foot-tall ice chunk by you is just impressive.
Image Captured with Nikon D5, 24-70 AF-S, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film
Columbian Ground Squirrels aren’t the only early visitors that show up to mark the start of Spring. While the American Robin normally doesn’t go away in the winter, they just become harder to see roosting in the trees, come the beginning of Spring they tend to be everywhere. The Robin has become the quintessential harbinger of Spring in most places. They can brood up to three clutches throughout the year and considered a favorite among local birds of prey.
If there are one species in the Rockies that let you know when Spring has come it’s the Columbian Ground Squirrel. While a native species to Canada and the northwest United States, they are considered vermin in most agriculture and ranching areas due to their ability to multiply quickly and the number of burrows they create. Still, for those that don’t worry about those things they are like most members of the ground squirrel family fun to observe.
It’s soooo close but we just aren’t quite into that spring landscape phase yet. I really look forward to this time of year because we are starting to get warm days which result in dramatic skies while still having snow on the mountain tops. It can lead to some beautiful afternoon landscape photo sessions. Most commonly these occur in April and even May depending on the snowpack and temps. Right now is a good time to be scouting those locales so you know where to go come this spring. This was up in the Crazy Mountains several years ago and I can’t wait to go back this year.
Yep, that’s a frozen Dam. I was always under the belief that dams don’t freeze in the winter time because they are always turning out enough water to keep it warm enough from freezing. This is true in the case of Ennis Dam. Well, Holter Dam apparently wasn’t turning out that much water and it froze. That’s okay because it made for one really cool backdrop. Dam’s are a unique feature in photographs I find because it’s having to mesh the human-made world with the natural world and that doesn’t always work. Dan acted as my model for this shoot and even though he was backlit the bright backdrop made it so that he popped. No one thinks about fly fishing in the winter time but it is one of the best times to be fishing and the photography seems so unusual that it makes it interesting.
Image captured with Nikon D5, 24-70 AF-S, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film
That’s right it is almost time for those great spring fishing days with the amazing colors and vibrant patterns of the various fish species that come from those days. The cold temps are finally starting to rescind which means the ice flows will begin to break up and the rivers will once again be more suitable for fishing. In the meantime it’s still prep time with studying the fisheries, looking at snow packs and getting those flies ready.
Every photo tells a story but a print keeps that story alive. Having a large library of images is great but if you don’t find a way to share those images and tell those stories to others so that they live on, then the images become worthless. A recent shoot I did lead to 23 prints needed to keep that day alive. The clients said they were “giddy” when they were going through them, reliving every moment. That’s the power that prints can have.
Printing is a science. It takes time and practice to know which images look good on what paper and under what circumstances. There are many great resources out there that can help you learn but the best teacher is to just print and keep printing until you run out of ink and paper and then you print some more. For this purpose, I rely on Epson Surecolor P400 and Epson Papers.
Spitfires were used all over the world throughout WWII making it one of the most versatile aircraft used during the war. Among the battlefronts it served with, was on the small island of Malta. Civilization on Malta has been around for centuries and every since it began there has been constant fighting over the island due to its strategic position in the Mediterranean Sea. Control over northern Africa has always been fought for and during WWII it was paramount for the Axis powers. Well, the battle for Malta lasted for two years and with the help of Spitfires, the Allies were able to maintain control of the island.
On March 7th, 1942, 16 Supermarine Spitfires MkV’s were delivered via USS Eagle to the island, along with nine more from USS Eagle. 47 more were delivered on April 13th, 1942. All of this was part of Operation Spotter which gave priority to reinforcing the island in order to help hold Africa. Unfortunately, the majority of those aircraft were destroyed on the ground throughout March and April. Despite the loses, the island held and the Axis powers paid dearly in men and machines trying to take the island. Many of those reserves were needed in the Africa campaign but would never get there.
This particular Spitfire is part of the Historic Aircraft Collection, in Duxford, England. It happens to be an MkVb painted in honor of the RAF Polish 315 and 317 squadrons.
Images captured with Nikon D5, 70-300 VRII, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film
I’ve been bad about my reading over this past year, getting rather behind, with books stacking up on my shelves to read but I’ve finally got back into the swing of things and have gotten a little bit of reading done. I just finished Jungle Ace and I have to say it’s just a great read. It’s all about John Gerald Johnson and his exploits as an ace pilot throughout the Pacific. He flew P-38’s with the likes of Dick Bong, Wally Jordan, and Tommy McGuire. He was more than a quadruple ace, he was a leader to his men. If you’re in need of a good read, you might want to check it out.