Christmas '99: The USS Bataan Ready Group
The Shoot: Part Four
December 3, 1999
Aboard the USS Bataan
Today is a pick up day. Being our last
day "underway," we're getting final interviews, flight ops, and underway shots.
We pull into port tomorrow, and then begin the tours of Spain. It will be a
big project, but at least I'll be able to stand up!
Many fine photographers have preceded me in
doing this Navy Christmas. In its 14 year history, 5 or 6 other shooters have been
involved. They are all professionals that I respect and admire, so much so that I
was a little nervous following in their footsteps.
The trademark of Navy Christmas has always
been the beauty shots of the ship. Making a gray ship on gray seas look
"pretty" is challenging. I never felt like I was able to get the right
shots last year.
I was determined to do better this year, but
until now, I hadn't been able to capture a good sunset. Tonight was my last chance
at flight ops, so it was all our nothing.
The shoot began on "vulture's row."
The higher walkway that overhangs the flight deck. The angle is interesting,
and there is less chance of getting hit by a helo.
With all it's good points there is a negative.
I affectionately call it the the "mosquito." The vulture's row
walkway is very close to the radar towers which are putting out a tremendous amount of RF.
Camera's don't like random RF very much, and begin to malfunction. Every time
the dish spins around a small mosquito sound comes through on the audio channel, and the
video rolls. There's really not much you can do about it. Some wrap their
cameras in aluminum foil, but if the RF is strong enough, nothing will help.
The RF warning light kept blinking while
shooting, plus flight ops were slow, maybe one launch every 30 minutes. Boredom and
frustration began to set in.
A decision was made to move down to the flight
deck. I'm not sure if the pictures will be better, but at least I'm away from the
As the sun went down I was treated to some of
the best helo flight ops I've ever seen. All of the launches and takeoffs were
silhouetted by a beautiful golden sunset. I finally got the pictures I wanted.
I can quit now... almost.
December 4, 1999
Aboard the USS Bataan
We are pulling into Barcelona this morning.
There is a chill in the air, but it's not as bad as I expected. A light
jacket, and I'm ready to go.
When Navy ships pull into port, they normally
"man the rails." All of the sailors don their dress uniforms and stand at
attention along the walkways of the ship. I'm sure it's an impressive sight to the
locals on the shore.
Since everyone had to be dressed up, and
outside anyway we took this opportunity to shoot the ships greeting. I set the
camera on the "signal bridge" above where they drive the ship, and Joe organized
the troops down on the flight deck.
There is a large "5" painted on the
bow of the deck, and we curved the crew around the giant number. Communicating with
2 ways and hand signals we had the whole group yell "From the USS Bataan, Happy
Holidays Hampton Roads."
Finally we are tied up and on dry land.
I enjoyed the cruise, but I really wanted to walk around standing up. The low
passageways and "knee knockers" were wearing on me.
We hopped on the liberty
bus and went into town. Barcelona is a large cosmopolitian city. With more
than 1 million people living in the city limits, the streets fill up after dark.
Walking down the "Rambla" (the main commercial street), there are mimes,
dancers, flower shops, artists, and pet stores, all set up right on the sidewalk. It
was like a flash back in time seeing kids break dancing on a street corner.
The Christmas lights added to the mood and
made a delightful back drop for our story.
December 5, 1999
It's time to get the day time touring shots.
We load up in a convertible double decker bus with a few sailors and hit the
town. We see many beautiful old buildings lining the streets, and many beautiful
women riding the bus with us.
These are the times when I mix work and play.
I'm shooting a tour, but I'm also on the tour. Basically I'm a regular
tourist with a really big camera. The rest of our gang were ragging on me, claiming
that the TV camera was as much of a pick up tool as a puppy or baby. People
everywhere were asking about it. I didn't wind up with any phone number though...