Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Stop the Press - The Hook Magazine - Summer 2009

Just another magazine alert. This time my work is featured in The Hook, the Journal of Carrier Aviation, summer issue.

The article, again on the S-3 Vikings final days, was written by long time friend and mentor Tony Holmes. Some of you may remember Tony's article in Combat Aircraft on VS-22. Well this is the article that should have appeared there, not the edited down piece that ran. The article is nine pages long and features eight of my images of the Vidars.

This magazine and organization are near and dear to my heart because they were the ones that gave me my first opportunities at getting published. Without that support, I wouldn't be doing what I do today. The Summer issue has just been wrapped up by managing editor Jan Jacobs and will be available only to members of the Tailhook Association. If you're a fan of Military Aviation, especially Naval Aviation, and want to read about the issues facing our aviators today and what is going on in the fleet, I strongly recommend joining the Tailhook Association. It's much better than anything you're going to get on the internet. You can find out more at:


On another note, I just got back from an extended trip to NAS Key West where I was fortunate enough to work with VFC-111 SunDowners again. Look for another update about that trip soon.

Thanks again for stopping by and all the best

Fuji Out

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Stop The Press!

Just wanted to let everyone know that the latest issue of Air Forces Monthly (June 2009) should be hitting the U.S. newsstands pretty soon. Those of you in Europe may already have seen it.

The reason for the head's up is I wanted to bring to your attention an article by Gary Wetzel on VS-22's final days as the last active duty S-3 Viking squadron in the US Navy. As many of you know, the S-3 and the Viking Community are very near and dear to my heart. Over the years I worked closely with Sea Control Wing at NAS Jax and I am proud to call many of those whom I worked with my friends today. My first magazine cover was a shot of an S-3 Viking. So was my second. Gary does a fine job of bringing the story of the Vidars, as VS-22 was sometimes known, to the reader. It also features some pretty cool photos taken by yours truly including the one on the opening spread as seen below.

In my opinion the S-3 was the most under
appreciated aircraft that ever operated off a modern aircraft carrier. The jet was the Swiss Army Knife of Naval Aviation with a wide range of capabilities that unfortunately fell victim to politics and an ever shrinking budget. I hope you'll check out the story, its worth your time.

Fair Winds & Following Seas Hoover - You Will Be Missed

Thanks Again For Stopping By & All The Best

Fuji Out

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Circle B Bar Nature Reserve

Something that a lot of people don't know about me is that I'm a bit of a closet naturalist. I grew up in the great state of Tennessee and remember going to the Great Smokey Mountains National Park often, sometimes every other weekend, to just explore and of course photograph what I saw. One of the places I loved to go was the Sugarlands Visitor Center as you entered the park from Gatlinburg. It was full of all kinds of fascinating information, exhibits and great people who helped expand that information. As a kid, I soaked it up like a sponge. I figured I was quite lucky to have this all in my "backyard." Well now I'm lucky once again.

Living here in Lakeland for years, I have often wanted to go out and see some of the landscape and wildlife of what in your mind's eye you think of as Florida. No, I don't mean Cinderella's Castle and the surrounding flowerbeds or the tourists getting their drink on in downtown Orlando. I mean the real Florida without high rises, the theme parks and the tourist traps. The jungle without the concrete. The Florida of the Creek and Seminole nations as the Spanish found it in the 1500s. Well low and behold, maybe if I took my head out of the computer a bit more often I would have found it sooner because it was right under my nose the whole time.

Located on State Road 540 is the Circle B Bar Nature Reserve. Its 1,267 acres of prime Florida wetlands and home to countless species of wildlife. At the visitors' entrance is the Polk's Nature Discovery Center, a Sugarlands like three building complex with classrooms and exhibits which opened in 2008. I first visited the Nature Center a couple weeks ago when I met my good friend and fellow photographer Reinier there to judge the Polk County Camera Club portfolios. I immediately fell in love with the place and I didn't even venture out onto the trails! To remedy that, my brother and I decided to go there this past Friday and do a bit of exploring.

All I can say is the place is well worth the early wake up call. With 6 miles of trails through the various landscapes crammed into this unique and special place, birdwatchers, educators, naturalists, and photographers are treated to some of the greatest imagination fueling vistas one is least likely to expect in the shadow of Orlando and Tampa. To me the Cypress swamp was the most moving as I alternately thought of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness and images of Ponce de Leon pushing through looking for the Fountain of Youth. The oak hamlets were just as impressive with their boughs crookedly reaching skyward.

We ventured out on a couple of the more popular trails including Alligator Alley and Shady Oak. Even on what Reinier, who is primarily a nature photographer who volunteers at Circle B, calls the off season, we saw an abundance of wildlife and at extreme close range. This was especially good for Pedro and I as we didn't want to be too weighed down by gear and so the longest glass we had was a couple of Nikkor 70-300s. They worked just fine. The variety of waterfowl was fascinating. Not to be out done, several birds of prey, my favorites, made an appearance including a several Osprey, a hawk and a sleepy immature barred owl. Of course one can't think of Florida wetlands without thinking Gator! Circle B doesn't disappoint there either. I lost count of how many of the large reptiles we saw on Lake Hancock. We also got to see some baby Alligators in the marsh about two or three feet away from us.

Of course the real benefit of Circle B is not the photographic opportunities, the chance to offload the kids for an afternoon, or the habitat it provides for wildlife but its the wetlands themselves. They are natures filtration system for our planets water supply. Water that winds up on your store shelves in plastic bottles with such great marketing blurbs like "Natural Florida Spring Water" starts right here in wetlands filtering into the aquifer. Water is becoming an hot topic issue in our ever increasingly complex world., many places suffer from a shortage or an excess of it. When it comes to the environment, I take the same approach I take to any subject, I learn as much as possible. Circle B is a great place to start and get to learn about wetlands first hand. I can't recommend a trip there strongly enough, you won't regret it.

Thanks For Stopping By & All The Best