The Last Carrier Departure.

Yesterday I was able to go out and shoot the USS Reagan as she departed for sea, through Tokyo Bay, from her homeport in Yokosuka, Japan. I was sitting at a parking lot on base looking in to the foggy bay, shooting in the rain, when my wife who is active duty Navy came from work. She came to have a glance mentioning this would probably be the last time she’d see an aircraft carrier departing. My wife is retiring at the end of the year and we’re off to Texas and we’ll both be retired, I retired 10 years ago. Until she mentioned this, the last time she’d watch a carrier depart, I hadn’t thought of it that way. It kind of hit home that I’ve been around the US Navy for 40 years now, I realized I need to get out there and shoot plenty of ships before leaving as the chances of finding ships in El Paso, Texas are fairly slim.

The USS Reagan, CVN-76, departed as I was shooting with a handful of families around me having soft conversations. It’s the part of the military most people don’t see, the part families don’t look forward to… Departing ships aren’t as much of a big deal as when they return, there was no band or ceremony, just these few families. There is nothing like the aircraft carrier departing, seeing the harbor tugs out there before waiting and clearing out the boat and ship traffic to be followed by a helicopter flying circles around the mighty ship slowly moving through the water; it’s a big evolution. On this rainy day, the weather was less than desirable as I stood there with the families photographing the Reagan. Now she slipped in to the fog bank quietly, with the loved ones aboard of those few around me.

Behind me is the USS Ronald Reagan departing Japan.

Just another day…

Today I’m shooting the USS Ronald Reagan departing Yokosuka, Japan on a Tiger Cruise this morning. A Tiger Cruise is a one day trip where family and friends come along, very cool. ¬†Living on a naval base has its perks! ¬†Look for pics in the future, meanwhile check out my photos at BillChizekPhotography.com.

 

About this…

Photo: Dirty Glass

Location: Norfolk, VA

Date: June 30, 2016

Camera & Lens: Canon 6D and 24-105mm lens

About This ¬†Photo: ¬†This is about Wisky, Wisky is not a typo, yes it’s without the H. ¬†Wisky, not the bourbon kind, this is Wisky, the Navy kind. ¬†Wisky was the nickname of the USS Wisconsin (BB-64), a WWII era battleship that, like her three mighty sister ships, America couldn’t seem to do without. ¬†She was originally¬†Wiskycommissioned in 1944 near the end of the Second World War but would be¬†recommissioned two more times and decommissioned a total of three times! ¬†This beautiful ship, and piece of history, now sits in Norfolk, VA. ¬†Back in 2016, I was going to one of my bestest bud’s retirement from the US Navy and decided to turn it in to a photo trip. ¬†Having lived in Norfolk a couple of times, it originally wasn’t my cup of tea but over the years it really grew on me. ¬†Going there just for a ceremony was cool, but turning it in to something much more could be even better. ¬†Besides Wisky, the plan was to get some shots at Williamsburg, Jamestown, and¬†some rural shots as well. ¬†Shooting well-documented sites and objects in a new way is¬†Centeredalways a challenge, sometimes I’ll research before leaving just to see what NOT to shoot. ¬†Upon arriving at BB-64 in Norfolk, I set up right in front of the battleship and tossing the rule of thirds out the window, shot straight down the middle of the bow to get this BW shot called Wisky. ¬†With the clouds behind BB64, no wind with calm waters to reflect, and no tourists at this given time, I took quite a few shots like this. ¬†While I tried adhering to the rule of thirds, it just didn’t speak to me on this occasion ¬†Shooting to the left would leave out the apartments and shooting to the right would miss out on the museum that houses the warship. ¬†It felt to me like both of those aspects needed to be included. ¬†Another photo, the similar color shot called Centered, came out decent and I really like both shots. ¬†Confident that I got what I wanted, I wanted to find other angles and include items located there as well such as statues and park benches. ¬†Checked all those off the list!

After shooting plenty in the immediate vicinity of the ship, I noticed a parking garage across the street and wanted to see if I could get up high and have a look. ¬†There was an elevator, why not take it? ¬†Well… ¬†it’s what I call the Chizek Luck. ¬†Here’s a summary of the Chizek Luck; almost any time that I’m fortunate, like being the guy who gets in the shortest line at the grocery store, it’s usually followed by having the “closed” sign go up with the person in front of me. ¬†Sure, the cashier is always sorry, tells me how bad they feel, but I understand the Chizek Luck well. ¬†Heck, even my 7 & 10 year old daughters picked up on my luck. ¬†If I were to take that elevator to the top, somebody, somewhere, would tell me about some missed opportunity or show me their award winning photo THEY got by taking the stairs in that building… ¬†Deciding to hoof it up five or six floors, I came around the corner on about the third floor and was looking at Wisky through a dirty window in the stairwell. ¬†I’m honestly not sure why, but something inside said, “shoot it” and up I went to the top. ¬†I reached the roof of the parking garage, forgetting about the window shot, and went to work with the intended shoot. ¬†Both of the below photos were taken from the garage, on the left is Norfolk (B&W) and on the right is Anchor Up. ¬†While I like both of these photos, it’s Dirty Glass, the photo taken in the stairwell that hangs in my little office. ¬†After returning from the Virginia trip and beginning to work on the photos, I noticed this window photo, it clicked with me. ¬†Maybe it’s because my usual luck didn’t hold true or because of the little voice inside that said “shoot it” had compelled me to listen. ¬†This was a spontaneous shot that just worked, the angle of the ship, the light and shadows, even the dirt on the window make it cool. ¬†Anyway, I love this shot and it gets looks when my Navy friends come over, and for me, that’s the best part.

 

Patriotic Homes of Coronado

Flags 1Selling stock photos has been going well this year. ¬†However, while most photos for my website make it to the stock sites with logos and trademarks removed, the reverse isn’t true as many stock photos don’t make it to BillChizekPhotography.com. ¬†These can range from the texture of a wall, grass with morning dew, or a piece of wood; subjects that allow copy space for advertisers to insert text, nothing appealing for a photography website. ¬†That said, I try to post a variety of photos about five days a week to my website and all the stock photos taken that week. ¬†Posting one photo daily ensures website traffic, if I posted thirty photos most visitors would just look at them one time and move on. ¬†Posting as many stock photos weekly as possible is important because they don’t make money sitting on a hard drive. ¬†However, this year I decided to post nothing but patriotic stock photos for the long Fourth of July weekend. ¬†For this, I used stock photos of flags flying in the yards near where we live in Coronado, California. ¬†Not surprising to anyone living in Coronado, but many homes here fly the flag year round. In fact, only the photo at the top of this post was taken on the actual Fourth of July weekend (click HERE for original photo). ¬†Yes, you’d be hard pressed to find a more patriotic community west of the Mississippi!

This is largely due Coronado having a unique military history, a good portion of Coronado’s land is occupied by Naval Air Station North Island. ¬†Almost since the beginning of Naval Aviation, many Naval Aviators have relocated to Coronado at various points in their careers.Flags 6¬† Many homes proudly display blue yard signs reading “Home of a Naval Aviator” and these are everywhere. ¬†To say this little town is kind of proud of the US Navy is like saying that little town back in Wisconsin is kind of proud of their Packers. ¬†That’s why most of these photos were shot months ago in anticipation that advertisers would be looking for patriotic photos for their Independence Day deadlines. ¬†Coronado was the perfect location for this because with flags flying year round, my patriotic stock photo search was mostly complete last May. ¬†This photo to the left may look like it’s been set up for an upcoming holiday, but this street looks like this practically for 365 days of the year! ¬†Yes, even with the white picket fences.

Flags 2

Coronado is home to many active duty and retired military, plus it’s the home of the US Navy SEAL’s who train here. ¬†Since 2007, Coronado has been home to our family for about seven years. ¬†It’s where I, like many others, retired from the military. ¬†It’s probably because Coronado is just one of those places that’s comfortable to military people because being retired military here isn’t a novelty. ¬†This is probably another the reason that flags fly year round here. ¬†Shooting stock photography here couldn’t have been easier, if I liked a particular photo but felt it was missing something, I didn’t have to spend hours in Photoshop doctoring the pic to get it right nor did I need to seek new locations. ¬†All that was needed was to return to the same location at a different time of day! ¬†The differences between morning and evening lighting, seasons, and weather all ensured a variety of photo settings.

Flags 3The photo location for this shot at left didn’t work the few times I tried, it was always lacking something. ¬†However, returning one morning and catching the sun behind the flag seemed to make it click. ¬†As a photographer, that’s one of the nice things about living somewhere that others travel to for vacation, if you don’t get a photo the way you want it you can just return later. ¬†While I’ve loved living here, my wife a service member and it’s our time to roll to the next place to call home for a while. ¬†Fortunately we’re moving to another incredible place that should prove interesting not only for photography but for our family as well, Virginia. ¬†As a former adjunct history professor and lifelong history buff/nerd/geek, I can’t think of another place I’d rather be located other than at my own house in Texas. ¬†Coronado has been a great place to raise our daughters, who have loved the beaches and learning to swim at the rec center, leaving friends and Coronado will be tough. ¬†While moving an entire house every three years or so can be draining, once settled at the new location this nomadic lifestyle can be rewarding. ¬†Since taking up photography, military transfers seem to recharge the creative batteries. ¬†In Coronado, even the below photo of springtime and blooming flowers came out patriotic, ya… it’s just that kind of place.

Nado Spring

 

 

Coronado, CA

I had the good fortune of living in the coastal city of Coronado, California from 2007-2011, courtesy of the US Navy. ¬†Photography was reentering my life as I had not taken many photos in over 25 years. ¬†I found myself in the land of sunsets, beaches, ocean views, and I loved it. ¬†When I found out in 2014 that I would be returning to Coronado, I was a happy camper! ¬†I began searching online for photos of Coronado to see what other photographers were shooting, something I often do to get ideas. ¬†I found sunset photos, the Hotel Del Coronado, sunsets, the beach, the bridge, the boathouse, and even sunsets! ¬†I made a decision right then and there to take photos of Coronado, the city; sure I’d shoot the San Diego skyline, the bridge, boathouse, and yes, the legendary Pacific coast sunsets; but I hoped to capture¬†something different. ¬†Let me say upfront, there are many amazing photographers in Coronado who I respect, they shoot everything including the incredible sunsets, and I love checking out their amazing photos! ¬†However, I hoped¬†to do something else and wanted¬†to catch another side of Coronado while I was here. ¬†The photo at the top of the page was taken¬†at the Fiddler’s Cove Marina when the¬†sun was just starting to burn through the morning fog.

Super Moon    Fog

The main marina in Coronado makes for an excellent photo subject just about 24/7 (above left). ¬†I hoped to show that there is life in this marina, even at night, because¬†many people live aboard their boats. ¬†This was the night of the “super moon” and while this isn’t a spectacular super moon photo compared to others, I think it captures the vibe of this marina at night with the calm waters and reflection of the moon. ¬†Since sailing and boating are a major activities in Coronado, it’s not difficult finding sailboats virtually everywhere. ¬†The above right photo was taken from Tidelands Park which is a great location to shoot sunrises as well. ¬†You might be able to¬†tell by this photo, and the one at the top of this page, I LOVE fog! ¬†When it comes to photography, I find that while blue skies are amazing to the naked eye, they just do nothing for me with my camera. ¬†I’ve found the trick to shooting fog in Coronado is to have the camera bag ready to go at all times, the fog can appear and disappear quickly here. ¬†Unlike the shores of Lake Michigan in Wisconsin where I grew up, the sun can literally burn off solid fog in minutes, and in both of these photos the fog was gone within 10 minutes¬†after snapping these.

Chillaxin'    Spreckels Christmas

Capturing everyday scenes in Coronado has been interesting because common events¬†we do daily are set in front of an incredible backdrop. ¬†In the above left photo, a bird dives in to the water for a fish while a guy is relaxing with¬†his hands behind head checking out the view. ¬†Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up, Coronado is¬†really like this at times! ¬†The above right photo was taken at the Spreckel’s Park gazebo after my daughters had their Girl Scout meeting there. ¬†The below middle sunrise photo was also taken at Spreckel’s Park, if there is a hub for Coronado, in my opinion it is this park because concerts, flower shows, playtime with the kids, and even craft shows on Sunday mornings happen at this park. ¬†Below left are two VW vans that I drive by practically every day, and for over a year I meant to shoot them. ¬†There’s nothing fancy here, I just thought it looked cool as a typical street scene with these classic vans. ¬†Finally, the shot below on the right is a front yard swing, it could be Anywhere USA, which was the point of this photo; there are many times when¬†Coronado feels like any other small town I’ve visited, I mean that in the best possible way!

V-Dubs  Spreckles  Swingin'

Coronado has a rich military history as both the US Army and US Navy maintained a presence here until the late 1930’s. ¬†However, it has been the Navy that remained and Coronado has been the major training location for the US Navy SEAL’s for decades. ¬†In 2016, Coronado erected a statue honoring all maritime commandos called the “Naked Warrior” sculpted by artist J. Seward Johnson Jr. (below). ¬†These ‘naked warriors’ would later evolve in to the Navy SEAL’s of today. ¬†For a great book on this, check out¬†The Naked Warriors: The Elite Fighting Force that became the Navy SEAL’s by CDR Francis Fane. ¬†While I was shooting this photo, a young man actually slowly passed by the statue on his beach cruiser bike, fist bumped his heart and flashed a peace sign to the statue in respect, this is Coronado. ¬†While I love the ocean, beaches, and sunsets, I think there is more to Coronado. ¬†While it’s a place of seaside mansions and a major travel desination, if you peel back it’s layers you’ll find a simple coastal village and military town rich in history. ¬†Look past the streets filled with tourists and you’ll see¬†swings hanging from trees, VW’s parked on the¬†streets in front of simple cottages, and quiet neighborhoods like most other little towns. ¬†Oh, and if you wait till the evening, you might even experience¬†an incredible sunset.

Naked Warrior 2