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08-30-2009, 11:04 PM   #151
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Thanks again for taking the time to tell us this stuff.

What were those daily training assignments like? Did you have any kind of "simulated" combat photography assignments? Was the training always confined to the same surroundings or did you get a chance to go shoot outside the Fort?

09-02-2009, 03:13 PM   #152
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Training PART TWO

Photo School at Ft. Monmouth, was pretty intensive and very "results oriented". We'd be assigned specific study assignments the night before and were expected to read and study our Training Manual (texbooks) on the particular subject at hand.
The next day, we have the usual question/discusion and a practical demonstration of the particular concept.
Case in Point: Learning proper exposure!
We'd been issued light meters which were not cheap meters. As I recall, they were Sekonic Studio Master (something like that) and they read both reflected and incident light. We were provided the normal reading assignments and the following day, the instructors demonstrated how (and why) specific readings were to be taken. Questions/answers followed that and we drew film and were given assignments to shoot.
The shooting assignment was pretty specific in that we were to shoot several scenes using the various methods we'd been taught and read about. Some of the shots had to be with exposure readings using incident readings and others with reflected readings. To compound the problem, some of the shots were to be taken indoors and others outdoors. These shots could be of virtually anything we wanted. However, each shot was graded not just on exposure, but composition, framing, etc.
This was done to build on and reinforce concepts we'd already been taught.
Since a lot of us were involved in photography before we came into the Army, we were rather smug when we got high scores on the assignment. I do remember scoring very well on that particular assignment since I'd used a meter many times before and I was simply refining that particular knowledge. After the film had been turned in and the grading completed, we always had a review of each concept (again to reinforce all the prior training).
I was feeling pretty good at that point because I'd been scoring very well on everything up to that point. Then, they "dropped the hammer" on us and told us we'd be turning in our light meters because we were expected to learn to properly expose a photo with or without a light meter!
In this day of "Automatic everything cameras", this probably sounds insane. At any rate, they then instructed us to study what (I think) is called "the sunny f/16 rules". Google that phrase and I'm sure you'll find enough information to make your head spin ..... however IT WORKS! They had a table in our manuals with this concept that covered almost any (outdoor, existing light situation) you can imagine and we were expected to KNOW it.
The following day, we again went through the ritual of q&a. reviews, practical demonstration and then practical application (shooting film). Before we went to draw film, we turned our light meters in to central supply (never saw em' again in school). Needless to say, we had some pretty piss poor grades for a few days until we understood and could work the system.
Little did I know how valuable that segment of instruction would become! When I got to Nam' it didn't take long to figure out that you didn't have time for an exposure check! Even with the Spotmatics and guys carrying Nikon Photomics w/TTL metering, you just couldn't do it fast enough in the ever changing light situations in the field.
In my case, with my Leica (no metering at all) I had little problem. I'd learned that damned f/16 rule to the point that as we walked through the jungles, mountains, streams, etc. I would constantly be adjusting the aperture/shutter speeds with the changing light. Not to brag, but I don't think I ever missed a shot because of exposure! Now, focus, framing, composition .... yep, I screwed some of those up and the "Lab Rats" would bitch about having to crop so many of the frames, but exposure was rarely a problem.
I'll put together another little monologue about our training later as I have to get a few things done before I close the shop today.
An earlier poster had asked about "Combat Training" and YES, I'll get to that in due time. He also asked about whether or not we ever shot any assignments off base ...... YES. We really enjoyed those assignments because the subject matter availabe was much more varied than what we had available on base.
More later ya'll ...... I've gotta' go for now!
09-04-2009, 11:24 PM   #153
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Thanks for keeping this thread alive
It's a pleasure to read, and very fascinating.

I hope you will post some more pictures, as well as keep updating on the whole story from training until returning from Nam.
09-07-2009, 05:55 PM   #154
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I ran across this exhibit in the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Ass'n) Museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, last weekend when I was visiting my brother. I thought it was a nice tribute to the photographers, along with the old warbirds and other memories kept alive in their displays.

Jim


Last edited by RoxnDox; 12-09-2010 at 11:22 AM.
09-09-2009, 02:14 PM   #155
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Awesome thread Bob.
Another Aussie fan here just wanting to thank you for your contributions on this topic.
10-25-2009, 07:48 AM   #156
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I located my PIX!!!

I'm back after a LOOONG absence! Our printing business has been very busy and trying to get back into photography has taken an awful lot of my time.
On the UPSIDE, I've located several hundred slides and negs that I've been looking for since this thread began!
I'd forgotten that I'd sent much (if not most) of my slides and negs to my Dad when I was in Nam'. He was an avid photographer and I knew he'd take care of them for me. I talked to him last night on the phone and he's going to box all of it up and send it to me.
I have no earthly idea what he's got, but it sounds like he's got a lot of stuff! As soon as I get it, I'll have to start going through it to see what's there. I'll be posting more pix as soon as I can go through it all.
My last post, I think I talked a little about our training, so I'll pick up from there at this point.
As I mentioned, the photo school was very good and the training heavily emphasized the fundamentals. We came out of it as a "jack of all trades, and master of none". By that I mean, we'd been trained in portraiture, closeup & macro, flash, studio, photojournalism. I can do any, or all of those things reasonably well, but I'm certainly not the BEST at any of them.
The final phase of our training was intensly concentrated on aerial, reconnassance, and Combat photography.
The aerial photo training was a lot of fun and was without a doubt some of the most difficult. As an example, we had to learn how to make aerial photo mosaid MAPS. This required a thorough knowledge of something like ten or twelve difference mathematical formulas to determine, altitude, ground gain, exposure intervals, etc. The system was extraordinarily complex and each step relied on the previous one. If you got an incorrect calculation on the first, second, etc. step, there was no way the last one could be correct. Accuracy was therefore of paramount importance.
I don't ever remember having to use any of that stuff, but the other aerial training turned out to be very important when I arrived in-country. I probably took more photos in the air in that one year than most people will take in a lifetime. Aerial shooting has it's own set of unique problems that vary by aircraft, speed, altitude and all the rest. The FIRST and most important rule is that you never allow your hands or arms to rest on any portion of the aircraft due to the induced vibration. This is particularly true in rotary (helicopter) aircraft. Those damned choppers vibrate so much, it's a wonder they don't fall apart in mid-flight. If you know the basics however, they make a good shooting platform as they can fly (or even hover) at slower speeds than others.
That brings us down to the COMBAT PHOTOGRAPHY training! That was an absolute JOKE! They took us up to Ft. Dix, N.J. and we spent a week or two in the filed with an AIT (Advanced Infantry Training) unit there. We basically just followed them around, burning film. We got NO specific training on HOW to shoot combat pictures, it was simply an exercise in "hanging with the troops". I suppose that the one thing we did learn during that short spell was to "stay out of the way" of the troops and not interfere with their mission. In looking back on it however, I guess that was the most important aspect of Combat Photography. Interfering or getting in the way of the "grunts" caused hard feelings as well as endagered lives.
I remember one "jackass" of a photographer I went on ONE mission with, who was constantly getting up, walking around, talking and generally exposing our position until one of the grunts told him "if I have to tell you one more time, I'll shoot your sorry ass"! When we got back to our base and the photo lab, I told our 1st Sgt. that I WOULD NOT make another mission with him. He was quickly re-assigned to work in the studio and lab at base camp.
I think I'll close for now, I'm rambling on again! As soon as I get my hands on all the "lost film", I'll post more pix.
10-25-2009, 10:33 AM   #157
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Welcome back, Hillerby.

The advice on aerial photography and not contacting the craft itself goes for *any* motorized vehicle that's running. You want to do some of the opposite of what one usually might, get as much of your body between the vibration and the camera as you can.

I'm sure with combat photo it's much like fire and other emergency photography... staying out of the way is half of being there, and being there and aware is most of the job.

I'm sure we're all looking forward to seeing more of those photos.
10-29-2009, 10:06 AM   #158
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FYI

I am the sister of the combat photographer..I may be over stepping my bounds..I have been known to do that on occasion but here goes. My brother has had a disaster at his home...it was flooded on Sunday night. They are all alright but have a lot of cleaning up to do ...I am saying this because it may be a while before he has the time to come back to this thread...don't give up on him tho...I am sure he will be back. I just hope he does not get upset at me for posting this but I know a lot of people have been following his exploits...including myself.Thank you

10-29-2009, 10:16 AM   #159
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QuoteOriginally posted by suec232 Quote
I am the sister of the combat photographer..I may be over stepping my bounds..I have been known to do that on occasion but here goes. My brother has had a disaster at his home...it was flooded on Sunday night. They are all alright but have a lot of cleaning up to do ...I am saying this because it may be a while before he has the time to come back to this thread...don't give up on him tho...I am sure he will be back. I just hope he does not get upset at me for posting this but I know a lot of people have been following his exploits...including myself.Thank you
We're glad they are OK, and hopefully the flooding cleanup goes as smoothly as possible... Thanks for the update.

Jim
01-13-2010, 05:31 AM   #160
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Any update on this thread?
01-13-2010, 08:47 AM   #161
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Combat Photographer

I am sure Hillerby will keep this going but is still dealing with the disaster at his home. Next time I talk to him I will remind him that he needs to take the time...I do know he has located a big bunch of slides he took while in Nam...they are in Ohio and he is in Texas they will get together soon...I will let him know..
01-13-2010, 09:44 AM   #162
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I'll BE BACK!!!

I just read a post that my "little sis" made in my behalf. As far as I'm concerned, this thread WILL CONTINUE! As long as there is interest, I will post additional photos and information.
Since we had a pretty disasterous flood at our home, we've been living in temporary quarters (2 months so far). Accordingly, every spare moment we have is devoted to trying to rebuilt and get moved back home. We had no flood insurance, so we've been entirely dependent upon the help from family and friends and we're doing a lot of the work ourselves (again, help from friends). Since our small printing/photography business consists of just the three of us, I'm trying to "hold down the fort" by myself here at the shop. As I write this, my son and my wife are on their way out to the house to try and get the painting completed and then we'll be ready to replace the floor covering. Right now it looks as though we might be able to move back in within a couple of weeks.
I apologize for not keeping the thread up, but as another old soldier" once said, "I SHALL RETURN"!
01-13-2010, 12:18 PM   #163
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All the best for the regroup Bob.
Take care.
01-14-2010, 07:40 AM   #164
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Best wishes, sir, to you and your family.
Stu
01-15-2010, 03:33 PM   #165
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Sorry to hear about the flooding. May I ask what caused it, a river nearby or what? From the European perspective one doesn't that easily associate Texas with floods but rather with drought. But this may be just my ignorance having never visited Texas.
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