In today's age of social media and digital storytelling, photography has become an integral part of our lives.

Aviation enthusiasts, in particular, have harnessed the power of creative editing to capture the beauty and dynamism of aircraft in flight like never before. Whether you're a seasoned aviation photographer or a novice looking to embark on this journey, creative editing can transform your aviation photos into distinctive works...


So, what do I mean by meaningful accidents?' Well, in the case of my photography, I'd describe it as having a mental 'visualization' of something I hope to capture with my camera and understanding the proverbial 'stars that must align' to have a shot at making it happen. Let's call it 'smart luck' or a serendipitous event.

An article on Psyche - a online digital magazine from Aeon that illuminates the human condition through...


It was seemingly a lifetime ago, (late 1980s), I was a young deputy sheriff assigned to my department's SWAT team. It was during this time I was fortunate to have met and worked alongside another deputy we all referred to as 'Gonzo.' He was a solid team mate and all around great guy. Everyone loved him!

On a December morning in 1987, our team was called to an 'active shooter' in an incorporated city in the county to provide a tactical...


Admittedly, I quite often fall into the proverbial 'rut' when it comes to my photography. I suspect, because I'm most often working with my cameras, I seem to forget about them when I'm not working. I'm rarely 'inspired' to break out a camera, lenses and a tripod to do any 'recreational' shooting .

I'm pretty fortunate to live in an awfully pretty little beach town. So, last evening when I stepped out of the house for my usual late...


This past June I was contacted by a small aeronautical development group from Orange County, CA. Tier 1 Engineering explained they were several years into development of an electrically powered helicopter and were wanting photos for media promotion.

The aircraft is built upon the popular Robinson R44 Raven II air frame, however the traditional Lycoming piston engine has been replaced by an electric propulsion unit, (EPU)....


It is said that chance encounters are important because they can have branching power. That is, they have the potential to have unforeseen knock-on impacts that dramatically alter the course of one’s life, sometimes opening up unexpected opportunities.

Such was the case for flight training icon Jerry Trimble. He couldn’t possibly have predicted how a chance meeting with a seemingly random individual in the 1970s would so...


One of the really cool thing about some of my magazine and photography gigs is the opportunity to meet and spend time with some really interesting characters.

So, a month or so back, another writer for Vertical magazine, Brent Bergan, invited me to join him to help out with some photography for an article he was working up. It sounded interesting so I jumped at the chance. Besides, I hadn't seen Brent in several years and we've never...


Special operation forces (SOF) are woven into the structure of national miltaries around the globe. Many are regarded as the most highly trained, well-equipped and formidable military operators in the world. They are valued for their ability to conduct unconventional and covert warfare missions beyond the scope of conventional military forces.

The Canadian Special Operations Forces Command (CANSOFCOM) is the element of the Canadian...


I'll admit, I've always been a bit of a 'sky geek.' Eclipses, meteor showers, Space Station fly overs... Heck, during the Hale-Bopp comet 20-something years ago I was up and out the door with my camera and tripod by 4am three or four days a week seeking new viewing areas around the county. Yeah, I guess I'm a a bit of a geek.

So, last month, I was fortunate to have tagged along with a MEDEVAC unit with the Alaska Army National Guard's...

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Back in 2002, Mike and Linda Reyno first introduced Vertical magazine to the North American helicopter industry. The cover story for their premier issue was an operator profile on Coulson Aircrane, a Canadian operator specializing in logging and heavy lift work.

The photo chosen for the issue cover was captured by Mike Reyno; a black 'short-body' Sikorsky S-61N owned and operated by Coulson. The photo depicts the helicopter hovering...


After four decades operating Bell UH-1F Hueys, (1981-1990) and UH-1H Super Hueys, (1990 to present), California’s state fire agency, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, (CAL FIRE), has begun a long anticipated upgrade to their aviation program.

The Sikorsky S-70i FIREHAWK was chosen to carry on the agency's aerial firefighting legacy. A total of twelve FIREHAWKS will be acquired over the next couple years as the...


For twenty-something years I've always conducted business lugging a rather large DSLR/mirrorless camera kit. Regardless of where a project might take me, via airline, bush plane or driving myself, (always my favorite mode of transportation), I typically travel with up to three Nikon camera bodies, four to six lenses and a similar number of Nikon strobes, all neatly arranged in one of three Think Tank camera bags.

I've always enjoyed...


I have had the good fortune to work with Texas based Air Center Helicopters several times over the years. The company owner, Rod Tinney, is always one heck of a host and does whatever it takes to get great photos. So anytime an opportunity is presented to work with him and his company, I'm all over it

In this instance, it was a project for Vertical magazine; telling the story of how the company 'repurposed' the mighty Airbus H225 Super...

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Utah might be my favorite destination for a road-trip getaway. It's an easy six or seven hour drive from my home in San Diego and it's a portal to so many beautiful outdoor destinations and always fabulous adventure. So needless to say I was overjoyed when a recent magazine project for Vertical 911 required I drive over and spend a week.

The focus of this project was Classic Air Medical, a helicopter air medical provider based in Utah....


Any photographer worth his salt would agree - lighting is the critical element. Its direction, quality, color, intensity... It an essential ingredient of that big pot of creative soup for creating a distinctive image.

In the studio, a photographer has ultimate control over every aspect of lighting and can be very precise when creating an image. In the field however, controlling light is a different game. While it's certainly possible,...


In this dynamic world of aviation, I'm so fortunate to have all kinds of fabulous opportunities to photograph beautiful aircraft in some really amazing places. But it's important to consider the aviation industry is much more than just the flying machines. After all, they're just machines, right?.

When I drop in on an operation to begin working up a magazine article I immediately begin assessing how to best incorporate the human...


A few years back I had the good fortune to meet and work on a project with Shawn Adams, aka Rotor-Head. He and I were brought together by a mutual client as independent contractors to provide photography and video documentation during the testing of a new helicopter weapon system.

Shawn has a unique personality and skill set that was ideally well suited to the project. First, he's a fun and funny easy going guy and a hoot to be around....


As a photographer, it's my job to listen to a client's needs and develop a plan for successfully producing their concept. In this case the client, Coulson Aviation, operates three C-130 'Hercules' as firefighting air tankers. The aircraft were scheduled to be in Reno NV for training before the start of fire season. The client wanted me to photograph all three aircraft in flight, and specifically, in formation from a head on...


Every now and then when I'm on a project the stars align and I'm presented an opportunity to capture some really special images. This project a couple years back with Las Vegas NV based Sundance Helicopters was one such occasion.

The operator, which provides helicopter tours of Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon, was having a grand reopening. They had recently undergone a company wide re-branding that included a fantastic, completely...

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This was the second stop on my big adventure to Florida. After leaving Firehawk Helicopters, I made the three hour drive on the turnpike from Leesburg to the beaches of the Gold Coast and the city of Stuart. There I spent a couple days with the Martin County Sheriff's Office Aviation Unit.

The Martin County guys were terrific hosts and were excited to show me their county from the air. While the high end beach front homes were...

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It was short notice but I jumped at the opportunity when Vertical magazine called asking if I wanted to go down to Florida. It was late January so not having to endure Florida's oppressive summer heat and humidity made it all the more attractive.

I had two assignments, the first being Brainerd/Firehawk Helicopters in Leesburg, (an hour north west of Orlando). They had just celebrated twenty years operating civil Black Hawk...

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I felt awfully privileged to have been asked to work up this story for Vertical 911. This was to be a 'proof of concept' project, taking a standard utility/firefighting Black Hawk helicopter and quickly re configuring it into an armed medium attack helicopter, (the article can be found in the 2017 HeliExpo edition of Vertical 911).

After a leisurely 2 1/2 hour drive from my place in San Diego, I arrived at the project headquarters, a...

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Typically when I head out on a photo gig I've already had several phone conversations with all parties involved to arrange and ensure the logistical support I need to make my visit a success. But sometimes, even the best thought out plans hit a snag and require creative thinking on the fly. This was one such instance...

It was fall in the Colorado Rockies and I was given the assignment to photograph an Airbus H125 that was configured...


In working as a journalist in the helicopter industry I have the opportunity to meet all kinds of interesting folks. Some have been around since the earliest days of the industry. Others have have their fingerprints on significant aviation milestones. Then there are those who have just held a love of flying since childhood and have gone on to pursue their dreams. And through it all, they've created a highly successful business in the industry...


Imagine this: You're on a work trip in Puerto Rico when a wealthy businessman generously offers you the use of his executive Bell 427 helicopter to go exploring the coastlines at sunset. It's the stuff dreams are made of, and I feel exceedingly fortunate, this dream became a reality.

I was in Puerto Rico in May 2016 working up a project for Vertical magazine. The principal of the company I was working with was a close personal friend of...


The 'digital age' and the Internet has become a double edge sword for many aspects of our everyday and professional lives. As photographers, 'digital' has stream lined our workflow, reduced costs, increased efficiency and enables us to quickly and easily share our work with clients, potential clients, friends and family.

But along with these seemingly wonderful advantages, there are several down sides that can be very problematic for...


It was June 2015 and I was proposed a dual purpose trip, sponsored by Sikorsky and Vertical magazine, to visit National Helicopters down in the Caribbean island nation of Trinidad & Tobago. Sikorsky was hoping to capture some in-flight photos of the first S76D model to enter service. Vertical magazine was asking for an article to showcase the operator and the aircraft.

Arriving at the airport in Trinidad and entering customs, I...


It was a sparkling early winter day in December 2004 when Neville 'Ned' Dawson invited me to join him on a photo shoot. He had traveled to my home town of San Diego CA from his place in New Zealand for an opportunity to photograph two Bell 430s.

I had known Ned for several years prior to this project and I had already produced a couple editorial projects for his magazine, HeliOps. At the time, HeliOps was the first of what has since...


The MD530G helicopter is an impressive piece of machinery. Known for its agility, speed, and versatility, this helicopter is a favorite among military and law enforcement agencies worldwide. In my flying career I feel exceedingly fortunate to have spent several thousand hours piloting the amazing and capable MD530F, (an earlier and similar incarnation of the 'G'), as well as several of its relatives in the iconic MD Helicopter line....


A little time travel back to August 2004. I was still working as a law enforcement pilot flying MD500 series helicopters when a new acquaintance offered to bring his Bell 412 and Bell 407 helicopters to our facility as a demo of sorts. He proposed exposing our pilots and command to these larger, more capable aircraft.

Rod Tinney, was/is the president of Texas based Air Center Helicopters. At the time he was in San Diego working...