This Air Force Officer Looks Like He's Serving On Another Planet

Look at this badass soldier. In this beautiful picture, First Lt Drew Parks helps guide an F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jet through the gorgeous, star-speckled night sky of Kuwait as a part of Operation Spartan Shield.

Parks is a joint terminal attack controller (JTAC), meaning he helps things along in the air -- communications, air traffic, gun fire, attack plans and general support -- from the ground. It's hard work that requires a great deal of focus. And that amazing view makes his post all the more impressive.

Image: US Air Force/Staff Sgt Jonathan Snyder


    He is on another planet.

    Why are all American soldiers have the description "badass" included all the time?

    Hello everyone -- The photographer, SSgt Jonathan Snyder, is one of our talented Combat Camera folks traveling throughout the AOR telling the Airmen at War stories. It's a real photo! AND he did not pose the Airman, he just asked him to remain still for a few moments.

    In his own words, this is what he did:

    I was with the Joint Terminal Attack Controllers from the 82nd Expeditionary Air Support Operation Squadron documenting them doing their job. The day started by meeting up with the JTAC team in the morning. I loaded up my gear into a Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected, All-Terrain Vehicle, and we proceeded out to the bombing range. The range is literally in the middle of the desert, it took almost two hours with driving over sand dunes to ...get to the impact area. The JTACs worked with U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets all day through the 100+ degree temperatures, then the sun starts to finally set and the temperatures start to become bearable. And as most photographers know there is that magic hour of light during sunrise and sunset and I was going to take full advantage of it while I can. After the sun has set the night sky became an amazing view being so far away from light pollution. When I saw the night sky scene I thought to myself I have to make this photograph.

    This is what I did to achieve my vision. I used a 14-24 f/2.8 lens. This wide lens allows me a greater depth of field for my background. So that’s how I got the guy and stars at a reasonable sharpness. Next I setup my composition and had to make the decision on proper exposure. Keep in mind I can already see this amazing stars and dust scene with my eyes I just now have to transfer my vision onto the camera. So I set my camera at f/2.8 shutter: 20sec and ISO 2000 lining up the notches on my light meter in my camera. With the shutter being so long, hand holding the camera is out of the question so I place the camera in the sand which worked great. The duration of the shutter plays an important role of controlling ambient light bleeding into the exposure. The longer the shutter the more ambient light the shorter the shutter speed the less ambient light. Now here is the important part, if I would have just taken the photo my subject would have been a silhouette, which would have worked but silhouettes are a dime a dozen effect. So during the duration of the 20 sec exposure I lit the subject with a flash light for a couple seconds. Basically I did a painting with light technique – very simple but very effective.

Join the discussion!