ViewBug community member and photo journalist joshuagraff shares the story behind his awarded image "Leaning In". Learn and get inspired...

Location & Time
This was taken on a Spanish Army Puma we were fortunate to get leaving FOB Tobruk in Bola Boluk, Afghanistan. Particularly in Afghanistan and working with coalition forces, there is a real "one team, one fight" essence. It was around noon when we saw the choppers on the horizon and got the radio room to make the call to see if they could give us a lift back to Farah.

Equipment & Lighting
Lighting inside most aircraft, especially if shooting towards the windows or wide open doors, is difficult. Just about every shot like this tends to be underexposed and then I try to bring up the highlights and textures by tweaking the clarity in Lightroom and usually bringing up the exposure by .5 to 1.0 Used my much abused and traveled Sony a77 with the Sony SAL18250 lens, but handheld. the 18-250mm lens is probably my favorite "do everything" glass and when I don't know what shots I'll have an opportunity to get, that is the configuration I want to have on hand.


I used Adobe Lightroom to convert to monochrome, tweaked the clarity, raised the exposure a bit, and you guys have loved this version as opposed to the color SOOC that is also posted! But, my wife convinced me that this shot needed the B&W touch; and as usual, she was right.

Inspiration & Tips
I try to get slices of the life I experience and share a different view of things from the more sensational pictures sometimes used. I also love the troops I get to work with and train, and bringing a bit of their daily life to view is important to me. Honestly, take a LOT of shots! Change settings, shoot, change, shoot, and continue...taking a shot in a helicopter that is flying evasive means you are inside a blender filled with ice cubes that has a swinging axis at every moment. This is an example of the beauty of shooting digital, it was one shot of about 100 attempted that came out well. You have to always TRY to get the shot! I've been on a lot of flights and taken a lot of pictures that didn't work... but, when #@$%$# is happening, sometimes, just sometimes, you get a shot that works!

In my camera bag
I generally travel light; when you have body armor and another 60 pounds of gear, the camera bag needs to be light! My usual carry is just the body and the 18-250 lens attached.. when I carry "heavy", I add a "jelly-roll" pouch and carry a 50mm prime and 50-300mm... oh, and I carry an extra SD card and at least 2 extra batteries.

See more inspiring shot, visit joshuagraff's profile.