Tag Archives: Air Force

North Dakota Week – Jonathan Gunther Photography

Smoky Mountains National Park, NC

Article by Jonathan Gunther
Photography has been a new thing for me over the last couple of years. In September 2009, I deployed to Afghanistan and spent a hard year there working with the Army and Air Force near Kandahar.

When I got back from that deployment, I was struggling to adjust to the things that I had experienced there. I started searching … I needed time to process. I quickly found that the solitude and physical activity of backpacking spoke to my soul in a way that nothing else could. I could get lost in the back country, and look out at God’s creation and see that there were still good and amazing things in this world. That promoted healing in a way that I needed.

Smoky Mountains National Park, NC

While out in the back country, I started to capture some of the beautiful country that I was seeing. I had bought a Canon Rebel Xsi DSLR camera a few years back and started to bring it on my backpacking trips. After taking a few photos, I very quickly figured out that landscape photography proved to be a very challenging and difficult pursuit. It was a challenge that I quickly embraced, and loved that feeling when I would get that one image that looked amazing!

Over time I started to learn the basics of exposure and how to frame a shot in different light conditions to get the effect I wanted. I also sought the advice of my triplet brother, Joshua Gunther who works for DreamWorks Feature Animation in California. He has had a lot of success recently with his own photography business. He taught me about different shooting techniques, the advantage of better equipment, and how to have fun with your camera. Josh’s mentorship has been a real encouragement to me and allowed me to share a hobby with him that we both truly enjoy.

Glacier Bay, Gustavus, AK

This last year I decided to invest more time and money into this hobby. I started off by purchasing some quality lenses. I first picked up a good zoom lens, the Canon EF 70-200mm F/4L IS. This lens came in handy during a summer trip to Glacier Bay Alaska, where I was able to capture some wildlife and the beautiful glaciers there.

After that I invested in a good wide angle lens, a Tokina 12-24mm F/4 Pro DX II. The Wide angle lens was a game changer for me. The ability to capture more of the scene and get the kind of results I wanted when taking landscape photos was huge. A sturdy tripod was also key, and helps to keep your images sharp when shooting in low light.

Tarzan Falls, Guam

Before going out to Guam on a recent deployment, I also upgraded my camera body to a Canon EOS 7d. This is a Simi professional level camera that accepts all lenses that Canon makes. It also has some advanced focusing features that give a photographer the ability to control where the focal point is in a scene.

Pagat Cove, Guam

Post processing is important, and I use Adobe Lightroom as my primary photo software. For High Dynamic Range (HDR) shots that I take, I use Photomatix 4.1 to combine multiple exposures in the computer and that produces a high range of colors and detail that you can’t get any other way.

Photography continues to speak to my soul. It gives me the kind of peace that I need outside of all the stresses in life. When I am standing there, watching a beautiful sunset and taking photos, it relaxes me in a way that nothing else can. I also view it as a spiritual experience and a way to enjoy God’s creation in all its splendor.

I hope you enjoy my photos! You can find some of my best work on my Flickr page.

Jonathan Gunther

Jonathan’s bio –

Jonathan Gunther is a B-52H pilot currently stationed at Minot Air Force Base, ND. He is an amateur photographer in his off time and enjoys backpacking and camping.

Links for brother, Joshua Gunther –

Urban Night Lights
Joshua Gunther Flickr page


Filed under Guest Writers & Bloggers, Special Events

North Dakota Week – My Lil Britches Photography

The Zettler Family

Article by Jeanita Kennedy

I was born on a Navajo reservation in Northern Arizona in 1983 to a single mother of three. The closest town was 45 miles away so mom, an emergency medical technician, had to travel and live away from us. We were raised by our grandparents. Life was very simple; we had very little. I can’t describe just how much my grandparents meant to me. These were wonderful years in my life.

We had no “media,” just a small radio that my grandpa would listen to and to connect us to the news of the world. We’d go to school, come home, and play in the dirt. My grandma was old school, so I learned to cook and clean at a very young age and was lectured about the role of being a woman.

Growing up on the reservation we had few pictures and few people owned cameras. There are few pictures of me as a child. We didn’t get lots of pictures like parents do now for newborns, at Christmas, for one-year pictures, or Easter.

Later, mom met my step-dad when I was about 12 years old. Then we were a family of eight. My step-dad was a bull-rider, so that is when I started to rodeo. I spent all my teen years around horses.

My mom is a very determined woman, and my step-dad is a worker. So they taught me about work ethics. One thing I remember my step-dad saying is, “If you want something you work for it, don’t just wish.” I remember my mom saying, “You do it right the first time or you’ll do it again the second time wishing you did it right the first time!”

The Chancellor Family

Leaving home for the Air Force was a most difficult time – grandma had been diagnosed with cancer and the news was not good. I was so afraid that my grandpa would be alone. Grandpa passed away two weeks later.  They passed away within two weeks of each other. What an amazing love they had for one another.

I was in the Air Force from 2002-2006. I loved being in the Air Force – I’ve meet many wonderful people that have become long life friends,  been around the world three times, achieved many awards, and had many experiences not everyone can have. Within those years, I met my husband Steven and had my wonderful daughter, Gracy.

In 2009, with another baby on the way, we finally decided to leave Las Vegas agreeing that it was not the best place to raise a family. Steve became part of the Air National Guard of North Dakota, and we moved to Minot in 2010.

For Christmas that year, Steven bought me my first DLSR Nikon 3100. A couple months of playing around with it, I wanted to know more and do more with it, so I researched and researched. I didn’t go to school for photography; I am pretty much self taught.

The Zobel Family

Before I opened my photo business, I struggled about what to do in life. I knew I wanted to help kids, and being a stay-at-home mom was my priority. While I was in the military, I had to leave Gracy two different times. The first time I was deployed, Gracy was just three months old, and I cried for a week straight in my tent in Baghdad. Then in 2006, I had to deploy again for six months. When I had Hailey, I knew I wanted to stay with her from day one, it felt like I was given a second chance. And I love being a stay at home mom.

Starting my own business meant setting my own hours and doing it from out of my own home – it didn’t sound like a bad idea at all. I knew one of my callings was to work with and help children. So I decide to donate a portion of my profit to a variety of organizations that helped children, like the Northern Plains Children Advocacy Center, the March of Dimes, and St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital this month. I also offered photo sessions to be auctioned off for the Bosom Buddies of Minot for the March of Dimes.

My number one inspiration is capturing that smile for the parents. My local inspiration is Nelly from Nelly Hernandez Photography and Stacy from Stacy VanDyck Photography. I am inspired by their amazing talent and creativity. They established a style of their own and built their businesses with hard work.

Coming from a very poor community, having pictures was rare – we couldn’t afford them. So I try to keep my prices affordable, in line with the budgets of struggling families.

Since I opened my business in August of 2011, I’ve learned so much, and I hope to continue to learn.

See more of Jeanita’s photos at the My Lil Britches Photography website and connect with Jeanita on Facebook.


Filed under Guest Writers & Bloggers, Kid Stuff & Children's Books, Special Events

A Jarhead’s Night Before Christmas, by Jeffrey Hollar

Twas the night before Christmas – Fallujah, Iraq.

Not a creature was stirring, we hadn’t seen jack.

The weapons were stacked by the door within reach,

In hopes that they wouldn’t get sand in the breach.

The troops were all nestled down snug in their cots,
With dreams that next Christmas they’d do Toys for Tots.
And I in my skivvies and woolen watch cap,
Had just settled in for a 40-wink nap.

When out on the fenceline arose a commotion,
I sprang from my rack in a flurry of motion.
I low-crawled my way to the door in a pinch,
And peeked ’round the corner about half an inch.

The moon on the crest of each wind-shifting dune,
Lit the place up damned near bright as was at high noon.
When what to my sand-stinging eyes should appear,
But a gunmetal sleigh and eight armored reindeer.

By the way that he handled the rudder and stick,
I knew that the pilot was Gunny St. Nick.
More rapid than gunships his coursers they came,

And he cursed them all soundly and roll-called each name:

Now Eightball! Now Cowboy! Now Joker! Now Fuller!
Now Nimitz! Now Halsey! Now Dewey! Now Puller!
To the top of the fence! To the top of the wall!
Let’s shag it! Let’s shag it! Let’s move it out ya’ll!!

As targeting lasers reach out in the night,
And hit their objective at speeds close to light
They shot towards the barracks as speedy as hell,
With their cargo intact and the Gunny as well.

And then in a twinkling I heard on the roof,
The synchronized pace of each marking-time hoof.
And before I could guess at the Gunny’s next tricks,
He crashed through the wall in a shower of bricks.

He was dressed all in camo from cap down to boot,
With his uniform tarnished with cordite and soot.
A ginormous ruck he set down on the deck,
And he looked like a MEF just unloading their tech.

His eyes – how they smoldered! His visage – how freaky!
His cheeks red as coals and his nose rather beaky.
His slash of a mouth was decked out in a scowl,
And his whiskers were trimmed like the horns of an owl.

A big chaw of Redman distended his cheek,
And the juice that he spat left his mouth like a streak.
He had a lean face and a great set of abs,

That when he would tense them could crack shells of crabs.

He was stringy and taut, a real tight-ass no foolin’,
And I found myself quaking and just short of droolin’.
With a glance of his eye and a shake of his head,
I figured out soon he was someone to dread.

He said not a peep but got right to his task,
And left the guys goodies for which they’d not ask.
Then grabbing a line that they dropped from the sled,
He climbed like a monkey way high overhead.

He hopped in his cockpit and gave a loud whistle,
And away they all flew like a Patriot missile.
And I heard him exclaim as he took to the sky,
Merry Christmas to all and to all Semper Fi!!!

Jeffrey Hollar

From Jeffrey Hollar –

I am a husband, father, stepfather, veteran, poet & author, and too many other things to consider. I am a writer without genre writing whatever seems to work on any given day. Jeffrey blogs at The Latinum Vault. You can also find him on Twitter.

God bless our men and women in uniform.

Service photos from Photobucket Madcat91 and Huey197.


Filed under For The Troops, Guest Writers & Bloggers, Special Events