Jump to content
ARC Discussion Forums

Sign in to follow this  
Scott R Wilson

Brian Shul and the SR-71

Recommended Posts

Yeah, but his RIO made an AWESOME career resurrection in the medical field. No harm, no foul.

at the cost of his hair...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1365986-xjet.jpg

"Okay, let's see what this thing can do. What's SR-71's record?"

"The altitude record for fixed wing flight is 85,000 feet, sir."

"Records are made to be broken! Come on!"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't have a dog in this fight and I'm certainly not qualified in any way to fight a proxy battle between Graham and Shul. That said, I had heard long before the Air Force Association magazine letters that there was some controversy concerning Brian Shul and especially after the letters in Air Force magazine I was curious to know what it was all about. That's why I asked Col. Graham about it. I decided to post what he'd told me figuring others might be equally curious and interested.

I have no idea whose version of this story is more accurate and I'm sure we never will know for sure. I'm sure Shul's and Watson's version is spun to their benefit, and if Graham does indeed hold a grudge his version is spun to that direction.

I don't know Col Graham but have spoken to him several times during past EAA AirVentures, and he never came across as a 'bitter old man', even this time while relating his version of this story. Graham never once mentioned Brian Shul until I asked him. He did mention he is amazed at the support Shul has among non-Blackbird people.

I also know Col Graham has done many presentations on the SR-71 at Air Venture over the years, several with as many as three other former crewmembers. I don't know AOPA's criteria for choosing their speakers and why they chose Shul, or if it is even relevant but if you could tell me Shul has likewise done presentations with former crewmembers, other than Watson of course, that might tell us a lot about who is right and who wrong on this. I did note in all the letters defending Shul in the AFA magazine, not one was a former SR-71 crewmember. I wish we could hear from some of them what they think of this whole thing.

And for those interested, before being selected for the SR-71, Col Graham was an F-4 pilot with a number of missions over North Vietnam flying as an EF-4C Wild Weasel pilot. He told me that as part of the SR-71 selection process pilots were given a psychological evaluation. He said RSO candidates were not given this same evaluation, but it wasn't until he became Squadron Commander that he found out it was intended to weed out any hot-dog pilots.

Scott Wilson

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I showed Youngtiger1's version to Col Graham yesterday. He was taken aback that I'd posted what he told me, saying that after General Halloran's letter to the AFA mag that the back channel communication amongst a number of former Blackbird aircrew was that they ought to just drop it rather than engage in a public battle. Col Graham read Youngtiger's response and while he was reading kept shaking his head, saying under his breath 'That's not true.' When he finished he told me 'there was no C-5 in the pattern that night' He also said he'd love for Brian to meet with him and the other two officers who were there when they fired him from the SR-71 program and tell them to their faces that they were lying. He said Brian won't do it because he's the one not telling the truth.

Again, I'm no expert but I do think the fact Brian Shul has never been invited to participate in a forum with other Blackbird aircrew is telling. As Col Graham and I concluded, people will believe what they choose to, often despite the facts. Having spent some time talking to Col Graham I can't say I detect any sign of a 'bitter old man. ' If anything when it came to this story that, let me remind you, I brought up, he sounded a little like someone who is just a bit outraged at Shul's claims and lack of responsibility (my words, not Col Graham's).

I guess I can relate. We had an employee where I work that set up a side business selling services to our company. He was often asked to take care of his side business' work while on the clock at our company. Some of us thought it unethical and outrageous, no one else could do work for their outside business while on the clock! Yet when we protested, this fellow's supporters portrayed us as jealous of his success and were successful at deflecting our criticism. I have to say this bit with Shul's supporters calling Col Graham a 'bitter old man' and similarly criticizing the other officers involved smells to me as much the same.

Scott Wilson

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I spent 12 years in the SR-71 program, (from June 1965 thru May 1977), so I did not personally know either Major Shul or Colonel Graham. They were part of the program several years later, hence, I cannot comment on their integrity or motivations for their differences. I did work with/for Colonel Halloran both when he was an SR-71 pilot and later when he became the 9 SRW Commander. I would 100%, unequivocally endorse his integrity.

I have both of Brian Shul's books and noted the first time that I read them that he had taken photos of the cockpit while in flight. I questioned this in my own mind because we were told repeatedly that taking unauthorized photos of the SR-71 was a court martial offense. The Public Affairs office was the ONLY ones authorized to do so. During one of my many TDY trips to Kadena AB, the Detachment Commander told me that I could take all the pictures that I wanted of the SR-71, IF it was outside the T-Hangar and buttoned up, but NONE inside where internal components might be seen. Most things in both cockpits were classified either SECRET or TOP SECRET. Taking photos in there and then taking them home, which Major Shul obviously did, would be a major breach of security procedures. My question on this point is, "If a person is willing to violate this VERY important rule for their own personal gain, what other rules and/or procedures are they willing to violate?" Some of the original articles and letters allude to his numerous and repeated rules violations. I wonder what those were?

I have been a member of the Blackbird Association since shortly after it's inception and as such, receive their periodic newsletters. Past newsletters have listed numerous instances of former Blackbird crewmen and ground personnel participating in airshows, symposiums and museum events around the country. Each one lists the various people attending each event and I don't recall a single one mentioning either Brian Shul or Walt Watson. That seems to me to be a very important point.

Brian Shul has been a terrific public relations person both for the history of the SR-71 program and the promotion of his MACH ONE photo business in Marysville as well as sales of his books. I am not sure how that relates to the differences between himself and Colonel Graham or the discussion on this forum.

Darwin

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If there's one thing that ****** me off it's people who try to piggy back off their success into a genre that they have no business going into or failing to pay their dues as a result.

http://www.genesis-publications.com/sojourner-ross-halfin-travels/the-photography.htm

"It is Halfin's ability to go beyond the surface and capture the essence of a cloud or a mountain that makes his travel images unique."- I've seen better stuff come out of a photography student's portfolio. He piggy-backs off of his rock-star photography persona.

https://galleryonepublishing.com/sleddriver/galleryone.html - http://www.euronews.com/2012/12/05/hanging-out-with-fighter-pilot-brian-shul/

" a gallery of his highly acclaimed nature photography" - Show me something other than some oversaturated daffodil and flower with a bee half obscured by pistals and stamen and then I'll say he's acclaimed. But don't go talking about "acclaimed nature photography" until you've paid your F*NG dues. I'm not a F*NG SR-71 pilot so I don't go around telling everybody I am. And YOU...may own a photography studio, but you're no nature photographer until you can show me something other than what you got. I have spent 7 years paying my dues, learning and honing my craft as have other professional photographers. You try to jump the queue, you'll be treated with disdain and utter contempt. I don't give a flipping damn if you're the GOD of powered flight.

And if there's one thing that neither of them are is "acclaimed travel or nature photographers".

Edited by The_Animal

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To those who know Mr. Shul. Tell him to take a look at this gallery. This is a friend of mine. Famed nature photographer, Ethan Meleg. http://www.ethanmeleg.com/galleries.htm Photography to those who earn their living from it is a profession just like any other. If Mr. Shul can match that type of work in nature photography, then he can call himself "acclaimed". Otherwise SHUT UP AND PAY YOUR DAMNED DUES! Because I don't give a flying ~insert expletive of your choice~ about your career as a SR-71 pilot. If you're going to call yourself an acclaimed nature photographer, then you damned well better put up or shut up! And if you can't, then shut up and stick to your day-job as a retired Lead Sled pilot and a public speaker.

Edited by The_Animal

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And YOU...may own a photography studio, but you're no nature photographer until you can show me something other than what you got. I have spent 7 years paying my dues, learning and honing my craft as have other professional photographers. You try to jump the queue, you'll be treated with disdain and utter contempt. I don't give a flipping damn if you're the GOD of powered flight.

And if there's one thing that neither of them are is "acclaimed travel or nature photographers".

He makes money off his stuff and if people like the photos, buy his nature photos, and sing his praise then he's "acclaimed". Never heard of you nor the "famed" nature photographer, Ethan Meleg. Your approval means just as much as any other joe schmoe. If people like it and buy it then he must be doing something right.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

He makes money off his stuff and if people like the photos, buy his nature photos, and sing his praise then he's "acclaimed". Never heard of you nor the "famed" nature photographer, Ethan Meleg.

Acclaim: is recognition by your PEERS. Do you think that NANPA (National Association of Nature Photographers) gives a flying piece of excrement that people off the streets are talking about him in adulation? Peers means his "peers who are in the nature photography business." What he's doing is piggy-backing off the "acclaim he built as a Lead Sled driver" and because people who don't know anything about nature photography buy his photos means jack sh**. What he is...is an amateur who is working towards a secondary career as a wildlife/nature photographer.

Your approval means just as much as any other joe schmoe. If people like it and buy it then he must be doing something right.

Sorry to rain on your parade. As someone who has been doing nature photography for quite some time (learning the craft) and expanding on his knowledge, unlike the joe schmo in the street, I do have the ability to make an "educated opinion" unlike YOU...who just has an "opinion". I don't care if my approval or not butters his toast or what. What I do give a **** about is the fact that he purports himself to be acclaimed (by his peers in the nature photography business) which like the subject brought up by the original poster says that he is a "hot-dog" and proclaims that he's something that he is, when he is not. None of the professionals in the business of nature photography like people who jump in and say they're "acclaimed". Unless you've been published by a nature photography magazine. you aren't JACK-S***. Oh, by the way, tell me when he gets published by Outdoor Photographer. Then he can say he's acclaimed. Not before. Until then, he's a wannabe (just like me - the difference is, I'm not saying that I'm acclaimed (I have had pros recognize my work though as good and have received advice and recognition from them but I don't consider that as acclaim - I will recognize it as acclaim when and if I get published); the difference between him & me and Ethan, is that Ethan is a published nature photographer and is recognized by his peers). Understand this: I'm not a pro. I'm an amateur who is aspiring to become a pro. I'm also working my way through paying my dues and I have paid a lot of dues in the process of learning the craft.

Yes, Brian Shul's stuff is good, admittedly but there is no emotion in there. They're static. They don't say much. It reads "here's a lion, there it is" The only one of his photos that gives me any sort of emotion is that of the two egrets sparring. But the gallery that he has on his website needs updating because the ones that represent his nature work are pathetic. The egret shots, the bald eagle shot, the heron shots. They impress a little (in terms of color and composition - as I said, as far as emotion, they're static)...but the one that he has at his site - aren't worth a second look - https://galleryonepublishing.com/sleddriver/galleryone.html

The ones that he has on display at the showing (see link - http://www.appeal-democrat.com/articles/shul-109350-jet-aircraft.html) are worth buying. I especially like the pelican shot despite the fact that it's a "here is a pelican flying, there it is."

Question marks will be raised about the lion and the tiger if they were shot at the zoo however. You can b**** all you want, Brian, but that's the breaks of nature photography and it's a far cry from aviation photography, because what we photograph is living and breathing and you interact with it on a much deeper level than just "here it is."

Edited by The_Animal

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Acclaim: is recognition by your PEERS.

No, it's not. All "acclaim" is, is praise, doesn't matter who it's from.

Do you think that NANPA (National Association of Nature Photographers) gives a flying piece of excrement that people off the streets are talking about him in adulation?

They probably care as much as the people that buy and enjoy his pictures care about them.

What he's doing is piggy-backing off the "acclaim he built as a Lead Sled driver" and because people who don't know anything about nature photography buy his photos means jack sh**. What he is...is an amateur who is working towards a secondary career as a wildlife/nature photographer.

Well it actually means if people buy his stuff and he makes a living off it, then he does it professionally.

Sorry to rain on your parade.

What parade is that? I'm just discounting what you say because you seemed pretty worked up about someone else's success and that he doesn't meet your or one of your buddies approval means he's nothing. Why is it in certain fields like Astronomy, Cycling, Photography, anything really niche you get people who are take elitism to a whole new level of snobbery?

As someone who has been doing nature photography for quite some time (learning the craft) and expanding on his knowledge, unlike the joe schmo in the street, I do have the ability to make an "educated opinion".

Have you been published? Then why should I or anyone else take your opinion as gospel or even educated? Your basing your opinion on an outdated website.

Unless you've been published by a nature photography magazine. you aren't JACK-S***.

So your standard is a Nature Magazine? Cool, mine is if I like it. If I don't, then I could care less if it was Ansel Adams himself's most prized picture I'm not going to buy it or hang it on my office wall.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Until then, he's a wannabe

A wannabe that's getting paid!

Understand this: I'm not a pro. I'm an amateur who is aspiring to become a pro. I'm also working my way through paying my dues and I have paid a lot of dues in the process of learning the craft.

I'm sorry you're still paying your dues while someone like Brian Schul might not have had to. Now I don't know what "dues" are in the photography world, but why not join the military and have a kick *** job doing something on razer's edge and take photos of it. Then write an awesome book with lots of illustration and in the process become a success and open a gallery based off your fame?

Yes, his stuff is good, admittedly but there is no emotion in there. They're static. They don't say much. It reads "here's a lion, there it is" The only one of his photos that gives me any sort of emotion is that of the two egrets sparring.

Your opinion as an amateur of a professional's work by your logic doesn't mean much right? Only his peers who would be other professionals or people who are published would matter, right?

You can b**** all you want, Brian, but that's the breaks of nature photography and it's a far cry from aviation photography, because what we photograph is living and breathing and you interact with it on a much deeper level than just "here it is."

This is bitching?

He makes money off his stuff and if people like the photos, buy his nature photos, and sing his praise then he's "acclaimed". Never heard of you nor the "famed" nature photographer, Ethan Meleg. Your approval means just as much as any other joe schmoe. If people like it and buy it then he must be doing something right.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Your opinion as an amateur of a professional's work by your logic doesn't mean much right? Only his peers who would be other professionals or people who are published would matter, right?

It's not just my friends' opinions. Ask any nature photographer whose work is any good. He is not a professional nature photographer. And frankly, I could care less about YOUR opinion. As far as I'm concerned, he's just a nature photography wannabe. I'll grant that he is a professional aviation photographer. But I haven't seen him be recognized for his nature work except for Joe Schmo on the street (like YOU).

#1. You are not a photographer.

#2. You don't know what it takes to become a professional nature photographer.

#3. You don't know what acclaim is in terms of a professional nature photographer career.

#4. Brian Shul doesn't even register on NANPA's radar.

#5. I may be basing my opinion on an outdated website but he has not seen fit to pursue marketing his nature photography outside of Maryville, CA let alone update his images on his website. I notice that his NEW gallery website focuses on his aviation photography; not on his nature photography.

#6. I have sold my images (so yes, that makes me a professional, but I don't turn around and call myself acclaimed, nor do I call myself a professional because {a} I haven't been published yet to a major nature magazine; {b} I haven't been recognized (acclaimed) by NANPA.

#7. You trot out your little rant because I went off on him as he was trying to say that he was "acclaimed" Good for you. You got your two cents, (one cent due to Canadian exchange rate) in. I care about your opinion about as much as I care about what I ate at 2:00 PM last Friday.

And I love how you trot out the ol' Why don't you join the military? You know what. You guys who like to trot out that old horse are a dime a dozen, OK? Here's the reverse on that ol' chestnut, when you can do what I do on a regular basis which is bring out the emotion in my photographs (Where professionals have acknowledged the fact that my nature photographs have promise) then you can take potshots at me. Otherwise shut your cake-hole, pick up a damned camera and see if you can do better.

The ones whom I respect in the military and take photographs are the ones who keep their damned mouths shut and let their work speak for themselves instead of letting a misinformed foreign newspaper do their tooting for them. You might even know one and own his book - CJ Heater Heatley.

Happy now?

Edited by The_Animal

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's not just my friends' opinions. Ask any nature photographer whose work is any good. He is not a professional nature photographer. And frankly, I could care less about YOUR opinion. As far as I'm concerned, he's just a nature photography wannabe. I'll grant that he is a professional aviation photographer. But I haven't seen him be recognized for his nature work except for Joe Schmo on the street (like YOU).

I digress, I have exquisite taste in photography. Heck, just the other day I bought a $10 print of the Grand Canyon at the North Rim Lodge and put it in my bathroom. I was quite proud of myself. Not to mention I am a published photographer having my ifone picture published in the newspaper. Also had some Nat Geo photographers and a few others embedded with me, but since you probably don't want to hear about cool military jobs I'll leave it out.

#1. You are not a photographer.

#2. You don't know what it takes to become a professional nature photographer.

#3. You don't know what acclaim is in terms of a professional nature photographer career.

#4. Brian Shul doesn't even register on NANPA's radar.

#5. I may be basing my opinion on an outdated website but he has not seen fit to pursue marketing his nature photography outside of Maryville, CA let alone update his images on his website. I notice that his NEW gallery website focuses on his aviation photography; not on his nature photography.

#6. I have sold my images (so yes, that makes me a professional, but I don't turn around and call myself acclaimed, nor do I call myself a professional because {a} I haven't been published yet to a major nature magazine; {b} I haven't been recognized (acclaimed) by NANPA.

#7. You trot out your little rant because I went off on him as he was trying to say that he was "acclaimed" Good for you. You got your two cents, (one cent due to Canadian exchange rate) in. I care about your opinion about as much as I care about what I ate at 2:00 PM last Friday.

1. I'm published :taunt:/>/>

2. Uh, be the best at taking animal photos or take photos of what people like and buy. Ain't rocket science.

3. Google the definition. That form of snobbery of having only critics or those in the in crowd being the voice that counts is exactly why I love giving people like you a hard time.

4. I know Brian Shul, never heard of NANPA.

5. So you admit you made analytical call based on not even seeing his work? Bravo!

6. Keep on kissing their butts and I'm sure one day even you can be part of the in crowd. But have no fear, I heard aviation photography is just as kiss ***.

7. I can't help myself with snobs, I'm like a fly on crap.

And I love how you trot out the ol' Why don't you join the military? You know what. You guys who like to trot out that old horse are a dime a dozen, OK? Here's the reverse on that ol' chestnut, when you can do what I do on a regular basis which is bring out the emotion in my photographs (Where professionals have acknowledged the fact that my nature photographs have promise) then you can take potshots at me. Otherwise shut your cake-hole, pick up a damned camera and see if you can do better.

Wow, tell me how you really feel. I was just giving you a route to fast track your career. In the meantime tell me when you start making a living off it being published in a Nature Magazine don't mean much when you can't put food on the table. You really want to belong don't you? Usually it doesn't matter what the outlet is as long as some you placed on a pedestal gives you recognition.

The ones whom I respect in the military and take photographs are the ones who keep their damned mouths shut and let their work speak for themselves instead of letting a misinformed foreign newspaper do their tooting for them. You might even know one and own his book - CJ Heater Heatley.

I don't know who the guy is. Then again, I don't really follow who's who in the photography world. I've heard of Ansel Adams though!

Might want to check this out:

http://vitalityimages.wordpress.com/2012/05/03/are-you-a-photography-snob/

Edited by fulcrum1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Might want to check this out:

http://vitalityimages.wordpress.com/2012/05/03/are-you-a-photography-snob/

Amen brother, that goes for just about anything in life.

And as for being a "wanna be" aren't we all? Everyone wants to be better at something they do or want to try something new.

I have had photos published as well but they weren't taken through a 600mm lens so I guess in some peoples world they just aren't good enough.

Lee

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This got entertaining fast...

There's my laugh for today. Thanks. :rofl:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The hard turn to "Nature Photographers Union" (or whatever) has been a wonderful thread jack animal. highly entertaining :woot.gif:

you don't have to be a Yorden Yovchev or an Agato Wrobel or even a Rei Iwakura to know that its always fun to watch people start arguing over a niche hobby/sport/job and then have them name-drop people that are only known in that small club, If you know what I Tina Loftus... and I think you do.

Edited by TaiidanTomcat

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...