Long-exposure night gunfire photos from Vietnam war revealed

Photo by Jim Hensinger: "Time exposure of M60 7.62 cal. machine gun(S), M2 .50 cal. Browning Machine Gun, and twin 40 mm anti-aircraft Bofor (Pom-Pom) guns mounted on a M42 Duster (tank) firing long bursts of tracers at night."

Mr. Hensinger: at left in Vietnam in 1970, and at right, now.

Vietnam War veteran and photographer James Speed Hensinger has shared a never-before-published collection of night photographs he shot in Vietnam in 1970.

They show US troops opening fire on a Viet Cong sniper who was firing on the US soldiers with an AK47 automatic rifle. Hensinger kept these photographs private for four decades; he chose to publish them online to commemorate Memorial Day in the US.

The images appeared on PetaPixel in late May:

In April of 1970 I was near Phu Tai, Vietnam in the 173rd Airborne Brigade Admin Compound. We were pissed off at taking Viet Cong sniper fire from the mountain above us several nights in a row. The guy would stand up from behind a rock and blow off a clip from his AK47 on full-auto. The sniper was shooting at such a high angle that most of his rounds came through the sheet metal roofs of our hooches. We decided to use a “heavy” response the next time(s) the sniper hit us.

Over the course of a week, I shot two rolls of Kodachrome II (ASA 25) time exposures using a cable release and resting the camera on sand bags in a perimeter guard tower. I used a 35mm Nikon FTN with a 50 mm f/1.4 lens. Most of the exposures were from 15 seconds to one minute in duration. I mailed the unprocessed film home, and didn’t know what I had until I was released from active duty in June. Only recently have I decided to share them.

You can view the entire set here, on his Google+ page: Vietnam Night Gunfire.

The photos have gone viral; Daily Mail, Digg, Amusing Planet, the Independent, Visual News, on and on. Some of what was published in those accounts was (shocker!) inaccurate. Hensinger writes:

I resurrected some photos I took in Vietnam and submitted one to Quora.com. An editor for PetaPixel saw it and contacted me. He asked me to submit more to his photography magazine. Then a feature editor at RexFeatures (similar to our Getty Archives or UPI or AP) saw it and asked for more. He re-wrote my submission and syndicated it in Europe about 24 hours ago. Now it is appearing everywhere, but the Daily Mail (London) got it out first, and published it as their lead story.

There are several factual errors between what I wrote and what ended up getting published. (Phu Tai is near Qui Nohn not Da Nang) And I certainly did not use the phrase, "hot lead". I am very pleased that the photos are finally being appreciated.

A search on Google for "Hensinger Vietnam" amazed me.