Shooter is looking back at the center deck hatch to verify the winds and crosswinds are still ok. This is about a second or two before he gives the launch signal by leaning forward and touching the deck.
What is interesting about this shot, though, is the pilot in the Bug. Its something that, as Cat officers, we had to get used to. Pilots always have their left hand on the throttle on a cat shot and (usually) their right on the stick. Hornet drivers don’t do that. Left hand is still on the throttle (bad juju if that throttle is dragged aft from the cat shot – you do *not* want to be throttling back at that particular point in your flight evolution) but his right hand holds on to a little handle on the canopy rail – no touchy/feely of the stick on a Hornet catapult launch. Whisper could no doubt explain it better (Do some of that pilot sh*t, Whisper!), but the Hornet fly-away attitude is pre-programmed (or pre-set or pre-planned or pre-something) and any stick manipulation by the Nose Gunner results in some wild departure profiles. Hands off, boys and girls. Just looks weird…even now.