September 1, 2017
I just ordered a Nikon D850. It’s times like this that I really miss my dad. He would really really enjoy talking about, debating Nikon and Canon, and especially playing with a new camera like that, and comparing it to his Canon 5D Mark II.
One of the last times we worked at the gallery together, I think it was on a Monday. In Ocean Shores, there were no customers. We tested mirror lenses all day! His Nikkor 1000mm f/11, his Vivitar Series 1 600mm f/8, and my Nikkor 500mm f/8.
We bought a Nikon PC lens together, an 85mm f/2.8 PC Micro. He wanted to photograph an extreme close up of a sand dollar in sand with it. It’s the lens that I’m using now to do all of my Calla Lili photographs. He would love the way I work, in LiveView, tilting the lens, and zooming in on the screen to focus, like a loupe on a view camera.
I remember him teaching me about banquet table focusing when I was about 13 or 14. That’s where you tilt your view camera, your film plane, and lens plane in such a way that your focal plane is all along the table. The next day, I believe, I had the Super Cambo 4x5 view camera with a lens that I had no business touching (I can’t remember which lens it was, but it had a lotta glass.) at the foot of the stairs up to his office. He almost got really mad, but I convinced him to look at the Polaroid I had taken.
He said, “You used a Polaroid??”
“Yes, but look, the banister is really sharp all the way!! And I only used three sheets!” I said.
He looked at the instant print, and sure enough, the banister was very sharp from about a foot from the lens to like twelve feet from the lens. He really couldn’t get that angry, in fact, he was impressed.
“You ought to make it a portrait of yourself, you could string a cable release up there, and stand around the corner, and lean out. I’ll get another couple sheets of Polaroid Film.” He shook his head as he walked away.
He was my father, but since I was twelve and entered my first Professional Photographers of Washington competition, he was also my peer.
You know, it was good and bad. Having your father honestly critique your prints that you made when you were thirteen. “Well, that looks a pile of shit.” Yep, I was his peer.
As much as he taught me, he made sure I had other influences than him. And I loved that I saw just a little bit of my influence in his work every great once in awhile.
We would have had a lot of fun with the D850. I’ll smile as I fiddle with tilting the lens plane on the 85mm, and think of him.