The History of Photography: 1985

by Matthew Cole
1984 The 1980s 1986

Travel Light
Travel Light: This is one way to compel you to cut back. Of course, you dispense with those needless underwear so that you can carry a Perspective Control lens. I may have been the only motorcyclist in Scotland carrying a tripod. Many near-death experiences with unfenced sheep have given me an enduring fondness for lamb chops.
Nikon FE, 28mm, Kodachrome 64, photo by Holmes Lundt

Get John Shaw's book A Nature Photographers Guide to Professional Field Techniques, which is impressive, and then go to a seminar he puts on in Ames. He is great. I really like this book and felt then it was the best explanation of photo basics I'd read. I still think it's excellent although some of the specific equipment discussed is a bit behind the times now. He autographed my book for me. I buy a used Bogen tripod head from Shaw for $15. Wow! It's like a Babe Ruth bat or something, I'm in awe, except the head kind of sucks and I can see why he was dumping it. I had this thing until the onset of eBay, when I flogged it.

Having had my fill of cheap tripods, I buy a Gitzo 224 tripod he recommends in that book (as a backpacking tripod), which I still have, along with the short column and a small Gitzo ball head (a 175?) which is light and compact and not near big enough for even the little f/4.5 300 I'll get later this year. If I were doing it again, I'd get the Gitzo 226 which has more leg segments and therefore folds smaller, or maybe one of the carbon ones. I pick up a Nikkor 35 f/2.8 Perspective Control lens (mail order), my first piece of new Nikon gear. Take the FE 28, 35PC, 55 Micro and 105 with the trusty Rolleicord on motorcycle trip through England and Scotland, along with the ubiquitous 283, Sekonic light meter and Minolta mini tripod, all in the free Nikon cloth bag with virtually no padding except bits of camping sleeping pad I stuck in there. Take many exposures with 35mm PC lens, twice what I'd anticipated, since I am endlessly forgetting to stop down this pre-set lens. Buy 32 year old Talisker single malt. Buy cuban cigars and pack 'em in tripod legs.

Once back, pleased with way things are going and taking advantage of the strong dollar, I buy a new Nikkor 20 f/2.8 AIS (in person at 47th street photo), Nikkor 300 f/4.5 ED-IF (mail order) and a TC-14B (in person at 47th Street). I later sold the TC-14B since I never used it. Also get another used FE, this one in black so I can tell 'em apart. Get a Slik ball head during a visit to Kansas City, it's no Arca B-1 but on the other hand it was only $29, and an Aristo cold light head for my enlarger. Also buy Leica slide projector. Got tired of the old Bell & Howell. Unable to dump my old Fujica ST-801 body even for free to a couple of Fuji-owing friends, I throw it and the unlamented Vivitar 28mm, which by now has a scratch in the rear element, into the apartment dumpster. What a year. Yen begins strengthening, and will continue doing so for nine years, making these kind of golden times for buying new camera gear. Having taken up motorcycles, single malt scotch, Cuban cigars and bought a load of camera gear, figure it's safe to get married. Meet Karla.

More Photo Hints from 1985

Match Your Equipment to Your Skill
Match Your Equipment to Your Skill Level: Here my newly-married sister Ann, who has no more than a passing interest in photography, uses the Nikon FM with 55mm f/1.2 normal lens provided by her husband Dave. What can we say, in those days we thought we could interest wives in things like this. The weighty FM and f/1.2 lens wasn't the handiest travel camera, but it does make a heck of a weapon. Nikon FE, 105mm, Kodachrome 64.
A Bit of Color Livens up Your Photos
A Bit of Color Livens up Your Photos: I actually kind of like this picture, a rape field west of St. Andrews in Scotland. Of course, here we no longer call it rapeseed since that offends some sensibilities, so it's now known as canola. To American ears, it can therefore sound weird when someone says how lovely the rape is this time of year. Yes, and the pillaging is nice too. Nikon FE, 28mm, Kodachrome 64.

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