A love story

Alright folks it’s time to warm up the Wayback Machine a bit.
Ready? Whirrr-ZaM! Ok here we are in the long forgotten time of 1993. I was
still working at the camera store but had used my employee discount to get me
my first serious camera, a Nikon N90. I had a Minolta, remember them?, with a
useful but admittedly crap lens. I knew that the future of photography, and
thus my future, lied in equipment that was faster and more flexible than what I
had prior. Autofocus was now a useful professional tool and not just an interesting
gadget. Film winders were built in and the ability to crank out five frames a
second was perfect for the direction that I was heading: news photography. Also
the flash system that Nikon came out with was dazzling everyone so that
combined with my preference for the Nikon system led me to that N90 which I
still have sitting on a shelf under a protective layer of dust.


I knew that I needed a good basic all around lens but it had
to be a pro quality piece of glass so I got the Nikon AF-D 35-70 f/2.8 which I
knew would do the job. One by one I lovingly took my gear out of their boxes, the body, the zoom, the flash and then I
came to my wild card: the AF-D 105mm f/2.8 Micro.


I got the chills looking at
it. No that’s not right, I went into a cold sweat. “What was I thinking?!?” I
thought. “I’m never gonna use this. The focusing is slow, it’s not much longer
than the other lens … I just wasted $700 on this. I’m an idiot!”


Well the truth is that I had a fascination with that lens
ever since we got one in the store about a year prior. I would take it out of
the case, mount it on a camera and wander about the store in amazement at how
things looked at life size magnification. The macro world was, and still is, strange
and wonderful. So of course I had to have it but as a budding photojournalist
what was I going to use it for? I wasn’t doing nature and landscape anymore. I
needed lenses for shooting people on the fly in dreadful lighting conditions.
Oh the dilemma!


So I kept it. At the time I thought that it stayed with me
only because of my emotional attachment but it turned out to be a smart move.
Over the years that lens has made me a lot of money. I’ve shot loads of
portraits, details shots and used it in ways that I never would have imagined
such as food photography. Food? I’m a news guy! Yep.




When I’m assigned to do photos of some chef or hot new
restaurant I can pull that little gem out and do portraits of the tasty
creations. This lens gave me more flexibility within the assignment and
broadened my appeal to clients. I’ve gotten commercial work to do small product
photography of micro chips, tiny video displays, jewelry, rock climbing clamps
and wedges … all because I knew how to shoot in the macro world. So rather than
being an oddity in my kit the 105mm Micro has become a lovely asset. In fact
when the Jonbennet Ramsay and Columbine massacre stories were happening out
here my agency loved the fact that I had the Micro to do quick copy shots of family


Oh and the glass within is superb and for some subject
almost too good.. Back in the 90’s portraits were expected to be softly lit and
the Micro would often be used with a diffusion filter to cut it’s sharpness
into a flattering rendition. The sharpness is stunning and now that loads of
sharpness is in vogue in the editorial portraiture world the razor edge that
this lens gives is a strength


So a bit ago when I was packing up from a job where the Micro
was the lens of choice my heart sunk – I dropped it. I never drop gear.
Everyone who knows me understands that I treat my gear with love and respect
and thus my gear basically doesn’t break. But this time I wasn’t so lucky. The
aperture return mechanism was damaged and I felt like I had betrayed an old
friend. So in a box it went to and Nikon Professional Services got it back to
me in their usual timely way. Thanks guys!


But in the meantime I got another gig where the Micro was
the go to lens. Thus I rented the new version with the VR. That one is just as
lovely but I felt like I was cheating on my wife. It just didn’t feel right to
use that lens when my baby was at the doctor. Please understand that I don’t
get personal with my gear – they are all tools. However I’ve had this lens for
17 years and it came to me when I decided to stop being a guy who makes photos
and instead become a photographer. When I got it back there was a sense that all
was right again.


Oh and just got a call for a shoot in two days where the
Micro clinched the deal.

2 thoughts on “A love story”

  1. What was the tipping point at which you decided to “stop being a guy who makes photos and instead become a photographer”?
    Great blog, BTW. Found it through The Online Photographer.
    Caleb Courteau

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