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Nikon Owner Issue 9

Editor's Letter
By Gray Levett

Gray Levett

The dog days of August drift by, and as I write this column London appears to be deserted, everyone (it seems) is away on holiday. It is hot, very hot and I spend my days thankfully in a chilled air-conditioned office.

We have recently returned from hosting the 7thAnnual Heather Angel Wildlife and Natural History Workshop in Sussex with support from Nikon, Kodak Professional Films, Hasselblad and Lowepro. For the first time ever it rained at one of our workshops. However, the subscribers who attended treated this with very good humour and a spark of stubborn insouciance, and both days’ events were very successful.

The East Grinstead Courier reported on the occasion as follows:

“Every year the world-famous wildlife and natural history photographer Heather Angel presents a photographic workshop at Saint Hill Manor, East Grinstead, the former home of the late humanitarian, world-renowned photographer and author L. Ron Hubbard. The workshops have been held every July for the last seven years and are always sold out, being a fixed point on the photographic calendar similar to Ascot and Wimbledon on the annual sporting diary.”

It is a testament to Heather Angel’s reputation that we continually attract people from all over the world. This year was the largest gathering of our subscribers from all parts of the U.K. and abroad. As I welcomed everyone and introduced the day’s schedule, a warm round of applause greeted Kazuhiro Okano who had come from Nikon Germany, Carmen and Jacques Clamour from Spain and Go Yamagata from Japan. We were also joined by the legendary printer Terry Lack, who quite uniquely had a darkroom in Kensington Palace for the twenty years he worked for Snowdon. Today he owns the London Darkroom Centre.

Looking ahead to next summer there will be celebrations for the thirtieth anniversary of our editor-at-large, Richard Young’s life as a photographer, in the form of a book and a major exhibition that focuses on his career as a leading chronicler of the high life. In this issue Richard discusses his great love for Harley-Davidson and shows us some images from his many journeys across the U.S.A.

In the last issue I wrote about the Wild West and the cowboys who lived their lives larger than life. My own introduction to them was originally from the old cowboy television shows that filled our small British screens in the late 1950s: shows such as Cheyenne, Maverick, Bronco, Have Gun Will Travel. I was therefore pleasantly surprised when a few weeks ago, I heard, for the first time since 1962, the theme music from the television western series Bronco on John Peel’s Home Truths on BBC Radio Four. If you would like a reminder of it too you can hear the theme music by going to www.tyhardin.com. Ty Hardin is the actor who played Bronco Layne, an ex-confederate Army Officer who went to the Wild West after the Civil War ended.

In March this year I travelled to New York and there I met men and women who have truly lived their lives larger than life. Indeed, nothing less than titans roamed Manhattan heading for the Explorers Club Annual Dinner in its 99th year: General ‘Chuck’ Yeager, Steve Fossett, Peter Hillary and James Cameron, and they joined other giants at the Waldorf –Astoria to celebrate lives writ large.

Some time ago I was talking to Michael Bond, creator of Paddington Bear. Michael was collecting some Nikon equipment for his son Anthony Barwell who, like Michael, is a subscriber of the Nikon Owner magazine. I asked to see some of Anthony’s work and I am glad I did. His striking cover image of an ancient man stares out from a far-off world, while other images and narration fill the pages of his travels with his camera.

A few weeks ago I was invited by Nikon U.K. Limited to Lord’s Cricket Ground in St. Johns Wood, London. Lord’s has long been seen as the ‘home of cricket’ and the game’s spiritual ‘headquarters’. But its importance is not merely historical. In practice it remains, to this day, perhaps the most important single place for world cricket. Its owner, Marylebone Cricket Club, remains the guardian of both the Laws and the Spirit of Cricket, and MCC sides (which play around 450 games a year) perform a key role in promoting cricket – both in Britain and elsewhere. It was therefore an appropriate venue for Nikon to announce their new Nikon D2H high speed pro SLR.

This is aimed at the news and sports sector. The D2H is a totally new design built to meet the demands of photographers working in increasingly challenging situations. It features instant response and fast, wireless delivery. The DX Nikkor range of ultra wide-angle lenses for use with DX-format digital SLRs has been extended with the announcement of two new models – the AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8G IF-ED and a breakthrough digital fisheye – the AF DX Fisheye Nikkor 10.5mm f/2.8G ED. The new lenses join the AF-S DX 12-24mm f/4G IF-ED to offer a variety of creative wide-angle optics designed for all Nikon D series Digital SLR cameras. The first 2x super telephoto Nikkor lens to be fitted with both Vibration Reduction (VR) and Silent Wave Motor (SWM) was also announced. The AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 200-400mm f/4G IF-ED features a super telephoto zoom reach with the advantages of Vibration Reduction for increased photographic opportunities in low light.

This equipment is due to be released in October this year and Simon Stafford’s review will appear in a future issue of this magazine as well as on the magazine website: www.nikonownermagazine.com

It is always a pleasure to meet new magazine subscribers and as I was writing this letter, the Norwegian rock and roll photographer Håkon Grav called in to meet me at the Nikon Owner Headquarters at 40 Churton Street, accompanied by his wife Livbente. Håkon has shot some of the biggest names in rock music. I used to shoot a lot of rock bands in my early twenties and it was good to swap stories of the life of being a rock photographer.

An old friend of mine, Virgil Wilhite runs a book-finding service called Book Locater, which is based in Florida. Being a lover of books I have used his book-finding service on many occasions. Virgil always loves a challenge. His philosophy seems to be “The answer is yes. What’s the question?” He has just located two out-of-print and hard-to-find titles for me for research on my Explorers Club article.

One of these is Through Hell and High Water and it now sits on my library shelf. I reach out for it whenever I feel like getting inspiration for an adventure...

Best wishes,
Gray
Gray Levett

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