Nikon Owner Issue 11
By Gray Levett
November was almost at an end; the day was dark and misty with a winter’s chill in the air, when, quite out of the blue, I received a telephone call to my office in London from the acclaimed actor David Suchet. David was working on a new two-hour television movie of the Agatha Christie Poirot story Death on the Nile. The interior scenes were being shot at Shepperton Studios in England and when these were completed he would fly off to Cairo to shoot the exteriors. This would be a job with a difference, as he knew he would get the opportunity to take some great pictures for a book he is putting together about the sixteen years he has played the great detective.
The reason for David’s call was that he did not know whether to shoot exclusively on film (his preferred method) or digital. I suggested that he might like to take along both formats and a few days later Simon Stafford and I spent a pleasant afternoon at David’s home surrounded by an arsenal of camera equipment. Simon then gave him a D100 along with a quick course on how to use it. He took to it like one to the manor born. In January this year, filming having been completed, David, Simon and I met up once more, this time at my office in London. David had a surprise for us as he had arranged for us to use his behind-the-scenes images taken on the D100. There are always pressures attendant upon the star of any film without having to perform another task: in this case, the extra burden of having to grab shots between takes dressed in the Poirot costume and never breaking out of character. I asked him to demonstrate and he effortlessly transformed himself into the Belgian sleuth and asked me if I would ‘permit him to take ze photograph!’ David’s images appear in Gillian Greenwood’s article Poirot: Nikon on the Nile. Our cover image has encouraged me to tell people who ask about our readership ‘you simply would not believe who reads our magazine!’
I don’t know about you, but I always have to have a book at hand to read. Well, to be accurate, several books. These consist of books I have bought, books that I have been loaned, and books that are sent to me c/o Nikon Owner. It is always a pleasure when one receives a book written by a magazine subscriber and in this issue one appeared in my postbag. It was by Sue Bishop who will be well-known to many as the co-founder, with fellow photographer Charlie Waite, of a company called Light & Land, which runs photographic tours to destinations all over the world. Her book is called Photographing Flowers and has just been released by PiP (Photographers’ Institute Press). The glossy dust jacket enticingly describes the contents in the following manner: ‘In this sumptuous book Sue Bishop shares her techniques for producing a variety of stunning flower images and encourages the reader to develop their artistic eye in order to do the same. Many of her compositions are a celebration of colour, pattern and shape, moving beyond the straightforward depiction of flowers to something more abstract. Photographing Flowers covers all the practical skills and aesthetic considerations involved in photographing this popular subject and draws upon both common and more exotic flowers for inspiration.’ This is a book that will lure you to walk, camera in hand, down the garden path or turn into the forest or place your feet down the winding road towards where the flowers grow.
In this issue you will read the second part of Robert Falconer’s interview with Richard Edlund, the high priest of special effects and Academy-award winning Visual FX pioneer for Star Wars. Coincidently, one of the most requested films for the DVD format will finally become a reality this September as Lucasfilm Ltd. and Twentieth Century Fox present the eagerly awaited Star Wars Trilogy for the ultimate home entertainment format. The four-disc collection will be released on September 21st in the U.S. and Canada, with international release dates following closely afterwards.
‘We know how long fans have waited for this release and how much they have been looking forward to it, so everyone has been working overtime to make sure that the Star Wars Trilogy on DVD is an awesome experience,’ said Jim Ward, Vice President of Marketing and Distribution for Lucasfilm Ltd. and the DVD collection’s Executive Producer. The films of the Star Wars Trilogy will be available exclusively as a collection and will feature Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround EX.
Speaking of movies, I was particularly delighted when The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of the King won a record-tying eleven Oscars® at the 76th Annual Awards ceremony of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, sweeping every category in which it was nominated, including best picture. The directing Oscar went to Peter Jackson, the guiding genius behind what is without question the biggest undertaking in movie history, the simultaneous filming of J.R.R. Tolkien’s trilogy: The Fellowship Of The Ring, The Two Towers and The Return Of The King. ‘I’m so honoured and relieved that the academy and the subscribers of the academy that have supported us have seen past the trolls and the wizards and the hobbits in recognising fantasy this year,’ said Jackson, who just a few years ago was an obscure New Zealander known mainly for one highly-rated art-house film Heavenly Creatures, a Hollywood horror tale The Frighteners and a scattering of cult horror films Bad Taste, and Meet The Feebles. You will appreciate my additional delight when Rick Porras, the co-producer of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, called into my office on a visit to London just as we were putting the finishing touches to this issue. Rick had been seeking a Nikon 28Ti for some time and as luck would have it, an as new example came my way. Rick is in London working on the additional musical score for the eagerly awaited extended DVD of Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.
I am often asked how we put together each issue of Nikon Owner. The first step in producing this magazine is that I arrange a meeting with our features and technical editors, Gillian Greenwood and Simon Stafford, and Jesse Rueben Wilson, our art director. Normally we will have discussed various ideas we have had some months ahead of an official meeting. This meeting may and oftentimes comprises of Simon field-testing new Nikon products. Simon sets out to work to diligently explore and apply each new item of equipment.
In the case of Heather Angel’s articles, these are often written on her many long flights to distant places. But no matter the assignment she is on and no matter how many thousands of miles away from home she is working, her articles arrive always on time, accompanied by a selection of images. These are given to Jesse Reuben Wilson the art director to shape the visual side of Heather’s article from inception to publication. Jesse works like this on all our features and regularly in consultation culls the best images from dozens submitted for one issue.
In common, I suspect, with a lot editors of all types of publications, I suffer the sort of nightmares about what on earth I should use as our next cover story in Nikon Owner – the sort of nightmares that Edgar Allen Poe might appreciate. But mystically, as if touched by the magic of the Elves of Lórien1, images and a story arrive on my desk that are just perfect for that issue. I sigh a sigh of heartfelt relief and then we get on with the rest of the contents as we wade through a variety of different images, always organising and reorganising, adding new ones and subtracting others.
Naturally there are always things one would like to include but for one reason or another are not appropriate for that issue. Could we create a magazine twice the size? Probably, well – almost certainly. It is my good fortune to regularly be the recipient of much of the praise for this magazine, as if it were entirely my creation – which it isn’t. I am lucky enough to surround myself with some extremely talented individuals who work tirelessly behind the scenes and I thought it might be a good idea for you to be able to put a face to the name and meet some of them.
As we are on the subject of our contributors may I mention a note for your diary? On the 24th and 25th July this year Grays of Westminster will again be hosting the 8th Annual Heather Angel Wildlife & Natural History Workshop with Nikon U.K. Limited at Saint Hill Manor, East Grinstead, West Sussex. This beautiful English country house estate is the venue for this always-sold-out yearly event. This year Lowepro, Hasselblad, Gitzo, Sky Photographic and Hove Books join us once more in order to give you a wonderful day of photography. See page 47 for full details. This is a must-attend event. Book your ticket today.
I look forward to welcoming you to spend a day with Heather Angel and Nikon.
1 Elves of Lórien: The Galadhrim, the Elvish people who inhabited the land of Lórien to the east of the Misty Mountains in J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic work, Lord of the Rings.