That Measuring Stick
I had just gotten my Nikkor 400f5.6 EDIF. I got it mainly because of this photographer’s gorgeous photograph that he stated he had made the photo with. That was good enough for me, that was the lens I had to own and after shelling out $1k I didn’t have, I was ready. For the next six months, I spent hundreds of hours trying to make the photograph. While I got shot of the bird, they were nowhere close to the photo I held in such esteem. It was incredibly frustrating and I felt as if I was just the dumbest photographer. I had the gear, bird and time, why couldn’t I make the damn image?!
Then I went to a presentation by the photographer and I saw even more gorgeous images like the one I was trying to emulate. I was going downhill when it was time for the half way break. The photographer, a real people person stood and took questions during the break. Another participant came up to the photographer and started to talk to him about the photograph I was trying to get. My ears perked up and I tried to find that missing ingredient to the formula to get the shot. After a couple of minutes, the photographer said he used a duper and made a cropped duplicate slide!
The photograph I was going after wasn’t what the photographer had seen in the viewfinder. It wasn’t the photograph he had gone click and captured. That revelation stung and I wasn’t alone. The other participant who had asked the question demanded his money back, accused the photographer of being a fraud and stormed out. His point was simple, the photographer was passing his work off as being what he shot and it wasn’t. (So obviously that quality was important to the photographer that he lied about it.)
I personally don’t care if photographers crop, I really don’t because it’s not my photograph. It’s there’s and they can do whatever they want that puts a smile on their face. That’s works for me! But for my own photography, this just isn’t good enough. I remember working and working to get that shot, which I thought, was out of the camera to come out of my camera. It took years and I finally did get it but it required a 800mm, not 400mm. And it set in my mind another reason for the standards of quality for my photography I still must shoot by.
This photo of a Morane-Saulnier MS.230 was not easy to make. On one of those flukes that is the aviation biz, I was at its first flight after seven years of restoration. Better than that, we were at an unrestricted airfield and it was a grass one too boot! I could drive my vehicle right on the field and set up on the runway to get the shot you see. I was going to take advantage of the opportunity. Well, I pushed the limit and pulled out the big gun, D4 with 600VR2 to get a shot of the Morane-Saulnier down the throat shot.
While it’s not perfect, it’s the best I’ve got so far so that makes me happy. And learned a couple of things which will make me better next time. And a point of pride, what you see is what I took and I take that very seriously. I know others look at my photos and say to themselves, “I want one like that.” It’s my hope that with my standards of quality, you can take a little comfort in knowing that if Moose could do it, you can too! And this is just another reason why I don’t crop.