The Linked Rings
Those of you who own a television set might think that the title of this post refers to the current athletic contest in England - not entirely. There have been a number of linked rings connected to photography in the past - the Linked Ring group of impressionist photographers at the turn of the last century comes to mind, as well as the photographers of the Auto Union racing motor cars in the 1930's. Older readers can remember the linked rings around the barrels of Contarex and Contaflex cameras as well as the linked rings still possible with Hasselblad C and CF lenses.
The reason these historic memories come up has been the extraordinary interest expressed over our shop counter regarding the photographic coverage of the London Olympics by photographers using cameras other than the expected Nikon, Canon, Pentax, or Sony. One chap seems to be doing it for pay using a micro-4/3 camera to the delight of the camera's manufacturers, and one chap seems to be doing it with an iPhone.
In the case of the former I suspect the manufacturers nudged him into it, and with the latter...well...a pub bet comes to mind. Perhaps he will achieve success, or art, with it - let us hope he does not use too many Instagram filters all at once. We still want to see who wins the race. Perhaps we should ring him on his camera and ask.
Of course we all remember the photographer who shot at the Atlanta Olympics with a Graflex. His photos are easy to find on the net and there have been travelling exhibitions. I admire the fellow, as large format is a demanding discipline and I trained on a Graflex, and thus have an affection for them. Had he used a Linhof Master Technika with a 400mm lens attached to it he could have been a serious threat to every Olympic weightlifting competitor ever after, as he would have developed arms like Popeye.
Those of you who may have seen Riefenstahl's coverage of the '36 Olympics in books may have seen a giant Sonnar of some description operated by a white-coated technician on what looks like a naval gun mounting. For all we know, it might have been just that...
I do not expect ever to be called upon to cover an Olympic event, but if they are ever held in Perth, or Northam, or Wongan Hills, I know exactly what to do. I shall leave the scrum and flurry of the big white and black lens coverage to iconic legends and award-winning masters and take along my old Etch a Sketch machine. It has operated flawlessly since 1954. If you are careful not to shake it too much you can show many of the pictures for hours afterwards and no-one has stolen the copyrights for any of my work.