Had a pretty intense assignment week last week, in Beijing. I was photographing “living masters,” a group of individuals whose unparalleled excellence at their art or craft had deemed them to be one of the treasures of China. It was a push of a job, shooting two, and occasionally three of these in a day, spread over six days of shooting. 380 gigs, total, jpeg/raw combo files.
When I got there, I felt I had the usual bases covered, lens-wise, but then realized, I was foolishly unprepared to get super close. Wukesong to the rescue! I visited that big box known as Wukesong, which contains many photo stores in downtown Beijing, and found a relatively untouched 55 micro-Nikkor f3.5, built, most likely, mid 1970’s. The tried and true F-mount, coupled to a D800E, presented no problem. It lacked certain of the technology advantages of lenses today, to be sure, but the years had not dimmed its sharpness. My eyes, by contrast, have definitely dimmed in sharpness, so focusing this puppy was a workout. But it got me in close, and sharp, giving me a window on the heart and soul of being a true master. These folks were amazing.