OM in Print

These images are public ones using various Olympus Equipment. Click on the thumbnail for a larger image.

National Geographic

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October 78
Koko with an OM-2

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Octover 78
Koko with an OM-2 (again)

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August 77, OM-2 with 16mm F3.5 Fisheye on an L-1011 coming in to Palmdale, CA *

* Details of the L-1011 shot from the photographer Bruce Dale:

For a /National Geographic/ picture essay on air safety, Bruce Dale needed a dramatic photograph to counterbalance the technical illustrations in the story. He came up with the idea of positioning a camera outside a jetliner in such a way that it would look down on the body of the plane and show its position during take-off and landing, when most accidents occur. After discussion with several airline manufacturers, he succeeded in persuading Lockheed to help with the project.

Using a model of the selected jet, the L-1011 TriStar, Dale made preliminary shots to determine exactly where his cameras should be placed to ensure dramatic pictures. He decided to mount two cameras high above the fuselage of the plane, near the top of its vertical tail fin. This promised an excitiing perspective from a spot that remained relatively stable during flight. The cameras were to be motor-driven 35mm SLRs with automatic exposure control, 250-frame exposure backs and 16mm fisheye lenses that had 180 angles of view. They were attached to either side of the tail fin and enclosed in specially made windproof aluminum housings. One was mounted perpendicular to the fail fin; the other was canted at a 30 angle so that when the plane banked to the right, the camera would show a level horizon (/top diagram, page 84/).

The take-off was planned for a late afternoon, with a return in the early evening. Dale therefore loaded one camera with slow ISO 64/19 film for daylight shows and the other with ISO 200/24 film for pictures taken after sunset. The triggering device for the shutter releases was a set of cables that ran from the cameras down through the tail fin and along the fuselage to the cockpit, where Dale would be sitting (/bottom diagram, pages 84-85/)

Because it was such an expensive proposition, there was to be only one flight, from Lockheed's test-flight airbase at Palmdale, California. When Dale had finished mounting the cameras on the plane and was about to seal them in their housings, he radioed the cockpit to test-fire one of them. "I held my ear to the camera to make sure it was working," Dale said. "It went 'click-click-click-click-click.'" After making some adjustments, Dale told the cockpit to trip the second camera. The same thing happened in reverse: "The second camera went 'click' and the first just ran away."

"The mistake, in retrospect," Dale said, "was using three wires instead of four. All of our tests worked when the cameras were off the plane. But metal cameras on the metal surface of the airplane created electrical interference because of the common ground wire. It was a variable we hadn't counted on." At the time, however, Dale had no leisure to speculate on what was going wrong. It was nearly 5 o'clock in the afternoon, so he had to propose some immediate changes to save the shooting session. Dale had one of the Lockheed engineers site in the tail section of the plane, just below the cameras, and operate the shutter releases manually. 

During the flight, Dale sat in the cockpit and told the engineer over the plane's intercom when to trigger the shutters. Fortunately, this bit of teamwork succeeded in producing dozens of extraordinary views of the jetliner taking off and landing. The masterpiece was the one at right -- taken in level flight but with the canted camera, because the level camera was out of film. It appeared as a three-page foldout in an issue of /National Geographic/ magazine.




All images and data are copyright 2000-4 Skip Williams. 
No permission for republication granted.  Full copyright retained for all images.

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