The “Undisputed King” of the Wide Angle

The biggest event I photographed in my months in Illinois in 1988 was a visit from Vice President George H. Bush. It was then I heard him utter his famous line, "No new taxes," which turned out to be a lie.
The biggest event I photographed in my months in Illinois in 1988 was a visit from Vice President George H. Bush. It was then I heard him utter his famous line, “No new taxes,” which turned out to be a lie.

When I was 25 I worked for a short time at a newspaper in Ottawa, Illinois called The Daily Times. It has since merged with a neighboring newspaper and become simply The Times. In my short time there, I shot well, in part because I was partnered with another young photographer named Harold Krewer.

Harold was friendlier than I was in those days, and more outgoing. In years since then, however, particularly after getting married, I am about as outgoing and friendly as anyone I know.

Harold and I loved to shoot news and sports. To add spice to our daily routine of grip-and-grins and rubber chicken luncheons, Harold and I would challenge each other to, for lack of a better term, shoot-outs. We would set out in opposite directions and meet back at the office in an hour with what each of us hoped would be the better image. We both shot well when we did this, and it kept us sharp.

One thing that became more and more apparent as this activity went on was that while I probably had an edge with telephoto lenses, particularly my 180mm, Harold established himself as “the undisputed king of the wide angle.” I can’t recall with total certainty, but I think his go-to lens was the Nikkor 24mm f/2.8, a staple in many photojournalists bags of the era. He made that lens sing. The angles and compositions he got with it were aesthetically and geometrically amazing.

I photographed these two girls at a street festival in Streator, Illinois, in 1988 with one of my favorite lenses of the era, the Nikkor 180mm f/2.8 ED. In recent years I have replaced that lens with the excellent AF-Nikkor 180mm f/2.8 ED.
I photographed these two girls at a street festival in Streator, Illinois, in 1988 with one of my favorite lenses of the era, the Nikkor 180mm f/2.8 ED. In recent years I have replaced that lens with the excellent AF-Nikkor 180mm f/2.8 ED.

Like all photojournalists, I use wide angle lenses all the time. My bread-and-butter lens on the job in the last few years has been the excellent Tokina 12-24mm f/4, which is a lens designed for 15x24mm image sensors, so its analog in the film era would be roughly 18-36mm. I’m good with it. I am not, however, the wide angle artist that Harold was.

I talked to Harold on the phone recently. He left journalism some years ago to pursue a career in his first real love, railroads. It was good to talk to him, and particularly neat that he remembered, word for word, the phrase, “undisputed king of the wide angle.”

This is my Tokina AT-X Pro 12-24mm f/4 DX lens, my standard wide angle. Note that the lens hood has a black band around it, which is a piece of bike tire inner tube. It helps hold the hood together because two weeks ago a football player knocked it out of my hand onto the ground. The hood, which is plastic, cracked, but the lens was undamaged.
This is my Tokina AT-X Pro 12-24mm f/4 DX lens, my standard wide angle. Note that the lens hood has a black band around it, which is a piece of bike tire inner tube. It helps hold the hood together because two weeks ago a football player knocked it out of my hand onto the ground. The hood, which is plastic, cracked, but the lens was undamaged.
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2 Comments

  1. I like the idea of the shoot-out…

    You threw me with your description of the Tokina lens, though… I thought you were shooting with “full-frame” cameras?

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  2. Thanks for the kind words and the shout out, Richard. Yes, the weapon of choice was the Nikkor 24mm 2.8. Still have that lens (and all my other manual Nikkor glass) waiting for the day when I get hold of a DX body. Those were some of my best days shooting, largely because of the way we pushed each other to elevate our respective games. Great times.

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