PHOTOGRAPHY by Wes & Linda Loder: A historic and thematic approach

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Entrance to Flicker Hole

Entrance to Flicker Hole, Guadaloupe Mountains, New Mexico.

Photography has been important part of most of my life. After training as a Photographic Services Officer in the United States Air Force, I made it my profession for thirteen years before moving into librarianship. I still take pictures. I used to do a lot of spelunking (caving to you modern types)—that's how I met my wife. In 1969 I picked up a used Nikon S2 in order to have a more compact camera for hauling through caves. That purchase led to an interest in the series of rangefinder cameras and accessories that the Nikon company manufactured between 1948 and 1964. What I purchased tended to reflect my own interests in wildlife and closeup photography.

Stalactite in Quarry Cave

Stalactite in Quarry Cave, Texas.

Opening fiddleheads

Opening fiddleheads.

My wife and I spotted this bird on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in east-central Oregon. I set the camera on a windowpod, took a picture, drove closer, took another, and so on, until we were directly opposite this eagle. It refused to move, even though we were less than twenty feet away. Only when I got out of our VW bus did it fly away.

Golden Eagle

Golden Eagle.

Link to early exploration of Airmen's Cave.  

The SA reproduction kit was the second copy stand that Nippon Kogaku K.K. manufactured for their rangefinder cameras. Compact and portable, it is easy to set up and use, provided you keep a sheet of exposure factors handy. While rivals Zeiss and Leitz were still turning out units that only allowed a set series of reproduction reductions based on combinations of extension tubes, Nikon's unit featured a bellows which allowed continuous reductions from 1:5 down to 1:1 with any of its 50mm lenses. The kit also included a negative lens to extend the reductions to 1:15a useful range for microfilming. Unfortunately, the front mount only has the internal bayonet, limiting its use to normal lenses.

SA copy unit

SA copy unit.

Lens with negative auxiliary lens

Lens with negative auxiliary lens.

Pore fungus

Pore fungus.

Closeup of leaf

Reflex housing

Page for the Nikon Model 1 Bellows.
180mm Nikkor lensCombine a Nikon Reflex Housing with a short-mount Nikkor and one has a good combination for leisurely closeup work. The 45 degree angle finder allows a higher viewpoint and the fine ground-glass focusing screen is bright and distraction-free. The 180mm f2.5 Nikkor with a Leitz tablepod is an excellent tool for low-viewpoint fieldwork. This particular lens dates from the early 1960's at a time when Nikon was just starting to combine feet and meters on distance scales. Note, however, that the feet here are marked with a "Burnt orange" color instead of the usual yellow.
Fall color
Fall leaves
21mm f4 Nikkor
Nikon first marketed its 21mm f4 Nikkor in 1959 in both the Nikon S and Nikon F mount. Today the version for the rangefinder cameras is a rare collectible. The version for the Nikon F is more common. However, its deepset optics require locking up the mirror—an inconvenience to say the least. The Cosina/Voigtlander F to S adaptor makes mounting that same lens on a rangefinder Nikon straight forward. A home-made adaptor added the "F" mount 21mm finder and I was in business.

Family tree

Family tree.

Star Island, Isles of Shoals

Veranda, Star Island, Isles of Shoals, New Hampshire.


Wes with 400mm f4.5 Tele-Nikkor

The 400mm f4.5 Tele-Nikkor was introduced in 1965, the year after the other Tele-Nikkors. At 6.5 pounds, this was the shortest and lightest in that series. I thought that it might be light enough and fast enough to be useful for handheld wildlife photography. It was, but it also opened up a whole new way of seeing. Over half the pictures I made in the 1970's were with this lens. I carried it everywhere, including to the tops of peaks in Oregon, Wyoming and Colorado. I found I could readily shoot wide-open by using a pistol grip and by bracing the camera with my jaw.

Note the speed focusing facilitator constructed out of a dryer vent clamp and aluminum rod threaded to a metal block locked into the clamp.

Red-breasted Sapsucker

Red-breasted Sapsucker.

Snake River Canyon

Snake River Canyon valley wall.

Sandpipers in flight

Sandpipers in flight, Oregon coast.

Yellow Warbler

Yellow Warbler, Mallieur Refuge, Oregon.


Sheep Mountain summitIn 1972 I spent much of the summer taking pictures on speculation for Time-Life in wilderness areas located in Colorado and Wyoming. My wife and spent a week in Jackson Hole, climbing various peaks and taking pictures.

Linda and myself on the summit of Sheep Mountain in the Gros Ventre Range. The 400mm Nikkor lies at my feet. Taken with a Nikon SP and 28mm Nikkor.

Jackson Hole

Jackson Hole with Teton Range on horizon, 28mm lens from Sheep Mountain summit.

Grand Teton

Grand Teton flanked by Middle Teton and Mount Owen. Same perspective as image to left, but taken with 400mm lens.

Prarie Dog

Prairie Dog.



American Widgeons

American Widgeon pair.

Photography was a challenge and an adventure in the 1970's. I sought to take unusual pictures that showed locations, beings and objects in new ways. The late Bernard Freemesser was my major professor at the University of Oregon. He kept insisting that anything that could be done with a 35mm camera could almost always be done better with a large-format camera. So I took pictures that used many of the strengths of a view camera but instead used the smaller 35mm format. I know I frustrated Bernie, but I learned a lot from him anyway.
The 400mm Nikkor was perfect for isolating, for finding an essence. I also have a page on the 500mm Nikkor.


Oregon lichens.

Spring Artist

Branches and water


Crater Lake, Oregon

Crater Lake, Oregon.

Oregon fog

Douglas Fir dawn.


So what does one do with a 150-year-old lens? If it is a 480mm f11 "Rapid Rectillinater" in barrel mount designed to cover 15 X 12 format, one could use it as a compact long-focus lens for 35mm work. Add a home-machined adaptor and a bellows to the Tele-Nikkor focusing mount and one is all set.

Add a K3 ring, a MB adaptor and a 20X eyepiece from a spotting scope and one has a telescope that one can use to check skin pores on a sunbather a mile away—if one does not mind that the image is upside down!

Retilinear lens

K-3 ring and M-B adaptor

Nikon K3 ring and M-B adaptor.

Complete setup

Complete setup.

I still take pictures in out-of-the-way places, but also closer to home.
Linda's profile
Lisa with crocus
Brother and sons

Schuylkill River Valley from Appalachian Trail

Schuylkill River Valley from Appalachian Trail.

View from North Lookout, Hawk Mountain

View from North Lookout, Hawk Mountain.

All images copyright Michael Wescott Loder 2004.     Back to my Homepage

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