Felix Kunze: Gold Medals and Holy Grails.BY joelee on February 19, 2013
We recently had a chance to catch up with our friend, celebrity portraiture photographer Felix Kunze. This was no small feat as someone who’s highly in demand like Felix is a globetrotter by necessity. He might be found in New York assisting Annie Leibovitz with her work one day and in Europe shooting a fashion campaign for Danish fashion brand Atelier Bogelund-Jensen the next.
Felix recently returned to the UK where he covered the London 2012 Olympics this past summer. Though he was “in the throes of London Fashion week madness”, he was gracious enough to make some time to chat. As always Felix was good for an interesting story (or three.) He told us about some very interesting work he did for the cover story of Nikon Magazine. The two stars of the story were Double Olympic Gold Medalist rower, Pete Reed and Nikon’s 13mm f5.6 lens aka The Holy Grail. Here’s Felix in his own words :
On a cold November morning in 2012, I attempted something that arguably no-one had ever done before.
I was given an assignment to photograph a portraiture session with an extremely wide-angle and rare lens; Nikon’s 13mm f/5.6 rectilinear marvel, often dubbed the ‘Holy Grail of lens design’.In simple terms, this is a wide-angle lens that has almost no distortion, a problem that most wide lenses suffer from. The distortion can cause a kind of warped feeling, as if things in the edge of the image are stretched. This $30,000 behemoth employs some glass to counteract this effect. It is designed for architectural photography and has wide applications in landscape. Proving difficult and expensive to manufacture, only about 350 of them were ever sold. The lens is no longer in production.
It’s unusual to shoot portraiture with a lens such as this, it requires me to be very very close to the subject, not made any easier by my decision to shoot part of the editorial on the rushing river Thames after heavy rain.
We chose to base our shoot in rowing because the long lines of oars, boats and the riverbank would demonstrate the capabilities of the lens.
Double Olympic Gold Medalist Pete Reed (Beijing 2008 & London 2012 in the Coxless Four) was kind enough to undertake this crazy task with us. Pete is a keen photographer himself and was an absolute sport despite the low temperatures and challenging conditions.
It was definitely an unusual shoot – Felix’s full thoughts are expressed in the full article found in the latest issue of Nikon Owner Magazine. Below is the behind the scenes video you can click to watch: