domingo, 18 de febrero de 2018

U Thant, Secretary-General of the United Nations, photographed by Lisl Steiner inside the U.N Building in New York on December 1, 1964

December 1, 1964 inside the great hall of the United Nations General Assembly, where its 19th session ( in which three new members — Malawi, Malta and Zambia — are going to be admitted as full members ) is about to begin.

In the rostrum, from left to right are sitting: U Thant (General-Secretary of the United Nations since November 30, 1961), Carlos Sosa-Rodríguez (President of the previous 18th Session of the General Assembly of United Nations, who will open the session) and C.V.Narasimhan (Chief of Cabinet of United Nations since 1961 and Vice General-Secretary of the organization).

The presidential table is already surrounded by professional photographers and movie camera operators huddling to get pictures of the sitting three men and the U.N ambassadors from different countries.

Alfred Eisenstaedt has already placed himself in the best feasible position to get pictures of U Thant (Secretary-General of the United Nations) who is looking at him smiling, while the author of ninety covers in Life illustrated magazine stays put and keeps a lookout for him, with two cameras hanging at mid height under his waist: a Leica M3E-1 (which was presented to him by Ernst Leitz III in 1960 and first prototype of the later Leica MP) coupled to a 8 elements in 6 groups Summicron-M 35 mm f/2 1st Version and a Leica M3 connected to a 5 elements in 3 groups and 12 blade diaphragm Elmarit-M 90 mm f/2.8 original chromed version, designed by Walter Mandler at the Ernst Leitz Midland, Ontario, Canada factory.

Lisl Steiner, a photojournalist working for Keystone Press Agency, Life, Time Inc and O Cruzeiro is on far right of the image, turning the toothed focusing wheel of her black Nippon Kogaku S3 rangefinder camera with a Nikkor-P.C 8,5 cm f/2 (the reference-class lens in its focal length and luminosity at the time, delivering great image quality and which such as proved eleven years before during the Korean War by world-class photojournalists like David Douglas Duncan, Miki Jun, Horace Bristol, Carl Mydans, Margaret Bourke-White, Hank Walker and others, outperformed the excellent Carl Zeiss Jena 5 cm f/1.5 lens designed by Ludwig Bertele very slightly as to resolving power and clearly regarding contrast and sharpness, as well as boasting a top-notch simple coating, getting a superb printed quality in the photomechanics of the best illustrated publications from the original black and white negatives) just before laterally photographing U Thant, Secretary-General of the United Nations, who is sitting at a distance of roughly five meters from her, having chosen a horizontal framing in which both the face and shoulders of the Burmese dignitary appears inside the 24 x 36 mm Kodak Tri-X 400 b & w film.

The Austrian-American photographer is utterly focused on what she is doing during an instant before the photographic act, and the absence of a swivelling mirror in her Nikon S3 rangefinder camera enables her not to need any flash, being able to succesfully shoot handheld under available light and with no trepidation whatsoever, using the highly versatile Kodak Tri-X 400 black and white 24 x 36 mm format film.

On the other hand, the display of professional photographic and cinematographic cameras is truly impressive:

The camera operator being standing on far left of the image is filming with an Arriflex 16 ST from 1952, the first professional 16 mm cinematographic camera with a reflex viewing system and one of the best and most successful movie cameras ever made by the Munich based German firm.

A real workhorse featuring a 3-lens turret, it became the cinema industry standard for movie makers with 16 mm film throughout fifties and sixties.

The camera is fitted to a shoulder steady support to fully enhance the shooting stability,

while the other movie camera operator, placed very near him, is using a spring-wound Bell & Howell 70DR 16 mm motion picture camera with a 3-lens turret to allow for instant lens change and matching viewfinders, in addition to a speed selector between 8 and 64 frames per second.

On his turn, the most nearby photographer to Lisl Steiner has two Leica IIIF screwmount rangefinder cameras: one of them is coupled to a 50 mm f/2 Rigid Version 2 with which he is getting pictures, whereas the other one is linked to an 8 elements in 6 groups Summicron-M 35 mm f/2 1st Version.

The photographer located in the middle of the image (being standing just behind Carlos Sosa-Rodríguez, is using three cameras: a Nikon F with FTN finder (with which he is photographing) , a standard Nikon F with a Nikkor-P.C 105 mm f/2.5 hanging at the height of his chest, and just on its left (as seen in the image) there is a third camera: an M37 mount Asahiflex IIb Tower 24 ( manufactured betwen 1954 and 1956 ) coupled to an Asahi Kogaku 58 mm f/2.4 lens and with its waist level viewfinder folded.

The photographer wearing glasses and being just behind U Thant is using a Nikon F with Nikkor-S 55 mm f/1.2 lens.

And the photographer on far left of the image is using a Leica IIf LTM39 mount rangefinder camera with Leitz Summaron 28 mm f/5.6 in LTM39 mount and an external Leitz SLOOZ 28 mm finder.

Throughout sixties, seventies and eighties, vast majority of professional photographers often used two cameras (one for black and white film and a second one for colour emulsion) and even a third one (for colour slides) coupled to lenses featuring different focal lengths and maximum apertures, which is highly apparent in the image, in the same way as the noticeable significance bestowed upon churning out a slew of meaningful and historical images about the sessions and events inside the New York United Nations building designed by the Brazilian architect Oscar Niemayer.

José Manuel Serrano Esparza