lunes, 25 de agosto de 2014

ROBERT CAPA, 5 DE SEPTIEMBRE DE 1936 : DESCUBIERTA LA UBICACIÓN DE DOS FOTOGRAFÍAS HECHAS CERCA DE EL VACAR Y DE LA ESTACIÓN DE TREN DE OBEJO (CÓRDOBA)

Texto y Fotos Indicadas: José Manuel Serrano Esparza
ENGLISH
Durante los últimos cinco años, el hallazgo de La Maleta Mexicana (conteniendo 4.500 negativos originales de fotografías hechas por Robert Capa, Gerda Taro, David Seymour Chim y Fred Stein) y los descubrimientos por parte de elrectanguloenlamano.blogspot.com de nuevas fotografías hechas por Capa cuya autoría y ubicación se desconocía hasta ahora y pertenecientes a sus dos grandes reportajes Arenga a los Milicianos antes del Combate en la Finca de Villa Alicia (aproximadamente 1 km al suroeste del pueblo de Cerro Muriano) y Huida de los Refugiados de Cerro Muriano ante el Bombardeo Franquista (con imágenes de familias hechas junto al Cortijo de Villa Alicia y que huyen en dirección norte, junto a otras más realizadas en distintos tramos de la vía férrea Córdoba- Almorchón entre las afueras norte de Cerro Muriano, la Estación de Tren de Obejo y El Vacar) han permitido más de tres cuartos de siglo después de los hechos conocer con mayor profundidad y detalle los pormenores de los dos mencionados grandiosos reportajes realizados en la provincia de Córdoba (Andalucía) y que figuran hoy por hoy por méritos propios y sin ningún género de dudas entre lo mejor y más importante de lo realizado por Robert Capa durante toda su carrera fotoperiodística, además de ser imágenes muy significativas que se enmarcan en su bautismo de fuego como fotógrafo de guerra, que tuvo lugar en Córdoba durante la primera semana de Septiembre de 1936, en plena Guerra Civil Española.

Por todo ello, resulta en mi opinión verdaderamente asombroso que la figura de Robert Capa no sólo no haya perdido ni un ápice de actualidad en el ámbito mediático y editorial en general, sino que siga asimismo constituyendo una fuente poco menos que inagotable de hallazgos impregnados de un muy fuerte componente emocional, fotoperiodístico, histórico y humano con respecto a su estancia en Córdoba durante la Guerra Civil Española, y cuyos protagonistas han de ser Capa y Taro (que fueron quienes estuvieron en los lugares y momentos adecuados, jugándose la vida sin lugar a dudas en diferentes fases, tal y como ha desmostrado elrectanguloenlamano.blogspot.com, hallándose ambos bastantes veces muy cerca de donde se desarrollaban los combates, especialmente en la Finca de Villa Alicia al mediodía y en Las Malagueñas durante la tarde-noche) y los refugiados, gente inocente de muy escasos recursos económicos, que tuvieron que huir con lo puesto y abandonar sus hogares por los que habían trabajado de sol a sol durante muchos años.

Tras varios nuevos viajes al área comprendida entre la Estación de Tren de Obejo y el pueblo de El Vacar durante Julio y Agosto de 2013 y 2014, elrectanguloenlamano.blogspot.com ha podido encontrar la ubicación exacta de dos fotografías más de refugiados hechas por Capa el 5 de Septiembre de 1936.

A) La primera es una imagen que aparece en la mitad superior de una de las páginas del libro Death in the Making de 1938 .


El pie de foto de dicha página afirma que las personas que aparecen en imagen son refugiados que huyen desde Málaga a Almería a través de la carretera que bordea la costa, y que están recorriendo a pie 150 millas bajo un brutal sol.

Pero no es cierto. 

Quizá se produjo un error por parte de Jay Allen (que fue a quien Capa encargó la traducción de los pies de foto tanto de sus imágenes como de algunas de Gerda Taro que también ilustran el libro, cuyo diseño fue obra de Andre Kertesz) en la ubicación del texto que acompaña a la imagen, además de que Capa y Taro hicieron fotografías de los refugiados de Málaga ya muy cerca de Almería y en Almería capital, pero no llegaron a tiempo de fotografiar la huida de Málaga a Almería de aproximadamente 150.000 personas a través de la carretera costera y durante la cual fueron atacados por aviación italiana y alemana y artillería naval franquista los días 8, 9 y 10 de Febrero de 1937, lo cual produjo unas 3.000 muertes.

Sea como fuere, se trata de una imagen en la que aparecen un total de once personas (un padre de familia, una madre de familia, una mujer madura, cuatro niños – con edades entre 4 y 14 años aproximadamente- , un bebé en brazos y tres niñas- con edades entre los 7 y los 12 años aproximadamente).

La acción que se aprecia en la fotografía no ocurrió en Febrero de 1937, sino el 5 de Septiembre de 1936.

Se trata de habitantes de Cerro Muriano que huyen del bombardeo del pueblo por los aviones franquistas, que se intensificó entre aproximadamente las 15:00-15:30 horas de la tarde del 5 de Septiembre de 1936.

Pero esta foto no está hecha en Cerro Muriano ni sus alrededores.

La fotografía fue hecha por Capa a aproximadamente 2 km de El Vacar (Córdoba) el 5 de Septiembre de 1936 entre aproximadamente las 17:30 y las 17:45 h de la tarde, tras una durísima caminata de 9 km a pleno sol realizada por las personas que aparecen en imagen, que habían iniciado la huída de Cerro Muriano (que dista 11 km de El Vacar) entre alrededor de las 15:00 h y las 15:30 h de la tarde.

Hemos podido descubrirlo gracias a una fotografía previa a ésta, hecha por Capa aproximadamente 1 km atrás junto a la misma vía férrea Córdoba-Almorchón y en la que aparecen ocupando todo el fotograma cuatro personas (la madre de familia con el bebé en brazos, su hija mayor y su marido con ropa y boina negras, que lleva varias mantas sobre su hombro derecho para dormir al raso durante la noche) también visibles en la nueva foto recién ubicada en la zona más a la izquierda de la imagen, junto al poste de telégrafo.

                                       © Robert Capa / ICP New York



Punto de la vía férrea Córdoba-Almorchón situado a aproximadamente 9 kilómetros de Cerro Muriano y en el que Robert Capa hizo la fotografía recién ubicada por elrectanguloenlamano.blogspot.com cerca del pueblo de El Vacar (Córdoba). Esta vía férrea, una de las más bellas de España, dotada con trenes impulsados por locomotoras de vapor, con algunos tramos de maravillosos paisajes, especialmente entre Cerro-Muriano y Córdoba capital y El Vacar y la Alhondiguilla, dejó de utilizarse como transporte de pasajeros en 1974 y de mercancías a finales de los años ochenta, por lo que las vías se hallan hoy en día en gran medida repletas de árboles chaparros y muy tupida vegetación a ambos lados, el calor es insoportable y el hacer fotos comparativas de la zona con respecto a 1936 entraña notable dificultad, ya que la zona a ambos lados de la vía férrea estaba hace 78 años despejada, sin chaparros ni grandes zarzas, no existía la valla de alambre de espino que se aprecia al fondo y hoy en día hay más árboles que entonces. En este caso, la presencia de muy frondosos chaparros y altas plantas de durísimas y punzantes ramas junto a los raíles, impidió el hacer una foto apaisada que mostrara la zona descendente derecha de la colina, tal y como se aprecia en la foto hecha por Capa, así como la zona del horizonte a la izquierda de la imagen.


Fotografía panorámica del tramo de la antigua carretera cercano a El Vacar y adyacente al punto junto a la vía férrea Córdoba-Almorchón (parcialmente visible a la derecha de la imagen) totalmente tapado por los abundantes chaparros, zarzas y muy tupida vegetación que rodea hoy en día las vías y ubicado al fondo, tras la antigua señal ferroviaria con aspas, y desde el que Robert Capa hizo la fotografía que aparece en la mitad superior de una de las páginas del libro Death in The Making.


Debido al menor tamaño en imagen de las seis personas (del total de once) que aparecen a la izquierda del todo de la imagen de la página del libro Death in The Making, que fue reproducida por la editorial en Nueva York en 1938 a partir de una copia vintage de mucha mayor calidad realizada por Csiki Weisz en París en 1937, decidimos examinar la imagen con lupa Schneider Kreuznach 10x Aspheric optimizada para la visualización de fotografías hechas con cámaras de 35 mm, con vistas a analizar lo mejor posible detalles de zonas específicas de la fotografía.

                             © Robert Capa / ICP New York

Y no hay duda. La mujer que sostiene al bebé en brazos (y justo delante de la cual aparece en la nueva foto recién ubicada una mujer madura que lleva un cesto) y que va ataviada con un delantal blanco - el bombardeo de Cerro Muriano sorprendió a los habitantes del pueblo a la hora de comer - es la misma madre joven que lleva a su bebé en brazos y que aparece en la fotografía ya conocida hecha por Capa aproximadamente 1 km atrás junto a la vía férrea Córdoba-Almorchón en la zona de Campo Alto y cuyo lugar exacto de toma fue descubierto por elrectanguloenlamano.blogspot.com hace dos años.

Y el padre de familia vestido con ropa y boina negras (marido de la mujer que lleva a su bebé en brazos) es también la misma persona, al igual que la hija mayor del matrimonio, de unos siete años de edad, que aparece entre ellos en ambas fotografías.

A destacar la presencia en esta fotografía recién ubicada de un niño pequeño de unos cuatro o cinco años de edad que aparece a la izquierda del todo de la imagen, justo tras el padre de familia, y que prácticamente con certeza es hijo suyo y de la mujer con el bebé en brazos, lo cual añade información a la fotografía previa, y permite saber que la familia tiene tres hijos en lugar de dos como se pensaba.

Por otra parte, al comparar ambas imágenes hemos constatado un hecho singular: 

En la fotografía precedente hecha por Capa aproximadamente un km atrás, en la zona de Campo Alto, y en la que únicamente aparecen cuatro personas (la madre con el bebé en brazos, la hija mayor de unos siete años de edad y el padre de familia vestido con ropa y boina negra que lleva varias mantas sobre su hombro derecho), la hija mayor y el padre miran a Capa mientras éste hace la foto, pero en la fotografía recién ubicada (y en la que aparecen un total de 11 personas) muy cerca de El Vacar, hay cinco personas que miran hacia su derecha (de derecha a izquierda de la imagen el segundo niño de la fila - de unos 9 años de edad -, la chica de unos 12 años que camina tras él, la niña de unos 10 años que avanza justo detrás, la joven madre con su bebé en brazos y la hija mayor del matrimonio a la izquierda del todo de la imagen), pero no a Capa, sino hacia la izquierda de éste, mientras Bob aprieta el botón de liberación del obturador de su Leica II (Model D) con objetivo Leitz Elmar 50 mm f/3.5.

Algo llama muy poderosamente la atención de estas cinco personas, que pese a su enorme cansancio y a que sudan a mares, fijan su mirada en algo que hay a la izquierda de Capa.

Tengo la firme convicción de que están mirando a Gerda Taro, una mujer de gran belleza y cabellera rubia, que se encuentra en ese momento (fuera de imagen) muy cerca de Bob, a su izquierda, y que siempre se convertía en el foco de atención allí por donde pasaba. 

Tras hacer Capa su última fotografía de refugiados a unos 2 km de El Vacar, los habitantes de Cerro Muriano (situado a 10 km de distancia del lugar en el que Capa les fotografía por última vez) prosiguen su penosa marcha en dirección a El Vacar, reventados de cansancio, sudor, miedo y el inmenso dolor de haber tenido que abandonar sus casas y pueblo natal.


En imagen aparece un tramo de la vía férrea Córdoba-Almorchón situado a aproximadamente 1,5 km de El Vacar. Hace 78 años, las 11 personas que aparecen en la imagen de Capa hecha alrededor de medio kilómetro atrás de esta imagen, continuaron su caminata a través de la zona izquierda junto a la vía, que sirvió en todo momento a los refugiados como punto de referencia en dirección norte hacia el Vacar y Villaharta. El calor en esta zona en Julio, Agosto y Septiembre, aún sin llegar al nivel de Córdoba capital (que normalmente alcanza cuatro o cinco grados más de temperatura que la zona entre Cerro Muriano y El Vacar) es espantoso, normalmente entre los 36 y 39º C, con un elevado riesgo de deshidratación e insolación si no se va bien provisto de agua fresca y boina o sombrero para la cabeza, y marchar a pie se convierte en una auténtica odisea.


Entrada al pueblo de El Vacar, situado a una distancia de 11 km de Cerro Muriano y donde llegaron los refugiados el 5 de Septiembre de 1936, tras una durísima caminata a pleno sol en la que las familias sufrieron muchísimo al luchar simultáneamente por conseguir llegar hasta aquí y a la vez ayudar a los ancianos y ancianas, produciéndose momentos de auténtica angustia y deseperación, conscientes además de que muchos de ellos tendrían que dormir a la intemperie con las mantas que llevaban, como así ocurrió. Pero la odisea no terminó aquí, sino que a continuación tuvieron que hacer una nueva durísima marcha de 10 km hasta Villaharta, en condiciones penosas, con un elevado porcentaje de ellos padeciendo calambres, un enorme cansancio, sudando a mares, comida y agua que había comenzado a escasear, etc.

B) Fotografía que aparece justo debajo de la imagen anterior, en la mitad inferior de la misma página del libro Death in The Making y asimismo ubicada entre Málaga y Almería por el texto del pie de foto común.


Pero dicha información es también errónea, ya que esta foto fue hecha por Capa cerca de la antigua Estación de Tren de Obejo.

En la imagen aparecen cuatro personas: un hombre joven con camisa y pantalón claros, chaqueta y boina oscuras y calzado blanco, que lleva sobre su espalda colgado del cuello a un niño pequeño agotado que no puede caminar más, al tiempo que agarra con su brazo izquierdo el brazo derecho de la anciana que va junto a él (probablemente su madre, totalmente vestida de negro y con cofia y pañuelo oscuro alrededor del cuello) para ayudarla a caminar, mientras que a la derecha del todo de la imagen se aprecia a una chica joven de unos diez años que camina cerca de ellos con idéntico rumbo norte.


Esta foto no está hecha en Cerro Muriano ni sus alrededores, sino cerca de la estación de Tren de Obejo, que se encuentra 5 km al norte de Cerro Muriano, y fue captada por Capa el 5 de Septiembre de 1936, aproximadamente entre las 16:00 y 16:30 h de la tarde. 


Se trata de habitantes de Cerro Muriano que huyen del bombardeo del pueblo por parte de la aviación franquista, intensificado a partir de alrededor de las 15:00 h de la tarde de dicho día, y que están a punto de llegar a la estación de Tren de Obejo para proseguir su marcha desde allí hacia El Vacar (11 km al norte de Cerro Muriano).

Una vez más, Capa capta magistralmente un momento significativo, esta vez repleto de angustia y stress, ya que tanto el hombre joven (que lleva varios kilómetros ayudando al niño, transportándolo sobre la espalda, lo cual incrementa notablemente su cansancio y sudor al caminar en medio de una temperatura de unos 36 grados) como la mujer madura - cuyo rostro convulso y preocupado adquiere notable dramatismo al estar su zona izquierda en sombra - avanzan en condiciones muy precarias, con un equilibrio que se irá deteriorando progresivamente (aún les queda poco menos de 1 km para llegar a la Estación de Tren de Obejo y alrededor de 7 km para llegar a El Vacar).


© José Manuel Serrano Esparza
Texto y Fotografías en color incritos en el Registro Territorial de la Propiedad Intelectual de Madrid.

ROBERT CAPA, SEPTEMBER 5, 1936 : DISCOVERED THE LOCATION OF TWO PHOTOGRAPHS MADE NEAR EL VACAR VILLAGE AND OBEJO TRAIN STATION (CÓRDOBA)

Text and Indicated Photos: José Manuel Serrano Esparza
SPANISH
During the last five years, the finding of The Mexican Suitcase (a real trove containing 4,500 original black and white negatives exposed by Robert Capa, Gerda Taro, David Seymour Chim and Fred Stein) and the discoveries by elrectanguloenlamano.blogspot.com of new pictures made by Capa whose authorship and location was unknown till now and belonging to his two remarkable reportages The Harangue to the Militiamen Before the Combat in Finca de Villa Alicia (around 1 km in the southwest of Cerro Muriano village) and The Refugees of Cerro Muriano Fleeing from the Village Because of the Bombing by Francoist Aviation (encompassing images of families made by the Cortijo of Villa Alicia and who are escaping northbound, along with other more ones taken in different stretches of the Córdoba-Almorchón railways located between the north outskirts of Cerro Muriano, the Obejo Train Station and El Vacar have enabled more than three quarters of a century after the events to more deeply and thoroughly grasp the details of the two aforementioned amazing photographic essays made in Córdoba province (Andalusia) and which undoubtedly currently stand out by their own merits within the cream and most important of his image production throughout his professional career as a photojournalist, as well as being rather meaningful pictures that stem from Robert Capa´s baptism as a war photographer, which took place in Córdoba during the first week of September of 1936, in the heat of  Spanish Civil War.

Thus, in my viewpoint it is really astounding the fact that Robert Capa´s figure hasn´t only lost a shred of interest in the media and editorial scopes, but has also turned into an almost inexhaustible source of findings imbued with very strong emotional, photojournalistic, historical and humane sides regarding their stay in Córdoba province during the Spanish Civil War and whose main characters should be Capa and Taro, who were at the adequate places and moments, risking their lives in a number of stages, as has been proved by elrectanguloenlamano.blogspot.com, since both of them were a lot of times very near the front line where combats were taking place (particularly in the Villa Alicia estate at midday and in Las Malagueñas Hill during the evening and night) and the refugees, innocent humble people who had to hastily walk away with their clothes on their backs and the personal belongings they could save in makeshift bundles, leaving behind their dwells for which they had worked from dawn to dusk for a lot of years.

After some new trips to the area between the old Obejo Train Station and El Vacar village during July and August of 2013 and 2014, elrectanguloenlamano.blogspot.com has been able to find the exact location of two more pictures of refugees made by Capa on September 5, 1936.

A) The first one is an image appearing on upper half of one of the pages of the Death in the Making Book from 1938.


The caption of that page states that the persons appearing in the picture are refugees fleeing from Málaga to Almería across the road bordering the coast, and that they´re walking 150 miles under a brutal sun.

But it is not true.

Perhaps there was an error by Jay Allen (whom Capa entrusted the translation of both his pictures and some of Gerda Taro also illustrating the book, whose design was made by Andre Kerstez) regarding the location of the text accompanying the image. Besides, Capa and Taro got pictures of the refugees coming from Málaga very near Almería and in Almería city, but they couldn´t arrive previously to photograph the escape from Málaga to Almería of approximately 150,000 persons across the coastal road and during which they were attacked by Italian and German aircraft and Francoist naval artillery on February 8, 9, 10 and 11, 1937.

Whatever it may be, it´s an image in which appear a total of eleven persons ( a family father, a family woman, a mature woman, four boys -being roughly between 4 and 14 years old- , a baby in arms and three girls - being approximately between 7 and 12 years old- ).

The action visible in the picture didn´t take place in February of 1937.

It happened on September 5, 1936.

They are inhabitants of Cerro Muriano hastily walking away from the bombing of the village by the Francoist aircraft, which was intensified between around 15:00-15:30 h in the afternoon of September 5, 1936.

But this photograph wasn´t made in Cerro Muriano or its surroundings.

It was made by Capa at approximately 2 km from El Vacar village (Córdoba) on September 5, 1936 between around 17:30 h and 17:45 h in the afternoon, after an exceedingly hard trek of 10 km in full sunlight (with a temperature around 36º C) made by the people appearing in the image, who had started the flight from Cerro Muriano between 15:00-15:30 h in the afternoon.

We have been able to discover it thanks to a previous picture to this, made by Capa approximately 1 km behind, next to the same Córdoba-Almorchón railways and in which can be seen filling the whole frame four persons (the young family mother with her baby in armas, her elder daughter and his husband wearing black clothes and beret, who is taking some blankets on his right shoulder to sleep rough during the night) also visible in the far left area of the just located picture, beside the telegraph pole.


                             © Robert Capa / ICP New York



Spot of the Córdoba-Almorchón railways placed at a distance of approximately 10 km from Cerro Muriano and in which Capa got the picture just located by elrectanguloenlamano.blogspot.com near El Vacar village (Córdoba). This track, one of the most beautiful in Spain, equipped with steam locomotives driven trains, with some stretches of wonderful landscapes, specially between Cerro Muriano and Córdoba and El Vacar and La Alhondiguilla, stopped being used as a passenger means of transport in 1974 and as a goods one during late eighties, so the lines are currently mostly full of very abundant and thick vegetation made up by large thorny plants and medium size chaparros trees on both sides, the heat is unbearable and enhanced by the burning rails, and making comparative pictures of the area with respect to 1936 ( a time in which the line was fully operational) becomes very difficult, because the areas on both sides of the track were uncluttered, without big brambles and chaparros, the barbed wire visible in the background didn´t exist and there are many more trees presently than then. In this case, the massive presence of leafy and overgrown chaparros and high spiny plants with hard and sharp branches next to the rails, made impossible to make a horizontal picture showing the right descending area of the hill along with the horizon zone on the left of the image, as it is seen in the photograph made by Capa.


Panoramic photograph of the stretch of the old highway near El Vacar and adjacent to the spot (wholly concealed by the very plentiful vegetation and chaparros trees nowadays surrounding the lines) by the Córdoba-Almorchón railway (partially visible in this image) located in the background, behind the rail signal and from which Capa made the picture appearing on the upper half of one of the Death in the Making book pages.


Because of the smaller size in the photograph of the six persons (from a total of eleven) appearing on far left of the image of the page of Death in the Making book, which was reproduced by the editorial in New York in 1938 from a far superior quality vintage copy made by Csiki Weisz in Paris in 1937, we decided to examine the image with a Schneider Kreuznach 10x aspheric optimized for visualization of pictures made with 35 mm cameras, trying to analyze specific areas of the photographs the best we could.

                                  © Robert Capa / ICP New York

And there´s no doubt that the young woman holding her baby in arms (with a mature woman taking a basket appearing in front of her in the just located picture) and wearing a white apron - the bombing of Cerro Muriano surprised its inhabitants at lunch time- is the same person taking her baby in arms who appears in the already known picture made by Capa approximately 1 km behind next to another spot of the Córdoba-Almorchón railway in the area of Campo Alto and whose exact location of picture taking by Capa was discovered by elrectanguloenlamano.blogspot.com two years ago.

And the family father clad in black attire and beret (husband of the woman holding her baby in arms) is also the same person, as happens with the around seven years old elder daughter of the couple, appearing between them in both photographs.

In this just located picture is also noteworthy the presence of an approximately four or five years old child who appears on far left of the image, just behind the family father and who is almost 100% certainly a son of his and the woman holding the baby in her arms, which adds information to the previous image and enables to know that the couple has three children instead of two as was believed.

On the other hand, on comparing both images we have observed an interesting fact:

In the previous picture made by Capa 1 km behind, in the area of Campo Alto, and in which only four persons appear (the mother with her baby in arms, the approximayely seven years old elder daughter and the father wearing black attire and beret who is taking some blankets on his right shoulder), the elder daughter and the father are looking at Capa while the photojournalist gets the picture, but in the just located picture ( in which appear a total of 11 persons) very near El Vacar, there are five people looking at their right (from right to left of the image the second child of the group - being around 9 years old - , the approximately 12 years old girl walking behind him, the roughly 10 years old girl advancing just behind her, the young mother taking her baby in arms and the elder girl of the couple on the left of the image).

But they are not looking at Capa. They are staring at Bob´s left while he presses the shutter release button of his Leica II (Model D) with Leitz Elmar 50 mm f/3.5 lens.

Something is really attracting the attention of these five persons, who in spite of their huge fatigue and being sweating profusely, are gazing at somebody on Capa´s left.

I do believe that they are looking at Gerda Taro, a very pretty woman with a rather showy blonde hair, who is (out of image) very near Bob at the moment, on his left, and who always became the center of attention wherever she was.

After being photographed by Capa for the last time at around 2 km from El Vacar, the inhabitants of Cerro Muriano (a village placed at a distance of 10 km from the location in which Capa gets his last picture of refugees) go on their gruesome march on foot towards El Vacar village, ruptured by the exhaustion, sweat, fear and the huge grief of having been bound to leave their homes and hometown.


In this image appears a track span of the Córdoba-Almorchón railway being around 1,5 km from El Vacar. 78 years ago, the 11 persons appearing in the photograph made by Capa approximately half a kilometer behind this image, kept on their very long hike across the left area by the track, which acted for the refugees at every moment as a reference northbound way towards El Vacar and Villaharta. The heat in this area in July, August and September, though not reaching the levels of Cordoba City (which often has four or five more degrees of temperature than the area between Cerro Muriano and El Vacar) is scorching, frequently between 36º C and 39º C, with a high risk of dehydratation and sunstroke if one is not well equipped with water and beret or straw hat for the head, and advancing on foot turns into a highly wearisome experience.


Entrance to El Vacar village, located at a distance of 11 km from Cerro Muriano and where the refugees arrived on September 5, 1936, after a dreadful forced trek in broad daylight in which the families suffered very much while simultaneously striving after managing to walk up to here and help the old men and women of the village, with a number of moments of real anguish and despair being brought about, as well as being aware that many of them would have to sleep outdoors with the blankets they were taking, as it happened. But the ordeal didn´t finish here, because following it they had to do a new very harsh hike of 10 km up to Villaharte, under appalling conditions, with a high percentage of them suffering from cramps and huge fatigue, along with the few remaining quantities of food and water.

B) Picture appearing just under the previous image, in the lower half of the same page of Death in The Making book and likewise located between Málaga and Almería by the common caption.


But that information is also wrong, because this picture was made by Capa near the old Obejo Train Station.

In the image appear four persons: a young man wearing clear shirt and trousers, dark jacket and beret and who is taking on his back hanging from his neck a little exhausted child that can´t walk more, while he grabs with his left arm the right arm of the woman advancing next to him (probably his mother, utterly clad in black and with a dark coif and a handkerchief around her neck) to help her walk, while on far right of the image can be seen an around ten years old girl advancing near them and also northbound.

This picture was not made in Cerro Muriano or its surroundings, but near the old Obejo Train Station and was taken by Capa on September 5, 1936, approximately between 16:00 h and 16:30 h in the afternoon.

The people appearing in it are inhabitants of Cerro Muriano escaping from the bombing of the village by Francoist aircraft, increased from around 15:00 h in the afternoon of that day.

Once more, Capa captures masterfully a meaningful instant pervaded with angst and stress, since both the young man (who has been helping the child for some kilometers, taking him pickaback , which increases very much his fatigue and sweat while walking in the midst of a 36º C temperature) and the old woman – whose convulse and worried countenance acquires outstanding drama on being her left area in shadow- advance in precarious conditions, with a balance that will progressively be deteriorating ( they must walk still almost one kilometer to arrive at the Obejo Train Station and around 7 km to reach El Vacar). 

© Text and Indicated Photos: José Manuel Serrano Esparza
Inscribed in the Territorial Registry of the Intellectual Property of Madrid. 

lunes, 4 de agosto de 2014

NIKON S: THE BEGINNING OF SUCCESS ( I I )

Text and Photos: José Manuel Serrano Esparza


The Nikon S from 1951 meant the turning point in the history of Nippon Kogaku (renamed Nikon Corporation in 1988) in particular and the Japanese photographic industry generally speaking, in spite of being clearly beaten by the following models of rangefinder cameras made by the firm during fifties:

- The Nikon S2 from 1954 which featured a larger viewfinder with a 1.0x magnification and a brilliant frame (the Nikon S viewfinder with 0.60x magnification lacked bright-line frame), better constructive materials (die-cast aluminum instead of the Nikon S sand casting aluminum), less weight (the Nikon S is built like a tank), a longer rangefinder effective base length, winding lever, rewinding crank, top shutter speed increased to 1/1000 sec, sync flash speeds dial up to 1/1000 sec and other improvements, as well as being the first Nikon rangefinder camera to be utterly redesigned to hold 24 x 36 mm film, etc.
                                                                                                                                 
- The extraordinary Nikon SP from 1957. Considered the best 35 mm rangefinder camera in history along with the Leica M3, featuring a superb eyepiece of the viewfinder with 1x magnification that sports dual nature and keeps inside a VF located on the right, with 1x magnification optimized for the very accurate framing with 50, 85, 105 and 135 mm lenses -together with bright-line frames for them all and automatic parallax correction at every distance (and another VF with 0.4x magnification and Albada type, optimized for use with 35 mm lenses -with bright-line frame- and 28 mm lenses - whose coverage area is made up by the limits of this 0.4x viewfinder also integrated in the camera body-), shutter with titanium curtains, bright-line frames adjustable for lenses between 28 and 135 mm, window showing the chosen flash synchronization speed, film counter with autoreset system and indicator of the type of film being used.

- The Nikon S3 from 1958 and Nikon S4 from 1959.

Nikon S, the camera which marked the start of Japanese photographic industry international expansion. It appears here with the Nikkor-S.C 5 cm f/1.4.

And there were some important reasons for it:

A) After checking the great image quality rendered by a Nikkor-P.C 8,5 cm f/2 which had been shown to him by Miki Jun (local correspondent for Life magazine in Japan) in early May 1950, the Californian photographer Horace Bristol (a Life photographer) went to see David Douglas Duncan (also a Life photojournalist) who became quite surprised too on observing the very good resolving power and superb contrast for the time that attained that lens, so after testing the aforementioned Nikkor-P.C 8,5 cm f/2 (along with a Nikkor-S.C 5 cm f/1.5 that likewise fascinated them) decided to visit with Jun Miki the Nippon Kogaku factory at Ohi (Tokyo) in mid May 1950, being welcomed by Dr. Masao Nagaoka, President of Nippon Kogaku.

That was a revelation for both Life photographers, who made particular thorough tests and verified that the Nikkor-P.C 8,5 cm f/2 outperformed the Zeiss Sonnar 8,5 cm f/2 in resolution and contrast, while the Nikkor-S.C 5 cm f/1.5 approached very much to the resolving power of the Carl Zeiss Jena 5 cm f/1.5, beating it in contrast.

Additionally, they realized that Nippon Kogaku Japanese lenses achieved a better printing quality on illustrated magazines, thanks to their greater contrast than highly luminous Carl Zeiss and Leitz existing at that time, something very important for both photojournalists, so they quickly changed their screwmount Leica (David Douglas Duncan) and Carl Zeiss (Horace Bristol) lenses for Japanese Nippon Kogaku ones in LTM39 thread mount and Contax bayonet respectively for their Leica IIIc and Contax II cameras.

On June 27 1950, David Douglas Duncan, coming from Fukuoka (a city in the south of Japan) was the first photographer to get pictures of Korean War, equipped with two Leicas IIIc, one coupled to a Nikkor-S.C 5 cm f/1.5 and another one attached to a Nikkor-Q.C 13,5 cm f/4, both of them manufactured by Nippon Kogaku in LTM39 thread.

When David Douglas Duncan sent his original black and white Eastman Kodak Super-XX 100 ASA negatives developed with DK-20 in Japan to the main office of Time Life Inc. in New York and the photomechanic tests with half tone plates were made, a great thrill was generated because they provided excellent contrast and visual perception of sharpness and the reproductions made from them on the luxurious paper of Life magazine was superior regarding printing quality to all the pictures got with 35 mm cameras and that b & w emulsion that they had handled before.

This was very important, since the Kodak Super-XX was then the photojournalistic black and white film par excellence, with its very high ASA 100 sensitivity for the time, which made possible to save a lot of photographs shooting handheld with available light and highly luminous lenses, unlike the Kodak Panatomic-X b & w film, the benchmark in terms of resolution and lack of grain, but whose very low sensitivity of ASA 32 was not suitable for its use in agile and dynamic photojournalism with 35 mm rangefinder cameras.

The news spread quickly, as well as being fostered by in-depth articles appeared in Modern Photography magazine, The New York Times (which published on December 10, 1950 an extensive report made by Hank Walker, Life photographer, on the Nikon S and the increasing use of Nippon Kogaku lenses by professional photographers during the Korean War), Life and the annual number of US Camera magazine from 1951 with pictures made by David Douglas Duncan with the previously quoted Japanese lenses, in addition to the September 10, 1951 Life magazine cover in size 26,8 x 35,6 cm of the Japanese Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida with stunning resolving power and contrast, made by Jun Miki with his Leica IIIf and a Nikkor-P.C 8,5 cm f/2.

This is War! A Photo-Narrative of the Korean War, lavishly illustrated with pictures made by David Douglas Duncan during the Korean War with his Leica IIIc and Nikkor-S.C 5 cm f/1.5, Nikkor-P.C 8,5 cm f/2 and Nikkor-P.Q 13,5 cm f/3.5 . From the very first moment of its appearance it became a reference book in the History of Photojournalism and enhanced even more throughout decades the great international prestige of the lenses manufactured by Nippon Kogaku for its S series rangefinder cameras, screwmount Leicas and Contax II respectively featuring LTM39 thread mount or bayonet.

It provided Nippon Kogaku with a huge international prestige, fostered by the fact that the excellent for the time lenses made by the Japanese photographic firm had an outstandingly lower price than the Zeiss and Leitz lenses sporting equivalent focal lengths and luminosities.

This way, a number of photographers assigned to the Korean War quickly changed their Zeiss lenses with Contax bayonet or LTM39 thread mount Leitz ones for the Nippon Kogaku objectives.

Advertisement of the Nikon S and its highly luminous Nikkor lenses in full page of the Popular Photography magazine in 1951. The headline ´ The Nikon 35 mm Embodies the Best Features of the Most Expensive Miniatures ´ summed up the key element in the birth of the Nikon S: Nippon Kogaku had created a rangefinder camera joining the best virtues of the Contax II and the LTM39 thread mount Leicas, with the added benefit that its Nikkor lenses beat in optical performance in the center and specially in contrast to the equivalent focal length objectives featuring identical widest apertures of both famous German firms, an at a much cheaper price. It´s likewise noteworthy that still in 1951 the cameras using 35 mm film were called miniature, because during fifties professional photographers working with Speed Graphic 4 x 5 large format cameras and 2 ¼ x 2 ¼ medium format Rolleiflex cameras were a broad majority.

Another event occurred that launched Nippon Kogaku fame even more: Carl Mydans (an extraordinary Life photographer), user of Contax II, was sent to Korean war to complement with David Douglas Duncan the strategic retreat of American troops to the Pusan defensive perimeter, and Douglas Duncan insisted Mydans on acquiring Nikkor lenses for his German 35 mm rangefinder camera.

In July 1950, Carl Mydans visited the Nippon Kogaku factory in Ohi (Tokyo) and bought a Nikkor-P.C 8,5 cm f/2 and a Nikkor-Q.C 13,5 cm f/3.5, both of them in Contax mount, whose rangefinder coupling section was modified, and in 1951 he would change his Contax II (a far superior camera from a qualitative viewpoint, much larger effective base length and an 1x magnification viewfinder instead of 0.60x) for a Nikon S, because the latter was exceedingly robust, featured a much more reliable shutter, its lenses delivered a superior image quality and an amazing flawless prolonged working ability under extreme climatic conditions.

Such factors made that other great photographers sent by Life to the Korean War, like Hank Walker (coverage of Incheon invasion), Margaret Bourke-White (coverage of the operations against guerrilla units behind the line front during the stalemate stage of the conflict) and Michael Rougier (coverage of D.W.Eisenhower visit) also opted for the Nikon S and Nikkor lenses.

Even, Max Desfor, an Associated Press photographer and user of Speed Graphic 4 x 5 large format camera who covered the Korean War too, bought a Nikon S and some Nikkor lenses, using the Nippon Kogaku  camera as a second body, which is relevant, because between 1950 and 1953 vast majority of professional photographers on assignment in the Korean conflict (particularly those belonging to Associated Press like George Sweers, James Martenhoff, Gene Herrick, Jim Pringle, Fred Waters, E.N. Johnson, William Straeter, John Randolph or Max Desfor himself) used Speed Graphic 4 x 5 large format cameras with Kodak Ektar 127 mm f/4.7 or Raptar Wollensak 135 mm f/4.7 and Kodak Super XX ASA 100 film or Kodak Plus-X ASA 50 film featuring a 13 times larger surface than those same black and white emulsions in 24 x 36 mm format that were used throughout the Korean War by the photographers who took 35 mm cameras (Leicas IIIc and IIf, Contax II and Nikon S 24 x 34 mm) with Nikkor lenses manufactured by Nippon Kogaku.


B) The Nippon Kogaku optical designers had painstakingly studied both the ultraluminous Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar 5 cm f/1.5 and Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar 8,5 cm f/2 lenses without antireflection coating for 35 mm format previous to the II World War created by the genius Ludwig Bertele in 1932 and 1933 and the postwar lenses sporting identical optical formula but featuring antireflective T Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar 50 mm f/1.5, Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar 85 mm f/2 (made in East Germany) and the Zeiss Opton Sonnar 50 mm f/1.5 and Zeiss Opton Sonnar 85 mm f/2 (manufactured in West Germany, in the city of Oberkochen) and decided to optimize as much as possible the contrast of their new lenses for 24 x 34 mm and 24 x 36 mm format, applying pragmatic criteria of cost savings to the utmost feasible, enhancement of production easiness and maximum reduction of optical elements possible, not only without reducing quality but even increasing it, which anticipated approximately eighteen years to realistic conceptual decisions of optical design according to market circumstances that had to be implemented by Walter Mandler in 1969 in the Leitz factory at Midland, Ontario (Canada) with the Summicron-R 50 mm f/2 for Leicaflex, whose optical formula reduced to 6 elements (instead of 7), simultaneously improving contrast, above all at f/2, and augmenting image quality with respect the previous design.

Nikkor-S.C 5 cm f/1.4, the first standard lens made in the world with such widest aperture. Manufactured between late 1950 and 1962, nothing less than 100,000 units were sold, a very significant figure for the time, and replaced the Nikkor-S.C 5 cm f/1.5 also featuring 7 elements in 3 groups and 12 diaphragm blades, which was launched into market in May 1950 and would be the Nikkor standard lens used by David Douglas Duncan since late June 1950 during the Korean War. The making by Nippon Kogaku of these two standard 50 mm lenses along with the Nikkor P.C 8,5 cm f/2, only five years after the end of the II World War in which Japanese industry had been greatly leveled, and using handcrafted working parameters with very scarce economical means and materials is one of the greatest feats in the History of Photography.

Although it had experimental furnaces for the melting of crystal for obtaining optical glasses and a Naxos-Union machine acquired in Germany in 1922 and able to grind optical elements, and even had set up an optical glass research facility in one of the areas of its factory at Shanagawa (in the south of Tokyo) in 1923, during the late forties and first years of fifties, Nippon Kogaku, being aware that hadn´t got the wherewithal, technical means, updated machinery, computers or optical glasses combining very high refractive indexes and low chromatic dispersion to be able to get with an acceptable production cost a high uniformity of top-notch performance as to resolving power and contrast in center, borders and corners at every diaphragm and focusing distance (something that wouldn´t be possible until 1956 with the appearance of the Summicron-M 50 mm f/2 Dual range featuring 7 elements -four of them being the very expensive LaK9- in 5 groups and the Asahi Pentax Auto-Takumar 55 mm f/1.8 sporting 6 elements in 5 groups with M42 thread mount in 1958- though the latter rendering less contrast than the Nikkor-S.C 5 cm f/1.4 and Nikkor P.C 8,5 cm f/2-) chose to apply a practical criterion and achieve full operativeness in its Nikkor f/1.5, f/1.4, f/2 and f/3.5 at maximum aperture with an acceptable image quality that became superb for the time on stopping down two diaphragms.

Nikon S advertisement in full page inside the U.S Camera magazine of 1951, commending the optical and mechanical virtues of the Nippon Kogaku Rangefinder System of Cameras, Lenses and Accessories. It greatly fostered the Japanese brand leverage within the worldwide photographic market.
Top priority was given to both contrast and resolution in the center of the frame and using a very high quality antireflective monocoating with blue tonality which was the evolutive summit of a wide range of antireflection coatings that Nippon Kogaku had been manufacturing since mid twenties in different very high quality optical instruments for the Japanese Imperial Navy and that had turned the Ohi (Shinagawa, Tokyo) based optical firm into the world benchmark regarding this side from mid forties (even ahead of the Carl Zeiss monocoatings based on Alexandr Smakula fundamental principles which had been secretly developed by Germany during World War II), yet had only been applied to large size optical contrivances for the Japanese Imperial Navy, specially the ones manufactured for submarines periscopes, hugely resistant to the most adverse environment conditions and whose evolved formulae were used in the optical elements of Nikkor lenses from 1948 on, so currently the antireflective monocoatings of most photographic lenses for 24 x 36 mm made during late forties and fifties by Nippon Kogaku are often in very good condition, more than sixty years after their creation.

In addition, it must be mentioned the remarkable inventiveness and intuition of  Nippon Kogaku mechanical engineers, who provided the horizontal travelling plano-focal shutter of the Nikon S (whose curtains were made with rubberized Habutae silk on both surfaces, inspired by the one featured by screwmount Leicas, designed by Dr. Ludwig Leitz and whose curtains were made of silk cloth) with a back curtain tooth placed on a ball bearing whose rotation smoothness proved to be very efficient for the perfect functioning of the camera even at temperatures of -30º C.

And all of this deserves high accolades, because between 1946 and mid fifties, Nippon Kogaku had to work with rather scant economic resources and nothing short of a permanent dearth of materials that they compensated by dint of great optical experience,

A Nikkor lens is examined by an expert Japanese technician inside the Nippon Kogaku factory at Ohi (Tokyo) on January 5, 1952. © Photo AP Bob Schutz

impressive greatly manual unit by unit working ability, ingenuity to spare, fullest use of the few available means and widest possible utilization of the great optical know-how gained throughout roughly twenty-five years manufacturing all kind of top quality optical instruments and opto-mechanic components for the Imperial Navy.

The Japanese, great admirers of the German photographic industry (particularly Carl Zeiss and Leica, its two more prominent firms), had started their photographic way to great extent since 1929 when Kakuya Sunayama became the key optical designer of the Ohi (Tokyo) based firm after the experience acquired (regarding formulation of lenses for photographic cameras, polishing and grinding of optical elements, mechanical assemblies, etc) in contact with the seven proficient optical designers and mechanic engineers from Zeiss who had been hired by Nippon Kogaku in 1921 and remained in Japan throughout five years, and specially through the teachings imparted by the engineer and optical designer Heinrich Acht (who would prolong his stay in Japan until 1928), it all being complemented by a European learning tour made by Sunayama in the second half of 1928 and early 1929, during which he visited the Leitz factory in Wetzlar, some Zeiss facilities, the Taylor-Hobson factory in Leicester (England) and some further optical factories in Holland and France, watching on the spot the different techniques of lenses manufacturing used, systems of series production, quality controls and so forth.

C) The creation of the Laboratory for Optical Precision Instruments by Saburo Uchida, Takeo Maeda and Goro Yoshida in November 1933 had resulted in the first Japanese rangefinder 35 mm camera, the Kwanon prototype from 1934, and the Hansa Canon Standard Model from 1935, inspired by the Leica II (Model D) from 1932.

The Hansa Canon Standard Model from 1935 featured an optical viewfinder system integrated with a coincidence rangefinder, a mount for interchangeable lenses (made by the mechanic engineer Eiichi Yamakana) and a Nikkor 50 mm f/3.5 standard lens (created by Kakuya Sunayama) that had been designed and manufactured by Nippon Kogaku, which had been asked for help by the firm Seiki Kogaju - future Canon - , something that had outstandingly enhanced the image of Ohi (Tokyo) concern since mid thirties, in such a way that after Nippon Kogaku made its first 24 x 32 mm camera Nikon I in 1948 and the Nikons M and M Sync in 1950, the arrival of the Nikon S (whose bayonet mount is very similar to the Hansa Canon) meant the complete consolidation of the firm´s cameras and lenses division.

D) The huge rangefinders in synergy with the main and secondary artillery of the superbattleship Yamato, whose building was ordered by the Japanese Imperial Navy to Nippon Kogaku in early 1937.

The largest of them, whose size was 15 m, was located in the top area of the high structure in pagoda of the bridge


and was by far the world optical state-of-the-art in this kind of exceedingly accurate devices, being able to make that this ship, the most powerful of its class ever made, could zero in on enemy warships at a distance of 40 km with its main naval artillery made up by three turrets with 18 inch (46 cm) guns, two of them being fore and one astern, each one holding on its turn a further 15 meter rangefinder (whose ends protrude on both sides of the turres) which enabled to keep on independent accurate shots solutions with amazing precision if the main 15 m rangefinder placed on top of the high structure in pagoda of the bridge was damaged.


The system of optical elements and groups of this massive rangefinder (whose specifications were kept in the utmost secrecy until the sinking of Yamato battleship by the United States naval air force on April 7, 1945 during its approach to Okinawa island and also hitherto) was at the forefront of innovation in its time, sporting a great technical complexity and attained an outstanding accuracy - which made up for the inferiority of the Japanese Navy flagship with respect to the electronic radar guided MK 38 GFCS system of main artillery fire control on board of the American class Iowa battleships - , complemented by a further rangefinder measuring 10 meters, located just behind the large battleship chimney, likewise boasting an extraordinary optical level and which directed the fire of each one of the two secondary artillery turrets having three 155 mm guns, each of them holding a 7,5 meter rangefinder.

After the end of the II World War in September 1945, and though all the existing drawings (including the ones depicting its optical system of fire direction featuring the two aforementioned 15 meter and 10 meter rangefinders, along with the other three of 15 meters and two further ones of 7,5 meters) were destroyed, the whole impressive know-how and optical experience gained during the development of those fabulous rangefinders together with the breakthrough advances in opto-mechanical precision engineering introduced in their prisms were inside the head of some Nippon Kogaku experts who had collaborated in their development and used a few years later some of the technical resources set up in them for the first time - hugely reducing both optical and mechanic components to a miniaturized scale- for the birth of the Nippon Kogaku cameras rangefinders from 1948, with a number of budgetary constraints (it was impossible to create cameras sporting such a wide rangefinder effective base length like the Contax II and a 1x viewfinder magnification that would have shot up the series production costs) that compelled in the beginning to design rangefinders getting good accuracy but being simple and not very expensive to build - with a moderate effective base and 0.60 x VF magnification- for the Nikon I (1948), Nikon M and M Sync (1950) and Nikon S (1951), but after the beginning of the great international sales from 1953 and the obtaining of a significant cashflow, in 1954 Nippon Kogaku launched into market the Nikon S2, a far better camera than the Nikon S and boasting a rangefinder with larger effective base length and a 1x VF magnification.

Three years later, in 1957, an even greater percentage of the wealth of knowledge acquired during the development of the rangefinders of Yamato battleship was miniaturized and transferred to the excellent rangefinder boasting a wide effective base length and a viewfinder of great quality and complexity featuring a 1x magnification and incorporating 28 optical elements, located in the right area of the eyepiece, with bright-line frames for 50, 85, 105 and 135 mm (which are selected by the photographer turning the big dial with black background and figures 5, 8.5, 10.5 and 13.5 placed on the upper left area of the camera around the rewind crank) featuring automatic parallax correction, and a second separated viewfinder, of Albada type, sporting a smaller magnification - 0.4x - and being in the left area of the eyepiece, whose window indicates the 28 mm frame, as well as having a built-in bright-line frame encompassing the image area covered by a 35 mm lens - without automatic parallax correction - , with which the Nikon SP enables the very accurate use of nothing less than six focal lengths: 28, 35, 50, 85, 105 and 135 mm.

E) The visionary nature of Joe Ehrenreich, President of Ehrenreich Photo-Optical Industries (EPOI), who in 1953 reached an agreement with Nippon Kogaku Tokyo and began importing the Nikon S and highly luminous Nikkor lenses to United States, making an indefatigable labour together with his team made up by Herbert Sax ( a highly experienced man in the scope of photographic equipments quality controls) and Joseph K. Abbot (a very knowledgeable professional in finance and marketing), making the brand known and getting big sales figures, in such a way that that between 1951 and 1955 a total of 37,000 Nikon S cameras were sold worldwide (a very important figure for the time), United States being the country in which most of them were sold.

Ehrenreich realized from scratch that the quality/price ratio of the cameras and lenses made by Nippon Kogaku was virtually unbeatable at those moments (from 1954 onwards the formidable Leica M3 would become the opto-mechanical qualitative benchmark, but at a much higher price than the Japanese rangefinder cameras) and grasped the immense future possibilities of those Japanese products, particularly among the professional photographers, to such an extent that he strengthened the concept of after sales support and counseling to customers by the firm, set up Nippon Kogaku centers in the most significant arenas of different sports in which EPOI lent Nikkor telephoto lenses, and even travelled to Japan twice a year to report the Nippon Kogaku top directors on the improvements suggested by professional photojournalists with whom he was in steady contact.

F) Robert Capa was wearing hanging on his chest a Nikon S camera with Nikkor-S.C 5 cm f/1.4 with which he made around 14:55 h of May 24, 1954


his last colour picture with Kodachrome K-11 ISO 12 film when he was advancing around 3 kilometers from Than Né, province of Thai Binh (Vietnam), with a French column in retreat, a few seconds before dying when stepping on a mine, and in which can be seen seventeen soldiers of the French column (one of them, located on the left of the image, is wearing a campaign radio, while the one placed on the right and nearest to the camera has got a mine detector), and in the background, slightly on the right of the image, a tank can be glimpsed.

Capa had been invited to Japan by Mainichi editorial in April 1954 to get pictures for illustrating a new magazine that they were going to launch, and Nippon Kogaku took advantage of that chance to deliver him five Nikon S cameras and fifteen lenses, along with abundant rolls of 35 mm colour film, to test all of the material, which he made, getting above all pictures of children, until Charles Raymond Macklan, picture editor of Life, asked him to go to cover the Indochina War between France and the Vietminh during four weeks, replacing Howard Sochurek.

At the moment of the explosion, Capa had two cameras, a Contax IIa with Carl Zeiss Jena 5 cm f/2 with which he made the last picture of his life, in black and white one, just before dying, and the mentioned Nikon S with Nikkor-S.C 5 cm f/1.4 lens that was sent flying through the air up to a distance of some meters.

The Complete Nikon Rangefinder System, a reference work written by Robert Rotoloni, a great authority in the Nikon rangefinder system and President of the Nikon Historical Society. This extraordinary book, edited in 2007, is the fruit of more than 30 years of research and was launched into market 25 years after the first 1982 edition. It features nothing more than 548 pages, including 1,350 black and white illustrations and 24 pages with colour images made by the photographer Tony Hurst. It´s undoubtedly an indispensable book for any enthusiast of photography who wishes to delve into the knowledge of the fascinating history of Nippon Kogaku along with its cameras, lenses and accessories.

The amazing Nikon RF System of Cameras, Lenses and Accessories has been kept alive for a lot of decades specially thanks to the praiseworthy labour of the NHS and its world class experts like Robert J. Rotoloni, Uli Koch, Hans Braakhuis, Stephen Gandy, Hans Ploegmakers, Yutaka Ohtsu, Bill Kraus, Yuki Kawai, Wes Loder, Dr. Milos Mladek, Tom Abrahamsson, Akihiko Suzuki, Bob Rogen, Thierry Ravassod, Jim Emmerson and others, along with the also laudable work of the Nikon Kenkyukai Tokyo and its knowledgeable Nikon authorities like Dr. Ryosuke Mori, Dr. Manabu Nakai, Shoichiro Yoshida, Mikio Itoh, Hirosi Kosai, Dr. Zyun Koana, Akito Tamla, Michio Akiyama and others.


© Text and Photos: José Manuel Serrano Esparza

The author wishes to express his gratitude to Mariano Pozo Ruiz, who kindly lent his Nikon S camera for the making of the pictures illustrating this article.