How the Nikon FM2 Changed My Skate Photography
I know that this will be a bit nerdy for some of you who aren’t savvy to the technical aspects of photography, but here goes.
When I shot my first skate photo at the Del Mar Skate Ranch in February of 1979, my first skate photo ever, I knew nothing of the workings of the camera I borrowed. I asked my roommate, whose camera it was, what to do. He loaded the roll of Kodachrome 64 film for me and told me to shoot at a fast shutter speed, 1/500th of a second, match the exposure needle to the little circle in the viewfinder, and most importantly to have the sun behind me. Those were my instructions, and I pretty much stuck to them for years. I did learn to tweak those rules over time, but shooting a skater with the sun behind them during the day meant I was pretty much relegated to producing silhouettes and a lot of bad photos.
After a few years of working on the tan on the back of my neck, a technical miracle from the Nikon Corporation came along, and in late 1985 I picked up the Nikon FM2 camera body. This camera was a game changer with a faster flash sync of 1/250th of a second, which allowed me to shoot fill flash during the day, even shooting directly into the sun and lighting up the shadows with minimal motion blur. This technical leap changed my photography big time; there were no limits when it came to lighting, and in the next few years I shot some of my favorite, well-lit, images.
Here are a few examples of daytime skate photos using the Nikon FM2 and a flash:
Nikon FM2 with 16mm Nikkor fisheye lens.
Tony Hawk, Crossbone Lien, Del Mar Skate Ranch, 1987
Steve Caballero, Fish Banks, Sunnyvale, CA, 1987
Chris Miller, Seylynne Skatepark, N. Vancouver, BC, 1986
Rodney Mullen, Ollie Grab, San Francisco, CA, 1988
Mark Gonzales, Gemco Bank, Oceanside, CA, 1985