11 August 2020

An Unusual Request...

Yesterday I received an email from Brian Smith from the Air Mail Society of New Zealand... Brian writes...
It's a few years since your blog about NZ Aerial Mapping (https://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2014/09/mapping-nz-aerial-mapping.html)but I wonder if you are still around and able to answer the following query, please?
Forest Service photographer John Johns had a close association with NZAM, I think in the 1960s and 70s, perhaps also later. I met John in 1979 and he was my photographic mentor until his death in 1999. Since then I have worked with his widow and family in sorting and cataloguing the large collection of prints he left behind. It's been a slow process, but is nearing completion.
From time to time John used to talk to me about a 4x5 camera used for oblique aerial shots. The camera was constructed by an instrument maker, Geoff Hunter. John had some role in this, perhaps relatively minor, but I suspect he was a principal user of the camera. 
John was fanatical about quality, and some photographs that I have of his are remarkably sharp. I also have a couple of shots of the camera itself, although they show only the front, the NZAM logo, and the lens. These two prints show two different lenses; it appears that the lenses had some sort of bayonet mount.
Because of my long association with John - and my continued practice of large-format film photography - I'm interested in tracking down this camera, but have no idea whether it still exists or where to start looking. Perhaps you can help, please? I don't necessarily want to buy it, but am interested to see it and learn how it was used.
If you know of the camera and have any information about it you'd care to pass on, I'd me most grateful.
PS. I have another rather tenuous association with NZAM. My grandparents founded Hastings photography firm, Lovell-Smiths. My parents both worked there, and my uncle, Peter Hammond, knew Piet van Asch, I think quite well. Perhaps 30 years ago, at John's instigation, I was given a tour of NZAM's premises and was rather overwhelmed at the scale of the equipment!
If you can help Brian please contact him on smithcbrian2@yahoo.com

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