Muscle nerds & camera geeks

Total Pictures remote controled helicopter for trial photography

In the late seventies I (Ron Nansink) was partner in Total Pictures a small inventive photo lab - press agency in Bloemendaal, the Netherlands.  Daan Schmitt the founder of Total Pictures was an inventor and obsessed to combine photography and high-tech to explore new ways of photography. Together with Bart Reitsma and Ramon Peeman also partners in Total Pictures, we experimented to create the camera of the future. Remember in the late seventies, everything was analogue and mechanical, and above all, cameras and lenses were old fashioned solid and heavy. So long before the electric 17 grams, 2013 Drones, we experimented with Canons, Nikons and Minoltas in remote controlled, fuel driven mini helicopters, model planes and odd looking polystyrene flying saucers. We succeeded, got a lot of attention in the press and unexpected, also from the police, who were totally surprised by our inventive way of arial photography. The police nearly arrested us, for flying between their helicopters when we were bust shooting pictures of traditional sailing ships participating in Sail Amsterdam, with camera connected to a three meter wing width scale Cessna. However there was more, Total Picture was also the cradle for other forms of scientific photography, infrared, endoscopy, image intensifiers, high speed cameras, etc. etc. I worked on a reportages like 'Amsterdam by Night' for Panorama magazine, giving credits to those people who work when most of us are sleeping, the 'Amsterdam infrared light district' for  a men's magazine showing the red-light district from a different color spectrum and 'Amsterdam through a fisheye,' swimming around the canals of Amsterdam, shooting photo’s from the water surface, with a super wide angle fisheye lens.

Total-Pictures wind surfing photography in the nineteen seventies

Action sports was Total Pictures other field of challenge and experiment, formula 1 car racing and an exciting new sport along the Dutch coast, called windsurfing. We did probably have the first professional windsurf photographer team in the Netherlands, who took really part in the action, a super equipped team with their own club bus packed with boards and sails sponsored by Mistral. Daan and the others used to shoot their pictures form the beach with their Nikons and super tele, up to a 800 mm Leitz lens, I was swimming between the surfers behind the third sandbank, carrying three Minolta cameras in waterproof plastic bags around my neck. With wind force 8 and 2 to 4 meter high waves, I needed all my martial art training (karate and Taikiken) to survive, it was an exhaustive battle to stay floating and survive the waves. For protection I did wear a wetsuit with life jacket and a helmet with a long antenna and flag, as a marker for the surfers who supposed to do their stunts in front of my camera. Reality was that they completely forgot about me from the moment they stepped in to the surf. I carried an aluminum anchor with me, the idea was to keep me in to place, but mostly the current was so strong that I drifted away often for many kilometers, with the anchor floated behind me. People walking on the beach who see me struggling to get to shore, more then once asked me, if I fell of a cargo ship. 

It is a pity that  most of the ninety seventies pictures got lost over the years, if I find some I will share them with you.

© 2010