Daniel Kramer took this photo of Bob Dylan sitting on a stoop in Gramercy Park in New York City several weeks before Dylan recorded the 1965 sessions that became the iconic 60s album Highway 61 Revisited. It captures Dylan sitting in front of the apartment of his manager, Albert Grossman at 4, Gramercy Park West. Kramer placed Dylan’s friend Bob Neuwirth (carrying the Nikon SP with matching 50mm Nikkor 1.4 [you can identify the lens by the OEM Nikkor hood]) behind Dylan “to give it extra color”. Dylan is wearing a Triumph motorcycle T-shirt under a blue and purple silk shirt, holding his Ray-Ban sunglasses in his right hand. Photographer Kramer commented in 2010 on Dylan’s expression, “He’s hostile, or it’s a hostile moodiness. He’s almost challenging me or you or whoever’s looking at it: ‘What are you gonna do about it, buster?’”
Highway 61 went on to be universally recognized as one of Dylan’s best works and among the greatest albums of all time, ranking No. 18 on Rolling Stone‘s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” . Its single Like a Rolling Stone is ranked the #1 Rock and Roll song ever on Rolling Stone‘s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list. Consider this: Positively Fourth Street, arguably one of Dylan’s greatest songs and an iconic 60s work on par with Like a Rolling Stone, wasn’t considered good enough to make it onto the album. Instead, it was released as a single in 1965 with From a Buick 6 as its B side.
The SP was Nikon’s professional level 35mm rangefinder introduced in 1957 as a competitor to the Leica M3. It was the culmination of Nikon’s rangefinder development started in 1948 with the Nikon I, and was “arguably the most advanced rangefinder of its time.” Nikon stopped development of the S series rangefinders with the introduction and success of the Nikon F. Basically, you couldn’t give away an SP during the ’70s through the early ’90s. Today, they command premium prices, with the 2005 SP reissue routinely selling for $5k. It’s a beautiful camera in black paint paired with the legendary 35mm 1.8 W-Nikkor. The SP remains, with its uber-sophisticated dual rangefinders – one that projected parallax corrected frame lines for the 50, 85, 105 and 135 Nikkor lenses, a second with parallax frames for 28 and 35mm lenses – the most sophisticated non-metered 35mm rangefinder ever made by anyone, including Leica.