Ride the lightning (a Metallica album), catch the rainbow (some Hippie phrase)… mashed together to form this post’s headline. We did a trip to Sardinia. On that trip I wrote several posts on the iPhone, but due to a lack of internet connection I could not post them. I was too much of an Uncle Scrooge to pay the 0,49 € per MB roaming costs. And – oh wonder – some days without internet did not kill me, who would have thought that. There was a wonderful thunderstorm one night. We had a roofed huge balcony at the apartment and so I could spend some time sitting comfortably in the dry, capturing the raw electrical forces of nature. Here is, in condensed form, what I experienced. 1.) Focal length and framing. The longer the focal length, the narrower the opening angle of your frame will be. Lightning strikes at random places (see 4), and the camera has to point the direction the lightning will be. Therefore, by using the shortest focal length you have you cover a huge area of sky, thus broadening the chances that a beautiful lightning will strike within your frame. OF COURSE this comes with a […]
…it might look like this. There is a German saying which goes „Ich habe schon Pferde vor der Apotheke kotzen gesehen“, which translates roughly to „I have seen horses throw up in front of the pharmacy“. It is a weird saying expressing that even the most unexpected thing might happen, everything is possible even if things look very clear and determined (The saying is so weird because horses can’t throw up. Their anatomy does not allow it). The picture was taken on the trip to Xanten I wrote about in the last post. The horse was actually not throwing up (surprise !), but yawning. The different stages of yawning look quite funny, I have some more interesting horse shots: This one looks like enraged yelling at his buddy, who does not give a sh*t. Being told a very funny joke, the buddy not getting the punch line. The pictures illustrate that with photography you can capture these very elusive moments in which something funny or important or very expressionate is happening. When observing it with your eyes you might miss it, because the moment is so short. But a photo freezes the moment and […]
Three weeks ago we spent an extended weekend in Xanten at the river Rhine. Xanten is about a 1.5h drive from Aachen and has, like Aachen, a rich history connected to the Romans. Xanten was a thriving Roman city of strategic importance its roman name was Colonia Ulpia Traiana. The largest legion north of the Alps was stationed here. Two complete legions, over 12.000 legionnaires housed here and secured the border (= river Rhine) against the „barbarians“. After the Roman Empire ceased to exist the Roman city of Xanten was abandoned. Unlike in any other old Roman city, the people did not build their new city on top of the Roman city, but right next to it. The reason for this can be found in the fact, that the grave of a christian martyr, the holy St. Viktor, were located in a shrine outside the Roman city walls. The christians wanted to be close to the saint and built their city around the chapel, which evolved to be the cathedral of Xanten. Viktor was a roman soldier, who refused to sacrifice to the Roman gods but believed in the christian god instead. To make an example he was executed along […]
Saturday was the big day. Not only for the happy couple but also for the first-quite- nervous-and-later-on-very-happy me. The king tiger tank of photography, churches, proved to be not so biting than I expected it to be, thanks to thorough preparation. But first things first. The ceremony was scheduled to start at 3:30 pm. Keb Leynad and I showed up at around 2:30 pm. It was so early that the church was closed. So we had some time to make some test shots and get nervous about everything. I for myself felt transferred back to my studies. It was like standing before the room in which an exam would take place, waiting for the doors to open. All that stress and nervousness piles up to a level which makes you feel quite uncomfortable. Just look at the picture Keb Leynad took of me and you will know what I mean. The guests started to arrive and we could shoot away some of the nervousness. Actually the outdoor shooting was not the one I was worried about. Eventually more guests arrived and it was time for me to go into the church. I stayed at the front, to the right of […]
I knew it would be work, and it proved to be quite some work. Preparing a wedding shoot, and especially your first wedding shoot as a professional photographer („professional“ as in „paid“) takes quite some time. It is a church wedding of a colleague from work (from my „real“ job I mean ;-). I decided to involve another photographer on the job – Keb Leynad, a friend of mine. I think it is a little more relaxing when you have two cameras clicking simultaneously – distributing the weight of responsibility. Church weddings are considered the king tiger class of photography. Gloomy dark churches, a very emotional and important event for the couple, if you screw up you are boned. So good preparation is mucho importanto. As a first step we met the couple in a cafe to discuss their expectations and learn about the ceremony. This step is very important, because you have to learn what your client expects. And what the client does not like. Also you can build up a personal connection to the couple as you learn a little more about them. In my case I knew the groom already, but his wife I only had met […]
Yesterday I got confirmation on my very first job as a commercial photographer. I will photograph a church wedding ceremony. This is quite a responsibility and I am very (positively) excited about it. Now the real planning starts: Meeting the bride and groom for learning their expectations Getting a list of „important people“ from the couple => of whom do they want pictures in any case Meeting the priest to evaluate how he wants photographers to behave in his church (for example, is he ok with taking pictures from behind the altar ?) Scouting the location: Familiarizing oneself with the church: Where are good positions to shoot, which shots should be taken Evaluating the light situation on that day at that time: There are nice Apps for the iPhone which tell you the direction and angle of light for a certain location and exact time of the day and season, must dig that App up. Choosing the equipment. I will go with two bodies and two lenses on that day. The 24-70 f2.8 Nikkor will be the workhorse, but which one should I pick as secondary lens ? 85 mm f1.8 ? 70-300 mm f3.5-5.6 VR ? The old manual […]
Growing tired of the same old headline. Ok, short summary: My iPhone4 started to suck battery power again. 100 % => 10h standby => 0 %. iPhone reset => problem solved. After some syncing back and forth I also managed to transfer all important data to the newly set up iPhone. Gee, what a mess. I still do not know what caused the problem. I took the reset as an opportunity to delete (or rather not install again) some apps. Over time you collect quite some garbage. Install this, test it, crappy, don’t remove it because of heavily applied laziness. Well. Problem solved, everybody happy. Until the menacing ghoul of technology defects visits me again -.-
The rings we made ourselves in the workshop are finished now. The goldsmith made the final touch – polishing, engraving and setting the diamond. The rings came in a handy red box, as rings usually do. 1/60 sec, f10 Tadaa ! 750 white gold and a 2.2 mm diamond for the lady. 1/60 sec, f20 Names and date are engraved with our own handwriting. We wrote the text on a sheet of paper and the goldsmith traced the lines with the engraving machine. 1/60 sec, f20 Since my handwriting is not that tidy I had to write it down several times before I got our names and the date in an acceptable manner…. Really felt like being back in school. My teachers made me do my homework twice because the handwriting was bad. What a cruel educational measure in retrospective… Shooting setup: Nikon D300s with the 105mm f2.8 VR macro lens. Rings placed on my desk, flashes set next to them and angled downwards. a piece of paper was taped before the flashes to soften the light. Flashes from left, right and front. Shot with a high aperture number to receive a good depth of field (shot at f10 and […]
I am getting married this year. My future wife and I decided to make the rings ourselves. There are a number of goldsmiths and jewelry designers who offer courses in ringmaking. Today we made the course. It lasted only about 5 hours and in the end we had the rings completed. Only the diamonds and the engraving will be done by the goldsmith, since this is very tricky and has to be done by a trained expert. I made my wife’s ring, she made mine. Of course I had my Nikon with me. Here are some impressions from the day. These are the raw materials you get. It is basically a segment of gold pipe. In a first step the rough contour on the inner side is formed using a file. This is done in three steps – at first rasping at an angle of about 45°, then a steeper, then a flat angle. This forms a rough round shape. Ring after the first rasping cycle. Step two: working on the contour with an electrical hand-held grinder. After the grinding cycle. Step three: The outer contour is formed. The ring is fitted on a wooden cone which rotates. You form […]
Last Sunday I went with my Friend Keb Leynad to Cologne to attend a photo seminar conducted by grenzgang, a non-profit organisation dedicated to organising exotic and spectacular presentations on people who did unusual things. People holding presentations there are for example the Munich-based photographer Michael Martin, who travelled all deserts of this planet with a motorbike. Grenzgangs portfolio also comprises photo seminars. The seminar we attended was on lighting, quire an interesting three hours with a live demo shoot. After the workshop we decided to visit the famous cathedral. And here are the results… This is it ! Cologne Cathedral. It took more than 800 years to build it. It’s truly a spectacular masterpiece. Image composed of 3 single frames and stretched / corrected with good old CS3 The portal of the cathedral. Notice the numerous grey statues depicting….er….did not research that. Ask Google. Light was coming low (nice winter afternoon light), so the colored windows played spectacularly on the sandstone pillars… Another colorful window. The left side is bricked up, probably got the other half of the window lost during World War II. Keb Leynad and I then proceeded to climb the bell tower. The access to the tower has […]
Today between 09:20 and 09:40 am there was a partial solar eclipse over Germany. And here is my contribution. When I headed out for work this morning I nearly forgot that this event was imminent, so I sprang back into the apartment and got my Nikon along with two tele lenses, the Nikkor 70-300 mm f3.5-5.6 and the mighty Samyang 800 mm mirror lens monster thingy. (Which proved to be unsuitable for shooting the sun but it is very good shooting the moon !) As the event approached I set up camp in our secretary’s office. I was lucky, because there were no major clouds impeding the view. One thing in advance: DO NOT STARE INTO THE SUN WITHOUT PROPER PROTECTION ! THE SUN IS F***ING BRIGHT AND IT WILL DAMAGE YOUR RETINA IF YOU STARE INTO THE SUN UNPROTECTED. As I knew this was an extreme situation concerning light intake I used the following setup to shoot: 70-300mm Nikkor lens (the Samyang failed, can only guess why, see below) ISO 100 (it’s simulated 100, the D300s only offers „real“ ISO 200). Exposure time 1/8000 sec (one eight thousandth) an aperture with two numbers, first number being mostly a 2 […]
You might remember the Belfoca Junior I posted about earlier this (errr, last) year. It is an old bellow camera with a stunning 6×9 format (that’s centimeters, 60×90 mm !). It was the camera which still had an old exposed film inside which I got developed. The pictures which are from a funeral… back to the subject. I took the Belfoca out into Aachen to test it. What a new experience: Measure with the light meter, set aperture, choose exposure time, compose the picture through a crude viewfinder (basically a small metal frame which pops up, no glass). After taking these actions: Push the button *click* and wind the film. And this is where I screwed up. The Belfoca allows two different formats, 6×9 and 6×6. When you want to shoot 6×6 you have to put a mask inside the camera which shields 1.5 cm of film on each sides. I do not have that mask, so the Belfoca only does 6×9 for me. When you took a picture you have to transport the film so that the new picture can be taken. This is done manually by turning a knob. But how do you know that you have turned […]
Beginning of October 2010 (Happy New Year by the way !) I went to Braunschweig to learn more about analog photography at the Absolut Analog Workshop. As reported earlier, most of the films I used came out with close to no exposure at all and I was somehow disappointed. I lost track of the films I had exposed during the last months and brought five films to development last week. One roll film contained stunning images from my Zenza Bronica middle format camera. I completely overlooked that I still had pictures from Absolut analog on that camera ! Now I would like to share them with you. Breakfast at the hotel This is the Rollei camera calibration wall. The information on the tested lens, date and focus stop were noted with chalk on the boards you see, then the picture has been taken and used to calibrate the equipment. The following pictures are from that wall. I have to confess that I think everybody attending the workshop must have such pictures. But I like them anyway.
In a recent post I showed some product pictures I made for eBay. One of the cameras was the Range 2000 focus free point’n’shoot: Last week I tried it. Man, what a camera. Completely made of the cheapest plastic and there is literally nothing you can control. Aperture – fixed. Shutter time – fixed. Focus -fixed. Focal length – fixed. The only thing you can do is choose the frame and press the shutter button. It’s a real challenge to take photos with this, being used to the gazillion options my Nikon D300s offers. I used Agfa APX 100 b/w film (that’s a standard 35 mm film) and developed the film myself. After the disappointing experiences in the Absolut Analog workshop (which were due to an unfortunate chain of events, see older post) it was the first time I developed film by myself. And it worked ! All pictures were scanned using a CanoScan 9000F scanner, then the pictures have been imported and corrected in Lightroom. The more persistent dust particles have been retouched using Photoshop CS3. The vignette effect is not artificial. The Camera makes this by itself. Light spill (bright stripe on the left side). I do not know where it […]
Last week I met with two of my friends and we did something pleasant and useful combined. We took photos of some stuff I wanted to put on eBay. All those articles you are about to see are now for sale, so grab what you can while it’s still hot ! I got the stuff from another eBay auction, where somebody sold a Hapomatic 4×4 together with a lot of other stuff (the flashes and point’n’shoots, see below). Shooting setup: black cloth draped on a couch, a sheet of glass from a framed picture placed on it, elevated about 8 cm from the cloth by small boxes. Two flashes lighting the scene, both shot through an umbrella. The right flash points at the angled ceiling and bounces the light quite nicely. Flash cubes – who still knows such things ? Those are one-time-use flash bulbs. Each cube contains four of those babies. You take the picture – the bulb flashes, thus exhaling its life with the photons it spreads. Then you have to turn the cube, so that another flash bulb is facing the subject. How far we have come when I look at my SB-800… sorry about the dust by […]
Today I made a nice walk through the colourful landscape. It’s nice to see all these blazing colours, and even more fun capturing them on sensor (or film for some of you). Get up, get out, capture the autumn feeling ! And I also did some b/w shots, which do not really fit to this post’s title but are nice nevertheless.
Earlier this year I went on a two-week trip to Iceland. The travel agency we booked with ran a photo contest where you could submit your best picture of your trip. I sent in a shot made on the open road. The horse was trotting along the way. We drove along and I made this picture from the passenger seat through the oben driver window (my wife leaned back as far as she could to give me free view). Today I was informed that I made 4th place out of over 400 entries 🙂 The picture will be published on the homepage of Katla Travel soon, also it will be printed in the new catalogue along with my name.
I am a child of the digital age. Since I am a very impatient character, analog photography never thrilled me. My interest in photography awoke when I had my very first digital camera, a Casio Exilim EX-Z 30. Point-and-shoot cam, nothing fancy. Press the button, see the result. That’s what made digital photography so interesting for me. From the Point’n’shoot I quickly moved to more serious stuff and dove into DSLRs, fully exploring the possibilities of exposure, depth of field and all that stuff. Interest became hobby, hobby became ambitioned amateurism. And then, one happy day, I stumbled over two complete sets of analog cameras, which were given to me out of the blue. The place where I work moved into another building and this was taken as an opportunity to clean out the storage rooms and get rid of ancient measurement equipment and such stuff. And this is how I got a Nikon F601M SLR and a Zenza Bronica ETRS middle format camera. Nice. As introduced, as a child of the digital age I never came in contact with film cameras, not to mention roll film. Now I had to learn how to handle this stuff, insert the film […]
Nighttime at the sea, no clouds, full moon. It’s already a little bit kitschy, but that is the setting I had two days ago. And off I went to the shore. Camera settings: Aperture mode, tripod, remote control, noise reduction for long time exposure activated. Unfortunately I shot JPG, so the quality of the pictures got bad in some areas due to compression artifacts. (What did I learn again ? Check-your-gear-and-check-your-camera-settings, IDIOT….). But here I went: What do you notice ? Oh yes, stars ! (Click on the picture if you can’t see them at this resolution !) Against full moon ? And even some dark areas (sea, side of the house) are lit quite well ? Well, what I did was dodging the picture during the exposure. The sky is quite bright, and if the camera tries to get a smooth exposure, the sky will be hopelessly overexposed. So the bright part had to be darkened during the exposure. And that’s how I did it. The shutter was open 5-8 seconds (next time I will use shutter priority or manual, promised). Before the exposure I looked through the finder and waved my hand in front of the camera to […]
I tested the Samyang 800 mm f8 mirror lens again. Here is the result: It’s not a crop, this is the full frame on the D300s (which is not a full frame camera, just for the records). I did many shots, improving the result bit by bit. This is the best sharpness and detail I could get, and for a low-cost 800 mm lens this is a pretty good result ! Here are the settings I used: Manual mode 1/640 sec at f8 and ISO 200 manual focus (the Samyang does not have AF) spot metering mirror lockup before exposure activated tripod (standing in a wind protected corner) camera triggered by remote control With these settings I got the result you see here. To illustrate it a little bit further I made two crops of the above image: There is some chromatic abberation on the rim. Also you can see that the sharpness is not up to the last detail, but keep in mind that there is still the Earth’s atmosphere between the lens and the moon which blurs the picture a little. And, in the end, it is a low-cost lens. Bottom line: It is definitely a lens for […]