I’d also have had an idea why I would and could live in the sticks, I’d have had another idea that would fill ex-barn and ex-stable with something sensible – preferably something sensible and income-generating so it would provide me with yet another idea on how to pay for maintenance of the gigantic roof.
In the real world the old family farm just got sold.
This summer I noticed how the private environment in which the colours of a national flag are flown is usually unmatched by the pride it is meant to display. Hence, I started taking pictures of citizens who nail their colours to the flag post.
For several years now I have been taking pictures of a dying breed: telephone boxes. I managed to upload a few yesterday.
While some of the boxes have been upgraded to a non-box shape with huge screen and WiFi, many are in a sad state and some even stripped of their primary function. The variety of shapes and types of boxes and telephones even in a single country is astonishing and even the gutted ones continue to serve as advertising space, rain shelters, smoking rooms and toilets for dogs and humans alike.
Toilets, Camping »La Pinède, Calvi (Corsica), May 2017
Brother and sister, Calvi (Corsica), May 2017
Old masters by new ones: in September 2014 (yes, it took a while for me to edit) artist Donovan Spaanstra recreated Willem van de Velde’s Schepen voor de Kust in Amsterdam Noord’s Ghostface Killahstraat.
KUNSTFORUM International 230 (2014), p 127.
A short while after my last portrait session with Marianne Vlaschits, KUNSTFORUM International did an interview with her and two fellow artists and she asked if it was ok to use one of my portraits to go with the interview.
One of my pictures published in KUNSTFORUM? Just what I needed to conclude the year.
Unfortunately photo credits were mistakenly omitted, which means that my first KUNSTFORUM publication is anonymous. But in the end this infringement also meant another four malnourished children treated or material for the safe birth of 10 babies or 250 people vaccinated against meningitis or 400 children vaccinated against Measles in the second installment of »Infringing for Médecins Sans Frontières«.
If you, too, want to make a donation, you can do so here.
When asked whether he wrote on a schedule or only when struck by inspiration, Somerset Maugham allegedly replied:
I write only when inspiration strikes.
Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.
Earlier this year my dear friend Nic had asked if I would be interested in shooting a portrait of his family. Since they live some 1200 km away, the crucial question for me was not so much if but more when. Then, in early September, I was in the vicinity (meaning: only 400 km away), and spontaneously opted for the detour to pay a long overdue visit to Amsterdam – and also finally meet their daughter.
I did not have my gear with me and there only was an hour left in between the idea to go for the shoot and me having to be through the door for the train station, so in order to put the opportunity to good use we had to move fast and I had to borrow Marlene’s old Canon. Of course time was even scarcer after the usual displacement of furniture had taken place, and the combination of time pressure, borrowed equipment and a different camera maker resulted in a couple of technical blunders on my part, but we all had a fun time and in the end were pretty pleased with the results.
I wanted to try using a tilt/shift lens for a long time. I don’t particularly love the miniature effect, but I really like what Gregory Heisler is doing to the focal plane by tilting and I thought shifting would be great for architecture. So the other day I grabbed an old 50mm f/1.9, a body cap, black molton and a heated paper clip. I used the paper clip to cut the body cap open and the glue (obviously) to glue it all together.
To be honest, I was a bit stumped when, after my first test shots, I realised that I had also created a macro lens by considerably increasing the focal length. Thus, this now is my tilt-shit-lens.
My friend and colleague Doc Babel not only taught me rudimentary Spanish, he and his wife also provided me with a home in Munich during the last few years, which made many things easier than they easily could have been.
And now that it’s their turn to look for a new home, they pack some aluminum boxes bound for South America and thought that some decent head shots would make their new start easier. I was of course more than happy to provide that part of their luggage.
Big thanks to Nemo Babelfish for hosting us in his fabulous »Toberaum« which first made for a great location for the portrait session, later for drinks, and even later for some impromptu music.
Second time Hochschwab, second time no summit. This time better pictures, though. In late May, I started in Präbichl and, through considerable amounts of snow, made my way up to the Sonnschienhütte where I had the dorm all to myself. Unfortunately, I had my eyes at the wrong place at the wrong time and so I fell and injured my finger. Thus, instead of summiting the Hochschwab the next day, I went down to Tragöß (via Grüner See) – and straight into hospital where the trip ended with an »Eintrittsaufforderung«. Luckily nothing serious came to light in Koje 1, but damn you Hochschwab, next time I do want a summit. Please.
What I get when I come home is file names looking like this: _DSC1234.NEF. What I wanted instead was
- date-shot in YYYYMMDD-format plus
- a descriptive shoot-name plus
looking like this: 20140708_WeddingAdamAndEve_0001.NEF
There are a few issues with this:
ad 1. Date Shot: sometimes I can only copy and rename the files a few days after shooting, so the date should reflect the date the picture was taken, not the date it was copied. Getting date-shot from the file itself is difficult as there is no birth time recorded. The closest is mtime which is the time the file’s content has last been modified. However, creation date is stored in image file’s EXIF data.
ad 2: Name of Shoot: Ideally I wanted this to be a variable I could set as a parameter when calling the script.
ad 3. Number of Image: This should reflect the age of the image with the oldest one having the lowest number. The problem is that cameras usually restart numbering at 0000 once they hit 9999. So images n-9999 can potentially be older than 0000-n. I needed a solution that would cater for this special case.
# original solution by @Gilles (http://unix.stackexchange.com/questions/141138/) # set base path and navigate to "basepath + parameter 1" BASEPATH='/media/data/photo/'; cd $BASEPATH$1 #
Last year in March I shot a portrait of Marianne Vlaschits for »Project 12 pt. II«, so we thought we’d do another one for the first anniversary. My original plan was to recreate her neon-pictures from the Blue Crystal Fire-series (see here), but what can I say? I completely and utterly failed. From white cardboard and stuff lying around on location I built what I deemed to be perfect neon light replacements, yet the effect was completely different at best and not at all visible most of the time.
Once again I learned that photography sometimes is like cooking: when you want to try something exciting for the first time, don’t do it in the presence of important guests. But I also learned that in Marianne’s presence, failing means that in the end it still is going to be an awesome afternoon resulting in pictures we both like – good to work with a professional. And just like Beckett writes: »Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.«
I am also happy about the three derivative works that came from the shoot: a portrait of the photographer by Marianne (seen in pictures 4 + 5); a Feiyue »Vlaschits Edition« by me (from slipping on paint) and »Painting the Artist« by Hyo Lee.
And despite my clumsiness (that not only led to Feiyue »Vlaschits« but also saw a falling SB 800 just miss Marianne’s head), the Comme des Garçons-robe Marianne’s neighbour and fashion designer Thomas van der Jeught gave us in his infinite trust stayed clean.
Next Monday (23.6.2014) at the Archiv für Gegenwart (Mühlfeldgasse 5, 1020 Wien) you have the opportunity to see Marianne Vlaschits – who by the way is also responsible for the highly acclaimed cover art of Hercules and Love Affair’s latest album The Feast of the Broken Heart.
- Liste der Mittelstandsgemeinschaft Foto-Marketing
- Rates at Der Spiegel
- Overview at Fotomonat.de
Several weeks ago I learned that Austrian newspaper Niederösterreichische Nachrichten without permission had printed a portrait I took of painter Christian Bazant-Hegemark – my first real copyright infringement case.
I pondered and wondered what to do – since I did not yet start a formal business as a photographer, I did not know whether or not I could just bill them – and if so: how much? Also, I feared the conundrum that would possibly result from it regarding my taxes: billing would once again give me a »world income«, additionally complicating matters by being employed as a researcher in Germany plus effectively becoming a self employed photographer in Austria. I figured I needed a lawyer, yet despite soon learning that the Rechtsanwaltskammer is offering free first advice, I did not find (= make) the time going there.
Then I read »Would You Die For The Photo?« by Chase Jarvis (warning: graphic images), it led me to war photographer James Nachtwey’s talk at TED where he mentions working with Médecins Sans Frontières. Their work and courage impress me a lot. I also remembered that whenever a corporation uses a Tom Waits song for advertising, he sues them to then donate all the money he receives.
I thought I should try the same thing (if on a much smaller scale) and posted a registered letter a week ago, requesting a donation of EUR 150,– to MSF in my name. And voilà, today I receive this:
According to MSF, 150 EUR buy food for 15 malnourished children for two weeks or treatment for 300 children with pneumonia or 6 weeks basic medical services for 400 refugees. Donations can be made here.
In March »Office« was the topic for our second portrait. We went scouting at Caritas Mall »Carla« (first three images). Thanks to the generosity of the employees there, we obtained permission to shoot there during the hour before they opened the doors to the masses.
Three days later, we showed up with enthusiasm, a general idea of what to shoot, loads of gear and little time. Once more: »don’t let good light ruin your picture«. When there is no time, one really only has two options: either everything needs to be checked and nailed down before the shoot or one has to KISS (keep it simple, stupid). Otherwise much of the positive energy is eaten by all the wrong things (an SB800 under a vow of silence for instance). Consequently, we picked a test shot as the final picture from when we were both still relaxed and hadn’t set up the light.
This video introduces him:
Here you can see him work at his »American Dream« series:
In this clip about Madison (who was born weighing only 800g) he also uses his »time machine« for film:
Ian was a guest at Chase Jarvis Live (you can see what is going on inside the camera from 1h38m35s):
In January I went to Hanover. While my wife attended a conference, I took care of our daughter and walked around quite a bit, morning to night. I grew up in the area and always thought of Hanover as by far the ugliest potato in the bag of post-war architecture – Max Goldt once claimed that »every German city had something of Hanover«. The city suffered a lot from bombings and after the war people quickly rebuilt it, aesthetics clearly towards the end on the list of their priorities. Yet, this time I was surprised to discover some really pretty areas, both pre- and post-war. Here are a couple of b/w shots of pretty Hanover by night:
Thanks to the generosity of NHM’s communication department, I was lucky enough to receive an invitation for the opening function/book presentation last Tuesday. Apart from recommending to go and see the exhibition (until September) I took away some food for thought from the opening talks.
Christian Köberl, the museum’s director, explained how the Natural History Museum – an institution that is widely associated with stuffed animals and a vast collection of rocks – came to host an exhibition covering a problem that is clearly man-made. He linked it to two other exhibitions currently on display: Trading in Death – the Final Mass Extinction? has the commercial interest and its impact on nature as a common denominator. Experiment Life – Gabonionta overlaps as it shows the oldest complex life forms known to man, which share the time and the place (Gabon, 2.1 billion years ago) of a highly above average activity in natural nuclear chain reactions similar to the counterparts in man-made reactors nowadays. Whether there is a causal link to the advent of the first complex, colonial organisms is unclear but interesting.
The museum can shape the context and thus shape perception. By putting three different, seemingly unrelated temporal exhibitions on at the same time, a very constructive overlapping is created – interferences come into being simply through putting three seemingly unrelated things next to each other.
The power of a book
Lois Lammerhuber (of the book’s publisher Edition Lammerhuber) recounted the media reception. Despite the lack of a Chernobyl jubilee, all the important news outlets had already covered the publication and exhibition. When he asked German state TV, who filmed for two hours in the exhibition, why they were doing it, they answered: »Weil ein Buch erscheint« (»because a book is being published«, where the German »erscheinen« can both refer to an »appearance« as well as an »epiphany«). Lammerhuber was visibly impressed by how he, in letting a book appear, can force something onto the agenda of a world that would otherwise not have taken notice at that point in time.
As the two preconditions he identified Ludwig’s willingness to commit to such a long term project and his capability to make something visible.
Making a difference
Gerd Ludwig gave a few insights into the way he works. Even though the subject of his images is suffering and destruction, the are aesthetically pleasing. Aesthetics to him is the grammar of photography.
He views the fact that he does not have to work under a tight time constraint as his biggest privilege because it means that he can talk first and then take the pictures. The trust he establishes through the conversations greatly helps reduce the momentary amplification of suffering he inevitably causes by taking a picture.
He finished by telling a story from Sicily: one night an enormous number of starfish were washed ashore. In the morning, when the sun rose, they started to dry out and die. The children of the village noticed and started carrying them back to the water. An older man from the village stood and watched and said: »you can’t save them all, your enterprise is futile – the little you can do doesn’t make a difference«. One child, holding up a single starfish, replied: »And yet for this one, it does make a difference«. Ludwig wants to be this child always.
Access to our World
Finally, the section chief Michael P. Franz closed the circle Christian Koeberl established by opening the exhibition with a Gottfried Boehm quote: an image, he says, pre-formulates the access to our world.
The (rather late) October portrait for »Project 12« was taken in January and finally edited only a few days ago. It is of Julia, who is not only a close friend, proper hiking buddy and HR professional but – and this points to the root of the lag – godmother to my daughter, who was born in November. Julia recently moved into a new flat and redecorated it, so we decided it was an suitable setting.
On new year’s eve she at one point donned a turban, looked stunning and someone took with a camera phone – and as we had the gear in place anyway we thought it was worth recreating the opportunity. At the end of our 5 hour session we were both pretty happy but also pretty knackered (and one of us still needed a haircut – desperately).
In 2014 »Project 12« gets a slightly different spin and is now »Project 12R«. The plan is to take 12 pictures of Rosina. Starting in February, we shoot one photo a month that derives its theme from the events of her preceding weeks.
The first installment involved a poster for a party that was stuck onto many distribution boxes. We narrowed it down to two location options that were close to each other: one spacious and quiet, the other at a busy tram stop in the middle of an equally busy crossroads. We decided to opt against comfort and for better looks, which unfortunately meant I had to shoot from the tracks with trains rattling in from three different directions by the minute. Thus, I was constantly shifting my light and tripod and Daniel, who was kind enough to act as assistant, not only patiently braved wind and coldness but in addition held on to the contraption for the black background with cars whooshing past very close by – thanks a lot Daniel!
In September I photographed my friend Rosina for »Project 12«. It was a new experience in a couple of senses:
First of all, Rosina is a designer by profession and it was as interesting as instructive to take a picture of someone who is both meticulous and knowledgeable when it comes to composition, colours, set design and furniture. I enjoyed it tremendously as it allowed me to concentrate on the lighting.
Secondly, it was the first time I shot tethered, which meant we continuously discussed all changes, thus the final images really feel like a joint effort.
And finally (probably also a result from second), the approach was very methodical. Usually I move around quite a bit while shooting, but this time we first looked for a frame that worked, then nailed the tripod to the floor. Then moved furniture in and out, tried a bunch of clothes to match the environment etc. So in the end, we settled with just two shots: her favourite (first) and mine (second).
I spent New Year’s Eve with magician, architect and fellow photographer Sven Wuttej. Going through his images from the last day at Wien Südbahnhof reminded me of the pictures I took of the monumental old landmark when I still lived right across the road from the train station. Somehow I quite liked the architecture, and was hence rather sad to see it go. So here are a couple of images from the transition of the hood: »Wien Süd« to »Quartier Belvedere«.
The first few pictures, where the train station (if already partly demolished) is still busy are from August 2009. The ones of the gutted building I took in February 2010 and the last two, where nothing remains of the old glory, are from September 2010 (you can see the very last one with just a flat stretch of sand where the station once was in full size).
When I last photographed my friend Theresa, she had just secured her first job after graduation. A year later, the resourceful health and safety professional sticks to the good advice my friend Rob once expressed: the best time looking for a job is when you have one. Since a picture is mandatory for almost all job applications in Austria, we put my spacious living room to good use one last time before I had to move out and shot some formal portraits. Luckily there’s also one to sneak into »Project 12«. This, that and the relocation got into the way, so it took me way too long before I managed to get round to editing (and seeing the barber).
When you connect your camera to your computer and have the image displayed on your screen as you shoot, it is called »tethered shooting«. One reason you might want to do it is to have more people see the results instantly (common in fshion shoots).
My good friend and physiotherapist Valentin Rosegger is about to open his own practice and asked me to provide some visuals.
I gladly obliged, because in the past I received countless hours of Valentin’s skilled treatment and profound advice. Creating the images for his information material was a great way to repay the services (and I could also sneak in my – late – August portrait for »Project 12«).
If you are looking for a thorough physiotherapist, I really recommend him. He is setting up shop at Lindengasse 27 in 1070 Vienna and offers very work-compatible times. For an appointment dial +43 699 17161420.
Big thanks to Valentin Rosegger’s colleague Julian Gullner, who played the patient in a manner that can only be described as patiently. It involved holding a very strenuous position for a very long time (see above), neither minding Valentin (»straighten the back Julian, involve the abs a little more«) nor me (»great, stay just like this, only a few more shots, almost done«).
Since the beginning of the year Anke, who teaches German Literature at Vienna University, and me tried to put an idea for a portrait into practice, which for this, that and the other reason never quite happened.
So there was a vacancy in »project 12« since at least the beginning of 2013 – when, by the end of May, somehow several things just fell into place: a friend of ours gave Anke a bunch of hefty peonies in a colour she absolutely adored and that coincidentally also matched a dress in her wardrobe.
Furthermore, I had just bought her a used mini trampolin (after I had a go it unfortunately is now defunct) that coincidentally matched her urge to jump with joy after a streak of successful undertakings. And lastly, I had just thought up a contraption for a home grown diy beauty dish which I really wanted to try. And so it went and I am extremely happy about my wife finally being part of my project, too.
Lilo to Eferding, where we were lucky enough to experience some of the rare sunny moments this year. After a lovely family lunch in a beautiful garden, we went over to the former
For a long time I have pondered various DIY beauty dish solutions on the internet (I find the most promising one is by Todd Owyoung). However, a proper beauty dish is made for a studio strobe with a bare flash tube, meaning there will be light in all directions. When you insert one into the dish, its reflector will block the direct light emitted to the front but there will still be loads of light going off to the sides to be reflected by the dish. When you insert a small flash on the other hand, you have a problem: due to the housed nature of the tube, the flash fires to the front exclusively. The unfortunate consequence is that the dish’s reflector will simply block most of your light. Many DIY beauty dish solutions around try to tackle that by adding a convex mirror to the back of the reflector, which then results in a fair bit of tweaking. [update: David »Strobist« Hobby just ran a (not too excited) piece on an inexpensive small flash with an exposed tube.]
While I took a shower the other day, I saw our IKEA bathroom lamp (called FOTO, wink, wink), and thought well, well, well. It was the closest I came to a beauty dish in a long while and it seemed perfect as raw material to cut open and go the Todd-Owyoung-way. But when I tested for quality of light and stuck a flash in from the front, I thought well, well, well for the second time: why not put the cart before the donkey? For my June portrait of project 12 I tried attaching my modified cymbal boom stand to FOTO while clamping a flash to the front like this:
I am really happy with the results. With the 38cm lamp diameter, the flash is perfectly centered and the only disadvantages I can see is that (a) you need to keep a little bit more of a distance to your subject and (b) a diffusion sock is a bit tricky – but hey, I only had to tear down my bathroom lamp, drill a hole into two blocks of wood and was set, so I am absolutely willing to accept the trade off.
What you need for this diy beauty dish:
- IKEA lamp FOTO (mine has a 38 cm diameter)
- Superclamp (mine is a Manfrotto)
- umbrella swivel (mine
The library of the Viennese Arbeiterkammer (Austrian Federal Chamber of Labour) is quiet, well stocked, has a sensible policy on water in the reading room and comes with a garden, so on most days this is where I work – and so does Mirko. He is an architect and writes his Ph.D. on Peter Eisenman and Rem Kohlhaas (which is a a funny coincidence because I am writing on Kleist’s Michael Kohlhaas). Most of the time we share the better parts of our days and in the past year we went from being just library-buddies to being lunch-buddies, too.
A while back I had made a mental note about a lovely spot in the Arbeiterkammer lobby/waiting area and had hoped I could use it for a portrait one day. With the extraordinary architecture (by NMPB-Architekten) surrounding it, what better subject could there be than an architect who even happens to spend most of his working hours in that very building? So for my April portrait for Project 12 I am grateful that, despite his super busy week, Mirko was willing to sit in the gorgeous sunset light for me.
I am also very grateful to Roman Berka of the Arbeiterkammer Directorate, as he didn’t hesitate for a second when I asked for permission to shoot at that wonderful place. A big thank you also to the porter for his relaxed attitude during the shooting.
Certain people keep saying that apparently asking for forgiveness is easier than asking for permission. Not only was the opposite true here but while asking for permission, I also learned something: Mr Berka told me that Barbara Kruger’s »Questions« was due to be taken down at the beginning of May. This meant that a) I wasn’t going to run into unexpected construction work and b) I could do the shooting when the opportunity was still there to incorporate one of her pieces which is a very apt motto for every Ph.D. student: »Is work ever done?«
Talking to Christian about creativity, inspiration, style, artistic language (and Austrian unincorporated association law) made me remember I still had shots from his studio sitting on my hard drive. palette
Re-reading Light – Science and Magic and coming through the glass department, I thought I’d give bright field and dark field a try. I picked non-coloured bottles with different contents (brownish, clear, air) and am quite pleased with the bright field result. Dark field was an utter fail due to several reasons, two being a) lack of proper dark material and b) bottles having stuff on them like labels and print and me being unable to remedy that.
So here’s my Austrian-Scottish-Swedish bright field trinity:
Last week I shot my second 2013-protrait for »Project 12«. Aspiring Austrian author Fabian Bazant-Hegemark agreed to be Mr February and so we had some fun with an old grand piano and a typewriter at the Mo.ë.
One of my flashes apparently had suicidal tendencies and jumped headfirst from its coldshoe into the concrete. I really have to tighten those screws better. The trusty old LP160 still works as before – which is surprising but very good. Yet, it now has the additional feature of rattling when I shake it, which is maybe not so good and might also lead to a future surprise…
A week or so ago Christian Bazant-Hegemark said he had an idea for a picture involving himself, a children’s trike and one of his paintings. Was I interested in helping him shoot it? Of course I was – he is very easy in front of my camera and I knew it was going to be fun.
He wanted to combine a photo of himself with a painting he is currently working on. The painting shows a boy on a children’s tricycle and my job was to place Christian so that his position would resemble the trike-boy’s as much as possible and at the same time keep the background relatively easy to edit out.
In the words of Douglas Reynholm: I am no Truman Capote when it comes to Photoshop and I am excited about what Christian is going to do with it, but what I pictured while shooting was something like this:
It goes without saying that Christian riding an imaginary tricycle whilst resting his feet on a broom and sitting on a bar stool that was itself placed on a table was also calling for a more serious portrait.
When I am out and about I usually don’t take the DSLR but use an old Fuji Finepix. She accompanied me to the summit of quite a few mountains, to the beaches of several seas and preserved the memory of the odd pique-nique, too. The wear is starting to show and she is nor ever was perfect, but as the second worst pictures are the ones never taken, she’ll do. The worst are of course the ones taken and then lost because some Northumbrian bog-pixie steals the camera (which was the fate of the Samsung I used before, hence this one is kept on a leash).
I wanted to try a light-tentish setup for a while and thought the battered old piece would make an appropriate subject – and it also gave me a chance to practice with my old 100mm ƒ/2.8 that unfortunately lacks the autofocus.