What to buy in October 2008

September 29, 2008

I am not a big fan of fashion photography. In recent years it has somewhat become a haven for digital designers who seem to believe that an overload of editing in photoshop, over sharpening and the elimination of anything human in the faces of the models is a sign of good photography. This trend towards artificiality has not only changed the way many people see and think; it has also changed the standards of beauty.
Well, let’s face it: Fashion photography has never been about real people but more about the image of the ideal woman/man, face, body in conjunction with clothes. But if you want to see images from a time when the top fashion photographers were great portrait artists in the first place, then you should buy this new collection of images from the 1960s by David Bailey.

Among photographers like Irving Penn, Jeanloup Sieff, and Richard Avedon, David Dailey is certainly one of the most influential and skilled fashion- and portrait photographers of his time. The book shows some of his best works from the 1960s. A display of wonderful images in an art book that didn’t try to safe money on size and/or print quality. Definitely worth every cent!


just for laughs…

September 25, 2008

I found this on Tilla’s blog


September 23, 2008

During the last few years, I have been reading a lot of magazines about photography, cameras etc. Generally, the most striking difference between different magazines seems to be whether they are about photography or about cameras. I find that those ones are mainly gadget issues that try to lure you into expensive purchases by suggesting that the clue to great images is the brand and/or the price of the camera, the number of lenses, or other non important stuff.
Camera reviews kind of remind me of washing detergent commercials. Since my first days of TV commercial watching in the 1970s, shirts have been becoming whiter and whiter. Every new product claims to be the final solution for the ultimate accomplishment. What a nonsense!

LensWork is a 96-page, 8½x7” paperback magazine – a duotone, book-quality, paper-based, anthology-style periodical publication which focuses on photography and the creative process. Each issue features articles, interviews, and photographic portfolios. Non-technical and non-academic, with emphasis on the creative aspects of photography.
This magazine is not cheap, but the print quality and the choice of paper is so good that all issues that I bought found their way into my bookshelf, next to the expensive photo art books. In most cases, the books cannot even match the quality of LensWork.

The magazine solely focuses on the art of photography, introducing well known and new photographers, professionals and amateurs alike, as long as they can make it through the selection process.
Along with the beautiful presented photographs come articles about photography, the process of creating images, and how to improve your approach towards your own creations. No page is wasted on equipment and the latest gadgets.

If you mostly care about photography and imaging and less about the tools that you use as long as they get you to the results that you want, LensWork is a very good choice for inspiration.

Camera review: Leica M3

September 17, 2008

This is not a review. It is just a tribute to one of my most loved tools, the Leica M3.

The Leica M3 is a complete manual rangefinder camera which was first introduced in 1954 (mine is from 1956). It is the prototype for all Leica M cameras, such as the M2, M4, M6, M7, MP, and M8 digital. These cameras dominated the market as the prime tool for journalists in the 1950s and 1960s. They were eventually replaced by SLR cameras and have since been filling a small niche for enthusiasts, professionals who still appreciate the handling, and collectors who keep them in their showcases.

Yes, a Leica feels and looks great, but that doesn’t make your pictures any better. What makes the difference, besides your individual skills, in this case is the rangefinder that gives you a different approach towards your photography. In my opinion, the type of viewfinder plays a much larger role in the outcome of your images than any features like brand, optics, functions etc etc etc.
That’s why I divide my tools into SLR, Rangefinder and Meter Prism Viewfinders that you find in medium format cameras like Hasselblad, Rolleiflex etc. Each of these will produce a different perspective, a different speed of photographing, and thus a different result.

The M3 with its 0.91 bright viewfinder with the broad round edged frame for the 50mm focal length lets you focus on the most important aspect besides exposure, i.e. composition. The larger-than-usual magnification makes focusing easier, too, and thus produces very sharp pictures.
The M3 is a solid peace of metal and heavier than it’s size suggests. It feels solid and reliable.
There are no automatic features, no light meters (you need an external meter), no autofocus, and definitely no picture review like on a digital camera. Therefore the M3 is not really a very practical camera. On the other hand, you just don’t get distracted by blinking lights and displays, the sound of winders and shutters, and once you have set the exposure you just keep shooting which really feels liberating. Especially compared to a modern DSLR with all its functions that I find very distracting.

Saying that, after all this gadget praising:
A Leica M is great fun and a joy to use. But it won’t per se improve your photography. Don’t let the gadget get between you and your photography!

Mary Ellen Mark

September 15, 2008

Mary Ellen Mark is also surely one of my favorite photographers. She has a talent to build up a relationship to the people she is working with that really translates into her photography. Let it be formal style portraiture or 35mm documentaries… the images seem to show the inner self of the portrayed people. Very emotional, moving, capturing the imagination of the viewer.

Mary Ellen Mark is also standing out as a photographer with a social conscience. Her documentary publications about drug addicted teenagers in America are remarkable. And the work she did in India about circus artists, or her photographic documentation about brothels in Bombay, are just breathtaking. With this she has managed to change my personal view on the world.


September 11, 2008

Our daughter Maya, four years old.

Cambodia, a lost world

September 8, 2008

In June 2007 I travelled to Cambodia and visited the remains of Angkor, a vast area of temples and palaces that once were the capital of the Khmer empire and a thriving city of several million people. In the last century it was dug out of the jungle where it had vanished after the fall of the Khmer.

Visiting Angkor is an overwhelming experience. Not only are the temples and buildings amazingly beautiful; visiting Cambodia is also a journey to recent history, to a country that has suffered tremendously from the terror of the Khmer Rouge and the following civil war in the 1970 and 1980s. What remains is proof of a country that is ridden by war and poverty. Despite international help and assistance, and despite all the foreign tourists that visit Cambodia every year, the country is still very very poor. Bad government and corruption does not make it any better.
It’s a lost world, both the past and the present. But nevertheless it welcomes you with beautiful landscapes, awesome architecture, and beautiful and friendly people.

This series of pictures were taken with a hasselblad medium format camera on ROLLEI RETRO 400 and on ILFORD PANF 50 film. The high contrast sort of dark looking b&w film emphasized the atmosphere at Angkor and suited the architectural images as well as the pictures I took of the people. Life is slow in Angkor and people spend their days sitting around, waiting for customers to arrive. I took many pictures in Cambodia, but this particular series reflects my feelings best.

More images can be seen at my website.