the road ahead

February 19, 2010

Sometimes when you look at the road ahead, there seems to be a lot of trash on the way and always nasty bumps that try to make you stumble in your tracks. 2009 hasn’t been an easy year and the next one is not going to be better either, I guess.
But then, you never know what lies behind the next hill. That’s sometimes frightening. But at the same time, you know you are alive and life can be full of new opportunities. So I will just push myself over that next hill and see what comes next. I am sure it will be good!


Leica Frustration…

December 9, 2009

Today I walked out of my office and on my way to the bus stop I took out my LEICA M3 to take a snapshot along the way. When I pressed the shutter release I noticed that the camera was jammed. No way to press the shutter or move the film transport lever.

When I removed the lens to have a first look inside to see what the possible cause of the problem might be, I saw that the M3 shutter was broken. Just like that, without any apparent reason. This happened to a camera that had been repaired, serviced and certified as “almost like new” by LEICA just two years ago. Back then I paid around EUR 600.- (US$900) for the servicing.
Well the warranty is expired and I will have to send the camera in again. They will open the body, take everything apart, exchange the shutter, clean and grease everything, put it back together, attach new leather, and then charge me another EUR 500-1000.

I find this very very annoying…! ;-(

Leica Freedom Train

December 9, 2009

Today I found something new about Leica history:

In the 1930s, after the Nazis under Adolf Hitler came to power, they started to systematically strip the jewish population of basic civil rights. Jews lost their jobs, licenses were revoked, companies got seized etc, all with the final goal of killing them in what would be known as the HOLOCAUST.
Few people had the will and/or the courage to stand up against this regime and help their neighbors, colleagues, lawyers, doctors, schoolmates… People looked away, either trying to ignore what was going on, or even approved to the measures the Nazis took against their compatriots.
Many famous German companies took an active part in the HOLOCAUST and managed to profit from it. I still remember the 1980s when many big German department stores celebrated their 50th anniversary, only to learn that these were the direct result of assets being stolen from Jewish owners. The stores changed ownership, the name, and the original owners were left with nothing.

There are exceptions, though:
Starting from 1933 (the first year of the Nazi reign) until as late as 1943, LEITZ Inc. (‘Leica’ = ‘LEItz CAmera’) under their owner Ernst Leitz II, organized a so called “Freedom Train” and managed to save hundreds of Jewish Leica employees + their families from the HOLOCAUST by assigning them to oversea positions, sending them to America, Asia and other LEITZ subsidiaries, paying for the transport, accommodation, taking care of them and even finding them jobs in the photo industry.
In honor of this courageous deeds, Ernst Leitz II was recently posthumously given the “ADL Courage to Care Award“.

I was quite impressed, especially being aware that for such a prestigious company like LEICA, it must have been extremely difficult in those times to such things without getting into the spotlights of the regime. The Nazis were always very strong in using icons of German technology for their propaganda. Resisting this regime by saving their employees from persecution and murder is something that very much stands out. It also shows a company culture that unfortunately has always been very rare. A culture where employers and employees are forming a partnership, not only to bring the profits up, but also with a feeling of mutual responsibility and contribution.
I am living in Asia, where today employees are often treated quite badly (taking the most out of them and then spitting them out) and in return show little loyalty and feeling of responsibility. During my years in China this was quite apparent. The average time a manager spends at a Chinese company is 2-4 years, then they are looking for better paid jobs, or get fired.

Thus, my respect to LEICA and its history! A company that has never been big, compared to todays Asian rivals, but always managed to keep their integrity and their excellent reputation for being one of the best camera makes of all time, from the 1920 to today!

More about the LEICA Freedom Train you can find here!

Once in a lifetime…

November 19, 2009

One day you may find yourself in a shotgun shack
One day you may find yourself in another part of the world
You may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile
in a beautiful house
with a beautiful wife

And you ask yourself: How did I get here?

Turning 40 today… feels funny!

Some people are…

October 29, 2009

Some thoughts from today’s bus ride to work:

Some people are like digital images. They are pretty, colorful and sharp. There is some sort of automatic shadow lighting and they look all perfect and shiny. However, the highlights get burned out quite easily, they all look kind of the same, and most of all: They all seem to lack depth and suffer from chronic shallowness. It’s a quick impression that usually doesn’t last very long.

Fashion photography is similar: Pretty shiny images of beautiful models. Too bad, though, the impression is only meant to last about 10 sec. before we flip to the next page. The image just as the model is forgotten within a moment.

That’s all for today…

going home?

August 6, 2009

Cologne Cathedral & Train Station, 2008:
Hauptbahnhof 2008
This week we will go to Germany and spend the summer holidays with my parents in Cologne/Germany. A lot of people ask me if I am “happy to go home?”.
“HOME”, what is that? I left Cologne about eight years ago. After that I spent two years in Singapore, then five years in Shanghai, and after a job change me and my family settled down in Singapore again in 2008. Even in Germany I have lived in different places, Cologne was just the last one. I go back maybe once or twice a year, usually only for a few days.
People tend to define you by the region/country/city that you come from. In the old days that would have been the place where you were born, where your family and childhood friends live. In Chinese that even translates to “Ancestral District”. But today people are on the move. We change jobs, cities, houses, even friends frequently. Even out parents move, so what remains of our childhood home? Just a fading memory? How shall we define ourselves in these times and how do we define the place that we call home without letting this term becoming an empty phrase for something like “temporary residence”?

As for myself, I have started to make home literarily “where my heart is”. That is my wife and my children. As long as I am together with them, I fell at home, and at peace with myself. Nevertheless I feel that every place on this planet where I have spent some time, where I felt attached, belongs to me and my life. In this respect there are many places that I could call home. Where ever we go, we leave a trace and that’s how it should be!


July 13, 2009

Today is one of these days when I would like to be in Italy… don’t ask me why!