Shooting Warsons – Metal Delight

I recently had the chance to shoot a concert by one of Hamburg’s underground metal bands, called Warsons. I got the opportunity because the bass player is also a colleague of mine. (You should listen to them on Spotify here)

I used to play in bands for around 15 years, I was socialized on metal by my brother, who, in the 1970s listened to Scorpions a lot – and I liked it. „You see ze microphones in the air, you see zem? We’re doing a live recording tonight!“ – Klaus Meine still rings in my ears, complete with his German accent.

Later on I listened to AC/DC, Iron Maiden, Metallica, Pantera, Megadeath, Slayer – you get the picture, go to Spotify and get a whiff of that. My bands ranged from metal to surf-metal to funk-metal (sort of), but as I’m a workaholic who can’t get up from the sofa once work is over, I no longer felt I had the time or energy for bands. That’s a real shame, making music was my first creative love.

Now the drug of my choice is photography and so everything came sort of full-circle, when Björn said that it was ok for me to shoot the concert at the Headcrash club. I prepared by watching tons of videos on how to shoot concerts, what lenses to bring, how to set up the camera, how to behave(!) and so on. I’m very thorough. I actually bought a lens for the occasion, so that I had three prime lenses that open up to f1.8: 35mm, 50mm, 90mm (all equiv., I shoot on a 2x crop). I knew that I’d have to crank up the ISO, which is the only problem that my OMD-EM1 II has. Micro-four thirds cameras let in less light in total and have a very pixel-cramped sensor, so that ISO 1600 is my regular max and I go up to 3200 if I absolutely have to, but that’s about it. Any higher than that and I feel that my images fall apart in terms of grain. The only saving grace is that the grain is almost film-like and does not look too digital.

Anyway, when I arrived at the location I quickly found out that my lenses were really suited, especially the new 35mm one. The club isn’t huge, so 35mm really helped me capture full-body portraits from just in front of the space with enough space to think about composition. But once the concert started, the lights actually went down! So my plan of using 1/100th at ISO 1600 went bust and I had to settle with 1/20th to 1/80th at ISO 6400(!!). Thankfully autofocus tracking still worked under these conditions, but I was deeply worried about image quality once I imported them into Lightroom.

But while shooting I did not have the time to think about all of that too much. I had learned that running around without a plan would lead to disaster, so I had the plan to stick to one lens per song and divide the stage into four positions (left, right, centre, centre-back) that way I had something like one minute per position to find the shot and shoot. Then I would step up to the next lens, repeat until I had gone from 35mm up to 90mm and back down. After that, the set was over.

By the way: the concert was nothing short of amazing. The band rocked hard and loud and there was a generous amount of headbanging and grunting and growling.

In the end, I had 20 good shots and I’m going to show a selection all in Black and White, which has actually more to do with colour-grain that with anything else, but I think that the images have a very classic, 80s feel to them, which is just what Warsons is all about.

Enjoy!!

A healthy response

That was quite a junk-food massacre last week and the rosemary did not save it a bit. Still it made me order a burger with fries, so go figure.

But still, Sascha and I had a short conversation about our food habits over deluxe Lebanese food in gentrified Hamburg-Ottensen. Over lamb-chops and turkey filled with fig-paste we arrived at the conclusion that even though we both like to cook we lead lives filled with convenience food and … probably guilt.

So this weekend I unearthed an old idea of mine (and millions of others), i.e. to pre-cook some healthy stuff for a couple of days over the weekend. After going to the supermarket where I decided on pasta for the weekend and pumpkin-carrot-ginger-soup for the week, I put everything on my kitchen table. Looking at it I thought it was the perfect response to Currywurst Pommes Mayo and I arranged it in the style of a classic still-image. So everything you see there is already digested or in the process of it (actually the last pot with soup is on the stove while I write.

I put an old black piece of cloth on a rack for the background and arranged the rest of the shopping with leading lines in mind, the „payoff“ for the lines being the pumpkin of course. My kitchen has a north-facing window, so there was a lot of soft light coming in from camera-right and almost no bounce from camera left. I shot this with my 35mm 1.8 and my 50mm 1.8 lens handheld even though it was getting a bit dark. (Over)processing was done in photoshop, just to darken the shadows and some 3D-Luts for filter effects.

btw:

1kg of carrots, 1 small pumpkin, one red pepper, one chili, one green onion, 500g of small potatoes, 4-6 cups of vegetable stock, one handful of ginger, salt, pepper, curry to taste. Fry the onions and the vegetables in olive oil until glazed, fill up with stock and potatoes. Cook for 45′ or until all the vegetables are very soft. Purée until the desired texture is reached. Season to taste. If you like add sour cream.

Enjoy!


There’s something about Madeira

There was a lot for me to unpack when I read and saw Sascha’s post last week. I was wondering how he could not like Madeira as much as I had and naturally assumed that he had done something wrong. What could that be? Having been ill might have been part of that and would naturally bias someone against an experience. Then again, I lost twothousand euros worth of camera equipment there (into a ravine – I won’t go into the hows and whys of that here) and though that sent me down a phase of depression for a couple of days, I liked the island just as much.

Another aspect was how different our experiences were. My friend and I were there for only a week and we did a lot of roadtripping along the meandering cliff-roads, went on whale-watching trips and Saskia went canyoning while I explored Funchal. All in all I guess we spent very different days there and that – for me – gives an idea of how varied the possible experiences are on Madeira. I thoroughly enjoyed the clouds and the weather, the sun and the driving-around. I do agree that Funchal will not make it into my top 50 of cities, probably not even the top 100, I just don’t think about it that much, apart from the cable-car up the mountain. But as we saw such different things and because I lost a whole day of nature images because of gravity and a healthy dose of clumsiness, my selection looks decidedly different and are mainly shot on a 50mm prime lens, the only one I had left and not the worst, I might say.

My main goal was to shoot nature, especially whales, and I did not lose my telephoto lens, but that is a project I will pursue more in the future. So here are some shots from Funchal and our main roadtrip and I think that they are quite different from Sascha’s, simply for the reason that we did not hike as much and thus got very different imagery. I made them black and white, cause I felt like it and because I wanted to renew my take on Madeira as the images have sat here for three quarters of a year.

I hope you enjoy them!

Oh, and before I forget. I know we are both busy at the moment, but how about a fine art/abstract image of food?

rewind to the past

This post is about the first time I took photos for the sake of photography, that is to say the first time I thought of pictures as more than snapshots. I realized I wanted to take pictures of places and people two years before, when I first went to Africa, but I did not have a camera back then and only bought it some months before I was set to return to Tanzania. As I went on a short holiday in Wiltshire for summer college at Marlborough, I brought my brand new Olympus Pen EPL 2 with its 14-42 (equiv. 28-84mm on full-frame). 

Wiltshire is a wonderful county that showcases the typical landscape of Great Britain, rather rural, small towns with their parish churches and patches of farmland, whimsically cut up by hedges. Inside all of that there are spectacular and unique remnants of the past scattered all around. Apart from the old towns, you can find the Avebury Henge and Stonehenge, both being UNESCO World Heritage sites. Moreover, there is a functional Roman Bath in the aptly called town of Bath. 2012 saw a stunning summer with golden light every day and that holiday still is one of my favourites.

In terms of photography, I took my first pictures and some of the first that I really liked. It’s hard to be sure, though. One’s own pictures are always infused with the emotions you experienced back then, so that it’s hard to be objective. An acquaintance of mine asked me recently if starting out with photography was hard, meaning that in the beginning almost no one produces one’s best work. I think that I was lucky that my holiday there made it easy to take nice shots, but you be the judge.

Enjoy!

p.s. hey Sascha, why not share some of your favourites from the past that made you follow through with photography?

architecture is boring part II

I so wholeheartedly agree with Sascha. I cannot seem to be able to enjoy taking architectural photography. It’s like taking pictures of photographs done by others. It’s art by other people that I’ve never made my own. I do enjoy certain types of architectural photography, maybe long-exposures with crazy cloud-shapes, maybe certain angles that want to signify symmetry or what have you. On Instagram you get lost in spiral-staircases, windows in skyscrapers and the like…. me not like. The greatness of that art is lost on me.

If on the other hand I do go out and do photography with architectural elements in it then it’s mainly for a different reason – as a payoff for sunset-photography, an element of contrast in long-exposure light-trails or as an establishing shot for exploring the architecture in more detail. The main image here is the Jenisch-Haus in Hamburg. Built between 1831 and 1834 it’s part of a rural farm overseeing the river Elbe. It’s one of the most beautiful houses in Hamburg and has a history rich in progressive thought (for that time). Today it houses a museum. 

Photographing the Jenisch-Haus and the spacious park is an ongoing project of mine. The park has a small river meandering through it and is home to many old trees. The house itself houses (see what I did there?) a museum showing bourgeois life and taste. To me it’s a glimpse into the former glory of Hamburg with some even mystic elements.  If you want, then click on the images in the gallery for getting acquainted with the park, the house and the spirit they emote.

Enjoy!

the power of portraits

This post is really late. I was sick for a couple of days, so I didn’t have the peace of mind to write up a post – that is also, why this one is short and also contains only one image.

I agree with Sascha, shooting images of people is really the greatest thing to do with a camera. It is also the most threatening in a way. If you misrepresent a landscape, the grass and trees, rivers and mountains won’t be mad at you. It’s hard to be unflattering to something that has no agency, feelings or emotions itself.

If I take pictures of people, I feel a special responsibility. I want to capture a part of their personality – are they funny, serious, optimistic or grumpy in a way that speaks in a positive way about them. It does not have to be flattering in an aesthetic way, but the picture has to be representative of one aspect of the person, ideally – to me – one, that they think is representative of themselves, too.

I started with street portraits in Tanzania, for reasons I might tell you about later, and did some street photography portraiture, mainly of street musicians, because they are already public. Last year I began to set-up a small pop-up home studio with a backgrounds, speedlights and light-modifiers. I really like that situation, because one the one hand you can control every aspect of the light and on the other hand you can connect to the model with some intensity (and a coffee on the side).

This one was done for a co-worker who is a classically trained singer. What I really like is that it tells a great story of him as a person and of him in a stage-personality. It’s from my first studio-session ever, and still one of my favourites.

Fogrise…. and negative space

Hey Sascha, your last post was a headscratcher for me, it really made me think about why I take pictures in terms of which compositions make me hit the shutter. I guess I am usually very literal about my images. There is something I want someone else to see and so I go close. Composition takes the backseat to some degree. Or so I thought.

I remember the first time we went out together, we walked through Hamburg. You can find my old post here. You took  a picture of the Spiegel-building with lots of negative space, heavily angled to one side, I saw it and tried to recreate the look, but it didn’t work for me. I liked your image, but not mine. The difference is that we see different things. All in all, negative space is not something I explicitly look for (very often).

Three weeks ago it jumped me in the eye. I went up the Michel, Hamburg’s main church after doing some sunrise photography. The fog crept up so heavily that I could not see anything straight on, so I thought about shooting the Michel from the inside. When I found out that there was an escalator going up the tower and not just my legs, I rose to the challenge and went up. The fog went just below the viewing platform next to the bell and all of Hamburg’s landmark-architecture peeked out of the fog. I liked the tops of the buildings looking very abstract, lost and almost frail and I recognized the beauty of this view in terms of negative space. And here it was. I found the content in the negative space; if that is understandable. From here on, I think it belongs to my arsenal of techniques, because I can connect an emotion to it. 

I hope you enjoyed these, but they made me wonder. These are images that are not typical for my photography. So Sascha, now I know how you see. But what are your favourite subjects to shoot? I’m looking forward to Sunday. Cheers!


at the fun-fair

I know it’s probably a bit petty to react to a statement like „I hate colors“ from Sascha’s last post by looking in Lightroom for the most colourful shots you can find. But hey, if petty that is, then petty I am 😀

I like these long-exposures: no people, great colours and yet they speak to romanticized memories from our childhoods. These were taken almost exactly a year ago, when I met up with a photographer from Hamburg, called Yang, who takes to the streets of Hamburg almost daily. We had a great evening out and have been going out shooting together ever since.

So Sascha, I guess, we’re back to black-and-white for Sunday and I’m really looking forward to that, because I really love black-and-white! 

Enjoy!

stormtrooping

Some time ago, I asked a friend of mine, whether I could make pictures of him in his stormtrooper uniform. As you might imagine, he said yes. There was a whole storm of ideas racing through my mind, some of which might come in the future.

The idea that prevailed was to set the sci-fi uniform in contrast to the futuristic architecture of the Ruhr-Uni-Bochum. I think, it’s a good fit. The uniform is highly iconic and dehumanizes the subject and the architecture that we see here is surely not inviting to the individual, either. It is still – at least to me – an ironic contrast. We tend to conceive of stormtroopers as hapless warriors, but their roots certainly lie in the horrific past of Germany, something that the university stands firmly against with all its values, even though it looks so uninviting.

 

Enjoy!

 

views of Cologne

So this is it. Our first blog post together. Last Saturday we Sascha and I met up in Cologne to do a photowalk together, our first in two years. The night before we discussed our possible routes and what we wanted to make images of. Both of us are interested in doing street photography, but European and German laws have become increasingly restrictive over the years that we did not want go full-on Bruce Gilden, even though in an art-context such as this, it should be ok to do more upfront street shots with people. But enough of what we did not do, on to what we decided on. We settled on the scenic route through Cologne,starting with the Cathedral, as it does afford some interesting perspectives, then we went over the Deutzer Bridge to get some midday panoramas…. but see for yourself.

In effect we worked from noon to after sunset, working the streets for images that represent the aspects of Cologne as we saw it. Even though we both walked the exact same streets together, our images are very different. The difference does not only lie in the fact that Sascha’s are in black and white and mine are in color, though. We see very differently, too. Here details are extracted from the scene and put in a figure / ground context: legs separated from the people and set as lines against the ground, shadows only as symbols of people, the soap-bubble singled-out between the cathedral’s two towers (the cute-eye-of-Sauron-shot, as I call it). My shots have more overview, are in a way more representative of the space they were taken in, less mysterious, more naturalistic in nature.

Both ways of seeing are hopefully delightful to you, both in their very different genres and styles. Let’s start with Sascha’s gallery:

 

And here are Torsten’s pictures, we cut down the selection to ten images each, to keep the experience somehow manageable.

 

Enjoy!