Gallery: A stroll through the Olympic Park, Munich with a Braun Super Paxette

A stroll through the Olympic Park on one of those magnificently sunny days in October 2018. My companions were Maya, the dog, and a Braun Super Paxette II with a Tessar 2.8/50mm lens. I used a Fomapan 200 black and white film which i developed in Rodinal 1:50 for 10 minutes.

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Gallery: Street Photography with a Retina IIIc

The Retina IIIc is by far not the best camera for street photography you can imagine, but that does not mean it is totally unsuitable for it. Once you know how to deal with the uncoupled light meter with its exposure value system you can become pretty fast in adjusting to changing light situations, the bright lines framefinder is okay,  and the coupled rangefinder is as easy to use the one in a Leica M model. All this work pretty well together as long as you stick to the 50mm normal lens, a lovely and tack sharp Schneider-Kreuznach Retina Xenon with the rather fast full aperture of f 2.

Everything changes though if you decide to use one of the 35 or 80 mm supplementary optics you can attach to the camera instead of the front element of the 50 mm lens. In order to use those you do not only have to use a special viewfinder you can attach to the cold shoe on top of the camera, you also need to transfer the measured distance to one of two alternative scales on the bottom of the shutter-lens assembly.

The pictures in this gallery are from a roll of FP4 i shot in September 2017 in Munich.

Gallery: Central Cemetery in Sofia, Bulgaria

The pictures in this gallery were taken during an assignment in Bulgaria in September 2018. I used my Leica CL (analog) loaded with Adox Silvermax 100 b&w film which i carried along with my Leica M9 as a machine to capture private pictures. The film was developed in Silvermax developer diluted 1:29 for 11 minutes. For these pictures i used exclusively the Summicron C 2/40 mm, one of my favorite Leica lenses.

The Central Cemetery in Sofia is huge. It contains graves of well known bulgarian politicians like Todor Shivkov, a jewish cemetery, a necropole for deceased bulgarian pilots and war graves of various nations.

The instant of an instant – Travelling SX 70

My project „Travelling SX 70“ originated during this years journey to Italy. In order to feed my flickr-account with analog travel photos i added my old Polaroid SX 70 together with a couple of b&w and color Impossible films to my mobile photographic gear which consisted of a Kodak Retina IIIC and a Rolleiflex Automat. My plan was (similar to my Project “The last Photographs of the Twentieth Century i did in 2000) to shoot a new polaroid every day or so, reproduce this with the camera of my iPhone 6s and upload that to flickr.

When i took the first picture of the first Polaroid shot in Arco, Trentino, i noticed that the background of the picture – a flat piece of rock – had a pictorial life of its own. It was like the iphone wanted to say: Hey, i am a camera too! Don’t use me as just a means to reproduce something. And right it was!

The first Polaroid in my project - Arco, Trentino
The first Polaroid in my project – Arco, Trentino

The pictures of the polaroids i took with it were a linke between digital and analog photography, between the real world and the world depicted in a photograph which when photographed again becomes a part of the real world itself. Interesting. I had two different kinds of instant picture in one. The kind where you have to wait until it materializes itself via a chemical process and the other kind that is on your display all the time and gets frozen into bits and bytes by touching a virtual button. One you can hold in your hand as a piece of  substance matter, the other is only digital information remembered on a tiny chip and is not really a part of the material world, just a matrix of false and true that, when activated, tells a display which pixels it has to light up in different colors.

A developing polaroid on my knee in Volterra, Tuscany
A developing polaroid on my knee in Volterra, Tuscany

After realizing that i gave up my original plan of taking an instant picture a day and uploading it via my iphone. Instead i started to explore the interaction of pictures and reality. During my journey i took a couple of polaroids which i held in front of a real scene (the same as in the polaroid or another) after some time had elapsed. Sometimes it were just the 10 minutes i had to wait for the polaroid to develop, sometimes one or two days. You can see most of them in the gallery above.

An interesting thing was how dramatically the color instant film changed after just a few hot summer days in my camping car. While the colors of the first pictures i took were still kind of okay – albeit a bit too warm – , they quickly deteriorated the longer the films were exposed to the heat. The last color pictures i took were of a bluish grey that showed no reds at all. Once developed, the colors remained stable, the deterioration took place in the undeveloped emulsion.

Two “Impossible” polaroids. Left after one week in a hot camping car, right after three weeks

Now i know i should have kept the films in the fridge of my camping car and maybe i should have put the SX 70 there too to travel in darkness amongst beer and wine bottles an chunks of italian cheese. I tried to remember how heat sensitive the original polaroid films were when i did my last big project in 2000 on a six week journey to Norway. Okay, in the north you never have temperatures of 35 degree Celsius inside a camping car. But still i think the films were different then. At least in one respect: During my old project i used to alter the developing Polaroids by scratching their surface with the tip of a ballpoint pen, creating my own drawings overlaying the photographed picture. I remember the chemical substance under the clear plastic coating of the pictures to be more soft and malleable than the one of the new Impossible stuff. When i run my finger over the now 18 years old Polaroids of my Year 2000 project i can still feel the lines i created with my ballpoint pen while the Impossible pictures remain perfectly flat after the same procedure. Whether this is also due to the heat the film has been subjected to i will be able to tell when i purchase a fresh pack and do some testing.

Two altered Polaroids. Left a 18 year old original Polaroid, right a contemporary “Impossible” polaroid

Gallery: The first roll with the Rodenstock Imagon.

A Rodenstock Imagon has tickled my fancy since the time i was taking pictures with large format cameras, but it was until now one of these optical legends crossed my way: It was an auction on Ebay for a 200mm Imagon in a Rolleiflex SL66 mount. As i am the proud owner of an old SL66 i bought the lens together with its set of three diaphragms and a ND filter. The day it arrived i took it for a test to the old northern cemetery in Munich, one of my favorite photographic haunts. This is the first roll of 120 film, a Fomapan 100 developed in Rodinal and scanned with a CanoScan 9000F. I took all the pictures without a diaphragm, so the soft focus effect is most pronounced. One of the pictures turned out to be not exposed, obviously the camera had a transport problem.

Gallery: A chemical time machine

In the days when i maintained my own black-and-white photo lab it sometimes happened that after a long night i forgot the odd print in one of the trays full of chemicals. When i returned to the lab the next morning (or after a couple of days, i have to confess) i found them and threw them away, but sometimes the chemicals and/or the light had worked some kind of magic on the prints. In this case i saved the pictures by fixing, watering and drying them. Sometimes i took a sponge and removed the fully soaked gelatine partially and sometimes i put the pictures in a sulphur toning bath. Some of the pictures i painted later with watercolors or added some gold or even spices to them.

Over the years i got a little collection of “chemical ladies”, some of which i scanned and put into this gallery.

For me they are the products of a chemical time machine, paintings made from silver and salt, accidents and time.