Two nuns

In Rome, November 1997. Not much else to say except that Rome is certainly an apt place to photograph two nuns in what seemed to be their spare time.

Taken with the M4-P on Tri-X.



A street in Ootmarsum on November 29. The time between Christmas and New Year is called "zwischen den Jahren" in German and usually not much is happening on these days, especially if there hardly aren't any workdays left as in 2009. So, maybe that's the right time to post such a "silent" picture.

Found on a roll of XP2 which was filled using the M4-P and the 35mm Summicron.



Another one from the fascinating Tsukiji market in Tokyo. Most of what's happening there is about tuna.

Shot on November 11, 2008 with the M8.2 and the 28mm Elmarit at ISO 320. Converted to black and white using Silver Efex Pro.



This photo has always been one of my favorites. It's just a backyard somewhere in NYC, but it has - in my humble opinion - a wonderful variety of tones and angles.

Shot in 1995 with the M4-P and the 50mm Summicron on Tri-X.



When I looked at the contact sheet, I immediately thought that this photo would somehow rhyme with one I did in Boston last year. And indeed it does - I printed the two of them on opposing pages in a little book I did last week and that worked well for me.

Shot in December 2009 near Hamburg's harbor with the Leica and the 35mm Summicron on XP2.

By the way, I really like to look at contact sheets from other photographers, especially if I admire their work. If you're like me, you should check out The Contact Sheet by Steve Christ which was released a few weeks ago. But the gold standard for contact sheets certainly is the "Expanded Edition" of Looking In.



Not only Rio has a huge statue of Jesus Christ, Lisbon has one as well. A bit smaller, but still pretty impressive. (And that's as Christmassy as it'll get on this blog...)

Taken with the M4-P on Tri-X in 1999.


A cab on Times Square

One night in 1998, I spent some time on Times Square with the Leica trying to capture the light and the movement of the cars driving past. With this cab, I got exactly what I wanted.

By now, you can probably guess which film I used.



One way to clean your shoes...

Shot with the Nikon on Tri-X in Ollioules on July 13, 1995.


Back to the roots

A funny picture maybe, and maybe it's pretty dynamic. And it's another hipshot. And it's a dog again.

But this photo is here mainly for two other reasons:

The first one is that it is from the first film I shot with my new Olympus XA. I wanted to have a camera that I can always carry with me in my jacket and got this one for less than 30 Euros (including shipping) from eBay. The jury is still out on whether I'll eventually like it. It certainly ain't a Leica, but if you get a camera for the price of a few rolls of film there isn't much to argue about.

The second reason, more important to me than the camera, is that I finally - after about twelve years - started to do my own film development again. It means I'm back to Tri-X, and this is the first roll - developed in our kitchen using a changing bag as a make-shift darkroom. Developer was Fomadon Excel.  Maybe it's kind of fitting that I'm posting this picture on my birthday...

The photo was taken a week ago (December 17, 2009) at the Lange Reihe here in Hamburg.


Coney Island

A snapshot of two unknown children almost looking like one. A skewed horizon. Lots of parallel lines. Articulated shadows. The reflection of a beam of sunlight. Season to taste. That was the recipe for this picture.

M4-P on Tri-X in 1998.



As someone reminded me, not only Japan has old men standing around in front of construction sites or buildings. I had almost forgotten about this guy, photographed in New York on October 1, 1995. I couldn't figure out what he was guarding.

M4-PTri-X, 50mm Summicron.


The last color film

You're probably asking yourself if I posted this photo too early. Maybe. But even if it might not be a memorable picture, it is relevant because it marks the end of my very short color film period. I might have been a bit enthusiastic in the beginning, but I quickly found out that getting the colors of scans right is simply too much work (for me) - it ain't fun. If I'll do more color photography, it'll very likely be digital. Whether I'll shoot a lot of digital photos in the near future is another question, though, to be discussed on another day.

This window was photographed on October 31 this year not far away from where I live. I used Fuji Pro 160C in my M4-P.



One way to photograph the Statue of Liberty in NYC.  We all know there are many, many others.

M4-P, Tri-X, 1998.


Blurred Vespa

When I came back from Rome in November 1997, this was the first frame of all the Tri-X rolls I had filled with the Leica that I printed. I still like it. It somehow hits the right note with me, maybe because it captures how I perceived the Vespa-dominated traffic.


The jacket

Together with the shadows of the late afternoon sun, this jacket hanging off some pole in Whitechapel, London on March 27, 1996 was irresistible for me. I still like the image because it's hard to figure out what is (or was) going on. It wasn't easy to get the exposure right while shooting more or less straight into the sun, though.

M4-P with the 35mm Summicron on Tri-X, f/8 at 1/125.


Not a stray dog

It's time for another dog. Two actually, if you look closely. Taken at the beach of the Elbe river in Hamburg in 2002 with the M4-P on Tri-X.

Today's title is of course an allusion for those of you interested in photography.


Two joggers

Boston and the Charles river as seen from Cambridge, MA. On a sunny Sunday afternoon, this area is flooded with joggers.

Leica M4-P loaded with a roll of X-rayed Tri-X, October 2008.


The gaze

What is the guy looking at? Who is the woman talking to? What's the role of the fountain in the background? You figure it out...

New York City, October 2, 1995. The old Leica with the even older 50mm Summicron on Tri-X.


Street jumble #2

A crossing of several elevated roads near Genoa's harbor on July 5, 2009. I had a "color day" and was thus looking for different motifs, but this one works much better in black and white. And it's of course both a strength as well as a weakness of digital that you can decide after you took the photo whether your picture should be black and white or not.

Taken with the M8.2 and the 50mm Summicron at ISO 160. I forgot how I converted the image to black and white.


View into the past

Another view into a shop window, this time into a photographer's studio in Ollioules on July 13, 1995. Even at that time, almost 15 years ago, the picture felt like a view into a forgotten past to me.

Shot with the Nikon on Tri-X.


Bird watcher

I didn't take notes, so I don't know who this guy was. But the doves really liked him...

Lisbon in 1999, M4-P, Tri-X.


Subway and bicycle

A view into a subway in New York. And someone is looking at me.

October 5, 1995. Taken with the Leica and the 50mm Summicron on Tri-X.

Addendum: This photo was shown n the Bronx Banter in April 2011.


The Baltic Sea

A view of the Baltic Sea from Rügen - taken with the M4-P on Tri-X in the summer of 2005.


Shot from the hip

If you haven't read Shots from the Hip by "Johnny Stiletto", try to find it in a used book store somewhere. It's fun. And hipshots can be fun, too. Sometimes you might end up with a photo you really like although you can't quite explain why. Well, maybe because a dog's in there...

New York in 1998 with the Leica and Tri-X.


More doves

Another one from the dove series. See the old post for the story and the technical details.



And while we're at the subjects of celebrities and musicians, here's a portrait of Marcus Miller. I've been doing his website since the beginning of 1997 (the whole story can be found here) and when I was in L.A. in November during a business trip, Marcus and I met for lunch. I took this picture after he had driven me back to my hotel and before we said goodbye.

A bit later, some bootleggers in Japan actually used the photo - without my permission, of course - for the label of their "Slap Shot" CD.

That was the M4-P on Tri-X again.


In memoriam

We visited the World Trade Center in 1995 but stayed at the bottom because of very bad weather. In 1998, we tried again, and this time we made it to the top. Three years later, both towers were gone...

M4-P on Tri-X.


Looking away

1996 at Brixton tube station in London. The woman in the middle seemed to be a bit deranged and was giving some kind of speech. All passersby tried hard to pretend they didn't notice her. This is one of a series of eight photos of this scene.

M4-P with the 35mm Summicron on Tri-X - March 28.


Five-finger exercise

Waiting for a plane on an airport is boring, especially if you have to do it often. And rarely do I shoot any interesting photos there - if I take photos at all. This view out of a window on a dull and rainy day was the last frame on a roll of XP2 and it turned out to be the best one. Not because it's so good, but because the rest was even worse...

Edit: Well, two months later I actually found another shot that I like. To quote the first chancellor of West Germany: "Was interessiert mich mein Geschwätz von gestern!"

November 20, 2009 with the M4-P and the 50mm Summicron on Oslo's airport Gardermoen.


Welcome to L.A.

Out of a window again, but this time it's the windshield of a car while entering L.A. after a long ride from Las Vegas via San Diego. Alas, I didn't take many photos at that time which I regret now. So far, it has been my only time at the West Coast.

To make matters worse, a day or two later Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen entered the hotel elevator I was in and of course I didn't have a camera with me! On the other hand, I was so stunned that I couldn't say a word and the whole thing was over after a few floors. I guess I would have been too paralyzed to use a camera anyway...

The good old Leica on Tri-X, November 1997.


Zappa's last drummer

Another one of the assignments I had back then. The job was to photograph Andreas Boettger for a student magazine. I always was (and still am) a big fan of Franz Zappa, and Mr. Boettger was at that time a member of Ensemble Modern and thus ended up playing percussion on three Zappa records. That's the closest I ever got to any member or ex-member of Zappa's bands except for a brief chat with Napoleon Murphy Brock three years ago.

The whole shooting took place in a dark and cramped rehearsal room, so I was happy that I came home with at least a few usable shots. Taken with the FM2 in Hanover on January 15, 1996 on Neopan 1600 developed in HC-110. My notes clearly say that the lens was a 24/2.8 although I'm very, very sure I never owned one. Seems I borrowed one although I don't remember it.

Update: Did I really say "very, very sure"? I just looked at some other old photos taken with the Nikon (from 1994 already) and they clearly look like they've been taken with a wide-angle lens. I'll have to eat my words...


Plane spotting

July 18 this year was, for the time being, my last day in the USA after having been there a lot in the last three years. I went to Revere Beach and was a bit amused by all of the planes from Logan airport constantly flying above the people in the water.

I only had the 35mm Summicron with me, so this is what I got. Taken with the M8.2 at ISO 160 and converted using TrueGrain. Rotated by one tiny degree to make the horizon level - the joys of digital image manipulation...



Did I already know René Burri's "Wilted Lotus Blossoms" when I took this photo? I hope not, 'cause otherwise this would look like a pretty pathetic attempt at it. Anyway, see the title. In German, I'd probably call it "Jugendsünde".

You might also notice the vertical stripes at the bottom of the picture which I think look like bromide drags. This must have been one of the first films I developed myself and it seems I made a mistake there...

Taken with the Nikon and the 50mm lens in January 1995 on Ilford Delta 100. The river is the Ihme in Hanover.


Looking at me

I was walking behind this father and his son and for some reason decided to take a photo of them. That image was boring and not worth mentioning. However, at that moment the boy turned around - probably hearing or sensing what I was doing - and looked at me. Which resulted in this picture which I really like because of his intense and inquiring gaze.

And to drop the name of another famous photographer - this photo reminds me of William Klein whom I once heard saying that in each of his pictures there was someone looking at him. But other than that this photo was taken in New York there's obviously not much else that connects it to Klein.

Taken 1998 with the M4-P on Tri-X.



I sometimes mention influences although I'm hopefully perfectly clear each time that I'm not seeing myself on the same level as much greater photographers. In this case, I see - with hindsight - some influence from the early work (before World War II) of Cartier-Bresson (except that he probably would have disapproved of the skewed horizon).  In fact, I think HCB's early photos are much stronger and much more interesting than most of what he did during his time with Magnum. But that's just me.

Lisbon in 1999, M4-P, Tri-X.


Part four

I only had the idea of a series of views out of windows after working on this blog, but it seems I started pretty early to shoot out of hotel windows. This is a view of the Old City of Jerusalem on August 18, 1995. Those obviously were the good old days when you could still smoke in hotels.

The Nikon with the 50mm lens on Tri-X.


Green bunker

This really isn't a remarkable photo, but it's here for two reasons:

One is that this is from the first roll of color film (Fuji Superia Reala 100, by the way) that I ever put through my M4-P. I don't know what its previous owner did, but - who knows - maybe it had never seen a color film in its almost 30 years of existence.

The second reason is that this is a picture of an old bunker only two blocks away from where we live which is demolished right now. Every photo captures a little bit of the past, but some more than others.

Taken on June 20 this year.


Street jumble

I was very briefly considering to dedicate this photo to Daido Moriyama.  Not, of course, because I think that my pictures could be compared with his, but maybe because this one was inspired by him in one way or the other. But I'd rather not in order not to do him injustice.

Taken on November 14, 2008 in Tokyo (Minami-Aoyama) with the M8.2 at ISO 640 and converted using Silver Efex Pro. The lens was the 28mm Elmarit and the shutter speed was a whopping 15th of a second.


Two ladies

A delivery truck blocked a part of the sidewalk and I witnessed what was almost a collision between three pedestrians which ended in lots of laughter. I stayed there hoping to catch a similar scene which I did. Shortly thereafter, though, these two ladies made my day by passing by.

Rome in November 1997, the M4-P and Tri-X.


The juggler

A juggler I saw in London. I filled half a roll of Tri-X while watching his performance, but the last frame - where he takes a bow at the end - is the one I eventually liked best.

March 26, 1996 near Covent Garden with the M4-P and the 35mm Summicron - f/5.6 and 1/125.



Nice skirt, isn't it? And what you see in the background is the river Elbe and a part of Hamburg's harbor.

Taken in 2002 with the M4-P on Tri-X.



I saw how the little girl on the scooter tried to pass the guy who almost blocked the whole sidewalk with his garbage can. I followed her for a short time and took two shots when she finally succeeded. This is number two.

NYC, on March 21, 2009. Taken with the M8.2 at ISO 320, converted using TrueGrain.



A very nice and sunny morning in Cambridge, MA, albeit very cold. In fact, it was so cold that I was happy to have my trusty M4-P with me. I doubt that the batteries of a digital camera would have lasted very long.

Taken on January 31, 2009 with Kodak BW400CN. And in case you think that I'm kind of "promiscuous" with films - I'm not. Except for my very first year of photography (and a few indoor shootings where I used Neopan 1600) I've always used Tri-X until my preferred lab stopped developing films in 2008. Only then did I start trying out various C41 black-and-white films as replacement candidates. I'm not even sure if I will stay with one of them. Maybe I'll eventually start doing my own development again and then I'll of course return to Tri-X. So, stay tuned...


Part 3

Yet another view out of a window - this time from a boring chain hotel in Cambridge, MA on December 8, 2008.  This seems to become a kind of a series.

Taken with the M8.2 at ISO 320, converted using Silver Efex Pro.



This is the first photo on this blog that was cropped, albeit only by two or three percents at the top edge. I usually refrain from cropping and with film photos I'd rather not use a picture instead of taking something away, but in this case it was a digital photo and by cropping away a distracting car tire, the composition became much stronger in my opinion.

Taken on May 2 this year with the digital Leica and the 35mm Summicron in Oslo at ISO 160. Converted with Silver Efex Pro.


The couple

A very peaceful scene behind Hanover's main train station. This old couple stood there without moving for quite some time and - without talking - watched at something I couldn't see. I circled around them and took several shots trying out various ways to frame them and they didn't notice me. (Needless to say, I only took pictures from behind in order not to disturb them.)

May 1995, FM2, 50mm, Tri-X.


Siesta, part 2

This one is from this year's summer holiday on the small island of Wangerooge. Both my wife and I noticed this couple sleeping in their beach chair and the only camera we had with us was her GX200. My wife took a photo but didn't dare to move close enough to them, so I borrowed the Ricoh, crawled closer (feeling a bit like Capa for a few seconds), and shot this picture. Not a great photo, but I think it's kind of funny. And it's already the second photo in this blog of a siesta at the beach.

(And, while we're at it, always be very careful with cameras on the beach! Sand is at least as dangerous as water and it turned out we had to send the GX200 to Ricoh after the holiday because there was sand in the lens.)

ISO 200, f/10, 1/1000, converted to black and white using Silver Efex Pro. The focal length was 7.3mm which would have been 35mm on a film camera.

Update: This photo was published by Spiegel Online on September 28, 2010. I guess I'll rarely have that many people watching one of my photos again.


A frame within a frame

Like many other photographers I'm constantly looking for interesting geometrical figures when shooting. A frame, for me, is especially tempting because it kind of comments on a meta level on the photo it becomes a part of, i.e. on the way you frame the picture. In this case, I followed the two guys carrying the frame and first took a photo with both of them on it, but this one - due to its apparent "incompleteness" and because of the door frame in the background - is better in my opinion.

November 1997 in Rome, Leica and Tri-X as most of the time. By the way, as this is one of several photos that don't mention the focal length I should say that, beginning February 1996 when I bought it, I almost always used the 35mm Summicron on the M4-P, so it's very likely that this one as well as many others were taken with this focal length. However, I don't have any notes so there's always a tiny chance I used the 50mm lens instead. Definitely, all M4-P photos were taken with one of these two lenses, though, so they're always tagged with "Summicron".

Addendum: This photo was featured on LeicaShots on December 7.


The decisive moment

More often than not it's definitely worth staying with a potential subject and shooting until you know you've taken the photo you originally wanted (although maybe only subconsciously). I know that I don't do this often enough when I photograph - trust my instincts and be patient - but in this case I did. Looking at the contact sheet I see that I took a couple of snaps of this little guy (obviously because I like dogs) and then he suddenly decided to lift his leg. That's when everything fell into place.

The old Leica with Tri-X again, 1998 in NYC. (See also here.)



Somewhere in Jerusalem, I forgot the details. I only remember that I thought the girls and the pillars and the plant combined would probably form an interesting composition.

That was on August 8, 1995.  Nikon, 50mm, Tri-X.