Always love to see my stuff printed. Great book!

:

Photos by Thomas Birke (Germany)

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the social network san francisco time-lapse scene

Just watched the social network - quite entertaining flick. But what really stuck me was one scene in the middle, and of cause it didn’t even have the slightest thing to do with the caracters on the movie. It is right in the middle, where things move to San Francisco - you see an amazing perspective and time-lapse from sunset to the night.

This really pumped me by it’s visual power. Afterwards there was a cut into a club scene with extremely loud music.

I thought this is exactly what my photography should be about! I try to find a clip about the scene, it’s really awesome!

Sunday, October 10, 2010   ()

After a week of thinking I gathered lots of positive energy, and now have a bulletproof plan to speed up the 100 cities project.  Thanks for the comments to my last blog entry, they helped a fair bit!

I made the following observations:

  1. I earn enough money to live my life and payoff debts.
  2. I accepted that I will need to keep my dayjob for quite a while.
  3. when large format photography enters the game, I can not earn enough money to really tackle the 100 cities goal
  4. lots of people like my stuff and encourage me to keep on moving
  5. I couldn’t stand to wait for 18 months to start taking pictures again

This leads to an easy conclusion:

  1. I give the possibility to support my venture to everyone, it was really shocking for me to see, that after more than 2 years, I do not give the opportunity to easily buy my stuff anywhere!
  2. I let people decide the directions I am going. If you support me, it is fair enough to have some sort of control where your money goes to!

So how will it work? In my last post I calculated, that I will need around 5000€ per trip. I will make it very transparent where I am in the financing process for the next trip. Users will be able to support with three things:

  1. buy a print - I will set up a shop
  2. buy my book - I will publish a book on blurb soon
  3. donate via paypal - this is the noblest form of support ;)

I will make it transparent what my margin on the products is. The whole margin will go to the financing of my next trip.

Everyone, who supports me will get the chance to vote for the destination of my next trip out of the 100 cities list. Votes will be weighed by the amount that goes to the trip money. So if you definetely want my next trip to be to Dubai, rich sheik, just donate 5k€ and I am off to Dubai. It’s that easy :)

After each trip I will giveback a full resolution image (300MPix) for all supporters with creative commons license.

I’ll try to integrate the whole project financing into this blog as smooth as possible.

So, I am off and need to start programming!

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what to do, what to do.

As you may have noticed, everything has been quiet during the last few weeks. I haven’t taken a real picture since June, and this is really annoying me.

I might have made success too dependent on technology, and thus ended up with a nice equipment on one hand but with a seizable size of debt on the other. I thought, if I could produce good images in the best attainable quality, then the return must be a magnitude better then with cheaper quality. I was wrong. Photography is not an investment decision.

Now I made everything so complicated. If I want to take pictures in a city, let’s say Singapore, It would cost me around 4000€ at least.

- 1000€ airfare (lot’s of excess baggage due to heavy equipment)

- 1000€ hotel (2 weeks, can’t organize and secure equipment in a youth hostel)

- 1500€ film and development (100 images is a good job in 2 weeks)

- 500€ for food and transportation

Let’s say I do it digitally, I would be able to fly for 500, sleep for 500 and food and transportation stays the same. Plus I would end up with 1000nds of images and not some dozens.

4000€ vs. 1500€

Wow. I could make 3 times more Photography with a less hasslefree equipment.

But as long as there ain’t no 100MPix back I have to stay analog large format, to get the quality I want - I don’t want to go back.

So this means: I have to work, since photography doesn’t work for me. I will earn my freedom to do the images I love with the equipment that is necessary. And if this involves 60 hour weeks in my IT company I will endure it. I think it’s better than prostituting my images and deduct my quality to just keep going.

So what does this mean? I will not be able to take any further trips during the next 18 Months. Afterwards, If I have to stick to the scheme, there will be 2 cities a year possible. So if I go on to tackle my 100 cities goal, It will take 50 Years. That’s going to be interesting :)

Friday, September 24, 2010   ()

My top 3 and bad 3 Seoul experiences

Hello,

as you may have known I have been to seoul for a week to shoot the city on large format and add footage to my 100 Cities project.

Here are my top and bad 3 about the city:

TOP

  1. The air is super clean, I suspect this is due to the massive amount of trees spread all over the city - there are so many forests, you just need to take a quick stroll and you feel like there is no megacity around. When there are no or only light clouds, the sky has an awesome blue and the far sight must be at least 50km. There is no smog in the air and this is of course perfect for photography!
  2. The subway system. It is the most efficient I have ever seen! And it is dead cheap at 50 cents a ride. The trains were crowded most of the times, but never as fully packed as it is the case in Tokyo or Paris, where you sometimes have to wait for the next train to take the ride. I suspect they have a very good crowd management system. All the tracks on every station are walled, so no one can fall on the tracks - the doors only open when the trains arrive. The best thing: in every station there are map stations with huge touch sensitive plasma screens, where you can scroll and zoom the google earth like map with the touch of a finger - they even have street view. This is by far the best orientation system I have ever seen, called daum digital view!
  3. Family Mart or 7/11 - this is existing in every asian megacity, but it still is the coolest thing to be able to grab a snack or a beer anytime you want - perfect for jetlagged europeans!

BAD

  1. The North Korea Situation. Basically, they are still at war with only a cease fire in place for 50 years. You notice this on every corner, especially as a photographer with heavy equipment. I have been told several times to pack and go away, apperantly because there were some military installations around and they were afraid of spying. This is so stupid! When I would like to spy, I’ll check google earth or walk around with a pen camera - not with a ton of equipment that takes 10 minutes to assemble. Climbing a mountain, totally wasted and full with sweat - and then beeing told to not take pictures there is such a bad experience…
  2. Noone really seems to speak english - it had been a great problem for me to communicate, especially to security guards and bus drivers.
  3. The trees. I know, they are good, but for photographers they are a pain in the ass! Seoul has a lot of great hills with fantastic views, but most views are shaded by a gazillion of trees - it is so hard to get a good view without trees blocking the way. They should at least crop the trees at some viewpoints!

All in all Seoul is a very enjoyable megacity and a great place to live I think. Close to the quality of Tokyo - they know how megacities can do it right!

I hope some of my pictures show it - currently I am uploading them into my Seoul flickr set, so check it out from time to time:

Wednesday, June 9, 2010 — 2 notes   ()

Status Update

Hey my dear fellows,

I have been terribly busy the last couple of weeks. This is of course due to my need for constant money from a daytime job. Anyway, I have some cool Months ahead of me.

13th of May - 17th of May I will be in St. Julians, Malta

22nd of May - 30th of May I will be in Seoul, South Korea.

19th of June - 27 of June I will be in Hong Kong, China.

If anyone wants to meetup and show me some cool spots, go ahead and mail me.

So expect some new Images starting early June. I am so curious about Seoul, since this seems to be one of the most underrated cities in the world related to it’s size. I know some people that love it though, and flipping through some images on flickr and Google I might become a fan too! Lots of density and high-rises, hills for good views and lots of traffic - looks like perfect ingredients for my images.


So long, I’ll keep you posted.

Thursday, May 6, 2010   ()

my final equipment

I did some calculations and defined the final equipment I will need to perfectly produce super large prints of urban landscapes.

I made the following observations:

  1. I like 8x10 and it is a good way to achieve my goals. But after trying different print sizes I get the feeling, that 1,50m by 1,20 meter is the largest I can go and still have unlimited sharpness - meaning you can go as close as you want to the image and never get the feeling the detail goes no further. I mean at a 1,50m printsize you can really examine the print at 5cm distance and still see every smallest detail.
  2. I do not like the 8x10 aspect ratio - it is not made for the human field of view. The human eyes want wide screen images, like cinema scope.
  3. The highest and largest quality print in the world can be achieved by an OCÉ Lightjet 500XL - it has a maximum print size of 300x180cm.
  4. The 300x180cm print size is ideal to create the feeling of “beeing there” - I have tried this and it is amazing!

See the following image with me in front of an 300x180cm print at my last show in October:

Big Bang Beautiful Vernisage - Me in Front of Tokyo #55, severely drunk

you can find the image here: (sorry for the look, I was a bit drunk)

So, what conclusions du we get? Exactly - the perfect format to cover 300x180cm perfectly sharp is 12x20in. The aspect ratio is just right and the resolution as well.

OH MY GOD.

12x20! Only the toughest and meanest guys in the world go that large. And if they do, they mostly shoot landscapes from close by their car. One guy whose work I recently found and admire is Clyde Butcher, check out his . I do not want to imagine the trouble of airtravel with that monstrous equipment, I think carrying it alone will be impossible. So these are the obstacles I have to overcome in order to shoot my dream format:

  1. build a decent 12x20 camera -  I do not want a wooden camera, since I do not trust them - my CNC milled Sinar is just perfect - I imagine having a custom Sinar 12x20 back made
  2. Find some plastic factory that can copy the Fidelity Design and adopt it to 12x20 - again, I do not want to go with wood
  3. Find a light and stable Bellows
  4. buy the most expensive LF Lenses on the planet to cover the Format with movements
  5. get an assistent to help me carry the gear
  6. Get Kodak to produce a batch of 12x20 cut colour film e100g or 160nc for me - they do this for large orders in the $20K range
  7. Get a hell of a faster computer - mine has 16GB RAM right now and 8 cores, and totally kneels in front of a large 8x10 scan - impossible to think of a 12x20. I fathom I need at least 128GB RAM and certainly some Fibre Channel Disks to accelerate the swapping.
  8. New Baggage, probably custom made cases because you wouldn’t get a single component in checked luggage, eccept the lenses maybe.
  9. An Airline Elite Member Status that allows to carry 40kg of luggage, I do not want to pay 30€ per kg per leg - that would be insane

But hey, at least I already have the following to start from:

  1. a light meter :)
  2. a sinar p2 8x10 - a very sturdy base for ANYTHING
  3. a Heidelberg D8200 Drumscanner and a big 212mm drum that can take 2 sheets of 12x20 film at once

I fathom the following lenses:

  1. Schneider-Kreuznach Super-Symmar XL 210mm
  2. Schneider-Kreuznach Fine-Art XXL 550mm
  3. Schneider-Kreuznach Fine-Art XXL 1100mm

Alright, I am glad I got that of my chest. Now I can bury this post and look at it when I have assembled my FINAL equipment.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010 — 2 notes   ()

Inspiration from My Bookshelf #2 - Peter Bialobrzeski - Neontigers

Inspiration from My Bookshelf #2

TODAY: Peter Bialobrzeski - Neontigers

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(this series is about books I have in my bookshelf that inspired me a lot)

I don’t even know how I first took notice, but when I discovered the Neon Tiger works of Mr. Bialobrzeski, I was instantly hooked. It didn’t take long for me to buy the book. It is at least something, since I could never afford a print. I flipped the pages a thousand times, tried to reengineer what he would have done to obtain that look and find the locations. I still didn’t found out completely, but the quest helped me tremendously in defining my own style and find new locations. All I could imagine is: a) he uses low contrast print film, like portra NC and b) overexposes a lot, probably more than two stops than what I would expose. And c) probably some color correction in Photoshop, it seems like the black contrast got exaggerated in CMYK to obtain the details while maintaining the overexposed look. But that doesn’t really matter, lets take a look at the cover:

The book consists of 113 Pages, has been published by hatje cantz (ISBN: 3-7757-1394-8) and contains 40 Images. It features an Introduction by Florian Hanig, which I would copy one to one for my first book ;). The printing quality is very good, you can make out lot’s of details when you look closer.

The locations are amazing, and I wonder how he obtained them. In his book, Mr. Bialobrzeski talks about using PR Managers of hotels and a lot of own scouting, maybe that is one way. Maybe I get a chance to ask him one day. Let’s take a look at my favorite pages:

See more inspiring images at his website! (this also contains images not in the book)

For a complete reference of contained Images look:

And finally, an image I found on the web, that shows him during work. Seems like he uses an older Linhof 4x5.

If you would like to buy the book, it is currently only available from some used book sharks at and - maybe you could try your luck on eBay! - The original price tag has been €39,80 in Germany.

Friday, February 19, 2010   ()

lets get down to earth

I have a cold.

So I have a lot of time, lying in my bed and thinking about the things to come, the things I had planned. Everything has been on schedule up to now to start with 1000ppp on April. But suddenly it struck me like lightning. My plan has absolutely no room for failure, there is no time for beeing sick, no time for another hour of sleep and no time for any more hour for my daytimejob. But these things happen, as I learned right now with that dreadful cold.

I have to adjust my plan to cover these things and fit in some more. I totally left out social life, planning and preparations for trips and buffers for all other kind of things.

If I adjust the desired productivity ratio to 1/3rd, that would leave me with 10 publishable images a month - this alone is hard enough to achive, but it seems much more manageable than 30. This also fits nicely with the other math - a hundred cities and a thousand images equals 10 images per city. This means exactly one trip per month. I could separate the month - one half for taking images and scouting - and the other half for postproduction at my homebase and for planning the next trip.

The only catch would be the end date - it would have to be postponed to 2019 - I am curious if I have that long a breath! So stay with me and lets make it happen!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010   ()

Things to do before 04/06/10

This is a short Reminder for myself about the things I have to do before I can start my 1000ppp project on 04/06/10. Let’s build up some social pressure to really accomplish these.

- prepare 30 publishable images, to have some advance to work with (finish by 04/05/10)
- cleanup studio, It really is a mess right now, wouldn’t want to invite any gallery owner over for a visit… (finish by 02/15/10)
- create custom theme for blog - don’t you think it’s booooring and lacking information (finish by 02/10/10)
- custom theme for shop - one identity! (finish by 02/28/10)
- develop supply chain - who is gonna produce the shitloads of images I am going to sell? I like Whitewall, but they are kind of slow… (finish by 03/15/10)
- close equipment gap - buy those things I lack in my equipment, that’s going to be the most fun part, yeah!!! (finish by 02/20/10)
- stock up on film - only have 30 sheets left…that’s 6 days of shooting at most! (finish by 02/20/10)
- create 1000ppp.com - I want to track this project on a separate page, separate from my portfolio and my blog! (finish by 02/28/10)

Read this article on this site
Wednesday, January 27, 2010   ()