Dec 142013
Leica M240 vs M9 vs Sony A7R Lens Combination Review

Every now and then there is a time when some interesting camera models pile up on my desk. Usually this happens during a transition the from one model to another one. Recently the stars aligned again. Since I moved up to a Leica M240 a few months ago I wanted to test it against my older Leica M9P. While I like the M240s high ISO performance I wasn’t fully sure how it compares when being used during the day. This comparison had been on my agenda for a while and it just happened that a Sony A7R showed up. So […]

Jun 182012
Radiohead live

Yesterday I read the shocking news about the collapse of the Radiohead stage in Toronto. One worker died and several others got injured. Just a few weeks ago I went to the Radiohead concert here in the Boston area. A few colleagues of mine and I did a little road trip to see them and their opener Caribou. Thanks to Michael and Ramona we got amazing tickets for the area right at the stage. Along came my Sony Nex 7 and two lenses, the Sony 24mm 1.8 and my Leica 50mm Summilux ASPH. When we arrived I starting using the […]

Apr 082012
Easter Egg Hunt

I took this photo about 6 years ago in the South End/Boston at the Titus Sparrow Park. I lived in that area for four years before I moved to Cambridge. Every year at Easter time people from that neighborhood celebrate an Easter Egg Hunt. It is really a hunt, less a search. The idea is simple. Drop a few hundred or thousand eggs on a lawn, put some police tape around them and when the time comes you start a collecting frenzy that empties this field within ten seconds. The toughest, fastest, oldest kid will most likely get the most […]

Mar 112012

We just came back from a one week vacation to the Dominican Republic. Both of our batteries were exhausted and we needed a recharge urgently. The plan was to not do anything but sit in a hammock and watch the water. Because my partner needed to do some work during the week, which almost caused us not to book anything this year, we decided on an all-inclusive package. This would allow her to work in the morning, while I would put my head into the water, and to do activities together in the afternoon without thinking of cooking or driving. […]

Feb 262012
A few shots from this week

This week I went to Indianapolis for a meeting and to NYC for a long weekend. I took along my M9P with just one lens, the 35mm 2.0 Summicron. While I did not actively take photos, I enjoyed pressing the shutter here and there. Besides spending time in the city I decided to visit Coney Island and Zion Cemetery. I had never been there before and now I had time. Actually I liked Coney Island. Great colors, even when everything is closed. I met a vendor from Pakistan, who didn’t want to get photographed but he offered me a seat. […]

Feb 192012
Cold commercial look

Today I did a short tour up to Lynn, Marblehead, Salem. I stopped at Revere Beach for a stroll along the water. On the way back to my car I noticed the strong light that hit the vehicle. With the beach in the background and no other cars around it almost looked like a commercial setting. The contrast was strong, almost too harsh for any controllable lighting. I took a shot with my Phase One camera, which resulted in a very plain, greenish looking image. It was necessary to underexpose a bit to preserve the highlights of the image. It […]

Feb 142012
Lytro in the house

Last week I had the opportunity to take a closer look at the Lytro camera. They were in town to show off their product at the MIT. They followed an invitation to our IDEO studio to get feedback from our creative group. First I have to say that it is an impressive concept. Based on research made at Standford University and further developed to a marketable product by one of their students and company founder Ren Ng, this small camera allows you to post define the focus point. How does it work? Don’t ask me, but basically it captures 16 […]

Feb 122012
Nothing there.

Today has been a strange day. For weeks I have been waiting for some overcast. I have a list of sites that I want to photograph but I would need even lighting, which an overcast day would provide. It is easy to do this in Germany and there is no surprise that Gursky’s, Bernd and Hilla Becher’s, Elger Esser’s, Thomas Struth’s early images illustrate this cold, neutral, clean aesthetic, that is characteristic for that area. Düsseldorf and the region around has less sunlight than most other areas in Germany. Perfect for someone who likes to shoot on overcast, shadow-free days. […]

Oct 232011

It is crisp Sunday morning and our heating system woke up from Summer hibernation with a short, cheap sounding “Plop”. It gave up before it had even started. So I am hanging out in our study, the only warm, electrically heated room in the house. While drinking tea and chewing on a honey covered slice of bread I discovered two articles in the New York Times magazine, one about the training of Afghans to protect their homes and valuables from the Taliban, the other one is a photo essay about life in war zones. The first article is written by […]

Sep 272011
Zone focusing with manual lenses

There is always this moment of excitement, appreciation, and respect when someone looks at a manual focus lens. The rings, numbers, and lines communicate control while demanding a certain amount of skill. A well designed, manual lens is a piece of beauty, like a jewelry or a precise tool (which it is). In recent years lens design has led to visually simplified lens constructions. Autofocus and viewfinder focus-confirmation have eliminated the need for manual controls. While photographers can still switch to manual focus, they often don’t have any focus lines printed on the barrels anymore. You still find distance indicators […]

Sep 042011
The Southwest: The National Parks

Getting out of Vegas felt like a breeze of hot, fresh air. Suddenly you have space, lots of space, and less noise and people. Traveling through the Southwest is every European’s dream and so it was no surprise that most people in the parks were Germans, Italians, and French. It felt like being home, just with a different landscape. Our first stop was Hoover Dam at 120F temperature. Not only on hot days I can recommend the tour inside this amazing structure. Next stop was Grand Canyon Village on the South rim. Around five hours from Vegas this cozy place […]

Sep 042011
The Southwest: Las Vegas

Two weeks ago I left Boston for a well deserved vacation in the American Southwest. I had never been there before and seeing Vegas and the surrounding landscape had been on my to do list since I crossed the US border for the first time. My partner Kathrin had been invited to a sociologist conference in Vegas. Yes, what better place for them to talk about social dynamics, while at every street corner you can order women to your room within 20 minutes. Question: If Vegas represents the American Dream then what does Vegas tell us about our society? I […]

Jun 262011
Urban stages

It has been two weeks since my last post and I am realizing that writing them on a weekly basis is harder than expected. This morning I am sitting in front of my computer waiting for the weather to warm up so I can do a short bike ride before heading out to a BBQ this afternoon. A few days ago I prepared some examples around PS Photomerge which in the end didn’t look too convincing. So I looked through some of my recent images, not too many I have to admit, and found one shot that triggered a little […]

Jun 122011
The cropped cows

Since I started using a camera I have been following discussions about cropping images. Should a photo be cropped or should the final print show the untouched outline of the captured frame? People who are pro cropping may question why their artistic expression should be limited by frame or sensor sizes that someone came up with in a technical lab. On the other side photographers who see cropping as a sin would probably use Henri Cartier Bresson as an example of a master who never cropped his images. Actually he never cared about the printing part of photography so he […]

May 302011
Memorial Day

Have a great Memorial Day, wherever you are. Yesterday I went to the Boston Common, America’s oldest public garden. On display were thousands of flags, each representing a person from Massachusetts that has fallen during a war conflict. Just knowing that most flags stand for an individual tragedy that will never be told makes you pause. It reminds you of that famous quote: ‘The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic.’ (Most likely first used by Tucholsky, not Stalin. WikiQuote)

May 302011
Following In Sook Kim

Years ago I had the strange idea to not only take photographs but to collect some of them as well. I think that a mix of passion, financial opportunity, and Grosskotztum ( a word that can not be translated from German) came together. At that time my focus had just shifted to more contemporary artists, still I started looking at Ansel Adams prints, since they had been an inspiration for a long time. It turned out to be a quick route. Actually a dead-end street. Prices were astronomical, far out of my reach. So I looked into more recent photographers […]

May 142011
MagnumPhoto workshop

Yesterday I finished my project at the MagnumPhoto workshop in Toronto. It had been a tight week with lots of learning from David Alan Harvey. Day 1 Student portfolio review all morning long and free street shooting time in the afternoon. I wondered around downtown and Kensington Market to figure out ideas and locations. My goal was to engage with people on the street and to photograph an emotional story. Instead of just “stealing” a photo I talked to anybody who seemed to be interesting. A couple that was hanging out in front of a church, a really old guy […]

May 072011
Going Magnum

I am excited about going to Magnum. Not the ice-cream, not the TV show, not any male enhancement pills. I will join the MagnumPhoto 2011 workshop in Toronto. It is a one week program with a diverse mix of group sessions, individual photo shoots, critiques, lectures, long work hours, an exhibition at the end, and hopefully some good drinks and food in between, all run by seven of their photographers plus staff. Many participants have already arrived and are spending time this weekend to get together and shoot photos. The group has traveled from all over the world to participate. […]

Apr 262011
Interesting Leica / IPhone 4 camera concept

This is a concept by Black Design Associates that combines the IPhone 4 with a Leica Gestalt. I have to admit that having the IPhone 4 screen on a Leica is an interesting thought. More info here on    

Apr 242011
My digital camera designs from the 90ies.

During the mid 90ies I did not take a lot of photos. I owned a Canon AE1 P which I got as a Holiday gift in 1984. Somehow I did not feel the urge to pick it up and use it. While neglecting photography as a craft, it occasionally crossed my path as a design challenge. Digital photography was still in its first steps. I did a few sketches around potential camera systems that would use digital image sensors. I remember looking into the Yellow Pages (Yes, the web was just forming its structure in Germany) to find photo studios […]

Apr 142011
Cool camera concept

I found this video link on my Facebook site this morning. I like the design of the camera. Very clean and simple. Not sure how I would use the detached lens. Would be nice if you could mount the lens on a tripod and use the screen to set up a studio scene. D!RK  

Apr 112011
Photographs from Argentina

This weekend I spent a bit of time to reedit my photos from Argentina. Last year we traveled to Buenos Aires, where we stayed for a week. It is a vibrant, modern, culturally rich city, that provides visual stories at every corner. Here is a set of my favorite images.

Apr 102011
Short Saturday walk with the Summicron 35

Weather was nice so I decided to grab my Summicron 35mm lens to get used to it again. I have been using the 50mm Summilux for a while as my primary lens. For many years the 35 had been my only lens. Personally I don’t like switching optics very often. I prefer to use one and to leave it on the body for a while. To me its like doing sports. If I haven’t used a focal length for a while I need to get back into it. Yesterday when I walked around I felt a bit rusty with that […]

Apr 092011
The fake border

Yesterday I had a conversation with my colleagues about craft and design. Briefly we touched software like Hypstamatic, which nicely simulates image styles from the past. Users can get excited about the look and feel of these images. Since the introduction of digital photography people have tried to simulate the characteristics of film and hand-made prints. Old prints show an evidence of craft and technique, especially when you leave the edges exposed. Each image has its own signature which is defined by the unique look of the film’s borders. Have a look at a large Polaroid print or an unmatted […]

Mar 262011
Corner views

Architecture fascinates me. Especially contemporary buildings. Every time that I photograph a structure I ask myself if I want to capture a detail or the whole. Recently I started photographing corners of buildings. I believe the inspiration came from Hiroshi Sugimoto. One portfolio that I admire is the one of blurred architectural portraits. He visually reduces buildings to their signature structures. All details had been removed. The other portfolio is his Seascapes series. Sugimoto captured various oceans and seas with the same composition, a 50/50 split between sky and water. It creates a simple, consistent visual language throughout this portfolio. […]

Mar 192011
Sony NEX-5 video by Dan DeRuntz & Angelica Leonard

My dear co-worker Dan created this beautiful video with his Sony NEX-5. It is called Butterfly Hatari. He used a 35mm 1.4 Voigtlaender lens and the Sony 18-55mm lens to shoot the sequences. Personally I like his use of a steady cam. It creates a nice flow along the fences. Get a cup of coffee and enjoy this short gem. D!RK

Mar 172011
One year with the Leica M9. A review

In March of 2010, I finally received my Leica M9. I had been thinking about this camera since its introduction. My sustained interest in the M9 taught me this: if you can’t get it out of your head, you have to get it into your hands. So, in January 2010 I placed orders at several stores, hoping to get this camera before an upcoming trip to Argentina. Quickly I realized that this was not going to happen; so many people had placed orders that my name landed at the very bottom of every last list. At the time, I was […]

Mar 122011
Early steps

This morning I sat down with a cup of tea and started cleaning up my hard drive. I have to admit that it is a total mess. Everything that I created before I got introduced to Lightroom, exists in multiple formats and in multiple folders. The nice thing is that I always find photos that I had not seen in a long time. This is one of these photos that had a big impact on me. I took it when I was seventeen years old in the small village called Costarainera, Italy. It is located in the hills between Geneva […]

Mar 062011

My dear friend Isidora from Spain sent me an email right after she had looked at my blog. She told me about her visit to the Madrid art show ARCO. A lot of the photography on display were huge prints of large format photographs. Large prints have been a ‘trend’ in contemporary photography for the last 20 years. A huge movement towards that direction started in my home town Duesseldorf, where students of Bernd and Hilla Becher used new technologies to display photography at an unknown scale. Suddenly the artist could show scenes of incredible detail. What was only possible […]

Mar 062011
One dog

If you live in Cambridge, MA you may know the Trader Joe on Memorial Drive. You might have seen its mural on the side of the building. It was created in Summer 2005, maybe 2006. One day I walked by and saw the painter working on this wall. I liked that contrast of colors, scaffolding, and people. I decided to photograph it but I needed a day without sunshine and without cars blocking the parking spots. One Saturday morning I walked by and found a spot right in the center in front of the mural. It was a nice overcast […]

Mar 062011
The photo booth

Yesterday we had our annual company party at a bar in Cambridge. How fun. People got drunk, danced, had a good time, and they took a lot of photos. Not with their cameras but with the photo booth that was located inside the bar. Actually you can squeeze a lot of people inside such a tiny box if you really try. To me it is fun to see how people express themselves. Me included, here with fabulous Jeewon! I took some shots as well with my camera and I have to say that I like the lighting that the box […]

Mar 062011
Finding a perspective

A while ago I went to the Monterey Aquarium and I took some photos with my Leica M6 and a 35mm Cron. I like the small package of that camera and the 35mm lens gives me enough focal length to work with. Many people don’t like the idea of fixed lenses. They feel that they can’t change the perspective and that is why they prefer zooms. With fixed lenses I zoom as well. My legs are the zoom. I have to get closer to the object to zoom in and step back to zoom out. This first photo is the […]

Mar 062011
Hole in a wall

This is my first entry in my personal blog. I want to use this platform to tell stories why, how, when, and where I took some of my photos. A kind of “looking behind the curtain”. I have always been interested how photographers, artists, designers are creating their work. Some might argue that this would take away from the impact of the photo. I think it adds to it. I am not telling anyone what to see in a photograph. I am just providing some extra resolution. It makes a story richer.   I took this image of the woman […]

Mar 062011

I have switched from a simple blog script to a self-hosted WordPress blog. This ‘5 minute installation’ took me five hours. Never mind. It gives me better control, more features, and it creates a nicer browsing experience for you. Stay tuned. D!RK