Saturday, October 8, 2016

October exhibitions

Last year one of my photos was chosen as a prize-winner in the photo competition "Unser Neckar", sponsored by the Ministry for Environment of Baden-Württemberg. That was quite an honor.
Now the sponsors have put on a fine exhibition of the prize-winning works at the Zehntscheuer in Rottenberg am Neckar, They used my photo for the invitations, posters and banners that are hanging throughout that beautiful little town.

I attended the opening on September 23, 2016, and was thrilled to see Heiko there, the man in the boat. In order to have my photo considered for a prize, I had to find out who the rower was. This was not an entirely easy task. However, since he was rowing from the Gaisburger Brücke up toward Untertürkheim, I figured he might be a member of the rowing club there. I paid them a visit and showed some of the members the photo. They immediately identified the boat, but said they didn't know the athlete. A few phone calls put me in touch with someone who did. Heiko called me and gave me his permission to use the photo. He and his charming wife came to the awards ceremony at Remseck last year and now I got to enjoy his company again as we went through the exhibition together, chatting with some of the other photographers. As coincidence would have it, he owns the same make of Sony RX100 that I have. Many of my professional photographer friends also own it and love it.
The exhibition is open until October 23, 2016.
Kulturzentrum Zehntscheuer Rottenburg, geöffnet:
Mittwoch bis Freitag von 15 bis 18 Uhr
Samstag, Sonntag, Feiertage von 13 bis 18 Uhr.
Eintritt frei.
Dr. Sabine Schellberg introduced the competition to the audience at the opening.

Visitors at the opening view the winning works.
The photographer is photographed by the model!

Soon after that excursion, I drove down to Tübingen to participate in the Worldwide Photo Walk with some friends. I arrived there an hour before the others, right when the Entenrennen was finishing up. Thousands of rubber duckies were let loose in the Neckar River with numbers on each one. As they are fished out of the river, the numbers are called out - like a lottery - and prizes are awarded. People were able to rent kayaks and canoes to go out on the river during the duck race.

This man was practising Eskimo rolls in his kayak.
There was an 85% of precipitation that afternoon, so the official leader cancelled the walk. It drizzled for 5 minutes but the wind blew the clouds right over us before any of us could get wet.
We were determined to walk and click, and since all of us were familiar with Tübingen, we set out on our own. It was a very nice, small group of photographers. I had my fish-eye lens on my A77 - a trusted combination.
We walked through the old town and then headed down to the river.

A tiny crevice between two buildings offered a nice frame for a shot of the river.

A view from the stairs next to the bridge

As the sun set, there was some beautiful light on the river.

Der harte Kern. The 2016 WWPW walkers in Tübingen.

Die Stocherkähne - river boats - are typical for the university town of Tübingen.

If there is a bridge in Europe, you'll probably find love locks fastened to it.
I'll take one or two pictures from recent walks and exhibit them as part of the German & American Artists' Group at the Zehntscheuer in Zuffenhausen from October 19-23, 2016. The opening is October 21 at 7 pm. Please come join us!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Getting your brass kick

Around 12 years ago I had the pleasure of welcoming Christof Schmidt to the Klett Verlag, where we worked side-by-side for several years until he left to pursue his passion of playing the trombone in various ensembles. He has now pretty much made it to the top, having recently taken over the helm of Stuttgart's Protestant Brass Choirs from Hans Holzwarth, who had the job from 1978 until July 9, 2016, 
Variate, a select group of brass musicians conducted by Hans Holzwarth, here in the Markus Kirche, Stuttgart
In addition, Christof leads a couple of ensembles, including the Hohenlohe Brass, the Hohenlohe Brass Quintet and Trombana, Aside from playing and touring with these ensembles, he regularly plays in regional orchestras when an extra trombone is needed: Mozart's Requiem, Strauß, Mahler, Bruckner. 

His newest project was formed at the request of the Landesmuseum Württemberg, which has opened an exhibition about the Swabians in the Altes Schloß in Stuttgart. In March 2017 Christof's ensemble Trombanda will play with the former Olympic gold medalist, Dieter Baumann, who has now focused his energy on cabaret. It will be an entertaining concert!

In need of publicity photos, he turned to me and I was more than happy to oblige. The day before the shoot I went into town to scout out locations. Then I made some sketches to remind me of the visions I had for the shots. This was the first one we got.

I had actually imagined him running through the picture, but while we were warming up and getting to know one another, we weren't quite loose enough for that yet. However, in our third (and next-to-last) location Dieter suggested that himself, so it was much easier to capture (see below).

After shooting in the courtyard of the Altes Schloß, we went to one of Stuttgart's art museums. I like the lines there and the view of Stuttgart that one has through its glass facades.

Out in front of the Neues Schloß we got some nice shots as tourists walked by, shooting our shoot as they enjoyed the sunny day.

As we were setting up an "Abbey Road"-style shot there, a group of tourists were standing in the way. Dieter, self-assured as he is, asked them to move and they did!

It was a very fun job because every one was relaxed, the weather was on our side and I had a very competent assistant - thank you, Robert!

The "Abbey Road" shot

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Upcoming exhibitions

"Playing in the James River", on display at the new town hall in Bad Cannstatt May 2 till June 3, 2016
I'm lucky. Many artists don't have the opportunity to show their work to the public on a regular basis. Over the past several years, however, I've been asked to exhibit my work at several wonderful venues, including Stuttgart's Künstlerbund Café, the Deutsch-Amerikanisches Zentrum, Freiburg's Carl Schurz Haus and the town hall in Bad Cannstatt, to name but a few.

Photographs from New York in a show at the Künstlerbund in Stuttgart
Each exhibition provides the opportunity to re-view my bodies of work. Painters such as my mother and sister often finish the last pictures for a show right before the opening. That would be too much stress for me. The exercise of choosing, processing and printing my pictures - and ultimately showing and talking about them to viewers - takes me one step farther along the path that I've chosen to take. With no clearly defined goal at the end of this path, I've been enjoying the trip so far.

Speaking with a visitor at my Stuttgart 21 show in Freiburg
The next few weeks will be busy ones. Not only is my son going to be confirmed on May 1, but I'll be participating in three exhibitions which will be opening on April 27, April 29 and May 2.
On Wednesday, April 27, 2016, the Transatlantic Art Connexion cordially invites you to  join us at 6 pm in the WestQuartier for a show of our 40x40cm paintings and photographs focusing on the topic "Encounters/Begegnungen". There is a Blüthner grand piano there like the one I have at home, so if the wine is good enough, I might even play a bit.

WestQuartier in Stuttgart
The following evening at the Deutsch-Amerikanisches Zentrum in Stuttgart I'll participate in the opening of the German and American Artists Group exhibition at 7 pm. There is some really great work done by members of this group, so please make an effort to stop by and see it from April 29, 2016, through May 13.

On display at the DAZ from April 29, "Der Ruderer"

Then on Monday evening, May 2 - also at 7 pm - six American photographers in Stuttgart will be showing selections from their bodies of work in the new town hall in Bad Cannstatt. That show runs through June 3. I'm excited to be showing with Joel Micah Miller, James Palik, Charles Urban, Sandra Mora Thomas and Martin Greeson. There is also a grand piano there, but I'm not making any promises that I'll play!

Come by and see how artists have fun when they aren't making art!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Carnival in the Rhineland

After shooting over a dozen Carnival (Mardi Gras) parades in and around Cologne, Germany, in the past six years, I still enjoy the excitement that exudes from the participants and onlookers. In groups or as individuals, the costumed revelers line the streets and sing along with the handful of songs that are played again and again throughout the day.

Some costumes aim to be cool, others to be gross and still others - mostly female participants - want to look cute.

I'm always impressed by small cliques of similarly costumed people. I think about what they went through to decide on and then purchase or make the costumes. When I think about the persuasion needed to make me buy a costume this year, I wonder what the others went through. Were they also as shy about dressing up?

In any case, the full-body suits boded well this year in the windy, wet weather.

Others found even better ways to deal with the rain this year.

Others did not let the weather determine their look.

After the incidents on New Year's Eve around the Cologne Cathedral, with young women being attacked and robbed by groups of "foreign looking" men, the police were omnipresent during this year's Carnival season. Small groups of plain-clothed, dark-haired men were lined up and questioned by the hard-working police force.

As a special precaution or to give women a sense of safety, a security point was set up for women near the cathedral where they could go if they felt they were in need of help.

Normally this tunnel leading into the center of the city is empty except for a few people peeing or puking.

This year they had to go a few steps farther to do that. This young man nearly made it into the portable toilet to rid himself of the light Kölsch beer.

For some inexplicable reason, the kids collected more goodies this year than ever before. They'll never be able to eat it all. Not even my hungry colleagues will be up to the task this year.

So until next year, Köln, I wish you and yours well!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The fish-eye experience, Part 4

Landscapes through the fish's eye

Using a fish-eye lens for shooting landscapes requires a bit of practice. If you-re like me, though, you'll enjoy practicing because the results are usually prove to be quite interesting.

For this trip, I was walking along the bank of the Neckar River in Remseck, just north of Stuttgart. It was a clear, sunny September day. I was with great friends and we were all have a terrific time enjoying the warm weather.

I was shooting with my Sony A7, the LA-EA4 adapter and the Samyang 8mm fish-eye lens. The full-frame camera sensor crops down to the center when this APS-C lens is screwed onto it, making it effectively a 12mm lens.
You will notice with the photo below that light creeps into the lens from all around - 180°, so you need to be conscious of that fact and, if you can, use it to your advantage. Stopped down to f11 or f14, intense light sources become star-shaped. Lens flare, as can be seen in the form of a hexagon in the bottom right third of the photo, is difficult to avoid, yet easy to see while framing the picture, so you can usually position it where you want it.

If you want to keep the horizon straight (and thus looking fairly natural), it is important to keep the camera level. This is easy to do with Sony cameras, which have the option of showing a level in the display. The top picture above was taken shooting slightly down to capture the rocks; one can see that the horizon is frowning as a result. Lightroom cannot correct this aberration, but Photoshop can.

 Sometimes it is possible to take a landscape picture and not have an easily defined horizon in it. Here one can see the star-shaped sun and lens flares balancing the sunlight and reflection on the other side of the photo.

 As so often happens when I'm out shooting for fun, something comes along and provides fodder for my frame. The river, the sun, the rocks, the tree-lined banks - all great. But now a barge chugs through the landscape and we all position ourselves to get the best angle. I love shooting into the sun. After three hours of it, my eyes need a rest, but the results are definitely worth it.

A square crop of a mid-horizon shot with some circle flare has a tighter composition on account of the rays of light.

My friend Jim Palik was with us, testing his Canon 5D, Mark II, against his new Samsung Galaxy S6, his new passion (the phone and the tests!). I wonder if he knows there is a fish-eye app on his phone!
Is there one on yours? What have your experiences with fish-eye lenses been?

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Wasenfest 2015

It is that time of year again. Time to test your immune system and digestive track. Year in, year out the Wasen in Bad Cannstatt has been guest to Oktoberfest survivors, deniers and objectors for the past 170 years. Over the past decade, visitors have gradually chosen to arrive dressed in Bavarian costumes: Lederhosen, dirndls and as much plaid as the Chinese can produce over the hot summers.

After arriving on the fair grounds, many of the 4 million visitors get an incredible urge to drink massive amounts of beer. No problem for the four Stuttgart beer breweries who deliver to the 10 huge beer houses that are built twice a year for this and the spring festival.

Small bands play all day and all evening until 11 pm (midnight on the weekends), interspersing their sets with "Oins, zwoi, gesuffa" so that the people don't forget to drink and to order another liter. Those who make it out of the tents still standing, often stumble onto one of the rides which will propel them - and whatever they have drunk - with up to 5Gs through the air. Watch out below!

Children are, of course, also welcome at the Wasen. All sorts of sugary treats and fun rides await them: cotton candy, roasted nuts and popcorn, fruits dipped in chocolate, etc. Haunted houses, Ferris wheels and roller coasters for the whole family are just waiting to have you check them out.

And if you are lucky enough to be visiting with your grandparents, they may spring (€7) for a balloon to keep you from sulking at least until you can be returned to your rightful guardians.

Wednesdays are "Family Day" when you get to ride for half the price on most of the carousels. And on the last day of the festival, there are spectacular fireworks for all to see!

Do come and join me and 4 million other revelers on the Wasen. It's a blast!