Feeling at home!
A coal mine and a cokery in the Ruhr area, 1973.
I was born in the early sixties in the Ruhr Area in the middle of West Germany. In that time and still during my childhood it was an industrial region with a lot of coal pits and heavy industries. If I see a shaft tower today I instantly feel at home! And just behind my parents' house there ran a railway line of the mining company. The coal trains were driven by steam engines until the late 70s. That made me a fan of steam locomotives (have a look at my 'full steam' gallery!).
No, that's not glorified idealism. It's just a fact. In the small town I was born, about ten years before my birth, an amateur photographers club was founded. My father became a member of this club and my grandfather too. Once a week they came together to talk about photography and technique. Now and then they rented a bus for weekend excursions to places of interest. It was a womanless club but it was usual to bring the wives along to the trips. My father was single. Since my grandmother was ill, my grandfather often brought his eldest daughter instead. She became my mother...
|The 'Foto-Amateur-Ring' on tour!|
In 1972 my father bought a screw mount Asahi Pentax ES. He sold the Voigtländer Bessamatic gear he had used during the sixties. As a reserve he only kept one Bessamatic body with a 50mm lens. And he offered me to use it to learn and start photographing. I was just nine years old and I said yes. That was a starting shot for a competition between my father and my grandfather for explaining to me the secrets of photography. A few weeks later I knew everything about aperture, shutter speeds, depth of field and so on. That helped me a lot, because thereafter I never had problems with technique. On the other hand, the rules for composing photographs they taught me were a bit old-fashioned from my today's point of view.
During the 70s I photographed from time to time, but it was not my main hobby. After the Bessamatic broke down I borrowed my father's Pentax whenever I needed a camera. So I did in 1979 when I went on a school trip to West Berlin. One afternoon we crossed the border to East Berlin because we wanted to visit a theatre play there in the evening. As we had enough time and the weather was bad we went for a meal. That was not a nice experience for me because my bag was stolen in the restaurant. In the bag there was the Pentax and my passport. The rest of the day I spent my time at the police department and at the border controls. Fortunately I was listed on the group visa. Otherwise it would have been much more difficult for me to leave the GDR. Around midnight I was back in West Berlin.
A geyser in Iceland, 1989
Nikon FM2 plus Nikkor 20mm f/3.5.
I still use this over 30-year-old lens.
For the thief it was a lucky pull, because the Pentax had the Praktica screw mount and was therefore very useable in East Germany. And I had the impression that my father was a bit lucky, too, because it was now very easy for him to convince my mother of the need for a new camera ;o)
His new camera became a Nikon FE with a couple of lenses. Thanks to the consistency of the F-Mount I still have two of these lenses in use...
In the 80s I began to intensify photographing. During my trips through Scandinavia, the Faroe Islands, Iceland and the Canaries I exposed a few hundred rolls of Sensia 100 (which I preferred over the Velvia due to my limited budget). I used light weight equipment in that phase, meaning two bodies (FM2, later F-801) and a line of lenses such as: 20 + 28-85 + 180 + 400. You can find some of the results in my galleries.
With good reason I specialised in photographing children at the end of the 90s :-). Since I have got a sister 13 years younger than me, it was not an absolute new sort of photography for me. The F4s - in conjunction with fast primes - was my workhorse for that job. I still exposed on Sensia, but on Superia 400 and 1600 too.
|My youngest daughter with her first car of her own. Nikon F4 with Nikkor 35mm f/2.|
At the same time I started with macro photography. I used older micro Nikkors on my F4 for it. For higher magnification I bought dirt cheap gear on ebay: a heavily used F3, a DW-3, a PB-4 and two Rodenstock enlarger lenses.
Besides: ebay was coming up in these years and that was great for me. It gave me the opportunity to buy gear, to try it and to sell it for about the same price. Between 1999 and 2001 I tried about 15 different Nikon bodies and about 40 different Nikkor lenses. It was pure fun!
I bought a film scanner in 1999 and my first digital camera - a D70 - in summer 2004. A second one came in 2005 and that was the end of my analogue photography apart from very few exceptions.
It was a hard cut. Overall I was satisfied with the picture quality of the D70, but the viewfinder was terrible in relation to my trusty F4. Manual focussing was difficult. Due to the large area of the focus sensors in relation to the APS-C sized picture frame the use of autofocus was problematical too. The D200 was a bit better here but not really good. My first DSLR with a satisfying viewfinder was the full frame D700. Important additional detail: it was my first camera since the F4 that enabled a stable mount of my DR-3 angle finder, one of my most important accessories.
grain on fujichrome ;o), 1999
F3 + PB-4 + reversed 35mm f/2.
Especially my macro works got a kick through the digital technologies. I could do things which were impossible for me in analogue times. Extreme example: In my 'nature at close range' gallery you find a flying bee. That is a planned photo. But I needed about 800 shots with my D700 to get one I found to be ok. That's 22 rolls with analogue technique, a lot of money for an amateur photographer! Next problem: what film should I have used? The D700 was set to ISO 1600 for fast shutter speeds.
I still own D70 bodies. Today they are modified for IR and UV photography. Since 2009 I try off and on to bring light into the darkness of those invisible worlds. A fascinating sort of photography! I'm still working on it. You can find first results in my 'invisible light' gallery.
Appenzellerland, Switzerland, autumn 2011.
D700 + Nikkor 17-35 f/2.8
With my children getting older I can spend more and more time for travelling and landscape photography again. I already beganů
I've got and still get a lot of very useful information from several websites. Thank You! It's much more effective than the old way, such as reading books or photography magazines, asking your dealer or becoming a member of a photo club.
Using Nikon gear since the end of the 70s I have a lot of tips and background information that may be useful for you. For me, this site is a way to give something back to you.
But please remember: I don't earn money by photographing or publishing this website. Thus my time and budget are limited.
Tilting in infrared
Nikon D70 IR + PC Micro-Nikkor 85mm f/2.8 D
Usually, you won't find:
Special thanks go to Claudia and Emmie for helping me to establish this website!