This was 2011!

Hi and welcome to my first blog post for 2012!

I hope you had great holidays!

So, what’s up? At the moment I’m working on my Bachelor Thesis in General Management. I will graduate in March, hopefully. ­čśë
Well, more about the prospects of 2012 in one of the upcoming blog posts …

Today let’s look back on my photographic aspects of 2011.

2011 I began with a new approach: “Going professional.”

In 2010 I already sold a lot of things that I wouldn’t need anymore. From the proceeds I bought photo gear. While the 4th quarter of 2010 paved the way for this approach, with new photo gear, methods and ideas, now it was time to put it into action.

Therefor I started my own flash photography project. This should help me to practice the usage of flash in the field.
I was almost obsessed by using flash and available light in the best way possible just to move on from that dull looking amateur photos – in order to create photos that have that professional clean look.┬á It’s bad, but I never really mind the light – until now. Like Dave Black says: “Light is the greatest influence.” And he’s absolutely right. It’s so obvious that light MUST be the greatest influence because photography means “drawing with light”! So why don’t we use the light to create awesome “light paintings”? This was the first thing I had to realize before I could go on.

I read lots of books and blogs of professional photographers all year and analyzed their photos. That help me to increase my knowledge while the regular shooting increased my practical skills. I learned the theory than went out into the field to practice until I got acceptable results. It was that easy, indeed.

 

SPORTS
I started my personal flash training with shooting sports. Therefor I asked the local sports clubs if it is possible to take pictures during the training. This also helped me to learn something about the planning of shoots and making arrangements. It was not always that easy to cover a training session or even a game. It needs so many permissions that it is really elaborating to establish a shoot. Often coaches are skeptical toward using flash because they think it could disturb the athletes. So, it needed some cogency to arrange a shoot. But it was worth the effort.
Finally, I shot several indoor and outdoor sports like swimming, motocross, track and field, handball, basketball and football during the year. My favorite sport was motocross. Since I went to the first motocross race with my uncle in 1989  I like it. It was always fun to watch it, but to shoot it was much better! As I shot it the first time and saw the results I was amazed! The results were awesome! I made a quantum leap from dull amateur pictures to high-quality professional images.

I also used professional off camera flash solutions and techniques to realize high-quality images in extreme dark gyms. This effort helped me to contrast from competitors once more. Now I’m ranking┬á a bit higher in the Mount Olympus of our local sports photographers. ­čśë

 

 

 

 

 

PHOTOJOURNALISM

Thanks to all these flash tips I got from the pros and the intense training, also my press photos became better. The coverage of the opening of the MUNA museum for example was just fun to cover. Shooting indoors with flash was suddenly easy-going!

 

 

 

 

 

In June the village in which I’m living was underwater because of heavy rainfalls and a dried out soil. When I woke up from a short breathing pause and glanced out of the window on that evening,I saw how the water had flood the meadows in front of our house. It also flood the households near the river. I grabbed the camera and covered this disaster. I sent the photos to the local newspaper immediately. Finally, the German Press Agency (dpa) bought them and the next day I found my photos in well known German newspapers and online magazines. On one hand a success for me, but on the other hand a flooded village. That’s life.

 

 

 

 
COMMERCIAL
Commercial photography was another very interesting thing I did in 2011.
I love the clean look of commercial images and wanted to know more tricks about commercial photography. My sports images had already a commercial look so I used these techniques to create car shots. I also searched the web for great car photographers. Studying their photos helped me to get similar results in my own style.

 

 

 

EDITORIAL and PORTRAITURE

I also acted in the field of editorial and portraiture in 2011. Well, I nearly got through every field of photography that I’m interested in. Portraiture was the most difficult. I tried many lighting setups and read Joe McNally’s Books that helped and inspired me a lot.
This portrait of a bassist was some kind of elaborating. I shot one flash through a window on the 2nd floor, another one through an umbrella from the camera left and a third one I used as contour light from the camera right. I gelled all flashes wit a CTO (except the contour light) to create a sunset look.

Another highlight was my first Engagement Shoot with Timo and Jessica in November. They asked me if I could take nice pictures of them for their marriage invitation cards. And so I did.
They wanted the shoot to be in the nature, so I looked for nice places around our house and found some. For the whole shoot I used flash and 300mm to 600mm lenses to create a smooth background that doesn’t distract from the couple. With a fresh and bright style the images looked great for an invitation card of a happy event like a marriage.

 

 

 

CONCERT

Okay, now we are coming toward the end of my 2011 flash experience. Concerts. At Eaze hired me to cover one of its shows in October. I know the band since 2008 and covered a lot of their shows, so I had the possibility to use flash for the coverage. This wasn’t my first try to use flash in a concert, but it was the first one with an professional approach. Off camera flash helped me to keep the disturbing low, to create clean images and to reveal important subjects like the drummer and the audience. At Eaze loved the results and that’s so much honor. Thanks.

 

 

 

NATURE

From August to September I shot Ospreys at the reservoir and this was the only field of photography where I didn’t use flash. But I will. It’s an elaborating project for this year. I will also use remote cameras to capture unique moments of wildlife. This project will be hilarious – I’m sure.
I went several times to the reservoir nearby to capture Ospreys while they are hunting fish. The problem was: A focal length of 600mm was much to short to get close-ups. Well, seems like I have to rent a larger lens next time – maybe 800mm and use it with a teleconverter. However, the hours at the reservoir were the most extensive photography moments of 2011. I loved the silence and the opportunity to watch some kind of wildlife that people around don’t really notice. Local nature has plenty to offer you just have to look for it. Also photos of mushrooms in the wood can look professional if using fill flash.

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, I learned a lot about using flash and creating interesting scenes and therefor created fantastic images. I learned to use the light because “Light is the greatest influence.”. And I learned that if you want to learn something about photography you better ask the pros. Forums are a great thing to exchange experiences, but you should never use a forum to learn photography. Ask the pros, buy their books, go to professional workshops and practice what you have learned! That’s the best way.

Well, this was my review of 2011. A year of flash photography. A year with a professional approach. A year with much better images than the years before. A year of personal success in terms of photography. So, let’s see what we can do for 2012. ­čÖé

I wish all of you the best for 2012!

Bye!
Chris

Engagement Shooting

Engagement: Jessi & Timo 27/11/2011

Hi and welcome to another blog post!

Because I have a lot to do at the moment and there will be lots of work in the upcoming months, I am going to post job and project reviews on a monthly basis from now on. But there will also be several other “news posts” from time to time.

However, last Sunday I had an Engagement Shoot and I was pretty excited about this job. Timo an ex-classmate at the university and his soon-to-be-wife Jessica facebooked me a few days ago and asked me to take some images for their invitation card. I agreed and that was my first step into this.

Although I love to interact and communicate with people it is also always a challenge to establish a great shooting atmosphere and a comfortable feeling for the client and anyone who is involved in the shoot.

Therefore it needs some preparation in terms of finding out the clients interests, searching for great locations and suggesting them to the client, offering a perfect service, being kind and having an open mind for the clients suggestions/ideas etc. These are just a few ingredients that slip into the whole process of planning a shoot.

On the other hand there is the technically and artistically aspect like: Which lens to use? Which style fits the best? How will the light quality be? Is a flash necessary or a reflector? Do I need an assistant? How should the light setup be?

If you decide to do the whole job without an assistant and to take available light shots only that means you will save a lot of time and effort. But will the quality be that good like when you press every button? I don’t think so. That’s the reason why I am always trying to do everything possible.

During the week I thought about the shoot and what to prepare for it. They wanted the pictures to be taken in the nature. So, I made a walk through the field and wood behind our house, on Friday. I looked for nice places and found some like a meadow with an old construction trailer in front of the wood, a colorful forest path with leaves on it, another meadow on the forest edge with a deerstand and a moss-grown place in the pinewood. I took several shots of these places and send them to Timo and Jessica. Finally, on Sunday we took the pictures at the places they liked most.

For this shoot I decided to used super telephoto lenses (300mm and 600mm) and flash. I pursued the goal not to disturb the couple as much as it would be necessary to get an authentic shot plus I wanted to shoot from an observer angle. The long focal length and wide aperture should help to soften the background and turn it into a pleasant background from which the subject sharply dispatches.

My assistant Freda assisted me with the flash and helped to establish a relaxed atmosphere. Although it was cold and windy on that day everyone had fun. Timo, Jessica and Freda were cold and I sweat under the pressure to create the best images possible. ­čÖé

Lighting the cosy scene

The bright and clean style makes the image alive

Shooting from far away with a long focal length letting them act as natural as if they were absolutely on their own – no disturbing shutter click and instructions from the photographer

A long focal length and a wide aperture softens and reveals the subject from the background and helps to concentrate on the essentials

Reflecting memorable moments of a wonderful relationship

Well, this was a fantastic day with Timo and Jessica for Freda and me. We learned a lot and this was just the beginning of taking Engagement Shoots! ­čÖé

Thanks a lot and have a great time!

Bye!
Chris

Unser kleines Dorf-Jahrhunderthochwasser

Manchmal muss man schnell reagieren und das ist oft nicht einfach, erst recht nicht, wenn man selbst betroffen ist.
Bei mir liegt die Kamera generell griffbereit auf dem Tisch, so auch am 05.06.2011. Wir hatten zuvor ein kr├Ąftiges Gewitter mit Blitzeinschl├Ągen im Umkreis von unter 300 Metern. Irgendwann fiel dann erwartungsgem├Ą├č auch der Strom aus. Als verw├Âhntes Kind der Generation Y weiss man zwar noch etwas unterhaltsames in Zeiten ohne Internet anzufangen, aber weil ich so unendlich m├╝de war, hab ich mich schlafen gelegt.
Inmitten grausamster Tr├Ąume wurde ich pl├Âtzlich von Rufen geweckt: “Im Dorf ist Hochwasser, alles ├╝berflutet, das musst du fotografieren!”
In diesem Moment bin ich von den ├╝blichen kleineren Wasserstr├Âmen ausgegangen, die von den Kan├Ąlen nicht mehr kompensiert werden k├Ânnen. Deshalb hab ich mich erstmal gem├╝tlich angezogen und bin anschlie├čend zum K├╝chenfenster gegangen (ich residiere im 2. OG), um einen Blick nach drau├čen zu werfen. In diesem Moment wusste ich nicht, ob ich nicht doch noch in den F├Ąngen eines Albtraums war – eine noch nie dagewesene Wassermasse hatte sich den Weg ├╝ber anliegende Felder vor unserem Grundst├╝ck gebahnt. Es sah so aus, als w├╝rden wir am Mississippi leben und ich br├Ąuchte nur einige Schritte zu gehen, um mein aus angeschwemmten Holzst├Ąmmen gebautes Holzflo├č ins Wasser zu schieben, um die genialen Abendteuer des Tom Sawyer und Huckleberry Finn zu durchleben. Der pure Wahnsinn – in diesem Augenblick zumindest.

Nachdem ich mir die Augen gerieben hatte und um die Realit├Ąt dieses Ereignisses┬á wusste, hab ich in windeseile mein Equipment zusammengerafft und bin aus dem Haus gerannt.
Es war bereits 21:00 Uhr durch und die D├Ąmmerung in vollem Gange, deswegen hatte ich die Bef├╝rchtung, dass ich nicht schnell genug ├╝berall vor Ort sein k├Ânnte, um noch mit einigerma├čen gutem Licht zu fotografieren. Ich entschied mich f├╝r die Verwendung eines ND-Grad Filters, um die Szenerie entsprechend hell ablichten zu k├Ânnen, ohne einen ausgewei├čten Himmel zu bekommen, der die Dramatik der Situation hervorragend betonen sollte – wolkenverhangen, d├╝ster.
Ein Nikon SB-800 war nat├╝rlich auch Pflichtbestandteil, sollte es f├╝r die Dokumentation diverser Rettungsma├čnahmen der Feuerwehr und Anwohner schon zu dunkel sein – was es definitiv sein w├╝rde, bis ich ankommen w├╝rde.
Nachdem ich die Haust├╝r ge├Âffnet hatte, entgegnete mir ein stechender Geruch aus Heiz├Âl, G├╝lle und Gummi. Die Nebelschwaden ├╝ber dem Wasser verst├Ąrkten den grauenhaften Eindruck. Das Wasser hatte Heiz├Âlkeller geflutet und Heiz├Âl ausgeschwemmt. Die Folgen f├╝r die Natur waren mir in diesem Moment auch allgegenw├Ąrtig …

Als ich im Dorf ankam wurde mir bewusst, dass ich keinen gro├čartigen Spielraum haben w├╝rde. Das Wasser umgab uns hier, so dass ein Durchkommen in andere Ortsteile nicht m├Âglich war (Verdammt, h├Ątte ich doch nur dieses grandiose Tom Sawyer Flo├č gehabt …).

Mein Vater und ich liefen, nachdem im Dorf eh kein Durchkommen war, in Richtung Wald, um evtl. einen anderweitigen Ausweg aus dem Dorf zu finden. Was wir ├╝ber die ganze Strecke hin vorfanden war – wie sollte es anders sein: Wasser. Selbst ein verwirrter Autofahrer, der dringend in die Stadt musste, kam uns in seinem 5er BMW entgegen – nicht gerade der bevorzugte Wagen f├╝r abendliche Gel├Ąndefahrten in einem Hochwassergebiet. Kleiner Spa├č. Es gab kein Entkommen, wir waren vom Wasser umschlossen. Punktum.

Als wir gegen 23 Uhr wieder im Dorf ankamen, waren die Aufr├Ąumarbeiten bereits in vollem Gange. Einige Feuerwehren der umgebenen Ortschaften hatten mit Hilfe von Pumpen den Wasserspiegel soweit absenken k├Ânnen, dass ihre Fahrzeuge das Wasser passieren konnten.

Pumpen liefen ├╝berall. Und das noch bis sp├Ąt in die Nacht. Gegen 3.00 Uhr fr├╝h verstummten sie schlie├člich und entlie├čen die betroffenen Anwohner in eine d├╝stere, schw├╝le und nach Diesel riechend, stille Nacht. Ihr Schlaf d├╝rfte wohl alles andere als geruhsam gewesen sein, an diesem historischen Tag im Juni 2011.

F├╝r mich hatte dieser Abend allerdings auch etwas Gutes zur Folge: Ich habe meine ersten Fotos an die dpa verkauft und kam an den Tagen danach kaummehr aus dem Durchsuchen nach meinen Bildern in den Medien heraus – plus: unser Dorf war jetzt medial etwas bekannter.
Das zeigt mal wieder, wie nahe Freud und Leid im Leben beisammen liegen.