Did it, my first moonshot…

Dear friend,

I’m quite excited, I got my first exhibition. The first set of pictures is already up and showing. I plan to change over middle of February.

But let’s start at the beginning. We have a small ice cream parlor in my home town, the owner shows local artist in regular intervals. So I approached her last summer and asked her for the rules of engagement…

She was happy to agree but told me all slots are filled for the rest of the year. I said that’s no problem I have to select and print anyway. So we agreed on February and March this year.

Next I’d like to share what I learned during this step. I sat down with my wife to select, and narrow down to the following pictures. You may ask why ask my wife? That’s easy, she doesn’t know the story behind the photo, so she has no emotional connection to the pictures. She just looks and says I like this better or that better. Eric Kim calls the process “killing your babies”. And for you as an artist with all the emotional connection it is better to get someone’s support. Best a person who has no connection, no benefit from taking the one or the other picture.
Next I want to give you a bit background of the pictures, so you get a deeper connection.

The first one I made in Shanghai Taikang Road, which is an area with lots of small businesses and dinners. The guy was preparing some kind of dough wearing his spit mask, standing right before his kitchen. I think that’s why there is this glass blocking his bowl from the crowd. I took a series of pictures just to be sure. He looks bored at first, his attitude changing to curious. One of my pictures gives you the moment of the change, which I like a lot.

Back home I did the selection and post production, during which I changed to Black and White. All the pictures in this first selection are black and white. I think usually this give way more dramatic results.

The second one I took in Fuxing Park. I always visit this park during my stays in Shanghai because the Chinese tend to practices their hobbies in parks. The guy was a little show off, well aware that I was making photos he danced and danced. I still can see the joy in his grin.

Next picture I made in Berlin. I planned a series like this one quite some time. I know the location the entrance to the Sony centre and I already knew that some times the sun shines right through. So I took lots of pictures, different people, groups. If you find a location like this take your time, be patient and take your chances. I do love the harsh contrast, silluettes.

This one was take in Bremen on a warm summer evening. I was taking a photo walk like I always do on my business trips.

The guy was blowing bubbles, but not the kids play. He used a rope and a bucket and made really huge ones, usually real swarms. So I took aim right in front of him down wind and waited for the bubbles to hit me 😉. Look close at the top and bottom of the picture you notice the blurry area, this is the bubbles next to my lens. It took me quite some time to clean the soap from my filter… But it was worth the effort.

I took the final picture in my home town. To take it I really lay low, literally. My camera was on the floor. Lots of people don’t get that this is the bus station in their home town. I’d say mission accomplished, getting an everyday motive with an different angle. So look for the beauty in the mondaine. Sure the hard contrast supports the different point of view.

So as I told you this is the first series, means stay tuned….

Keep on shooting

Frank

If your pictures are not good enough you’re not close enough

Dear friend,

Today I’d like to talk about Robert Capa’s famous quote and what it means to me and my work. Sure he didn’t want us to take makro pictures only. But back in time when I started taking pictures, I focused on my motive, stared through the view finder at it and shot. I took photos of people trying to have it all in the picture. My view focused on the person/ motive and not on the rest of the picture. Be honest these are the boring shots everyone has taken or still does. So what is the difference to the mind-blowing, interesting pictures your heroes make? Take the your time, think, look some up. Still not there yet?

Usually it’s NOT all in. In e.g. portraits you see only a part of the face, it’s only a small detail of a building or a landmark. I was in Florence the other week on a vacation with my wonderful wife. We’re both taking lots of pictures but I focus on street portraits and go close, make photos of a small detail while she wants to take the whole landmark or building. There will be an article coming soon…

Let’s have a look at some examples. The pictures I’d like to discuss I took on a friend’s birthday party, as a surprise his wife invited a piper, which was also fun for the neighbors. Man those pipes are so loud.

My first example are his hands while playing. The b&w supports pattern of the lines of his hands, you feel the light touch on the melody pipe and yes he’s married. All this would be lost if I’d taken a whole body portrait.

The next one is just a slight change in the point of view. Up a little and we see a different photo. Still the hand, and yes he’s still married. But we also get a glimpse of the bag. A small part giving away the the structure of the cloth only.

Here we see how wonderful his sporran looks (yes that’s how the little bag is called). You can smell the leather, feel the silver button, also the little fur tipps they look so fluffy you have to touch them.

Finally the portrait. And again close up, not all in, gives the better picture. The focus for portraits always on the eye (s).

So let’s do a wrap-up. What was Robert’s intention? He wanted us to get closer. Not in deep like a macro, but still close enough for the better story, a more interesting photo. Focus on details,, what’s uncommon? What’s interesting?
You have to know the rules to break them. You have to get to know your set of tools. First of all your camera, if you fight with your dials and the focus or exposure your picture, your story will be gone. So learn what you need by heard, even if your working in automatic or semiautomatic mode. Look through the manual of your camera and learn the nuts and bolts.

The best camera for you is the one you have at hand. Same works with your glass, don’t fall to the trap ‘I’ll get better results with better equipment’! The photographer makes the picture, the camera body and lenses are only tools. Sure a better tool gives (maybe) better quality but NOT better photos. My hero Eric Kim always says ‘buy books not gear’, but that’s another story.

For me even a noisy, high ISO photo is better than missing the chance for a brilliant motive. That’s the point where you check how to change the ISO seeing for your camera 😉

Another thing I still fight are the rules of composition. Get to know them, but don’t get a slave of these rules. Some people think a photo can only be good, if the composition follows the rule of thirds. That is so not true it’s a nice guideline but there a tons of situations and motives which are far better with the main motive in the center of your picture.

So keep on practicing, look for ideas, inspiration and have fun. Never be a slave of likes of total strangers or even trolls. It is your picture, you have to like it.

Be creative

Frank

Off the the streets of Coburg

Dear friend,

I went for a walk the other day and found some views and insights I’d like to share with you.

First I have to tell you that I used my 35mm prime glass during the whole trip as part of a creativity lesson I practice every now and then. The idea is that you are forced to use your feet to find the right view or another angle or… Play be creative 😎

The morning was overcast so the light situation was changing constantly. The first picture is what I kept from found about 20 pictures I made from this view. This is another lesson I learned from studying the MASTERS, shoot it untill you get bored of your motive. Back home you take a look at your contact sheet (only thumbnail size on your computer screen). Now you erase all the pictures that don’t attract you. But why should I kill all my beautiful photos? Because they aren’t all good… But composition always works, so if you really got a good one your eye will be attracted to the picture also in thumbnail size. Color, contrast and light can easily be fixed in postprocessing. Even better you can keep the adjustments to a minimum.

But back to my picture. Take a mental step back and try to see only the colors. I see the stripes and a triangle. On the other hand there is this little bright spot of sunlight coming on the right side.

To get this light situation even better, more dramatic I changed it also to Black and White during postprocessing. I do love Black and White so I usually give it a try.

The following one is more or less the view to the other side. Look what Black and White does to the clouds and the light on the ground.

On my way I also took some pictures of ants and the highway they have cut through the moss on the tree they use as their nest. Quite amazing the efficiency they show. Maybe I’ll try these in b&w too.

The last one for today is the hornet in a knothole. Here I like the contrast between the yellow insect and the monochrome of the surrounding wood.

Always be creative.

Frank

GDPR forces me to cancel / erase all comments and followers

Dear friend,

I’m terribly sorry, but for the time being I erase all give comments and I also erased all users (data). As I’m no lawyer I see no other possibility.

As it looks at the moment I would have to get permission from every single person, which this person can revoke later.

Also the picture I’ll show will be reduced to city and nature.

I hate to do this but the Germans are famous to follow the rules and it is common practice to hit whom ever they can lay their hands on, even a small private blogger.

So sorry…

Update June 25th:

As I’m still not sure whether I can do Street Photography or not on a blogg located in Germany. Even the lawyers are still struggling…

As I still want to share my work, progress and insights I decided to focus on landscape and nature for the time being.

Frank

Streets of Berlin

Dear friend,

On my last trip I was visiting Berlin. Though it was late when I arrived I took a walk to take some pictures. 

The first one I’d like to share with you I took at Bertolt-Brecht-Platz. I saw this threesome and had to take a picture. Bench with a guy, a couple on the grass and another guy on a bench like a string of pearls.

The next series I took at Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. I quite like the location. There is always an opportunity for interesting pictures. Walking  back and forth through the narrow aisles I heard a school class approaching and took a series of the students roaming the area. because I intended to capture them as they crossed the aisle I was waiting with my camera at the ready and took my chance, it took my some trials to get the timing right. 

The next ones I made at the Sony center near Potsdamer-Platz.

One of the entrances was blazing with the light of the setting sun. So I made up my mind to do a series of silhouettes against the light in black and white, the post processing I did with the NIK-collection in Photoshop.

I took my time and waited for interesting situations. Some times if you spot an interesting location you have to be patient and wait for the right situation (light / people) coming to you instead of running through the streets looking for interesting scenes. Usually it helps if you blend in by wearing neutral cloth (jeans, dark colors no bright colored shirts or jacket), standing somewhere in a corner waiting for the right moment.

 

I think I was lucky spotting the manager deep in conversation. Fascinated by the contrast of the grey suit and the rainbow of shoes the bill-board was showing . He was blind to his surroundings so I approached and made some pictures without asking and him even noticing.

The last one for today I took in the atrium of the Sony center. The pattern of the roof showing in the windows is really awesome, the first time I was aware of this effect. Maybe I was just at the right location at the right time.

Exercises

Dear friend,
Today I’d like to share some results of the last creativity exercises I worked on.
Every now and then, I feel stuck with my work. To break the blockade I set a theme like a certain color or restrain me with my prime glass, so I have to look for a different angle, and get rid of the chain that block me. This usually works quite good, most of the time it’s just get started at an unfamiliar point.

I already did a 365-project. As a rule, you make at least one picture a day for a year and share it with which community you like. If you think this easy give it a try yourself. There were days I was thrilled and more than happy with the results. Other days I had to fight my rat-fink and nearly failed / stopped. Finally, there were days I just started, after the first one or two shots, it was a relief, and I was happy with the results. I know there are lots of pros and cons for doing a 365 project. In review, it was a good thing for me. I learned my camera inside out; especially in manual mode, I am sure and fast. Moreover, even in mundane there is beauty. But this is my humble point of view…

The first set I made during an afternoon session, conscious with limited equipment. I took a drinking glass, a LED-flashlight and my camera on a tripod.

The second set is from an afternoon walk with my beloved wife. I was looking for different surfaces and she was only wondering, “what are you doing now?” taking pictures of trees and old locks…

Finally I converted two pictures to black and white…

My portfolio as a download

Dear friend,

I did a first version of the pictures I like best, sure out of my work. To make the sharing easier I did a PDF file for you to enjoy and share.

Yes I’m serious, if you like the pictures feel free to share the collection or single pictures but please keep the link to my page in place. 

Frank

frank gajekphotography