17 Jun, 2013
Documentary - Special Testsieger


Ha, last Saturday we've been to Helsinki Klub, Zürich, to see Testsieger, a really cool band from Northern Germany. They were promoting their new album "Neue Platte" and the concert was great with the crowd dancing and rocking the place. Check out the images ...


Pretty cool, huh!




17 Jun, 2013
Documentary - Art Basel Special


Ha, tonight I'm quickly posting a set of images from Art Basel today. It's a huge art show, actually one of the biggest in the world and it's very popular and there's thousands of artworks to see, from super famous like Andy Warhol or Damien Hirst, Picasso or Miro to new young artists. My focus is on contemporay art as I love it the most, it's quite often political. This time my favorites were the one by Jani Leinonen "One day the poor will have nothing left to eat but the rich" or Thomas Hirschhorn's "Four Men", which is actually quite shocking as Hirschhorn shows war photographs of dead lacerated bodies or heads, we've seen a huge installation in the Swiss pavillion at 54th Biennale in Venice two years ago. So here's some of the artworks from today ...




































































That's it from Art Basel 2013!


Have a good week





14 Jun, 2013
Photos - Portraits


Hi, this week I have been a little busy with other things, so here are some more photos finally. I chose portraits this time, as I really love this type of photography. You have to get in touch with the person you want to take a photo of, candid shots work sometimes but I think you get better photos when you have at least a brief connection to the person. The best portraits are those that transport something, be it a mood, a true emotion or something else that makes the person and is expressed in the photo. I love the challenge of getting a good shot of somebody and it's so wonderful when people like the photo afterwards. I like spontaneous photos, real moments, that's why I find commercial photography pretty boring. I will go on a big trip from October till December this year to bring back some new photos from other countries and I hope to shoot a lot of authentic portraits. Here's a little collection of my most loved category of photography ...



Have a great weekend, till next week





12 Jun, 2013
Society - Somewhere in the Pacific Ocean

Some of you might know this story from facebook already, here it is for everybody again, because it is a good example for a different lifestyle, an alternative to what a lot of us would call necessaries in our life in the modern world:

We were once visiting a little Kingdom in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, it is called Tonga. We picked it, because it is the least touristy out of say Hawaii, Fidji, Samoa, Cook Islands, Vanuatu ... Anyway, Tonga also happens to be the only one out of whole Oceania not to be ever colonialised by any of the Western countries. The king is driven in an old London cab, just because he likes the space he got in it! Well, we lived in a little ecoresort constisting of 3 beach huts (we were the only guests at the time) run by an Australian couple living in Tonga for a long time, they chose to stay because they fell in love. How come? Well, it's paradise. But that's not the point or not the whole. The island is pretty laid back, there was NO single foreign industry to be found on the island, but Shane and Chris told us, some people where interested to come ... See if that ever happens, not so long as we were there. We also saw maybe 2 or 3 other tourists during our one week stay. One day we were on the market buying food, actually I never ate better Mangos before, you could literally pick them up from aside the street and eat them straight. I wanted to buy some chilis, the people on the market where super cool, I haven't experienced this before. They were just chatting, no one really took notice of us. That was astounding. We were so used to people trying to sell you something from those places like Hongkong, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos was a bit more relaxed and Thailand is just fun … Anyway, I wanted only two chilis for our dinner, the woman looked at me and laughed, she gave me a bunch of say 10 or 15 chilis. She could not speak English but she laughed and made me go away without having to pay anything. It reminded me of a book called "Don't sleep, there are snakes" by Daniel Everett, it's about a tribe called the Pirahã, in Brasil. A white American once came to visit them and to missionize them. He ended up living together with them, living their lifestyle. They are said to be one of the happiest people in the world, they don't know numbers, they only know 1 or many. When I walked away with the chilis I thought this is a good way of seeing it …

Anyway, we also experienced the craziest thing ever. A really strong cyclone called Rene hit Tonga the last day we were there, it was massive and we needed to spend the whole night inside the concrete house of our hosts instead of our beach hut. Rene blew away most everything, but nobody died or anything really bad happend. But the most amazing thing was Rene hit Tongatapu the way that we 4 and other people around the island where inside Rene's Eye, it was fantastic and something you could never plan to experience, it's pure randomness. This meant the wind was blowing from mainland first, then there was a one and a half hour pause with absolute calm. We went to the beach, it was really quite spooky. Then the wind started picking up and increased to the same strength again now blowing from the sea. We got literally drowned by salt water. The next day all the leaves where dead because of the salt. That was the most special thing I experienced in my life so far …

But there was another really interesting thing. We visited the church on Sunday as Chris and Shane told us it was really interesting to see the people dress up. And we were amazed by the precious and colourful dresses the women were wearing. They sang wonderfully, kind of Gospel … They don't care about a special religion, you can believe whatever you like and come to church and listened to the pastor. He welcomed us by handshake, there were no other tourists and I didn't take any photos, that would have been inappropriate. So we just enjoyed his speech. And boy, he whipped the audience, he was angry. We couldn't understand what he was saying but he really had something important to say to his people … They seemed to believe him. If he was talking about any of the things we experienced during our visit to this special country he must have been right …

… we truly thought about staying in Tonga as we spent the whole year travelling and this was the best place we have seen, but we decided to move on to California and we loved it …




10 Jun, 2013
Gear - What do you need to post process images?

Last week I was talking about cameras and which camera to use. Before I tell you what gear you need to post process images I will first give you some more recommendations on cameras and round it all up. I will also post links to my favorite sites to read in depth reviews and compare sample images if you feel like.

If you just want a camera better than the one in your cellphone I recommend taking Canon‘s point & shoots, they are great. My most favorite ones are from the S-line like the S100 or S110, if you want the newest. I still have an S95 and it takes really good images and is super small. You may as well take any of the less expensive models, but you will get an even smaller sensor which means more noise in most any light. And you won‘t get an as bright lens as on the S-line, means even more noise when shooting in dim situations and longer shutter speeds resulting in possibly blurry images.

If you want better than a point & shoot my first recommendation is to get a DSLR, there are more stylish options, but DSLRs have everything you need and the entry level models are much cheaper than fancier cameras like a Fuji X100 or X100s for example. What a DSLR can do much better than a point & shoot is: first, you see a real life image through the finder via a mirror, means there is no lag time between what‘s really happening and what you see in the finder, like on a display of point & shoots. Second, DSLRs have much bigger sensors means you get cleaner images with much less noise, especially in dim situations. A bigger sensor also means you‘re able to separate the subject you‘re taking a photo of and the background, you‘re actually able to make use of different depths of field. Fourth, DSLRs have a super fast autofocus, means you can chase your kids and the focus keeps up with their speed, something you wouldn‘t get from a point & shoot. Fifth, you can change lenses for different styles of photos or types of photography. You may for example buy a super long tele lens to shoot animals in the zoo up close and in the evening change to a fast prime lens to shoot on your friend's birthday party without flash. Sixth, DSLRs are classics and with them you‘re able to make all possible settings to aperture or shutter speed manually to give the image the exact look you want. That's important to understand and learn about the camera techniques and photography in general. What DSLR to buy? Pick a Canon or Nikon, they are the best and always come up with the newest inventions first and they have the largest selection of lenses available by a good margin. If you pick Canon my top pick is an EOS 550D, which is discontinued already, but it‘s got all you need in a little smaller package than the newer 600D-700Ds. Of course the super new 100D is even smaller, but it‘s also more expensive. If you want Nikon take a D3200 or D5200. More expensive DSLRs are even faster but also heavier and don‘t give better image quality, at least if you don‘t take a fullframe one like the Canon 6D or Nikon D600 for example. They start at 1.700 €, though, for the body alone.

If you want stylish you may also take a Fuji X100 or X100s. They also take wonderful images but operate generally slower than a DSLR and you‘re not able to change lenses for different shooting situations.

I happen to shoot for Olympus and they gave me their best camera, an OM-D, to take pictures with it. It‘s an amazing little camera but a little on the pricy side. It‘s autofocus is incredible, it‘s faster than the one in my 5D Canons. And I think the OM-D looks fantastic.

My most favorite site for extensive reviews are Ken Rockwell and imaging resource, check them out. I will show you some more and tell you how to use them in the future.

Alright, that‘s it about cameras for now, let‘s talk about what other gear you need to create great looking images.

Actually you don‘t need any more than your camera to take amazing looking images. Modern cameras have enough settings to let the images look great and to tweak them to your personal taste. If you want them to look even better, though, and to use some helpful software you need a computer with some programs I am going to talk about now.

What computer do you need? The great thing about digital cameras is that you can set them to record so called RAWs, imagine this format compared to ready jpgs as like the negatives in old film cameras. You‘re able to develop those files on the computer like you did with the negatives in the dark room. You can adjust exposure, white balance, lens corrections, noise reduction, sharpness, contrast and much more. You may even apply special filters or preset looks to make them look like film for example.

Anyway, you need a computer for all that, a tablet won‘t cut it. Any modern computer is fast enough for most all files, but you need more computing power when you‘re working on a lot of files, like for a wedding or when you use cameras with really a lot of Megapixels, like 22 or 36. It‘s possible with an older computer as well but it takes much longer. If you have 600 images to process a couple of minutes per image adds up to a lot of time. I was processing a wedding at the beginning of 2011 for example with a 2007 MacBook Pro with a 2,2 GHz Core 2 Duo and only 4GB of RAM. This wedding nearly took me two weeks to post process. When you‘re working with file management programs like Adobe Lightroom you also want the most RAM you can get. In my case I am using a 2011 QuadCore MacBook Pro with 16GB of RAM. This amount of memory makes processing much more fluent with less stuttering and least time waiting. I am also using SSDs instead of traditional hard drives as internal storage in my laptops. SSDs consist of chips like in an SD card, there is no moving parts and they are super snappy. Programs open instantly and you don‘t have to wait for files to be read from a hard drive any longer than necessary. When you‘re working with programs like Adobe Photoshop the computer‘s processor becomes the bottle neck. When you‘re working with single files, though, it‘s not a problem at all, it becomes important when you‘re doing projects with hundreds or thousands of images, then seconds or minutes add up to hours or days.

Why do I use Mac? I have a lot of problems with my Macs but it‘s still less than I had with my Windows computers and to be honest, software wise the Mac just gets my work done well. I am also heavily invested in Mac software by this time.

What Mac should you buy? Actually every new Mac is good enough for everything but the biggest jobs. I am considering getting a new MacBook Air soon as my day to day writing machine and image processor on the go. They are just gorgeous and super light. I need 256GB of storage, I have all my images on separate hard drives. 8GB of RAM is a must have and not enough for big jobs but fine for everything else.

What software to use? I am using Lightroom 4 (130 €) to import files from the cameras and to make basic adjustments like exposure, white balance, noise reduction, lens corrections, highlight and shadow correction and very important, to apply film emulsions from VSCO.



Those are plug-ins available for Lightroom or Photoshop separately (look left on the image above). I chose the Lightroom version becasue this way you can apply the looks to a lot of images at once before sending them to Photoshop. I bought all three available Film Packs 01, 02 and 03, they cost around 100 dollars each. After applying all those settings to the RAWs I send them to Photoshop CS6 (800 € regularly and 200-300 € for students or teachers). Photoshop is my most used program but you actually don‘t need it necessarily, Lightroom is sufficient, too, Photoshop just has one million more options. When you prepare images for different purposes and resize to different sizes Photoshop actually becomes your time saver. I use Photoshop to apply special curves to the images, desaturate, resize most of the time. In contrast to most other photographers I pass on using layers mostly. Somehow I just found I don‘t need them, I work on the files directly. Sounds totally weird to some, but maybe it fits my style of photography. I don‘t manipulate images too much, instead I rely on getting a great shot first and then apply “minimal“ post processing.

When I‘m finished with Photoshop I am finished with the job ;-)

Update: Adobe today announced Lightroom 5. I will tell you about the advantages and disadvantage of Adobe's new Cloud solution soon. There's a big problem with working on files offline, when you're not subscribed to the Creative Cloud anymore. So Adobe literally forces you to subscribe for the rest of your life. Lightroom 4 is still offline, anyway, so you may buy it instead as long as you can.

Update: Apple released new Haswell MacBook Airs today. Battery life is supposed to be nothing short of amazing with my top recommended 13" MacBook Air lasting 12 hours! That's so cool and fits right with my plans to add a new Air to my setup for mobile computing. Actually I need a new computer soon as my second machine just broke entirely last week. I also need one for my two and a half month trip from October through Russia, Central Asia, China and Southeast Asia. It's also cool that Apple lowered prices by 100 € making a 128GB 13" available for 1.099 € already, pretty good ...

Alright, more next time ...



7 Jun, 2013
Photos - What happened in 2012?


I wasn't able to blog yesterday due to computer problems, so here we go now.

What happened in 2012? - quite a bit, a lot of Berlin, Switzerland, Zürich, Olten, Konstanz, Italy, London, Kassel, Langeoog and much more, have a look ...



That's it. Have a fun weekend,

see you next week



5 Jun, 2013
Law - Jura, mittwochs auf deutsch ...

Ha, Wednesday will be my law day. I will explain basic civil rights and labour rights in a very simple and interesting way, so that everybody understands them. I try hard at least ;-) It will be in German because it is important for Germans to understand it properly, not so interesting for you people from other countries anyway ...

Also, wie ich schon sagte, wird Mittwoch mein Juratag. Irgendwie muss ich ja auch in mein neues Business meine jahrzehntelange Ausbildung einfließen lassen, sonst war das ja völlig umsonst ;-)

Meine Idee ist schon lange, insbesondere weil Leute immer so Sachen sagen wie „Und, Jura ist ganz schön trocken, oder?“ oder „Also ich könnt mir die ganzen Gesetze nicht merken!“, eine Art Aufklärungsarbeit zu leisten was den schweren Berufsstand des Juristen und seine ihm zugeschriebenen, hartnäckigen Vorurteile anbelangt. Ich fand Jura z.B. immer superinteressant, obwohl ich eigentlich eher ein künstlerisches Kerlchen bin, spiele Gitarre, mache Fotos und man mag es nicht glauben, male manchmal sogar ...

Jura ist im Grunde nicht trockener als ein Knäckebrot, das man dick mit Butter und dann mit Fruchtmarmelade bestreicht. Wenn Ihr derart Metaphern nicht mögt, müsst Ihr es mir sagen, sie fallen mir manchmal einfach ein und ich finde sie dann super! Man kann sich also buchstäblich alles auch schön machen.

Tatsächlich finde ich gerade Arbeitsrecht gar nicht trocken und meine Zeit, die ich z.B. in der ver.di Bibliothek zugebracht habe und dort viel mit anderen Juristen geplauscht habe, hat sich immer recht interessant und abwechslungsreich gestaltet. Auch wenn ich den Kern der Aussage natürlich verstehe, man stellt sich riesige Aktenberge und dicke Luft in kleinen Zimmerchen vor, blasse „Paragraphenreiter“, die auch im Sommer nichts von den den langen Tagen haben, weil sie sowieso im Büro sitzen. So ist gerade das Arbeitsrecht ausgesprochen abwechslungsreich und hat ganz viel mit Menschen zu tun. Gerade, wenn man Arbeitnehmer vertritt, dann muss man ständig Sachen besprechen, sich mit Betriebsräten oder Gewerkschaften austauschen und Strategien entwickeln, um Unstimmigkeiten mit dem Arbeitgeber möglichst gut zu lösen. Im Arbeitsrecht gibt es z.B. auch eine vom Gesetz vorgeschriebene Güteverhandlung vor praktisch jeder gerichtlichen Auseinandersetzung, d.h. also auch dann, wenn man schon vor der Richterin oder dem Richter sitzt. Güteverhandlung bedeutet, dass man sich, so wie in anderen Streitigkeiten auch, versucht, ohne ein Urteil gütlich zu einigen, nur dass es im Arbeitsrecht quasi vorgeschrieben ist, ein solches Gespäch auch nochmal vor dem Richter zu führen. Grund für diese Regel ist, dass man bis zuletzt versuchen möchte, an einem Arbeitsverhältnis und/oder an einer guten Stimmung zwischen den Parteien festzuhalten. Erstaunlicherweise kommt es dann in diesem Gespräch häufiger zu Wendungen, an die man vorher nicht gedacht hätte, und Missverständnisse klären sich z.B. auf, deshalb gibt es die Güteverhandlung wohl auch und deshalb finde ich sie auch prima.

In Jura muss man übrigens entgegen sehr verbreiteter Annahme praktisch kein einziges Gesetz auswendig lernen. Man hat immer eine Gesetzessammlung zur Hand und kann den genauen Wortlaut nachschlagen, sogar im Examen, man darf quasi in das Examen offiziell seinen Spickzettel mitnehmen, deshalb ist auch das Examen so leicht ;-)

Tatsächlich besteht die Schwierigkeit in Jura immer darin, dass sich Gesetze unterschiedlich interpretieren lassen. Es gibt also ganz viele verschiedene Meinungen, zu Gesetzen selbst, zu den mit ihrer Hilfe erlassenen Urteilen und zu vielen anderen Fragen und Problemen. Da sich Gesetze ganz oft ändern, bringt es sowieso nichts, sie auswendig zu lernen, abgesehen davon, dass es viel zu viele wären. Das ist auch das Praktische, wenn man zu einem Problem gefragt wird, kann man immer erstmal in die Bücher schauen und nachschlagen, man muss es sogar, weil es sein kann, dass das Gesetz, was gestern noch einen bestimmten Wortlaut hatte, heute anders klingt. Die Schwierigkeit bei Jura sind nicht die Gesetze und sie zu verstehen, sondern sie auf einen bestimmten Sachverhalt, im Arbeitsrecht z.B. eine Kündigung, anzuwenden und dann eine Lösung zu entwickeln mit guten Argumenten, mit denen man im Zweifel den Richter überzeugen kann. Auch wenn viele Leute immer denken, Juristen würden sich immer so kompliziert ausdrücken, liegt die Kunst des guten Juristen eher darin, sich ganz einfach auszudrücken, damit der Richter, die Gegenseite, der eigene Mandant und in vielen Prozessen die ehrenamtlichen Richter, die neben dem Richter sitzen, einen verstehen und der Richter einem am Ende recht gibt. Komplizierte Sätze und Rumgelaber lesen Richter meistens gar nicht gern, dann wird es umso schwieriger. Wichtig ist, das Richtige ganz einfach auszudrücken, dann überzeugt es quasi von selbst.

Eigentlich möchte ich es heute am ersten Juratag gar nicht so lang machen, zwei Sachen will ich aber noch erklären, dann kann ich nächste Woche daran anknüpfen.

Was sind eigentlich Grundrechte und was sind genau Arbeitsrechte, das will ich noch kurz erklären.

Grundrechte sind so was wie Menschenrechte für Deutsche. Sie stehen in unserem Grundgesetz, das so was ist wie eine Verfassung in anderen Ländern. Warum es hier nicht Verfassung heißt, erzähl ich ein anderes mal. Grundrechte sind quasi die wichtigsten Gesetze, die es in Deutschland gibt. Sie betreffen uns alle und alle Gesetze, die vom Bundestag oder den Landtagen erlassen werden, müssen diese wichtigsten Grundrechte quasi im Hinterkopf haben. Gesetze dürfen nicht gegen andere Gesetze verstoßen, aber erst recht dürfen sie nicht unsere Grundrechte verletzen.

Das allerwichtigste Grundrecht ist Artikel 1 unseres Grundgesetzes. Weil er so wichtig ist, ist er auch ziemlich kurz, sein erster Satz lautet: „Die Würde des Menschen ist unantastbar.“ Was das genau bedeutet, erzähl ich beim nächsten Mal, soviel erstmal zum Grundgesetz.

Und was sind Arbeitsrechte? Wie der Name schon sagt, betreffen Arbeitsrechte unsere Arbeit. Sie wurden ursprünglich erfunden, um Regeln aufzustellen, die die Arbeitsverhältnisse und damit Rechte und Pflichten für den Arbeitgeber und für die Arbeitnehmer betreffen, so Sachen wie Lohn, Arbeitszeiten, Urlaub, Lohn im Krankheitsfall, Streikrechte, Kündigungsschutz und vieles, vieles mehr ist darin geregelt. Es ist superspannend und superwichtig, gerade für Arbeitnehmer, die ja die Mehrzahl der Bevölkerung ausmachen. Und es gibt ganz viele verrückte Fälle und Probleme, über die ganze Doktorarbeiten geschrieben werden. Mein Thema in meiner Hausarbeit 2004 im ersten Staatsexamen war z.B. unter anderem die Frage, ob Arbeitnehmer, die für ihren Arbeitgeber durch die Gegend fliegen und Meilen sammeln, diese Meilen dann für ihre Privatflüge benutzen dürfen. Dazu gibt es unterschiedlichste Auffassungen und ich glaube, ich habe mich damals dafür entschieden. Es gibt aber auch Argumente dagegen ...

Gut, jetzt wisst Ihr, worum es mittwochs immer gehen wird, hauptsächlich um wichtige Arbeitsrechte und um deren einfache Erklärung, damit Ihr hoffentlich in Zukunft besser Bescheid wisst, wenn mal wieder ein Problem auftaucht mit dem Arbeitgeber, bevor Ihr gleich zum Anwalt geht.

Und ich werde versuchen, ein paar Mal im Jahr den ein oder anderen Spezialisten zu bitten, einen Artikel zu schreiben, so Doktoren z.B., die sich noch besser auskennen in schwierigen Fragen.

Also, macht es jut, gute Arbeit und bis bald



4 Jun, 2013
Society - Introduction

Tuesday will be my day for socially and socio-politically relevant issues. I will be writing about things that go on the world or in Germany and could be better in my opinion to make it an overall more social, environmentally friendly and compassionate society, something I am missing so much in every day news or that I have experienced when fighting for labour rights or keeping my eyes open when walking the streets or listening to people.

My focus will be on alternatives, though, on companies that already do different without slave-driving workers, organisations who do the right thing for decades or people in my life that live a considerate life for a long time. I will show that it‘s never to late to think and start living differently, but that it needs a little effort, sometimes we even need to say good-bye to some comfortable habits.

Things we see or read in the news, be it nuclear industry, oil drilling and polution of our nature, food control and animal husbandry, global warming, excessive consumption in every way or even the recent events in Turkey connected with demonstrations against ecological destruction, all this has been around for a long time. Instead of moaning and showing how bad things are, and the world is pretty bad for sure, I will present alternatives that already exist.

I made up the word Tubürger (Do-citizen) during my very active days on facebook at the beginning of this year. My main point with the Tubürger was that it needs a little more than just being angry, one step further is necessary to actually change something. I want to show that it‘s possible and often quite easy to really make a positive change and this way have a little impact on overall society and its possible transformation. Some small changes will have a positive affect, you can‘t deny that. Some examples out of a long list of things the Tubürger does may be ... to use public transport or ride the bike instead of going by car, especially going by car on your own. You may say no to plastic bags wherever you can. Thousands of images have shown that our oceans already overflow with plastics of all kinds. You may as well change your electricity provider to some renewable energies. You may take the train instead of the plane. You may eat less meat or buy organic food instead of genetically modified one. You may use less power at home by switching lights off when not needed ...

At some point I will translate the list of the Tubürger into English and we may add more positive habits and things that make a difference together.

My work with Common Works and Lebenskleidung has been so refreshing, too, because it's good to see once more that people around are already living or doing their business in a compassionate and environmentally friendly way, just naturally, in the case of Lebenskleidung by trading with organic materials exclusively.

From next week on I will start to take a closer look at companies like those two or traditional organisations and write about their work and philosophy believing in a positive change of our world.

Keeping you posted



3 Jun, 2013
Cameras - What camera to buy?

Actually I want to make Monday the Cameras day. I will give recommendations on which camera to buy, which software and Plug-ins to use, I will tell you which computer equipment is necessary to post process images, I will write reviews about different camera models, will show you my cameras and tell you why I chose them and I will show you sample images achieved with different camera types. It‘s going to be really cool.

I share all this information for free, so there will be no subscription needed to read my articles. I will tell you, though, from which shops I buy my stuff personally and tell you why they are trustworthy. I will post links in my articles to those shops. If you decide to get a camera for yourself, you can help me when going to the online shop via my blogsite. I will receive a little commission fee when you buy  the gear afterwards. This business model is called affiliate contract, it has become pretty common in recent years. NIKOLAIKIKI is totally free from advertising because I don‘t like it and it‘s not committed to any of those shops. If we find out in the future that one of those shops is not that great anymore I will stop recommending it and switch to a different one. Sounds good to you?

Well, so let‘s get started then ...

What camera to buy is actually a question many of us would consider as tough. Well, not any tougher than buying the right food, you just have to define what you really need, then it becomes quite easy. I will help you with it. There are many different camera makers and to tell you the truth, you can not really go wrong with most of them. There are some really great ones, though.

First of all I have to tell you that creating a great photo has nothing to do with the camera. You can take amazing photos even with your cellphone, bigger and more expensive cameras often just make it easier. To be honest, though, modern DSLRs have very complex menu systems and it really needs you to spend a good amount of time on learning those settings, you can save this time by just shooting with your cellphone or a point&shoot camera you already have.

If you want to spend some money on a serious camera there are some basic things you should keep in mind. I will tell you which camera is best for which style of photography in a minute.

One important thing is, the bigger the recording medium, with digital cameras the sensor, the better the image quality. Is image quality the same as artistic quality of an image? Obviously not, by image quality I mean technical quality of a photograph, today this means sharpness, noise levels, colour accuracy and dynamic range. The latter means the ability to record very bright and very dark areas with a single exposure.

Bigger recording mediums result into better image quality because more light and more subject information can be recorded. The worst digital images today come from our cellphone cameras, whose 1/3,2" sensors are super tiny roughly measuring only 4,5mm wide. The best images come from digital medium format cameras like from Hasselblad or Phase One with 60 or 80 Megapixels. If you want the ultimate, though, just buy an old or new large format film camera with 8x10“ sheets of film, yes, that‘s right, film as big as a sheet of paper. A recording medium this big translates into a couple of hundred Mega- if not a Gigapixels worth of data.

But let‘s go back to practical cameras.

If you want to invest money in a digital camera you have multiple options each of which is able to output images good enough for gallery display.

But there are only few options when you demand it for special puposes. For example if you want to take photos of your kids or babies you need a camera that operates fast and gives good image quality with fast shutter speeds. Those are needed to freeze subject movement. If you want fast shutter speeds you need a fast lens and a sensor that can handle less light without being too noisy. You won‘t be able to get that with a cellphone or even the best point&shoots, their sensors are simply too tiny and they operate to slow, especially autofocus needs to much time to lock to be able to keep up with the speed of a toddler for example. For this type of photography you need a DSLR (or recently system cameras like the Olympus OM-D came up with some amazingly fast autofocus that is even better than that of a DSLR), their autofocus speeds are superfast and you can change the normal zoom lens, which would not let enough light in, to a fast prime lens, that is designed to shoot in lower light levels or with faster shutter speeds.

What DSLR should you buy? Well, you can not really go wrong with either of the big brands. I chose Canon some 12 years ago because their autofocus and overall speed impressed me more than that of Nikon. I would pick Canon again nowadays, not so much because of the speed but there are some things I really love about Canon which you wouldn‘t find on a Nikon. If you started with Nikon you will find enough arguments to stick with them, too. Anyway, I love the big wheel on the back of the more expensive Canons, it lets you browse through images blazingly fast and adjusting exposure compensation with it is just so nice. Canon also happens to have some really artistic lenses you won‘t find with Nikon, it‘s the Canon 50 1.2 and the Canon 85 1.2, for example, there are simply no equivalents with Nikon. Nikon has the better overall flash system, though. I am not a big flash shooter, I love to capture scenes how they just happen to be without having to set up complicated lighting, but that‘s just me ...

A good call is also to go into a shop and take the camera in your hands and play with it. You may pick the one that you love more and you wouldn‘t go wrong. I would stick with Canon or Nikon, though, because they have the biggest selection of lenses and traditionally always come up with great features first. You may also buy an Olympus OM-D, I am shooting one for Olympus, who wanted me to be one of their photographers. You won‘t get the same image quality from an OM-D that you get from a fullframe Canon 6D or Nikon D600 for example.

There are a couple of things that I love so much about cameras like a 6D or 5D, whose sensors are the same 36mm size as the area of film exposed in old film cameras. Lenses keep the same field of view, with smaller sensor cameras like a Canon 550D, for example, you get a field of view multiplied by the factor of 1,6, making your 24mm lens a not so wide 38,4mm. With fullframe cameras your viewfinder view is much bigger than in less expensive cameras. The tiniest viewfinders are in entry level DSLRs like a Canon 1100D or 550D. But the most intriguing fact about those fullframe sensors is it‘s ability to blur backgrounds and that way to put the attention on special parts of the scene or the subject. To show you what I mean I take three images with three different cameras and focus on the camera in the middle of the frame. Background blur is the least with the point&shoot and the most beautiful with a fullframe camera and a prime lens, have a look ...

The first image is taken with a point&shoot Panasonic LX7, background blur is nearly non existent, the second image is taken with a popular MicroFourThirds Olympus OM-D with a 17mm prime shot at f/2, it's got some nice background blur to it. The last image is taken with a fullframe Canon 5D Mark III and a 35mm f/1.4 prime shot at 1.4, background blur is amazing ...

With a fullframe 36mm sensor you can really blur the backgrounds wonderfully, but that‘s also a matter of personal taste. I love to draw attention to special parts of the scene that way.

If you decide for a DSLR go pick an entry level Canon 1100D or 550D-700D or Nikon D3200 and learn and improve your techniques. You may as well go and buy a fullframe camera straight. It‘s a matter of price, too. You get a Canon 1100D from around 330 € already. A fullframe 6D for example will set you back at least 1.700 €. Both cameras will produce images much, much better than you‘re used to from your cellphone or point&shoot.

If you just want a great little camera better than a cellphone my top recommendations are Canon‘s Powershot S-line. I still have a Powershot S95, you may buy an S110 or S100 which are newer and better. They are super tiny and take wonderful images, you won‘t be able to chase kids with it or blur backgrounds with them, though.

My most favorite places to buy cameras and gear are Warsteiner Fotoversand, pixxass or comtech, if you‘re international order at B&H in New York, they are the best. I used to like Amazon as well because their customer service is amazing but I don‘t recommend them anymore. Being an employment law solicitor as well I can only shake my head when I look at how Amazon treats their employees, too bad.

Alright, that‘s a lot for today, there‘s much more camera stuff to come next week.

Ah, one last thing, I show you three more images, one is taken with a cellphone, one with a point&shoot and one with a 4.000 € Canon setup. You may guess which photo was taken with which camera ...

... and you may also guess which of those is my most successful image of all time. Just to give you an idea that the photographer makes the image and not the camera.

Happy shooting ...



2 Jun, 2013
Photography - Focal Length II


actually I wanted to show you some real world samples that will give you a good impression of how the various focal lenghts give a different look to the image. Starting with 12mm up to a very compressed 200mm at the end.

Have look ...

Both 12mm capture a huge amount of the surrounding scene ...


My favorite focal length of 24mm captures plenty of the scene, putting you right into it without being too wide ...


35mm is said to be the best documentary focal length, letting you keep a distance but being wider than a normal 50mm ...


I use 50mm on weddings a lot, it's pretty intimate, focussing on the subject, capturing much less of the surrounding scene ...


The above two images are 105mm tele and 200mm tele respectively, compressing the scene quite a lot with the subject being in the focus ...


I will show you some more images soon ...


Have a fun week,

see ya