14 Jan, 2014
Tech - Tips 3/14


Photo by David Schloss, dpreview


Funny, this is the exact same machine I bought in July last year as travel, location and backup computer and I have to agree it has served me well so far, especially on my trip "East 13".


Check out the field impressions of a professional photographer here.


Update 16.01.14: Power efficiency findings - my 1.7 GHz MacBook Air consumes 1.9 Watts at 10% display brightness and only Safari with own facebook page open. At 25% brightness (fine on dim days inside) it also only sucks 2.0 Watts. And at 50% brightness, which is totally sufficient for inside working, it takes 2.3-2.4 Watts, when doing nothing other than starring at your facebook page. That's amazing! When using it, especially importing photos or working with Photoshop, it can have spikes of 25 Watts but it returns to this low idle power consumption the moment it has completed its task. Normal day work, browsing, reading, writing, with some stand-by time gives you battery life easily from getting up in the morning and going to bed late. Very nice!





10 Jan, 2014
Photography - Problems with equipment


Who may be able to help me with my Canon 5D III, it's been to Foto Maerz in Berlin twice, to Okam in Zwenkau and to Canon Germany, Krefeld, it still has an autofocus error, but only Maerz is seeing it and told me they have no clue what to do. It's so critical that I'm only using the camera's center focus point for the last 15.000 images instead of relying on it's "sophisticated" 61-point auto mode. And I don't really know what to do ...


This is the reference image ...



This is what I get using center point (needs calibration, too, it's not spot on) ...



But this is what I get using its auto mode ...



Any help appreciated!





31 Dec, 2013
Photography - 2013, Personal Best


2013 was a crazy year in many ways. Apart from setting up a new business and founding NIKOLAIKIKI with everything involved, creating the website, developing the clothing collection, collaborating with Berlin fashion agency Common Works and cloth merchant Lebenskleidung, travelling to Turkey to document the organic and fairtrade production, promoting NIKOLAIKIKI in Germany and other countries, doing commissioned works like company portraits, weddings and shooting the Olympus OM-D, doing a dedicated 10 weeks trip only focussing on photography, I was taking a lot of photos in the first place.


I especially did a portrait project in Cambodia for a planned exhibition and accompaning book in spring 2014. A lot of the images below are from my autumn trip through the East. Of the 25.000 images I took in 2013 12.000 originated from the trip. I took three cameras with me, shooting mostly with a Canon 5D. My most used lens was a 50 1.2, followed by the 16-35 II. I used the 70-200 4 IS only for some landscape shots and almost never used my 35 1.4, I found the 50 much more useful on this trip. It's also my most used lens for weddings.


The following 100 images are my personal favorites from 2013. I didn't choose any of the calender images, because you know them already. I couldn't help to include the monk from Myanmar, though, I simply love it.


Check them out (I included personal notes for every image) ...


2013 started with celebrating New Year's with family and friends in Berlin


This is the old Kaufhaus Jandorf on the other side of our road looked through my Canon 50 1.2. I bought this lens especially for the autumn trip, but as I had to rent it every time for a wedding I thought it was the right time to invest in this beautiful optics.


I love to capture crazy patterns, this image is from Zurich airport


I love the North Sea, that's where I grew up. The above image is in the harbour of Hooksiel, this one is my mother with the cat Blacky on a friend's property in Friesland


Harbour Cologne


Depeche Mode venue at Kaufhaus Jahndorf, Room of a friend in Hamburg


Arendt at Bobby Reich at the Hamburg Alster


Building in London, with Henning in the dome of the Reichstag


Festival of Cultures in Berlin


These two are from a trip to Lago Maggiore with the Olympus OM-D


Berlin Street Art


I really like this one, it's a quality control of the GOTS production with Common Works and Lebenskleidung in Izmir, Turkey


I really loved the project Stadtlabor Weinbergspark against gentrification


I was shooting the Olympus OM-D in London, these guys are two of my best friends from New Zealand


A friend from Switzerland visited us in Berlin and we had this delicious olives in Mitte


A different perspective


I was invited to Biennale Arte in Venice this time, the above is an artwork with spices


Decayed sunflowers lit by a fire


I liked to attend this wedding as a friend


Party in late summer


Artwork from Art Basel


Audience at Mauerpark karaoke


Die Bäume at King Kong Klub Berlin


Crazy sky out of my window


SEA + AIR at Freifeld Festival, Oldenburg


Squirrel in Warsaw


Old men playing chess in Kiev


Kiev underground


Moscow is crazy, some musicians in the streets and impressive buildings in black & white


St. Basil


People in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, on a market and kids on a bench


The Kyrgyz were really cool and they liked to be photographed, as those women in a car. Women wear headscarfes when they are married.


Animal market, Karakol, Kyrgyzstan


Children on the way to school in Tasma, Kyrgyzstan


Three men on a carriage, love this


Our host mother in Tasma


Those kids were incredibly cute, we couldn't get the little one with the yellow sweater to smile :-)


Kyrgyz landscapes were pretty amazing


Approaching crazy Beijing


Beijing resident


Ancient cities in China


... and their residents, look at the ham right above!


Guards in a park, China


Cutest twins


Different ethnic people in Shanghai


Gorgeous Guilin, China


Crazy Hongkong, The Peak and bamboo scaffolding


In Singapore I liked Little India and the Muslim quarter


Man kicking a coconut, great


A mirror artwork at Singapore Biennale


Angkor is incredible, many people seem to find that as well


I have to thank my travel partner Carmen who shot a lot of images, too. The tropical flower above and our friend Chamroeun were shot by Carmen


My project in Cambodia involved a lot of handicapped people who lost arms or legs due to landmines


This is one of my favorites from Cambodia, it's a young woman with her son in a hospital


I interviewed an Apsara techer and photographed her students


Oops, tried grilled tarantulas for dinner in Phnom Penh


Soldiers on Cambodian National holiday


I tried to capture the Khmer smile, I'm confident I succeeded


I love this Khmer style, covering every part of the body


One of my most loved places in Thailand, secret


The most impressive pagoda in Myanmar, the Shwedagon in Yangon


The banana shop, Yangon


This is one of my favorite pictures from Myanmar, a woman in her kitchen on the countryside in central Myanmar


The Burmese are fun and you can see that


Incredible landscapes in Myanmar as well


My best action shot this year and the most beautiful woman 2013 in my mind


The Burmese go by bus and they are packed like sardine cans


Crazy trees in central Myanmar


We've been invited to a Burmese wedding on the countryside


July preparing dinner on the countryside


Monastery with monk in morning mist


Father and son on the way to the fields and woman with typical Burmese headscarf


Inle Lake


Young monks in the morning and people in Bagan, early evening


Mandalay hill after sunset


On my last day in Myanmar we were driving around with a motorbike, I took photos from the backseat, this snap of a melon vendor is one of my favorites


I flew back from Bangkok with a Boeing 787 via Stockholm and could capture the sunset over Sweden in this special shot


You don't need to travel far to see great sunsets, this is my favorite of 2013 in Wilhelmshaven, Germany


Last one is my personal favorite, a monk in Amarapura, Mandalay region, Myanmar (thanks, Neill, for telling me!)


Phew, this was 2013. I'm really looking forward to next year, I'm pretty sure it'll be awesome as well with lots of new things coming up.


All the best to all of you, a happy 2014 and thanks a lot for supporting NIKOLAIKIKI, I'm very happy to do what I do!


See you next year!






27 Dec, 2013
Photography - What camera to buy and why ...



Christmas is over but one or another might have received some money to spend on a new camera. So today I want to help you with your decision.


First of all, and I can’t emphasize it enough, a good photo never comes from the camera. It comes from the vision and ability of the photographer. A talented photographer can get great photos with every camera, the more fancy cameras only make it easier for him/her. I would even say 90% of the time you take better photos with a little point & shoot camera that you always have with you compared to a big DSLR. The reason is the point & shoot lets you focus on what’s most important, the image, instead of fiddling around with settings, choosing the right lens or even worrying about others who may be disturbed by a big camera. With a little point & shoot camera I find myself really only thinking about light, framing and composition and the moment. And you can act much more discretely. Plus you don’t expect amazing pictures from a little camera, which makes you much more relaxed ;-)


That said I would frankly recommend to use whatever camera you have and try and learn to take great pictures in the first place. I shot my most successful photo with a little Fujifilm F30 from 2006, it's this one ...



But on the other hand I’m also using fancy cameras and for good reason, so I will give actual recommendations now for those of you who really want to buy a new camera.


Before buying a camera you need to define a couple of things, because there are hundreds of different models that serve for different purposes and they have different prices as well.


I start with my top recommendation for people who love photography, love to look through a big viewfinder to frame and who love the images to look like shot with a film camera. It’s also the camera that I would buy if my budget was limited to something between 1.000 and 2.000 € including a lens. I would go and buy a used original Canon 5D, you can find great camera reviews here. Ken Rockwell is one of the last independent reviewers, only telling what he really thinks. For more in depth testing I always go to imaging resource, it’s here. I also go to dpreview, but I don't like that they've been acquired by Amazon. The 5D was introduced in 2005. It sold till the end of 2008. You can find them on ebay for maybe 500 € sometimes. I would add a Canon 50 1.4 to it and a Canon 24-105. I love a two lens setup, the zoom to walk around and the 50 for creative stuff and low light. The 50 is actually the more important lens, because you can shoot in every possible situation, the slow zoom will have trouble with moving subjects in low light, but I love wide angles and a zoom is so handy for daylight shots.


Why an over 8 year old 5D? Because it’s a great camera, it gives spectacular images, has enough resolution for every possible print size, its viewfinder is nice and big and it has this classic feel to it.


If money was no object I would of course buy a new 5D Mark III, but it’s over 2.500 € new and doesn’t give better images, it’s just so much easier to use.


If you want a new great full frame camera (the sensor has the same size as 35mm film back then) but don’t have 2.500 € to spend on a body I would take a Canon 6D, it’s a superb camera, lighter and smaller than a 5D Mark III with even better low light abilities, it’s just lacking some pro features 90% of the time you don’t need anyway.


What about Nikon? Nikon is as good as Canon, you may as well take a Nikon D610 if you want the newest and greatest or a D600 if you’re out for a bargain. The Nikons are actually the better cameras compared to Canon's competitor the 6D. They have 100% viewfinders (so you see exactly what you get in your finder), dual SD card slots, can shoot faster and have a more sophisticated Autofocus system. I would take Canon because they still have some artistic lenses in their lineup which you wouldn’t find with Nikon, especially the Canon 85 1.2 and the 50 1.2, both of which let you take incredible looking images with sharp subject and blurry backgrounds even with distant shots. This is about art and less about technically perfect and sharp images. If that’s what you’re after, take a Nikon, they actually seem to have more sharper lenses in their lineup, especially super wide angles. I was also asked to say something about video. To be honest, I don’t shoot video but I know that all DSLR do pretty well, a dedicated camcorder, though, is better and much faster focussing. But, with a DSLR you get more of a cinematic look with shallower depth of field due to larger sensors. A full frame DSLR actually gives even shallower depth of field, resulting in very blurred backgrounds. A crop DSLR/camera gives a look similar to 35mm motion film cameras. You won't get that look with a camcorder because of their smaller sensor, much more is in focus.


If those beasts of cameras are too big for you and you want smaller I would buy a Canon 100D, it’s their newest DSLR with a crop sensor (less than half the size of full frame). It’s tiny and still takes all lenses in Canon’s lineup. What you lose compared to full frame is the ability to throw backgrounds out of focus and draw attention to your subject. It’s my main reason to shoot full frame. You also lose the big viewfinder, crop cameras have much smaller finders. Crop cameras are also a little worse in low light and have a little less dynamic range (the ability to retain details in highlights and shadows of an image). 


I show you what I mean with those things … 


With a full frame 5D and a 35mm f/1.4 you can nicely blur backgrounds and emphasize on the subject.


It's much more difficult and not as beautiful with a crop camera, here an Olympus OM-D with a 35mm equivalent lens at f/1.8 ...


With a point & shoot, even at f/1.4, everything is in perfect focus ...


A really great little camera that is even smaller and lighter than the 100D is Olympus’ OM-D E-M5, it’s a marvelous, great looking little camera. I just don’t bother to pick it up when a 5D is around because of its creative potential. There are a couple of other great crop options, like a Fuji X100s, but you will only have a fixed 35mm equivalent lens. Fuji’s interchangeable lens cameras are pretty good, too. I just find their ergonomics a bit awkward, but you may get used to that.


You could also buy a Nikon D7100, but I would prefer a full frame camera, it’s not that much smaller, actually a Canon 6D is the same size and nearly the same weight, a no brainer in my mind.


Ok, you find DSLRs and interchangeable lens cameras too bulky and just want a great little camera? I don’t recommend bridge cameras because their sensors are as small as of point & shoots but they are bulky as well, vanishing the main point of not buying a big sensor camera.


Again Canon’s point & shoots are the best. First the negatives that are the flipsides of a pocket camera: you are unable to blur backgrounds, everything is always sharp and in focus, giving you no possibility to draw attention to special parts of the image (makes you compose much more carefully on the other hand, actually often leading to better images). Point & shoots are not very good in low light, but there are some options that stand out of the crowd. Point & shoots are terribly slow in operation, especially autofocus, making them pretty much useless for people shots, it’s more like a hit and miss.


Here are low light shots, real world samples, the 5D and OM-D picked ISO 6400, the LX7 3200 ...




OM-D and ...


LX7! To get a better idea, let's look closely ...




I also want to show you what better dynamic range with a big sensor means. Have a look at three images taken with the three competitors ...


The window is washed out in every image and you have to decide on what to compromise, highlights or shadows. With a bigger sensor you can pull back more detail, particularly in the shadows. I've exaggerated by pulling the highlights and shadows back all the way, only to see what we get. Check this out ...


Highlight detail in those shots is about the same (the LX7 is a bit worse), but you get cleaner shadows the bigger the sensor, have a look ...


Canons aren't as good as Nikons for deep shadow detail but it's still better than crop sensor cameras. When you keep highlights in check you can pull a lot back from the shadows, even with a point & shoot, much more with a big sensor camera, though.


Anyway, for walk around photos point & shoots are great and much better than your smartphone camera (although you can even make great photos with that, Chase Jarvis has shown), even the cheapest Canons like this one.


If you care about low light photos a bit more, you may take a Canon S120, it’s a super camera with a nice zoom lens, that is fairly bright at the wide end. I’m always drawn to buy one of those, just because they are so small and you can take them everywhere. I once bought one of the predecessors, the S95, and loved it.


Last year I bought another more exotic premium compact, the Panasonic LX7, it has a little wider lens than the rest. It's also a Leica lens, one with an extremely bright f/1.4 at the wide end. The great thing is it only darkens to f/2.3 when fully zoomed in, giving it a huge advantage even over the Canon S series. I’d probably buy it again, the only annoying thing apart from it being a little bit bulkier is the fact that you have to detach and attach the lens cap manually, making it arguably more sluggish compared to the Canons.


Well, I think that’s it for today. And don’t forget to go into a camera shop and play with the different models that you’re interested in. You may find out some things that you love or hate when you have them in your hands. That helps with your decision as well.


Alright, happy shooting, see you next week




Update: I have shot three night shots with the three cameras to give you an impression of noise levels with different sensor types, all shot at ISO 6400, f/1.8, 1/30s, full frame first, Olympus 4/3 second ...



And now crops of the dark parts of the image ...



And last and least ;-) the point & shoot ...



Good night! ...



9 Dec, 2013
Photography Trip - Myanmar, Best Of


Oh Myanmar, what a beautiful experience at the end of an already incredible journey!


It started on the bus to Don Muang Airport in Bangkok where I met Neill, an Australian globetrotter from Perth, who shares many of my passions, travelling and photography in particular, we also love to meet new people and take life the easy way. The fact that we spent my whole 15 days together travelling Myanmar without knowing each other speaks for itself, it really was a great time and we met so many nice people along the way.


In Yangon we came across two Burmese guys, Wunna and Thura, the latter spent three days with us introducing us to normal Burmese life, especially on the countryside, everything without ever asking for money, incredibly friendly.


We also met a very nice Belgian couple in Yangon, Lies and Jhony. We did a magnificent trek from laid-back Kalaw to beautiful Inle Lake together with a bunch of very friendly travellers from around the world.


Bagan was just divine and Mandalay and its surrounding cities provided endless picturesque subjects, a dream for any photographer.


It seems this whole trip really was worth while in every way. It took my photography a good bit further, I improved my portraits of strangers for example, I will bring back around 12.000 images, enough material to completely update the website when I'm back in Berlin and to make portfolios for individual applications and purposes. My portrait project in Cambodia was very successful and I hope to realize my second exhibition in Spring 2014 with an accompanying book.


This trip was more than I expected, much more to come, but now it's time for my Myanmar Best Of ...



WONDERFUL! I'm in love with Myanmar, what a beautiful journey, I will come back someday ...


I am relaxing on Ko Samed, Thailand, for two days now editing images and choosing the 12 for the calender, will show them soon ...


See you





30 Nov, 2013
Photography Trip - Myanmar, week one



This blog site continues to be a very time consuming, thus annoying thing, especially when you have a very fast workflow otherwise. I gave up posting my Myanmar article, instead I created a set on flickr in only five minutes. Myanmar has been wonderful so far, we had the luck to meet incredibly helpful people, Thura and Wanna in Yangon for example. The last days we did a trek from laid-back Kalaw to Inle Lake. The landscape is gorgeous and the people, well, intriguing once again!


Have a look at the slide show ...


See you soon





13 Nov, 2013
Photography Trip - Cambodia, the people


The whole trip this year was built around Cambodia, my main destination. When I visited this fascinating country in 2009 for the first time I was so impressed by the postive attitude the Khmer express. This little country with such a terrible past manages to smile and look into its future with confidence, you can see it in people's faces. I wanted to capture this smile, be it a little damped in some cases, but how could you expect otherwise, some Cambodians have lost their arms, legs, eyes or most of their family. Even more impressive to see how far Cambodia has come since the worst days and there's still a lot more to expect. Look at those people, I truly fell in love with them ...



This is only a selection, I shot a whole lot more, but I am planning an exhibtion for next year, so I wanna make sure there are more images to show you from this stunning country!

Thank you so much, Cambodia, can't wait to come back again :-)





13 Nov, 2013
Photography Trip - Angkor 2013


I'm making it two Cambodia posts, Angkor first ...



That's the impressive Temples of Angkor, my second visit to this amazing place after 2009.


People and country coming next.


Check it out,





7 Nov, 2013
Photography Trip - Cambodia


Boy oh boy, events fly thick and fast. Cambodia, you beauty, with such terrible past. I am doing a portrait project and my impressions from my last visit in 2009 seem to prove themselves. There is something very special about the Khmer, they keep smiling whatever it's thrown at them. When you look at the whining and moaning in Germany or our Western world in general this becomes even more impressive. I am deeply stirred by this attitude and although I know it won't be this way with each and every Cambodian fate you can't deny this positive attitude to life is there, in fact with a lot of Cambodians.


One image that perfectly expresses what I mean is the following. I've been to a hospital the other day and this little guy got his foot in a saw losing two toes and retaining a massive scar on his right leg.


But look at his face and that of his young mother, not a sign of sorrowfulness, that's formidable!



I am lucky to have a great young Cambodian translator these days, we've already found some people and took interviews yesterday and we will keep on talking to Cambodians on the streets of Phnom Penh the next days. Saturday I am planning to move on to Siem Reap ...


I am uploading the first batch of photos shortly, but I will hold some back for a possible exhibition next year :-),


stay tuned!





3 Nov, 2013
Photography Trip - eye of the ...



Today we took plane to Phnom Penh from Singapore. It's a less than two hour flight. Arrived in Cambodia's capital we got the visas on arrival and took the Tuk-tuk to the city. On the way into the city I thought Phnom Penh had changed a bit, being more modern compared to 2009, when I've been here for the first time. Back in the streets downtown and around the Central market everything seems pretty much the same. The Khmer always have a smile on their face and it feels great to be back again on the banks of the mighty river Mekong.


Tomorrow I will wander through the city and start my project. We probably stay in Phnom Penh till next Saturday and then take the bus to Siem Reap.


I will post first pictures in the next days ...