Photography Articles and Techniques
Trout Fishing in Germany
By: Burkhardt Kiegeland
From Vol. 1 No. 3
The World Fair of the Picture is one of the main attractions at the bi-annual Photokina trade show in Cologne, Germany. Anyone who attended the show in the past will remember the great exhibitions of photography accompanying and complementing the business side of the show. Many exhibitors presented fine art prints in color and black-and-white to showcase their products and new techniques.
In 2000, the 50th anniversary of the Photokina show, some beautiful exhibits were open to the public. At Josef-Haubrich-Kunsthalle the people of Kodak presented the stunning and quite moving work of Alfred Stieglitz. The presentation featured work made by Stieglitz during a visit to Europe, some of his earlier work made in New York, and some of the portraits of Georgia OKeefe.
Other exhibitions covered life in the White House; Private Eye by Sharon Farmer; award-winning pictures of World Press Photo; the landscapes of Montreals Mara Fuhrmann; and Germanys Uwe Ommers Family Album of Planet Earth.
This year saw another development reach a new peak. As most camera and photo accessory manufacturers and distributors become more a part of the computer industry, Photokina is less centered around photography and more focused on techniques and gimmicks to create computer-based images faster, at higher resolution and with more gloss and glitz. Masses of pictures made for the promotion of mass produced goods with the effect that nobody really looks at them closely.
They are produced, consumed and digested like fast food, and like a burger or taco you buy through your car window, you really dont want to examine it too closely. There is a dearth of respect in the way the food is created, stored and cooked. At Photokina, the same was apparent in the presentation of digital work. I saw hundreds of feet of glossy large-format inkjet prints covering the ground with everyone just walking over them. When they get scuffed we simply print new ones, one person answered my question. Can you imagine this treatment, or attitude, towards a fine black-and-white print? Would you just walk over prints by Ansel Adams, Stieglitz, Man Ray or Fox-Talbot then just make some new ones?
On the last morning I asked Keith Canham about his view on this years Photokina. He answered, Looking at photography and its market, we see a lot of people fishing with big nets. Each time they catch a lot of fish with their netsfar more than they needbut their intention is simply to catch as many as fast as they can and throw most of them away. Fly-fishing with a rod is very different. It takes a lot of time and effort. Beginning with finding the right spot at a lake or river, then preparing the rod, waitingsometimes for hoursto finally catch a unique and precious fish and of caring for that fish until it makes a delicious meal. This whole process challenges our awareness and our creativity and lets us succeed only when we establish a deeper inner relationship with ourselves as well as our subject. Accordingly the results incorporate a richer meaning, something of ourselves.
So, at this Photokina we watched the crowds going digital at the same time that the fly-fishermen of photography gathered with the makers of tools and toys for traditional silver photography. Keith Canham met a lot of them: Lotus View Camera, medium format people like Rollei, Pentax, and Mamiya, the makers of fine photographic papers like Agfa, Bergger, Ilford, Kodak, Cachet and Maco.
Surprisingly, the niche serving traditional large format photography and fine art printing is actually expanding worldwide. I met experienced observers of the market who claimed that just a few years from now the well known brands of monorail view cameras will not accept sheet film. This will leave this market wide open to the makers of field cameras. If this comes true there certainly will be a time where we have to discuss the prospects of a special photographic fine-art fair where we can meet and discuss or own needs. We are living in exciting times.
Following is a selection of new or improved products that should be of interest to the traditional photographer.
Maco, a maker of fine photographic papers and films, has introduced an infrared film called Macophot IR820c. It is available in 35mm, 120 and 4x5. The film is rated at ISO 100 and offers infrared sensitivity up to 820nm, very fine grain, high sharpness and excellent resolving power. The base is clear but backed by an integrated antihalation layer. Macophot IR820c is available in the U.S. from Cachet Fine Art Photographic Paper Company.
Another highly interesting film is made under the name Gigabit-Film by a small German company of the same name. Gigabit here refers to the films enormous resolving power of 900(!!) lines per mm at a rating of ISO 25. Founder of Gigabit-Film GmbH is Detlef Ludwig. For more than 10 years Ludwig has been involved in research on ultra-high-resolution photography in cooperation with universities and film makers. We are currently testing Gigabit-Film and will report on the tests in an upcoming issue of Photovision. The material is currently produced in 4x5, 35mm and 120.
Ilford has improved their Delta 400 film which many believe is one of the best films for use with Pyro developers. The improved material, also rated at ISO 400, has finer grain and an even better tonality than the old versionand it can be pushed up to E.I. 1600 with stunning results. Disappointingly, the new Delta 400 will be available in 35mm and 120/220 but not sheet film sizes.
Q-Top, a small company located in Berlin has entered the market with a new tripod quick release. While they may not have reinvented the wheel in this regard, they have found an interesting variation. There are a couple of interesting refinements in the Q-top. It is small but very solid and is extremely fast. It has an absolutely secure locking mechanism. The design of the unit makes it virtually impossible to drop a properly attached camera.
The Q-top also provides some excellent possibilities in panoramic photography. Simply mount the camera and release the shutter then move the camera 15 degrees (clearly marked on the mount) and so on. Q-top is available for 35mm. A medium format version is also in the works
Zone system workers will appreciate a densitometer created for their use by Mr. Heiland, a well known personality on the European fine art scene. The Heiland Splitgrade is designed with a special management system for VC-papers. The system includes an enlarging head with an integral meter offering split grade settings for nearly every paper on the market. The workflow is as follows: Make a simple scan of the brightness and the contrast of the negative. This process is supported by optical and acoustic signals and takes just a few seconds. Next, the data is automatically fitted to the sensitivity of your chosen paper and contrast grade. Motorized filters provide an exact split-exposure using the correct magenta and yellow values. Finally, burning and dodging when necessary can be done by individual steps of the program. It is possible to exceed the automatic grading by indidividual values. Heiland products are distributed in the U.S. exclusively by Versalab.
A running gag in the German language is the Wolle gebende Milchsau. The term describes a pig which gives you meat as well as wool and milk something impossible. The Gilde 66-17 MST Super 3D may be closer to meeting this elusive goal then most. The camera offers formats from 6x6cm up to panoramic 6x17cm in a single body and also offers shift and tilt. Other features include self-locking compendium bellows, an electronic counter which makes use of 220 film possible, a motor drive and a ground-glass back. The designer has a following of photographers who value his ingenious and unique craftsmanship. Based on this design Gilde now offers a stereo system including the viewer.
Two years ago, Alpa of Switzerland was introduced to the photographic community and immediately created the basis for a new tradition. At this Photokina, Alpa introduced an improved version of their medium format viewfinder camera featuring interchangable lenses, viewfinders, filmholders and backs for sizes from 4.5x6cm up to 6x9cm. Improvements such as custom made viewfinder masks, interchangable handgrips fashioned from transparent polyurethane, a classic groundglass as well as the new Schneider Super Angulon XL8/5.6 38mm rounded out an already impressive package.
To top off a great presentation, Alpa exhibited a selection of interesting images which were impressive both because of their large size and interesting subject matter. These prints reaffirmed the proposition that all this technology is about making fine photographic imageslovingly, one at a time and by hand.
Burkhardt Kiegeland has been a writer, fine art photographer and printer in Germany for 40 years. He has written two bestselling instruction books on photography and the darkroom that have been translated into several European languages. He is a regular contributor to the German magazine SchwarzWeiss (Monochrome, literally translates as "Black/White") on film processing, fine printing and the non-silver processes. He is chairman and technical director of Lotus View Camera. The Lotus view camera was designed based on his practical experience working in the field.