Waiting with Walter White and koordinate

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“Worauf warten?” by koordinate – To the photo

In this episode of our feature “Photographers talk about their photos”, we’d like to spotlight one of our new photographers: Philip Scholz alias koordinate. When we came across his photo “Worauf warten?” [which could be loosely translated with "Waiting for what?"] recently, we instantly asked ourselves “This is from Breaking Bad, right?” And damn right it is! In this blogpost, Philip tells us more.

Portfolio-Philip-Scholz-PSC-4875,medium_large

Maybe everyone experiences that moment one time in their lives, when you have to decide: Do I leave my old life behind me and set out into an unknown future or do I remain in the here and now, in old constrains and entanglements?

In a similar hopeless situation was probably Walter White, protagonist of the US drama series „Breaking Bad“, when he saw the only way out of all the chaos he created in finding a hideout at Ed’s, who promises him a new idendity. With some money and a few cloths in a suitcase, he is waiting at the meeting point. A moment after, a red van stops and Walt enters.

The choice of the meeting spot fits the situation, located a little far-off at the periphery of the city, cold concrete, dried up soil. Do all those other single blocks stand for the others, who disappeared?

On a road trip through California, San Francisco, Sacramento, Mariposa, then Nevada. Won in Las Vegas, lost all the more later. Briefly thought about setting forth an the long drive to New Mexico. But as a fan of the show, I sure wanted to see the shooting locations that I encountered again and again on TV and that stuck in my memories.

So into the car in Las Vegas and onto the freeway. Mojave desert in a fast-forward, flashed past the Grand Canyon and then, many hours and many Dr. Pepper later: Arrival in Albuquerque. Found a hotel, arrived, woke up. The city is quiet, almost deserted. Is it always like that here?

A plan was made, the navigation system set and off we went. Arrived, paused for a moment. Oh boy, TV history was written here. We catched the perfect day. The afternoon sun faintly interfused the haze. It immersed everything in a surreal light. Found a parking spot, let the other cars pass by and “snap”, the photo was captured.

In fact, the meeting point is an old dam, which is supposed to protect the city of Albuquerque located in the high desert from the high tides of the Arroyo River. It feels, just like the city itself, not very exciting and still fits in nicely in the total picture of the rather sparse desert landscape and the whole color scale that ranges from muted red to soft grey.

The trip was totally worth it! I’d never have come up with the idea of going there if it wasn’t for “Breaking Bad”. And in addition to the photo I took along the memories of a cursory meeting with a group of like-minded from El Paso, who embarked on the same search. And of a waitress in a coffee shop, who realized quickly from my accent that I wasn’t from the area.

I joined Photocase a few weeks ago and still let the impression sink in. I get orientation and inspiration from a lot of great photos, that I already discovered here, for example this one by C/L:

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the great escape by C/LTo the photo

This place is also suited for taking a time out, to let your thoughts rest and concentrate on yourself. Maybe also to better make a decision. But in contrast to the rigid construct of the concrete blocks of the dam, here with a free view, limited only by the semi-permeable grid of thoughts that surrounded you until now. The sky clears up.

So… Worauf warten?

Thanks, Philip! This way to his user profile.

How to shoot awesome food photos: 6 great tips by Gortincoiel

We have a weakness for good food. And great photos. And great photos of good food. That’s perfectly obvious. But how do you capture culinary hightlights in beautiful photographs? How can you whet the viewer’s appetite? We asked our photographer Gortincoiel and she put together these 6 awesome tips for us.

Virgin Daiquiri – to the photo

I started with photography in 2004. Later, in 2009, I dove into food photography. After the first wonky steps it turned out pretty fast, that I feel very comfortable in this field of photography. By this time, I developed a real passion for food photography. For about 2 years, this has been my main focus. For various reasons: I never get bored of food, motifs are plenty and they can be presented in new ways over and over again. And – what’s especially important – food is always available and can be arranged without much of a hassle.

In my work, naturalness is very important to me. I almost only take my photos in daylight and use a tripod plus a remote release. My arrangements are all 100% edible. I never use a dummy and always pay attention not to use any plastic items as requisites or “props.” I really like to work with rustic-style, old requisites, that can almost tell a story on their own.

And here are my 6 tips for beautiful food photos:

1) Lighting

The best photos don’t come out of complex lighting set ups, flash and soft boxes, but in plain and simply daylight. Natural lighting gives your photos a natural appeal. All you need is a window without direct sunlight, a tripod (to be independent from exposure time) and ideally a remote release (to prevent camera shakes). A reflector, for example in form of a simple styrofoam plate, can help to lighten up disturbing shadows. What you should turn off completely is your internal camera flash. Working with artificial light requires lots of experience to appear natural and therefore can not be recommended for newbies.

2) Concept

In food photography – just like in photography in general – it is often helpful to work with solid concepts. Which means, you take a fixed topic as a basis of your photos and shoot your motif accordingly. Adjust everything that’s connected with the emergence of your photos with this concept, from choice of props to lighting, perspective and the motif itself. Examples for these concepts could be “natural & organic products”, “seasonal cuisine” or color concepts.

3) Props

At least as important as the motif itself are the props. They should fit your photo concept and be inherently consistent. Grandma’s gold plate doesn’t go together with modern cutlery from IKEA. In general I always try to use objects that are either neutral, natural or so old that they carry their very own charm. Time-worn old wooden tables used as a base have a whole different appeal than smoothly polished table tops in modern beechwood look. No-goes for me are things like imprinted figures, labels, cheap looking patterns, plastic or other inappropriate objects.

4) Perfect imperfection

In the past, people set great value on preferably clean and perfectly draped food photos. The trend nowadays goes more into the direction of naturalness and authentic scenes. The photos are supposed to look “real”, as if they happened randomly while cooking, mixing cocktails or shopping for groceries. While in fact, what actually lies behind is a very specific and elaborate composition, that should only give the impression of casualness – the perfect imperfection. The cookie can crumble or be bitten or even broken. With sauces, the blob that went sideways almost became compulsory. Photos don’t have to be clean and tidy anymore.

5) Emotionality

Eating is a highly emotional topic that addresses (almost) everyone. In order to to create food photos that address the viewer directly, photographers often the apply following rules. Try to depict the food the way a potential “eater” would come upon it: fully arranged and ready to eat. The perspective should match the natural angle of someone sitting on a table. The peace of cake already lays on a plate with the rest of the cake (blurry) in the background. The fork lies next to the plate, ready to grab. The viewer gets the impression that they only have to pick it up to start consuming the delicious dessert in front of them.

6) Composition

Just like with nonfood photos, composition is key. Common rules like (A-) symmetry, golden cut or an uneven number of objects apply too in food photography. You can create liveliness and suspense through depiction of different layers. A lot of photos live off blurry parts, that can be achieved with wide apertures. Also movement (for example fluttering powder sugar, a hand or tripping sauce can bring atmosphere into a still life. Also, your composition should be adjusted to your motif. A photo of a flat pizza is preferably taken from a bird’s eye perspective. A tall bottle of juice works better if shot from a flat perspective. Furthermore, all objects on the photo should carry a relevant information. All additional accessories, that don’t add anything essential to your photo’s mood or effect, will bring more harm that use.

Here are 2 examples:

"Made with Love" by Gortincoiel

“Made with Love” – to the photo

I took this photo at a photo workshop I was attending in Hamburg. Contrary to my tips above, that lay a strong emphasize on planning and preparation, this photo happened very spontaneously. I realized that one of the course participants wore a dress that had exactly the same color as the fruits in the muffins. I wrapped it in some baking paper, brought it into shape, put it into her hands and took the photo. My model was standing right next to the window, so lighting came directly from the right side through the shop window. The underlying concept here was the repetition of color in fruit and dress. The wide aperture and therefore smooth blurriness match the affectionate and gently gesture.

The key facts: Nikon D7000, 50mm 1.8, ISO 500, aperture 2.0, shutter speed 1/60

"Satsuma" by Gortincoiel

“Satsuma” – to the photo

This photo was taken at the end of 2012 too. The clementines still had leaves and stems which gave them a fresh look. They almost look like they’ve been freshly picked from a tree. The concept here was: naturalness. The old wood, the contrasts that have been emphasized through editing and the slightly gloomy light atmosphere support the country-style, close to nature appeal.

The key facts: Nikon D7000, 60mm 2.8, ISO 100, Blende 4.5, shutter speed 1/250, tripod, remote release

Thanks a lot, Gortincoiel! Head to her user profile here.

We’re off to buy some baking ingredients now. ;)

Traveling across South America with 50Centimos

Photo: 50Centimos

50Centimos jumping into new adventures

To travel the world with a camera – this is the dream of many photographers. 50Centimos turned this dream into reality. In this interview, he tells us more.

Hi 50Centimos, tell us a little bit about yourself! Who are you, where are you from and how and when did you take up photography?

My name is Markus Göttlich and I’m from Faistenau, a small village 25 km outside of Salzburg, the city of Mozart, Austria. I got excited about photography when I was i kid. Back then, I found a Polaroid at my parent’s attic, that awakened my fascination and that I treated with care and used very sparingly. 10 photos did cost what was a small fortune for me back then. This is basically how it all started and since then, I’ve been a constant owner of a camera. Time went by and technology advanced. After several “Point and Shoot” cameras, I finally got myself my first Canon Eos 350 digital camera. This ultimately triggered the sleeping photographer in me and so I started my development from a hobby to – what I like to call myself – a self-made travel photographer.

And as such, you are on the road at the moment. Please tell us, what “self-made travel photographer” means for you and how it all started.

“Self-made” simply because I never attended a photography class oder seminars. Most of what I know, I thought myself by trial and error and reading online. Three years ago, I decided to pack my stuff and start traveling the world with my camera. Since then, my journey has brought me across South America. At first, I was taking photos just for me, my family and close friends. But then more and more people asked for more photos from my travels, so I first set up my webseite, followed by my Facebook page, where a lot of travel and photography enthusiasts follow me already. It’s always a nice moment for me when I see familiar the “Like” message blinking, because I’m often on my own for a long time and can’t share all the things I’m experiencing.

Why South America?

This is an easy one: My journey came about very spontaneously. From the moment of decision making until the actual start, there was only 2 months time. And as I plan to do a world trip, the question for me was: first to the left or to the right? East or west? The internet made the decision for me, when I searched for a affordable “voyage by freighter.”

Do you travel according to a special concept or certain rules?

Rules or concept? Well, there is pretty much only one rule, that guides the most, which is not to fly. This way, I move very slow in comparison to other travelers. But it has the advantage, that I see a lot more of what lies inbetween A and B and that enchants me. I get an idea of how big the globe we are living on is. In general, I travel without big plans, because one thing that I experience over and over again is that things never turn out the way you expect.

So where have you been until now and where do you plan to go next?

During the last 1100 days I traveled parts of Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador. I climbed mountains, explored big cities as well as small Andean villages in the middle of the Peruvian mountains. I walked along endless beaches in Brazil and crossed deserts in Chile. What’s most fascinating for me is the vastness, the magnitude, the panoramas as well as the ever-changing landscapes. I often wander around for a few hours through unknown areas and capture everything I see in my photos. Last year, I crossed all of Peru with my 125cc motorcycle. My plan for this year is to add two more wheels. At the moment, I’m at the Argentinian coast and started reconstructing an old Ford pickup, with that I want to explore and travel endless Patagonia next. This part of my journey will bring me deep into landscape photography. I hope to be able to expand into even the last corners of Argentina and Peru.

What kind of photo equipment is on your side?

One of the biggest challenges to my continuous journey is, that I have to fit all my belongings into a 65 litre backpack. All my clothes and camera equipment including a MacBook for editing and publishing. Hence, I had to think very carefully about what to take with me and what to leave behind. My current photo equipment consists of a Canon EOS 650D with a wide-angle, a telephoto and a 50mm lens. With this equipment I can capture pretty much everything that crosses my sensor.

Do you have any favorite subjects?

I don’t really have a preferred subject or favourite photo yet. I constantly try to improve my photo skills and learn new techniques. The great thing about my current life is, that I have time for my big hobby: photography. It’s my dream to be able to make a living from it one day and to show people, how beautiful it is out there. To inspire to travel and let you all see the world through my eyes.

Here are a few impressions of 50Centimos’ journey:

Photo: 50Centimos

Photo ID 589534 by 50Centimos – To the photo

An icy night in the Andes Mountains at 4000 meters. Here I crossed the Andes with my motorcycle for the first time. I think I will remember this night forever.

Photo: 50Centimos

Photo ID 469626 by 50Centimos – To the photo

This photo was made near the salt desert of Uyuni, Bolivia, on a train cemetery. We reached this mystic place right in time for the sunset and I succeeded in taking some good shots.

Photo: 50Centimos

Photo ID 469247 by 50Centimos – To the photo

This is the view I had for one month in Rio de Janeiro, where I lived in a hostel in the middle of a favela near the famous Copacabana.

Photo: 50Centimos

Photo ID 584326 by 50Centimos – To the photo

Cochabamba, Bolivia – The picture shows my friend Ciáran, with whom I traveled across the country. The view overlooking the city was breathtaking.

Photo: 50Centimos

Photo ID 584342 by 50 centimos – To the photo

Wonder of the world Machu Picchu. After a 4 day hike together with my mum, who visits me once a year, we reached the old Inca town in Cusco.

Photo: 50Centimos

Photo ID 584088 by 50Centimos – To the photo

I made this photo quite recently at the coast of Argentina. It was my first attempt to capture a thunderstorm. I think I managed to do it quite well. ;)

Muchas gracias, Markus! We wish you all the best for your journey and always enough camera battery power. :)

This way to his user profile. Check out more of his great travel photography on 50centimos.com. You can also follow his travels on his Facebook page.

Interview: an.ne
Fotos: 50Centimos

Photocase photo on the German stamp of condolence 2013

Trauermarke 2013

German special issue stamp “Trauermarke 2013″

Last week, we received a very special specimen: a stamp. More precisely a small card from the German Federal Ministry of Finance presenting us with the stamp of condolence for 2013 (in German “Trauermarke”). The photo of sunlight breaking through a deep dark cloud ceiling is from our photographer apfelholz. We didn’t even know that the German post offers special stamps for condolence mail but now that we are aware, we think this is an appropriate way to express sympathy and we are happy that the graphic designer found the right photo for the project here on Photocase.

Some additional philatelic details:

  • Layout: Greta Gröttrup, Hamburg
  • Stamp value: 60 Cent
  • Format: 44,20 mm x 26,10 mm
  • Printing method: multicolour offset print
  • Date of issue: December 5th 2013

This way to the photo on Photocase.

The special issue stamp is available at the Deutsche Post online shop.

Into the (Canadian) Wild: Watching Northern Lights with PiLens

A photo by PiLens

A photo by PiLens

We thought we should maybe start off this post with a little advance warning. So here it comes: Caution, the following photos might cause extreme wanderlust (to go to Canada). We are already infected. In our latest edition of our monthly feature “Photographers talk about their photos”, our photographer Stephan Pietzko aka PiLens takes us to the Canadian Northwest to see beautiful landscapes, mountains, lakes, snow and even northern lights. Oh Canada, you beauty…

It was love at first sight when I, as a 19 year old who grew up in Düsseldorf, visited Lapland for the first time. Mysterious taiga and subarctic tundra, untouched wilderness, wild rivers, clear lakes, rugged mountains, bright midsummer nights with buzzing mosquitos, strong winters with crystal clear coldness, terrific landscapes and indescribable light – all that is the North (and so much more!). You either hate it or you love it, but you just can’t be indifferent.

It was meant to be a lifelong affair. At first, I did more trips, more often to Lapland in summer or fall. Then 2 very adventurous winters in a real trapper’s hut in the Canadian woods followed, very isolated and very romantic with the woman who is now my wife. And finally my emigration to my new adopted homeland at Lake Laberge in the Yukon Territory of Canada’s Northwest.

A photo by PiLens / Photocase.de

A photo by PiLens

Aurora borealis, for me, is the icon and allegory of this hard to grasp but my life dominating fascination, which the boreal wilderness has never lost for me. As a natural scientist I know that northern lights are caused by electrically charged particles of the solar wind. They are captured by the magnetic field of the earth and deviated towards the poles where they can reach the atmosphere of the earth. What happens then is similar to the physical process in an electrical fluorescent lamp. So, in a way northern lights are an illuminated advert of the sun. However, what cannot be explained by science is the mystery of the emotional echo that auroras trigger in me. Not surprising, the North inspired me to become a photographer.

In terms of pure photographic technique, northern lights are not a big challenge: a good DSLR camera, like my Canon 5D MkII, that still produces an acceptable noise level at ISO 800 or 1600 and exposure times of up to 30 seconds, a fast wide-angle lens (f=2.8 or better), a stable tripod and a cable release is everything you need. The real challenge is to focus in almost total darkness, where no autofocus works, the nightly cold, which afflicts battery and fingers, foggy glasses, iced up lenses and and and… When finally the camera is set up the dance of the aurora is often already over. And be careful when returning inside to the warm stove. The photo gear has to be sealed air tight when warming up again, otherwise inevitable condensation destroys the sensitive electronics.

Here are a few impressions of Lake Laberge with and without aurora by season:

In Spring:

A photo by PiLens

A photo by PiLens

In summer:

A photo by PiLens / Photocase.com

A photo by PiLens

A photo by PiLens / Photocase.com

A photo by PiLens

A photo by Foto von PiLens / Photocase.com

A photo by PiLens

In fall:

A photo by PiLens / Photocase.com

A photo by PiLens

In winter:

A photo by PiLens / Photocase.com

A photo by PiLens

A photo by PiLens / Photocase.com

A photo by PiLens

Thanks, Stephan! This way to his user profile. For more photos, check out his lightboxes Northern LightsEveryday life in the Yukon territory, Canada. and Ice & Snow. For even more photos, check out Stephan’s website imagoborealis.com right on!