Camera hack: Build your own filter

We love experiments. Espresso with tonic? Sure, why not. Our dear Theresa tests a new cake recipe? We act as her test eaters with pleasure. And in photography, we like experiments anyway. Precisely for this reason, we came up with the idea to do some simple DIY photo hacks during Photocase Day this year, so that our photographers can play around and get creative with plastic film, colored Sharpies, cardboard and box cutter knives. The inspiration came from this neat little video that pischare posted a while ago in the photographer’s forum. Unfortunately, our small DIY corner got lost in the excitement and later fell through completely because of the downpour. However, we really did like the results of our pre-tests, so we decided to post the photo hacks here in the blog. We start with the “Arty Filter Hack”, which goes like this:

Arty Filter Hack

Step 1

Paint plastic film with colored Sharpies.


Step 2

Pull the film apart until there’s a hole in the middle. If you want, you can also leave out step 2 and go directly to step 3 (like we did in the example below).

Step 3

Place film above your lens and fix it with a elastic band.

Step 4

… aaand take pretty colorful photos.


So many colors thanks to plastic film and Sharpies

What a wonderful coincidence, that our photographer inkje had also published a series of experiments with plastic foil on Photocase recently. How fitting, we thought to ourselves and asked her to tell us a little bit more about her experiments:

Hi Inkje, How did you come up with the idea for your plastic film experiments?

The idea for the series came by accident, when I saw a plastic bag laying around in my hallway at home. I don’t exactly remember why I took it. I guess it just annoyed me. The fact that I was holding my Sony RX 100 in my other hand, resulted in me putting the plastic bag over my hand and doing some test shots with my arm stretched out. The first photos were so awful, so morbid, that I was both, shocked and fascinated at the same time. Then I just turned the whole thing around and put the bag over my camera, pulled a small hole in it and took photos of myself. Every photo made me more curious as to how the next one would turn out. I just wanted to experiment a little.


…..” and “breathe, breathe in the air” by inkje

What was the exciting thing for you about the plastic bag experiments?

I found it very fascinating, that the photos had such different effects. Some appeared foggy, hot and muggy. To stress this effect, I made my hair and face wet. I emphasized the morbid appeal by high contrasts and black and white.

“Ein Hauch von Mut” und “Hitze” von inkje

Ein Hauch von Mut” and “Hitze” by inkje

Do you already have an idea with what you want to experience next?

I don’t know yet. I hope it will happen naturally. I like staying curious more than planning everything down to the last detail. :)

Have fun experimenting!

Photocase Day 2014 Photo Contest – Photoswap!

Here’s the continuation of our little recap of Photocase Day 2014. Today: the photo contest. This year’s photo competition was quite similar to last year’s, but with a little twist. If our contest was a cocktail, it definitely would have had the  word “twist” in its name. But as it wasn’t about alcoholic liquids, but finding a new owner of the Photocase cup, we simply named the contest “photoswap”.

7  teams took part and here’s how the whole thing it went: The task was to shoot a photo story with six photos. These photo series were going to be presented later in the evening. But – and now comes the “twist” part – by another group and not the ones who took the photos. So the challenge was not only to take 6 ace photos but also to develop a story based on someone else’s photos and present this story in front of the the whole La Chamansabaa crowd. Our honoured jury, made up of one member from each group (o-zero, table, andlostluggage, Gräfin., jock+scott, prenz66 and sir_hiss) had the super-hard job to pick 2 winners. One for the best photo series and one for the best story/presentation.

The prizes

1st prize in the category “Best photos” was a 100GB Dropbox voucher.


The group with the best presentation/story won a Konstruktor DIY set from


And here are the winners of “Best story”

Group 7 with Charlotte V., jodofe, matlen and andlostluggage won “Best Story”. Congratulations! The photos of the best story were shot by Group 6 with secretgarden, Th S, o-zero and speednik (who also made place 2 in the category “Best photos”).

Story Part 1

Meet Adelgunde, chairman of the Neukölln latex- and rubber enthusiast association. Adelgunde is very sad. She was having almost no fun at the last meet up and her beloved balloon also doesn’t mean so much to her any more…

Horst isn’t feeling too well too. As treasurer of the tote bag fetishist association Moabit, he does not feel challenged enough any more. Even his favourite tote bag can’t blind the fact any more that the tote bag love is gone.

But what’s this? Ahh – rubber, latex. Horst has never felt something that pleasant before.

Adelgunde is happy. Did her balloon find a new admirer? And what is that thing that Horst is holding in his arm? A tote bag… interesting. If she is allowed to touch it?

Both vanish behind the bushes to try out their now favorites…

Pure happiness, happy end. Together they are off to buy new talcum powder and fabric softener.

Winners in the category “Best Photos”

… And the glorious Photocase cup and the 100 GB Dropbox vouchers went to: Team 3 with fabsn, pischare, *princessa*, table and koordinate for their street photography series “Berlin – a portrait.” Congratulations! We would have loved to show you all 6 photos, but unfortunately, due to legal reasons, we can only show you one photo from the series:


From the series “Berlin – a portrait”

You can find a link to the whole series here in the Photocase photographer’s forum.

Here are a few more impressions from the contest and award ceremony




Thanks again to everyone who took part. A special Thanks you goes out to our prize sponsors and Dropbox!

The lord of the strip(e)s

Foto von Bratscher

“Gerhard Richter’s guitar” by Bratscher – To the photo

Our photographer Martin Morgenstern aka Bratscher joined Photocase in 2007, has 177 in his portfolio at the moment and is particularly known for his stripe photos. As a musicologist and music journalist, he has a passion for both, music and photography. In this blogpost, he tells us about the parallels between music, painting and photography. And what this has to do with Gerhard Richter’s “Strips” (you most certainly know them and if not, you’ll get an impression here).

Foto: Anna S.

Martin Morgenstern is Bratscher on Photocase (Photo by Anna S.)

It’s crazy, what big leaps the arts made at the turn of the last century. Different styles exploded in music and visual arts. Soon the conservative old masters were facing a new avant garde, where no rules seemed to apply any more. Respectively, more complicated: You didn’t hear hear the stringent rules in serial music any more, only seemingly chaos. It was only a question of time until people saw this development sceptically, got tired of this perpetual, getting more and more extreme provocation. If something like this happens, usually a “retro” wave follows. A new “simplicity” becomes modern. “Redux” was there. Under these prognostic signs, one might understand the music by Steve Reich, Philip Glass oder Michael Nyman and later (and especially!) music by Arvo Pärt. Composers orientated themselves to visual arts and reduced their works to simple, almost geometrical ground structures, that were repeated over and over. Their music was suddenly super abstract: Music with it’s two basic dimensions pitch level and note duration lost one of two axis of coordinates. Music had no duration any more. It was basically possible to enter or exit a piece of music at any point.

Just like Gerhard Richter’s “strips”. They are infinite long or short. The viewer gets lost looking at them. One year ago, I saw Germany’s most expensive living painter during a press tour. His “Strips” were finally shown (after several exhibitions elsewhere) at the Galerie Neue Meister in Dresden.

Gerhard Richter beim Presserundgang 2013 in Dresden (Foto: Bratscher)

Gerhard Richter during a press tour at the Galerie neue Meister in Dresden 2013 (Photo: Bratscher)

For me, that was redux: The artwork suddenly lost half of its dimensions. Richter is an unpretentious type, he was looking friendly from under his bushy eyebrows and replied impishly to the journalist’s questions. “What’s the message behind the strips?”, an over-eager editor asked for example. Richter laughed. “Nothing, anyone can choose! Besides, I’m not interested in the strips any more. I’m already doing something else…” The journalists murmured and had their exhibition posters signed (you never know…). The managing-director of the Kunstsammlungen Dresden later summed up Richter’s statement about his strips a little more serious: “You ask yourself: What does meaning mean?” Ah, well yes.

Photo: bratscher

“Adrenalin” by Bratscher – To the photo

"150." von bratscher – zum Foto

“150.” by Bratscher – To the photo

Stripes or strips (a lot of time was spent on the discussion about the difference between the terms during the press conference), are everywhere in our daily lives. For years I’ve been photographically collecting strips, some of them even made it into my Photocase portfolio Photocase portfolio.

Foto von bratscher

“My minimal world” by Bratscher – To the photo

I love it when Richter strips occur in surprising locations: on Sheldon Cooper’s sofa cushions, in a shop window advertising in Dresden or on the beach bag of my girlfriend. Or on Photocase, for example in view7‘s photos:

Foto von view 7

“SUPER” by view 7 – To the photo

At some point, I started making stripe photos, specifically for Photocase, sometimes by panning or – probably illicitly – “digitally”. And by the way almost the same way like Richter, by choosing a 1 px wide strip of a former photo and dragging it to the desired width (plus a little editing). Which of my strips are “real” or what the role models of my strips were, I’m not going to tell for now.

"Hinterm Horizont" by Bratscher – To the photo

“Hinterm Horizont” by Bratscher – To the photo

“What does meaning mean?” Gerhard Richter, who lives in Cologne now, once helped his hometown Dresden in practical terms with one painting. It weren’t strips this time, but isn’t it great, what art and interest in art can sometimes trigger? Well, enough of my philosophic monologue. I’m going outside now. To take photos.

Thanks, Martin! This way to his user profile including photos with and without stip(e)s.

This was Photocase Day 2014

It’s crazy, how fast Photocase Day arrived and how it went by almost like in the blink of an eye. Well, as the saying goes: Time flies when you are having fun and we definitely had a great day. Thanks to everyone who came! We hope, you enjoyed yourself. We had an awesome time chatting with you about Photocase and the world, listen to the contest presentations and marvel at the contest photos. Of course we found a new owner for our Photocase cup, namely… that we will reveal in a separate blogpost about this year’s photo contest. ;)

As some of you might remember, we did a little video action last year during Photocase Day. We took the opportunity to record video portraits with some of our photographers and we were super stocked to show a small cut together of these interviews to the La Chamansabaa crowd. All videos will be released at full length soon, so stay tuned! Also, one more is still to come. We recorded another video interview with our photographer pischare this year.

What else was new? There was a revival of the old tradition of the “camera on a cord”, this time with 2 camera bound together for 2 people taking photos of each other simultaneously. We are already super curious about the photos! (But we still have to wait until we can pick them up from the photo lab.) And finally, after all these La Chaman-years, we managed to take a group picture with everyone. “Cheeeeese” to that! :)

We call it “Grout photo with desk” ;)

Thanks to Ullrich, we also have a couple of quite funny time lapse videos of the day. This is how the scenery looked from above. Franks calls everyone in for the video and contest presentations:

Here are a few more impressions from La Chamansabaa

_DSC0041 (1)


Servus aus dem 1. Stock (Foto: sir_hiss)

Photo by sir_hiss

Voller Einsatz beim Contest (Foto: sir hiss)

Photo by sir_hiss


Photo by sir_hiss

Die Fotos für den Contest auswählen (Foto: sir_hiss)

Photo by sir_hiss

Treffen & schwatzen (Foto: sir_hiss)

Photo by sir_hiss

Wespenschutz mit Möhre (Foto: sir_hiss)

Photo by sir_hiss

Am Abend (Foto: sir_hiss)

Photo by sir_hiss


…And that was Photocase Day 2014. See you next year at La Chaman8! :)

A special THANKS for the support goes out to Lomography Germany and Dropbox!

Irina’s Travels Part II

Last year in winter, we did an interview with our photographer Irina about her journey towards east, through Russia, up to Alaska. At that point, she had already traveled Poland, Slovakia, the Ukraine and Romania. All by herself, she was equipped with a backpack, camera, courage and an open mind. She was in Bulgaria, Turkey, Caucasus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, East Russia and finally in South Korea, before she took a short break from traveling back home in Germany. You can read all about it here. We recently started wondering what she’s been up to since, thinking about what adventures she might have experienced, so we decided it was time for a second interview.

Foto: Irina

Irina in Mongolia (Photo: Irina)

Hi Irina! How was your break from traveling and what happened since?

During my 4 month break, it was hard for me to get back into normal everyday life. I felt like being on a journey through and I kinda actually was. However, after those 4 months, it was as hard to start again and continue. It was a strange phase and I will always think of it as part of my journey.

After the final end of the travels in August 2013, I felt full of energy and wanted to start full speed with my PhD about raccoons in Georgia. Well, it didn’t happen and in those grey November days, all the motivation faded away quickly and my lack of work and perspectives seemed endless. But just then, I received a absolutely unexpected job offer: interviewing Chinese students at the Academic testing center of the German Embassy in Beijing. Ok?! Totally insane, but an absolute lucky find to me. My job there even brought me to the German Embassy in Ulan Bator/Mongolia and will hopefully lead me to Vietnam in November and after that for a couple of months to China again. In between job assignments I travel of course. ;) And so I am on my way back from Mongolia to Germany at the moment. As always backpacking, traveling by bus and couchsurfing.

Please tell us which countries you traveled to during the 2nd part of your journey and what you experienced there.

The second part of my “world trip” led me from April to August 2013 at first 2 months to Mongolia, after that I spent one month China, followed by one month in Alaska and the Canadian Yukon territory. And I would say that this part of my journey was probably the best. I experienced so many great things and met great people. Especially Mongolia turned out to be the dreamland that I had imagined – just like Alaska and Yukon. I found that China was not a suitable travel country for me. I almost only visited cities. But, it was nonetheless interesting and it’s a culinary wonderland – the best food on my whole journey.

In Mongolia, I contacted all wildlife biologists and was pushing an open door with my interview project ( I got lots of info about ongoing projects and was even able to work with WWF Mongolia on their snow leopard project. And so it happened, that I had the incredible chance to see a wild female snow leopard from 20 m distance and look her in the eyes. This was probably one of the happiest moments of my journey and it still feels surreal. Equally beautiful were the Gobi desert and the vastnesses of Mongolia that appeared to be endless.

In Alaska and Yukon, it went on with postcard sceneries and animal sightings, including a grizzly, a black bear, migratory salmon, a humpback whale, caribous, a polar fox and moose. That’s why this part of my journey belongs also to my personal highlights. But it’s also the part where I had the best human encounters! I traveled together with 2 boys from Israel the whole time and the sun was simply shining for us, there’s no other way to describe it. ;) After that I continued my way hitchhicking, and ended up with dinner, a few drinks in several bars and an overnight stay on a yacht! And the most exceptional Couchsurfing bed was at the coastal rain forest in Alaska near Haines in a small, open tree house. Oh and I have a new favorite city: Dawson City in Yukon. The gold mining town sparkles with adventurous spirit, there’s an incredible atmosphere. Especially when it’s summer and the sun still hasn’t disappeared beyond the horizon and you’ve already been to every one of the 15 bars and saloons. I had a great time there. I even crossed the arctic circle and had fresh caribou steak with some First Nations people.

I could talk endlessly about this part of my journey and I hope that I can do that live and in person with some of you in the future.

In Beijing there was even a Photocase user meet-up, right? Please tell us, how it was and how it came about.

Yes, that was totally funny. I read in the forum, that steffne and his girlfriend were planing a short trip to Beijing. I was there in the meantime because of my job at the testing centre. And so we met two times shortly before easter. One day, we walked around the Bell Towers quarter, equipped with our cameras and breathing masks against the smog. The second time, we watched down on the Forbidden City in the dusty evening light from a hill and had very hot hot pot after that. We had a good time. :)

Ein Photocase Usertreffen in Peking. (Foto: steffne)

Photocase user meet-up in Beijing
(Photo: steffne)

Did you stay true to your way of traveling? By yourself, with backpack and mostly by bus, train or ship?

Yes, I do still prefer this style of traveling. I want to be as close to the natives as possible and share their way of moving around. I still use the traffic system in place and that can mean sitting in a rickety bus for 2 days with no legroom and extremely bumpy “roads” but super interesting people. On the way to the Mongolian Altai for example, we were playing cards, sang Kazakh songs and cheered for the bus driver, when he overtook another bus. I love those moments and stories and wouldn’t like to trade this experience with a comfortable 3 hour flight. To Alaska, I had to fly, however. I’m sure, there are ships too, but those were unaffordable.

What about photo equipment? Do you travel with a digital camera now? And how does that work out “on the road”, when there’s not always a power outlet around to charge your batteries. Do you have any tips or tricks?

Yes, I actually got myself a digital camera (Panasonic Lumix LX7). I sometimes do miss my analogue cameras, but not their weight. I will keep on using the analogue ones on short trips and at home (where ever this will be). Charging the camera batteries turned out to be not such a big problem at all. Mine lasts quite long and when it’s down, you can always find shepherds or other people with power outlets. Only recently two Russian guys helped me out. I hitchhiked with them and we had to stop to make a delivery. They knew the cook at the local Stolowaya (snack bar) so that I could charge my camera there and we all filled our bellies. :) Conclusion: Just speak to people and ask – you will most certainly get help. From time to time I asked myself if it would work out like in Germany too.

What’s next on your plan? Where will you go and what will you be up to there? Any new places of desire?

As already mentioned, I’m traveling again at the moment – on a land route from Ulan Bator to Berlin. I already crossed the Mongolian and Russian Altay and now I’m basically on my way to Moscow and St. Petersburg for some cultural program. After that, a friend will pick me up with his motorcycle in Tallin and we will ride across the whole Baltic States and Poland back to Berlin. Fyi, I will be in Berlin for a short time end of July. :) After that I will fly to Israel to visit the two boys that I met in Alaska. I will be back in Berlin for a few weeks by the end of August. In November, I will go to Vietnam to work and then China again during winter.

I don’t have new places of desire, but there are still enough old ones that are waiting for me. I would like to visit Iceland, Greenland, Chukotka and Kamchatka, Scotland, the Scandinavian polar region and I still haven’t been to the Aleutian Islands yet…

Thanks to my job, I can still do travels that last several months. But I don’t know if I want to keep on doing this for the next 10 years or so. It’s also nice to have a place you can call your home. But I haven’t found this place yet…

Here are a few photos from Irina’s journey:


“Oasis” by Irina – To the photo

This photo was taken in a small oasis village in the Mongolian desert Gobi, in the south west of the country. Actually, it’s a black & white photo. I took it with a box camera and photographed it digitally afterwards through a window in Bochum with the evening sky in the background. The colors that have been added this way give the place exactly the atmosphere that characterized it: warm, sandy and sometimes shimmering dusty, somehow lonely and lively at the same time.


“Mongolia Hiking” by Irina

When I was still at Caucasus, I had quite a fear of heights. But during my work with the WWF, I had to climb up and down slip rock hills that were up to 2500 m high, searching for snow leopards. It was physically demanding to keep up with my Mongolian colleagues and in addition to that I felt quite uneasy at the sight of such drop-offs. But after two days my fear of heights was gone. Maybe it was because my Mongolian colleagues always seemed so calm and also treated their environment that way, that it spread on me. :)

Thanks, Irina! This way to her user profile.

Photos: Irinasteffne