I am sure, this is a real problem for many small and medium sized business owners, in particular the ones, which can not sell their products or services on-line or the ones which clients have been forced into lock-down as well.
Of course our powers-to-be can not and often do not want to see all the consequences of their decisions. I am also not here to question the wisdom of lock-downs and many of the restrictions. This should be left up to the experts, who are supposed to and most-likely do know this all better.
I am also not interested in entering the forum of the mental health discussion. However, seeing the bills come in and cash going out, can and will impose massive pain on the even most battle hardened business owner. In particular, since our Federal government here has conveniently removed any company director protections, they had in place last year, despite the fact that the currently 2 month long lock-down in Sydney has been extended for another four weeks and most likely will be further extended.
What I am looking at, is how you can keep going under these circumstances? How can you be motivated? How can you want to plan ahead and hope for a future, when all fibers in your body say, stay in the warm bed this morning, forget everything and sleep through the day.
Well, if you have children, they will force you out and maybe their youthful enthusiasm spells over to you. But if you don’t have children at home, what do you do?
There is no recipe suitable for everyone. But we all started our business somewhere, somehow from certain motivation. Maybe our business matured and within changed appearance and approach, but I venture to guess that many of the underlining factors which made you get started once, still apply. So try to remember them.
Ask yourself, what made you happy in the business? Why did you do it? Can these elements be marshaled again? Will they be still valid when we return to a ‘normal’?
Lock-downs with all their negatives, can give us the time to look at the future and how we could possibly mold our business into a new reality. We are sitting at home or in the empty office and feeling down? No, we don’t have to. We can use this time to really re-think. Undisturbed from phone calls, e-mails, employee questions and disturbing customers (:-).
We can look at our business and tidy up. Throw all the things out, which dragged us down. From filing to storage. Clean up your product range. Remember the 80:20 rule. That 20% of our products make 80% of the profit. So consider what you don’t need.
Amazingly, I found that after starting this process, I felt like some unrecognized burden lifted from my shoulders. I found that some energy started to float back. Of course, the real problem of a lock-down was not solved and the future is as uncertain as before.
But, like in my backyard, once I weeded it out, I could see not only the neighbours house again, but further in the distance.
Same in business. Next, ask yourself, what skills and assets do I have, which could get me back and how could they help my enthusiasm. Lets be reminded. As business owners, we are a different breed of people. Somehow. We abandoned for whatever reason the security (maybe less nowadays) of a corporation or a public service position. We were prepared to stand in the ice cold wind of the economy with all its ups and downs. My cold feet in the moment just remind about this, but I also know that in four weeks time, I may complain that it is already to warm.
So we knew that we entered this environment. It is this force in us, which will and can get us going. So look at your skills. Maybe you are great in talking with customers. Not chatting, but in persuading them to buy from you and to come back. Maybe you can use this skill and refine a new mission. Writing about your experience, or like me, start writing these blogs and posts.
Try to step back from the actual problem, look at it from a distance and consider how you could conquer the future. Finding new directions or strengthening what you already did successfully.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel and, based on experience, it will grow bigger and stronger. So use your time and think about the time when you come to this light. If you do this, your enthusiasm may come back to get ready for that day. With a clean desk, clean mind and a new perspective.
Get on to the phone and talk to all the people you know. Maintain contact. Humans do need contact. Voice, letter, newsletter, blogs. Take whatever suits you, just remain to be heard.
Edward de Bono wrote a highly suitable book for our times “Marketing without Money”. This comes in handy now, once your government grant has been exhausted. There are lots of ways how you may be able to generate business now or set-yourself up for the day we are ‘free’ again.
You started your business from enthusiasm. Just remember that.
Life has its up and downs. Daily, weekly, monthly, annually. All your life. How many times have we been down? But you got back up. You can do this in a lock-down as well. Otherwise you would not even be here to read all of this. Just stay Covid safe.
A very long time, when I got involved with audio-visual, my manager handed me several boxes of 35mm slide, some music selections on tape and the order to make an audio-visual out of this. The images were a selection for a photographic competition and the music tracks were selected by the organizers. The show was to be presented in two weeks time, about 400km away from my locations.
Now for the younger readers, a 35mm slide is a photographic image on slide film which is transparent. 35mm slides were common until about 20-25 years ago for projection onto large screens. In the 50’s and 60’s, most projections were done with a single projector, which had the inevitable ‘black’ screen in between slide changes and more often than not were very boring.
But almost since the invention of projectors with artificial light sources, the ‘dream’ appeared to have uninterrupted image sequences and various types of ‘dissolve’ technologies were developed.
So at he time I appeared on the scene, 35mm projectors were well established and our factory had converted two ‘standard’ Kodak Carousel S series projectors to accept an external ‘blending’ system. This system was a 20kg box the size of two shoe boxes which connected to the projectors on one side and had a cable, the diameter of a garden hose, connected to a controller. A box with a large tunable knob and for buttons on top. A pair for each projector to step forward or backward.
So very rudimentary you would say. Correct, but from a creative aspect these dissolve controls were better than anything I ever used since. The wheel would be turned and the light of one projector would face, while the other one came on.Offering a seamless transition. Without any lag or delay. This provided a great control over the projector lamps. No electronic system ever could re-create what we managed with these manual controllers. Very subtle dissolves, which would accelerate halfway through or flicker effects, created with the twist of the wrist.
All shows had to be run manually. No synchronization to tape. The audio would play from a tape or later cassette recorder and we had to memorize all sequences. A great fun and sometimes also great mix-ups, if you forgot yo advance the projector, since that had to be done at the end of each blend cycle.
We toured Germany with this system, while our colleagues from France would have mechanical blending in front of the projector lenses.
What appealed to me was the third image we could create during the blending. You let one image dissolve into another one and in between a ‘third’ image out of the combination of both would appear. We would spend hours selecting suitable images which could create the best effect. You could also very effectively let a lighting strike ‘flicker’ over a landscape image.
I think these shows had something magical. At least judged on the applause by the viewers. Maybe it had to do with the emotions from the projectionist, his engagement with the music (I can use the male gender here, since we had no girls in the team). This translated into the flow of the show.
During one evening session we would run four or five of these shows.
I have created some images in Photoshop to demonstrate the ‘blending’ effect. The Third Image was and possibly still is an interesting subject discussed and practiced in numerous camera clubs around the world.
The big tech guys are really dominate our lives and out of convenience we keep using their products.
Of course sometimes the products are just better, or they are so established in an industry, that you really need to use them for compatibility.
But sometimes, I think it is a good idea to look at alternatives.
A) This is actually playing one tech giant against the other. Only difference, you pay for one and the other is part of the hardware (of course you actually pay for it either way). I am talking about Microsoft vs Apple.
I have a Microsoft Office on my MacBook. Since I do not need all the bells and whistles of the Office 360 version, plus I abhore the ‘rental’ of sofware, I bought the Offive version, which is still available for purchase. So far so good. However, increasingly, when I am launching the software it wants to be verified. So it blocks me to start my work, while it connects to the Microsoft server. Depending on the online speed, that can take a minute or two, or even more. Over time that adds up.
Also it does it for Words, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook separately. Most annoying.
So this morning I decided to use the Mac ‘Office” softwares more often. Pages, Numbers and Keynote or The “Open Office”.
I agree it is a pain to have to relearn all the functions and to find the various menu points. But I think it is worth it to keep the giants in ‘Schach’, so that we users can retain some of our freedom.
B) I have been paying for some time for a subscription for Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. Not to much every month, since it seems Adobe has decided against the advertised price increase, but again, it sums up over time.
I am not an overly advanced Photoshop user and possibly only utilize 20% of what the software can do. But paying all the time? Call me old fashion, but if affordable, I rather own the product, though technically you never own software.
Anyway, 8 weeks ago I came accross the Afinity by serif software. It was offered at a 50% discount til June 30, but actually at about AUD 80.00 normally the price is more than reasonable per software pack and you do ‘own’ it.
So I got Afinity Photo, Designer and Publisher. Publisher will replace my very old Microsoft Publisher program. I tried Adobe Indesign, but was somehow never comfortable with it and Words does not cut it.
The programs requires some steep learning but they turn out to be very good. I can use them on up to two Macs or the Windows version on up to two PC’s. Unfortunately you need to buy separate editions for PC and Mac. But again, the price is very attractive and Afinity provides you with a stack of training videos, accessible from within the start-up screen and on Youtube.
Yes some features, such as ‘Bridge” are not available and some of the filters could have a bit more grip. But maybe I am not using it right or some is still to come.
Afinity further offers you some access to effects libraries for download into the programs.
There is a great level of cross-software compatability at in-and export, so that existing files can be openend and you can export into a Photoshop file, for example. So far I am most impressed.
I think, maybe once I am fully familiar, I may cancel my Adobe subscription.
Ah, I forgot. Afinityhas three great training and project books for each program. Not cheap, but very helpful, if you like to study properly and not want to spend to much time with trial-and-error.
By the way, this is not payed advertising.
So if you so inclined, give the big guys a bit a run for their money, so that they do not steamroll you into their schemes and if you are European (I still regard the UK as part of Europe, at least geographically), you may want to support products coming from there.
It sounds like a sacileg to use a low cost lens on an expensive camera. But when I saw the offer for a 7Artisans 35mm lens at somewhere around $250.00 I could not resist to try it out.
It sounded to good. So I ordered the lens with the L-Mount for Leica and Lumix.
This is a manual lens with a fixed 5.6 aperture. I actually had not noted this in the advertisment. The focal length is 35mm.
The lens is pancake style and makes a camera body like a CL or TL very small. Similar to the 18mm T-Typle lens I had before. Only the Leica 18mm lens is a great deal more expensive.
On the Lumix the lens does not even protrudes in front of the grip.
Mechanically. The lens seems solid and the lens mount fitted without any spiel (play). This was a good sign, since I have got some Chinese made lens adapters (R to L mount), which on the camera side have considerable play.
In fact, the mount on the lens seems to be of really good quality, since after dozend’s of changes, it still is tight.
The lens has only one dial at the front for the manual focus setting. If turned totally down, past the infinity setting, a lens cover comes out to protect the front lens. There is no thread to attach a sunshade or lens cover anyway.
Optically I was tempted to make direct comparisons with the Leica lens, but I have refrained from this, since I think it is not fair, considering the price difference and that the 7Artisans lens does not have autofocus.
Sharpness: I tried the lens, using the focus indicator in the viewfinder on both cameras. The 7Artisans lens has no diaphram, so I can not be stopped down and always works at full aperature.
Here is the clinch. Using the focus indicator on both cameras, which use contrast based focussing, the 7Artisans lens is not perfectly sharp, in fact a number of long distance shots, which appeared to the sharp enough in the viewfinder, did not live up to expectations.
This is a pity, since the lens would be a great snapshot lens, which, if damaged, could be replaced cheaply.
Looking through the shots, often the focus point is closer than the indicated one.
If you use a magnifier on the LCD screen and focus very tighly, the lens performs much better. Maybe the focus rack needs to be longer on the lens, so that the exact focus point can be easier found.
At 5.6, the depth of field is limited, even at 35mm, so precise focussing is critical.
Colour and contrast: In respect to the overall colour performance I found the lens actually good. Since it is a much simpler lens arrangement, compared to a zoom lens, this should not surprise. Due to the softer focus, the contrast appears to be lower.
Overall: This is not a proper lens test and this article is not supposed to be one. I am sure that this lens has its merits and may perform on other cameras better. Likewise, if you have the time to place the camera on to a tripod and carefully find the focus point, you will be rewarded with surprisingly good images. So for about U$250.00 the lens is not bad. But it is not the snap shot and allrounder lens as I expected.
This was my very first forray into Chinese made lenses. I am impressed from the mechanical side. But it would be great if 7Artisans could give this lens an autofocus, at the appropriate extra charge of course, it would make this a real good street photography lens. Anyway, I look forward trying out some other Chinese and Korean made lenses. Not that I would shun my Leica lenses. I think they are the best optics around. Actually, my 60mm NIKON macro lens with a Novoflex adapter on my CL provides a stunning sharness. But in respect of colour, Leica is still my favorite.
Actually this is not about my immediate suburb, but the other end of town. But likewise, a treasure, you may not think to seek out.
We all live in our areas, often for years and go in and out of various places. Sometimes for years, passing by shops, parks, restaurants, museums, galleries, never visiting them. Maybe even not having them on our radar screen.
Often in fact, we strive to look for something far away and ignore the nearby.
While I write about this, I also think about our trend to purchase on-line and thus starving the small business in our area of income and thus, destroy the diversity in our immediate environment. Sometimes under the dubious excuse of saving money, not realising, that in the long run, we may pay much more.
But this is not about environment or online shopping, it is about diversity and how we can enhance our lives.
In many countries around the world we have very mixed, multicultural communities. In fact, often forgotten, countries like Australia, USA, Canada, etc. would not be, what they are today without the immigrants from all over the world. But even many long established countries have in recent years, had strong influxes of immigrants, wanted or not.
Of course not all these newcomers brought desirable change. But immigration brings interesting additions, from cuisine to fashion.
The Chinese shop around the corner, catering mainly for the local Chinese community, actually sells many products and vegetables much cheaper than the large supermarket.
The Indian and Korean shop brought us spices and food products we never expected and allow us to enrich our daily servings on the table.
When I came first to Australia as a visitor in the early 70’s, apart from the usual staples, the Chinese take away was prevalent everywhere and an Italian restaurant in between. Nowadays we have Thai, Korean, Indian, Vietnamese, Nepalese, French, Italian, German, etc, etc.
Many of these established by immigrants, who brought with them many secrets to create authentic cuisine or products. Who understand how to prepare and integrate.
I am thinking about a fantastic Italian bakery in Haberfield, one of the inner city suburbs of Sydney, which I never can pass if I am in the area.
The shop, which brought me to write thos blog is placed in Mascot, near the airport. Most delicious bakery from the eastern meditanerian, started by an immigrant from Cyprus.
I found this place by accident one day and everytime I am in the area I am visiting it, much to the detriment of my wasteline.
So, next time you go out, don’t take the car or train, just walk. Walk around your area, your subburb and discover these treasures. Which are often hidden behind obscure or not so obscure names, behind colourful curtains or entrances, blocked with cartons and signage, which you can not decipher.
Just enter and have a look around. You may be surprised and, if they are not to busy, often these shopowners will tell you about their history and how to prepare delicious meals with the products you buy in the shop or how to use them to decorate your place, adding an international flair to your surroundings.
But even if you leave empty handed, you will have learned something and maybe even made a new friend.
This morning I was watching a program on NHK Japan. ‘Kyoto Core’ and it was all about the OKUDO-San, the wood fire stove.
This reminded me, about the time when I grew up in Germany. It was the post war period. The country was being re-build. In fact I do not remember much about the bombed-out ruins, more about the wide open spaces amongst apartment blocks, where rubble had already been cleared away.
In these 1950’s coal and wood heating was very common.
My grandmothers house has had a ‘Kachelofen’, a tile covered oven in the living room and a coal fired stove in the kitchen.
These stoves were often of white coated metal constructions with slightly curved legs and a very heavy metal plate on top. Each cooking place was a serious of concentring rings, which could be removed, revealing an opening to the fire below. In the front of the stove were separate little doors, which would allow to stoke the fire when the pot was on top. Otherwise you would feed the beast from the top with timber, coal or briquette.
During cooking, when more heat was needed, one of these concentric rings would be removed and stored on the side. Of course they were hot, sometimes glowing and frequent burns on arms and hands were common. It was always a juggling to ensure that a constant cooking temperature could be retained. Cooking was a sweat driving exercise, since the whole stove radiated heat. Really tough in hot summers. Of course in the cold winters, and I remember the nights with minus 15 to 20 degree C, in which water pipes would freeze and the water pump in the backyard, yes, there was no flowing water in the house, has to be thawed by pouring hot water over it, to get water for cooking and washing.
You can see the intricate interaction. The fire on the stove had to be retained throughout the night. Usually at a low glowing level. In the morning, getting up at 5am, in the dark of the night, grandma would stoke the fire, so that warm water could be heated. This warm water was used to thaw the water pump. Getting to the well in the backyard, meant going out into the cold, in winter often through ankle deep snow, grabing the handle, discovering it was frozen solid. Pour the hot water over it. Wait until the metal was sufficient warm, so it could be moved. In the meantime, hammer the frozen water from the nozzel. Than pump water into the several 10 litre buckets, carry them inside and start heating them for washing and making breakfast. Even grabbing the iron pump handle had its dangers. First it would be so cold, that, if you forgot your gloves, your fingers would freeze on it in an instant. Meaning you would loose some skin trying to free your hand. After the water treatment, it would be to hot to handle.
Yes, you assumed right, there were no hot morning showers. Just a basin, a ‘waschlappen’, a cloth to wash with. All in a bathroom without heating and at best at zero degree C. In fact you had to be careful that your bum would not stick to…., but lets leave that aside.
In the mean time the fire in the stove would be coaxed to high, so that the water could boil.
Since it was another major undertaking to heat the oven in the living room, life took mainly place in the kitchen. Once the stove was in full action it was ‘mollig’ cuddling warm, while slowly the ice on the windows would melt and the morning light would creep in at around 8am.
After a few years we moved to an apartment block on the other side of Hamburg. Here the kitchen had already an electric stove. But the rest of the apartment was heated from a tile oven in the living room.
At that stage I was already at age 10 and able to carry heavier buckets. So my task was, before going to school, to go down into the cellar, two stories down, and bring up one bucket of briquet, compressed coal dust bricks, which are used to get the fire going on a base of paper and timber, and a bucket of Steinkohle, a harder coal, which would burn slowly and last for many hours.
Being suitably warmed up from this exercise it was then off to school, not by bus, but walking 30 to 45 minutes, depending which school one would go to.
The reward, once coming back at 1 pm, the livingroom and the apartment were warm and homework could be made in comfort.
All this changed in the 60’s, with electric heating and later ‘Fernwaerme’, heating from a central location in Hamburg.
But apart from all the inconvenience and hardship these heating methods brought with them, I still have fond memories about them. After all there is nothing more comforting on a snowy winter afternoon, with the light slowly fading to blue and dark, to sit next to the Kachelofen with a cup of hot chocolate and a book. Comfy and warm and being transported through the pages into another world. It beats airconditioned heating any time.
Note: All images are from the Internet and not copyright cleared.
I grew up in Germany, in a country which is littered with apartment blocks. Big cities, like Hamburg, where I grew up always had apartment blocks. Only the smaller towns and villages, had more single or dual occupancy dwellings or small multi-family blocks of units.
I also remember that in the 1960’s and 70’s the German government promoted the building of two family houses, compared to the single family house, which until fairly recently, was commonplace in Australia.
Yes, I now live in Australia, in Sydney.
So I am familiar with apartment blocks and the fact, that you can live in such a building with 5 to 15 stories and not really know your neighbour, except through the bumping on walls, floors or ceiling if you were to noisy or caused the penetrating of boom-bass of your Hifi or played piano concertos in the middle of the night through paper-thin walls.
30+ years ago I moved to the north of Sydney, to a leavy, large block with one house on it, after having lived for 4 years in an apartment in Brighton-le-sands. Lived in an apartment block in which we only knew one other party. It was so bad, that people, who met each other on the staircase would not even acknowledge each other or even greet. Now Brighton-le-sands is a middle class subburb, close to beaches and the airport.
So I was delighted to move into a street, where the neighbours came to introduce themselves.
A street, in which everyone knew everyone. Chats in the street or over the fence were common. All would celebrate Christmas on the blocked-off road. Of course with council permission.
Over time people moved and new ones came. The initially Australian born people or European imigrants were replaced by other nationalities. At the beginning the tradition of wellcoming the newcomers would be followed.
But slowly that changed. The ethnic mix changed and many of the new homeowners did not integrate in the old way. Language barriers, cultural differences, general indifference or simply not knowing, resulted that we know fewer and fewer of the neibours, who live in our street. Maybe, the ‘old’ lot could have made more effort as well. Who knows.
But now Sydney is changing. Everywhere. Despite the wide open spaces Australia has, new apartment blocks are cramped into our suburbs.
Established houses are torn down by developers. One after the other. Apartment blocks spring up. Some of them so close to each other, that neighbours of apartments in the opposit building can see what the others have for breakfast or more.
Walking along these buildings, there is no life.
Hardly any pedestrians. Nobody talks. Cars enter to the underground garage. No talk, no acknowledgement to passerby, to the opposit, sometimes hostile stares, as if one has invaded the area, crossed an unseen boundary, despite walking on the public footpath.
It is strange. But I have seem the same in other countries. Japan, South Korea, Singapore. This type of isolation is absurd.
It can be different. Last week I went to a large property 150km west of Sydney. A 64 hectar garden. Lots of people around. People, who did never meet before, greeted each other. Had smiles, were chatting. Any nationality.
So what is happening in the cities? I find this development disturbing for several reasons. Humans are social creatures and we need communication and company.
Something already severely tested by Covid19 restrictions. But worse, we do not know what is going on in our neighbourhoods. We do not know if there is someone, who may need help; an elderly neighbour, who needs support; some criminal activity going on, something suspicious or even the breeding of extremist tendencies. Or abuse, rape, family violence.
It is sad to consider that humanity is confined to enclosed environments such apartments, cars, offices, etc.. That we communicate more with our devices, rather than with people face-to-face.
A Facebook talk, a TikTok video, a Zoom Meeting cannot replace the personal interaction. Cannot show the subtle body-language signs, can hide appearances. We loose touch, with everyone and ourselves.
Government’s may like this. Councils even more due to increased revenue streams. Developer love it, if they can make millions from properties, which they bought for thousands. But humanity suffers, society suffers and in the end, we are all looser.
Lets do something. Go to the next person. Say “Hi, I am….” and start a conversation.
A recent communication with a friend prompts me to write this story. She is thinking about buying a new camera in the future, to travel the world and to capture her impressions. That is, once free and easy travel is possible again. But you don’t have to go far, your local surrounding also has many subjects, or as we say in German, ‘Motive’, to capture. Today I want to concentrate on your tool, the camera.
I have to admit that I am an ardent fan of Leica. Not only because I am German and Leica is the epitome of German engineering, precision and most important of all, photographic quality.
Of course there are other fine brands, some in the past and some right now. Starting with Nikon, Canon, Fujifilm, Hasselblad etc.. In the past other big brands, were Rollei, Voigtlaender, Carl Zeiss and more. I have used many of them. One of my early cameras was a Pentagon.
But is the camera brand really that important? A pinhole camera can achieve great results. Of course a better lens, will render better results and I personally like the render of the Leica lenses, which are not only knife sharp, but have a great combination of slightly warm colours and a great, as we say nowadays, bokeh.
I told my friend that a camera is a tool. A tool which in the hand of an artisan can help the creation of great results. I started out with the Leica M3 and the Leicaflex SL and SL2. I still have the latter one and the M3 was replaced by a M6, which I also still have. Both cameras which incorporate a great heritage. But they are also very simple. Simple, compared to the far more complex cameras which came from Japan even in those early days.
But, what is important to me is, that they feel good in the hand. Like any good tool, they are designed to be loved by the hand. The feel of quality is what transfers into the hand and thus the mind of the user.
You feel the care and experience which has been put into the engineering, design and manufacturing. This wants you to make the best what you can do with the tool. I think.
Don’t get me wrong. Great photographs have been achieved with cheap cameras. It is ultimately the eye of the photographer who sees the potential in the subject and presses the shutter release at the right moment.
Equally may great works have been created with cheap tools. But maybe with more effort. A tool which does not perform as well, which wobbles and bends, is much less fun to use.
A camera, which feels cheap in the hand, which has too many buttons and menus and is not ergonomically and just does not feel good, is not so much fun to use. You do not have the pride in it.
It is the pride, which transfers to the result and the reward is, when the final picture appears in print or the projected image on the wall and looks and feels as good as at the time of shooting.
So, when you select a new camera, choose both separately. The body. Does it feel right in your hand and every hand is different, small or big. Long or short fingers. Dry or sweaty. Can you reach all the controls easily. Would you like to hold the camera and take it to bed, because you fall in love with it. Then it is right. But what are the menus. Are they easy to understand. Trust me, most modern cameras have more features than you ever will use. Go for simplicity, because when you need it, you do not have time to work through menus.
Then the lens. Do you like the handling, the feel, the quality. Get to see some enlarged images from the lens. Really big pictures. Do you like the result, the sharpness, the edges, the colour?
If you buy a small system camera. like a Leica TL2, CL, Panasonic, Sigma or a Fujifilm X series, you can select your own lenses. Don’t go for a kit. Make the right choice for what you think is best for you.
Put the lens on to the camera. How is the weight. The balance. Does the camera tilt forward, because the lens is heavy? Consider this. It is you, who will have to carry and hold it. If your wrist hurst after two minutes, it is too heavy for you. But may be right for someone else.
I do not want to advise you which brand, which resolution, which feature to buy. I want to consider the idea that your camera, for snap shots or professional, is a tool, a tool you must love to use, because only then, you get the best results.
By the way, if you think your budget is to small, look at second hand. Take a newer camera body and an older lens, maybe. Most lenses can be easily refurbished. I am using 50 year old lenses on a relatively new Leica CL body. Yes, they do not have autofocus or any other modern features. But they are sturdy, sharp and have a great colour rendition. And they can be much cheaper.
All of this I have written will be disputed by many. Many readers will say I write a plug for Leica. I am, just because I like their product. But I am not paid for it.
Finally one point to on-line purchase. Almost all products can be bought online, so can cameras. Often you get a good bargain there. But, I urge you to buy, if you can in a brick+mortar shop from experience people. I agree, there are not that may around anymore. I mean the ones which really know.
Take advantage of their knowledge and their understanding of the product. Once you selected what you want, buy it there. It may cost a little bit more, but….. But you can always go back, ask for advise, ask for help. These specialists need to be paid. They are not just there for show and tell.
you accept that, you will maintain an industry, which will be around to support you with your hobby or profession. You may even gain new friends. I started in photographic retail many years ago. I am now in the AV industry, far away from retail. I have seen many good shops close and with it a great pool of knowledge got lost. Is it really that important to save a few dollars for a tool which can give you, your family, your friends and may strangers much enjoyment? Just think about it.
Enjoy your photographic tool for the best results, regardless of brand or make.
One of the classic questions a photographer faces every day. Vertical or horizontal. A long time ago, in the analogue ages, most pictures would have been shot horizontally. This is how camera were held and it was a most convenient way of taking pictures.
One expeption I can think about, was the Olympus Pen camera, which split the standard 24x36mm format into 18x24mm, reating 72 pictures on a standard roll of film. This resulted in an almost automatic vertical picture taking.
But otherwise, you had to rotate the camera and this sometimes resulted in very ackward positioning, with one arm raised to snap a picture.
All this changed with the mobile phone, in particular smart phone. Due to the way, we tend to hold the phone, many more pictures are taken in a vertical or portrait format.
Now, that is not neccessarily a bad thing, except videos. I personally hate it, if the video takes up only 1/3rd of your computer ot TV screen, because the phone was not rotated.
But the essential question is, what is better, vertical or horizontal?
I think that vertical images give you a better dynamic and subject positioning. The ability to get to the essenence of the subject and to provide a different, or even provocative view of the subject, since vertical differs from the way we see the world.
Horizontal images give us the ability to show the surrounding, the landscape, the panorama. Often one can see horizontal images with the key subject just very small and unfortunately, placed right in the centre of the picture.
What about Portrait photography.
So can I take portraits in a horizontal format? Yes, but position your subject to the side. Let him or her face the centre of the picture, looking into the picture, facing slightly away from the camera. This not only adds a dynamic, but also leads the eye.
But ultimately, for all subjects, it is a matter of taste and creative vision. When I take pictures for audio visual programs, I tend to use horizontal. But if I want an extra dynamic or focus the view, I like to use Portrait.
With the emergence of high and very high resolution cameras, we often can make the final decision on the computer screen. Just take a horizontal picture, mask it to vertical, position the frame and you may find that a picture you would have deleted, suddently has a great appeal. Try it.
A television program “Back in time for dinner”, produced and transmitted by the ABC, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the non-commercial TV channel in Australia, triggered the idea to write this narrative with the help of my mother, which is luckily still alive in her low 90’s.
My family has their background in the Eastern Part of Germany, now Poland and in Hamburg. My father did not talk much about his childhood and early family years, so I do not know very much and the pandemic and with it travel bans out of Australia, stopped me doing more ‘on location’ research. But my mum wrote down much of her experience, in particular the time of WW2 and the postwar times. We read much about these times, but hearing it first hand, is another story.
In this series, I will infrequently and as time permits, feature some of her stories, translated from German. It may make interesting reading. By default, there are not many pictures from the pre-war period and from during the war.
My late father’s life started in Stolpmuende and Stettin, that is as much as I know. In fact, some years ago, when I researched my family name, I found that there are many people with this name in the United States. One day, while in New York, I phoned one of the contacts I had found and ended up with a charming lady on the phone. Yes, her father had the same family name and he was also researching the name and any possible historical connections. As he was residing in Florida, the lady arranged him to ring me. If you are not familiar with the USA phone system, and this was before the widespread use of mobile phones, it was common for people to phone you at a public phone. I selected a bank of phones at the Hilton Hotel in Manhatten and at the pre-determined time, her father rang the phone box. We had an interesting chat, I gave him some background information and weeks later he send me a ‘possible’ family tree to Australia. He needed more information, but unfortunately my dad could not provide them, so the research ended up in a stall. I am not sure, if the man is still alive now, as we lost contact so many years ago. The WW2 has destroyed many records, but maybe one day, I can travel again and did into some of these old records. Often church archives, which were often spared destruction, may hide more information.
But back to the core story.
We will start in about 1943 and work our way through it, right until the time, my memory sets in and I can continue the narrative from my own position.
So lets start. As my mother told me: 1943, the war was in full swing and air raids on Hamburg, continued day and night. Every day, when we went to work, we had a small suitcase with us in which we carried some of the few clothing, which you could get on your ration coupon, the free market had long ago collapsed and apart from the black market, every thing else one had to get with the ration coupons. If you were lucky, someone may even gifted you some. The suitcase? When we left for work, we could never be sure that we had accomodation in the evening or if the apartment building would not have been bombed and destroyed during the day.
The supply of produce was getting worse and worse. Through the fighting, we lost more and more of the farming areas in the east of the ‘Reich” and much food was needed to support the soldiers. Since products were scarce, we would not store much im the shop, where I worked. After every delivery, a colleague and I had to move much to an un-used garage for storage. All the time hoping that it would not be victim to the bombing. Due to lack of vehicles and difficulties with destroyed streets, we moved the packets with wheelbarrows. All the time being afraid, that a bombing alarm would go off. What to do with the goods? We had to get into the bunker, but what to do with the wheel barrow? Leaving it on the street could mean that everything would be stolen. Even that there was a death penalty on looting. One day, it was a beautiful day, we were allowed to travel with our boss to Pattensen (near Hannover, about 160 km south of Hamburg), to store goods at a farm. The farmers wife offered us a beautiful breakfast. I large slice of bread, thick with butter and ‘real’ honey. Honey was scarce and usually we had artificial honey (Kunsthonig) and a cup of chocolate. A real feast! For the way home we were given a slice a bread with butter and sausage (cold meat). How delicious. These type of delicacies were already forgotten. If I think, how careless people nowadays are with food. How much we throw away, just because the apple does not comply with the norm or there is a mark on the vegetable. How much is just thrown into the rubbish, because the eye was hungrier than the belly, I have to think about these war times in which we were deprived of everything……..
Sydney. It had been raining here for 4 or 5 days, almost non stop. outside all wet and grey sky. Windscreen wiper blurring the view.
This reminded me of my home country, Germany. When I grew up, we had rain spells which would go for weeks, in particular in the northern city of Hamburg.
Apart from incessant rain, we have these really long winters, where the day starts at 8 am and finishes at 4 pm. Of course worse further up north. But these long periods of doom and gloom, the constantly damp environment and the cold, wants you to immigrate, what I eventually did. Though now we circulate between years of draught and periods of flooding. But that is, how it goes. Remembering Germany, I remembered one of my trips to South America. Strange how the mind plays sometimes.
So one December in the early 70’s came and our work would wind down, I took long holiday. 6 weeks was normal, since we were given 30+ days annual leave, plus overtime. So I tried to go to where it would be sunny and warm and, being young, exiting.
South America was a favourite destination in those times. I had some friends there and ……, but that is another story.
With my photographer friends in Ecuador, we undertook a long trip from Quito in the North to Cuenca in the South, across the rugged mountains and hazardous roads. But exiting and of course scenic. Passing the vulcano Cotopaxi and Chimborazo.
On the way back we decided to avoid the main highway and use the back roads. Often unmade, gravel tracks. Our rented Honda Accord often struggled due to low oxygen in the high altitude, steep climbs, rough road and the load of four adults, plus gear. Struggled to the point that often the passengers had to walk, while the car just made it. Since I was the only one with a drivers licence, I had the pleasure to always be sitting in the car. But the weather was clear, sunny and, being December, not to hot.
As it happened, the malady of toothache befell me. Now there is probably nothing worse, than being in the middle of nowhere and having severe toothache.
So what was the reason and how to fix it. The drive back to Quito was still a few days away and high up, as we were, there were only a few village with very small population around.
But my friends, which spoke fluently spanish and some of the local Quetchua soon found out that there was a dentist some 30-40 km away.
So off we went and arrived just after dusk had settled. A small house, which we had to find with the help of some locals, accommodated the dentist. Full of trepidation, I went in. Now remember, we were 10,065 km away from Germany and on the highlands of Ecuador. So you would imaging my surprise in being greeted in Germany by a highly competent doctor, who solved the toothache in next to no time. What had happened? In one of my fillings, to much sugar, was an air bubble. Being at the high altitude for a prolonged time, the air expanded and an infection had developed. So a quick drill, some antibiotica and a new filling, solved the problem.
But a German speaking dentist in this remote location?
As it turned out, he had studied dentistry in Hamburg, my home town and decided to go back to Ecuador to help the local population. Their and my luck.
So travelling can be exiting and full of surprises. Unfortunately we often forget these small, but important incidents, but they add the colour and show us how fantastic our world can be. Sometimes, totally unexpected.
Since September 11, 2001 it has become increasingly difficult to enter the flight deck of an commercial airliner, even at the airport.
With regret I always look though the open door when boarding, knowing that it would be exceptional circumstances which would give me access now.
So with great fondness I do remember the instances I had been invited or in one case, just walked in.
My very first flight deck experience was on the venerable Viscount. It was on the return journey of my very first commercial flight. I boarded the aircraft in Hamburg to return to the now defunct Muenchen-Riem airport. It was a very cold, snowy January day. Our aircraft, a Lufthansa Vickers Viscount 900.
At this time business class had not been invented and I found myself in the first row of the cabin. Crew jump seats seem not to have been available, so the stewardess sat next to me.
Being young, it is always easy to strike up a conversation, in particular with a charming, young lady. Sadly after we reached cruising altitude, she had to get to attend her duties.
The flight time to MUC at those times, and maybe hampered by the weather, was nearly 2 hours. Remind you, that Lufthansa could also not fly over the DDR (East Germany) and had to take a longer way around. So well into the flight, somewhere above the middle of Germany, my charming flight attend came and asked if I would like to join on the flight deck?
Of course, no questions asked. Now the flight deck of the Viscount was rather restricted in size. (If you ever come to Melbourne, you can experience this on the Viscount on display at the National Aviation Museum, where, against usual policy, you have full access and can even sit in the pilot seat. If you fit in, that is.) So I found myself squeezed in with an veteran captain and his co-pilot. The flight deck of the Viscount looks a real mess, compared to modern aircraft, with dials, switches and buttons everywhere. I was concerned to activate something unintentionally as I looked out onto the cloud cover below. I don’t remember any of the conversation, but it was a great experience, considering that it was the only time on a 4 engined prop-aircraft. Unfortunately, policy did not allow me to stay during the landing, but I am forever greatful to that captain of giving me this experience.
BOAC PPT – HNL
My very first, very long international flight experience came just a few years later in 1971. It came just after I had moved in to a new apartment and spend lavishly on furniture, when a friend asked me if I would like to travel to Tahiti on a new route Airtours International has started. In youth exuberance and confidence I said yes, raided my bank account and off we went. More about this in another segment.
On the way from Tahiti (PPT) to Honolulu the crew left the cockpit door open. It was a charter flight after all. The aircraft a BOAC Boeing 707-400 series, the one with Rolls Royce engines. So well into the flight, my friend and I sauntered into the cockpit to have a look around. It was a nice sunny day, clear shy and no turbulence in sight.
The crew welcomed us and we engaged in some talk. Mind you, our English, as German speakers, was really only rudimentary, but enough to ask the questions any aviation buff would be able to ask.
But our stay came to a sudden stop, when my friend asked why one of the throttles was much further forward compared to the other three. Maybe something wrong with the engine. A valid question, since we still had 4 hours over water flight ahead and the Pacific is not dotted with many airports able to handle a Boeing 707. However the captain did not like this inquisitive question. So instead of explaining he just ordered us out of the flight deck and the door remained shut for the rest of the flight.
Condor Boeing 727
In my job at Kodak, at that time, I was involved in a special promotion together with Condor, a than subsidiary of Lufthansa. It was a great experience and the first time I was allowed to roam on the tarmac. As part of the promotion was a photoshoot in Ibiza.
So we flew down to the island, spend a few sun-drenched days, and flew back.
On the return flight I was invited to the flight deck of the Boeing 727. It was a memorable experience. I don’t know if charter pilots have a different attitude to life or was it that at those times flying was more relaxed, but the atmosphere in the cockpit was just great. Much less tense, than on any commercial flight I experienced later. This does not mean less professional, just more relaxed.
It was a three man cockpit and maybe the pilots had less workload. So we overflew the alps and into southern Germany. Unfortunately obscured by clouds. But to top it off, I was allowed to stay during the landing with the provisor that I had to get to my seat before the doors would be opened. Easy task, since I had a front row seat anyway.
It is an amazing experience and has always been, seeing the first climps of the runway. Very far down and tiny. One can not really imagine how the pilot can land on this postage stamp. But gradually the concrete strip gets closer, the landing lights appear and the touch down with the slight bump. Full reverse (at those times noise abatement, etc. was only on the horizon) and we taxi to the parking position.
A great experience. I just loved it.
BAC 146 This is quickly told. I was on a Bangkok Airways flight from Loei to Bangkok. The aircraft a BAS 146, four engined aircraft, ideally suited for country airports, like Loei which are surrounded by mountains. The BAC 146 is a four engine aircraft, which was popular with Bangkok Airways and Thai. Somehow, the flight attendent liked me and got me on to the flight deck. Standing room only. Not much was said, but I still remember this brief stay fondly.
Qantas For a short time I worked on projects with Qantas flight operation in Sydney. This was at the times of paper flight manuals and Jeppensen printed charts. The elctronic flight deck would come later, but we discussed already possibilities to project approach profiles and airport maps to the inside of the cockpit windows.
Anyway, as a result was allowed into the cockpit several times, pre-arranged by HQ.
On one flight, a Boeing 747-400 from SYD – SIN, we had just overflown the Australian northern coastline and passing over Indonesian airspace. The crew, which of course had flown this sector hundreds of times at the same time, knew everything was supposed to be in the air at those times. So at one point my pilot indicated that the TACAM, anti collision system would come on any minute. An yes, it did not take long. A blip appeared on the radar screen. This was a flight going into the opposite direction, they had seen many a times before. It would be several thousand feet below, but the system had already identified it. Since it was a clear day, even that the sun was setting, the small dot of white, much below us, finally appeared in the cockpit window and passed to the rear of our plane.
A great feeling to know how technology protected us, provided the crew would follow the instructions, which sadly was not the case at the terrible mid-air collision between a russian airliner and a DHL plabe over Ueberlingen in Southern Germany.
On another Qantas Boeing 747 flight I have had the opportunity to be on the flight deck during a night landing in BKK. QF 1 flew at those times the SYD-SIN-BKK-LON route. It is just a great view, getting closer to the large city and the lights sparkling below. Among the sea of light a white, blinking light, indicated the position of the airport. At those times it was the Don Muang airport, much closer to the city centre and years later the scene of a Qantad 747 crash, luckily without fatalities. Gradeually we turn to the runway heading and suddenly the lights separate into city and runway lights. An uneventful landing, but a great experience.
The final Qantas flight deck experience is one, which can never be repeated. In the 90’s Qantas had a great triangle routing, flown with a Boeing 767. SIN-BKK-HKG-SIN. I was booked on BKK-HKG and had a business Class upgrade. Since it was a Saturday morning, only two passengers occupied Business Class. Another passenger and me. While the other person was engrossed in a newspaper, I enjoyed looking out of the window as we overflew Vietnam. Thinking about the lines, the Lufthansa Captain Rudolf Braunburg [ insert book title] wrote, overflying Saigon during the Vietnam war. Suddenly the purser came up and asked me, if I would like to join the cockpit crew. What a question? It was a very young crew and we have had some nice talk. Getting closer to Hong Kong, the weather became cloudy and thunderstorm were breeding. A diversion to fly around some of the cloud towers was denied by air traffic control. So we strapped in tightly, but in the end it was a no event. In those years KaiTak airport was still active and we were assigned a northern checkerboard approach. Slowly we came out of the clouds, skirting along the mountains, below us Kowloon. The huge checkerboard, painted onto a mountain side was the guidance for the crew where to head and when to make the turn, getting us to the runway. Not so bad during good weather, but this, most difficult approach, which could only be flown by specially trained pilots, was treacherous in bad weather or hurricanes. More than one crash, runway overshoot or just harrwing landing prove of that. Aprtly documented on YouTube. So we headed down to the checkerboard. The runway could not be seen from my position, but suddenly we banked to the right and there, right at the end of the sea of houses, was the airport. It appeared that we would almost de-roof the buildings. Uneventful landing with a bright grin on the face of the co-pilot.
A fantastic experience, which can never be repeated, since the airport has been closed and moved.
Years later, before the airport closure, I would spend time on the top deck of the adjacent car-park, watching flights come in, including my Qantas flight back to Sydney. The airport was small and security not as time consuming, so there was plenty of time to watch the aircraft and still get to the gate.
Sadly, as I said before. Many youngsters will be denied the opportunity to get to the flightdeck now and in the future. But of course, there are at least simulators available. It is a great experience and makes you understand much more the great responsibility the men and women up front have.
In this series, I like to talk about travel experiences, which are going back over the last 50+ years. Flying, the dream of man and often the cause of nightmares. But always fascinating. I am sure everyone of you has to add to this story and your own experiences to talk about. I would love to hear them
Air travel back than was certainly something different from modern time. In the 1960’s it was still possible to see than Queens of the sky, like to Lockheed Constellation and Super Constellation. Even so, the queens were dethroned quickly, with the Connie’s of Lufthansa being denigrated from international routes, to fly the air bridge, Hamburg – Frankfurt. In some ways, air travel was somehow easier, but also much more expensive and certaily slower.
Though I think that many of us, after one year or longer grounded, would take the slow seaplane or noisy and vibrating prop plane, just to get away. To see the ground from lofty heights again and feel the rumble of the turbulence on the wings.
Back in the 60’s and 70’s times, one could still get printed timetables and even published airfares, which were fixed for at least six month. I do remember that a return flight from Hamburg to Sydney would cost at those times, close to 10,000 Deutschmark. Probably the equivalent of $ 5000. today. Economy class mind you.
The flights were much longer, with many stop over in far away, exotic locations, such as Bahrain, Delhi, Calcutta, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Dakkar, Rangun, Djakarta, etc.. Locations which seemed to be as far away as the moon and were certainly not as common in peoples mind as today.
But air travel was easier. No security controls. No terrorist worries, at least not on the European side of the Atlantic. Some hi-jackings maybe, but nothing really to worry about. With the jet age that changed of course, remembering some very spectacular hijacks to the middle east, etc..
Flying was simpler and stricter. Since engine power was much more restricted, 20 kg of luggage was very much adhered to. In the cabin the overhead luggage storage was open, not closed as today and anything in there would easily fly around in turbulence.
Talking turbulence. I think we experienced more. Fearing for the worst every time they hit. It was the time, when airplanes were more easily torn apart by these forces of nature. Sophisticated radar, weather forecast and more flexible airframe came later. In the last 20 years, I feel, that we experienced fewer turbulences and the once, we rode out smoother. Not to say that there have been some really bad cases and even casulties. But some of these were more related to passenger foolishness, rather the aircraft. Larger aircraft of today have more flexible wings, which swing out the rough air. Take a 15 hour flight in an A380 and will know what I mean.
Flying was maybe more boring, unless you enjoyed looking out of the windows and watch the countries passing by below, study the clouds or enjoy the light scenes. The ex. Lufthansa Captain, Rudolf Braunburg, who wrote a number of interesting books, taught me with his writing to really appreciate what the sky has to offer. Take some time and just look at the clouds and the light. Amazing what nature has to offer. The subtle change at duskm when the light changes into bands of dark blue, purple, pink, etc..
In-flight entertainment was basic. A movie projector under the cabin ceiling, a pull down projection screen and piped audio. The projectors were not that powerful, so in-flight movies only run at night anyway, if they worked. More often than not the film would jam and a hole be burned into it or the film would jam and everything stopped. The poor aircrew had to try to repair without disturbing sleeping passengers.
The sound quality was endurable, but not comparable with today. The end pieces of the headphones had to be pushed into your ear and were not to be used for a long time, since they hurt. The sound came through plastic tubes.
And of course smoking. Smoking was permitted. In the beginning all over the plane. Later on, restricted to one side or the back of the aircraft, depending on the airflow with in the aircraft type. But there was always the risk of being seated next to a smoker on a 6, 8 or 12 hour flight.
So much has changed. Sophisticated in-flight entertainment with computer stored content, noise cancelling headphones and even in eco, vastly improved sound quality. Selection of movies, TV series, education and often hundred of hours of music. In flight Wifi was still very far on the horizon.
But this all happened in the last 20 years. I remember in the 90’s, after settled in Australia, my company supplied fibreglass cases to Qantas, which held the small video cassettes which were loaded into the playback machines prior to every flight. Today all this uploaded wirelessly and played from on-board server.
So remember nect time you cue at security that these inconveniences may offset what modern airtravel has to offer nowadays.
Who said that photography is like painting with light?
Light and shadows are what makes a photograph interesting. Of course we do not always have the chance to control how the light falls or the time to come back at a better time of day. Of course it is beneficial to be able to check where the sun is coming from and select the best time of the day for your subject. But it does not always work that way.
So the only other solution is to change tour viewpoint before you release the shutter. I often find it beneficial to move the camera to manual to really ensure that the lights are not washed out and the shadows provide the right dynamic. Of course in smart phone photography that does not always work like this, unless you have a special app which gives you more control. But despite this the algorithm in the phone may not always render the best results.
Another issue are artifacts in the shadows at extensive compression. If possible I shoot RAW and work on the image later.
How to expose? Focus on the lights and make sure they do not wash out. Anything in the light area which is lost, usually is lost and can make the image look flat and less dynamic. I found that in many cameras there is much more detail hidden in the shadows, than the image on the LCD monitor let you assume. Working later on the computer, you can get these details, if, yes, if, you need them.
Sometimes, let the shadow blacks just be black. They create a great dynamic and can help leading your eyes to the important image parts.
These images show were in the National Gallery in Tokyo with the winter sun in the afternoon in late January.
The other images were taken in Makuhari Messe, Tokyo in midday in summer.
The VC 10 was not a very common aircraft and I only ever had the opportunity to fly in it once. Essential it was a bit like flying in a Boeing 727. Engines at the back made the cabin very quiet. This flight of mine was on BOAC from Zuerich to Damascus, Calcutta and Bangkok. The flight was supposed to go to Singapore, but in late 1973 we had the first oil crisis and the airline decided that fuel in Singapore was to expensive, so the flight terminated in Bangkok. This was not Dong Muang or Subvarnabhum airport5, but what is now an military airport.
It was actually very interesting, sine the viewing area was open to the tarmac and coming from an cold Europe, the warm weather was very welcome.
BOAC bumped us off to Japan Airlines for the BKK to SIN sector. Initially very interesting, but it created a three day delay in the end, but that is a separate story.
Our VC 10 was, one could say in modern terms, very bare bone. No real inflight entertainment, nothing special. But in those times we still knew how to get through a few hours with a book.
I would have liked to fly a few more times in this very quiet and smooth aircraft. The undusturbed by engines, huge wings absorbed turbulence’s well and the low noise and vibrations made the flight really nice.
Pity that this aircraft could not have the success it deserved, but it was to much designed around BOAC, now British Airways, requirements.
Below a BOAC VC-10 at Sydney Airport in 1974. This is really an historic image. The same view today would show the wharf of the Sydney Container Terminal in Botany, the new control tower and many more buildings and roads. At those times boarding via tarmac bus was very common, sometimes extreemly inconvenient in heavy rain or high and low temperatures.
Having worked through my ‘old’ 35mm slides I thought that I feature these, together with a small story. For the one of you, who do not know what 35mm slides are. Slides were commonly produced prior to the digital camera age for use in slide projectors, next to negative film, which was used for prints. 35mm slides are pieces of film, cut and put into mounts, so that they could be fed through a slide projector and produce large and colourful images on screen.
Prior to the wide body jets we travelled in Boeing 707 or McDonald Douglas DC-8 around the world. Aircraft which are nowadays called narrow body. In fact narrow bodies will be brought back for long distance flights in form of the Airbus A321LR and the Boeing B737 Max series.
It has already been questions how the modern human being could survive in this narrow cabins with less air around and less space. But for a very long time span of 25-30 years, we travelled the world in such aircraft and survived. In fact these aircraft did not have in-flight entertainment in the modern way of travelling. No touchscreen, no interactivity and certainly no WiFi, which was not even invented. If you were lucky you had one or two audio channels with sound literally piped through some plastic tubing, which you would put into your ears. The sound quality was far removed from even MP3 and you would listen to the music in the order as it was piped. Some of these planes had a movie projector mounted into the ceiling. These were real flim projectors, with large film spules and ‘hot’ lamps. More often then not, the film would jam or break and the cabin lights had to come back on, so that the steward or stewardess, no they were not called flight attandents in those times, could fix the issue, if they could.
The projection screen would be pulled down and blocked part of the aisle, resulting in people bumping into it on the way to or from the lavatories.
Smoking. Yes, smoking was still allowed. Depending on the aircraft model, either one side or the rear of the aircraft was dedicated for the smokers. One would always receive ones seat allocations with trepedations. Am I seated amongst smokers for 6-8 hours.
These aircraft did not have the range modern aircraft have. So there were many more stops, compared to nowadays.
In the earlier versions, there were not even overhead locker. Everything was open and only cooats, jackets, hats, yes one still wore thouse, we allowed to put up there. Of course every so often a heavier bag was added, which, at stronger turbulence would end up on the head of an unsuspecting passenger. Somehow rarely on the owner of the piece.
But despite all of this, flying was a great deal safer and faster, compared to the old propeller DC4, 6, 7 or Super Constellations.
Flying in thouse times was not cheap. I paid for a flight from Stuttgart to Melbourne 3300 Deutschmark in 1973. This would be close to 10,000 DM nowadays. In AUD (as I am now living in Australia), this would be close to 8000 Australian Dollar.
Nowadays we can get such a flight for as little as $ 1900 (Covid times) and even less in normal times.
So we may complain about airtravel nowadays, but if you consider the convenience, the reduced travel times, the inflight movie and Wifi and vastly improved airport facilities, plus the greatly improved safety, we are getting a really good deal in the 2000’s.
Aircrafts back in the 60’s, 70’s and even early eighties were Boeing 707, DC8, Coronados or VC10.
These aircraft had usually 6 across seating and one centre aisle. It is very interesting to contemplate that recently narrow body aircraft are considered again for transatlantic and longer flights and discussions started about the mental and other health issues this may create for the traveller.
Narrow body aircraft, instead of wide and spacious wide body MD11, B747, Dreamliner, A340’ +A350’sor even A380’s? Can the modern traveller really survive in a narrow tube with little space around them?
Well we did. Long trips even. I remember my first flight to Australia. The trip started in Stuttgart, Germany. Routing: Swissair DC-9 to Zuerich. BOAC VC-10 Zuerich to Damaskus, Calcutta, Bangkok. Japan Airlines DC-8 Bangkok – Singapore. Air India Boeing 707 Singapore – Perth – Sydney. Qantas Boeing 747 Sydney – Melbourne. Luggage in London.
Most in narrow body aircraft.
But back to analogue nomads.
Being a photographer analogue technology had some other interesting factors. First of all, you took your picture and it was fixed on film. No quick review and delete. Film is film, no delete. Secondly, you would wait days or even weeks for the final result. Usually we would not take the risk to get the film developed overseas, unless it was Kodachrome and there was a Kodak Laboratory on site. But then..you had to wait.
Transport and storage. Film, in particular colour film was sensitive. Sensitive to heat, sensitive to X-ray. If you put your film into your luggage, there was a good chance that it it would come out black upon arrival, with X-ray having exposed your film. If you left your backpack in the sun for a few hours, film may have discolored because of the build-up heat.
So analogue had its challenges as well. But there was the excitement. Arriving back home. Get the film to processing. Waiting. Finally the film strips or slides arrived back and the result could be viewed.
Smiles or tears. Exultation or depression. But it was often worth the wait and a great way to relieve the trip. Nowadays the images often find their way on to a hard drive or dropbox or USB stick never to be seen again.
But analogue had some other positives. Slides, in particular Kodachrome or Fujichrome, Velvia, we almost undistructable. Unless they got mould on to them. But otherwise you could put them away for years and they would look as good as on day one.
Digital is different. No digital copy is safe. It can be erased, corrupted, the media, like CD becomes unreadable. Media carriers, like floppy disk, USB stick, DVD’s, etc. may eventually totally disappear. Some have already. With it the hardware. Or even if you keep the hardware, the new operating system may not recognize it. So keep copying and copying. Digital can be hard work.
A few years ago I was stading on the train platform in Nuremberg Main station, right next to an hitosrig 01 Lokomotive. Despite the December cold, one could feel the heat escaping from the huge boiler. Steam came out of several openings and the beast was ready to go.
Several people were stading around as the departure time of the ‘Sonderzug’s’ (Special train) arrived. Suddendly the shrill sound of the engines pipe shattered the relative quietness of the scenery and everybody really jumped. I could see in the eyes of the train driver that he really enjoyed this.
Moments later the station master gave the go signal and the heavy engine heaved to get the carriages going. As the old wagons with the cheering passengers rattled past, I had to think about my childhood, where these scenes were most common. Even the short distance commuter trains in my native Hamburg ran under steam and we, little boys, would often put small stones on to the trail, to see if we could make it jumping the tracks. But what can a 100 gramm stone do against the tons of steel squashing it.
Nowadays the ICE or Shinkansen or any other high speed trains almost slide silently out of the station. Modern, comfortable, clean….but without the emotions.
Have a look. Wherever there is a panorama display, people linger longer. The larger the display, the longer. Why? Well, panoramas are like the real world and how we see it. Wide. Our eyes move more side-to-side, than up-to-down. So it figures that panoramas engage us more. Also do you notice that you can become almost hypnotised when looking at smaller object, like a TV screen, for some time? This is, because our eye movement is restraint. But big is not always possible. True. But there is still a small-big. Less effective, but at least intriguing enough to justify a second look.
We may think that sunshine is the same everywhere, but that is not the case. In Australia sunshine is more intense. This has to do with the fact that the sunrays enter the atmosphere at a steeper angle and that there is less air pollution overall. This results in very intense sun, which many a visitor can attest to, not only from sunburn, but also from black shadows in otherwise correctly exposed pictures. I am to belive that this effect drove many film makers nuts.
The black shadow may also get you into an argument with partners and spouses, which are complaining why their faces can not be seen under the suncap.
Of course the same sun can allow a photographer to create highly dynamic images.
So just be beware when you take pictures in Australia. Apart from sunscreen and protection, point your exposure metering at the subject you want to expose correctly. If you have HDR this can help and using RAW files, highlights and shadows can somehow be controlled. Of course older DSLR’s or compacts, may not have the inherent dynamic range to cope with these lighting conditions.
Using a polarizing filter may also help, since the blue sky can be intesified and darkened and the camera exposure meater than tries to compensate by brightening the image and with it, the shadows.
Back in 1982 I was on my way from Germany to settle in Australia and choose to have some holiday in Brasil, Chile, Easter Islands and Tahiti before settling at the big island in the south.
Chile was an sobering experience. Mainly, because it was winter and secondly the country had been hit by some very bad weather, resulting in flooding in the south and in Santiago.
Of corse many countries can look bleak in winter, but there was something else. One could feel the after effects of years of opression and a curious reluctance for the locals to engage with foreigners.
Of course we have had also some great days, travelling further north, up the cast line.
The picture today features a small twon scenery, north of the capital Santiago. The black&white image with the slight sepia tinting enhances the bleak appearance. The guys lounging in the doorway seem to be unemployed. Ironically, this could possibly also be an image taken during the Covid19 pandemic, except that there may be more modern cars around.
In the world of aviation, changes of aircraft for newer models is all to common. At Lufthansa, aircraft usually have a name, which can be a city, a state, a country, depending on the size of the aircraft.
A while back I was landing in Frankfurt and during taxiing I saw a Boeing 747-400 parked, clearly on the way to either another airline or into storage and retirement. Now that is not such a special occurence. But I looked up the details, using the registration and found that it was the old Rheinland-Pfalz (s astet in Germany). However when we wanted to turn in to the terminal, our flight was forced to wait to let a new Boeing 747-800 series pass.
As the aircraft came closer, I could see its name. Yes, you guessed it. Rheinland-Pfalz.
This aircraft was relatively new at that time.
A lovely experience to see on the same day, the plane on its way out and the replacement namesake.
December and January have certainly been challanging times in Eastern Australia with the wildfires and thousand detrayed homes and half of a billion native animals destroyed. Bush fires are a normal in Australia and they are essential for the propagation of certain species. But this years fires not only exceeded the norm, but the season started much earlier.
It was even predicted that the fire season could last much longer then normal. Right now it does not seem to be the case after the drenching the east coast got in the last 10 days. But of course, this does not mean that the heat will come back witha vengance and strikes another blow, before finally autnum and winter set in.
What is amazing is, that there are still so many nay-sayer to the issue of climate change. Of course the fires and floods are not purely the result of climate change. But the severity seems to be. The fires were only possible because of a preceeding, prolonged draught, which left forests and pastures bone dry. Right conditions for a fire to get hold.
Again we have had draughts. But not really at these length. We had fire seasons, but not at these lengths. But we had an overall increase of temperatures. All this suggests that a change in climate is taking place. Climate change however is not to blame. The prople, companies, governments, which do nothing against it, are.
At this point I love to enter the coal fire power station debate with a simple question.
“If alternative power generation methods also have environmental impacts, directly or indirectly, i.e. the ‘mining’ of lithium, why is is not possible to make coal power stations clean? We have catalysators in our cars to filter pollutions out. Why can we not have filters in coal power stations?
We will need energy for a long time. Lots of it. A wholesale replacement of coal fire stations seems questinable right now. But why can we not make them cleaner and therefore gain time to deploy alternative technologies in a studied, controlled and responsible way. Create a better balance. The typica Hau-Ruck method, we seem to use nowadays may in the end make matters worse.
And talking about responsible. Why is it not possible for the automobil industry to develop a ‘common’ battery system, which is a) compatible between different brands and models and b) can be exchanged in minutes.
Current service stations can then charge and service the ‘exchanged’ battery packs and drivers can be on the road in a fraction of the time. Much lower cost charging facilities can be developed and deployed and the range issue of electric cars dissappears. If the industry can not do this on their own, maybe governments can mandate this. But of course current govenments around the world seem to having nothing like this on their mind. The continuation of their political carrer and the included benefits seem to be of higher priority, not to talk about the power which seems to make polititians giddy.
After 15 Weeks, the first time again, having morning coffee in my coffee shop. What a feeling!
Of course, 15 weeks lockdown is nothing compared to 200 + days, cities like Melbourne or Buenos Aires had to endure.
Lockdown and restricted to 5km travel around your home makes you feel like living on a small island. Now that we are back to travel all over Sydney, is like being on the mainland again and not really knowing what to do with the freedom. Though country side travel is still restricted to us and real, international travel still some time off.
Why do I say real international travel, if the government wants to open the borders from next month already?
Well let’s face it. The selection of destinations is still restricted and who knows, if one may find revised or toughen entry conditions again on return. So better be cautious with the booking. Also far fewer airlines now venture down to Aussie land, which will have an impact on airfares, etc..
But all this will change over time and I can not wait for the day, when the plane breaks through the cloud cover, like we have in the moment, and the wide, blue, sky opens up next to my window.
That is, until my seat neighbour or the flight attendant will ask the window shade to be pulled down so that other passengers can view the inflight entertainment unimpared. As being glued to a small screen, what we do more often that not anyway, is all what life is about.
Looking out of an aircraft window, seeing the clouds, the billowing tropical ones, which rise high up above you; the dark threatening ones, which harbour a thunderstorm or the small ones, which look like sheep, is, what I think, one of the greatest experiences in our world. The spectacle nature brings out for us, day after day, at no extra charge.
The change of feeling we experience, once we dip down into the murky grey rain cover. First the soft clouds gangling for the wing tips and soon after swallow the wings and the window goes grey. Some bumps go through the aircraft as the waterlogged clouds hit the fuselage.
The slight uneasy feeling as the aircraft decends towards the ground, but nothing is visible. You may know that there are mountains around, you can sense them, but not see them. Or what about other aircraft, having the same destination or crossing our path.
Even knowing much about flying, I always marvel of how, most of the time, the men and women at front and in the air traffic control, bring us back down safely to the ground. The relive as the wheels bump on the runway and we decelerate.
Flying, despite all of its technological advances, is still one of the great experiences and a wonder, humans have engineered, sustained and advanced.
But for know I have to live with the shining eyes above the facemasks of the waitresses who are glad to be on the job again. And these eyes, which can see so much, are one of the greatest means of expression, humans have to offer. Eyes do not lie.
Now my coffee is finished and back out into the rain. Until next time, that is.
What do you do, when you are in lockdown and can not go anywhere outside the 5km radius around your house.
Soon you will have exhausted all the interesting places. One past time, many people took up is cooking, but herbs are really expensive to buy. So, if you have a balcony, even a small one, what better to grow some yourself. Throw in some strawberry plants, which can be grown in a pot.
In preparation for the growing, the balcony was fortified with protective lattice and other open areas were covered with aviary mesh against marauding birds and other animals.
All good, it seemed.
One night a noise could be heard on the balcony. But by the time the curtains were drawn and the light turned on, nothing could be seen.
Another night, some pots dropped to the floor. Again, no culprit.
But one morning, about 1 am, some rattle of the lattice, which covered the balcony at two sides. Lights on and here he was, nibbling away on the strawberry plants. A possum, who had found the way onto the balcony. Probably it was the same animal, which was heard previously.
Now possums are protected and they are really cute to look at. However they have a reputation of fierceness when cornered and you do not want to make an aquantance with their strong claws, which allows them to climb up trees.
Now it appears that the startled animal had forgotten where its escape was and scuttled off to the opposite of the balcony. Trying to protect the remaining plants it would not be a good idea to leave it to its own devices. So a broomstick had to come to the rescue and some gentle prodding, carefully not to hurt the animal, made it move into the right direction. Finally to the hole, which had been forgotten to be closed and out from the balcony, not without throwing a soulful look back.
This hole was also plugged and for days afterwards the possum could be heard trying to find the way in for a delicious meal. As they are very territorial, it can be expected that it will return, in particular when the strawberries ripen,
By the way, one plant was nibbled down to a very small stump and a tiny bit of leave. But believe it or not, this maligned plant has grown back and now trumps the other one in size. Maybe later in summer it will bear fruit. If yes, you will be able to see it here.
After my dream being a pilot was shattered, due to me wearing glasses, I started out in a career in photography. Accurately more correctly in dealing with photography, but my education and training brought me face to face with darkroom work, yes in those times we still used chemicals and paper, and photographic work, from weddings (not so successful) to medical (not so much fun in running flashlight cables through blood puddles on the floor) to industrial (lots of fun). Of course the type of photography I love is in travel and, what is nowadays called street photography.
In selling cameras, projectors and darkroom equipment I learned a lot about the equipment of the day and the customer preferences. Since I worked in a small camera store on Hamburg-Harburg, I became involved in virtually all aspects of the business, except bookkeeping. An activity, I still don’t enjoy today.
Being young almost everything was exiting and fun. At least most of the time. In our company we have had a lot of apprentices. Apprenticeship in Germany is something very different to what is is here in Australia and it covers much wider professions. The training also included many more aspects, such as retail management, etc..
One of the tasks I liked was to go with one of my female colleges to develop customer films. In this small room, which smelled of developer and fixer, we had to take the film out of the cartridges and clip it, together with the customer id, on to hangers into the developer. After 5 or 6 minutes, we had to take it out and move to the stop bath and on to the fixer. All this in total darkness. Imagine a young guy and a girl in close proximity and not being able to see anything. Though there was never enough time to get into real mischief, apart from a stolen kiss and a hug. That went on for some time until we dropped some films into the developer tank, which was nearly 1.5m tall. Since I was taller, I had to try to get my hand to the bottom of the tank and angle the film out. This created a lot of developer stains on my lab coat and caused the film to over develop. Not good for the customers results and their enlargements.
Of course our senior wanted to know why the coat got so dirty and the films got overdeveloped and called us for rapport. As a result we were not allowed together in the darkroom again.
One day a week I would travel to Hamburg-Altona to attend the professional school. We learned everything from the mechanics of cameras, to optics and darkroom technics. One of our teachers was a chemist from Tetenal, a company which manufactured photographic chemicals in Hamburg, Dr. Mutter. He was not a typical teacher type, though he had possibly more in depth knowledge about the processes than any other teacher in the country. He loved chess and taught us. So half of our lessons, was playing chess. I don’t know where from, but there were at leat 10-15 chess boards in the class. Often these classes were the last one on a Friday and subsequently went over time, until the school caretaker throw us out.
Over the years I got to work with and own many cameras. My first camera was a roll-film, 6x9cm camera, a very common format those times. 6×9 cm would give us 8 pictures per roll, if I remember right. A far cry from the 36 pictures you would have gotten on to a normal KB roll (Kleinbild or 24x36mm film). Everything was manual of course and usually in Black and white.
I still have some of these pictures in my school work books and the quality of these comparatively basic cameras was incredible. Of cause many other of these pictures were made by famous brands like Voigtlaender, Zeiss Ikon, Agfa and Rollei.
But as 35mm film became the dominent format. I still remember when the factory rep brought in one of the early Topcon Reflex cameras. This Japanese manufacturer was one of the top three Japanese manufacturer in those times. Of course brands like Leica, Rollei, Zeiss were the jewels of the industry, together with the spy camera Minox, all build in Germany, but these were expensive, much too much for our modest apprentice salaries. Even after I finished my formal education in 1967, I only earned about 700 Deutschmark a month, which is possibly as much as the jobseeker (unemployment) allowance is in Australia nowadays.
So one of my first system cameras I owned was a Practica from East Germany with a famous Jena lens. I also often used an Exacta, as well from East Germany. My boss was very generous and allowed us free loan of any second hand camera the shop had and sometimes even new stock over the weekend.
In fact Claus Schroeder, was most generous. He gave us, though mostly I used it, access to the darkroom after hours. Working on the enlargers, where the girls, interestingly it were almost always women who worked in our darkroom and enlarged and processed clients pictures, I developed my own pictures. He only charged us the cost of the paper.
In those years simpler camera technology emerged. The Kodak Instamatic and the Agfa Rapid. Both designed to bring photography to the masses. Cheap, easy to handle and reliable cameras. Film sales boomed and the darkroom created great income, if you consider that the standard 6×9 cm print cost between 1.20 and 1.50 DM or about USD 1.00. Of course in the 70’s and beyond, with automated processing and the appearance of discounters, like ‘Tausend Toepfe’ (Thousand Pots), the price dropped to 30 pfennig a print. This also made many of the darkroom girls redundant. But that was after I left the store and moved on.
I do not need a calendar or a media reminder that spring has started in our northern Sydney suburb. Every year it is the same and it seems that it is getting worse.
Last Saturday I was watering a veggie patch soon to be planted. It is of course the time to get plants into the ground. Suddenly a shade passed at high speed. Looking up I saw the possible source, perching on a branch some 50 meter away. But it is still August and was cool, so I did not think about this any further.
Turning back to my watering, suddenly, without any warning, very stealthily, I got wacked on the side of my head, drawing blood, and a swirl of soft feathers swished by my cheeks and looking up I just saw a grayish tail with white marks disappearing between the trees.
Common Indian Myna bird. Of course it is their breeding season and they are extremely territorial and obnoxious. For the last three years a pair has been, somewhere nesting in between some trees on our property, which are not really accessible. Trees we can also not fell, due to the tree protection policy here.
For the next 6-8 weeks, they will, I assume the male of the two, will vigorously attack anyone and anything in the vicinity.
What seems to be new, is the fact that the attack was absolutely silent. Not even the triumph cry you could hear in the past after the strike was called.
These Indian Mynah birds are really a pest and, in many towns, and cities the local councils and governments are taking action, since these birds are a danger to our local birds. Unfortunately, our local council only has some well-meaning advise on their website, but no action or support forthcoming.
So the spring battle is back again. Wearing of hats with a wide rim or a hard hat, trying to hide in areas where the bird does not have a clear attack flight path, dashing to the car before being spotted or may trapping them. Since there is much to do on the property, this may be the last resort.
It somehow pains me to have to kill a bird, if I manage to catch it. It is a living creature after all, but it lives at the expense of others, maybe even more important creatures and I do not mean humans.
So it is war until November, when the young ones fly out and peace returns or……?
This year, things seem to have gone different. The hit on my head seemed to be the only attack so far. I have not seen much of the birds, except last Saturday. I was working on the side of the house and was looking up to the gutter. There, three heads were peering down at me. An expression like ‘got you’ and all three flew away. It looked much like the parent with their chick. It has been very quiet with only an occassional crackle of Myna birds. Maybe the bread early or the battle is still to come. Let’s see.