The future Korea is looking to

These children are the future for South Korea

Just looked through my picture gallery and saw this image taken at a festival.

Korea, as many other countries is suffering from low birth rates, due to various reasons, often economic consideration.

But it is children like these which will ensure the future prosperity of any country.

Possum in the flowerpot

If you grow some herbs and flowers on our balcony and knowing, that you are living in Possum territory, you can expect nightly visits.

Possums, while cute to look at, are cunning and clever in finding holes, or, even make them, when it comes to get some food or a protected sleeping place. They are great climbers and able to sneak through the smalles of holes.
Since they are nocturnal, one very rarely get to see them during the day, I only saw one once and it seemed to be an older animal and sick.

Anyway, last night there was some noise on the balcony and there he was. Sleeping in the flowerpot.
It seemed that the warm and protected space was more important, than the food aspect, but no chances taken, everything was tried to get him or her to move out.

Since it was 2 am, every incentive was there to go back to bed. So a very long aluminium bar was used to prod the animal gently. They are a protected species and no need to be cruel.

Now, they are really cute to look at and it pained me to see the animal disturbed or frightened. But it was clear, that in the morning, all the herbs and flowers would have become a meal and all the labour and money poured in would go down the possums throat.

A bit more prodding created some movement, but in the wrong direction opposite to end of the balcony where he most likely had found an access point.

Eventually he moved and hid behind some flower pots only the tip of the nose and the tail were visible, while waiting for calm.

I let the animal settle down, turned off all the lights, made a cup of tea and when I came back, it was gone.

Come daylight, this last access point now needs to be found and covered. Possums should be in the wild and not on the balcony or inside your roof.

Update November: one of the strawberry plants, which were nibbled down to a tiny leaf and hardly any stem, has recovered beautifully and may carry fruit soon.

Images taken with an iPhone 6s

From the plate camera to Lumix S1R

This is not really a write up about the evolution of photography, more about my personal experience and how I want to bring this into our new business venture ‘NCAS_48’.

After my dream in becoming a pilot, due to me wearing glasses was shattered, 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 photography I loved, 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 customers. 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, whereby apprenticeship in Germany is something very different to what is is here in Australia and it covers much wider fields, including 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.
There was never enough time to get into real mischief, but a stolen kiss and some ‘handiwork’.

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. Meaning it would get to dark for enlargements.

Of course our senior boss 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 the other side of Hamburg 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, 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.

Great times.

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 thouse times. 6x9cm 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 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 were made by famous brands like Voigtlaender, Zeiss Ikon, Agfa and Rollei.

But 35mm film became the dominent format and I still remember when the factory rep brought in one of the early Topcon 35mm automatic cameras. The Japanese manufacturer were leading in these developments at those times. Of course brands like Leica, Rollei, Zeiss were the jewels of the industry, together with the spy camera Minox, but these were expensive, much to 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 Pentax 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 places, 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.

Over the years I used many a camera. But one brand always remained my favourite one and that is Leica. In fact there was once a risk that this brand would go under, but in the 90’s it was rescued and has become not only the leading luxury camera brand but a driving force in the lenses for cinema production and many other fields.

I used many of their models. From taking a M2 to South America to a Leicaflex SL, which was exchanged to a Leicaflex SL2, which I still own, to an M6, R3, R4s, Leica T and TL2. The latter was exchanged last year for a CL.

Leica CL with chinese made 7Artisans lens….a new experience

But for me it is not so much the camera technology. Even that I would love to buy a SL2 or SL2s. For now a Lumix S1R has to do for financial reasons, it is the Leica lens technology.
From all the lenses I ever used, I feel that the Leica lens have the nicest rendering, the best, warm colours and an inrcedible sharpness.
But they also have a great mechanical feel. The M-series as well as the R-series. Of course lens technology has evolved, but I am using now my R- and M-lenses on the Lumix camera, which features the Leica L-mount, adapted by Panasonic and Sigma.
These older lenses have a different appearance to the new T-type from Leica. They are not as clinically clean, as many lenses are, which have been calculated for the digital world. But they look great and being forced to be just manual (no autofocus here), they force me to look even closer at the objects and image composition.

NCAS_48, will get involved in consumer photography again, while my main company ITI-Image Group, will keep focussing on Audio Visual and particular projection. I love the interaction with amateur photographers. Like to see their results.

In the next write-ups, I will talk about my experience of using a low cost Chinese Lens for L-Mount, the search for reasonably priced R> Nikon> M> adapter to the L-Mount , working with a glass plate camera and other subjects as they come along.

Drop me a line if you like to join any discussion or like my opinion on anything photography. ncas_48@yahoo.com

Tea versa Coffee

Even if you are a coffee aficionado, at times you come across a roast which leaves a long lingering and sometimes bitter taste. Sometimes it is just too much.

Why is this so? I don’t want to discuss, but there are countries, where the coffee is consistently bitter and appears over roasted. On the other hand. Coffee in Italy or Brazil can be so delightful, giving you the desired boost, but does not take refuge in your mouth for hours on end.

So what can you do about this. In some countries, like Austria, you get a cup of water automatically with your coffee and that makes already a difference.

But there is a better method I remembered, after getting annoyed by the coffee taste in my mouth 90 minutes after the early morning cup. Tea.

Many, many years ago I travelled to the western part of Thailand. To Mae Sot at the Burmese (Myanmar) border. About 1 hour up from Mae Sot into the mountains I came to one of the typical roadside shops and restaurant stops. This is an area of Thailand where they grow coffee. It is high and cool enough.
I revered a cup and with it came a glass with a reddish/brown liquid. I was wondering what this was and asked.
Tea was the answer. They automatically serve a tiny glass of tea with your coffee to reduce the aftertaste of the coffee. A coffee which was actually very good.

And yes it works very well. The roasting east of the coffee disappeared and just a small flavour of the coffee aroma lingered.

This morning, while I drove into the office I remembered. So wanting to get rid of the coffee east I made myself a cup of tea. Yes, the palette is cleaned out. No annoying coffee taste anymore and only a small lingering of tea flavour.

Travelling can really widen your horizon and you can learn from the natives, maybe better than any other way.

Let’s have another cuppa!

Treasures in the neighborhood

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.

Just try it.

Sydney’s old train stations

In a modern world, we often cherish the old, sometimes playful designs of times gone by. Clean, glass covered architecture may be practical, modern and demonstrate how far we have developed, but it is the detail in the old, which makes us feel nostalgic, warm and homely, regardless where we are.

St James underground station on Sydney’s underground rail network is such an example. Filigrane, playful and nicely preserved. A beauty to visit and explore.

all images are copyright NCAS_48 2021

OKUDO-San or the joy of heating with timber and coal

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.

Traveling

I worked my way through some older notes this morning. Writing down some old travel logs to develop for future write ups. But saw also some more disjointed notes, which I think are still worth to mull over.

Flying – I always loved flying. It is like being detached from earth, from everyday problems. Unfortunately, to many travelers, just shut the window blinds and focus on the screen in front of them. A pity really.

Looking out of an airliner window, seeing the endless blue shy above and the landscape or clouds below is something amazing.

We are so privileged to be able to experience this. Humans have for millions of years tried to do this. But the best was to climb a high mountain, if one was available, spend hours or days doing this and only to find that the peak was engulfed in clouds.

Or trying like Ikarus, with fatal results.

Flying – Not being contactable. A pity with constant WiFi, this may also be a thing of the past. But for now, just switch it off. Enjoy the freedom for just being yourself. Just you in the dural tube. The rest far below you in their small offices, in the traffic jam, in the marital fight or whatever goes on. But you are far above everything. Soaring.

Clouds – Watching summer or thunderstorm clouds from earth can be amazing. I think far to few people ever marvel about this spectacle of nature and complain more if a cloud takes out the browning sunshine. Clouds from a place are something different. Small white tufts, like sheep on a meadow. Towering giants, which reach far above your flying height. Big dark blue or even black ones with lightening inside. Threatening, but fascinating. I find it amazing when the aircraft descends and the cover of clouds appears. We dive into it. But instead of the hard thump when hitting water, the soft vapor slides over the wings and creeps slowly up the windows until we are engulfed by the grey mass.

Flying – The stewardess, yes at my time we called them like this. Flight attendants are smiling (sometimes), offering you a drink, a meal, a snack, a blanket. How they complete the experience. This is why I love legacy airlines and shun low cost. The few dollars extra can make travel such a better experience.

Other planes – Seeing another aircraft from your window is something….sometimes frightening if they cross your path and you don’t know if they may hit….Amazing, to see this tiny spot growing, growing wings, a shape and is already past….Exiting, if it flies along you. At s slight angle, so that you or he (it) is faster and disappears as quick as it came….at night, when the mysterious blinking of the anti collision light is the only other thing you can see, apart from starts above.

Contrail from another aircraft

A question was once asked ‘Which smell is most memorable to you?”. For me the smell entering an aircraft. From the sterile smell of the air bridge to the atmosphere of the airliner. A mixture of plastic, fabric, air freshener, perfume, travel and world. Different with every airline. Exiting all the time.

Grounded – for now we are grounded. At least for international travel. I look forward getting on board again. Roaring into the sky and forget everything below me……

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