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Mumbai

Dear timezone,
you have to please let go of me now. I have moved on. I have moved on to a different season even.

I know we used to be like one, knowing each other without words, I used to wake up in you, no alarm needed, no warning.

You would watch me brush my teeth and eat my meals. I would shower for just the right amount of time, so I could stay in synch with you.
And we would go through the day together: The slowness of the morning, the focus of the pre-noon, the rush, the journey, the calmness of the finished day.
The glass of wine that helped us fall asleep.

This was great,
but now it is over,
please,
let go of me, let go of my internal clock.

It was even funny at first, how I would go to sleep in the winter of São Paulo, but then somehow magically emerge seemingly in the monsoon season of Mumbai.
But obviously not. Ha, ha.

Funny.

But funny
no more.

I can hear the wintry city outside slowly find its cosy blanket,
and here I am ready to jump into the steamy chaos of the day.

I am trying to make things work, and make things meet, but after only three hours of sleep, I am officially confused and barely able to describe a simple thought.

What was that?

It's time we move on. Really.
You have billions of internal clocks to worry about.
Let go of this little one inside of me.

I will try to sleep. Again.
Perhaps it is going to work out this time.

The ringing phone across the street is hopefully not you.
And stop making that skateboarder slide down the hill on the wrong side of the deck.
The cars. Let go. Let go.

Let.

Go.

It is obvious, so clear that our relationship is bound to find an ending.
We will be fine. All will be normal. We will go our separate, usual ways.

And I will be begging for you to take me back in September.

São Paulo

This is a copy of the description I had originally posted on the flickr page
Thought it would be nice to have it here after all.
There is still no "about me" on this site anyway.
And the little description felt a bit long for flickr.

Well,
I started shooting at around four or five. I was allowed to use my father's Praktina FX, (the first system camera in the world). I have two of them now. Every few years I take them out of their case and shoot a little bit with them. It is slow and very bare bone photography. No light metering. No way to precisely set focus. Not even by looking through the lens.
After firing a shot, the mirror needs to be brought back into position in several turns of a dial.
But the lenses are pretty amazing. Imagine a F2.8/180 Zeiss Sonnar. Designed in the 30s. Yes, Zeiss in Jena manufactured some pretty nice lenses for that camera.
My father had a Zeiss Jena F2.8/50.
I remember spending hours staring at the world through the finder of the camera and just shifting focus. Moving around that layer that was allowed to become the main element of the picture I could have made.

I have shot with many small cameras. A small nikon about 20 years ago. Then an Olympus Miu.
Eventually decided to find out what it would be like to shoot with a Leica. I really wanted to buy an M camera, but it felt too much like a weapon at that time, and with about $2000 for the body, it was also incredibly expensive.
I ended up buying a Leica Minilux. The one with the Summarit 2.4/40.
And I loved what happened to the world. I was so impressed by the way the lens of this camera rendered the outside that my review on Amazon read like it had been written by a crazy person.
My little silver minilux was eventually stolen. I found someone who sold me his black one. The man did not understand how much I loved the little camera.

I tried other film cameras as well. Some were borrowed. Some are still part of my collection. My creative director let me use his Contax G2 for several weeks. It is an incredible camera somehow.

I bought the Yashica Electro 35GS. It was through the LOMO people. It even came with a sticker that it had been part of the equipment of USS Midway.
I wish it managed to focus properly. And the color rendition. Hmm... Well...
The camera is more of a historic artifact than a working machine.

I also purchased a Graflex Crowngraphic. The suitcase it is stored in might weigh something like 20 pounds? I never had the courage to actually shoot film with it. Only polaroids. Pretty great polaroids though.

And then there was also the Hasselblad. I love the 501CM. It takes beautiful pictures. It is a solid, heavy, incredible object.
One to take to the moon indeed.
I hope for a proper digital back for it one day. Not the ones available now. They do not seem right. They just do not seem right.

Yes digital changed things. Changed everything.
It became more and more difficult to handle film. I also found out that the seemingly trusty store on the corner that had been handling and scanning my 35mm films, has also been scratching the negatives because of unclean equipment.
All my scans were actually retouched to cover that blunder.

I have been developing all of my film with Duggal since. They do a great job. Obviously.

So back to the smaller cameras.
I eventually bought a Canon S70. It felt a bit like the Olympus miu. The clamshell design made it possible to keep the camera on me at all times. And probably most of the pictures here were taken with the S70. It was a trusty little camera. And I have to say that I enjoyed the shape of it, the quiet operation and also the dynamic range. But the chip was pretty small. And the barrel distortion was a bit of a joke.

I actually wanted a Leica again. Even a small one would be nice. And so typically, I got a D-Lux 3 for my wife.
Then, in January of 2009, I finally bought a D-Lux 4. At the camera store in the A terminal of the Frankfurt Airport.
The camera had just been released a short while before that, and the first firmware made it shoot in some crazy color. Especially the reds were pretty, how do I say it... bad.
Software updates eventually fixed the little guy. And I also discovered that a wide angle extension could actually be applied to the lens. (Okay, let's not mention the barrel distortion on that one. It was so horrible, no wonder Leica never endorsed it.)

And so I shot with the D-Lux 4 a good bit. And it is a fine camera. We got to know each other better and better. I can only recommend it. It is very nice for macro photography actually. And also rather nice for very quick jotting down of visual ideas. Oh, and the ability to record HD movies should not be underestimated.
A stealthy, very quiet little friend, that D-Lux 4. And the wide angle extension is a bit of a secret gem. (It does not show up in the EXIF data. So some of the info that comes with the pictures here might be not completely accurate.)

In September of 2009 Leica announced the M9. And it felt as if the circle could finally be closed. I could at last get a "proper" Leica. I could shoot in what could potentially feel like film again? And I could get access to that kind of lens quality I had somehow briefly experienced with the minilux. (Silly, I know.)

It took me almost a year, (actually 364 days,) to finally manage to buy an M9. I could have bought one sooner, of course. I could have paid more. Or I could have bought the silver edition I happened to come across in Frankfurt Airport again.

So I have an M9 since 9/8/2010. (Or 8.9.10) And the two lenses I use it with are a Voigtländer Nokton F1.1/50 as well as a Summicron F2/28.
The Nokton is incredibly difficult to handle properly. It is capable of producing such shallow depth of field, that precise shots need a setup that results in photographer lag. Or they are just lucky.
The Summicron is much wider, not as fast, and so incredibly forgiving.
It is also much smaller. And it is lighter. It is pretty lovely.

I somehow know that the camera journey is not going to end here. But I am happier than ever with the quality I am getting out of the M9.

It is not as quiet as I had expected. Compared to the virtually silent digital cameras I have used before it has a pretty noisy shutter.
But because it has pretty much no detectable shutter lag, I keep messing up pictures, because I fire off too quickly, having been trained by my randomly focussing pocket friends.
Oh yes, the manual focus. It is actually much better than I had expected. I am learning to estimate distances again. (Though I had to shoot completely static objects, like trash in the street, for more than a week, just to give myself an introduction.)
Now I am beginning to admire the ergonomics and the logic behind the Leica rangefinder.

I can feel how that sense of wonder and connection to the world is slowly being brought back somewhere between the shots.

And the M9 somehow gave me no buyer's remorse. It surpassed my expectations many ways.
I feel like I have some catching up to do. I can not hide behind the faults and limitations of the equipment. The things I want to shoot in the street, I suddenly seem to be able to shoot somehow. Well, almost. Hopefully soon.

Anybody who says that the camera equipment does not matter at all, most likely uses better equipment than the person they are telling that it does not matter.
Photography is obviously not only about technology. One should not be tempted to believe the marketing of camera manufacturers completely.
I would not be surprised if more personally relevant moments are captured on phones now than on actual photographic equipment.

But there is still some strange magic to making pictures that are based on reality. They appear so close to it, that they seem to be part of it. And yet they are really not.
I do believe that photographs are actually made, not simply taken.
And I just love making photographs.

looking at things...

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The shutter on the old Praktina did not really want to close. I had to let it find its way again and again and again. Eventually it somehow remembered how to get from right to left. I have let the camera sleep by itself for too long, displayed on a small tripod in a glass case, with the olympic lens attached, waiting to take another shot, for months. Maybe years actually.

There are boxes with film in the refrigerator. And there is a box on my bookshelf in the office as well. The film must be not only expired by now, the seasons must have turned the chemistry on it into a run away reaction.
I dare not to put any of it in the cameras.
Some actually still have the old film in them.

The Praktina was empty. I took off the back and looked at the sleepy cloth shutter.
It eventually got to where it needed to be.
I think it did.
How would I dare to remember what 1/1000 of a second looks like.

I looked through the lens. No matter what the camera was pointed towards, it looked suspiciously like an object from 1954. Somehow the world was a different place in that complicated glass. A grainy world. The ground glass made everything look as if it were a super 8 film; perhaps bad 16mm.
It makes perfect sense that the Leicas from the same period must have felt incredibly bright and clear.

A battery arrived today.
It is such a pathetic symbol of what is about to follow in the mail.

The Praktina would never ask for batteries.
It asked me to shoot with it. Even with no film in it.
It taught me to see the world as a potential picture.
Somewhere in the early 70's when I assembled objects on the table outside of the kitchen, and then shifted focus with the aperture wide open.
Again and again.
And again.

And objects would melt.
Then they would reassemble themselves.
Then melt again.
Soft cloudy objects.

It was brilliant.
Magic.

Even without film.
The best moments that were never recorded.
Only seen with intense focus.
But I guess that's the way things work sometimes.

A bit too early for that.

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This last visit to Germany really took away some years from the end of my life. And it was not the food, because that was rather good. And it was not the places where I stayed, as I seemed to get upgraded in every hotel now. And not even the travel. All modes of transportation were about as good as I could have hoped for.
No, it was the psychological underpinnings of it. And maybe the weather too.
I have been ground down to a little core of a grain at this point. And the nerves are blank now. And I overreact to the world inside and outside of me.
My biggest piece of good luck is probably to be surrounded by brilliant people. Or what might be the bigger piece of good luck even is that the brilliant people are on my side of the equation.

But that last trip managed to bargain out quite a price for what will some day be seen as "experience". Or maybe the memory is just freshest at this point. That's probably what it really is.

And now, before 4 am on a Monday. I should probably not be typing on the glass surface of a little device that really wants to grab more and more of my attention.
The moon is rising as a thin orange sliver over the outline of the King's county hospital. And I should be sleeping. Too much is too much. Sometimes it really is.

The finally Merry Christmas.

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This must have been the greatest Christmas I remember. For the very first time the good moments were so good, that I did not even notice the bad. Really a very, very new thing. I could probably just blame my memory for being too cloudy... but does it matter? Is life the ultimate Olympics? Do we have to have the best moments at the age of three and then see every festivity after that as a chewed on toy and a decaying piece of christmas cake? The holidays this year felt as if a gigantic circle somehow finally closed itself. I found myself in places that reminded me of idealized memories (or maybe fantasies) of good moments, all brought together in some forty eight hours or so. Wow, life really can be a wonderful place. The universe seemed to try to maybe somehow create a balance by planting a vicious custom tailored nightmare in the back of my head this morning, but it was nothing compared to all the goodness and new discoveries of the familiar I had the privilege to encounter. Nice. Oh, and the ten pound box of Lebkuchen, my mother wanted to reach my by christmas eve has not yet completely crossed the ocean. Maybe that's actually great too. The lebkuchen last night was quite wonderful, especially because i was not there chewing on it in the dark trying to grasp on to the faint smoke of my first lebkuchen memories. I was at a table with a loving group of people of whom some had yet to discover the special side of this special German Christmas treats. There was Stollen, for example. How could I have ever predicted that the best Stollen I could possibly come from the food market in Grand Central Station. I mean really, of all places? Oh, and the goose was also the best. And the rest... grossartig. And the conversations were just like the most wonderful nutrient of the Christmas evening. And the day before as well. Christmas eve used to be the evening on which strange knots were created. The awkwardness would usually come to a screeching peak. But not this year. It felt like a gentle home, as if I had been the missing piece. As if the balance had finally been reached. And so the festivities themselves and all the people I was allowed to meet, were the most wonderful gift... wow... thank you so much.

The coldest turkey

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Happy Thanksgiving. It looks like I have managed to slice myself out of certain things. Long and painful preparation, fast execution. Cold turkey indeed. I will now begin with the thorough reboot process. Please be patient, as we verify all of the system components. There will be testing, there will be reconfiguration, there will be good old reattaching of severed limbs. I am currently in a place very familiar, still. My job now is to transform it into a place that does not contain traces of me. I will then take everything that I will collect here and reapply it into a masonry and wood cavity, several miles from here. I have seven days to complete this operation. I am about to go onto a very serious journey. There have been some very serious mistakes in the past. I have to now very much refocus energies, re-heal, re-activate, re-invent... Please wish me good luck. I really, really need it. This gives me some hope, and so does this. (And no, I do not think I have any deadly disease, except for life, of course... but that's just 100% deadly.)
As the journey progressed, the sights became more and more interesting. Each new one became more informed than the last one. The layers of beauty increased with the slow and steady unavoidable progression of things. Nobody had ever told him it would be this way. Nobody had ever prepared him for this. Nobody had ever explained it this way. The darkness was supposed to be all enveloping by now. The pains were supposed to be debilitating by now. The young ones were supposed to rule the world by now. He was supposed to be out of the plains of surprises and wonder... and dug deep in the trenches of disillusionment. But instead the same objects and places, revisited, became more and more informed. More interesting. More beautiful. Deeper. Still new. People became more and more transparent. More interesting. Deeper. Still new. Yes, the clarity of vision was slowly giving way to the warmth and comfort of decisions made in the past. But that was not as bad as he had feared... Every single one of the moments given could be declared glorious. And there were miles and miles and years and years of those ahead. He never stopped being amazed. Ever.

Achtung Terminnderung!!!

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My High School is almost 400 years old... I graduated form the HoLa in 1989... 15 years ago... and now there is going to be a reunion, a complete get together of the winners, the losers and some of the ones in between... The title of this entry was also the title of the email I received this morning. The date of the reunion has been moved to Saturday, 07/03/04... (what incredibly lucky numbers.) The date has been moved because of some of those who will arrive from "overseas"... there were particular requests... The email also contained a file with the names of those who could not be found... (I obviously had been found, so my information was not distributed...) I do not thing I want to go. I think I will not go. I'm not going. There is not one good thing that could come out of this reunion for me. Whom would I get to see? Those who were more ambitious than me? They were painful at times then and they will be painful again. Will I reconnect with long lost friends? (hardly.) Will there be some embarrassing games? (Very likely.) Do I want to get really nicely jet-lagged for such an event?... I don't think so... So please forgive me friends (and "friends")... I do not think I will be there.. I will just stay here, keep writing, keep working... it is so easy to find me... it is incredibly easy to get in touch with me... let's make tiny, personal, one on one reunions... If you went to school with me and would like to stay in touch... please leave a comment here or send me an email... oh well... (what the heck am I afraid of?) How was your High School / College / Kindergarten Reunion... any positive experiences?... (the comments are now open...)
A friend in Berlin once told me that one of her pastimes was to imagine what kind of issues the other people on the train might have... I mean... think beyond a common cold. Could you spot the guy who just ate a whole sandwich while tied to a chair, upside down? How about somebody else, who likes to spend their night in a tank filled with water. That little old lady back on the seat near to the exit might be actually a famous breeder of some very special bacteria... and that homeless guy, there in the corner... he might be an actor, a supermodel, a hygiene expert... pretending to smell like an antique urinal. So if such strange assumptions can be made on the subway, what is left to imagine in the waiting room of a cardiologist? Clearly some of the people here moved too quickly into some serious direction. The older gentleman I saw yesterday looked like Willy Loman, he had forgotten to take off his hat, he was marking some lists in a packed manilla folder. From time to time he would shake his head... how dare they, how dare they... The other older gentleman had been left behind by his maybe 40 years younger wife. She probably went shopping, he barely heard the calls, when his car arrived. The wife of the Hassidic man had to take him downstairs... or at least the rest of the family convinced her to. Her husband went to pray right after. The older lady, also with them, she must have been related, made sure to show off her large blue marks on both of her strangely shaped legs. I really do not know what the story was all about. The mishpucha spoke the fast kind of jiddish/hebrew mix. There was this 20 something guy in the waiting area today. He was somehow fascinated by that food and wine magazine. The lady next to me just read the New York Times. Did he have a broken heart? Did she lose hers in translation?... I only had to go back today to give some (4-5 of those little containers with that waxy stuff on the bottom) blood for testing. I wonder what will come back in a few weeks. One of the tests is apparently "experimental"; how nice to know my blood will be right on the cutting edge. Oh, and I do shivers when I see any kind of injury on someone... and I would have probably fainted seeing my blood drawn. But I knew all that... and I can tell you, that there is this very interesting double edge in the corner of the ceiling of that doctor's office... and that the lady who took my blood, was the most skilled one yet. So what do your friends on Orkut have?

heart seems to be okay...

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"if you are being sent back to wait, that is a good sign." My first cardiogram was probably a good one. Something is obviously going on with me right now, my body is shutting down a bit. I was told to stay home tomorrow... and I guess I will... oh, and there will be extensive bloodwork... love that word... bloodwork... Oh, and once the doctor found out that I have something to do with advertising, he immediately brought forward his (actually quite funny) advertising idea... I guess people at parties also ask him about their swollen feet and other strange headaches a lot... thought wait, he is a cardiologist... does he get to fix a lot of heartbreaks?..

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