Archive for 2011

Red blueberry carpet

Red blueberry carpet, Cherryfield, Maine, 2011

Ever since the wonderful sunrise and blueberries photograph by Christopher Burkett I wanted to see the blueberry barrens in their autumnal dress myself. During our New England fall foliage holiday in October 2011, we therefore made a side trip to see this wonder of nature, ironically in the vicinity of Cherryfield in Maine
I am very happy with this photograph and really like how the reds, oranges and yellows shine and lead into the photograph and towards the prominent summit on the horizon. I have just made my first printing trials and had this red blueberry carpet printed on classical photo paper with a laser exposure system. Seeing the photograph on classical, shiny photographic paper is even better than on the screen! I like these prints so much that I purpose to create a more extensive portfolio of printed photographs - kind of my photography-related new year resolution for 2012.
I wish you all an interesting, challenging and satisfactory year 2012 and hope that you regularly return as a visitor of my blog. Please let me know if you have any comment, question or topic for discussion.

All the best,

2011/12/31 by Unknown
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A camera buying prevention guide

It is the goal of this blog post to provide you with a few thoughts that may liberate you from the urge to contemplate new equipment incessantly. I have observed that the more I photograph the less I think about equipment and vice versa. Of course, I find it a pleasure to use a well-built camera or lens. But a camera or lens is just a tool. What I really like about photography is the discovering and capturing of natural and man-made beauty in my environment. If I subscribe to all photo rumor sites (I am subscribed to a few), constantly think about what new camera or lens may allow me to take better photographs (to which I may succumb to more often than I should), it is unlikely that my photographs will improve and become more satisfying. What I try instead is to observe my environment consciously (a word I like a lot) and to see photographs irrespective of whether or not I carry a camera. I try to practice my art of seeing as much as I can! 
When I think little about taking photographs (which happened to me during the last weeks, for example), I start to think more often about equipment. Besides heading out and taking photographs (which I just did today) there are recurring thoughts that prevent me from buying in impuls. All these thoughts relate to the question whether or not I really need camera X or lens Y. In my opinion, three factors are important to decide whether something is a need: How often do I potentially use an item, what does an item provide (quality/new type of subjects) and how much an item costs. The decision tree depicted below represents what you may call a "camera buying prevention guide" that summarizes these three areas of thought. I think you should answer all three questions with "yes" before buying whatever piece of equipment. 

Let's imagine a possible scenario. I assume you own a reasonably advanced interchangeable lens digital camera with probably 10 or more mega pixels. The camera may already be a few years old, but it works perfectly fine and if you are honest, you are not using it often enough to warrant a replacement.  In truth, you many not even exploit your camera's full potential. 
The last couple of months, maybe even years, you may have been working a lot and did not think much about taking photographs let alone actually taking photographs. Therefore, your "photography" has been limited to the reading of your list of photography blogs and websites. This is where you fell prey to the elaborate marketing machinery of the photography industry and to consumerism. The incredibly rapid product cycles, constant announcements and rumors all try to convince you that your camera is way outdated and that you absolutely need a new camera. But do you really need a new camera? The decision tree above implicates that you should only start thinking about buying a new piece of photography equipment if 1) you photograph regularly and really use the tool you want to buy, 2) you are limited by not having the item you want to buy and 3) you think that the added functionality and use justifies the price of the item (and of course that you can afford it). I am quite sure that following this scheme conscientiously would drastically reduce photography item sales and would be very bad for the industry. But there is no danger, because consumerism is very powerful. However, I am sure that the few who manage to stick to these rules will actually feel relieved and liberated (and save a lot of money)!
Based on my self-observation, I believe that the desire to buy photography equipment, also called compulsive camera buying syndrom (CCBS), is a substitute action for photography. CCBS is a manifestation of both, compulsive buying disorder (CBD) as well as obsessive-compulsive photography disorder (OCPD) and similar to the latter the best remedy for CCBS is to take photographs. Do you regularly photograph? Try to take your camera on photography walks at least once a week, start to photograph things in your house or flat, start a "photo a day" project. Call up your creativity by thinking about photographs and by taking photographs as often as possible. 

2011/12/24 by Unknown
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Shattered window reflection

Reflection in a shattered glass door on Max Bill Square, Zurich-Oerlikon, Switzerland

I have not posted anything for a while because we have just moved and our apartment is a complete chaos. Today, I managed to get through to our computer again (the first time since Monday!). Although it is neither at all seasonal and nor in tune with the current weather (it is cold, raining and snowing), I would like to show you this photograph of a reflection in a shattered glass door. It is also from the reflection gallery, like the last post, and was also taken around where I live (with a simple point-and-shoot camera). The entrance door to a shop on Max Bill Square (Max-Bill-Platz) was shattered, which rendered the reflection of the surrounding buildings much more interesting and unusual. Max Bill Square is located in the north of Zurich, in Zurich-Oerlikon, and is distinguished by an interesting geometric pattern of the paving tiles, which generate a 3D effect.

I hope that you enjoy and wish you a nice day! 

2011/12/22 by Unknown
Categories: | Leave a comment Location: Max-Bill-Platz, 8050 Zurich, Switzerland

Red square

This is a
Red square reflection, Zurich-Oerlikon, Switzerland

This red square reflection was photographed about a year ago rather close to where I live. There are several elements that I like about this photograph: the color combination, the reflection, the geometric pattern and the diagonal direction and as well as the square format.
On first sight, it is a simple photograph. However, I think that it is a little bit more subtle than may be expected on first sight, which is the main reason why I like this photograph. The red square is a reflection of a red building opposite this glass facade. I carefully positioned myself and the camera so that the red is exactly confined by the borders of the windows in the lower left corner. This specific point of view left very little room for the remainder of the composition. I know that the perspective is not corrected, but I like the diagonal direction that is thereby introduced. At least for me, this composition makes the eye move to the bottom left, to the red square. Another interesting detail  because usually the eye is guided from the front to the back, from the bottom to the top. Is your viewing experience different?

Enjoy and have a nice day!

2011/12/14 by Unknown
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My treasures: Rudolf Mirer

Friendship - Love ("Freundschaft - Liebe", Rudolf Mirer)

Again, I would like to use the occasion of a current exhibition to share a treasure (not a photo treasure) with you. Rudolf Mirer is one of Switzerland's most well-known contemporary artists. The exhibition at the Galerie Nievergelt in Zurich, is very diverse and includes paintings, drawings as well as rare lithographies that are all beautifully presented and framed. I particularly like the ink drawing entitled "Friendship - Love." Although on first sight it may not appear particularly amiable and mellow, I somehow enjoy how the two owls share an eye. Maybe Rudolf Mirer wants to tell us that sharing an eye or rather seeing with the same eye is what friendship and love is about (the drawing is still available and costs 8'200 CHF). 
Much of Rudolf Mirer's work seems inspired by the nature and culture of the mountainous environment of Graubünden, where he lives and works. The subjects, owls (a recurring subject), animals or human beings, are often shown abstractly with clear lines and contrasts and strong colors. The subjects almost seem like icons or symbols for the themes that are important to Rudolf Mirer: creation, friendship, home, human beings, love and nature. Below, you can see two lithographies (Chamois, Quest for Hope and Peace) and a drawing/painting (Colorful Owl) that I also like very much.

Chamois, Rudolf Mirer

Quest for Hope and Peace (left), Colorful Owl (right),  Rudolf Mirer

Rudolf Mirer's style is unique and authentic and there are many works with a similar character that I appreciate. In addition, Rudolf Mirer also illustrated several books and designed wine labels. If you happen to be in the surroundings of Zurich until the end of December, I encourage you to visit the nice exhibition at the Galerie Nievergelt. The place is very easily and quickly accesible from the center of Zurich by a short train ride (7 min) and walk (5 min) and also features a book shop and a stationary shop.

2011/12/07 by Unknown
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My photo treasures: William Neill

I am not sure anymore when and where I have first encountered the photography of William Neill, but I think it may have been the article Thinking in Themes on the Luminous Landscape. "Dawn, Lake Louise" is the first photograph in that article and is one of my most preferred (intimate) landscape photographs ever. I think that I have a weakness for blue, but the peaceful atmosphere and masterly composition really make this photograph special and unique. The slowly disappearing rocks in the foreground pull my eye into the photograph and the dark ridges on both side lead it to the bright and shiny line in the background. A wonderful photograph that is also enclosed in William Neill's wonderful coffee table book "Landscapes of the Spirit" and that is also shown here.

Photograph © William Neill, "Dawn, Lake Louise, Banff National Park

William Neill is a very well-known and much acclaimed photographer whose work has been published in numerous magazines and received many prizes. I very much appreciate his simple and often minimalistic compositions that highlight subtle details and patterns in nature. I believe that many of the photographs have been taken in the surroundings of Yosemite National Park, where William Neill lives since a long time. However, they do not feature well-known and much photographed landmarks, but rather reveal hidden treasures. William Neill's photographs represent an intimate view of the beauty of his surroundings and of nature and convey a tranquil and quite mood. To me, William Neill shows that fantastic photographs do not need vast vistas and spectacular scenes but that the spectacular and beautiful can be found everywhere; in the details of nature that are to be discovered and explored even in your backyard. This is also emphasized in William Neill's photographer statement:

"The reason I photograph is to experience the beauty of Nature, of wild places. I explore the essential elements of rock and tree, of cloud and rushing water to discover the magic and mystery of the landscape. My search for beauty is romantic and idealistic. It is the spirit of the land I seek-be it in a small piece of urban wildness or in vast wilderness."

Below is a very nice movie recording of William Neill talking about and giving background on the capture of fifteen of his photographs ("Dawn, Lake Louise" is number 11). If you would like to view more of William Neill's photographs I encourage you to visit the portfolios on his web site. In addition to spiritual and intimate landscape visions, there is for example the more experimental portfolio entitled impressions of light and the tryptych series showing changing light or moving clouds in series of three.

2011/12/06 by Unknown
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Reflective view from a Moscow hotel room

Reflections are very versatile: a welcome subject for the photographer, a means for introspection,  a mirror view of ourselves and many more. Just like the passing shadows, changing light or a blanket of snow, reflections have the power to transform the ordinary into something unexpected. In a photograph, reflections can add strong symmetry or extract the essential colors and contrasts from a scene.
It was a hot night after a long flight and much work. The room was airless but luckily and unexpectedly it was possible to open the window, which allowed me to take the photograph below and to sleep in airy air.

Nightly view from a hotel room in Moscow. I really like the almost perfect symmetry of the photograph and the combination with the unusual blue lighting.

2011/11/29 by Unknown
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Aspect ratio

I always thought and still do (although less strongly) that a photograph should be composed "in camera" and neither in the darkroom nor in the computer (this is where the photograph is developed). So at the beginning of the digital photography age I was hesitant whether I considered it acceptable to crop an image to whatever ratio. In the meantime, I have become more used to digital alterations of all kinds and refined my definition of a photograph. I now consider it one of the benefits of digital photography that we are liberated from a defined and specific aspect ratio.
In a sense, aspect ratio has always been flexible to some extent. With classical 35mm film the aspect ratio of photographs is defined to 3:2, but specialized panoramic cameras produce wider photographs. Medium format cameras feature larger formats such as 6x6, 6x4.5 or 6x7 and solutions to change from one format to another exist. Since now virtually all photographs are processed with the help of computers, even those that are taken analogously, it is easy to crop a photograph to whatever dimension a photographer might fancy. The size and format of the originally captured photographs has become so unimportant that more pragmatic aspects like the computer screen sizes, the design and layout of web pages (such as square thumbnails) and the dimensions of paper and frames may be more defining for the final aspect ratio than the capturing device's dimensions.
In my opinion, the format of a photograph should be determined, even imposed, by the subject and by your personal preference and taste. When I took analog photographs (slides actually), I was often longing for a wider, more panoramic format. The camera that I am using at the moment allows me to select and change the aspect ratio and it displays the chosen image format also in the electronic viewfinder. Since I have started using this camera I have become fond of the square format and very much like its symmetry. You may say that aspect ratio selection is completely unnecessary because our photographs can be trimmed to any aspect ratio in the digital darkroom. I would have said the same, but the experience with my new camera taught me otherwise. Surprisingly, the aspect ratio selection button is one of my most frequently used nubs of all! Changing and adjusting the aspect ratio for each subject and photograph has become very similar to changing lenses and selecting a particular focal length. I really enjoy this photographic process because it allows me to compose and take the photograph exactly as I want the final photograph to be (at least with respect to aspect ratio) on the scene. I am not sure if I could ever be satisfied again with a camera without this great feature!

A square photograph that was captured and composed as a square. First snow and red square on a square in Zurich.

2011/11/27 by Unknown
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1000 pageviews

The last fall color leaves resisting the approaching winter.

Dear readers!

According to the analytics, today the thousandth pageview on Florian's blog was recorded. A few of those were from myself (even though they should not be counted) but the majority was from visitors like you from all over the world (most from Switzerland and the USA, followed by visitors from Russia, the United Kingdom, Germany, Turkey, India, France, Canada and Latvia). The larger part of you seems to be using Apple computers (about 55%), but accesses from Android devices were twice as frequent as from iPads. But I digress and do not want to reduce you to a number in the statistics of this blog, but rather wholeheartedly thank you for stepping by from time to time, for reading and looking at my photographs. I hope that you enjoyed one or the other photograph, discovered an interesting idea or learned something from one of the texts. I would be glad to welcome you again in the future and hope that some of you will become regular visitors!

I would also like to use this opportunity to thank Gianni Galassi, Christopher Burkett, Tom McLaughlan and Paul Nicklen, who have permitted me to show one of their photographs in the "My photo treasures" series. I hope that I can continue this series and introduce you to many more photographers and photographs that I appreciate. For example, I hope to show you one of my most preferred landscape photographs ever - stay tuned! If you have a photograph or photographer who you think I should know and maybe highlight here, please drop me a line!

In comparison with other sites, a thousand pageviews may seem little, but I am very happy with the number of visitors and my blogging experience so far. Since August 27th, 29 post were published (this is post 30), which means that I posted about three posts per week. Sometimes I had to force myself to sit down and write a new text and a few times I deleted what I had written, but overall I enjoyed this writing experience so far and the ideas for posts came naturally. I hope that I can manage to keep up the same frequency in the future. I also find a thousand pageviews (a little bit more than 10 per day) so far respectable because I have done very little advertisement for my blog and I deliberately refrain from certain topics (for example I do not mention the latest cameras and lenses from Canikon, Leitax or Lumipus, which would certainly bring in additional page visits). I will mention tools and techniques from time to time, as I have already, but I will most likely continue to abstain from brand and equipment fanaticism. I try to live by certain principles, even if they may be disadvantageous to some extent (I strongly believe that in the long term they pay off, but this may be a topic for a (photo)sophical post one day).

I do not want to end without saying THANK YOU for your visit again and to encourage you to let me know if you have any suggestion, questions, requests or criticism.

Have a nice day!

2011/11/21 by Unknown
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Triangles, pyramids and reflections

A rather abstract photograph from the "reflections" gallery in the "man made beauty" collection (it was already shown off in this post). The photograph shows glass pyramids reflecting the sky line of Hong Kong. I have taken this photograph in 2010, while I enjoyed a few free hours after an exhausting working weekend. It was a very hot and humid afternoon with beautiful lights and shadows and plenty of photography opportunities. I may post a few more photographs in the coming days.
I like about reflections that they show the usual in unexpected and new ways. Here, the different surfaces of the glass pyramids reflect buildings and sky from different orientations and stack these reflections behind each other, which I quite like. In addition, I find the interplay between the clean surfaces and the distorted reflections of buildings very interesting and blue is one of my preferred colors. I hope you enjoy.

Have a nice week!

P.S. The photographs in my blog usually link to the photograph on Recently, I have been fighting with the slideshow on the HOME page and with the gallery view. Things should be more or less fine again, but I am sorry that the site was partly out of order over the weekend.

2011/11/20 by Unknown
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My photo treasures: Olivier Föllmi

I have a special relationship with one particular photograph by Olivier Föllmi (photograph "00150" on, the first image from the left in the second row*). It was one of two photographs that decorated the wall in my girlfriend's room when we first met and later in our first apartment. Although this photograph is not really representative of Olivier Föllmi's work, it is one of my most preferred mountainscapes. Every time I look at it, I am amazed at how the light radiates from behind and below the hillside, as if it was emanating from earth's center.
Olivier Föllmi has become well-known for his photographs from the Ladakh, Tibet and Himalaya, which not only show the beauty of nature, but first and foremost depict the beauty and unity of human beings and their environment. For me, Olivier Föllmi's photographs convey a harmonic and almost spiritual quality that I think must stem from a deep appreciation of human beings and their lives. Although these portraits of mankind seem completely natural and spontaneous, the photographs are very carefully planned. Olivier Föllmi obtains the vision for his photographs by sensibly observing his environment and then tries to create the scene accordingly. It is a very deliberate and conscious image taking process that reminds me of studio photography except that the studio is the whole world and the models are "normal" people and everyday life. With this approach, Olivier Föllmi creates perfectly composed and framed photographs (without any thorns) that do not look artificial but rather capture spontaneity and lightness, which I admire. This interesting and unique approach to photography can be much better appreciated by reading the little book Conseils d'un photographe voyageur (the book seems unavailable directly from, but is in stock at or by watching the documentary below (this is only the first of three parts, but the second and third part are also worth watching; both the book and documentary are in French but the photographs should be accessible to all languages).

It is of course negligent to limit the work of Olivier Föllmi geographically, since his long list of publications reveals that the globe is really his studio. And last but not least, Olivier Föllmi's dedication and compassion for human beings is also documented by the foundation of the Human Organisation for People and Education (HOPE) by himself and Danielle Föllmi.

*As a matter of principle I show photographs from other photographers than myself only if I have received the explicit permission from the artist. Unfortunately, I have not obtained a reply from Mr. Föllmi and therefore I cannot show his beautiful photograph (I would have linked to the photograph directly, but this seems not possible). But please have a look at his webpage; there are plenty of photographs worth looking at.

2011/11/16 by Unknown
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Posing collared lizard

I have been thinking about which photograph to write and this one came to my mind. A small (traditional) print of the original slide is usually hanging in our alleyway, but I have just wrapped it and put it in a box because we are moving soon. 
This beautifully colored collared lizard posed for us in Arches National Park. It was a warm sunny afternoon in September on our way back from a hike to Delicate Arch. This little reptile (at least in comparison to the largest representatives of its class, the dinosaurs :-)) seemed to enjoy our attention, at least for a while, and we even tried different poses during the shooting. Apparently, collared lizards can run on their hind legs, but unfortunately this specimen didn't exhibit this ability.
I am not much of an animal photographer, even though as a boy I was very much fascinated by animal and bird photography. I may not be spontaneous enough and therefore usually pursue other subjects. I have only very few animal photographs that satisfy me, but I do like these two collared lizards. I really like how the tail of the lizard in the photograph above meanders backward.

2011/11/13 by Unknown
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My treasures: Ueli Lüthi

Blumenwiese III (Ueli Lüthi)

This post is an exception. As you may have noticed, it is not a "photo treasure" but "only" a treasure - about a painter, to be exact.
Ueli Lüthi has a very interesting vita. He is a draughtsman by education, was once one of the best ice hockey players in Switzerland (he won the swiss ice hockey championchip in 1967, played at eight world championships and participated in the Olympic Games in 1972) and after his career he moved to the little town Borgonovo (the birthplace of the famous swiss artist Alberto Giacometti) in the Bergell, a remote valley in the Swiss mountains.
I have first seen paintings by Ueli Lüthi at a gallery where I live and was completely mesmerized. I most appreciated (and still do) his various paintings of flower meadows. Ueli Lüthi's meadows are gaudy flower carpets that seem to extend upwards towards the mountain summits and the sun. For me, the cheerful colors, subtle patterns and the impressionistic style perfectly capture the essence and essential of flowering alpine meadows. Ueli Lüthi captures the substance of his subjects so well that the botanist may even surmise the particular species of flower that some of the dots and streaks represent. 
Unfortunately, I have not found much information about Ueli Lüthi and his work online. If you are interested and live somewhere close to Zurich I would recommend visiting the current Ueli Lüthi exposition in the Reppischhallen in Dietikon (the exposition will be open until November 28th). For those of you who understand German, there is an article introducing Ueli Lüthi in the Tagesanzeiger Zürich from 2007 and webpages from his hometown feature the Galleria Lüthi in Borgonova (another link is here). There is also a movie (see below) and photographs from an earlier Ueli Lüthi exhibition at the same location as the current display.
The photograph above this text is "our" Ueli Lüthi alpine flower meadow; a small oil painting on metal that hangs in our alleyway and enlightens our days; particularly when a reflected sunbeam makes the colors glow.

Enjoy and have a nice weekend!

2011/11/11 by Unknown
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Natural beauty & man-made beauty

Last weekend, we watched the movie The Adjustment Bureau, which was filmed in New York. I wouldn't rate it as the best movie ever, but it features several nice and thoughtful ideas and is worthwhile being watched. In the "making of" there is a lengthy discussion about how great it is to film in New York, how the movie shows New York like it has never been shown and how man-made beauty abounds in New York. I was struck by that expression; not for anything that had to do with the movie, but because this is a perfect category description for city photographs. 
My motivation to photograph is my love for the beauty of nature and more recently also for man-made beauty. I photograph things I like and care about; scenic views, beautiful details, order and geometric patterns in natural and man-made environments. As already written earlier, I think that beauty can be found in many places - natural or man-made, in large things or tiny details and even in neglected, forgotten and discarded items. Beauty lies almost everywhere and is just waiting to be discovered, appreciated, photographed and shared. With immediate effect, natural beauty and man-made beauty are the two categories of Florian's photos. All galleries fit either of these, although in some cases the allocation was not completely evident. For example, I have hesitated whether cultivated plants, such as Dahlia, are "natural" or "man-made" (I have decided to file them under "natural beauty" - although cultivated by humans, they are alive after all!). There are some photographs that will need to be reassigned, but I am very happy with these new identifiers.

2011/11/09 by Unknown
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A thorn in my side (eye)

A "simple" photograph without a thorn, at least for my side (eye). This photograph was taken in 1995 on slide film with a manual focus camera. I photographed these buildings in San Francisco during my first trip to the US ever. Although the weather was foggy before and after, we had two beautiful and sunny days in San Francisco and the sky was dark blue (also due to the polarizer).

This text is about thorns in my side and how I avoid them. In German, something that really annoys somebody is "a thorn in your eye", but if I am correct, the english version of this expression is a thorn in your side. Isn't it interesting? Why is it the side in English while in German the eye is the sensible part? For once (at least with respect to photography) the German expression is more appropriate.
Even as a young child, small details could seriously disturb me. For example, I vividly remember a moment when my brothers, parents and I were watching the news. My problem was a recalcitrant bunch of hair that escaped the order of the otherwise perfectly tailored hairstyle of the speaker. I found this so disturbing that I could hardly concentrate on the news. Also in other situations I can be bothered by details and it is the same with photographs: tiny details can pull away my sight from the main subject like a powerful magnet and completely bungle my viewing experience. 
What is the solution? For me, it is identifying and avoiding potential thorns; both in life and in photography. This may sound strange - almost as if I was not deciding what to photograph, but rather what not to photograph. I do of course take a positive decision about what to photograph as  well, but the statement still makes perfect sense for me. I strongly believe that beauty and beautiful subjects can be found almost anywhere. Whether or not you discover them depends largely on your attitude. However, viewing a photograph displaying even the most beautiful subject can be an enervating experience if thorns disturb my eye (or brain).
So what are the thorns in a photograph? I can only speak for myself. If I look at a photograph, my eye wanders across the image and will, hopefully, come to a rest on the main subject. A thorn is like a magnet that attracts the eye, that pulls the eye away from the main subject, that forces the eye to look at it again and again, even though it is not the main subject. If I look at a photograph with a thorn, my eye does not rest and is not at ease but constantly jumps around, which is what makes me nervous eventually. You can experience this yourself: try to consciously perceive the movement of your eye across an image. Is your eye at ease or constantly bopping around? Does the movement of your eye determine whether you like looking at a photograph? For me, how my eye is guided through a photograph and where it rests in the image largely determines my viewing experience.

Have a nice sunday!

P.S. One example of thorns, at least for some people, are watermarks. I am completely aware and can even understand if you should belong to those people who detest these markings. Nevertheless, at least for the time being, I still prefer to "sign" my photographs with a watermark. I hope that you respect that decision as I respect your attitude - maybe sometime in the future I will change.

2011/11/06 by Unknown
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Why I like my EVF

I remember my first experience with an electronic viewfinder (EVF) very well - it was rather unpleasant. I did not know EVFs even existed at that time and was hence surprised by the yellowish faces and lagging display of the scene as I moved the camera around. I never spent much thought about the topic again and put EVF in my "useless" drawer. To my surprise, I ended up buying a camera with an EVF last year and I am enthusiastically using it ever since! Technology has of course advanced very much and the most recent generation (even the one before) is much superior to the version that bungled my first EVF experience. 
For me, the main advantage of using an EVF is the fact that it shows an image that is much closer to the actual photograph than an optical viewfinder can. The EVF shows an image that resembles the scene under the actual exposure settings. This is an enormous advantage when I manually adjust exposure or when using neutral density filters to prolong exposure times. Normally, this would render the viewfinder so dark that you can not recognize anything at all. The EVF will show a clear picture of what you are shooting. During our recent holiday I have been experimenting with neutral density filters and really learnt to appreciate the workflow. The only tiny problem is the autofocus, which refused to work under the artificial low-light setup. However, this is easily resolved by focusing before adding or darkening (a variable) neutral density filter or by manual focus. If you use autofocus, do not forget to switch to manual focus mode before darkening the scene with the filter because otherwise the autofocus will get crazy.

This is an example photograph of the coast of Maine in Acadia National Park during bright daylight; photographed with an exposure time of 15 seconds thanks to neutral density filters.

There are of course other advantages of EVFs: the overlaying of camera settings and histograms, 100% view of the frame or automatic adjustment of the frame format. For me, these are all just icing on the delicious cake of being able to view my composition under the actual exposure settings. I do not miss my old viewfinder at all!

2011/11/01 by Unknown
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Early fall on Old Rag Mountain

It is still autumn here in Zurich and therefore I continue with two old fall color photographs. They were both taken in 2001 during a hike to Old Rag Mountain in Shenandoah National Park.
The first photograph shows bright red blueberry leaves in between the summit granite boulders (a very nice guide to Old Rag's geology is found here). I like the symmetry of the rock and leaf layers. The shrubs seem to push the boulders apart, even though this was of course not the case.

I do not consider the second photograph particularly great or unique, but I still remember it very well. It was still early fall and there were only few trees whose leaves started to change their color. But there was this one bright yellow tree that attracted my attention. My eye was drawn to this one bright yellow spot amidst the mostly green leave canopy of the forest. sy you can see, the colors just started to appear, still at least one or two weeks before peak fall foliage colors.

2011/10/30 by Unknown
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What is a photograph?

There are continuous discussions about digital manipulation and whether a digitally modified image still qualifies as a photograph. For example, Roger Overall recently wrote a column entitled "Photography vs. Image-making" for TOP that discussed digital image modifications in todays photography and the labeling of such images as photographs. The bone of contention was the selection of digitally generated images for two photography awards and the question was risen if it might be necessary to distinguish photographs that are taken in camera from images that comprise digitally created expressions and visions of the artist.
I think that these are very important questions because a photograph has an inherent "truth bias"; people expect a photograph to depict something that did exist somewhere sometimes. Therefore, at least I am disappointed if I find out that a photograph that I appreciated turns out to be a digital creation that was never discovered and observed as depicted. Do I have wrong expectations or may the label "photograph" be used misleadingly (maybe even on purpose)?

In order to reply to this question it may help to define what a photograph is. The word photography means drawing or painting with light and a photograph is a lasting recording of light (or other electromagnetic radiation) (see for example the wikipedia entry for photography).
At least for my understanding, this means that there must have been light at one time and that photography is a method to depict pieces (frames) of the real world. You may of course dispute even this statement and also consider the view through a lens or the recording on a two-dimensional surface an alteration of reality. According to this view, every single photograph represents an alteration of reality and it is impossible to draw a line in the continuum of more or less modification. I do not accept this rebuttal.

In my opinion, each photograph has content and qualities. The content is the actual subject that was photographed; a tree, a person, an animal a cloud or a complex landscape for example. For me, this is the YES or NO in photography; the bird that you wanted to photograph was either there or not (even Schrödinger's cat was either dead or alive and not both at the same time, despite quantum mechanics). As a viewer, I expect that the entire content of a photograph existed at the location and the moment where and when the shutter was released.
In contrast to content, the qualities of a photograph are subjective, vary on a continuous scale and reflect the vision of the photographer. The qualities are those characteristics that everybody sees differently and comprise the color, contrast, sharpness, exposure or saturation, to name a few. Every photographer, lens or accessory displays a subject slightly differently or emphasizes another aspect of the same subject. But there was a subject (which became the content) in the real world, outside of the photographers imagination, as the source of all of these aspects. Just because the grass is greener or the sky is bluer for some people does not mean that the grass and sky do not exist or are something else. And even if a glass is half empty for some and half full for others, there is still a glass with something in it.

I think that this leads to a rather simple definition for what a photograph is: For me, an image qualifies as a photograph if only the qualities were adjusted while the content has been left untouched after it was captured by the camera. I do not remove, copy, clone, turn or flip selected parts of a photograph or add elements from one photograph to another. However, I do alter and adjust, you may even say manipulate, the qualities of my photographs. Some of you may state that this view of mine is much too narrow and restrictive and that my definition of a photograph only fits documentary photography and excludes the art photography. Again, I do not agree.
First, the documentary aspect is inherently and inseparably linked to photography. Second, for me the art in photography does not lie in the subject, but in the eye of the capturer and her or his ability to translate a real-world discovery into a two-dimensional image. For me, the goal and the challenge is not to create an amazing illustration no matter how, but to find and photograph something in the real world in a way that results in an amazing photograph. Digitally manipulating the content of my photographs would be cheating for me and therefore completely defy my goals and values.

I would like to emphasize that this is my view that I hold because anything else would betray my values. I think that everybody has to decide for her- or himself what to alter and what to leave untouched and I acknowledge everybody's freedom to set her or his rules. In many ways it is a question about means and ends.
However, I think that it is important to clearly and unmistakably state if the content of a photograph/illustration has been altered (and to clearly label a depiction whose content has been modified as a digital illustration and not as a photograph; an interesting article on this topic and on the following example is here). A very famous example is this section from the introduction in the book Migrations by Art Wolfe, but unfortunately the exact images whose content has been modified are not revealed:
".... I often had to pass over photographs because in a picture of masses of animals invariably one would be wandering in the wrong direction, thereby disrupting the pattern I was trying to achieve. Today, the ability to digitally alter this disruption is at hand. For the first time in Migrations, I have embraced this technology, taking the art of the camera to its limits. Since this is an art book and not a treatise on natural history, I find the use of digitalization perfectly acceptable, and in a small percentage of the photographs I have enhanced the patterns of animals much as a painter would do on a canvas."

The front cover of Migrations with digitally cloned zebras and other, less controversial books from the oeuvre of Art Wolfe.

It is obvious that Mr. Wolfe and I have different values and definitions of a photograph. Nevertheless, I own several of his books and I appreciate many photographs which I believe (hope?) have not been enhanced in any way as described above. However, I was (and still am) disappointed when I read the cited passage in the introduction of Migrations. There are several statements in that paragraph that disturb me, but I  cannot deny myself the comment that I have never read before that cameras may be somehow limited because they lack the function to selectively flip or copy pieces of a frame and do not automatically correct a scene in order to create the picture the photographer had in mind.

2011/10/26 by Unknown
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Zurich sea of clouds

As promised in the second before the last post, I am showing you here another photograph that was taken just a little after the mystic foggy winter forest photograph. After having worked on the foggy forest subject for a while, I decided to continue my bike ride further uphill. The fog became denser and denser, but the sun seemed very close and I suspected that there might be an impressive sea of fog covering Zurich. I hastily and expectantly pedaled to a viewpoint from where the city and lake of Zurich lie below and on a clear day the mountains are visible on the horizon. 
In the sun!The highest building in Switzerland just cuts through the fog, Zurich, Switzerland.
The spectacle that I witnessed was much more impressive than I could have hoped. At the beginning, only the newly built Prime Tower barely reached through the fog and the whole city and lake were blanketed by a fluffy white sea of clouds and fog. 
Zurich, Switzerland
The smoke and smokestack of a waste-to-energy plant also broke through the white blanket as I enjoyed the view and the warmth of the glistening sun. The sea of clouds disolved layer by layer, slowly revealing the city floor by floor. For almost an hour the panoramic view of Zurich constantly changed until the sun had evaporated the white soup completely and the city had appeared. Indeed a very memorable morning of which nothing could have been guessed if I had stayed at home. 

During fall and winter, fog is a common guest in Zurich. The moisture from the lake and the entrapment of cold air by the chain of hills around Zurich (which causes a temperature inversion: cold air at the bottom covered by warmer air above) can lead to the formation of ground or high fog, which can prevail for days or weeks. You never know exactly if, when and where it dissolves and these are the times when on the weekends everybody heads to the mountains to hike, climb, ski or tobogganing. 

2011/10/23 by Unknown
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The tripod, a bear and sharp photographs

Today, I would like to tell you about an unexpected benefit of carrying a tripod: We are on vacation in New England at the moment and about a week ago we undertook a wonderful hike in the White Mountains, tellingly on the Frankenstein cliff. Although we did not meet Frankenstein, we encountered a black bear that tried to sneak up on us. Instead of being scared away by our presence, as it should be the nature of a wild creature, it kept approaching and following us. Shouting and screaming caused the imposing bear to hesitate only shortly and it kept trotting behind us (easily close enough for a nice portrait shot, but at that moment photography was not a primary concern of mine anymore). Desperate for a more drastic measure to chase the bear away, I pulled out my tripod, extended its legs and started to wave it nervously and agitatedly (in combination with ever louder shouting). Although it is a wimpy, lightweight tripod that you can easily carry around for days, the bear seemed impressed and decided - to our all relief - to abandon its five-course menu, to leave the hiking trail and to disappear in the woods. We still finished our hike in record time and kept shouting and screaming all the way until we reached a more frequented trail, where we even used the tripod to take a photograph - a self-timer shot of the intact family. To be fair, it should be mentioned that fatal black bear encounters are rare and that the situation may not have been as dangerous as it seemed (although "our" bear looked intimidating and dangerous to us).
I already liked my tripod before and feel only confirmed in my appraisal for its qualities as a perfect hiking and traveling tripod by the newly discovered scarebear effect. If correctly used and ready at hand a tripod can be a very helpful tool; both for taking sharp photographs and for avoiding sharp bear teeth. As a side note, I would like to claim that a tripod can effectively stabilize your camera only if the center column is NOT extended. Therefore, I have cut the center column of my tripod, as you may observe in the above photograph. Since this is only a kludge, I would really like somebody to produce a lightweight, sturdy and small tripod without center column at all (but instead with an included leveling base). 

2011/10/20 by Unknown
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Florian's photos: Mystic foggy winter forest

This is a photograph from the recently added trees gallery. The photograph was taken last winter in Zurich, on the Käferberg. It was a cold and foggy morning and I was hesitant if I should venture out at all and where I should head. Luckily, my wife encouraged me to go for a photo bike ride in the cold and suggested the forrest as the goal.
In the Waid, the fog was thick, but the sun was just breaking through, trying to dissolve the hazy soup. I really like how fog can transform any scene and creates constantly changing nuances of lights, shadows and colors. Fog has the power to render the ordinary unique, just like snow and shadows can as well. Fog also transforms any scene in an almost black and white scene with just a subtle hint of color. This is my most preferred of several photograph because for me it captures the mood and light of that moment the best. I had even taken photographs on regular film, the first time again since long, but the roll is not even developed yet. I may post the analogously captured version of this view another time and I will also write about another photograph that I took a little later on the same morning in a follow-up.

2011/10/18 by Unknown
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Florian's photos: Trees

My tree gallery comprises views of trees from close or far and in groups or solitude; compositions in which trees are the dominating feature, only to be challenged by light and shadow. I particularly like scenes where light, shadow or snow emphasize the inner structure of trees. There are no autumnal trees - these belong to the autumn color gallery - and vast views including trees belong to the landscapes
I have spent a lot of time selecting and developing these photographs, but I am still in the process of organizing everything into meaningful and distinct categories. This process is also necessary in order to limit the selection of photographs because I find online galleries that are plastered with virtually identical images most annoying. So here is my tree collection; 12 photographs as in all my galleries. The 12 photographs will change periodically, but if you crave for more and want to see all the photographs, there is a link to more tree photographs below the gallery title; like it is done in my other galleries. I am quite satisfied with this solution and hope that you are too.

2011/10/15 by Unknown
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My photo treasures: Paul Nicklen

There are few photographs that I find unconditionally great, but "Polar Bear and Reflection" by Paul Nicklen is one of these photos. For me, this picture comprises everything a great photograph should: It shows the subject in a new fashion, is perfectly framed and represents a clear, harmonic and minimalistic composition. The polar bear almost seems to float in the void and the bear's "cool" glance at the photographer and viewer is the icing on the cake!
Photograph © Paul Nicklen, "Polar Bear and Reflection"

Emphasizing one photograph of the huge body of work of Paul Nicklen may appear unjustified. But on the other hand, you may already have seen some of the extraordinary photographs of Paul Nicklen. He is famous for his extraordinary outdoor photographs of mostly polar regions. He has done numerous stories for National Geographic, including work on the atlantic salmon, the incredible leopard seal encounter or recently the spirit bear. Paul Nicklen has also published a wonderful coffee-table book entitled "POLAR OBSESSION", which everybody should buy (it only cost 29 USD at the moment!).  Paul Nicklen uses his photography to rise awareness for the profound impact of the melting polar ice on these ecosystems and our planet as a whole. You may also want to read one or the other interview with Paul Nicklen (for example here, herehere, or here) or, much more impressive, watch Paul Nicklen's TED presentation below. It lasts almost 18 min, but it is absolutely worth your time. Enjoy!

2011/10/13 by Unknown
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Autumn colors: flittering cherry leaves

Another seasonal photograph; this time of impressionistic autumnal cherry leaves. This is one of the old slides that I have recently scanned - it was taken 18 years ago. I am quite proud of this photograph because the idea to capture the flittering of the leaves was entirely my own and this was the first such photograph that I ever took. I do of course not claim that I have invented taking impressionistic photographs with long shutter speeds, but at that time I had never seen a comparable photograph and this is what counts for me. In a similar case I have also once "invented" the coefficient of variation during my studies; only to learn that it was commonly used by statisticians - as you see, I am quite ignorant. Either way, I still like this photograph very much and it reminds me of a wonderful fall foliage photography afternoon.

As a comparison, this second photograph was taken at the same time of the same tree but obviously with a much shorter shutter speed (and a tripod, as the first one as well). I also quite like this photograph, but it is very different and, in my opinion, less special the the flittering leaves above.

2011/10/09 by Unknown
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My photo treasures: Tom McLaughlan

To mention and present the photography of Tom McLaughlan in social web media may appear a little bit like bringing owls to Athens. Tom McLaughlan seems extremely well connected to large photography groups on flickr and Google+ and is highly appreciated for his photography.
I would like to alert you of Tom McLaughlan's work because I very much appreciate the clear, minimalistic and geometric compositions. The photographs attest to an individual style and a very conscious observe of his environment. The subjects that Tom McLaughlan photographs are very diverse and often very colorful, which I also like. Especially the ministract collection is a fascinating potpourri of discoveries, hidden details and views mostly in the human environment. Ministract is a term invented by Tom McLaughlan as a label for photographs that are both minimalistic and abstract but do not fit either category satisfactorily. It is a very popular theme on flickr as well as on Google+, where Tom McLaughlan just established the Ministract Monday. This will certainly become a source for numerous fascinating contributions around this topic!
DissymmetryPhotograph © Tom McLaughlan

2011/10/06 by Unknown
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Autumn colors: Moved autumn trees

Reds, whites and oranges blowing in the wind. The fall foliage display is about to start and I look forward to our leaf peeping trip to New England.  This is an autumn color composition that I like quite a lot. It was taken in 2001 in the Dolly Sods Wilderness, which is a wonderful weekend fall foliage trip from the Washington D. C. area.

2011/10/02 by Unknown
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Autumn colors: Yellow wave

A photograph that I would entitle "The wave". It was taken on Spruce Knob in West Virginia in 2001 (on a slide film). We have been driving on an endless winding gravel road and it was already getting dark, but I was so attracted by the yellow foliage wave that we had to stop.

2011/09/28 by Unknown
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My photo treasures: Christopher Burkett

I have discovered Christopher Burkett's photography while we were living in the US and I am glad that I bought his two books Intimations of Paradise and Resplendent Light. Two wonderful coffee table books with many excellently printed photographs of trees, autumn colors, mountains and intimate landscapes. The photograph below entitled Sunrise and Autumn Blueberries is a favorite of mine and is also included.  It must be really impressive to see these wonderful photographs as large format gallery prints and I hope that I will have the opportunity one day.
Christopher Burkett uses analog large format cameras, prints all his photographs himself on Cibachrome and employs sophisticated masking techniques to create his visions. He spends just a few weeks a year taking photographs and invests the remainder on meticulously and painstakingly perfecting and creating each fine print. I assume that he is one of the worlds best color printmakers and has an incredible dedication and veracity towards his vision. I very much like his artists statement:

"...Photography is an expression of the world we live in, and of what we see and experience. Many contemporary photographs seem filled with negativity and warped, malignant things.That these negative things and perceptions exist now for a time in the world with us is indisputable, but I feel strongly that there is no need to give life and strength to them. Too often, attempting to represent the sacred in nature is maligned as being naive or simplistic, and is said to be unchallenging and visually unsophisticated. This need not be so.
The purpose of my photography is to provide a brief, if somewhat veiled, glimpse into that clear and brilliant world of light and power. ..."

Christopher Burkett Blueberries
Photograph © Christopher Burkett

2011/09/24 by Unknown
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Florian's photos: Macro

There was just a Twitter post or rather Twitter question by National Geographic about the first camera that one used and what one photographed. This reminded me of the photograph below, which is one of my first "serious" photographs that I remember. It was taken in 1987 (I was a teenager at that time) with my first SLR, which I had bought with my savings (it was a Konica Autoreflex TC). 
The leaves are those of the King Solomon's Seal (belongs to the genus is Polygonatum) and the raindrops are real (even though I took the photograph 24 years ago, I still remember that it was raining). If somebody had told me on that day that I would post this photograph in a digital form in the internet in 24 years, I would of course neither have known what a digital photograph nor what the internet is. Amazing how things change!

2011/09/20 by Unknown
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Florian's photos: Cityscapes

Summer is over, at least here in Zurich! The last outdoor swimming pools have closed last weekend, but it was too cold and rainy for swimming anyway. This is a somewhat abstract and minimalistic photograph of a water slide in an outdoor pool that we visit when it is hot, warm and summery.

2011/09/19 by Unknown
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Florian's photos: Dahlia season

Fall is not only the season of spectacular fall colors, but also the blooming season of Dahlias. The wild form of Dahlias is a native to Central America, Colombia and Mexico, but these plants are most famous for the thousands of cultivars that have been bread since 1813. For the scientifically inclined among you, I may mention that Dahlias have eight sets of chromosomes (they are so called "octoploid", humans for example have only two sets of chromosomes and are therefore diploid), which is the main reason for their enormous variability. At this time of the year, over 270 varieties of Dahlias can be admired blooming on the island Mainau, in the Lake of Constance. If you are in that region in the next couple of weeks, I highly recommend a visit!

2011/09/16 by Unknown
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My photo treasures: Steve McCurry

Steve McCurry is a highly respected, successful and acclaimed documentary photographer, but nevertheless only few people probably know him, his work or his books. Steve McCurry has been awarded the 2011 Leica Hall of Fame award, on the occasion of which Leica prepared this wonderful retrospective.
The single most famous photograph of Steve McCurry is his portrait of the "Afghan girlSharbat Gula, which has become the most recognized cover photograph of National Geographic ever. I remember well the touching article entitled "A life revealed" in National Geographic of April 2002. After the portrait was published, Steve McCurry tried to find Sharbat Gula again, but only in 2002 a team from National Geographic could finally locate her. Sharbat Gula had only been photographed in 1984 by Steve McCurry and then again twice in 2002 for the determination of her identity and she had not seen her famous portrait until 2003. In appreciation of Sharbat Gula, National Geographic created the charitable Afghan Children's Fund.
Sharbat Gula

2011/09/15 by Unknown
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Florian's photos: Landscape

Sunrise over the Lofoten Islands
Sunrise over the Lofoten Islands

A photograph I took many years ago (in the pre-digital era) while camping on the Lofoten Islands in Norway. The photograph evokes memories of an afternoon and evening hike, blueberries for dessert, a beautiful sunset and this sunrise just a few hours later. I like the thin layer of mist and the cloud over the sea as well as the sunbeams breaking through the clouds above.
More of my landscape photographs can be found here.

2011/09/14 by Unknown
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World Trade Center New York, 1972-2001

I remember the day ten years ago very well. As every morning at that time, we were riding our bike to work. In Maryland, September 11 2001 started as a beautiful, sunny, early fall day. The air was fresh and the sky was bright blue and cloudless. A few leaves timidly started to change their color. A deceiving tranquility and peacefulness as we should soon find out. Only a few hours later, the sleek towers of the World Trade Center in New York, that just rose up to a height of 417 and 415 meters, tore a glaring hole into lower Manhattan and into many people's lives.
The north tower of the World Trade Center was finished in 1972 and became the world's tallest building, towering 417 meters over Manhattan (until Chicago's Sears Tower overcame the two Twin Towers in May 1973). The World Trade Center was the workplace for as much as 50'000 people and each day 200'000 visitors were attracted to the twin towers. Over the years, the correspondent of a third of the world population may therefore have passed through the World Trade Center as a visitors. The World Trade Center skyscrapers certainly left an awe-inspiring impression and good memories in the lives of many of these visitors. 
Through the dreadful events of 10 years ago, the good memories of the World Trade Center became tainted and connected to an act of incomprehensible violence and destructive power that is considered by many as a decisive turning point in most recent history that still affects us today. Having visited New York and the World Trade Center shortly before its destruction and having lived just outside of Washington made me experience the shock and aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon very close. Whenever I think of that day, the images of that beautiful morning directly relay to the horrific news that followed and mix with sympathy and empathy for the people that mourn and suffer even to that day. It has created a special bond and connection that is difficult to explain. At least to me, the World Trade Center has become a symbol for the positive and the negative, which is why I had the idea to combine a positive and a negative of the World Trade Center in one composite, diptyque image.
positive and negative

2011/09/11 by Unknown
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