Since early 2017 I am using modern UAV technology (UAV = unmanned aircraft vehicle, usually referred to as "drone") to capture new perspectives from above ground level. If you follow me on Instagram, you might already have seen a couple images. Today, I implemented a new section on this website to showcase some of those images. Check them out! If you have any questions leave me a comment or text me directly using my contact form.
A couple of weeks ago, I applied for a program from Saal-Digital called 'Saal-Digital Wandbildtester'. In short, it means that you get a 50 Euro coupon code so you can order and test any of their print products. I decided, I want to go with a 40x60 cm GalleryPrint. The GalleryPrint is a direct print on 2mm glossy acrylic glass backed up with a sturdy 3mm aluminium dibond. On its back, the aluminium dibond has got some rectangular aluminium rails for easy hanging on the wall. The regular price for the GalleryPrint at 40x60 cm is 89,95 Euro plus a 5,95 Euro fee for standard shipping and packaging. This makes this experiment a 45,90 Euro investment on my behalf.
The order process is fairly easy using the native macOS app 'SaalDesignSoftware'. You simply choose the type of product you want to order, load your picture through the build in finder and if everything is ready to go you simply upload and order. I ordered my print on a Thursday afternoon and the shipment arrived at my house by Saturday noon! Packaging is good and no criticism can be made regarding the delivery time at all!
Quality of the acrylic glass and aluminium dibond is good. The rectangular aluminium rails are a bit small, but they do the job just fine. I like how the print 'floats' on the wall due to the aluminium rails on the back. Besides outer appearance, image quality is key to a good print. Without any expertise in printing, I'd say that my GalleryPrint is fairly good - but it is not top notch excellent, or at least not the way I expected it to be. First, I do edit my pictures on a monitor from Eizo with color calibration, which should get me as close to the true colors as technically possible. From experience other photographers shared on the web, I remember that depending on the material your picture will be printed on you might loose a certain amount of brightness and sharpness. In this case, I did not alter the brightness and sharpness for the print. You could do soft proofing in Adobe Lightroom using the ICC profile from Saal-Digital, however, to get accurate color reproduction. So, with all that out of the way, I have quite a confident view on my monitor what the final print might look like. Comparing the print and the picture on my monitor however, I must say that highlights in the middle of the picture (especially the sand and palm trees in front of the houses) are very blown out. Also, the shadows loose a lot of details in comparison. All in all, the colors do not look as vibrant as they do on my monitor. Of course, it is fair to say that there is a huge difference in viewing the picture on a backlit LCD monitor versus a physical acrylic glass with aluminium dibond. On the next order of a big print I would definitely order a small sample print first, so I can dial in the right amount of brightness, sharpness and details in the highlights and shadows.
All in all, I am happy with the result. Print quality is good, super fast delivery and the order process with the macOS application is easy. Pricing is ok and comparable to other printing companies. Check out the gallery for some more impressions of the final print.
One of my first flights with my new drone, captured at Klosterkirche Riddagshausen in Braunschweig, Germany. It was a lovely early spring morning with some intense sunshine. I like the first footage I get from the drone and am looking forward to capture new angels from above, which I can not take with my DSLR. If you like it, give it a thumbs up over on YouTube and subscribe for more video content in the future!
Above you can see my top 9 Instagram photos of the year 2016. You should definitely check out my feed over at Instagram if you don't already have. You can find it at http://instagram.com/robertzech. If you are also on Instagram, follow me and let me know!
Have a great 2017!
Recently, I took some pictures for a rental house in my lovely home area at Wachenheim an der Weinstraße in Rhineland Palatinate, Germany. The area is famous for its wine and the Dürkheimer Wurstmarkt is also close by. The house is called 'Hermitage in der Mühlgasse' and was built in the 18th century. At this location there used to be a bathhouse in the medieval times. I like the timber framed walls and the passion the owner took to restore this house. If you like to find out more or visit this place sometime check out their website: http://www.hermitage-wachenheim.com
A few weeks back I had the chance to shoot in a fabulous hotel in Hannover, the Sheraton Hannover Pelikan Hotel. Located in the district called 'Pelikanviertel', the hotel once was the location of the original Pelikan pen factory, founded in 1838. Production at this location lasted until the 1970s! You can check out more of the Pelikan history at their website. Below you can find some of the pictures I did of the lately refurbished 5th Avenue restaurant.
A couple of weeks ago, I had the chance to take some pictures at the iconic design hotel EAST in Hamburg. The EAST is located right next to the famous Reeperbahn in Hamburgs St. Pauli. Its interior design made by famous 'Jordan Mozer' gives the EAST its special look. The elegant mix of Asian design and industrial look makes this place feel exciting, especially for me as a photographer. Each floor in the hotel has its own different look and feel and each room has a fantastic atmosphere.
Before the hotel opened in 2004, the place was a former iron foundry, whose history goes back to the late 19th century. The former iron factory was destroyed several times, through fire and world war II. It has been rebuilt over and over again, until the factory was finally shut down in the 1980s. The gastronomic concept of two restaurateurs then brought the location back to life. Shortly after, a spa complex and the uppereast club followed in order to expand the 'east cosmos'.
Take a look at the gallery below to see some pictures of the room and hotel interior and also check out their website http://www.east-hamburg.de.
These are three shots from Venice Beach, CA I took a while ago in 2012.
I finally did it! My first photo book is finished and I already received my printed copy. I took a lot of pictures during my days in China (September 2013 - April 2014) and never really gave them the attention they deserved. Right after I came back from China my work in Hamburg began and so the hundreds of pictures were waiting on my hard drive, sadly. Over the christmas holidays however, I finally got me some time fiddling around in Lightroom with the book module and created a photo book. The most difficult part, however, was to choose the right pictures for the book. And so from a couple of hundreds of photos I handpicked 174 and began the layout. I'd guess that the layout process could have been done more efficiently, but anyway it was finished in two to three days time. Lightroom suggests to use Blurb for printing and because I heard good things about that service before I gave it a try. Also they had a christmas discount at the time. I decided to go with a hard cover image wrap and premium lustre paper, which turned out to be great! Below I embedded some screenshots of the book overview from Lightroom. I hope you'll check them out and give me your thoughts in the comments, if any.
Have a great weekend,
In this blog post I'd like to give you a short review on some photography bags I have been using over the time. In many ways, the gear you carry around influence the kind of photography you do. If you pack too much gear for a trip, it can be frustrating to carry all that gear around and in the end you don't even need it anyway. On the other side, if you go for a one lens setup, you might miss some tools or focal range and can't get the shot you were aiming for. In the end, it all depends on your personal preference. To help you accommodate the gear you want to take with you, or if you like so, limit you by the amount of gear you can pack, the right bag for the job is an essential tool! Shoulder bag vs. backpack vs. roller bag?
I have used all three of them, in different variations. There are times when each of them shines. To give you more detailed information on what my experience was with all three kinds of photography bags I have used, I will give you a short introduction to the different products in question.
First of all shoulder bags: For quite a while now I am using a Billingham 335 and a Billingham Hadley Small. Billingham bags have exceptional build quality and have proven to be the right guy for the job. The Hadley Small is my go to shoulder bag if I am traveling light, which means usually a one lens setup. It can also pack some small tools, extra batteries and a full size iPad inside. For longer trips or for the time being when the gear is packed at home, the 335 is the Billingham I trust. It has a big main compartment, which holds usually 3-4 lenses and the body, a smaller compartment which holds filters and cables as well as two front compartments for extra batteries, a torch and stuff like that. The main compartment however could also take easily some hot shoe flashes if you'd take out some lenses. The great deal with the Billingham 335 is its SuperFlex Partitions. It divides the space into several parts which holds securely your gear apart from each other. In the Hadley Small the divider set is more flexible as it is completely velcro, but usually I just use one divider to separate the body from the lens. All in all shoulder bags are in my opinion easily to pack and great in terms of size to gear ratio. However, especially with the 335, you have to keep in mind that the more gear you pack, the heavier. And either way, carrying by hand or on your shoulder, you won't do this for an entire trip. So if you plan on traveling for a few weeks, I'd rather choose to take along a backpack as well or exclusively.
So, secondly backpack: Since the early days of my photography I have been using Kata bags backpacks. I started of with the 3N1-20 and later got the Bumblebee 222 UL. Both are fantastic bags and the only reason I did the upgrade to the Bumblebee is that the 3N1 (20 liter version) had to less room to fit all the stuff inside I'd like to carry along. The 3N1 is a one of a kind backpack in terms of functionality and build quality. I have found that Kata bags are well made and well thought through in terms of design. However, Kata has now become part of the Manfrotto family, so we have to see how future development might be.
It is safe to say, that carrying a whole lot of gear around with you is much more pleasant with a backpack rather than in a shoulder bag. The weight is distributed equally on both your shoulders with the backpack and you are willingly to carry the gear for longer, promised! As for the Bumblebee, it has even more advanced features which will let you carry your gear even further! It comes with foam harness straps which are very comfortable to wear, an adjustable hip belt to secure the backpack and also distribute the weight off your shoulders. It also features an aluminum frame which has a full length suspended mesh to keep your back dry on long trips. The 3N1 features a quick draw for quick and easy access to your main camera and a backup compartment for an additional lens. You could also use the 3N1 as a sling bag or with the back straps in an x-position. I like the way backpacks distribute the load of your gear, and if well packed you can enjoy your trip rather than worrying about the sheer weight of all the stuff that you've packed. And if you do not want to worry about weight on your shoulders at all, there is a third category of bags for your photography gear!
Here we go, thirdly roller bags: Since I first saw the Pelican outdoor cases I was fascinated. I then came to the ThinkTank brand which features the Airport Airstream. It is a classic rolling bag which is suitable for cabin luggage on international flights and is fully equipped to transport all your camera gear around the globe. Besides a compartment system with reinforced dividers and a semi-hard shell, the Airstream features also some handy features, especially when you are traveling with your gear. For instance, a cable lock, connected to an aluminum frame in the inside of the roller, keeps your bag secure in one place. The bag itself also locks down with a zipper combination lock. Like most of the new international traveling bags, the Airstream also features an additional TSA lock to override the combination lock if your bag is going through airport security. While the Airstream can accommodate all of my gear easily, could also take my 15" laptop and a tripod on the outside, there is one big drawback - the rolling thing! If you stay within the airport or on even surface in the city, the Airstream is your best friend. It takes all the weight off your shoulders and rolls with elegance behind your back. However, as soon as you are going off road, the small wheels (same like inline skates) become a pain. Therefore, I can recommend the roller bag as long as the right surface is beneath your feet. Once your climbing the next mountains or jump around in the desert, take out your backpack or small shoulder bag and pack the stuff you need for the day in the morning before you leave.
A good combination out of two bags is the way I personally have chosen. I take a big bag, either the Billingham 335, the Bumblebee 222 UL or a rolling bag like the Airport Airstream and pack all the gear for the trip. Then I have, most of the time, a smaller bag like the Billingham Hadley Small to pack just the stuff I need for the day. Remember, the gear are your tools, the bag is the tool to bring the gear and then it is you who takes the shot! I hope this insight on my experience gives you a hint what might be the right bag for you. I also encourage you to check out the bags mentioned in this blog post, as they served me well over the past.
One of the most famous sights in Hamburg is the futuristic architecture of the Dockland building. Finished in 2005, the building does not only have an iconic look from the outside, but also the inside is noteworthy. For example, there is a diagonally orientated elevator inside bringing people to all 6 floors! The building won the audience award 'Architecture' in 2008. More information on www.dockland-hamburg.de.
The picture was taken last week at a very nice sunset evening using the Lee Filters Little Stopper and has an exposure time of over 2 minutes! If you like you can also view the picture on my 500px page!
The biggest harbor festival worldwide is the yearly celebration of the Port of Hamburg. Over the last three days the event took place, as always, around the jetties and the entire harbor of Hamburg. Check out the official video clip of the festival here. The shot I am sharing with you in this post was taken on Saturday during the big fireworks. From the Hotel Hafen Hamburg you have a good vantage point to overlook the entire jetties and the festival.
I have recently moved to Hamburg for a civil engineering project in northern Germany and got the chance to go out the other night to take some shots. I went to the historically famous "Speicherstadt" in Hamburg and took a shot of the "Wasserschloss". Thanks to an art club who wanted to illuminate the whole Speicherstadt at nights, the Wasserschloss lights up beautifully after the sun has set. You can read more about this project at their website http://www.lichtkunst-speicherstadt.de. I have already uploaded my picture to the photo community website of 500px, so be sure to check out that site as well.
Today starts the second half of the worlds biggest wine festival, the 597th Dürkheimer Wurstmarkt in Bad Dürkheim. It is a yearly event since 1417 on the second and third weekend of september and counts over 685.000 visitors (2012).
One of the most famous sights in Heidelberg is this bridge. Construction finished in 1788 under elector Karl Theodor. It is called 'Alte Brücke' and this specific view you can get from 'Philosophenweg' uphill in Heidelberg - fantastic view over the city, though a lot of trees and bushes are slowly blocking the view. If you like you can also check out this picture on my 500px account!
I took this shot yesterday from my apartment with a 70-200mm. I loved how the plane flew directly into the clouds and how the sun colorized the them during the sunset.