Fotoeins Fotopress

One photo at a time – one journey to last a lifetime

Posts from the ‘Photography’ category

First time sweetness at Heidelberg’s Café Gundel

Moving to Germany

In 2001, I moved across the big Atlantic pond from Canada to Germany. Knowing only “bitte” (please) and “danke” (thank you), I flew sight unseen to Frankfurt am Main, followed by a shuttle-bus to the German university town of Heidelberg. I would live and work in Heidelberg for two years, and I couldn’t have known the experience would change my life.

Heidelberg is one of my favourite “hometowns” in Germany, my adopted country.

1st Time in DE, 1st Time in HD

An early memory is a stroll down Heidelberg’s Hauptstrasse (“main street”). I spend a long afternoon up and down streets, through small cobbled alleys, learning locations of stores and services, and getting an immediate lay of the town.

At the eastern end of the Altstadt (Old Town), I step into an attractive and brightly lit Café Gundel and sit down at one of the tables. My eyes are bigger than my stomach. I decide to do the sensible thing, and order the first reasonable thing that comes to mind: Apfelstrudel and a latté macchiato.

It’s relatively quiet in the café, and I’m quickly served “coffee and cake”. The strudel has large chunks of apples, surrounded by very light flaky pastry and topped with a fine dusting of powdered sugar. The cake isn’t too tart or sweet, and there’s a generous mouthful of cinnamon and nutmeg. Did I also mention there’s fresh whipping cream (Schlagsahne) on the side? That’s not spray-on stuff from a can, which, as I learned later, is sacrilege of the highest order.

I walk up to the counter to pay and I express my gratitude. With hand gestures and attempted English, I ask to buy an additional selection of cookies, small cakes, and sweets. I’m sure the lady behind the counter thinks I’ve completely lost my mind. In broken English, she tells me there’ll be more tomorrow, and plenty more the day after that.

This memory has served as an introduction to both Heidelberg and Germany, and has stayed with me over the years. I’ve returned many times to Heidelberg since leaving in 2003, but I’ve returned to Gundel only twice.

Guess it’s time to go back “home”, back to Gundel, and make some new memories …

Cafe Gundel, Hauptstrasse (Karlsplatz), Heidelberg, Germany

Café Gundel

Cafe Gundel, Hauptstrasse (Karlsplatz), Heidelberg, Germany

Do I have room for these? Why yes; yes, I do …

If you’re in Heidelberg, walk to the eastern end of Hauptstrasse to Café Gundel. Press your nose up against the window, and look, drool at the sweets on display. When you’ve worked up an appetite, head inside, relax, and enjoy your “Kaffee und Kuchen” (cake and coffee).


Café Gundel is both Konditorei (pastry shop) and Bäckerei (bake shop), making a wide assortment of sweet pastries and hearty breads. The main and larger Gundel is located at the eastern end of the Hauptstrasse at Karlsplatz (Charles Square). The smaller version, der kleine Gundel, is located at Universitätsplatz (University Square).

You can easily walk the mile-long Hauptstrasse. Alternatively, you can take a bus or tram from the train station to Bismarckplatz, and transfer onto bus 31, 32, or 33 into the Altstadt.

This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com.

Vancouver embraces spring in grand style

Photo Essays on the Web, March 2014

As we breeze past the quarter-pole in 2014, the following photo essays from the web highlight Instagram, doodling, black-and-white format, 19th-century Paris, and finding life in the town called Death.

From chaos one finds order, and I often moments of stillness in the noise …

Is Instagram Helping to Democratize Photography?

Love it or hate it: Instagram has been a part of a huge wave worldwide making photography far more accessible to an ever increasing number of people. The World Photography Organisation takes a “insta-look”.

Bored Commuting: Doodling on the Train

What happens if you’re a commuter on a train and you’re bored? Draw caricatures of your fellow passengers, and photograph the very funny results. Here’s the hilarity from October Jones, who’s also the creator of the very funny “Text From Dog” tumblr website.

Alex Webb’s view of the world

Magnum photographer Alex Webb has a wonderful way of viewing a world in black and white. When asked how he views the relationship between ‘documentary or journalistic content and purely aesthetic concerns in your work’, he says they’re both ‘simultaneous and inseparable, both in vision and the world, of form and content.’ He always asks questions through his photographs, his experiments with form are sometimes by themselves the literal process of asking those very questions.

Mastering What You Have

There are good reasons why I made tens of thousands of clicks on my old camera. One of those reasons was how I’d get used to the camera until it became second nature. That when it was time to make a shot, I wouldn’t have to think about what to do, or what button was where. Shoot, shoot, and shoot some more, so that getting the shot was 1st nature, and making the shot became 2nd nature. It’s what photographer David duChemin writes in his latest article, about mastering one’s own camera gear, whatever gear you might have.

Glories of 19th Century Paris

In the second half of the 19th-century, the French capital city of Paris experienced massive urban transformation, and Marville was charged to document these changes. His photographs are now seen as a “standard” to urban documentary photography and as historical documents to what Paris was like before redevelopment. I’d seen some of his work over the past few years in exhibitions in Hamburg and Essen, and the fascination is just as fresh as the first time I laid eyes on these beautiful photographs.

Welcome to Death! (in Finland)

“Welcome to Death!” That’s the sign you’ll see outside the town of Kuolema in Finland. Swedish photographer Eva Persson was captivated by this, and spent time in town to photograph ‘life in Death’. I also laugh at the “simple” contrast she draws between Swedes and Finns about life and death in general. To Finns: you’re born, you suffer a long time, and then you die. To Swedes: you’re born, all is “Jätte bra!” (very good), then you disappear … to somewhere warm, preferably the Mediterranean.


This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com

First signs of life: first day of spring in Vancouver

Many have suffered through a long, difficult, cold and snowy winter. Here in the Canadian Southwest, the first day of northern spring has brought blue skies, warm sun, and the appearance of cherry blossoms. Fresh colours and fresh flowers provide encouraging signs of new life, and warmer sunnier days lie ahead for everyone across country and continent.

MacLean Park, Strathcona, Vancouver, Canada

1st day of (northern) spring

Fortunately, the morning light illuminated these blossoms beautifully, and I created the right depth of field to get pink splotches of bokeh against blue sky in the background. The settings were 1/1000s, f/4, ISO200, and 95mm focal length.

Spring/autumn equinox (northern/southern hemisphere) for 2014 occurred at 1657h GMT on March 20. I made the photo above at 1658h GMT (958h local), about a minute after the moment of spring equinox, at MacLean Park in the Strathcona neighbourhood of Vancouver, Canada, on 20 March 2014.

This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com.

The 75000 most important clicks with my camera

The setup

For the seventh time, I’ve “flipped” or “rolled over” the four-digit image-counter on my camera. I’ve made over 70-thousand exposures, which is a great accomplishment for both camera and me. Unfortunately, exposure number 75000 will prove to be a bad omen.

I own a Canon EOS450D (Rebel XSi), an entry-level digital crop-sensor camera which was introduced to the consumer market in the first-quarter of 2008.

The camera has no weather-proofing, poor to average low-light capability, and a small burst-rate, but the camera is affordable, portable, and easy to use. The kit-lens doesn’t have great build-quality, but the lens is lightweight with a decent range in focal lengths for my kind of photography.

The camera is dead! Long live the camera!

It’s early August 2013, and I’m in the Czech capital city of Prague. I’m standing in front of the Television Tower in the Zizkov neighbourhood.

I’m wearing a confused frown, because the photos are coming out vignetted. I realize quickly the metal leaves which make up the shutter have gone loose, and aren’t opening and closing properly: something like this.

The dreaded error message “Err 99″ pops up on the camera display. I turn the power off and on, and press the shutter button. “Err 99″ persists, and there’s a new grinding “whirring” noise inside the camera.

Just a couple of days ago, I’ve reached the milestone of exposure number 75000. But apparently, I’ve now reached the end: after 5 years and 2 months, my camera has stopped working.

Why so many clicks? What’s the point?

Some have asked: “Why did you take so many exposures? If you took fewer photos, your camera could’ve lasted longer!”

These questions miss the point of owning a camera.

Making so many exposures is how I got used to the camera. I wouldn’t have to think about what to do, or to figure out what button was where. After frequent use and learning the “manual” functions of my camera, shooting became almost “automatic.” When the moment came, it took a few quick movements to fiddle with the camera settings with “finger-memory” to make the shot.

How does one become good with their camera?

Go out and make lots of photos. Learn, use, and memorize the camera functions. Work on small projects to photograph to get better: explore, screw up and fail spectacularly. Learn, improve, repeat.

Shoot, shoot, and shoot some more, so that getting the shot is first nature, and making the shot is second nature.

That’s also what David duChemin describes in “Towards Mastery. Again”, about becoming proficient with your own camera gear, whatever gear you might have.

Exit stage right …

The broken shutter assembly needs replacing, and judging by what I’ve read online, the cost of parts and labour is equivalent to a significant fraction of the price for a new camera or a new piece of glass. The shutter isn’t worth replacing.

So, what’s next? I have no intention on going back to a crop-sensor, so future conversations will involve the phrases “full-frame” and “better low-light performance.”

Goodbye, 450D: you’ve been a trusty servant and guide on my photographic journey.

To celebrate and mourn its passing, here are the first and last photos I made with the 450D.

Waikoloa Beach, Big Island, Hawaii

One of the first photos: Waikoloa Beach, Big Island – Hawaii, 19 May 2008.

Zizkov TV Tower, Prague, Czech Republic

One of the last: Žižkov TV Tower with “Miminka” (“Babies”, by David Černý) – Prague, 4 Aug 2013.
What are some experiences with your camera? What did you do when your camera broke? Please leave your impressions and (sob-) stories below!

PostScript: The autofocus ring on the “original” EF-S 18-55mm IS kit-lens failed while I was about to visit New Zealand’s Milford Sound. I purchased a replacement EF-S 18-55mm IS II lens weeks later in Sydney, Australia. This type of lens cannot be used on a full-frame camera. Fortunately, that latter lens now has a warm and loving home with fellow Canadian and traveler Kate Clarke.

This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com.

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