Author: Torsten

For someone who never intended to pursue an academic lifestyle, I’ve lasted remarkably long doing that. I've also dabbled in screenwriting. I recently completed my PhD in American History at LMU Munich with a dissertation on the nineteenth-century US Southwest. My current project on popular non-fiction books dealing with the crises of the 1970s led me to Washington, DC in 2013, and since October 2014, I can usually be found in Cologne, Germany. … Für jemand, der eigentlich nie studieren wollte, mache ich das schon recht lange. Wenn die Sterne günstig stehen schreibe ich auch Drehbücher. Anfang 2013 habe ich meinen Doktor in Amerikanischer Kulturgeschichte an der LMU München abgeschlossen. In meiner Dissertation ging es um den US-amerikanischen Südwesten des späten 19. Jahrhunderts. Mein derzeitiges Projekt dreht sich um populäre Gegenwartsdiagnosen aus der Krisenzeit der 1970er Jahre, und hat mich 2013 nach Washington, D.C., und seit Oktober 2014 nach Köln geführt.

Going Holga

Film photography is fun for its surprises. These surprises come in the form of pictures, mostly. Pictures you see for the first time after hours, weeks, years when they are finally developed and printed or scanned. You wait and you receive. But surprises also come in different ways. A few months ago, I retweeted a…

A Walk in the Woods

Today is my birthday. Today I’m keeping it simple. Today I took a long walk in the woods and brought my Fuji X100s set to its NPH400 simulation mode (except for “Pole” which was shot using the Velvia simulation). These pictures are a selection. They are posted here either straight as the camera saw them, or with minor edits for contrast, color, or exposure

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For the Love of Slide

We all have our favorite mediums. We draw in ink, we write with Blackwing pencils, we take pictures. In my case, I often take pictures on film. While I can appreciate the contrasty look of black-and-white Tri-X or the soft tones of Fuji 400H, the one type of film I have always loved and continue to love inordinately is slide film.

When I was but a wee kid in ye olde 1990s, this began as a cost-saving measure. Where I lived there were several places where you could drop off film, but they all, to varying degrees, made you order prints with development. On a pocket money budget, every film became a big monetary decision. Once, I had to walk back home from the supermarket photo counter because I hadn’t realized they wouldn’t let you pick the prints you liked but made you buy all 36 from a roll instead, and I didn’t have enough money.

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Slide film was the solution. It was a bit more expensive, but it didn’t cost you anything in photo prints. Instead, you could get by with a small plastic tabletop lightbox (duly purchased) and a diminutive slide viewer. If I wanted to see my slides in all their glory, I had to pull out my dad’s fold-out silver screen and the old slide projector. 

Later, I would bring slide film along with me in an auto-everything point-and-shoot camera (the Fuji DL190, if you must know, finally purged from my possessions when it became clear that digital photography was both cheaper and more practical) on vacations and school trips. I mostly shot Fujichrome, and when I began film photography again in earnest a few years back, that’s what I returned to. I now shoot either Fuji Provia 100 or the very similar Agfa Precisa 100CT. Colors are true but vibrant, and grain is all but nonexistent if you don’t zoom in very close.

After a long sabbatical from film scanning, I recently started again, processing finally all the many slides I shot in 2016. Every time, seeing the colors and tones of slide film makes me happy. It makes me feel like I chose correctly when I picked a camera to bring and a film to slip into it. It makes me feel like I’m back where I belong. Back to my favorite medium.

Archive Days: Marbach

After Gütersloh, I had another trip planned pretty much immediately. It was off to Marbach am Neckar, near Stuttgart. While Stuttgart is industrial, bustling, and often gray, Marbach has a distinctly rural and homey feel to it. And it is the home of an institution to which I was now traveling. The Deutsches Literaturachiv resides…

Leica C2 Zoom

Departure Scheduled: Kiel in October

After a conference this past weekend, I found myself with an extra Sunday in Kiel. An active harbor by the bay and a brilliant fall’s day called for a walk of exploration.

I set out armed with 5 rolls of slide film, a Nikon F80 with two lenses (the 28 f/2.8 AF and the 50 f/1.4 AF). These slides will still have to be processed and scanned, but I also decided the activity in the port area was a good test for FilmicPro on my iPhone 6s.

I shot everything at 4K/75Mbps in Cinemascope mode (except for a short clip where FilmicPro strangely reverted to 720p, which is why I output the clip in 720p).

I decided to put in a few photos and threw it all together in iOS iMovie on the same phone I shot it with.

Essentially, it’s nothing more than a quick test/vacation video, but I was impressed enough by the FilmicPro/iMovie combination that I decided to post it here.

And, hey – I can always watch ships as they go sailing.

 

Invaders

Archive Days: Gütersloh

These past years I’ve done a lot of traveling. Most of it has not been for pleasure, but for work. The kind of work I did (and do) requires research in archives in both Europe and the US. Even the best archive closes at some point in the afternoon or evening. This leaves one stranded…

My modded Minolta XL-601 from ca. 1978

Project 36X

2013 was all about getting back into film photography for me. Going into 2014, I did mostly documentary and urban photography in my new surroundings on Washington, DC’s Capitol Hill. Having moved back to Germany, 2015 was the year of my 52rolls project. It was a blast, but difficult to keep up shooting and scanning…

52rolls 2015: Live and Learn

In December 2014 I decided to apply for Urban Hafner’s 52rolls project. I would commit myself to shooting (at least) 52 film rolls in 2015, develop them or have them developed, scan them, edit them, and put them up on the blog at 52rolls.net with little essays I would write for each. To my own…

2nd Tier Superstars, Episode 1: Nikon AF

In this inaugural entry for Second Tier Superstars (check out this post to see what the concept is all about), we’ll be taking a look at some autofocus Nikon SLRs from the late 80s and early 90s. Nikon Autofocus SLRs Nikon is behind many of the world’s most iconic cameras, and images. A preferred professional’s choice…

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