At this decimal waypoint, time for a little reflection.
That’s what ‘blogs are mostly about, aren’t they? My name is Christoph Hammann, I’m a 46 years old german living in a small town in Thuringia. I’m an ophthalmologist by profession and a photographer and computer nerd by passion. Conscious seeing and experiencing has been an important part of my nature since youth. The avenues this desire has taken have changed over the years, but I tend to come back to “old” modes in intervals. My photography passion started in school, where I participated in and later led the darkroom course. Med school and the first years in the profession led to an increased desire for recreational sport. Road cycling was my sport of choice. A chance encounter with an organizer of ultra-distance events and an underlying streak of masochism led me to long days in the saddle and on the road. I still refer back to my experiences on these rides as “charging up my visual batteries”. Long-distance cycling found it’s culmination for me when I took part in Paris-Brest-Paris 1995. That trip was physically the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but the experience stays with me and informs my life up to now.
Having done that, there was not much more to do in cycling, and I returned to two previous interests, computers and photography.
Just about then, the net was gaining importance. While on deployment for speciality training to the south of Germany, I had lots of time to spare and took an interest in Linux and other Open Source operating systems. I was entirely self-taught and must have bothered sysadmins and members of mailinglists with my newbie questions quite a bit. But the spirit of the net community was entirely supportive and I learned fast. Gained weight fast, too, sitting in front of the screen for hours on end. And, to my regret, I stayed in user space. Having a totally different professional education, I never systematically learned a programming language, though I dabbled in many. I know of no one who can code “Hello World” in so many languages. 😉
The road bike stayed on the back burner during this time, but there was an urge to get out and recharge the batteries, so it didn’t gather cobwebs.
When the first affordable DSLRs came out, I bought into it. In this way could combine two hobbies, photography and computers. A rapid and expensive succession of a Canon 20D, Canon 1Ds MII, Epson RD-1 and Nikon D200 with the associated lenses, tripods and gadgets signified the hardware side. I was fascinated by the new technology and again apt to spend hours (really!) in front of the screen to edit a single digital photograph. Very few of them were printed, most of my “captures” I uploaded to a german photo sharing site in the gist of flickr. The online community and it’s mechanisms adsorbed my attention but they had their negative aspects that got more pronounced over time.
I was saved from this vain and repetitive attention-whoring by an artist friend of my brother. Miron is a great teacher and has a zest for art and art history that cannot be damped. He introduced me to his and the work of artists before him and, most importantly, the creative process. I did an about turn and took up project work in my photography. The method changed too, most of the digital cameras were sold. Now I’m using film cameras from a Leica MP, to a Nikon S3, to a Nikon F6, to a Canon F-1 New, to a Hasselblad 503 CX, to an Ebony 4×5 and finally an old Calumet 8×10 Green Monster. Still a gear freak, I must admit, but Ebay is a much cheaper supplier than Calumet.
The postprocessing ist two-pronged. Most often, I use a hybrid workflow where I scan the negatives and use my digital skills to tweak the file to give an interesting print on my Epson printer. Another workflow leads to digital negatives and finally palladium-platinum-prints. And there is a black&white darkroom again, though I get to work in it too seldom. All in all, an embarrassment of riches with regard to expressive possibilities.
What DO I photograph? For the longest time, it was landscape day in, day out, and I was an acolyte of Ansel Adams, John Sexton, Wynn Bullock and the Westons. The involvement with paintings, sculpture and other works of art and a broader look at the history of photography awakened my interest in other subjects such as portraits, street photography, serialization and the New Topographics. And though this ‘blog is mostly black and white, I find color photography fascinating (and hard!). My momentary hero of photography is William Eggleston!
Photography is nothing but wanking off if you only do it for yourself. So I started showing my pictures at portfolio reviews a few years back and have been to the Rencontres de la Photographie in Arles two times. Comments from these interactions and the expositions seen have informed my work and hopefully will continue to do so. I’m always speculating about going more commercial and uploading some photos to a stock agency, if only for the exercise.
Now what do I want with this ‘blog? It was born out of an enthusiasm for photography and computer hard- and software. I want to communicate some of that feeling. I’m not trying to be objective here, quite the contrary. It is the subjective experience that counts and that can maybe inform other nerds and artists. The two are not so different, you know!
Tags: It's The Arts