Thursday, January 26th, 2023

Photograph of the year

woohooo – how cool is that. My wet plate portrait made it to the photograph of the year. Thanks to all of you who voted for me and also thanks to Simone Stecher for this nice interview. You can find the digital Version of the interview here: https://news.wko.at/news/niederoesterreich/Der-Geschichten-Erzaehler.html

Posted by Markus | Filed in preparation | Comment now »

Monday, January 9th, 2023

How to load Analog FIlm into a Sony A7 – An Analog Portrait Photographers view of the upcoming year 2023 and why AI is not the End

My own prediction about what will photography be in the future and what I will do about it

I am not doing a rewind or recap this year. I think there are too many of these out there and I have mostly the feeling it’s only a fill-in. You can watch my “end of 2022 studio tour” video or my recent scanner renovation video if you want to watch something instead of reading this article.

This rose was so beautiful on the last day of the year. I saw her when I put some treats on the trees for the birds. It survived the cold temperatures and is still standing. It reminded me that I am a similar plant that is still standing during that turbulent times of photography

The pink elephant in the room

It’s there, and everybody is seeing it (Also non photographers). Some people are scared, some are angry and others ignore it. What I am talking about? AI, like Midjourney, Dall-E or the text focused chatGPT. This will not change our world, it changed it already. The ai integration in our lives started a little sneaky, with some cool filters for example, google recaptcha, or enhancements for our phone cameras. Text-wise, we had chat bots that were mostly bad and voice assistants that were somewhere inbetween. Close your eyes and paint your own picture about how you felt about ai at the beginning of 2022. And now face reality and think how much it has improved in the last 5 Months and how much it improves now on a daily bases. For me it’s crazy how great these generated images/portraits look like and how they get better by the hour. It gets harder and harder for me to identify these generated images. I think these “calculated” pictures can be very useful sometimes and many of them look great.

I wrote a German article for c’t Fotografie (online pay or paper magazine) about this topic, you can read it here: https://www.heise.de/select/ct-foto/2023/1/2219314550220514230 This includes also an interview with an portrait artist that uses ai: Klaudia Ratzinger

My ai article for the c’t Fotografie magazine – this includes also an interview with the ai artist Klaudia Ratzinger

But I also think that all these generated images should have a digital watermark, so social media and websites can tag them as generated. People need to know if that image they are looking at is real or generated. I know that there is Photoshop as well, but these ai tools can be operated form a 5 year old and the results will fool you. Ai affects already so many business, not only photography, but also writers, lawyers, translators, book authors and many many more. I recently saw an article that a guy used chatGPT to create a children’s book. He also asked chatGPT to write down descriptions for pictures, so other ai picture generators can create imagery for the book from this description. He is selling the finished product now on Amazon. I also read a reddit thread where there was the need for a letter from a lawyer. Somebody asked chatGPT to write a letter and the user asking for a lawyer letter had success with it. You don’t have any programming skills? just ask chatGPT to write a script/program for you.

“Words can be powerful” gets a totally new meaning these days.
Talking with chatGPT can also be hilarious – more at the end of this posting

There is so much more you can do with chatGPT

Does that mean we need to be scared as a photographer? I don’t think so. Let me explain:

  • At the beginning of photography, painters were upset because photographers had no idea about posing and light. Of course it was much easier to get a portrait from one day to another. That changed crime scene documentation totally.
  • Later black and white film photographers were upset about color film photography.
  • At the beginning of 2000, film photographers were upset about digital photography
  • And later digital photographers were upset about phone cameras
  • And now the same discussion starts with ai generated images. Even we use ai already for many years in our phones (or how do you think it was possible to capture a detailed moon photo with your phone?)

And today all these mentioned techniques are still coexisting. That’s why I think they will also coexist in the future. I think good photographers must be “stage managers” these days. They need to sell an experience. Something the customer will remember for a very long time. For example, when somebody gets their wet plate portrait taken in my studio, they for sure will remember that forever.

Lara, from my inspired wet plate portrait series – more at inspired.mhaustria.com

This kind of photography is so different in our fast moving world. Sure, people could use a tintype filter. But that is like seeing a great dinner on a photograph instead of going there and enjoying it. Or think of a wet plate workshop, or any other kind of photography workshop. Creating something by yourself is always exciting and fun.

Workshops are always fun

This works also for digital. I just had a business shooting for two days and this can be a great experience as well. People were excited and happy.

I do lots of business shootings, most of them are for bigger companies, but also single ones like this one of Mathieu Stern.

I think that may be a different story for non portrait photographers, like food, architecture or product photographers. But a lot of companies are working already with generated (3D renderings) images for their catalogs. And as far as I know, these generated images are directed by photographers.
Please comment how you think other photography business will be affected by ai.

Relax

That is something I am not very good of. I have so much in my mind and want to do everything at once. But I try to go for walks every day to relax. Instead of my camera, I bring my new binoculars with me. I got myself some cool ones for Christmas (US click here – German click here for the ones I bought). So why I am telling you this? Because I felt the need sometimes to bring my camera to my walks, to capture deers, swans and other wildlife scenes. The binoculars are a great substitute for that. They will calm you down, because you can not use them to take pictures. I use them to watch wildlife and enjoy it a lot.

Watching these sparrows is so much fun

My new year resolutions for 2023

Don’t seek for perfect wet plate portraits all the time, accept the one you did and appreciate it. Look for more assignments that you enjoy and less that you don’t. Work more on your own projects you love.

this is one of my very first wet plates. that was about 8+ years ago.

How to load analog film into a Sony A7 digital camera?

Let’s end this post with something fun. I asked chatGPT some questions about wet plate and analog photography. And at the end, chatGPT ended up explaining me how to load film into a Sony A7 camera and why medium format film would not fit in. And no worries, the sensor cleaning and the ibis of the Sony A7 will not destroy your film either. And if you ever looked for a film rewind button on your digital camera, chat GPT got you covered. In that case chatGPT acts like a little child that made a mistake and makes up more facts to cover it. Please be aware that all other answers about the wet plate process and so on contains also false information (I won’t explain everything, but for insiders it’s fun to read). As always, if you are interested in that process, take a workshop or read a book (chatGPT tells you the same). Enjoy the answers guys (You need to open some screenshots in a new browser tab to be able to read them):

How does a digital camera that loads analog film look like?

I asked that question Midjourney and got these results 🙂

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  • Posted by Markus | Filed in ai, analog, chatgpt, collodium, dall-e, midjourney, wetplate, workshop | 2 Comments »

    Wednesday, December 28th, 2022

    Denis Krieg – Inspired Series

    I’ve known Denis for a few years now and over time a nice friendship has developed. We met for the first time during the Camera Obscura Festival in Germany, but we were in contact several times before that.

    From Denis I bought my current large format camera and some lenses. Also one of my more important lenses – the Dallmeyer 3b which I use a lot for this series is from Denis. Read more in this post https://blog.markus-hofstaetter.at/2021/03/inspired/

    His knowledge of historical equipment is fascinating. His craftsmanship and restoration skills are also second to none. Check out his website here www.wetplatedreams.com.
    Denis keeps historic history alive with his work.

    I also captured a portrait with Denis and his Wife Sybille that I like a lot.

    Denis Krieg of wetplatedreams.com
    Denis with his wife Sybille

  • Get yourself a beautiful print here: http://prints.mhaustria.com

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  • Posted by Markus | Filed in inspired, nassplatte, portraits, wetplate | Comment now »

    Wednesday, December 21st, 2022

    End Of 2022 Studio Tour

    Maybe you missed my exhibition, or you want to come for a portrait or a workshop. Then you have now a chance to walk with me in a brief overview through my studio.

  • Get yourself a beautiful print here: http://prints.mhaustria.com

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  • Wednesday, December 14th, 2022

    Bringing a Cheap 24 Year Old High-End Scanner Back to Life – It’s mind blowing

    It all started when we needed to scan some slides. With my Screen Cezanne 5000 scanner I would get an amazing quality, but it would be exhausting to do. I have an old Epson scanner that could do it, but it’s also not a very comfortable task. So I had an eye on a Agfa Duoscan Hid scanner. These scanners scan film without the need of a glass. That makes things much easier. They are also great flatbed scanners. With that I take more care about my valuable Screen scanner. The lamps of it are not longer available, when they break its over. But as always it was more difficult to get this scanner up an running than I thought. It needed lots of cleaning and my first idea about a fitting computer was also not my best one.

    The Scenic Mobile 800 was ahead of its time back then, but now to slow to work as a scan server.
    Overhead projectors are obsolete since a long time, but back then it was amazing what that laptop could do.
    Scanning without the need of glas – a great benefit of this scanner.
    The scanner was very dirty and in the need of many cleanings. I cleaned it 4 times until it worked as expected. Whenever you open the scanner, you must be very careful. First of all disconnect power and SCSI. The Manual mentions also high voltage inside the scanner, I guess they’re mean capacitors or something like that. I already tried to clean the “bottom scanner” that takes care of the film scanning. I could barley see it with a little mirror, but not reach it. And dismounting the main scan unit was way too risky. I think I would never get the scanner calibrated again.
    I was very happy for the SilverFast support. I had some issues, that were very specific to my configuration. Also the software is great for scanning film. Check out their website here : https://www.silverfast.com
    This scan of one of my moste favourite portraits (Phoebe) was done with the Screen Cezanne and is very similar to the Agfa, see the video for more details

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  • Posted by Markus | Filed in collodion, diy, Gear, scanning, wetplate | Comment now »

    Wednesday, December 7th, 2022

    Preserving History – Renovating a 100 Year Old Camera – Bellow Edition

    My good old Century No.2 camera has about 100 years behind her. She still works great, but her bellow is leaking light. Thats why I needed to repair it. I thought it is easiest to explain everything in a video, so it is easier to understand for you guys and hopefully also helpful. It took me a long time to put everything together. Why? Because it was important for me to reuse as many original parts as possible to preserve the history of this camera. I think this is a very important part when you consider to renovate a piece of history! Underneath the video are all links for the parts I needed.

    Bellowmaker: ecbuyonline@hotmail.com – email is the best way to communicate https://www.ebay.com/str/ecbuyonline2008
    Large Caliper International: https://amzn.to/3W7OvHt Germany: https://amzn.to/3VBaHJZ
    Liquid Rubber: International (similar) :https://amzn.to/3H4tfOq Germany: https://amzn.to/3Pf4b9D
    Glue for mounting the Bellow: International: https://amzn.to/3ixkdPI Germany: https://amzn.to/3F8YiWS
    Ifixit essential tools – they were very helpful: https://amzn.to/3UpEqnO
    machinist square International: https://amzn.to/3Vvly8j Germany https://amzn.to/3B8Kt9n
    Cutter https://amzn.to/3P1JsWl
    Screenprinting paint and cold fix: https://www.siebdruckladen.de
    Video for building a mobile darkroom: https://youtu.be/hnrtywCfQRk
    Video for sandarac varnish: https://youtu.be/wj2nPTYyFQ4

  • Get yourself a beautiful print here: http://prints.mhaustria.com

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  • Posted by Markus | Filed in collodion, diy, dyi photography, tintype, video, wetplate | 6 Comments »

    Wednesday, November 30th, 2022

    David Kriesel – Inspired Series

    David Kriesel is a data scientist from Bonn – Germany. He was born in 1984 and is self-employed from 1998 on (at the time he was 14). Find more details here: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Kriesel
    You might know him in connection with the Xerox bug he discovered in 2013. (German version here)
    David also does a lot of talks. The combination of data science and talks may sound boring to some of you. But this is only because you never watched one of David’s extremely entertaining and very interesting talks. He will explain a specific topic to you, that you probably never thought will be of any interest for you. After he finished his talk, he for sure has convinced you otherwise.
    There is a quote that I like to mention from one of his talks, that made me think and smile: “Mathematics know no mercy” and that reflects for me what his talks are about. There are no shortcuts, behind every of his projects is a lot of hard work. But with that comes a lot of fun stories.

    I am very grateful that David took the time to fly over from Germany with his Dad to be my sitter in front of my wet plate camera for the inspired series. I also enjoyed talking to his dad a lot, he is a wonderful person and I can see now where David got his humour from. It was great meeting both of you and so much fun. Thanks again for your time!

    David Kriesel – inspired series – collodion wet plate portrait
    We chose this pose to express a sceptical moment of his projects
    David Kriesel – inspired series – collodion wet plate portrait
    This is an interesting one. I underexposed the portrait on purpose to overdevelop it.
    Normally this brings out more grain, but in that case it brought out some interesting silver waves.
    Collodion has sometimes its own ways to express things,
    maybe this is the process showing all the things that go through the mind of David.
    Friedrich-Wilhelm Kriesel with his son David Kriesel – collodion wet plate portrait.
    I like this one a lot. I think it reflects perfectly the great energy these guys have.

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  • Wednesday, November 23rd, 2022

    Eyes like you’ve never seen them before! (Iris Ultra Macro Version)

    They say they eyes are the door to your soul – iris photography
    eye surface – iris photography

    As you all know, I am very passionate about portrait photography. And when I shoot portraits, my main focus is always on the eyes. Eyes just attract and fascinate me. Back then when I still was shooting pool billiard tournaments, I started already a series about eyes on the pool table. Its called “the eye of pool”:

    Thats the article from back then (11 years ago) https://blog.markus-hofstaetter.at/2011/08/eye-of-pool-update/

    But now I wanted to go closer and create a more abstract artwork. I started with buying the Laowa 25mm Ultra Macro lens. As explained in the video, I build a whole rig with macro focusing rails and a a linear transition stage.

    That was the first version of my setup. You can see the display in the background that I used for focusing
    This is my Frankenstein focusing rail setup. Its about 2kg by its own.

    Eye movement, ripod movment and head movement was a big issue. For that I build a special kind of headrest.

    the headrest 🙂

    I tried different camera/lens setups during my shootings. That is one of them

    thats one version of my lens camera setup – I used many different ones during the shootings.

    At the end I am very happy with the outcome. It was a lot of work, but for me it was totally worth it. I love how these abstract eye photographs turned out on fine art prints. If you want to get a signed fine art print, contact me here: http://contact.mhaustria.com for prints from my shop visit http://prints.mhaustria.com. If you are an ophthalmologist and want to work with me on some of the images, please let me know and contact me.

  • Get yourself a beautiful print here: http://prints.mhaustria.com

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  • Posted by Markus | Filed in eye, micro, photography, preparation | 2 Comments »

    Friday, November 18th, 2022

    Wet Plate Strobe Calculator with Light Modifier Comparison

    How much power do I need for my wet plate setup? I get this and similar questions asked a lot. Thats the reason I build a calculator for that. With the calculator, there comes also a knowledge base. Because there is much more to know about strobes and the wet collodion process. This is exclusive for Patreon supporters (Tier 2). With tier 2 support you get, also wet plate troubleshooting, access to recorded Patreon videos, early access to videos and much more. Link to this Patreon posting: https://www.patreon.com/posts/wet-plate-strobe-74548519
    More about the calculator in this video:

  • Get yourself a beautiful print here: http://prints.mhaustria.com

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  • Wednesday, November 9th, 2022

    Inspired Series – Jonathan Hetzendorfer

    I eat mushrooms as a meat substitute more often these days and once I started to buy specialities like oyster mushrooms from Jonathan, it was like a game changer. I knew his shop long before his first TV appearance, but never met him in person before. When I talked with him for the first time it was inspiring to see how much passion Jonathan puts in his work. I also remember when I ordered a mushroom dish in a restaurant and saw the menu that said “Fresh oyster mushroom from Jonathan”.
    You can tell he does something right, when gourmet chefs buy exclusively from him. Enjoy the video and if you are interested in a beautiful fine art print of that mushroom, just contact me here: https://www.markus-hofstaetter.at/pages/kontakt/

  • Get yourself a beautiful print here: http://prints.mhaustria.com

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