To help order and sort some of the things in my mind, it often helps me to write them down. And this is the place I do just that. Not always related to photography. Not always in English. Manchmal auch auf Deutsch.
I have recently switched blogging platforms. Here is my new blog:
I have recently switched blogging platforms. Here is my old blog:


Die Dinge niederschreiben hilft mir, sie zu ordnen und einzuordnen. Hier ist der richtige Platz dafür. Nicht immer geht es um die Fotografie und nicht immer schreibe ich auf Deutsch. Manchmal auf Englisch.
Ich habe kürzlich die Blog-Plattform gewechselt. Hier ist mein neues Blog:
Ich habe kürzlich die Blog-Plattform gewechselt. Hier ist mein altes Blog:

Workshops 2011: Hashtags und Kurzlinks

Du meldest Dich für einen Workshop an. Und dann?!

Wäre es nicht klasse, wenn Du mit anderen Workshopteilnehmern Kontakt aufnehmen könntest?

Aus Gründen der Privatsphäre verschicke ich normalerweise keine Adresslisten, aber es gibt ja noch andere Wege.

Wenn Du in den Social Media wie z.B. Twitter oder Facebook unterwegs bist, oder wenn Du bloggst, dann sind Hashtags und Kurzlinks eine gute Möglichkeit, mit anderen zu diskutieren.

Hier ist die offizielle Liste der Hashtags und Kurzlinks für die Workshops 2011:

5.-6. Feb, Hannover Spielzeugladen

19.-20. Feb, Absolut Analog I

2.-3. Apr, Absolut Analog II

8.-10. Jul, Berlin

2.-3. Jul, Hannover Spielzeugladen II

27.-30. Jul, Klostergeister

2.-4. Sep, Northeim

10.-11. Sep, Absolut Analog III

Was ist ein Hashtag?

» zur Englischen Workshopliste


2011 Workshop Hash Tags and Short Links

You sign up for a workshop. And then what...?!

Wouldn't it be nice if you could connect with fellow workshop participants to discuss sharing a ride, what to bring, or just to know who else is coming? I usually don't send address lists for privacy reasons, but there's another way.

If you use social media such as Twitter, Facebook, or if you blog, hashtags and short links are a great way to let others find your information.

Here is the offical hashtag and short link list for the 2011 workshops:

Apr/17-May/3, Tibet

May/27-29, Berlin LIMITED

Aug/13-14, Washington DC

Aug/19-21, San Francisco, CA

Sep/23-25, Toronto, Canada

What is a hash tag?

» go to the German workshop list


Forget the large format MIP! Here comes the MMP!

IMG_1312.jpgIntroducing the Marquardt Mini Pinhole (MMP) f/10 9mm. Who needs large format f/200 pinhole cameras that take sharp-ish pictures at crazy long 2-minute exposure times?! (hint: I do). Making pinhole cameras from matchboxes is not new (I took my inspiration from this video on YouTube) but I wanted to build one of those at least once. Perfect project for a Sunday early afternoon. Building this takes about half an hour.

band.jpgDue to lack of black tape, I used a light-proof metal-based tape that is normally used to tape pictures into picture frames. Not ideal, as it's reflective, but it should still do the trick. Might end up with some light spills inside the cam though.

IMG_1290.jpgI used a matchbox and two rolls of film, an APX to shoot on and a cheap Lucky SHD to dump in order to get the empty film roll. Note to self: next time don't dump all the empty film rolls, so you won't have to sacrifice a film for this.

IMG_1293.jpgThere's something strangely satisfying in pulling out a perfectly good roll of film during daytime. 1.99 € down the drain. The things you do on a Sunday afternoon...

IMG_1291.jpgI cut a hole into the matchbox drawer. This will hold the film in place and provide for an unexposed frame around the picture.

IMG_1294.jpgEmpty roll of lucky to the right (the exposed film will go into this) and full roll of Agfa APX to the left.

IMG_1295.jpgThis is how the film will go behind the drawer inside the matchbox.

IMG_1296.jpgAnd this is how it'll look after it is put together.

IMG_1298.jpgBut first, the matchbox needs a hole for the "lens".

IMG_1299.jpgHere's the pinhole. I used the same metal-based tape for this as it sticks nicely. The hole turned out a bit too large, so I can expect nice and short shutter speeds, but probably quite a bit of lack of sharpness. Focal length of the camera is the distance between hole and film plane, in this case 9mm.

IMG_1300.jpgAttached the film to the empty spool...

IMG_1302.jpg...and put the spool back into the cartridge. That's one of the reasons I used a Lucky SHD film: the film cartridges are easy to pull apart and put back together without tools. The film will be transported by turning the spool on the receiving side and winging it by gut feel. Some of the pics might overlap, some might have bigger space in between them. Oh well.

IMG_1303.jpgUsing more of the light-tight tape to seal the camera from the rays of the evil day glow ball in the sky.

IMG_1304.jpgMore sealing

IMG_1308.jpgSealed all around (hopefully). Erm.. let's call the design functional. But then, did I mention it's a disposable cam? It will be destroyed at the end of the process anyway.

IMG_1309.jpgThe camera needs a shutter now. I cut this out of the adhesive light-proof tape so only the sides stick.

IMG_1310.jpgA black strip of paper acts as the shutter. Just pull it up to expose and push it back down to finish exposure. It'll be difficult to time though, my little pinhole calculator tells me that the exposure time at this focal length and aperture is less than a second, so forget about precision. I have decided that I'll be happy if only two or three pictures on the film will come out alright ;)

IMG_1311.jpgThis is what it looks like with the shutter open. Say CHEESE!

» Insert frantic picture taking activity here «

IMG_1313.jpgRemoving the film in a changing bag and putting it into a development tank basically means destroying the camera. Bye bye little MMP.

And now (cue drum roll) presenting the first and only pictures that have ever been taken and will ever be taken with the Marquardt Mini Pinhole:

The Marquardt Mini Pinhole



Ready for the first picture out of the Marquardt International Pinhole? (yep, I have decided to call it the MIP from now on, heh)

Marquardt International Pinhole

» MIP: The Making-Of
» MIP: The first test (video)

Update: The official Marquardt International Pinhole website is now online


Testing the Marquardt International Pinhole

Update: I just posted the first picture out of the MIP

Update 2: The official Marquardt International Pinhole website is now online


Here's the first official test of the homebrew International Pinhole, complete with proper exposure times (I hope), taking reciprocity into account, even including me freezing off my fingers, as a tough photographer should do (the other choice would be to throw myself on the ground, but that was even colder).

» see how this camera was made

Some background info: aperture of the pinhole is f/200, focal length of the camera is 60mm, it accepts international (graflok) backs, which includes 4x5" film cassettes, Polaroid backs, roll film backs and more. To be installed: mechanism to hold the backs in place, soon to come.

Next up: develop and scan the pics. And post if they're any good..


15 feet USB

I did some research, then got myself a long 5-meter/15-feet USB cable that has a USB amplifier built in. It allows me to take tethered pictures from my camera right into Lightroom. And it works no matter if I press the shutter button in Lightroom or on the camera. In both cases the picture ends up on the computer a few seconds later.

It's the ideal teaching tool along the lines of PocketChris! Instead of explaining and painting pictures of what happens when you do this or that with your camera, I can now simply take the shot and it'll show up on the monitor for all workshop participants to see.

Learning by seeing what happens. I like it. It's brilliant!

Not my idea though, I saw it first on Joe McNally's workshop in Dobbs Ferry last year.

Taking the 2011 workshops to the next level, step by step.

Dirty little iPhone secret

Non-photography infrastructure time! I listened to the German Bits und so tech podcast the other day and they talked about apps automatically starting in the background when you boot your iPhone 4 - and potentially other multitasking iPhones.

Wait a minute.

I was under the assumption that only Apple stuff was starting up during an iPhone boot, such as the mail system, and various other daemons (that's how background processes are called in the unix world, and iOS is a unix-type operating system).

So I did a little testing using iStats, an iOS app that will give you a list of running processes.

Here are my findings - and they explain why even the very fast iPhone 4 tends to get a bit slower over time, depending on what you install:

Skype: starts up in the background automatically after reboot if it's been running at shut down time. If you kill Skype and then reboot, it won't automatically start.Pocket Informant: seems to start up in the background automatically as long as it's installed. Haven't found a way to keep it from doing that.Google Latitude: starts up in the background as long as you are logged in inside the app.

These were the processes that were obvious to me, I might have missed some though.

Fact is, there apparently is a mechanism for apps to automatically start up when you boot the iPhone. They then consume RAM and CPU without you being aware of it, which will result in some form of slowdown and battery drain.

On the one hand I am totally for making this device a black box, the user shouldn't have to know about processes, daemons, background execution and so forth. On the other hand I'm enough of a geek to want to know why my iPhone gets a bit sluggish from time to time.

It obviously makes sense for something like Skype to run in the background, so you can receive calls, but in case of Google Latitude I was under the assumption that if I didn't start it, it wouldn't run. Now I finally understand why Google keeps sending me emails reminding me that I've got Latitude running. They want to make sure this doesn't turn into some form of shitstorm.

I'm still a bit surprised that it took me so long to find out about this.

The International Pinhole

Update: Here is a video shot during the first test and here is the first picture out of this camera.

» offical website

Building pinhole cameras is easy and fun. All you need is a box, some tape, aluminum foil, a pin, and joy in experimentation.

Unless you're me and your landlord is a cabinet maker. Then creating a pinhole camera might as well turn into trying to make a really awesome one.

Since I've been dabbling in large format photography I had the idea of creating a beautiful pinhole camera that would accept large format film. Not just film though, but also the according large format film cassettes, Polaroid backs and other backs, including 6x9 backs for example. All sorts of formats.

When I ran across a wonderfully made DIY pinhole holder and tripod mount, I knew that this would get me one step further, so I talked to my friend and landlord, and the other day we made a first prototype.

IMG 1169It starts with just some material, cut to the right dimensions. Here is the front wall, the sides and the top and bottom. Once finished, the camera will feature an open back that has the right dimensions to hold large format view camera backs (also known as Graflok backs). It will be able to easily fit a 4x5" film back or even a Polaroid back.

IMG 1171This is how the side walls will interface with the top and bottom pieces. This will guarantee that no light can leak into the camera and that the camera is really stable and robust.

IMG 1176Making progress detailing the parts.

IMG 1178This is the first test to see if our measurements around the international back were right. It's a perfect fit, sliding right into the slot. We still need a mechanism to fix it in place, but we've got a few fun ideas on how to allow backs of different depth, such as a Polaroid back, to fit well and be easy to attach and detach. Easier than on most monorail cameras actually.

IMG 1204Black MDF is great to work with, but it also ends up creating quite a bit of dirt. Here you see the main hole for the "lens" being drilled.

IMG 1207Test fitting of the "lens" - it's a beautiful piece of solid steel that allows to fit several different size holes, zone plates and more.

IMG 1210The outer casing is being fit together. The bottom of the camera features a beautiful and solid steel tripod mount. As you can see, the focal length on this prototype is pretty short, around 55mm. Given the size of the large format negative, this results in a pretty wide angle picture. Future models might feature longer focal lengths, even though the wide angle in conjunction with a pinhole is a lot of fun, because it doesn't know any depth-of-field issues: everything is equally in focus. Maybe we'll even find a way to do a variable focal length model. How does "first international back large format pinhole zoom camera" sound like?

IMG 1214The prototype will be held together with screws. The future models' surface will be undisturbed by screws.

IMG 1216First working model finished! Still looking for a good name for it.

IMG 1220Test fitting a tripod plate and a Polaroid back.

IMG 1221The open prototype...

IMG 1222...with a film cassette on.

IMG 1224The film cassette is a snug fit. The surface of the camera will look quite a bit different once its got the according treatment including sanding and several layers of oil, also the final model won't use screws, so this will look very different once it's in its final stage.

Still on the todo list: implement mechanism to fasten different backs to the camera (got a simple idea, more on that at another time), work on surface, make the camera a bit lighter, find a good name for it.

Yes, find a good name for it. "Large format international back pinhole camera" doesn't have enough of a ring yet.


tfttf_wiki_logo.gifWOW. WOW. WOW. Is this really true? Chris, you've stuck to this for five and three quarter years, you've done it more than once a week, and you have released five hundred episodes of Tips from the Top Floor.

Okay, that's not really true. Matt has released them, put them up on the feed and kept the tfttf blog that hosts the show in good shape. I have only produced them. But thinking about it, even that is not entirely true. There were a few episodes that were produced by the community.

I think what I want to say is that Tips from the Top Floor wouldn't be anything without the people who listen to the show, the people who are subscribed, the people who send in questions and comments and feedback and show openers. Chances are you are one of them. If not, what are you waiting for?

Five hundred episodes. This show has really changed my life. It has changed a lot of other things too. Over and over has it given me a reason to do research, to try out things, to immerse myself in photography, to read about other photographers, to surround myself with things photography, to lead a photographic life. Without Tips from the Top Floor it wouldn't have happened like this.

Five hundred episodes. This show is one of the things in my life that I have stuck to longest. Tips from the Top Floor is my way of giving myself a kick in the butt and do something. It's my therapy against procrastination.

Five hundred episodes. This show has been an enabler for me on so many levels. It has allowed me to find an audience and this audience has made it possible for me to travel to interesting places, meet great people, hold workshops, and do what I love to do (which includes talking lots ;))

Five hundred episodes. This show has allowed me to see places that I wouldn't have seen otherwise. It got me on a train ride through Switzerland, right in front with the train driver. It has allowed me to hike up to 18,500 feet. It has even made me run into an electric fence. And a cactus. On air. Ouch.

Five hundred episodes. Above all, doing this has allowed me to meet so many great people, to make friends with so many of you all over the planet. Whenever I meet people who tell me that they've listened to me for years, and that they have pursued a career in photography because of Tips from the Top Floor or even just that they appreciate what I do, then I know why I'm kicking myself in the butt every week to do another show.

You are the absolutely awesomnest audience and friends that anyone could wish for!

Thanks for everything.


» TFTTF: Episode 500

» Video: Unboxing of the "You Know What"

» Pics: The "You Know What" pictures


PocketChris Fun Fact #8: How much is enough?

iPhone4AppIcon.pngHow much information is enough? And how much is too much?

In the context of PocketChris this was a question that I spent a lot of time trying to figure out.

If you have ever been on one of the workshops, you know that getting me to talk about photography is a lot easier than getting me to stop talking.

After having built several test versions with different chapter lengths and after carrying them around on my iPhone for a while, about 1000 words per chapter felt about right. Short enough to provide for a quick five-minute information snack, but long enough to feel like you got your money's worth.

This is actually a huge problem that a lot of writers face. Writing a lot of text is easy. Expressing an idea in many words is simple. Simple for the writer that is. It places most of the strain on the reader, who has to sift through more text to pick out the good information.

So less words in a PocketChris article does not mean that I was too lazy to write more. It means that more time has gone into making the chapter contain all the important information in an as easy to digest way and in as little writing as necessary. One thousand words to be precise.

There are audiobooks that cost a lot more in their abridged form just for that reason. Time is a valuable good in today's world as much as I don't want my own time to be wasted, I don't want to waste anybody else's time.

I didn't always manage to hit the 1000-word mark. Some of the articles are over 1200 words long, but I still feel comfortable that I've managed to boil things down enough to give you your money's worth.