In this second part of Road To @maximilianstreich I will tray to reflect on how I finally found the right camera for my photographic work that still bears with me and how it enabled me to find a I unique personal style for my photography.
2009 was a major step on the road to @maximilianstreich, since it was the year I finally decided to get my very first DSLR camera. I spend days researching and deciding, but in the end my choice fell on the Nikon D5000, the lastest entry level DSLR on the marked back than and it was a
choice I never came to regret. I shot on automatic almost whole first couple of month and my first nighttime long exposure at beautiful Mittellandkanal, was quite the struggle, since I simply could not get it sharp, even on a tripod, but I practiced and simply tried stuff out. Different apertures, depth of field, long exposures (loads of them). Since youtube wasn’t really a thing back then, I actually spend quite some money on books, books that I still have, still value and still take a look at sometimes. (I might even do a little list for beginners literature soon.)
So I focused on my Landscape game, but since Hannover is a little limited when it comes to impressive nature scenery, I tried a couple of architecture shots. Until I finally got back to our house in Brittany in Spring 2010. I remember going crazy on all the opportunities the seaside had to offer – long exposure of swell getting shore, hello! Since the dynamic range wasn’t as progressive back then and I somehow thought HDR in landscape was rather cool (shame on you, past Max!) I actually took 3 different exposures of every shots, that ended uo in having 6k shots in 10 days of which probably 100 were actually interesting for my standards back then. Again, it was a learning by doing.
Still, the fire was set for this passion, and it was the first time I actually experienced a “flow” in photography, meaning that I could do it for hours and hours, not really feeling the time passing, despite weather conditions or anything else happening around me. Luckily this kind of flow is something that I still experience when I am hitting the streets of Berlin on a rainy day, or strolling new streets and landscapes of what ever destination I travel.
When I finally moved to Berlin in 2010 to study my bachelor, the opportunities for cityscapes went up big time. Events like the Festival of Light, and many lit up Architecture around Potsdamer Platz and the Government District formed my focus on clean long exposure shots at blue hour. The calmness of waiting for the exposure to finish had something meditative to it and sometime I still take shots like these today, and enjoy that feeling of waiting and wishing
The Next Level
On a technical level I soon felt like I reached the limit of my d5000 and started to wonder what would be next. My dream camera was an Nikon d300s back then, sometimes I still think about getting a used one today, just for the sake of it. But since it was from 2007 I was hoping for a new model, one that never really came until the d500 in 2016 was released. Bummer. But there was something else coming, something big, called Nikon D800 with its mind-blowing 36 megapixel Fullframe sensor. This camera kinda twisted my head and when my dear friend Moussa got his new 5dM3, I was kinda pushed over the edge and spend my savings on a D800.
Until today this has probably been the best buying decision of my entire life.
I ordered the D800 quite spontaneously and it arrived just a day ahead of my Trip to NYC and Boston back in 2012. Therefore I did not really have time to get used to it before and as I was shooting the camera in America I made quite a few mistakes when it came to settings. I managed to get shots I still really like, for example the very first rainy shot I ever took back on a summer storm in Boston Downtown.
Settings are a mess in this one and (promise me not to tell anyone) but I mounted my APSC 18-105mm Nikkor on the d800 for this, since I only had a 50mm 1,8 as a proper full frame lens. So I had to crop out half of the shot due to that heavy black borders your shots get when doing something like this.
Nevertheless, this shot is a milestone on my photographic journey, as it marks the beginning go my Theme. The focus on bad weather (street)photography.
The Shaping Of A Style
Time passed, but even tho I had the d800 and used it on many trips in Berlin, there was not much of a progress in my work as I look back. This changed while I was living in London in 2013/2014 and started to focus more and more on streets photography in rough conditions. During the last days of my stay, I managed to capture some of the work that still belongs to my favorites. And from 2014 onwards I was finally building up a portfolio of relevant street work that I would actually consider to have a personal style. My shots before that, the skylines and landscapes, were all fine technically and composition wise, but there was always something missing, I think. A personal, coherent and unique style.
Writing this article, I realize how long this journey of almost 10 years actually is, and how much relevant and less relevant learnings there are for me to tell. So even though there might not be someone who actually bears with me though all this, I will publish a final chapter that’s gonna deal with my decisions of going public with the project, that rather had been a hobby for myself, friends and family till then.