Making it my picture

Working with Photoshop is important to me. Now I can really look at the pictures I have captured with my camera. It's also the crucial moment to decide which ones are worth working on. I shoot in RAW because this mode gives me the best quality and the full range of options.

Near N.Y. Aquarium Station

Defining the groove

Usually the pictures I have taken come with a correct White Balance. With little adjustments in Camera Raw I can make the colors slightly warmer or cooler. With this tool I can give the image the groove I want. Maybe the exposure needs a small correction; in most cases a higher contrast gives more character to the picture. With other sliders I can work on the whites, blacks and colors. I immediately see what I do – it's almost magic and a creative task for sure.

Revealing hidden qualities

Some photographers, especially those working in a studio, claim to make almost all decisions before taking their pictures. Using Photoshop as little as possible seems to be a question of honor. For me photographing is a process. With these tools, I can reveal hidden qualities of the picture I have taken. It's all there in the RAW file.

What matters to me is that the picture I am publishing looks like my image – and certainly not photoshopped. You make a photograph twice: as you capture it and then while processing it. I agree with this well-known saying. Working on an image makes it not only better – it definitely becomes my picture.

Hell's Kitchen, Lower Manhattan

Why I rarely crop

After Camera Raw I use Photoshop for more fine tuning, retouching, and converting the picture to the appropriate format. I could also crop the picture here, like in Camera Raw. Actually, I rarely crop. The crop tool is for adjustments; it's not the place to define the framing of a shot. I strongly believe that I see my picture while I am photographing. This includes the perspective of the shot, composing the image, deciding what is in the frame and what is not. When I pull the trigger in a decisive moment, it's like exclaiming: Yes, it's a picture!

Sometimes reframing in Photoshop is a frantic attempt to save a single mediocre shot with a very important content. A working image is sometimes better than having nothing. I may be satisfied with the result, but these images have a lack: They have never surprised me - like my favorite pictures did when I looked at them for the first time: I have captured this! They will have a fair chance to surprise viewers as well.

Etta James. Backstage - Portrait with black frame

The black frame

Showing the pictures 'as seen' was a real concern at the time I started photographing seriously. It was a statement for the credibility of photography. A small black frame around the picture was the trade mark of Henri Cartier-Bresson, some kind of proof that he had conceived his image before taking it.
Many photographers followed him, me included. With my beautiful enlarger, the Leitz Focomat 1c, I could easily add a black frame on my black and white prints. To tell the whole story: These prints were just for me as the newspapers would have cropped the frame, of course.

What are you up to now?
Photographing is a special state of mind

Photographing is a special state of mind

N.Y. Aquarium Station

"The pictures are out there: You just have to see them." What does my credo mean in practice? Maybe you are walking around in a city. Suddenly you see a scene that attracts your attraction, and you think: This would be a nice picture. – You have to take the picture now, immediately giving up what you are doing. Because what you see may be gone in a few seconds, because human beings are involved, or because it's the light that makes this scene extraordinary.

Completely focussed

But even if I miss the picture I saw a few minutes ago, what matters is that my brain has switched on to photography: I am completely focussed on the visual world. Often what I see next is even better than what attracted my attention in the first place. This state of mind is absorbing, because I have to make a few decision quickly for each picture i am taking with my camera. If I neglect to control the capturing carefully, the picture is lost. To name the maybe most annoying lack: Either the image is on focus – or it is not.

A different world

For my STREET ART series, sometimes I strolled around in Manhattan for hours. Although I was photographing in neighbourhoods familiar to me, I was in a different world looking to see if one of these small spots would reveal an image to me. Being so focussed, being one with what I am doing, makes photographing intense, kind of like being in a trance state. But sooner or later I will get the feeling: I have seen it. This thought will bring me back to real life.

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Surprise me