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I guess I am a very erratic tumbr’er, it has (as usual) been quite some time since I last posted here. Many things have happened in my life since then. Some of them very important, some - just to colour in the life. 

Instead of boring you with long text, I will let pictures talk. So to call - a small retrospective of almost a year…

Venice

Just had a quick pop to Venice last weekend. Although the city is not terribly large, the feet were swolen and leg muscles burning. That’s because apart from boats, your legs still are the best means of transport over there.

So, here are a few shots I managed to grab. A pretty place, indeed.

Cheers!

Sandis

Mar 8
I have recently had quite a pause not only here on my blog, but also with my camera. Apart from food, nothing really has been photographed since the New Year. I could try to back it up with lack of time, but the truth is - I didn’t feel like taking photos. I guess I had had a little overdose… But now I feel like I am recovering from the photographic oversaturation in my system, so, I could very soon get back to taking photos - even better ones than before :) So, potential models - sign up! :)
That said, I feel like I owe some people a little food photography story that I have been putting off for quite some time now. I will have to come up with some technique explanation and ornate tutorial (as far as my knowledge and skill extends) with photo deconstruction. Soon, I promise. :)
virtually yours,
Sandis (Rix Weber)

I have recently had quite a pause not only here on my blog, but also with my camera. Apart from food, nothing really has been photographed since the New Year. I could try to back it up with lack of time, but the truth is - I didn’t feel like taking photos. I guess I had had a little overdose… But now I feel like I am recovering from the photographic oversaturation in my system, so, I could very soon get back to taking photos - even better ones than before :) So, potential models - sign up! :)

That said, I feel like I owe some people a little food photography story that I have been putting off for quite some time now. I will have to come up with some technique explanation and ornate tutorial (as far as my knowledge and skill extends) with photo deconstruction. Soon, I promise. :)

virtually yours,

Sandis (Rix Weber)

A photo-school

Pregnancy pictures are a matter of taste. Unless you are one of the involved parties. Anyway, a little while ago I had a pregnancy photo shoot. I must admit - it is a bit of a challenge for the photographer, since it can not be treated like a beauty, fashion or portrait shoot.

A woman’s face and skin requires some special approach in order to be portrayed in the most appealing way possible. There are a few standard lighting set-ups that work best for it (Rembrandt lighting, butterfly lighting), however tummy-shoot is a good soil for careful experiments. As the attention is drawn from the face to the middle part of the body, it opens the door to your creativity…

Here are some examples of lighting set-up that have worked for me:

Picture 1 - you could call it ‘sandwich lighting’ (softbox on both sides of the model) with some slight variation, namely, the light from the right is directional, not diffused and somewhat half a stop brighter than the softbof on the left. This layout gives nice smooth light on the face and tummy, but harsh light on the hair and back creating a more dramatic look.

Picture 2 - the light is very similar to Picture one, but the softbox is put more behind the model by about 20-30 degrees, creating a nice outline to the shape.

Picture 3 - the softbox on the left stays where it was in Picture 2, but we loose the light on the right. Instead, there is a snooted light from the front left side of the model directed to pick out the face. The 3rd light is introduced in the front slightly to models right - umbrella about 2 stops lower than the softbox, just to slightly lift the shadowy parts on model’s arm  and back.

I hope this whole thing makes sense and helps you with your photos.

virtually yours,

Rix Weber

Fruit

Just like last autumn I can only advise you to eat a lot of vitamins in order to avoid catching cold. Oh, and quit smoking and drinking but work out a lot… :) Ok, ok utopia.

Cheers!

Rix Weber

Equipment
I haven’t specifically and officially in written been asked about the photo equipment I use. However, a bunch of people have told me after having seen my photos “You probably have a very good camera!”. Anyway, I think it is pretty cool to list the stuff I use, cool photographers do it, so, here is mine. :)
This is the stuff I mainly use on locations and for my food photography. The photo contains the basic stuff, and doesn’t show accessories like tripods, umbrellas, soft boxes, reflectors and other additional equipment.
For studio photography I usually mix the speedlights with my Phoshot studio flash set. Honestly, I prefer speedlights over the studio flash heads for their small size, portability and simple use. So, whenever I can do just with the speedlights, I try to avoid the studio heads even in studio photography.
There is also a mid-format Zenza Bronica with a few lenses and a Nikon F60, but that’s just for pure fun…
Hope  this helps.
Virtually yours,
Rix Weber

Equipment

I haven’t specifically and officially in written been asked about the photo equipment I use. However, a bunch of people have told me after having seen my photos “You probably have a very good camera!”. Anyway, I think it is pretty cool to list the stuff I use, cool photographers do it, so, here is mine. :)

This is the stuff I mainly use on locations and for my food photography. The photo contains the basic stuff, and doesn’t show accessories like tripods, umbrellas, soft boxes, reflectors and other additional equipment.

For studio photography I usually mix the speedlights with my Phoshot studio flash set. Honestly, I prefer speedlights over the studio flash heads for their small size, portability and simple use. So, whenever I can do just with the speedlights, I try to avoid the studio heads even in studio photography.

There is also a mid-format Zenza Bronica with a few lenses and a Nikon F60, but that’s just for pure fun…

Hope  this helps.

Virtually yours,

Rix Weber

The Autumn is inevitably here and evenings get darker sooner… Natural, but if you are a landscape photographer and don’t like taking night shots, limiting.

Luckily I am not. In fact, for quite some while I have been enjoying strobe, studio, artificial lighting kind of photography more that any other kind of it. I guess it is because I like to be in control of light and I strive to exclude any element of luck while taking my photos…

Anyway, last week, while my wife is on a business trip and we do not take photos for the food blog, I’ve been playing around with lights in my improvised home studio. Now I just need some inspiration to come up with a cool idea for a subject… :)

Maybe you have one (or two) for me?

virtually yours,

Rix Weber

The Record

Last weekend I had a very cool photo-shoot, an experience that I’d like to share with you.

A photo shoot as such is something that I really enjoy, however don’t get overexcited anymore… This time it was a little different.

The whole event was organized in a car workshop. Already sounds promising. Mario - the owner of the workshop turned out to be a really cool guy, and I am happy for it, since I’ve been looking for a trustworthy car mechanic for a long while already. Here’s the link to his workshop homepage by the way: http://marios-garage.de/

Anyway, this hole event takes place on win/win/win (TFP) basis - no one pays anything, but everyone gets the pictures and everyone’s happy. So, I was supposed to shoot two models, primarily for a calendar. However, at the beginning of the shoot two more models and a photographer show up. Only then I realized the scale of the shooting. :) And then things started happening - limos, Corvettes, motorbikes, Champagne and the bank of the river Saar… Pretty glamorous I’d say.

So, I ended up setting my personal record - straight seven hours of shooting and speaking just German. Honestly, I unconsciously started writing this post in German :)

So, here are a few shots that I’ve grabbed.

Virtually yours,

Rix Weber

P.S. Girls, Mario, thank you all. It was a lot of fun. :)

Sep 6
Back to School
 
I still remember my post a year ago (http://rixweber.tumblr.com/post/1111738824/presented-by-september-september-is-like-another). About a new beginning and new endeavours. And I won’t be repeating my self this time. I still don’t smoke. And my kid started primary school today. In fact, when I look at him - well, it is not such a big deal. Ok, there is excitement  - new school, classmates and a teacher. But still he acted like it really is his world, like a fish in water. Why do parents make so much fuss about it?! 
Anyway, the crazy traffic jams are back.
 
Here is some interesting information that pretty much explains why my kids don’t go to school in Germany (from http://www.drossmann.de/wordpress/2008/04/11/fun-facts-about-education-in-germany-the-basic-structure/):
 
Fun Facts about Education in Germany – The basic structure
1. The school system is part of the German government. Employees with a permanent contract usually have the status of a “Beamter“, so teachers are somewhat equal to policemen, judges etc. This is where the trouble starts. Germans are commonly known to be thorough whatever they do…Beamte like to plan thoroughly…they like laws…they like to be strict…they need you to fill in forms for just about anything…then they need to fill in forms too…you get the point…Beamter is a lifetime-status. To lose it, you must be a child-molester or a mass-murderer. Otherwise you’re set for a decent pension once you turn 67. You cannot be fired for being an alcoholic…you cannot be fired for being a drug-addict…you cannot be fired for calling in sick for a period of two years or for calling in sick about every three days…you cannot be fired for being an incompetent retard…once you are awarded this status, you officially made it…girls, if you want to marry a German, marry a Beamter…you will have to apply for an application form for the permission to have sexual intercourse three days in advance and you will be given permission about two or three months after the day for which you wanted permission to have sexual intercourse on, but hey…you’ll be driving a BMW or a Mercedes…Did I mention German teachers are usually Beamte, too? Yes…German teachers cannot be fired for being incompetent….So what can one do? Those of you who work with/for/under/against your country’s government will already know the answer: You write them a report that certifies they’re brighter than Einstein and Hawking together and have them promoted out of your school…the other school does the same…and this usually goes on until they’re at the top of the ministry of education…and just guess how great the legislations are these people pass in this country…
2. There is no such thing as a preschool in Germany. Kindergarten isn’t mandatory, so children may be raised as vegetables until the age of 6 when they are deemed mature enough to be locked away in a classroom to their parents’ delight…
3. after four years in primary school their teachers will recommend what type of secondary school their parents should send them to:
-the Hauptschule (5-6 more grades, lowest grade of education, usually leads to crate-shifting in a warehouse, alcoholism and/or suicide)-the Realschule (6 more grades, medium grade of education, usually leads to a more or less decent career in an office of some kind)-the Gymnasium (9 more grades, highest grade of education leading to the “Abitur”, the only grade which allows access to universities)
There is one hybrid school called the “Gesamtschule”, a formerly experimental type of school which coeducates children of any capability and offers all available grades up to the Abitur…some states in Germany consider them a failure and abolished them shortly after their introduction, other states consider them a great invention…
Another special form is the “Foerderschule”, a school for the mentally incapacitated/disabled, children with physical disabilities, children with behavioural problems and educational basket cases, usually leads to having your application rejected no matter how bad the job is you apply for…
4. For those who strive for a non-academic career, Germany has a thing called the “Duales System” (=dual-system, ironically, the same term is used for households dividing their garbage into organic and non-organic and thus needing a grey and a yellow garbage can…). They become an apprentice (if they manage to find a company who offers apprenticeships…) and work for six months, then they go to a “Berufsschule” (“profession-school” = vocational school) for six months, then go back to work for six months etc…after three years they’re done…
virtually yours,
Rix Weber

Back to School

 

I still remember my post a year ago (http://rixweber.tumblr.com/post/1111738824/presented-by-september-september-is-like-another). About a new beginning and new endeavours. And I won’t be repeating my self this time. I still don’t smoke. And my kid started primary school today. In fact, when I look at him - well, it is not such a big deal. Ok, there is excitement  - new school, classmates and a teacher. But still he acted like it really is his world, like a fish in water. Why do parents make so much fuss about it?!

Anyway, the crazy traffic jams are back.

 

Here is some interesting information that pretty much explains why my kids don’t go to school in Germany (from http://www.drossmann.de/wordpress/2008/04/11/fun-facts-about-education-in-germany-the-basic-structure/):

 

Fun Facts about Education in Germany – The basic structure

1. The school system is part of the German government. Employees with a permanent contract usually have the status of a “Beamter“, so teachers are somewhat equal to policemen, judges etc. This is where the trouble starts. Germans are commonly known to be thorough whatever they do…Beamte like to plan thoroughly…they like laws…they like to be strict…they need you to fill in forms for just about anything…then they need to fill in forms too…you get the point…
Beamter is a lifetime-status. To lose it, you must be a child-molester or a mass-murderer. Otherwise you’re set for a decent pension once you turn 67. You cannot be fired for being an alcoholic…you cannot be fired for being a drug-addict…you cannot be fired for calling in sick for a period of two years or for calling in sick about every three days…you cannot be fired for being an incompetent retard…once you are awarded this status, you officially made it…girls, if you want to marry a German, marry a Beamter…you will have to apply for an application form for the permission to have sexual intercourse three days in advance and you will be given permission about two or three months after the day for which you wanted permission to have sexual intercourse on, but hey…you’ll be driving a BMW or a Mercedes…
Did I mention German teachers are usually Beamte, too? Yes…German teachers cannot be fired for being incompetent….
So what can one do? Those of you who work with/for/under/against your country’s government will already know the answer: You write them a report that certifies they’re brighter than Einstein and Hawking together and have them promoted out of your school…the other school does the same…and this usually goes on until they’re at the top of the ministry of education…and just guess how great the legislations are these people pass in this country…

2. There is no such thing as a preschool in Germany. Kindergarten isn’t mandatory, so children may be raised as vegetables until the age of 6 when they are deemed mature enough to be locked away in a classroom to their parents’ delight…

3. after four years in primary school their teachers will recommend what type of secondary school their parents should send them to:

-the Hauptschule (5-6 more grades, lowest grade of education, usually leads to crate-shifting in a warehouse, alcoholism and/or suicide)
-the Realschule (6 more grades, medium grade of education, usually leads to a more or less decent career in an office of some kind)
-the Gymnasium (9 more grades, highest grade of education leading to the “Abitur”, the only grade which allows access to universities)

There is one hybrid school called the “Gesamtschule”, a formerly experimental type of school which coeducates children of any capability and offers all available grades up to the Abitur…some states in Germany consider them a failure and abolished them shortly after their introduction, other states consider them a great invention…

Another special form is the “Foerderschule”, a school for the mentally incapacitated/disabled, children with physical disabilities, children with behavioural problems and educational basket cases, usually leads to having your application rejected no matter how bad the job is you apply for…

4. For those who strive for a non-academic career, Germany has a thing called the “Duales System” (=dual-system, ironically, the same term is used for households dividing their garbage into organic and non-organic and thus needing a grey and a yellow garbage can…). They become an apprentice (if they manage to find a company who offers apprenticeships…) and work for six months, then they go to a “Berufsschule” (“profession-school” = vocational school) for six months, then go back to work for six months etc…after three years they’re done…

virtually yours,

Rix Weber

Aug 5

Karibu Kenya1

It is Wednesday morning, about 5 a.m. We have just landed in Mombasa airport. It is small and half empty, therefore it doesn’t take much time to get the visa. Out in the car park we are welcomed by Nelson – our guide. So, the adventures are to begin!

There are five of us in the van (not counting Nelson) – a pretty weird bunch, too: a Catholic priest from Austria, a German gay couple and us – should I add Eastern Europeans.

The first impression of Kenya is its people – very friendly, always smiling and willing to chat with you. Just say Jambo 2 to start a conversation. Unfortunately our German mates in the van are not as open and willing to chat. So, we can concentrate on the view outside the windows or have a nap without being bothered.

Our first ride is to the Tsavo West National Park. It is just as long as all the others we had – half a day. According to Nelson’s math we covered about 2500 km during our week of safari.

It is afternoon and we have reached Tsavo West park. Nelson is obviously experienced and skilled – he is trying to get as close as possible to the animals and even helps to compose the best scene for a photograph. Nelson’s skills are rewarding and by the end of our first safari day we have already seen (and photographed) four animals out of the big five – elephant, buffalo, lion and leopard. Rhino is still missing, but there are very few of them left in Kenya - only a few hundreds of black rhinos and none of the white ones. Zebras, gazelles an antelopes don’t really catch our attention anymore. There are just too many of them here.

Amboseli National Park is our next destination. It lies at the foot of the highest mountain in Africa - Mount Kilimanjaro. The view is incredible. At almost 6000 meters the mountain rises above the plains of  Serengeti and Amboseli, peaks through a thin layer of clouds and tops off with a white touch of snow. During the rain season almost half of Kilimanjaro is covered with snow.

There is an unproven story that Kilimanjaro was once in the territory of Kenya, and was given by Queen Victoria to Kaiser Wilhelm as a birthday present in 1886. Since then the border of Kenya and Tanzania makes a small curve upwards, leaving Africa’s highest peak on the south side.

Next we squeeze through the jams of Nairobi and go to Lake Naivasha to see hippos and flamingos. According to the statistics, hippos hold the record of killed people in Africa, therefore we are slightly startled and scared when one of the deceivingly calm looking animals tries to attack us in protection of her baby. Ben (the driver of our boat) is nimble, he knows these tricks and steers the boat to a safe distance where we watch the hippo return to her little treasure.

Hippos, just like many other animals, live in families that have only one male and some half a dozen females. The male is a real tyrant – whenever a female gives birth to a young hippo male, they both have to move to live elsewhere, otherwise the old male kills the young one. Well, he just doesn’t want any competition. Then the mother stays with the baby for about 3-4 years until the young hippo male can protect and feed himself. Now she can return to her family, but the young male will make his own family in a few years.

In one of the hotels we were staying at we were told to use the security escort when going to the restaurant after dark. The reason? Hippos love the grass around here. We didn’t quite believe it but still called the guy with an AK47. After dinner and a few bottles of beer, our German colleagues were ready to go to bed. They said we didn’t need any security and the hippo story was just a joke. But still there were guys with guns waiting at the door ready to accompany us to our bungalows. Lucky us – there was a hippo peacefully grazing just a dozen meters from our door.

Next morning 7 a.m. We are in our van going to one of the best known safari parks in Africa – Masai Mara. Our goal is to find a rhino (did not succeed) and to see the big migration. The population of animals is just impressive. There are about 1,5 million wildebeests in Masai Mara, and I am almost sure we saw them all. Massive herds and winding rows of wildebeests accompanied by occasional zebras walk south to cross the Mara river. The banks are steep, and the animals spend hours looking for the best spot for crossing. To see that, you need a skilled guide and a big portion of luck. Well, this whole event is listed as one of the new 7 wonders of the World for a reason. Having found the best spot, the animals recklessly throw themselves in the dangerous muddy water of the river. Many of them end the journey here – they drown, get trampled or become lunch for crocodiles.

Since the crossing of the Mara river takes place in both directions, I could not see a logical explanation for the big migration. The locals say it is the way wildebeests have fun. Anyway, Nelson declares “If you haven’t been at the river during the big migration, you haven’t been on safari.”

The peaceful coexistence of people and animals in Kenya is simply astonishing. Hunting is prohibited for a few dozens of years, but poaching is punished by getting shot on the spot and being left for jackals ad hyenas to feast on (that’s what Nelson says). Therefore animals don’t see us as a threat. And leopards just continue to lunch even though we are watching their every move just a jump distance away. But the lion, looking for a gap between the cars, stops for a while to look you in the eye, and then slowly goes his own way, fully aware of his royal status and power. Families of elephants strolling along the road, every now and then taking an occasional look at the people in the cars. Only the little ones try to scare us off by making funny noises and running a few paces towards us. But not being successful they turn around and shamefully go back to their mothers.

Tsavo East national park is our last safari stop in Kenya. It is famous for its red elephants. The soil in the oldest and largest national park of Kenya is bright red. And since elephants try to cover themselves in the dirt as protection against insects, they really seem red. Zebras look just dirty.

By the way, elephant’s tusks keep growing the whole life (average 65 to 70 years), and we managed to see a few very honourable elephants with tusks that have become an obstacle to even walk.

It is my duty to mention the Kenyan way of driving. To my European eyes the traffic looked like total chaos. I need to admit that a number of streets wouldn’t deserve to be called streets, and you’d really need some special slalom driving skills not to part with your wheels. But nevertheless, you would, and I had never before seen so many cars with broken-off wheels. Nelson is careful, and sometimes we have to completely stop to avoid a frontal collision with a truck that’s decided to ignore cars coming its way and still take over a few vehicles in front of it.

Every time we stayed in a hotel, people at the reception reminded us to close all windows and the door when leaving the room. Why? Well, things get stolen. By monkeys. These little villains would slide the window open (if you have not locked it) and take all your valuables, or things they consider valuables, and even empty your fridge. But if they don’t find any valuables, or things they consider valuables, they might as well defecate in your travel-bag. Well, so much for the nice little animals.

Throughout the whole of our journey Nelson has been very friendly, however reserved. Every time we invited him to a bottle of Tusker beer, he found an excuse and refused. On the last day of our safari trip before going to the beach our little group split up. We stayed with Nelson, the Austrian and Germans left in another van. So we go to the front seats and chat the whole way to our last hotel. Chat about nature, politics, corruption and people. That’s when we discover the true reason why Nelson has been so reserved. “Listen,” he asked me, “those Germans, are they… like… normal people?” When my laughing fit was over, Nelson explained that the Kenyan society isn’t as tolerant towards homosexuals as Europeans are. He doesn’t really feel comfortable with them, and they are probably the reason our windshield got cracked with a stone tossed from the road by a car in front of us (a new one will cost about 5000 shillings which is a little less that 50 Euros). Now Nelson would gladly have some beer with us, but there’s no time and we have to part. “If you are ever in Kenya” he says, “look me up, I’ll take you to my place and show you my family.”

Asante sana, Kenya 3!

1           Welcome to Kenya! (Swahili)

2           Hello! (Swahili)

3           Thank you very much, Kenya! (Swahili)