Sunday, February 17, 2013

Close enough?

Since "Kunst Leistungskurs" at Highschool, one of my favorite artists has been the painter Chuck Close. His huge, photorealistic portraits of well or lesser known people have always fascinated me.

Fortunately, many of his paintings can be seen here in Washington, D.C., either at the National Gallery of Art or at the National Portrait Gallery (for example, those of Bill Clinton, Kate Moss, Philip Glass, and, most recently, Barak Obama).

A very impressive example of Close's work is "Fanny", a 1985 portrait of his grandmother-in-law. It is on display in the basement of the East Wing of the National Gallery of Art:

On first sight, it looks like a huge black and white photograph (the left image):

On closer inspection, however, it becomes apparent that the painting entirely consists of fingerprints:

Chuck Close developed the fingerprint technique in the mid-l980s and has since used it to create numerous paintings. By varying the amount of paint and the pressure of his finger, Close was able to use this technique to precisely reproduce the facial features of his models and to achieve a wide range of tonal control. The results are pretty impressive. Standing right in front of this painting, you can't help but ask yourself: "How the heck did he do that?".

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Family Portrait

"Liam is 1 year old. He has Down syndrome and serious heart malfunctions. Liam has undergone extensive medical treatment and surgery during the last twelve months. He is on a ventilator, has a tracheotomy for breathing and a nasogastric tube for feeding. Living in the hospital since birth, Liam went home for the first time in mid December..."

These are the first words of a story on which I have worked during the last weeks. It is a very moving story about a little boy and the desire of his parents to capture a family portrait at Christmas time. Something that appears to be trivial for most of us might be a major effort for others.

I was lucky enough that Marilyn, Liam's mother, not only asked me to take the portraits, but allowed me to document and publish the "HowTo" as well. Marilyn does a terrific job in caring for her little boy and deserves my greatest respect. I'd like to thank her very much.

The story has been published on and can be explored by clicking on the image above. Take a look and spread the word, it's worth it!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

CEO Portrait

As I've laid out in the Dokumentarfotografie post, I do a lot of documentary projects, and my preferred working style is very much of documentary nature. However, I am often asked to do portraits, and I've literally shot hundreds of them during the last 12 months.

The latest one is of Eric Wallner, the new CEO of the Torpedo Factory (see the whole story on

It was shot at f/2 with the 1.8/45 on my Olympus E-M5. This little gem of a lens is very sharp and has nice out-of-focus rendering. I use it for all my portrait work. It's one of those lenses that have really contributed to turning Micro Four Thirds into a system that's suitable for serious, professional work.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Why didn't I choose...

...this picture for the Daingerfield Island post?

Had I written that post today, I would have chosen this one - it has more complexity and substance! Event though it probably has a harder time to convince, it might be able to keep the viewer's attention much longer than the simpler image before.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Daingerfield Island

Daingerfield Island is a small peninsula one mile south of Reagan National Airport. It has a sailing marina, the "Indigo Landing restaurant and a swampy nature area right next to Mount Vernon Trail:

The little island is as well a place for plane maniacs. It's not as popular as Gravelly Point, however, planes approaching the airport from the south can easily be spotted from here.

More information about Dangerfield Island is on