The Trabant

The Trabant is one of the two cars manufactured in East Germany.The car is seen as a symbol for the decline and final collapse of the country itself. The average wait period from ordering the car to driving it home was 10 years. Used cars were often much more expensive than a new one since they were available while new cars weren't.

The car was made of a steel frame while the rest of the body is made of duroplast a hard, bakelite like plastic produced with cotton waste and phenol resins.. So it is the first car made of recycled material. The car had a 26hp 2-cylinder 2-stroke engine having the problems of a smoky exhaust and the pollution it produced. When the production was stopped in 1991, 3.7million cars were produced and a Trabi cult still being alive in the East of Germany started.

I drove the car only twice and quite a while after 1989. I was simply too tall. You put a 2m guy in the front seat and it fills the entire car with the wheel between the knees.

The image was taken with my Zero Image 6×9 pinhole camera on Ilford Delta400.


Straubing – a lower bavarian perl

Like many other places in the south of Germany, Straubing has almost 8000 years history of human settlement. Many signs of early bronze age culture can be found in Straubing going  back to 2000b.c. First celtic tribes settled here about 500 b.c. I didn't know that the celts were all over Central Europe as well and read the wiki article with high interest. There are also many signs of the 400 years of Roman control especially the Roman treasure exhibited in the Gaeuboden museum. After the decline of the Roman empire Bavarian tribes settled around the area of the Romanesque church and cemetery St. Peter which was built in the 2nd half of the 12th century.

The city of Straubing was mentioned first in 897 and it developed in the 13th and 14th century to a centre of power of the Wittelsbach family. The city square as well as the St. Jacob church were built in gothic style. Other churches were built but didn't replace the older ones since the city was prosperous enough which makes Straubing special. 

The location at the river Danube always promoted the city's importance in the region. Today, you can strawl or cycle along the river banks and enjoy nature.

It's nice to sit in one of the many cafes and restaurants aöong the 800m long city square and enjoying a local beer and the sun.

And some impressions …

The images were all taken with a Nikon D3 and edited with Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop and the NIK plugins.


Camera Talk – the last fun camera made

Hey, you know what I'm talking about? Do you know a camera that doesn't have dozens of functions and you don't need to click through layers of menus. You don't even need to wait for the autofocus to over-sharpen your image because it just can't. You know what I'm talking about? Yes, a simple point and shoot roll film camera in bakelite housing: The VEB Rheinmetall Perfekta.


The camera doesn't have much controls. It's got a fixed focus and a shutter speed of about 1/30sec and a bulb mode. The release needs be cocked by the film transport wheel on top of the camera. And last but not least, the finder are two funny frames which can be flipped in and out. Aiming the camera at anything between 5 and 10m will get you something in focus. Any object nearer will be just blurry while anything further away is just not totally sharp. You need to hold the camera steady. The about 80mm lens and the fixed shutter speed can lead to blurred images. There are no other controls on this camera. It's really up to you what kind of photography you do with it. I think it's best when you take it out to your neighborhood and see what you can find.

The body was made of bakelite and still has this funny plastic smell to it. The controls are cream colored which gives the camera a fancy look. Around 1 million pieces of this modern streamline design box cameras were made between 1953 and 1957 and it looks very much the same as the Druopta Efekta which is difficult to find already. I also found a nice Perfekta II on ebay. But about about that baby later.

I took the bakelite wonder on a trip to Salzburg. It was a sunny day but still decided to got for my favorite film: Ilford HP5+. Even though a very nwell behaving film, I like the over all look of contrast, grey tones and grain. I guessed the exposure and set 7.7 in shady spaces, 11or 16 when it was sunnier. As usual with the uncertainty of the exposure, I stand developed in highly diluted Rodinal (1+100 for 1h) leading to the effect to develop stronger in the shadows compared to the lights and making edges of higher contrast a bit sharper having the low quality of the lens in mind. 

Here are some results which are actually quite OK. Sharpness drops quickly from the center to the edge but the lens does have a beautiful and subtle darker and out of focus vignette.