Tag Archives: Neuschwanstein

Camera Talk -The Pentax 645N

Back in 2002, I got my first Pentax 645NII. Even though digital photography was certainly winning more and more ground, I decided to give it a shot. I was shooting mostly color slides and a bit of b&w film back than and I just recently sold a Contax G2 to get my first digital SLR, a Fujifilm S2.

I think I used the camera for about a year on trips to Cambodia, Japan, Germany, China and in Taiwan where I recited at the time. I even have some framed prints left from these rolls but mostly scanned the slides which are sitting somewhere on my hard disk now.

I sold the piece at the B&H store in New York and got a Voigtlaender Bessa R.

Just a year ago when still living in Singapore, I saw a good deal for a Pentax 645N with a 45-85mm, 1:4.5 lens on ebay. I got it even though my memories were mixed.

First of all that thing is heavy. It ways about 2kg with lens and still 1.2kg without. It’s a real pain to haul around. Yet, it works like a 35mm SLR. The autofocus is fast and reliable. The camera got spot, center weighted and matrix exposure measurement and you can adjust the exposure by +/-3 stops in 1/3 steps. You even can bracket your shots. Maybe someone uses it for “film” HDR. But it did come handy when shooting slides.

Here are a couple of slides I shot 2003 in Cambodia

The Pentax 645N was released in 1997. Autofocus was added to the 645 and a new series of autofocus lenses was released as well. It seems to me that the 45-85mm zoom lens I got isn’t the sharpest. I was looking around online but only found good reviews. I guess it doesn’t help to scan and zoom in to 200%. It is film after all.

Apparently, the 645 series was developed for amateur wedding photographers. Today, the camera is bargain for landscape and fine art photography. Even though, Hasselblad and Mamiya 7 lenses are going to beat the Pentax lenses but what you get is more speed and fun shooting.

Here are a couple of images I shot recently on Ilford FP4+ and HP5+:

Ilford HP5+ developed in Spuersinn HCD

Ilford FP4+ developed in SPUR Acurol

Ilford HP5+ developed Spuersinn HCD


Looking for the sun

What do you do when it’s cold, wet and gray? You escape, right? But what if the weather forecast tells you that it sucks all over the place? You just start going south, right?

And what if you hit a place like this? Do you stop and take a picture?

I had about 4 shots Ilford HP5+ left which I had started to expose at ISO 800. I measured it right into the sun and added another 2 stops not to underdevelop the shadows. I set the aperture to 16 to get a nice depth of field, waited for the traffic to clear, took the shot and got of the street again.

And shortly after I found this … I stopped the car, walked back a bit and gave it a try. Even though I realize now I should have framed it a bit higher but maybe I crop the bottom off a bit.

I drove on to Castle Neuschwanstein and hoped to find the castle in fog. I just took a picture from the foot of the mountain. I liked the fog in the trees on the bottom and the icy bits in the foreground. And of course the beautiful sky with a hint of clouds.

In the evening, I developed the film for 1:30:00 in 1+100 Rodinal at 20C only slightly moving the tank after 30min and 60min. In dark areas the developer will not do much and stay “fresh” while the developer in bright areas is used up quickly. An exchange of of developer only happens in the areas of transition from dark to bright which enhances sharpness. In addition the bright areas won’t continue to develop and the darker areas can still develop more.

I think this kind of semi stand developing works well for architecture and landscapes. I would go for 1+25 or 1+50 mixtures and rather frequent agitation for portrait work.





Neuschwanstein or a nightmare on a beautiful autumn day

The Story

Last weekend I went to castle Neuschwanstein which is one of the castles King Ludwig II erected in his Bavarian kingdom during his twenty two year rain.I took a co-worker from Singapore there and wasn’t really aware of the still ongoing nut race of the Japanese, Chinese, Koreans and last but not least Americans. I mean the castle is nice to look at from the outside in spite of the scaffolding covering the entire southwest wing until mid 2013 and it’s certainly built in one of the prettiest landscapes of Germany but …

… why would you visit the inside massacred by themes of Wagner’s operas?

If you really need to go there, climb the Tegelberg right next to the castle which offers an amazing view onto the castle and the lake behind it.

Another alternative is the castle Linderhof in Ettal which is about 50km away from Neuschwanstein. It was also built by the fairy tale king (as if this is a good thing) Ludwig II. However, the castle is surrounded by a beautiful park and it’s just fun to walk up and down the hills and enjoy a nice autumn day.

 The Summary

Autumn in Bavaria is nice this year. But avoid any people who chase a Wagnerian fairy tale and its mad king