Here’s an exclusive interview with Frankfurt-based community member, lomo junkie, photographer and now certified Petzval fanatic, the multi-talented Henk Van Hiijden.
Chris, otherwise known as Henk Van Hiijden, and TwintronOne in the Lomo Community, is a jack of all trades. He creates music, shoots beautiful images, and is also a teacher and filmmaker. One of his most recent conquests is the Lomography X Zenit Petzval Lens. In this interview, he shares musings on his early experiences with his new optical fascination.
Hi Chris, tell us about yourself and what you do.
Hi everybody, I’m Chris aka Henk Van Hiijden (Music and New Photography) aka TwintronOne (My lomoname). First all, thank you for asking for an interview and to feature my Petzval photos.
I am a teacher for music, mathematics and theater and I am a musician, photographer, DJ, composer, filmmaker and more from Frankfurt, Germany.
I love to experiment, to try new things, to explore, to play around, to do things in an unusual ways and to improvise. I have a lot of interests and everything I do I do with passion always, sometimes nearly too much.
How and when did you get into photography?
I always liked photography. At school we had a photo lab. I learned how to use a camera and how to develop your own (black & white)-films. But all in all it was just something else you did in school.
I really got into Photography some years later. Through Lomography!
When I was studying music some years ago, I had to find something creative besides the music. Because music was no longer a hobby. It was my job.
So when I saw some Lomo pictures I fell in love with the feel, style and flair of the pictures. Especially the colors of cross-processed pictures! It took me some time to find all the answers I had about Lomography and the how to get this lomo style. After one year I was addicted to Lomography. There were times when I never left the house without at least four different cameras in my bag. I was a hardcore lomo junkie!
In the last years I collected a lot of gear, travelled a lot and shot so many, many pictures and photography became a very serious hobby, sometimes even a job.
I learned a lot while shooting the “lomostyle” and followed the 10 golden Lomorules. Especially #10! ;)
I think I never lost this part in my photography. Today most of the time I shoot digital cameras, but always got lomo on my mind.
Which other Lomo products have you tried so far?
A lot! Really a lot.
I love my LOMO LC-A and will never, ever sell it. All started with it. Unfortunately my first LC-A broke. Now I have a Lomo LC-A+ with the Russian Lens. It is always in my camera Bag. And the Colorsplash Flash!
But I also took and take photos with a Horizon KOMPAKT, a SuperSampler, an Oktomat, a Pop9, an ActionSampler, a Fisheye No.2, Zenit Sniper 12s, a Lomography Ringflash, and other Zenit SLRs. I have a Holga CFN 120 too but I never used it that much…. I always wanted to. Maybe one day. I have the Diana Canon Adapter and use a Diana Fisheye with it.
For a long time I never left home without my Lomo Sidekick Bag filled with films and cameras.
What are your favorite cameras, accessories and/or film for taking photos?
I love experiments. I didn’t find my “one style” yet. But maybe I don’t want to have only on style. That’s why my favorites are always changing.
At the Moment it is my Canon 5d MkIII and my Lomo LC-A+. My favorite film is the Agfa CT Precisa. Or some old films you don’t know what you will get!
My favorite lenses are of course the Petzval and a sigma 35mm 1.4. I love the view with an 35mm lens. It’s good for everything. And you have to move while you shoot. I like Prime Lenses as Zoom lenses. Prime Lenses have foot-zoom. And when you move, you always get new views.
The love for 35mm started with the LC-A and continued with my Fuji X100. The Fuji was my absolute favorite camera. I had it always with me. But I lost it in the subway a half year ago.
Now I use my Canon for everything and even if it’s very big I always follow the Lomo Rule #1: Take you’re camera everywhere you go.
Why did you decide to get the Lomography Petzval lens?
I have to confess: I’m a little addicted to Kickstarter, too. And as I told you I was a real lomo junkie. So when I saw the Kickstarter campaign, there was no question about getting the Petzval lens.
But also I bought it because I immediately felt in love with the unique bokeh! And I like the combination of a digital body with an analog, “old” lens. I have a lot of other old lenses (Zenit, Vivitar, among others) with M42-mount I use with my digital Canon.
Can you recall what your first reaction was when you first received and opened the package? Please share if you do remember.
I was really, really excited. Normally I open packages fast and start to use the things. With the Petzval it was different: It was a holiday and so I took some time to open the package. It all looked and felt very classy and precious. A unique packaging for a unique lens. Definitely not an everyday occurrence.
What is your favorite Petzval and camera set-up?
As told: My Canon 5dIII with the Petzval Lens and a 2.8 or 2.2 aperture.
Please share with us your first experience with the new Petzval lens. Any difficulties or memorable incidents you experienced?
The challenge for me was and is to get a focus right with a 2.2 aperture and to get a good background for a great bokeh.
If you just want to take good pictures, with a taste of petzval, then it’s very easy to use…. If you’re used to focusing manually. But if you want to take photos only a Petzval lens can make then you have to try a little bit harder.
Please share with us your favorite photo so far among your Petzval shots. And tell us the story behind it.
The Bull in the Park. The Day when the Petzval arrived. I was walking through the Park near my home. Every time when I’m at this park I see this bull. This time I took a lot of pictures. When I shot the Bull I would have never thought that this Photo, would turn out to be that good. It was just of my test shots. An accident or good fortune.
At home in post production it turns out, that the background of the trees in the park gave a really good bokeh, and that my composition of the head just feels right. So it became the picture of the day and it got me the attention of the Petzval community.
What do you like best about the new Petzval lens?
The Bokeh! Love it. Who wouldn’t?!
But I also love the whole “feel” of the Lens. The actual feeling of the lens in your hand while shooting and the feel of the photos you take. And because it’s a manual lens, you always have to think a little when you shoot. You have to learn how to use it. I love the challenge of “taming the beast” ;)
And when you walk around with a golden lens, you can be sure that you will get the attention of the people around you. I made some nice contacts with people I would have missed without the Petval lens. A wonderful side effect! Thank you for that!
What is most challenging about using the new Petzval lens? How were you able to work around it?
For me the most challenging thing was the 85mm focal length. I mostly use wide-angel lenses. So seeing the world with “new eyes” was not easy, but over time it gave me a whole new experience for choosing the right image detail and framing my shots.
What photo opportunities or projects would you like to use the Petzval lens for?
I’ve used the Petzval for a lot different things. Portraits are always great (with the right background), but also stills and concert photography.
And I made some first movie test shots. Unbelievable! It is a great movie lens. Especially when panning you get a crazy effect. Not for the “normal” filmmaker, but I love it. So this is one thing I want to try and use the Petzval for.
If you haven’t used the Petzval lens with an analogue camera, do you think you’d ever use a film camera with it?
I just bought an old analog Canon EOS. I am waiting for it to arrive. And I have a lot of old films in a big box. Most of them are expired. Some Fuji, which get very red, some Kodak Ectachrome and my favourite Agfa CT Precisa.
So I will definitely try some experimentation with Double Exposure and cross-processing. Or some blurry, out of focus, artsy photos?!? We will see.
Any tips or advice for current and future Lomography Petzval lens users?
If you have a digital camera then try “live view”-mode with 5-10x digital zoom. This way you get the best control over the sharpness of the image.
And always choose a good background. It should have a lot of details, structure and light. Only with the right background you’ll get the one of a kind Petzval bokeh!
The tips which come with the Lens are really helpful! It’s all right and I can just say: try it!
Any upcoming projects?
At the Moment I have a 365 Project. Everyday one photo. I always wanted to do this. Now I have to use all my equipment, do some experimentation and learn to use all my gear. And no excuses not to. ;)
I am also planning two music videos for my bands.
And in two months I’ll have to shoot the wedding of friends of mine. Of course I will take my Petzval with me!
Please share links our readers should go to if they want to see more of your work.
For my Photos please check the following:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/henkvanhiijden (my current main place for photos)
TwintronOne (my old lomopics – sorry it is not up to date – some boxes full of photos waiting for scanning….)
A Collection of my Petzval photos on Flickr
For my Music:
What I do as a teacher:
Laptop Orchestra (Laptoporchestra)
The Lomography x Zenit Petzval Lens is now available for pre-order in the Lomography Online Shop! They will be delivered on a first come, first served basis; so don’t miss out on securing your piece of photographic history and your place in the pre-order queue! You can find out about the lens on the Petzval Microsite.