In order to escape the world of facts and figures, tax auditor Martin Dietrich discovered photography as his creative counterpart almost seven years ago. On a trip to Paris he fell in love with analog photography and the magic of film has been fascinating to him since then. But he also appreciates the benefits of digital photography. For Lomography he tested the Lomo LC-A Minitar-1 Art Lens on his Fuji X-Pro 1 camera. Check out Martin’s photos and learn more about the founder of the popular Neoprime magazine.
Name: Martin Dietrich
Profession: Tax Auditor & Entrepreneur
City: Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Camera: Fuji X-Pro 1
Hi Martin, please introduce yourself to the Lomography Community.
My name is Martin and I’m a 31-year-old fine art photographer from Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Occupationally I’m trapped in a world of numbers and clauses. I use photography as a creative counterpoise if you want to put it that way. Over the years it became an inherent part of my life, gradually gaining importance.
In February 2014 I realized a life-long dream of mine and founded Neoprime International Fine Arts Label together with my good friend Marius Vieth. We sell our photography as limited fine art prints and we try to give young & uprising artists and their breathtaking photography a bigger stage and the possibility to sell their work though our label. The website launched in May 2014 and we are more than curious where it will take us. Just recently, in November 2015, I created my very own fine art photography magazine. Published by Neoprime, I’m the designer, editor & curator.
When I have no camera in my hand, I am into listening and discovering music, reading and supporting my local football team in home and away games all over Germany and Europe. But most of all I enjoy sharing my life with my lovely wife.
How did you become a photographer and how would you describe your style?
Somehow captivated by photography ever since, I started taking photos in 2009 to escape this work-related state of facts and figures for a moment while exploring my creative alter ego. When I started with photography in 2009, I took a simple Pentax ME and 10 rolls of film to a trip to Paris. Shooting these 10 rolls really infected me. Despite appreciating the benefits of digital photography, I am fascinated by film photography just as well.
My work is mostly of a certain abstract, minimalist and geometrical nature including strong leading lines and shapes. To a large part my work incorporates urban themes such as architecture and street photography.
I’m clearly captivated by the concepts of minimalism and abstraction. What fascinates me about abstraction is the possibility to implement visions that my surroundings actually aren’t suitable for, yet inappropriate. It can make you independent from certain circumstances or conditions like weather, time of day, place or situations. That’s the reason why abstraction provides the opportunity to create a multitude of motives without much effort or costs. You don’t necessarily have to travel to certain places or wait for certain circumstances to come together. Abstraction provides the means to take subjects out of their actual context. The actual context of a subject may be – for example – it’s place, time and it’s historical, cultural or ideal meaning. More precisely: all things that someone associates with the subject can be removed or hidden. That way you can reinterpret them completely or let the beholder reinterpret them in their own way. Abstract works can just as well have no tangible reference to a certain subject at all. That’s why abstraction can give leeway to innumerable interpretations. It can raise questions and let one’s imagination run wild. In my opinion, abstraction usually comes along with minimalism to some extent. Minimalism is to me – to keep it short but reasonable accurate – the reduction of the displayed subject to it’s essence or to certain, exciting aspects. What the essence of a subject is, is on the one hand determined by the creativity of the artist and on the other hand by the cognition of the beholder. This kind of interplay is pretty exciting.
Living in a city like Frankfurt for so long, urbanity is something that always fascinated me. Urban themes just feel so familiar and versatile to me. That’s why Street Photography is a genre I’m deeply interested in. I’m fascinated by the profoundness of a good street photograph. It’s an image of the reality, a real moment frozen in time forever and yet offers so many different interpretations, stories and meanings. Street Photography is by no means artificial, it’s the real world, with real characters and real moments.
Sometimes I take a break, change my point of view and focus and do stuff that I feel like taking at the very moment, no worries about a theme or a certain style.
You recently had the opportunity to test the Lomo LC-A Minitar-1 Art Lens. Which camera did you use and how do you like our new lens?
First of all I’d like to thank you for giving me the opportunity. I liked the lens a lot, it was a lot of fun actually. I used it with my Fuji X-Pro 1. Using the M-Mount-Adapter, I had no problems attaching it and setting my camera was quite easy as well. The first thing that enthused me was the fact that my camera suddenly fit in my pocket. The lens is so much smaller and lighter compared to my regular Fuji lens. I took off the strap and carried the camera in my pocket, that’s just amazing.
The lens itself is not a complicated thing to understand: aperture and zone-focus is all you have to deal with. The light meter was thoroughly working so that using auto exposure wasn’t a problem at all. Due to a camera feature in manual focus mode I was even able to see the in-focus parts emphasized in the evf. I’m normally using the ovf because it’s brighter, faster and it captures more that just the actual frame. But for the Minitar the evf was the perfect solution.
I have to admit that it took quite some time and various attempts until I worked out focusing. When it comes to photography I’m not a perfectionist concerning technical aspects. I’m not “counting pixels” or feel hunted by noise like many photographers do. But when it comes to focus, I admit that I like to get it right. That’s why the first imports to Lightroom somehow disappointed me. On my camera display it all seemed to be ok. But the bigger screen revealed: I didn’t nail it, no really sharp elements in most of my pictures. What I found out is what applies to any lens of course: The wider you open the aperture the smaller your in-focus parts. I felt this principle was intensified with the Minitar lens and the zone focus. In the beginning I was using the zones as they’re marked on the lens, but I found out that it’s better to focus every shot individually. The focus is actually flawless so you don’t have to stick to the marked zones. That’s an important thing to do when you’re using a wide aperture and want to nail the focus. Henceforward I was concentrating on the emphasized parts in the evf and finally got it right. And if you do, the lens is actually pretty sharp. If you’re used to zone focus it shouldn’t be a problem I guess. I wasn’t. So I had to get used to it.
Can you tell us a bit more about the pictures you took?
Actually I was planning to do a whole series with the lens, something I was thinking of for a long time. I had a lot of ideas and plans. Unfortunately, I was very busy with Neoprime lately and didn’t have a lot of time for shooting, at least not as much as I planned. Due to the lack of time I was rethinking my plans a bit. Instead of a consistent series, I thought about mixing things up a little, including different styles and genres. I’m sure it benefits the fact that I’m actually testing the lens. I like to show what is possible, to illustrate the potential. That’s why the pictures I’ve shot vary from highly experimental and abstract to more ordinary and basic. I explored many different genres and techniques and chose to post-process some shots more and some less. I ranged the nature, rural places and Frankfurt. I also recreated some shots I’ve already taken with other cameras or lenses to see how they work out with the LC-A Minitar. I hope I succeeded in showing you a broad spectrum.
Please share your favorite Minitar shot and the story behind it.
That’s a hard one. I really like quite a few of those shots a lot but if I had to pick just one I’d say it’s the one I called “Out There”. It was taken in a tiny village in Germany where I took some days off from work together with my wife. There is a beautiful small hotel with amazing food and a lot of silence and peace. I took a similar shot about two years ago when I was there for the first time. I was hoping for the same room and took my camera with me because last time I only had my iPhone. What I like about the shot is it’s framing, apparently. The room itself is dark, but you can see the beautiful weather outside. The shot perfectly reflects the calmness we whitnessed when we were there.
Would you give us a hint in how you did those stunning long exposures?
Of course, I’d love to. Using photographic techniques to create abstract works that appear to be drawings is a concept that ripened in the very back of my head for quite some time. Using the advantages of abstraction to create futuristic visions and highlighting the pure beauty of architectural lines and shapes was the objective. Implementing these visions was what I was chasing after. The idea came up looking at Messeturm in Frankfurt, Germany. Locals call this building “Bleistift” (pencil) because it looks like it quite a bit. Making a pencil sketch out of it was what came to my mind and sparked the whole idea. A different approach to long exposure photography finally allowed me to develop my ideas and approach my visions. The technique I came up with finally allowed me to concentrate on lines and reduce the buildings to their pure essence, to their most exciting parts. Exposure is a powerful tool that I use quite a lot. Exposure can be used to do a lot of exceptional things. Apart from multi exposures, motion blur and light trails caused by long exposures, I’m especially thinking about the volitional use of under- and overexposure. Actually, photography is painting with light on a light sensitive medium, let it be either film or a sensor. The photos you’re talking about were archived by using overexposure caused by slower shutter speeds (1/25, 1/15 to 1/2 sec.) together with carefully shaking and dangling my camera, resulting in photos that look like abstract sketches. As I said, I did this with architecture before and was planning to implement it to street photography. Unfortunately I didn’t had the time to bring it to perfection or approximately to the level I have in mind. But I will explore this further and hope to come up with a whole series at some point.
Do you have any advice or suggestions for new or future Minitar-1 users?
The reason for buying this lens is having fun shooting with it. You should always have fun, don’t take it too seriously. Take it with you everywhere you go. But if you put it in your pocket be careful with the aperture “ring” it’s actually quite easy to twist and it doesn’t lock in any way, it’s freely revolvable. So when you take it out of your pocket you have to check the aperture, it relocates quite easily. If you want to take photos where you need your camera quick, leave the lens cap off all the time, because it has a screw cap, and it’s tiny. It takes quite a bit to veer it off.
In the beginning, I advice to put some time into getting used to the focus. The lens produces some pretty sharp images if you get it right.
What would you like to use the lens for in the future? Would you also like to try it with an analog camera? If yes, which one?
I’m really planning to finish the aforementioned long exposure series with focus on street photography. The lens is perfect for that because it’s compact and fully manual, it’s ready for action in no-time (assumed that no lens cap is on).
I’m thinking about buying a Contax G2 for a long time actually and I’d definitely would love to try the lens with it. If anyone has a good offer for a G2, please contact me :-)
Thanks for the interview!
Thank you for giving me the opportunity!
The Lomo LC-A Minitar-1 Art Lens is the latest addition to the Lomo LC-A legacy. Featuring the original optics of our signature camera, the lens merges the LC-A heritage of shooting from the hip with the handmade craftsmanship of the Lomography Art Lens family. Compatible across a large platform of analog and digital cameras, the Lomo LC-A Minitar-1 Art Lens offers freedom over LC-A optics like never before. Get yours now!