We previously featured community member Christian Heidebur (@christian_heidebur) for his Enchanted Forest series and homemade redscale with LomoChrome films. Since Lomography's last interview with him, he's gotten the close-up adapter for the Daguerreotype Achromat 2.9/64 Art Lens and has been out and about shooting whatever catches his inquisitive eye.
We talked with him about his blossoming penchant for macro photography and multiple exposures, and his journey of reconnecting with the natural world through film photography.
Hello, Christian. From looking at your Enchanted Forest series, you seem to have a very close relationship with your environment. Is it something that you've always been in touch with or has photography helped you get closer to nature?
The year I started with photography I wasn't feeling well at first and I think I found an explanation for it. As a young child we are enthusiastic and curious and we let ourselves be affected and distracted by everything and everyone. It is normal that over time as we grow up we learn to deal with this and learn to build up a certain coolness and channel our enthusiasm for this world and our curiosity in certain ways. I think I overdid it a bit at this point and distanced myself from my environment so much that I felt downright alien in this world. After 15 years of living in a big city, I found nature was a nuisance for example.
It would be an exaggeration to say that photography alone has made me turn around, but without a doubt it has helped me a lot to reconnect with this world. Through photography, I enjoy contact and exchange with my environment and nature again and walk through the world much more mindful. A while ago, I wouldn't have thought that it would be fun for me to shoot portraits and to approach and work with strangers, but I'm glad I made some strong portraits of Katrin and Tanja this year. My perception has changed and I also see the world with different eyes with the help of photography.
You used quite a few film stocks for these new shots, which one would you say is your favorite to pair with the art lens for the close-ups and why?
Last time I counted I had more than 50 different kinds of films in my stock, so I can choose the right film for every situation. I definitely love the LomoChrome ones for their fairy look due to the color shift and I can't wait to load another roll of LomoChrome Turquoise. There are great films from other brands too and I'm glad to see manufactures like ADOX and KONO! still developing new films even in 2022. My results with the KONO! Original Moonstruck which has a blue-yellow color spectrum and produces rather dark results overall, were very atmospheric, like the photo of the yellow coneflower shows.
But I also like slide films very much and recently I bought a lot of different old cine films which I want to use together with the art lens with the close-up adapter.
Are there still more subjects you plan to shoot with the Daguerreotype Achromat Art Lens?
It's rare that I have such concrete plans in photography at all. Maybe it's because I've only been taking pictures for three years and I still just love to look through the viewfinder and shoot everything that comes in front of my lens. I like to compare my progress in photography to throwing darts or shooting a bow and arrow. The first dart hits the target quite randomly, then I compare the result to what I was aiming for and, dart after dart and arrow after arrow, I learn through experience how to correct my shots. It took me dozens of rolls of different films, with different cameras and lenses and different techniques to get near to a point where I hit what I was looking for. It's the same when I shot with the Lomography Daguerreotype Achromat Art Lens for the first time.
It simply takes some experience to know how your photos will turn out with the different apertures and focal lengths. Recently I've shot my first rolls using the close-up adapter for the art lens and have to re-learn how to use the lens properly, learn to imagine what's possible and what works well. For example I've had a hard time to get enough details of the blue gentian due to the extremely small depth of field in macro mode. So my plans for the future are developing more in small steps than I have a big idea for the next project. But very soon I will pay another visit to the botanical garden in Munich for some more floral motifs.
Do you have some memorable moments shooting these close-ups of insects and flowers?
Last winter I was hiking in South Tyrol and on my way back I found a large area of ice and snow, melted by the sun to a thin, holey and transparent layer. Underneath was dark soil and the sun was reflected by the thin ice. I didn't miss the opportunity and took some very abstract photos and double exposures and went home happily, wet and dirty.
Just the other day, I sat in front of a larkspur for a long time and wanted to photograph a bumblebee flying at the calyxes and crawling in and out. I waited a long time for a bumblebee to fly right up to the funnel I was aiming at, and ultimately couldn't get a photo because the bumblebees were just too hectic. I was already disappointed and moved on when quite unexpectedly I found a grasshopper on a leaf of a lunaria, right next to the larkspur. Still pending for development are a few frames with two dragonflies I captured in a very intimate situation. It's these small and unexpected moments that move me.
Are there any projects related to photography you're currently working on, or would like to work on?
In photography I still feel in the Sturm und Drang ("storm and stress"), and I have at least one camera with me always and everywhere, but there are some topics that stick to me and where I want to keep experimenting and developing my photo art. These are definitely double and multiple exposures and I've recently been doing a lot of double exposures with textures like wood, stone and leaves and a lot more with wrapping and crafting paper. This is something I definitely need to develop further, especially since I didn't find anyone else who also makes these kinds of graphical double exposures. So far the double exposure with the snail and floral wrapping paper (LomoChrome Metropolis 35 mm ISO 100–400, exposed on both sides) turned out nicely. I'm glad I found a topic where I can be innovative. I'm also working on more double exposures with fairy lights, similar to the shot of the steeple I made. That's something for next winter.
What are your other hobbies when you're not immersed in photography?
Besides photography, I have also found my way back to painting and paint in phases with watercolors. I mostly paint on coated paper, which is an absolute niche. I'm happy and proud that I've found a technique for me, which I have found hardly any other artist doing something similar.
By the way, I find it interesting that I've been told by several people, independently of each other, that my photos and painted pictures have a certain similarity. Not necessarily visually, but in some way people find a connection between my photos and paintings. I want to get to the bottom of this soon.