Archive for April, 2007

Sports Photography – Only For The Toughest

Monday, April 30th, 2007

I have been to Zurich over the long weekend to shoot a number of travel photos of this beautiful city. The weather was excellent, and it was just a three-hour-drive from Munich. The shooting was good, yet unspectacular. When we visited the main central station, we were baffled that they had put a complete beach volleyball court into the station. Apparently they were opening the Swiss 2007 beach volleyball season this weekend, starting in Zurich.

So we went inside and sat down to watch some amazing matches. I was shooting a number of photos, just to see whether sports photography is interesting and where the pitfalls are. I also wanted to see what I would come up with. :-)

Now, honestly, I draw my hat for those talents over at Getty Images Sports. Sports photography is only for the toughest of us with plenty of experience. You have to know the sport you are about to shoot, inside out. You have to have a feeling for those exciting shots that actually capture the interest of the viewer. You have to have the fastest equipment around, yet still be able to find the right moment. And you should be prepared to shoot hundreds of photos for just one match, let alone a full competition.

I started with a couple of rather boring shots, visually not too appealing. Part of this is the empty tribune in the background.

Coop Beachtour 2007
Mark Zanzig/zettpress

But then suddenly I started to feel the pace of the sport (and believe me, there were plenty of shots without the ball in the frame), and I happily shot away a number of action-laden photos of Paul Laciga. He also expressed his emotions more than other players, obviously paving the way for good shots. At the end of the day, we as photographers want to see action, power, emotion, drama. This is what our customers want to see. And Paul delivers this: power and precision when accepting a ball, pure emotions after having lost a point.

Coop Beachtour 2007
Mark Zanzig/zettpress

Coop Beachtour 2007
Mark Zanzig/zettpress

We came to the train station for a second shoot on Sunday for the semi-finals, and I wanted to “get closer”. I love those close-up shots because they usually tell a story to those who have not been there, who would never even think about visiting a beach volleyball match in the first place (do it – it can be breathtaking!). The two photos below do exactly that: the story of a boy admiring Matteo Varnier taking a short time-out during the fight for 3rd/4th place. The boy is soo close to the player, and yet so far. At the next time-out, I asked the boy whether I could briefly take his position for a photo. He agreed, and the result is stunning IMO. You really can not get much closer to these power-packs.

Coop Beachtour 2007
Mark Zanzig/zettpress

Coop Beachtour 2007
Mark Zanzig/zettpress

As to the technical data for those shots – I used the 1ds mark II (remember, I was there to shoot travel photos) which appeared to be OK, even if a bit on the slow side. I would have preferred my fast 1d mark IIN which does 8 frames per second. You will appreciate this speed as beach volleyball can be very very fast. All photos shot at 800 ISO, and all of the action shots with “AI Servo” and the 70-200mm L at f 2.8

Coop Beach Tour 2007 (official site)
Getty Images Sports Blog

Exploring The Blue Hour

Thursday, April 26th, 2007

So, I did it – again!

Night shots, no, wrong – make that “Blue Hour Shots” are my current fad. For some time now I wanted to capture the hot spots of architecture around Munich’s Olympic Stadium. Yesterday evening I went for two of them: the global headquarter of BMW, and the German headquarter of O2.


BMW Global Headquarter at Night
BMW Global Headquarter at Night
Copyright © 2007 by Mark Zanzig/zettpress 

And so I drove to the location (a bridge close to the Olympic Park) and arrived shortly before sunset. But there were already two young photographers, maybe about 16 or 17 years old, completely equipped with tripod and camera. Oh no! Fortunately, they photographed into the other direction and were about 30 meters away, so at least we did not share the same location and view. (I was puzzled as to what they actually saw in their photo, but heck, who am I to judge that?)

Now, the funny thing is – we were shooting away happily. But then, about 15 minutes after sunset, they suddenly started to pack their stuff, apparently under the impression that the light had gone and that’s that. You see, the “Blue Hour” still had not even begun, and you still could take just 2 second exposures, even at ISO 100 and f 22. I asked them why they were leaving – “the best is yet to come, you know?”. They shrugged. Apparently they did not know, and they walked away, mumbling something along the lines of “need to get the other camera”. :-)

I just hope that they take their time next time, because the good shots were all coming when they were long gone. Also, the location is very convenient, because you can capture both the BMW headquarters and the O2 building on one evening.


O2 Germany Headquarters at Night
O2 Germany Headquarter at Night
Copyright © 2007 by Mark Zanzig/zettpress 

Inga Zanzig Gallery of Paintings

Tuesday, April 17th, 2007

While we were in St.-Peter-Ording recently, I have been thinking a lot about my mother. St.-Peter was one of her favourite spots, along with the Baltic Sea, and the South of France. Apart from being my mother, she was also an artist – a painter, and I would say a talented one (not that I know anything of painting). She began painting in the 1980s, so she was a late-starter, but she soon managed to paint beautiful pictures of her favourite spots, mostly landscapes. She had smaller exhibitions in and around her hometown of Kiel/Germany, but never got a big publicity or global exposure.


Oil Painting by Inga Zanzig
Farmer’s House in Southern France (1992)
Oilpainting by Inga Zanzig
Copyright © 2007 The Zanzig Archive/Mark Zanzig/ 

Almost three years ago, she had her last exhibition, and Petra and myself could not join her vernissage on 1st April 2004, because we were in South Africa at that time. Nine months later, on 22nd December 2004, she died of cancer. The cancer was only discovered in August of the year. It grew quickly and violently, and all her treatments failed miserably.

Well, anyway, the other day I decided to get out all her paintings and to do high-end reproductions with my digital camera. The result is stunning: the camera seems to capture even small dents in the texture of the paint extremely well, and so I am proud to present her paintings to the wider public in a new gallery, using the new high-end reproductions of her paintings. (You may notice that some of the pictures take longer than usual to load. I had to make a tough decision between image quality and image size, and I went for the quality.)

If you like Inga’s paintings and want to decorate your home with her work, please feel free to contact me. Now that the reproductions are available (many of them close to 16 Megapixel), I can do glossy high-end prints (up to 23.6″ x 15.7″) from all her paintings.

Gallery of Inga Zanzig’s Oil Paintings
Inga Zanzig – Her Life in Photos (in German)

Canon EF 100-400mm 1:4.5-5.6L IS USM

Friday, April 13th, 2007

The other day I came across an interesting question in one of the Canon DSLR forums over at Flickr: “Is the Canon EF 100-400mm 1:4.5-5.6L IS USM any good?”

As I am one of the lucky owners of this lens, I am more than happy to report that it is excellent. Superb! It is the perfect lense if you are working on limited (medium-sized) budget, still wanting to get crisp photos from your telezoom when working beyond 200 mm. Here is a shot I did back in Nambia:


Giraffe at Etosha Aoba Lodge
Mark Zanzig/zettpress 

Sure looks nice enough, but at the size of a postcard you can hardly see whether the photo offers any details. Thus, let’s have a look at a detail of the head of the Giraffe:


Detail of Giraffe Head
Mark Zanzig/zettpress 

This is the orginal size, i.e. not resized in Photoshop – one pixel in the photo above is one pixel in the original file. Please note that there is still some loss in the picture as it was saved as JPEG with a quality setting of 9 to save transmission time. Anyway, you can see even finest hairs at the eyelashes! Look at the detailed texture of the fur! This is simply stunning.

Of course, the image stabilizer is a great help. At 400 mm you will have a hard time shooting from hand, even at 1/2000 sec there is a slight risk of simply not holding the lens perfectly still. The image stabilizer takes care of that.

I think this is a great lens for travel photography, especially when you have limited space and you know that you are going to need a long tele, e.g. when going on safari. It is my tele companion to the EF 24-70 mm 1:2.8 L USM. This leaves the room between 70mm and 100mm uncovered, but I hardly noticed that when in Namibia.

So, if you are considering this lens an option, please go ahead. You’ll love it!

Oh, and here is the image data for those who are interested: Canon EF 100-400mm 1:4.5-5.6L IS USM on Canon 1ds mark II, ISO 400, Av, 1/2000 sec, f5.6

More photos from Etosha National Park