Archive for April, 2007

Photos don’t lie (part 2)

Wednesday, April 11th, 2007

So, yesterday I talked about how the viewpoint of a photographer can completely turn around the meaning of a photo, even if two photos are being taken just a few meters apart within a few seconds. Same place. Same time. Completely different photo and meaning.

Now, I would like to follow up on this one because cropping is another important part of photo viewing. Here’s a scene I shot back in 1986, in fact one of my first press photos:

Brokdorf 1986
Mark Zanzig/zettpress

Brokdorf, 07-JUN-86 – During a demonstration a group of violent masked men throws stones against the nuclear power plant in Brokdorf, Germany. The power plant was scheduled to go live six days later, on 13th June 1986. While the demonstration was set up to be peaceful, soon a small group of violent opponents took over the lead and had severe fights with the police.

Looking at the photo, you can see that it was a violent scene indeed, but it was only a small group that was violent, acting on limited space. To the left and in the back people are turning away from the scene or just watching it; the whole front area is free of people.

I’d argue that this photo provides “the reality” of the scene as I have seen and experienced it. I think I was using a 50 mm lens, that captures a scene almost 100% as the human eye sees it (that’s the reason the 50 mm lenses were bundled to many SLR bodies in the past, by the way).

But once we crop that image, focusing on the guys throwing the stones, then we get a far more dramatic scene:

Brokdorf 1986, cropped
Mark Zanzig/zettpress

Now, please compare this to the original photo. You will see that the violence of the scene (and original photo) is not as hefty as the cropped image tries to suggest. While this is not “a lie” per se, the photo does provide a distorted view of the reality, not exactly beautified, but more violent, more dramatic, more shocking, and also more commercial. What do you think?



Photos don’t lie

Tuesday, April 10th, 2007

I was sifting through my hard drive yesterday, looking for pictures that have not been published so far and that might make a good blog entry. I found the stuff from Copenhagen. We were there on a business trip for my former company, so I just brought my tiny Sony Cybershot DSC-P72, a camera that was (even back in 2005!) far too small for anything professional.

Anyway, we did the tourist thing and visited all the nice places in Copenhagen, while a sharp cold wind was blowing strongly through the streets of the city on that Saturday in February. One of the must-sees is certainly the Little Mermaid that sits on a tiny rock next to the harbour. Before we got there, I was quite excited to finally meet her.

You might have probably seen a picture of her before:


Little Mermaid Copenhagen
Little Mermaid, Copenhagen, Denmark
Photo Copyright © 2005 by Mark Zanzig/zettpress 

I would like to add that this was a cloudy afternoon, so please take my apologies for the rather shoddy light and the lack of any sparkling reflections on the water. (Please feel free to find hundreds of better looking photos using Google Image Search.) But that’s not the point of this post.

The point is that a good deal of the photos of the Little Mermaid (including mine) could be considered a lie – just a stylish, uber-perfect, kitsch version of reality, created in order to lure visitors to Copenhagen. “How’s that?”, I hear you ask. Well, the (other extreme of) reality looks like this, captured just 19 seconds after the photo above:


Little Mermaid Copenhagen
Little Mermaid, Copenhagen, Denmark
Photo Copyright © 2005 by Mark Zanzig/zettpress 

There are chimneys – big, ugly, smoking chimneys from some factory or power station – right across the bay, opposite the statue. Now, if you go back to that Google Image Search above you will see that about half of the photographers tried to crop out the chimneys by using my first viewpoint, while the other half either do not care or use a wide stop to blur the background as much as possible.

Photos don’t lie? Pah.

The Little Mermaid on Google Maps
Vancouver’s version of the Little Mermaid

The Best Cities Report 2007

Friday, April 6th, 2007

So, the fine people at Mercer HR have done it again and released their World-wide quality of living survey for 2007. With some interesting results: Zurich remains #1, Vancouver comes in as #3 again now sharing this rank with Vienna. Our hometown Munich is ranked #8 (unchanged from last year).

I am a bit surprised that Nuremberg, Germany, shows up at all (#23), and that the US cities rank quite bad (#27 and #29). It’s sad to see Dublin dropping from #24 to #27, but at least they are still in the Top-30. It’s strange to see no cities from South America, Africa, or Asia being listed.

Hmmm, looking at the table below, I see that I have photos just for 10 of the Top-30 locations (actually it’s 11 of 30 as I have photos for Copenhagen, but have not published them yet). Anyway, it looks like I have still some travel ahead, with my favorite spots being Sydney/Australia, and Oslo.

Mercer Human Resource ConsultingWorldwide Quality of Living Survey 2007
Top 30
Base City: New York, USA (=100)
Rank 2007 Rank 2006 City Country Index
1 1 ZURICH Switzerland 108.1 108.2
2 2 GENEVA Switzerland 108.0 108.1
3 3 VANCOUVER Canada 107.7 107.7
3 4 VIENNA Austria 107.7 107.5
5 5 AUCKLAND New Zealand 107.3 107.3
5 6 DÜSSELDORF Germany 107.3 107.2
7 7 FRANKFURT Germany 107.1 107.0
8 8 MUNICH Germany 106.9 106.8
9 9 BERN Switzerland 106.5 106.5
9 9 SYDNEY Australia 106.5 106.5
11 11 COPENHAGEN Denmark 106.2 106.2
12 12 WELLINGTON New Zealand 105.8 105.8
13 13 AMSTERDAM The Netherlands 105.7 105.7
14 14 BRUSSELS Belgium 105.6 105.6
15 15 TORONTO Canada 105.4 105.4
16 16 BERLIN Germany 105.2 105.1
17 17 MELBOURNE Australia 105.0 105.0
18 18 LUXEMBOURG Luxembourg 104.8 104.8
18 18 OTTAWA Canada 104.8 104.8
20 20 STOCKHOLM Sweden 104.7 104.7
21 21 PERTH Australia 104.5 104.5
22 22 MONTREAL Canada 104.3 104.3
23 23 NÜRNBERG Germany 104.2 104.1
24 25 CALGARY Canada 103.6 103.6
24 26 HAMBURG Germany 103.6 103.4
26 31 OSLO Norway 103.5 102.8
27 24 DUBLIN Ireland 103.3 103.8
27 27 HONOLULU United States 103.3 103.3
29 28 SAN FRANCISCO United States 103.2 103.2
30 29 ADELAIDE Australia 103.1 103.1
30 29 HELSINKI Finland 103.1 103.1

Source: World-wide quality of living survey for 2007

At the Dentist

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2007

The friendly team of my dentist

The friendly team of my dentist
Photo © 2007 by Mark Zanzig/ 

Today I had a scheduled maintenance session with my dentist. Very refreshing – not! He found a tiny hole and had to fix it. :-( You know, after all those years I have been at his practice, I still am afraid of going to the stool. This certainly has nothing to do with him or his very friendly team; it must be some youth related trauma. Or could it be due to Steve Martin’s performance in “Little Shop of Horrors”?

Anyway, before we started the treatment, I did a couple of photos of the team for their web site. And I take the opportunity to introduce them to you as well (from left): Regina, Gerhard, Eva, Kristina, Angie, Regine, Steffi. A big Thank You for making my treatments as pleasurable as possible! :-)

Gerhard Kornexl, Dentist in Munich (official homepage)
Dentist! from Little Shop of Horrors (at Youtube)