In April i bought a Sony A7II and got the brand new ZEISS Batis 18mm 2.8 for testing. I did a video test for the Website Netucated.com, that you can find here. Moreover i did a written test for kwerfeldein.de which can be found here. Both tests are in German. I just wanted to quickly show you a few photos i took with the lens.DSC00200DSC00172DSC00084DSC00204DSC00199DSC00207-EditDSC00037-EditAnd this is what the lens looks on a Sony A7II. Pretty big, huh?IMG_6691

This year I escaped most of german's winter while being in New Zealand. When I got back, snow was bascially completely gone. In March I met up with Florian Wenzel, an amazing photographer living close by and we explored some areas in the Black Forest. While driving up higher and higher into the mountains, we were quite surprised about how much snow we still found. Walking through the forest was pretty exhausting sometimes because we didn't wanna stick to the paths but it was worth it. We ended our trip on a place called "Hornisgrinde". I've been there a few times and it's a nice plateau on the top of a mountain with a beautiful view. This time it's been a proper ice-desert.

All those photos are taken on the Fuji X100s

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All of those photos are shot on a Sony a7rII and ZEISS Loxia 21mm, 35mm & 50mm

Driving from Hamilton to Kawhia

As a born and bred Waikato kid, my beach of preference has always been Raglan. The laid-back atmosphere of the town and the wild, usually empty beaches provide an escape from the stresses of everyday life, and is only 35 minutes drive from Hamilton. But since we went to Raglan several times on our last trip (see here), I thought we could try a different West coast beach, and so we ended up at Kawhia. The road to Kawhia is a stunning combination of native forest and rolling hills with the coast on the horizon, and we stopped many times to admire the view.

-Tamsin

Kawhia Ocean Beach

Like Raglan, the ocean beach at Kawhia has sooty black sand, caused by molten lava from the nearby volcanoes hitting the water and shattering into billions of fragments. It’s magnetic, so be careful of your cameras and phones! The rough black sand gives the beach a natural, untamed look; it’s a whole different experience to those pristine white powder beaches that are overcrowded with tourists baking in the sun.

The beach is also thermal, meaning that if you dig a hole in certain places, hot water bubbles up through the sand. We saw plenty of people digging their own hot tubs on the beach, but in the 30 degree heat we were more interested in cooling off in the waves instead.

-Tamsin

Dinner in Kawhia

After a few hours exploring, we were getting hungry. For some reason, all of the places in Kawhia that sell fish and chips seemed to be closed. A friendly resident saw us wandering up and down and asked if we were looking for somewhere to eat. He pointed us to the Kawhia Hotel that does takeaway fish and chips that are “the best in town”. We ate them next to the wharf with the seagulls circling hungrily, a delicious end to a perfect day trip.

-Tamsin

All of those photos are shot on a Sony a7rII and ZEISS Loxia 21mm, 35mm & 50mm

Are you brave enough to travel the long journey to escape from European winter into New Zealand summer? We made this 50 hour trip, taking us through China to Auckland and finally Hamilton, NZ. We traveled from frozen streets at -8°C to 99% humidity with 29°C. On the first days you usually end up completely jet-lagged, but that doesn't mean that you have to stay on the couch all day. Here is little inspiration for the time-shifted visitor of the Waikato-area.

Flying to New Zealand

I don't think there are many longer haul trips than Europe to New Zealand. Basically if you fly much further, you’ll be flying back towards Europe. I’ve done this journey more times than I can count on all my fingers, but it doesn't get much easier. One thing I can really recommend, is finding out if your airline offers a complimentary hotel with a longer stopover. A hot shower and lying flat in a bed for a few hours is so worth it. My carry-on always includes a complete change of clothes, plenty of moisturizer and a tablet loaded up with movies in case the TV screen on the flight refuses to play ball, as was the case on both my long haul flights. Maybe I’m just unlucky but those screens are always dodgy, and a 13 hour flight is no fun when you have nothing to kill the time.

It takes around 4 days to adjust to the 12 hour time difference, but I find that there is something special about those precious few mornings when we wake up before even the first Tui bird song or cicada chirping, when a thick mist lies over the fields around our house and the air is fresh and chilly, laden with the scent of fresh grass.

Late summer is the best time of year at Matangi. The sun is shining nearly every day. Fruit of all kinds are falling from the trees and the vegetable garden is enthusiastically producing fresh ingredients for dinner. I love wandering out to the veggie patch to pick herbs and lettuce and mixing them straight into a summer salad. Chris is particularly fond of the large, sweet grapefruit that he calls “the best damn grapefruit I’ve ever eaten”. Roses are in bloom around the property and the cicadas drown out the sounds of cars passing.

-Tamsin

Nikau Walk, Pirongia

This trip was a particularly nostalgic one for me. I spent my childhood living in the tiny country community of Te Pahu on the foothills of Mt Pirongia, where we had all the space in the world to run and play and be free. We walked alongside the bubbling Kaniwhaniwha stream, where I remember swinging off the old knotted rope into the water and climbing up onto the rocks to dry off in the sun. We used to take school trips down to the stream to study the wildlife in the area, and we were told of the Maori legends about the sacred volcano looming in the distance. The track leaves the river and meanders through native bush, the trails flanked by Nikau Palm trees, hence the name. I know that I’m home when I can smell the dense, rich sub-tropical forest, where the air is cool and dew drops hang from the fern fronds despite the 30 degree heat beating down on the canopy above.

-Tamsin

Mt Kakepuku

This was our first hike after hibernating through German winter. My friend Alex runs the track every day. While he didn't even break a sweat, we emerged at the summit of this small volcano red in the face and out of breath. The view was definitely worth the effort. Kakepuku is teaming with wildlife, from pheasants to moreporks (a tiny NZ native owl), tui and kereru, and even a baby hedgehog on the footpath. The hike features a mystical ancient Ponga glade with charcoal black tree trunks.

-Tamsin

If you're thinking about bringing a lot of photography equipment with you - don't do it. I did and ended up short of breath while ascending the long stairway just before reaching the top with my heavy backpack. And when i finally made it, i didn't miss any of my lenses but i missed some more water instead (i was dumb enough to leave the second bottle in the car so i could carry more lenses). If you're a very fit person, you'll be fine but if you have average fitness don't underestimate this 90 minute hike. Anyway you are able to see some typical New Zealand forest while climbing Mt. Kakepuku and New Zealand forest is nothing like European forest. It's proper bush and can get to points where no sunlight get's through anymore. You'll also notice another very characteristic New Zealand noise: The cicadas sitting in the trees, accompanying you on your walk. Those bugs are one first catchy memories i have of this land.

-Chris

Traveling became a big part of my life. Not only am i traveling a lot between my new hometown and my family but also I started discovering the area around Stuttgart, the place I live. The national park called "Black Forest" contains many different shapes and views and i love traveling and exploring the mountains, forests and lakes. My Fuji X100s does a really great job when it comes to document all those travels and all the things i see and think are worth capturing.

Maybe you remember my blog-entry about Glenorchy? Not only that little town was blowing my mind but also the surrounding area. The drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy is filled wit great views, mountains, a big lake and a lot of wind! Basically you can stop every 10 meters, get out of the car and have new stunning view. If you're very adventurous, you can drive through Glenorchy and further into the mountains, mostly over gravel roads. You will cross a giant dried out river and a forest that's very well known as "The Forest of Middle Earth" from the "Lord of the Rings" movies. And at the end of all that, there is a sign, saying "Paradise". A village with about 3 houses. Paradise's population definitely has more horses than people and if you drive further, your at then end. Simply at the end. No more roads, you can't go any further. You see a few sheep behind a fence but that's it. Well done, New Zealand.

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Five years of photography, way more than 100.000 frames, about 40 weddings and becoming a full time photographer just to shoot one roll of film that shows me: I know nothing about photography. Sure, if i shoot digital and have as many shots as i want, i can try. I don't really need to see light or the right scene, i can just shoot until i get it right. But wen it comes down to one frame, everything gets a lot harder.

Yeah, it takes some practice and nobody can just shoot film at the first try but when i look at some frames i wonder what i thought when i shot them. The background was completely overexposed and blown out and the foreground was still to dark... simply bad light. Also the colours are many times not what i expected them to be. I used Kodak Portra 400 here, which might not have been the best decision for that kind of day but i had no other roll and wanted to try to make the best of it.

So you see what i mean? Yeah, i can shoot digital, no problem at all! But i understand now why people say "you need to know what you're doing, when you shoot film". Anyways, i love that my results are bad. That means that i found something new to discover and will continue shooting film. I already shot another half roll of Fuji Pro 400H. I guess it's all about the practice.

In this post you'll find my favourite frames - speaking of color. I'd say the first three are the best. I feel really sorry for my girlfriend, she did a great job with posing for only one frame and i messed it up so much 😉

Have you guys had any experience with film? What are your favourite films?

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Words by Tamsin Kreymborg

There are many places I have yet to explore in New Zealand. Despite being born and raised there, and staunchly proud to call myself a Kiwi, there are areas I haven’t had the opportunity to see. I’m sure there are countless natural wonders that frequently enchant the eyes of foreigners, that I don’t even know exist. Until recently, Glenorchy was once such place for me. I recently took my German boyfriend to New Zealand to visit my family, with the promise that we’d travel around the country. Chris is a photographer, so he didn’t need very much encouragement.

A friend of my Mother’s recommended that we drive the Queenstown-Glenorchy road, up to the north end of lake Wakatipu. With a free day in our Queenstown itinerary, we decided to do it. Neither of us spoke much during the 45-minute drive. Words cannot describe the breath-taking landscape through which this narrow road twists and winds. At the point where the sealed road ends, and our travel brochure advised us to turn around and head back, we encountered a most pleasantly unexpected village. Glenorchy is a small cluster of homes, perched at the north end of lake Wakatipu, and sandwiched between noble, imposing mountain ranges.

Turning left, the road gives way to a camping area, from which a wharf extends into the water. Glenorchy is a windswept place, and this day was no exception. Trees are permanently deformed by strong winds, and the wharf is worn from the elements. It is rustic and captivating. Next to the wharf sits a humble little cottage, painted red and its doors opened wide, proudly offering visitors information on the history of the town and the lake.

Walking back into the village, we came across the one and only cafe, a place to warm up and dry off. Except "The Trading Post" is more than just a cafe; alongside the nice lady selling fair-trade hot drinks and homemade cakes, there’s an eclectic collection of coffee table books, children’s books and classic novels from New Zealand, as well as 100% Kiwi-made cosmetics and toys.

Outside, the nearly empty roads feel somehow safe and far away from stress. Life seems simple, and separate from all things negative. It’s easy to imagine residents in Glenorchy spending their days chopping firewood, and in the evening driving their boat out on the lake. I’m sure they cook with fresh organic vegetables from the garden, or maybe hold a barbeque party on the street. It is a small community that isn’t interested in the problems of the world.

As we crossed the road to the gas station, a rickety "Open" sign squeaked eratically, and a cat crossed the road without losing a thought to the possibility of being run over. We wandered across to the tourist centre, which looks like an original Western Saloon. It felt like we’d arrived at the end of the world and, contrary to expectations, it is beautiful and peaceful.

Glenorchy is clearly a close-knit community. As one elderly lady’s purse fell from the bicycle basket in front of us, we wanted to rush over to help, but before we could react a woman appeared from the nearest house, wearing yoga pants and exclaiming "Oh Barbara, what's happened?". It is a little paradise. Funny, because a few kilometers further up the gravel road, we actually did arrive at a place called "Paradise". I can well imagine that a typical Glenorchian would take his picnic there and go swimming at Diamond Lake. Glenorchy, Paradise and the Diamond Lake in fact provide the backdrop for the critically aclaimed mystery series, "Top of the Lake", which incorporates the stunning landscape and township artfully into its story line.

Since our visit to Glenorchy, we’ve often shared fantasies about moving there, buying some land and building our own little house. How nice would it be to live modestly and simply, and to have bold, unashamed nature literally on our doorstep. If someone is looking for us in 20 years or so, they probably won’t find us in Germany. Maybe they’ll find a "Sandbox Studio Photography" logo on one of the the letterboxes in our favourite little village at the bottom of the world.

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Yes, this is pretty much the same location as the one in my last blogpost! Just these photos were shot about a year ago for a German artist called Impala Ray. I first met this guy when I shot a wedding in September 2013. During coffee-time, I suddenly heard a very quiet acoustic guitar, supported by only a bass-drum and a tuba and this really characteristic singer. I looked around and found this guy with two musicians playing in a corner of the garden for the wedding guests. It was perfect. Just perfect. They were quiet and their sound was so down to earth that i instantly fell in love with the mood they created. I couldn’t imagine any better live music for a garden wedding.

I chatted with him and he told me that he was in the process of recording an album. Everything to do with the album should be very old fashioned, that’s the mood he wanted to create so I offered him to shoot the promotional series for this release. After some phone calls we decided to give it a try. He send me over some pre-mixed songs and I knew exactly where he wanted to go with this release. Have you guys heard Bon Iver’s first album “For Emma, forever ago”? It’s a very rough and straight-forward sound and I found this in Impala Ray’s music too. I tried to give the whole photo series a film-touch by shooting digital but processing with VSCO and Exposure 4 and adding a lot of grain and dust and light leaks. It turned out to be perfectly on the spot what he imagined.

At the moment, the album is getting more and more attention and seems to be pretty successful. And Impala Ray’s success is also my success as I found some of these photos in big German newspapers or on the websites of radio- and TV-stations.

If you want to get the album on iTunes or even as a physical copy, head over to his website www.impalaray.com

And here’s a musicvideo with some scenes shot during the photo-shooting:

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Finally some new photos from New Zealand! These beaches near Raglan were the first trip we did, on the second day already. It's on the west coast of New Zealand and you'll surely find some surfers in the photos of these massive waves. All these photos were taken on one of our last days because Tamsin had to go back to that place with me by sunset. But totally worth it! It got a little bit foggy from all the splashing water and the sand wich created perfect lightning conditions. It was really a nice and quiet place to take a little sunset walk.

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Ⓒ 2022, Christopher Kreymborg
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