artist spotlight: bernd walz

Bernd Walz - Self Portrait (C) Bernd Walz

Bernd Walz – Self Portrait (C) Bernd Walz

If you had to describe your overall photographic vision in 25 words or less, what words would you choose?

Enjoying my personal creative workflow: slowing down, calming down, reducing the complex world, and translating all this into a silent, atmospheric image.

"Clouds Over the Lake" (c) Bernd Walz

“Clouds Over the Lake” (c) Bernd Walz

Why are you so drawn to long exposure photography?

I like the sometimes unreal touch of images created by long exposure, for example, milky water and clouds in motion, those softened contours of moving things which add to the abstraction of a scene. The fact of time becomes visible in the image. And I like the process of creating long exposures. They force the photographer to anticipate the effect of the long exposure, to include these special effects in the composition. And what I enjoy most is the opportunity to slow down.

Why do you prefer black and white photography?

I do not prefer black and white photography, but I do love it. Avoiding color is a powerful method for abstracting a subject. Graphic image elements become dominating. The tonal quality adds to the overall mood of the image. In this way, black and white creates its special, timeless aesthetic. In conjunction with long exposure photography, black and white adds to the photographer’s toolbox for creating minimalist, atmospheric images.

Who are three of your favorite photographers, and, more importantly, how has your appreciation of their work affected how you approach your own photography?

In the almost fifty years that I have been interested in photography, I have seen countless excellent images from so many good photographers. Many of them have left traces in my mind and probably have unconsciously influenced my work. Since I can only mention three, I will choose : (1) Andreas Feininger, whose books and images I metabolized as a pupil. They initialized my passion for photography. (2) Ernst Haas with his book “The Creation” from 1971, which was probably ahead of his time. (3) And, more recently, Michael Kenna for his congenial way of photography.

"Night in the Fields" (c) Bernd Walz

“Night in the Fields” (c) Bernd Walz

What artistic influences, outside of photography, have had a significant influence on how you approach your photography (for example, painters, filmmakers, musicians, poets, etc.)? I am specifically interested in the how and the why.

Painting is a steady source of inspiration for me. I love the surrealists in particular, and among these I admire the creativity of Max Ernst and Joan Miró as well as the work of Alberto Giacometti. I am fascinated by how each of them uses abstraction, reduction and /or modification of reality as a product of their perception of their external within internal worlds.

What are your thoughts about trying to find the best gear possible versus working on making the best possible image with the gear you already have?

I have never had the option to buy the best gear possible. So, I have always tried to make the best possible images with the gear I have. There is an important advantage to this restriction: one is forced to concentrate on the images rather than on the toys.

How would you define fine art? Is it just a label?

I classify an image as fine art when it is more than a just documentary or journalistic illustration of reality, when it is filtered and aesthetically shaped by the creativity of the photographer, and, therefore, a very personal interpretation and presentation of that artist’s vision of the world.

"Cuboid" (c) Bernd Walz

“Cuboid” (c) Bernd Walz

If you had to come up with one very important lesson that you think every photographer needs to learn, what would it be?

One needs to have and cultivate patience and passion and an open mind for both outside criticism and self-criticism. One needs patience in order both to wait for the optimal conditions (light, weather, mood, etc.) and to photograph a location or subject respectively. Passion is a steady driving force for the creative process and having an open mind for criticism and self-criticism is a prerequisite for trying to arrive at the best possible pictures. This last point is sometimes especially difficult because every now and then when we love, for whatever personal reason, one of our images, others (e.g. my daughters) find it absolutely boring.

What are your thoughts about the benefits of online sharing? Are there any particular social media or image sharing sites you prefer or do not prefer?

I consider online sharing a wonderful possibility to exhibit my images, to enjoy the images of other photographers and to be inspired by their work. It is absolutely fascinating to be able to network with interesting people from all over the world who share my passion for photography. However, I do not have the time to be active in many image sharing sites. Therefore, I concentrate on my favourite site: Art Limited. It’s manageable because it is not too voluminous and is mildly moderated, so, as a result, it holds a high standard of artistic quality– and it’s the “home” of numerous creative and inspiring photographers.

"the tree" (c) bernd walz From "A Crystalline World,", for which I make microphotos of crystalline structures formed when dilute solutions of common laboratory chemicals dry down. I love the often minimalistic clear and unusual structures formed. This image is from a crystalline crust of taurin (2-aminoethanesulfonic acid). However, the chemical nature of the structures is not important ... the structures themselves count, and sometimes they create crystalline landscapes as in this case.

“the tree” (c) bernd walz
From “A Crystalline World,”, for which I make microphotos of crystalline structures formed when dilute solutions of common laboratory chemicals dry down. I love the often minimalistic clear and unusual structures formed. This image is from a crystalline crust of taurin (2-aminoethanesulfonic acid). However, the chemical nature of the structures is not important … the structures themselves count, and sometimes they create crystalline landscapes as in this case.

What photographic cliché or common photography question, if any, irritates you the most?

The question, “Is there a lot of digital image processing/modification in your image?” This question seems to stem from a cliché leftover from the time of analog photography– when most people thought that for a photo to be an acceptable photo it must be an unmodified true document of real life. Many barely recognize that darkroom work offered numerous ways for modifications of an image. This cliché neglects the attractive possibilities for the artistic processing of photographs as a late step in the workflow, one that helps the photographer to express his own personal style.

Are there any specific directions that you would like to take your photography in the future or any specific goals that you wish to achieve?

I am still learning and experimenting. I study, continuously, the possibilities of a minimalist approach to landscape photography– so that I can find an optimal balance between the minimally necessary quantity and quality of an image’s elements and my interpretation of a scene or subject. Microphotography is another creative playground, one in which I leave behind scientific documentation in favor of an aesthetic, abstract and surrealistic interpretation of the countless structures of a microcosm, structures that are so far away from our everyday visual experience. I look forward to continuing these exciting journeys.

Is there any specific place that you would like to visit to take photos?

Yes, I would like to travel along the coastline of northern Spain with my camera. I know this coast well from two photography-free visits. It’s a wild coast with interesting rocks, little sandy beaches, rapidly changing weather, frequently changing light conditions and the mountains in the back. I would like to discover and enjoy this coast and its sea photographically. This is perhaps not the most original idea, but, nevertheless, I would have a lot of creative fun.

Is there anything else you wish to add?

My interest and activity in photography was pretty dormant for almost 35 years in favor of my career and job as a scientist and professor in biology. It wasn’t until 2006, when I began to work with digital photography, that my old enthusiasm for photography began to grow again– and now photography is my passion. And, having spent innumerable hours in the darkroom as a scientist, I have not even the slightest romantic relationship to analog photography.

 

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Explore more of Bernd’s photography: Website | ArtLimited

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Spotlight on Three Images

swinging

“swinging” (c) Bernd Walz
A photo weekend with some friends at the broad beaches of St. Peter-Ording at the Wadden Sea (North Sea). I had just set up my tripod and camera with the neutral density filter 3.0 in order to make a long exposure of the empty swing with the sea in the background. Suddenly two girls arrived and started swinging. What great luck that I found the optimal exposure time immediately because after two shots they left the swing. Processing of this daytime long exposure was minimal

"hommage a alberto giacometti" (c) Bernd Walz This photomicrograph illustrates nicely my attempt to create abstract and/or surreal images from crystalline structures under the microscope. We had just visited the very impressive Alberto Giacometti exhibition in the "Kunsthalle Hamburg" and admired his sculptures of slender figures. I was absolutely amazed, when I scanned one of my crystalline preparations under the microscope, and discovered a crystalline formation resembling strongly Giacomettis sculptures. The image is from a crystalline crust of potassium gluconate. However, the chemical nature of the structures is not important ... the structures themselves count, and sometimes they create surreal crystalline structures as in this case. Minor processing except for the removal of some disturbing image elements.

“hommage a alberto giacometti” (c) Bernd Walz
This photomicrograph illustrates nicely my attempt to create abstract and/or surreal images from crystalline structures under the microscope. We had just visited the very impressive Alberto Giacometti exhibition in the “Kunsthalle Hamburg” and admired his sculptures of slender figures. I was absolutely amazed when I scanned one of my crystalline preparations under the microscope and discovered a crystalline formation strongly resembling Giacometti’s sculptures. The image is from a crystalline crust of potassium gluconate. However, the chemical nature of the structures is not important … the structures themselves count, and sometimes they create surreal crystalline structures as in this case.  Minor processing , mostly just the removal of some disruptive image elements.

"I slowed down and looked over the lake" (c) Bernd Walz At dusk at one of the innumerable lakes north of Berlin. I found this peaceful location, made a long exposure and processed the image in a way ( I forgot the details) that it had this light reflection between the jetty and the opposite shore. I attempted an absolutely peaceful atmosphere, an atmospheric, silent image that reflected my own mood at this late Sunday.

“I slowed down and looked over the lake” (c) Bernd Walz
At dusk at one of the innumerable lakes north of Berlin. I found this peaceful location, made a long exposure and processed the image in a way ( I have forgotten the details)  so that it has this light reflection between the jetty and the opposite shore. I attempted an absolutely peaceful atmosphere, an atmospheric, silent image that reflects my own mood on that late Sunday.

The Gallery Selection

 

"I slowed down and looked over the lake" (c) Bernd Walz"First Light"  (c) Bernd Walz"Swinging"  (c) Bernd Walz"At Dusk in the Fields" (c) Bernd Walzcuboid.jpg"Dreaming an Island" (c) Bernd Walz"Night in the Fields" (c) Bernd Walz"Fish Farm" (c) Bernd Walz"Fish Trap" (c) Bernd Walz"Fish Trap at Dusk" (c) Bernd Walz"The Tree" (c) Bernd Walz"Solitaire" (c) Bernd Walz"Hommage a Alberto Giacometti" (c) Bernd Walz"Clouds Over the Lake" (c) Bernd Walz"Rocky Coast" (c) Bernd Walz"Stairs" (c) Bernd Walz"The Oak" (c) Bernd Walz"November in the Fields" (c) Bernd Walz"Rape Time" (c) Bernd Walz"Green Fields" (c) Bernd Walz"Silence" (c) Bernd Walz"Wide Fields and Fluffy Clouds (c) Bernd Walz

All images on this page are protected by copyright and may not be used  for any purpose, without Bernd Walz‘s permission.
The text on this page is protected by copyright and may not be used for any purpose without Bernd Walz or Nathan Wirth‘s permission.

One Comment

  1. Wilfried H. Peltner December 11, 2013 at 5:11 am #

    I enjoyed reading “slices oft silence” but I have to do so again and again to create that silence within myself. …was beautiful reading, a mirror oft your pictures … thank’s a lot.
    Liebe Grüße – Pelle

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