Unexpected Gift – Magnum at Westlicht

Westlicht Gallery, Vienna

A business trip led me to Vienna, Austria, for the last two days. Free times slices are usually rare, but I was lucky and found the Westlicht Gallery in Vienna still open after arrival of the train. And even better was the “Magnum 1948 – 1987” exhibition, giving me opportunity to see so many images I knew from books and magazines as original prints. Astonishing, no, Overwhelming!


    1. 90 intensive minutes – when you enjoy every moment it is a quite intensive time. And yes, the place is really good. The neighbouring Leica shop doesn’t get me drooling any more, neither do all the Ms in the closets – there seems some development having taken place…

  1. I only drool over the Leica S – but it’s only a theoretical drooling 😉 Would never buy one – even if I got the means.

    It’s always great to see photos in real (if there is a reality at all – a difference) which one knows only from books. Not to speak from the Internet.

    Little bit of envy here … 😉

    1. Ah, the Leica S – certainly a wonderful tool with a very clear design.Braun and Apple come to mind here. And if you can afford it, the price for the sherpa needed to lug it around is certainly not an issue any more.

      The images in the exhibition of China’s Cities Unknown were made with an S2, and technically they are pretty close to perfect. But that’s not all that counts.

  2. I know for me visits to see the prints up cvlose is always overwhelming and humbling. Last fall I visited a Leica gallery in NYC and there was a famous b&w shot of a prize fight between Ali and Frazier sometime in the 1970’s. The image was capture 20-30 rows up in the seats, and so the figures were seen in context with everything else in the arena. But it was as if the figures just lept off the print. I couldn’t figure out how the photographer accomplish that with the figures taking up so little of the space in the image. Humbling.

    If you no longer lust after a Leica, what then? What are you shooting now?

    1. Yes, Chris, original prints by an excellent printer are levels above any (even good) reproduction – only handling the real print can be even better. I think their effect is a result of both photographic as well as printing skills – this is one reason why I started to get 8×10 prints of my best images practically every month. In the end a photograph is an artefact, too, and on the screen this aspect gets lost.

      Only some years ago I was quite (now I’d say too much) gear oriented. This has changed now towards picture making. And whilst I have clear preferences – for me a camera must have a viewfinder, I always capture raw images – instead of thinking about gear, I concentrate on the making of the photographs, meaning having practically always a camera at hand. And I have cut down my equipment sharply, from a Sony A700 DSLR (retired it as repairing turned out to be too costly, will sell most lenses) to a tiny Panasonic G3: Certainly not the perfect camera, but small, versatile, with good primes (28mm-e, 40mm-e, 90mm-e) and two zooms to complement it, and, overall affordable. I’ve adapted to a different working style, sometimes carried a 2nd camera body, and I am convinced that my results are at least on par to what I did with the A700.

      With 3 kids at school, heading for university, Leica priced lenses or cameras are so far away from my reality that I don’t bother thinking about them any more.

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