A secret observer in the rain – Christian Dandyk’s street and travel photography
“To take good photos, you need to like your equipment,” photographer and lecturer Christian Dandyk tells his students. He believes a lens should also sit comfortably in the hands and, in terms of feel, match the particular cameras they are used on.
For his own day-to-day work, only ZEISS lenses meet these requirements. With their help, he can contrast sharpness and blur in his street and travel photography. He places particular emphasis on achieving an aesthetic and well-balanced bokeh.
For Christian Dandyk, his photograph of the year 2012 is the one showing three professional photographers standing in the rain in front of the parliament buildings in London. They suddenly appeared in front of him, dripping wet, while everyone around them was trying to get from A to B while still keeping dry. “The best photographs are often achieved in situations like this because people don’t even register you as a photographer,” Dandyk says. For that reason, he is particularly fond of rain. When the world is wet, colors also change, reflections are created, and the light has a special sheen. This picture was taken with the ZEISS Planar T* 1,4/85 on a 5D MK II.
One morning just after dawn, when Dandyk was out and about in the Brandenburg countryside, he heard the excited neighing of horses close by. He came round the corner of the next path and discovered several horses that had broken out of their fields running in front of him. Two stallions were facing one another at the edge of a paddock. “I would have loved to have been closer to the scene,” Dandyk says, “but I didn’t want to lose a moment, and so I started shooting straight away, with much too short a focal length, actually.” It was only when studying the images later on that he noticed the jogger, who experienced the moment like Dandyk himself, but from the opposite perspective, and thus became part of the motif.
Ever since a new Sony camera, the RX1, was unexpectedly introduced on the market last year, it has been Dandyk’s constant companion. Its fixed, integrated lens, a ZEISS Sonnar T* 2/35, is perfectly coordinated with the camera. Many of Dandyk’s street and travel photographs are now taken with the RX1. This example features a girl in the rain at the Vienna Naschmarkt, whom passersby completely overlooked, just as they did the photographer himself. Once again, all of the passersby are trying to reach their destination while keeping as dry as possible. Dandyk wanted to record this aspect as well and deliberately waited until people were walking through the image. It is these extras that created the effect he was looking for for this scene.
As he walks around towns and cities, Dandyk constantly discovers special forms and lights that he manages to incorporate into his pictures in surprising ways. By not excluding distracting objects, but instead including them in his motifs, he tries to find a different view of his environment. A good example of this is the following picture of Potsdamer Platz in Berlin, in which Dandyk fits the temporary water pipes into his image.
Much of Dandyk’s photography is created with Sony NEX cameras and, in June, ZEISS introduced two new fixed focal length lenses especially for these models. Already, Dandyk can no longer imagine leaving home without this camera in his bag. “The ZEISS Touit 2.8/12 is ideal for architecture and landscape photography, and in the future I will always take it along with me on my trips,” he says. “It’s also perfect for night photography. I love the stars that faintly appear in my pictures.” For each of his lenses, he knows which is the best aperture to use in order to capture the most beautiful stars. This is also true of the ZEISS Touit 2.8/12, which Dandyk was able to test for ZEISS on a trip to Vienna, and which here, at an aperture of f/11, lights up the Vienna night with special starry effects.
Until he tried out the Touit lens, Dandyk’s favorite had been a ZEISS C Sonnar T* 1,5/50 ZM, which he uses with an adapter on his NEX cameras. “It feels good to hold, and at its widest aperture gives a fabulous bokeh with a really satisfying sharpness,” Dandyk says. However, its status as favorite has repeatedly been challenged in recent days by the new ZEISS Touit 1.8/32. This was the lens that Dandyk used to shoot the saxophonist at the Danube canal in Vienna. The musician was using the special acoustics under a bridge to get the biggest sound from his saxophone playing. “I love street musicians because they break up the routine of our everyday lives with their music and because, like photographers, they can sometimes make time stand still,” Dandyk says. Like many of his pictures, this one is intended to make the viewer think. “The viewer is free to think up his or her own story.”
About Christian Dandyk
Christian Dandyk learned to take pictures when he was 13, and from then on had only one aim in life: to become a professional photographer. But life can often turn out differently: His fear about the uncertainty of making a living as an artist led him to first work for a management consultancy. It was only in his late 40s that he finally took the plunge and realized his childhood dream. Today, he has his own studio, organizes the Alpha Festival for photographers in Berlin in collaboration with Sony, and holds workshops on photography and historic lenses.