Off to the island
… “On the other hand, I do go out of my way to get a good shot.” The Berlin-based photographer proved that while taking pictures on the bitterly cold island of Rügen with the new ZEISS Batis 2.8/18.
Rügen on the Baltic Sea is a magnet for many Berliners. Getting there takes only three hours by car, making it ideal for a short break. Christian Dandyk had already been there a few times, the last being in January 2016 to take some example shots with the ZEISS Batis 2.8/18. And nine months before that, he was on Rügen to create images with the Batis 2/25 and Batis 1.8/85. The weather then was bad but Dandyk went anyway, as the list of possible motifs was long. They had been well researched using Google Earth and already entered into his car navigation system.
Since November 2015, Dandyk had been carrying a prototype of the Batis 2.8/18 in his photo bag and tested the lens in many everyday photo situations. Now came the ‘field test’ under rougher conditions. Dandyk, a ZEISS Camera Lens Ambassador, had high expectations for a lens that he could use for everyday situations. Especially for landscape images, where the reliability of weather and wind matter most, a lens can’t disappoint the photographer when things don’t go as planned.
Contrary to all weather forecasts, the sun was shining when Dandyk arrived in Rügen in January of 2016. His first excursion was to the water’s edge along Rügen’s high coast and chalk cliffs. However, he soon found the path blocked with fallen rocks. Some tourists had still managed to make their way through, but “that’s nothing for me,” says Christian Dandyk. “I’m not a hero and I’m aware of the danger of Rügen’s chalk cliffs. In January, a piece can break off at any time and no photo in the world is worth taking that risk.”
On the way back, Dandyk took this photo of a pile of stones sitting on a log protruding into the water. Getting the motif to fit nicely into the image is a real joy with the wide angle with its 18-millimeter focal length. Here foreground, background, the forces of nature and human precision all come together wonderfully. Even if the ZEISS Loxia 2.8/21 would have sufficed to take this shot, with the Batis 2.8/18 the motif gains so much more.
In the harbor of Saßnitz on Rügen, Dandyk took this picture of the fishing boats. Using only a wide angle, he was able to create in one image an incredible sense of drama and expressive strength, aspects that Dandyk seeks to achieve in all his pictures. In such images, the converging lines don’t bother Dandyk too much. On the contrary, they support the atmosphere Dandyk wants to attain by creating additional tension. “I look for a play of forms and lines.”
Every now and then Dandyk likes to insert so-called “view-stoppers” into an image. These are things or objects – sometimes lines and forms, occasionally even errors — that slow down the viewer’s flow when they look at a picture. Of course, there are rules for constructing and composing an image, but those rules can be intentionally broken – provided the photographer knows what he’s doing.
The next day was heavily overcast. “If bad weather is good for anything, it’s that tourists stay away and you have a free, undisturbed view on the motif.” Dandyk drove to the chalk cliffs, better known as Königsstuhl, so that he could walk down the long path to the beach. But the path was extremely icy. “I’m not that brave and if I had known how icy the path would be on the way down, I would have dropped the whole plan.” Once at the bottom, he was rewarded with a deserted beach and fantastic view of the water. The foamy spray interested him more, resulting in this photo of the rocks among the waves. Only seconds later, a large wave crashed over the stones and got the photographer and his equipment wet. “At no point was I worried about the Batis,” says Dandyk, as his experience with the Batis 2/25 and the Batis 1.8/85 had already proved to him how well protected Batis lenses are against spray water. However, more care is recommended with the cameras.
That night, Christian Dandyk caught a wonderful view of dusk in the harbor of Saßnitz, where he took this picture. The fishing boats had been prepared for their nighttime journey out to sea, and the lighting in this scene created a wonderful atmosphere that Dandyk wanted to capture. Here, too, it’s clear how much more interesting a photograph is with the right foreground. For Christian Dandyk, the ZEISS Batis 2.8/18 fulfilled a long-held wish he had had for a wide angle with excellent imaging performance. Dandyk doesn’t even bother to mention things like focus, colors or contrast, as he takes them for granted with every ZEISS lens — and has never been disappointed.
Just as photography is a very diverse field, so too are the applications for which the ZEISS Batis 2.8/18 can be used. For example, thanks to its large field of vision with extremely low distortion, it’s perfect for architectural photography. On Rügen there are many exciting motifs for landscape photographers to explore. The treetop path, located between Saßnitz and Binz, is one place Dandyk had never been before. Previously he had only seen Rügen from above from a helicopter. “For the entrance fee of 10 euros I can fly for only a half a minute,” jokes Dandyk. Granted, the path to the top is not that exciting in winter. Yet the lack of leaves creates a new view. Once he was at the top, the sky turned cloudy within a few minutes, the island was barely recognizable and a light, cold drizzle set in. All of which conspired to put a quick end to that little tour.
Looking at the photo above, you can hardly imagine it was taken under such unfavorable conditions. “The everyday life of a photographer is sometimes more unspectacular and tedious than you would think when you see certain pictures. Sometimes I can create drama only when I’m behind my computer in the warmth of my studio where I do my photo editing.” A good picture simply requires time and lots of steps.