A drained pond in the morning haze.
Photos & Projects

Bringing Textures to Life with Ilford Delta 3200 – By Daniel Boklage

August 7, 2021

“There is a certain life to your photographs that extends beyond the organic matter.” Wow, does he really mean what he’s saying? That’s what went through my mind when I first read his review of my portfolio. And regardless how truthful these intriguingly flattering lines may be, they helped me understand that I can be a photographer, that Delta will be with me on this journey, and that perhaps something magical will come alive in Karpfenland.

An abandoned carp pond, overgrown with ferns.

Can you see its traces?

Portrait of a Cultural Landscape

Karpfenland is the name of the region in which I live and strive to capture. It’s a landscape created by pond farmers – half artificial, half natural, half useful, half beautiful. A calm yet dull terrain soaked in mist, reminiscent of Edgar Wallace.

A pair of trees in the fog is reflected in the pond.

What’s that cube thing?

Peace

I’ve always had a sense of the morbid. This slightly veiled, romantic mood that sedates you like a pain killer. In which everything is good for a short time. A deceptive peace. But peace nonetheless.

A drained pond in the morning haze.

Delta enables me to capture and convey this atmosphere exactly the way I sense it. Even through the monitor, I get the feeling that these images are made of velvet.

Lime residue in a drained pond.

The textures and structures of Karpfenland’s man-made landscape, the organic nature of its muddy waters, thick fog and moist earth – it is all made tangible by the grain.

Freedom

A quality that’s not only aesthetically pleasing but also liberating. Call me lazy, call me an amateur, but I don’t like tripods – and shooting Delta at ISO1250 frees me from this burden.

Trees and bushes reflected in the water as in a Rorschach picture.

Is a cultural landscape always also a landscape of souls?

Now I can work with landscape the way most photojournalists work. Handheld. Instinctively. Finally free to let my mind wander, and to ponder who shapes whom more: man the landscape, or the landscape man?

Reflection of a fisherman in the wet bottom of a drained pond.

A lot of carp watered in a net in the pond.

A symmetrical group of trees in a pond area.

Change

A few weeks ago, I did a bike tour down the Aisch river – this is the river that gave the region its shape and along whose course pond farmers, for centuries, created their land – and guess what, after having seen Karpfenland only in the rain, fog, and twilight for the last two years, on this trip, I finally saw the sun.

A summer meadow framed by foliage

A new look?

The river Aisch, framed by foliage

Since then I have been asking myself: Is this also Karpfenland? Is it another facet? Another chapter? Or is it a new story? If it’s part of the original project, then I need to figure out how to use Delta in the sun. And if it’s going to be a distinct project, then I need to ask myself: Is Delta the right tool? Whatever the answer will be, a thought begins to form: I want to let Delta glow!

A broken tree trunk in the shape of an arch

Summer sun makes leaves glow

A Book

From day one, it has been my goal to create a photo book. Something palpable to hold in your hands. An essay that combines thoughts and visual impressions. A reason to “schmöker” again.

To conceptualize this book, I created a website, wrote articles, started an Instagram account and talked with companions and friends. This has helped me to figure out what the story of Karpfenland is about and to choose the right photographs, so that I can tell its story with the right depth.

Today I think I’ve reached a crucial point in my journey. I must decide whether I’m ready to do the book, or whether I need to keep working on its content, by either embracing new moods, or by delving even deeper into the melancholic.

What do you think?

Thanks for reading. If you’d like to get in touch with me just check my Instagram account.

My name is Daniel. I am a Creative Director and amateur photographer based in Heroldsbach, Bavaria, Germany.

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17 Comments

  • Reply
    John Furlong
    August 7, 2021 at 10:36 am

    Beautiful, beautiful images – thank you for posting them. I’ve looked at your website and I think you have the clear basis for a book without altering the balance of ‘melancholic’ or introducing ‘new moods.’ Have you considered the inclusion of some poetry to give an additional dimension to some of the images ? Unfortunately I don’t speak (or read) German, so please forgive me if this idea has already been given consideration or is part of your longer term plan for presenting the images.

    • Reply
      John Furlong
      August 7, 2021 at 10:45 am

      PS – I can see you’ve got ‘literary quotes’ associated with some images, but I wondered if there’s scope for collaboration with a contemporary poet to give an interpretation of Karpfenland?

    • Reply
      Daniel Boklage
      August 7, 2021 at 8:26 pm

      Dear John, thank you so much. Yes indeed I am planning to tell the story with photos, text and maybe even some illustrations… 😉

      And sorry for no English website so far. That’s a “squarespace / me not willing to pay more thing”

      I think the book will be multilingual btw… Don’t hesitate to contact me if you are a poet 😉

  • Reply
    Thorsten Wulff
    August 7, 2021 at 12:53 pm

    Dear Daniel, you are ready to do the book. Just think of Martin Kippenbergers Motto, «Heute denken, morgen fertig» Go for it.

    • Reply
      Daniel Boklage
      August 7, 2021 at 8:28 pm

      Thorsten, thanks for your encouraging words. 🙏

  • Reply
    Nick Lyle
    August 7, 2021 at 2:27 pm

    Lovely work!

  • Reply
    Peter
    August 7, 2021 at 8:53 pm

    Wonderful photos; wonderful thoughts.

    Peace, I never really examined why I have always preferred back and white beyond thinking it allows for reflection and contemplation of the photo better than color. Yet with the word “peace” you really hit the nail on the head (if I might use a rather violent term). Black and white provides the peace necessary for reflection and contemplation.

    Thanks for this lovely, thoughtful bit of work!

    • Reply
      Daniel Boklage
      August 8, 2021 at 9:23 am

      Dear Peter,

      many thanks for sharing your insights. Receiving feedback like this is both motivating and inspiring 🙏.

  • Reply
    Ian Do Carno
    August 8, 2021 at 3:31 am

    Excellent images, before finalising a book you could also do some exhibitions with your local gallery, printing images. That can give you an idea on how to source your content and time to research and develop the book. I personally really like your images, it transported me to somewhere “dull, but peaceful nonetheless”.

    • Reply
      Daniel Boklage
      August 8, 2021 at 9:19 am

      Dear Ian, thank you for your feedback. “A peaceful nonetheless” 👌

      And guess what, a few days ago I got into contact with a local museum to do what? Exactly. 😀

      I am excited to see where else this project is going to take me.

  • Reply
    Wouter Willemse
    August 8, 2021 at 10:33 am

    Lovely images, and the morbid peaceful atmosphere works really well.
    Just out of curioisity: what developer did you use with Delta 3200? I’ve used it with Microphen and HC110 (pushed further though, from ISO1600 to 12800), and was always left a bit underwhelmed for the flat contrast I got out of it. Your images have a lot more punch, and do the film a lot more justice.

    • Reply
      Daniel Boklage
      August 8, 2021 at 11:46 am

      Hi Wouter,

      I don’t know 🙈. I work together with MeinFilmLab. They do the development and scanning. They are awesome. I just try to expose properly (read for the shadows at 1250). And I do some post-processing in Lightroom. Nothing fancy though.

  • Reply
    Nik Stanbridge
    August 8, 2021 at 10:54 am

    Lovely work. I’m always impressed when the subject matter helps define how it’s recorded. The use of grainy film for subject matter like yours is a great example and an inspiration. And it’s remarkably similar to a project home currently undertaking. A post here soon!

    • Reply
      Daniel Boklage
      August 8, 2021 at 11:52 am

      Hi Nik,

      I couldn’t agree more: The execution should be derived from the idea. Thanks for your comment. I am curious to see your work! Best. D

  • Reply
    Sroyon
    August 20, 2021 at 5:17 am

    Great series! I was recently reading a photobook (forgot which one, unfortunately) which had two or three parts, each with their own distinct mood. So maybe you could consider that. If you go down the book/zine route, there’s a really good book by Jörg Colberg – perhaps you know about it already? It’s called Understanding Photobooks: The Form and Content of the Photographic Book, and he goes into great depth on various details like sequencing, editing, graphic design, binding. He also wrote some supplementary essays on his blog, you might find them useful. All the best!

    • Reply
      Daniel Boklage
      August 20, 2021 at 8:57 am

      Thanks a lot. I’ll definitely check it out. Best.
      Daniel

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