Tag Archives: Niederösterreich

A pumpkin parade

30 Jun
A pumpkin parade

A pumpkin parade

A parade of pumpkins

Camera Pentacon Six
Film: expired Kodak Ektacolor 160
Photographed near Wildendürnbach, Weinviertel, Lower Austria, Austria, which is less than 10 km away from Mikulov or old Nikolsburg. 



Film or Digital

20 Jun

What’s better? That’s a stupid question.  Because to me the answer is obvious. That is film. The film is however a dying format. I switched from digital to film in 2008 after almost ten years of shooting digital. My first camera was a Sony Mavica that used quarter 3.5 inch floppies to record images. I guess those 3.5″ magnetic disks were called floppies due to inertia, their 5.25 inch predecessors were indeed floppy like a rabbit’s floppy ears, but they themselves were rather rigid. Though not a scientific test, this shows a degree of difference between digital and film, or wait, between digital and digital since of course film becomes digital when it is scanned. I myself prefer film because in my opinion nothing beats the translucence, the breathtaking tonal depth, the glory of a real analog transparency.  But when scanned it loses most of its luster and I’d say that digital without any intermediary, as in the image taken with a Sony A900, is certainly not worse, perhaps even better, than a 35mm color slide.  Of course  we are talking about display of an image on a computer screen, not the right way to see a photograph   (I believe that transparencies should be projected or looked at through the light while black and white photos optically printed on black and white photographic paper) but as far as computer screens go, the “original digital” is in no way inferior (perhaps better) that the digital image created with intermediary of 35mm E6 film and a cheap scanner.  I am going to shoot film though. As far as it is impracticably possible.

direct digital, Sony Alpha 900

direct digital, Sony Alpha 900

Kodak Ektachrome 100G, color adjusted, digitalized with Canon Canoscan 9000f scanner, No correction

Kodak Ektachrome 100G, color adjusted, digitized with Canon Canoscan 9000f scanner, No correction

Kodak Ektachrome 100G, color adjusted, digitalized with Canon Canoscan 9000f scanner, Photoshop autocorrection

Kodak Ektachrome 100G, color adjusted, digitized with Canon Canoscan 9000f scanner, Photoshop auto correction

It might become impossible at some point. With Kodak out of reversible film business altogether, and only Fuji left that makes E6 film chances are it will disappear in the nearest future. In fact it is already extinct in most of the world. Black and white film might hold on for a little longer, though 120 format is already in short supply, but with really, really only Ilford and neither live nor dead Foma Bohemia left around, the chances of film surviving seems to be slim.

Unless. Unless.

But that’s another topic.

The picture in the picture is that of gorgeous Romanesque church in the small town or rather hamlet of Kirchstetten, famous for its baroque palace (now for sale by the way )  in beautiful Weinviertel of northern Lower Austria, only 17 odd kilometers from my place in old Nicolsburg or Nikolsburg,  now Mikulov, where if one needs accommodations one can stay a night or two at the pension Mikulov or Nicolsburg.

Film test: Orwochrom UT – 18 – at the ruins of Falkenstein Castle (Burgruine Falkenstein)

30 Nov

Color or Colour Reversal or Reversible Film

DIN 18 / ISO 50

Made in Germany (German Democratic Republic)

Estimated year of manufacture 1981

Expired 1985

Used in 2011

Camera used – Rollei SLX


Orwochrome UT 18

I shot (in cold blood) a trial roll of Orwochrom UT-18. UT doesn’t stand for Unfinished Thought, of which I have  many, but for Umkehrtageslicht or Reversible, Daylight. The roll out of this batch expired in 1985 and was better preserved that the totally antique stuff from the 1970s which is however still useable for the purpose of faking art.
Film was developed strictly per instructions from the Orwo’s Holy Book (Psalm C 9165) though one heresy slipped through though – the first developer was intended for Fomachrom (a competing Agfacolor-derived film stock that was made at the time in the Czech and Slovak Socialist Republic),  and not the Orwo’s original.  The difference between the two is subtle – whilst Orwo uses phenidone and hydroquinone its Slavic sibling employs a mentol-hydroquinone combination.  I had to use the latter because I did not have phenidone for the former.  I developed the film together with (well, pretty much dead) Soviet Co-32D  (Tso-32D) – that entry describes the process perhaps in a greater detail.

Orwochrom UT 18

Orwochrom UT 18 120 format

I like the results. I wouldn’t have guessed off hand that those photographs were taken in the year 2011. The look is aged and reminds me of  delectable, original Agfacolor.
The setting.
The setting is Falkenstein in Lower Austria’s Weinviertel. A smallish though magic town of some 470 odd inhabitants that has one of Lower Austria’s most beautiful wine cellar streets.  In the Middle Ages Falkenstein was the site of a commercial court that dealt with disputes of all sorts with a geographically impressive extent of jurisdiction stretching from Vienna to Brünn (Czech name Brno).

Falkenstein has its own castle or rather ruins of one (Burgruine Falkenstein).  Fortified castle Falkenstein dates from the 11th century or from the time of original settlement of this part of Lower Austria – by primarily settlers from Bavaria – who also became the ancestors of the main group in the neighboring Southern Moravia until “democratic” Czech State under Benesch (Beneš), with American blessing, ethnically cleansed so-called German population of Czechoslovakia (mainly of Bohemia, Sudetenland and Southern Moravia) in a genocidal campaign of terror, murder and expulsion that was something even by the somewhat low humanitarian standards of the 1940s.  The Southern Moravia dialect was similar to that spoken in Lower Austria’s Weinviertel and was rooted in the Bavarian (Bayerisch), which is though nominally called German is all but.

Ruins of Falkenstein Castle (Burgruine Falkenstein) at Dusk, Orwochrom UT-18

Ruins of Falkenstein Castle (Burgruine Falkenstein) at Dusk, Orwochrom UT-18

The Lords of Falkenstein were vassals of the Babenbergs, the Ducal dynasty that founded Austria (as the term Ostaricchi became later transformed into Österreich) and predecessors of the House of Habsburg.  In the late Middle Ages the Burg Falkenstein was a site of knightly tournaments, pageants,  and feasts and it was probably very picturesque.  During the time of Reformation the Burg was used a prison for heretics,  mainly for Anabaptists.  I took a course in the history of Reformation at the University of Rhode Island under late professor Daniel and I still remember the Anabaptism  part of the course.  Only after I moved to Nikolsburg (now Czech Mikulov) I realized that I landed in what once was the hotbed of Anabaptist heresy and to an extent the place where North American evangelical sects (indirectly of Baptists, directly Mennonites)  spiritually originate. This is roughly the area from Lundenburg (Břeclav) to Nicolsburg (then Nikolsburg was spelled as Nicolsburg) and further deeper into Moravia and border lands of the Lower Austria. Nikolsburg was not a center of Anabaptism per se, but a refuge of sort – Adam von Dietrichstein, the owner of Nicolsburg (Mikulov) and then his son Franz allowed Anabaptists to settle in town because of their economic activities.  When the time was up, the trap closed.  Leaders of Anabaptists were  brought to Falkenstein castle, and this story deserves an entry on its own as well.  Anabaptists were chained in the dungeon of the castle – and there are still marks of iron in the cave that served as dungeon underneath the castle ruins where Anabaptists were imprisoned and were they sang their hymns before being dragged out and then marched on foot to Trieste, 600 km away. In Trieste, now Italy, Anabaptists were used as galley slaves, then a death sentence.  Austrian Emperors were waging wars – wars of defense really – against Turkey and Habsburg fleet under Admiral Andrea Doria was based at Trieste.  The galley based fleet was essential for the war effort. Two things that came to my mind there. Anabaptists were pacifists and did not fight even in self-defense, the sentence of forced labor in the navy must have been worse than death for them. The second thought was that although few people realize Peter I transplanted Italian and Greek warfare techniques, from the Adriatic to the Baltic,  andthose were based upoon a strategy of fighting galley fleets operating in fog covered bays and lagoons in Eastern Baltic . There is Galernaja or Galley Streets in St. Petersburg where Mediterranean and Adriatic style galleys were built during Great Northern War.

Path to the entrance to the Ruins of Falkenstein Castle (Burgruine Falkenstein) at Dusk, Orwochrom UT-18

Path to the entrance to the Ruins of Falkenstein Castle (Burgruine Falkenstein) at Dusk, Orwochrom UT-18

In the Northern War this Mediterranean technology and strategy ultimately defeated Swedish navy in the eastern parts of the gulf of Finland and then allowed Russian operations almost without opposition even along coast of Sweden itself.  It was about asymmetrical warfare at its best (or worst if you were at the receiving end) and its essence was that of breaking all rules,  something that kids get punished form but an art form in itself that Peter I, also known as the Great, became  great master of.   This somehow linked Falkenstein in Lower Austria to St. Petersburg on the Baltic.  As did the next stage in its history.  In the Thirty Years War civilized part of Europe became the target or rather the victim of what amounted to Swedish invasion which probably was worse than anything this part of the Continent had seen from the times of the Huns. The geographic scale of Swedish aggression was vast – from Novgorod in Russia to Vienna in the midst of Lower Austria and almost up to Swiss border; it was barbarous and savage, it was multinational as Sweden conscripted people from its old and newly acquired colonies like Finland, and it was semi-religious. Like the 2oth century was marked by the wars of ideology this was the era of the wars of religion – the idea of crusading Protestant power (in that respect both Nazi Germany and today’s United States meet the model of largely Protestant and ideological murderous empire bound on overseas contest, though of course Sweden in the 1600s was neither as bad nor as savage nor as mindessly murderous nor ideologically-motivated as the 20th century United States while the Nazi Germany, though evil enough, was not explicitly Protestant though it was in many respects,   at least in what was Austria before the Anschlüß,  distinctly anti-Catholic).  The Swedes (or rather a multinational Protestant horde under  Swedish guidance) destroyed almost all  castles and burgs in Southern Moravia and Lower Austria. In the immediate vicinity I can think of and drive daily around are  Nicolsburg itself (looted, rebuilt, though the Kozí hrádek / Ziegenburg was not restored in any way), the castle at Staatz (which I suspect was at one point owned by the Mozart’s employer or a member of that family),  Dívčí hrád  (Maidenburg – look here, the Lower Austrian or Bavarian word  for  Maiden is exactly the same as in English  and not at all like Hochdeutsch words  Jungfrau or perhaps Mädchen though there are of course Maid and Magd and even Mädel like in the Bund Deutscher Mädel , then  the smaller fortified castle Rassenstein, also known  Waisenstein (rather cheerily named Orphan’s Stone) in Klentnitz (Sirotčí hrádek in Klentice).   Falkenstein was also besieged and ransacked but it was apparently not destroyed.   When I first saw the ruins from afar a few years back I dated the destruction of the fortified Burg at the Thirty Years War , early 1600s that is, but I was wrong.  Swedes just looted it and proceeded onward with their pillaging business.  The castle was destroyed in peace time.  It was literally demolished. Its owners used it as a commercial stone quarry in the 18th century.   Living in fortified castle was no longer considered fashionable.

Bergfried / tower of the Falkenstein castle, Orwochrom UT18

Bergfried / tower of the Falkenstein castle, Orwochrom UT18

Austrians (or rather Europe’s Catholics) defeated the bad guys at Lutzen in Saxony, though it took Peter I and Sweden’s reckless war with Russia to put the end to that menace (from the Central European perspective and that’s the one I am writing from).  For over a century   Falkenstein  castle stood damaged by war but still pretty much intact though empty.  Bats, ghosts of Anabaptists and other heretics, this sort of thing. By then living in fortified castles was considered archaic. You were perceived as a dinosaur if you lived in one.   The burg’s owners – and the castle was and still is in private possession – decided to use the complex of structures as a source of income by converting it to a man-made repository of building stone.  So they broke the castle for construction materials but the structure was big and well-built like early medieval castles tended to be and so probably over a half of it survived to this day.  Some 200 years later, in  the 1990s the owners – helped by a local initiative – began cleaning the place up and then opened it museum-like to the public.  It is a beautiful and considering its history both an inspiring and a haunting place, which   certainly is  worth a visit.

When you enter the ruins you’ll see  is a real Mediterranean galley in the the court yard.   It was put there to commemorate the Anabaptists (Mennonites) who against their will were shipped off as galley slaves to the Adriatic to fight the Turks .

Because I shot more than one roll of Orwochrom at the Falkenstein ruins, I am going to post more images of the castle remnants at some point later and will make a separate entry  about the fortified castle and the town below.  One entry might not be enough, so perhaps I’ll split it into two illustrated chapters.

Burgruine Falkenstein - ORWOchrom UT 18

Burgruine Falkenstein - ORWOchrom UT 18

A final Orwochrom note – I am about to buy 200 rolls of supposedly properly stored Orwochrom (exactly like this one but in 135 format) from a dealer in Moscow. If stuff is still workable, then I’ll be prepared to share this historic film, exchange and sell to those who can afford to buy it and are willing to experiment.

Links: Burgruine Falkenstein, Falkenstein Commune, Lower Austria , Niederösterreich, Austria

Orwochrome, Orwochrom

slide film