Goals of the IKF

 A word of encouragement...
 What makes a good picture...
 Avoid technical imperfections
 A well defined visual statement
 Avoid converging verticals
 Get the right illumination
 How can IKF help me...
Dear Visitors,

the IKF has the objective of preserving the industry-cultural heritage through photographic documentation. This is not just about pure documentation, but also aspires to interpret the aesthetic aspects.
Industrial buildings and plant have more than just functional aspects, and it is legitimate to recognise the attraction of such plants and to record these photographically. Our Internet pages offer an opportunity for publication of images and as a forum for discussion.

We wish to attract members who want to participate in achieving these objectives. We consider it important that the photographs submitted are of a satisfactory technical and artistic quality, and have introduced a democratic vote process which determines the induction of new members. In order to become member, you must apply with a brief introduction of yourself, and five photographs. After a discussion stage we then hold a vote.
We ask for understanding of this somewhat complicated procedure. The experience of other forums has demonstrated that this is advisable. We wish to avoid encouraging excessive publicity and visitation of closed and dismantled sites.

Disused industrial premises are sensitive, as is information about their situation and access.

Please send your application to the E-Mail address application@industriekultur-fotografie.de. If you are unsure whether you yet meet the required standard, or would like to develop your subject or improve your technique, you are still welcome.

You application should contain a short self-portrait, say why are you interested in industrial photography, which kind of subjects are you especially interested in, a few facts on your employee's background, age, place of residebce etc. Please attach five borderless photographs sized approximately 800 x 600 pixels / 200 KB jpg file. The photographs should show a representative profile of your work.

IKF has no membership-fee.
However, we request about an annual voluntary contribution of 10 Euro to cover the server costs.

With best wishes,

  A word of encouragement for applicants
(Uwe Pilz | IKF)

If, as a photographer, you would like to join our website Industriekultur-Fotografie, you will need to submit a formal application. We will then discuss your reasons for wishing to join, as well as the quality of the images submitted. At the end of the discussion, a democratic vote is cast; acceptance requires a simple majority of the votes cast. This is a stiff target; even I only just squeezed through.
There are many cases where, although the aims of the applicant would certainly be worth acceptance, the level of photographic competence appears to need further development. We regret having to turn down an application and we are concerned that we may be putting you off altogether.
Against this, we have set out specifically to maintain high cultural, aesthetic and technical standards. Our practice is to show a small number of carefully selected pictures with particular impact for comment and archiving, rather than all the ones taken last weekend, possibly not worked up yet. We do expect members to have mastered basic photographic techniques.
What makes a good picture of an industrial site?

I would like to answer this question with a few examples from my own collection. The criteria used do not have to be slavishly followed; however, ignoring them should be a positive decision by the photographer, rather than a matter of not bothering about them.


The recording of technical sites and buildings sensibly requires as much detail to be shown as possible. For this, a completely sharp picture is appropriate. A picture which looks sharp to the beginner, and good enough for the family album, does not always meet this standard. Sharp pictures do require a good quality lens and a tripod is recommended. Fine grain film, larger format cameras and multi-megapixel cameras increase the level of detail considerably. Digital cameras should be set to the lowest ISO setting. Stopping down the lens will give increased depth of field.
Demolition of Gohlis brewery, Leipzig.

The picture is not completely sharp. Backlighting does not help to bring out the detail of the building, and the flare at the top left of the building is distracting. The standing remains of the building are not upright.
  Photo: Uwe Pilz | IKF
Avoid technical imperfections

Pictures need to be free of dust scratches and visible effects of digital compression. Flare due to aperture reflections, and overexposed highlights generally make a picture worthless. However, even experienced photographers often have problems with this.
If you print your own pictures, you do need to keep everything very clean, as well as touching out spots. Digital processes do allow a range of defects to be removed. Using a lens hood reduces the likelihood of unwanted reflections.
Railway Station in Grosszschocher Industrial Area, Leipzig

Internal reflection provides an exciting impression, but reduces the amount of detail visible.
  Photo: Uwe Pilz | IKF
A well defined visual statement

Generally, the picture should concentrate on the main subject matter. A picture can have great visual impact, but with the main subject unsharp or away from the main focus of the picture. Such pictures do not generally find a place in our forum.
Mikrosa Engineering factory in Leipzig-Mockau

The tree in blossom, the principal subject, hides much of the building. This would certainly attract adverse comment within IKF. The visual distinction between tree and sky, and between tree and the building at the right hand side is inadequate.
    Photo: Uwe Pilz | IKF
Avoid converging verticals

This is the usual result of the common problem of being forced to get too close to buildings and having to use wide angle lenses. The camera has to be tilted upwards with the obvious results. Removing this type of distortion results in aesthetically more pleasing result. The traditional method involves tilting the easel, but digital processes can now achieve the same result.
Lippendorf Power Station

The building at the right hand side has particular intrusive converging verticals. The over-the-shoulder direction of sunlight does not help to differentiate the building elements. Poor choice of filter has resulted in the green of the trees being too dark. Overall, the trees have tto much weight relative to the main building, which in any case is only partly shown.
  Photo: Uwe Pilz | IKF
Get the right illumination

The illumination does need to be matched to the subject. Diffuse light is the best for bringing out small detail. Side light, as long as the sun is not too high, can emphasise surface textures. Sun directly behind the photographer gives even illumination and tends to flatten perspective depth. High sunshine produces confusing and hard shadows. Backlight (contre-jour) is hard to master.
Watertower in Engelsdorf Railway Overhaul Works

The strong backlight prevents an adequate tonal variety in the tower details. There is flare surrounding the tower and the trees, and the picture lacks contrast.
  Photo: Uwe Pilz | IKF
How can IKF help me to improve my photographic ability?

We are ready and willing to help anyone keen to make further progress. A starting point is our Gallery. New pictures are posted on a practically daily basis giving an insight into the aesthetic intentions of the various photographers.
Bookbinding works in the back courtyard

This picture was considered by IKF members as particularly successful. I personally did not see a great deal in it, and almost did not load this seemingly dull view. There are however lots of details in the picture which bring to life the history of the building, e.g. the rails in the entry and the various changes made to the windows. I have managed reasonably well to get to grips with difficult lighting conditions. Even the delivery van was not seen as intrusive.
  Photo: Uwe Pilz | IKF


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