Photography Blog of Paul Haberstroh

Thank you for visiting my new photography blog, it is a reflection of my former career as a professional photographer. Please enjoy the images! All images © Paul Haberstroh.

While I do not shoot professionally full time anymore, I do teach photography, videography, web and graphic design. The inspiration for creating this site happened while I was going through my archives of  images. For most of my career, I shot film. The early digital cameras did not deliver the quality that I felt my clients deserved. The early adopters of digital spent a lot of time manipulating mediocre images to make them look like film. Now, my phone has the same MP that my first DSLR did, and produces amazing quality. Most of the images on this site are scans of 35mm film, including all the black and white photographs. The classic car photography is mostly digital. Some of the travel and landscape images are digital, with some taken by my phone. See if you are able to tell the difference.

Paul Haberstroh Photography
Vintage Wedding Photography © Paul Haberstroh

One of the popular photography trends now is to recreate a “vintage” look to wedding photography. Black and white film did that quite naturally for me fifteen years ago. There is something timeless about black and white photos. While I always shot both color, and black and white films at a wedding, often the client’s favorite images were black and white. Some of the black and white films I used were, Kodak Tri-X, T-Max 3200, Infrared, and Kodak Recording Film. I also liked Ilford Delta 3200 and HP-5.

Photographing in Colorado was certainly a treat. The striking landscape and beautiful wedding venues provided a fabulous backdrop for the images. The opportunities for the camera were endless.

Many of wedding images may seem posed, but actually very few are. While the style may seem very traditional, it was really more natural and photojournalistic.


The Iguana on Aruba that started it all

Photography was always a family hobby. We had cameras by Rolleiflex, Agfa, Polaroid, and DeJur. For my college graduation gift, my parents gave me an Olympus OM2N that I still have and use. I never thought of photography as more than a hobby until I received an interesting phone call one day.

I had taken a hiatus from the corporate world, and had just returned from traveling to Aruba. Of the many photos I had taken, there was one of an Iguana in a Bougainvillea that I lucked out on. This shy lizard came out of the beautiful red bush just for a quick moment, only to disappear from the sound of the shutter. I was hand holding a 300mm lens patiently, and was rewarded with this one shot.

Iquana in Bougainvillea on Aruba © Paul Haberstroh
Iquana on Aruba © Paul Haberstroh

When I answered the phone, the young women on the other end said, “I saw your lizard, do you do weddings?”.  At first I thought it was a friend playing a joke as I had been bragging about this image being displayed in a well know wildlife and landscape galley in Denver.

I responded that I did not, other than a friends wedding or two that I had taken photos at as a guest and not officially. The young women responded that she really liked how I captured the Iguana, and she was looking for a fresh style for her wedding. I invited her to look at some of my other work with the understanding that I was not a full time professional. We met and agreed that I would be her wedding photographer. The wedding was a success, and to this day I use many of the images for my portfolio. The bride was very happy, and the next thing I knew she was sending me many referrals! Within a year I booked enough weddings to make a living at it! Ten years and 300 weddings later, I never thought an Iguana would cause a career change!

Infrared Photography

Infrared Photography Paul Haberstroh
Infrared Photography © Paul Haberstroh

Infrared Photography is created with film or a sensor that is sensitive to a spectrum of light that is not visible to the human eye. Infrared Photography was one creative tool I used to distinguish myself from other photographers, especially at weddings. Not many photographers in my day used infrared film for several reasons. Infrared film was expensive, challenging to handle, challenging to shoot, and challenging to develop. The film required handling in complete darkness, making roll changes on location not a very convenient option.

Camera meters are not calibrated for the infrared wavelength, and infrared light does not focus at the same point as visible light. Metering was mostly a guess, with liberal bracketing until I had enough experience to narrow the exposure settings. While an #87 or #89 filter gave more dramatic results, I used a #25 so I could actually see through the lens. Since I shot mostly weddings and portraits, I needed the flexibility to hand hold and move around. The results were dramatic enough, and my clients really enjoyed the Infrared Photography images.

Kodak HIE was the best choice for black and white Infrared film at the time with predictable results in the infrared wavelength (~750-900nm). I preloaded it into a vintage Olympus OM2N that I had since college, and shot a roll at daytime outdoor weddings, conditions permitting.

Much to my dismay, Kodak announced in November 2007 that it was discontinuing HIE due to lack of sales. I bought all I could find within my means, and I still have a roll in the refrigerator for sentimental value. For complete technical data from Kodak about HIE Infrared Film click here.

Rollei still makes an Infrared film, and Ilford makes an extended sensitivity film (SFX).  There are also digital camera conversions that yield good results, or you could use Photoshop to simulate an Infrared Photography effect.

Classic Car Photography

Venice AACA Auto Show
Under the hood of a 1957 Chevrolet © Paul Haberstroh

Classic Car shows and Concours events provide many opportunities for the camera. The artistry of the designs of vintage autos, and the painstaking restorations are truly a marvel. The elaborate chrome bumpers, wheels, and grills of a time past, real brass components, simple but elegant buttons and controls, finely detailed engine compartments and components, all make wonderful art. In a time where styling has become generic and copycat, the distinctiveness of vintage brands and models is a visual joy.

The sculpted chrome grills and hood ornaments of classic cars were a trademark of the brand. Nobody confused a Chrysler with an import in 1957. Revisiting some of the vintages I grew up with, especially 60s and 70s muscle cars, is always nostalgic and heart warming. Here are some images from the Venice FL AACA Auto Show.

Polaroid Image Transfers

Polaroid Image Transfer
Polaroid Image Transfer © Paul Haberstroh

Polaroid Image Transfers, also known as photo emulsion lifts, are the process of creating an image from 35mm slide film to Polaroid or Fuji instant film and then onto watercolor paper. This was another photographic art form that I used to offer something unique to my clients, especially for weddings. I always shot a roll or two of slide film at a wedding for this very purpose. One custom wedding album I made was entirely Polaroid Image Transfers.

Using a Daylab enlarger, the image from a 35mm slide is projected onto instant, peel apart film. After exposing the film, the part with the gooey emulsion that is usually thrown away is placed on water color paper that has been soaking in a mixture of  warm water with vinegar. The emulsion side is then rolled onto the paper for a while and then carefully peeled off. If all goes well, you are rewarded with a very artistic, one of a kind image. While Polaroid no longer makes the film for this eponymous process, Fuji still makes instant film that will work for this process. Original Daylab enlargers and  can be purchased on eBay.

The process required patience and specific conditions. The temperature of the water and mixture of vinegar, the type of watercolor paper ( I used Arches), the room temperature, and the exposure time of the slide, were all factors in the resulting image. Sometimes I was lucky the first try, sometimes I went through an entire pack of Polaroid instant film to get the perfect image. Here is a link to my gallery of Polaroid Image Transfers.