Remembering Uwe Steinmueller
1 - Introduction
Uwe Steinmueller passed away on August 8th 2014. He suffered a heart attack. This essay is intended as a testimony of my personal relationship with Uwe Steinmueller. In a way it is also a testimony about his career. It is not intended to be a personal history of his entire life, only a history of my relationship with him.
Uwe Steinmueller and Natalie Briot at Point Lobos
2 - How we met
I met Uwe Steinmueller on the web, over email. I forgot what our first email exchange was about, let’s just say that it was about something related to photography. What else could it be?
We soon found out that we shared common ideas about photography, and that we had similar views about the relative importance of art and technique. Uwe was technically oriented and me artistically oriented, but we agreed that one had to master both the artistic and the technical aspects of photography to create world-class photographs. (That in short an even ratio of art and technique was necessary to create world-class photographs)
We realized that the direction photography was taking was more and more technical. We also agreed that it was something hard to avoid when so many dramatic technical changes and improvements were coming out, almost daily sometimes. We understood that digital photography opened the door for a new form of artistic expression, one that was free of the constraints imposed by chemical photography.
Over the years I met Uwe and his wife Bettina a couple of times in California, as my travels allowed. Among others I have memories of visiting Point Lobos with him, photographing cypresses in the fog and enjoying doing photography with him, Bettina and my wife, Natalie. I remember that we also tested the Better Light Digital Back on that day. Point Lobos is a photographic pilgrimage location in many ways. How could it not, being located close to Wildcat Hill, where Edward Weston lived, and being one of the favorite locations of Weston, Adams and many other past and current photographers.
Uwe was originally from Germany but moved to California and lived there for many years, first near San Jose then later in Hollister. Uwe and Bettina moved back to Germany in 2013. I stopped communicating with him around that time.
Patriarch Tree, Point Lobos, California
3 - The Fine Art Photography Summit
From 2003 to 2010 Uwe, Bettina, myself and Natalie organized the Fine Art Photography Summit. Uwe retired from the Summit in 2011 and from 2011 onward I continued to organize the Summit with Natalie.
The Summit started as a partnership between Uwe and I. The foundational ideas behind this event were the conversations Uwe and I had over email and later over the phone. We actually did not meet in person until the first Summit which took place in Phoenix in 2003.
The 2003, 2010 and 2004 Summit Logos
During these discussions we both expressed the desire to offer a yearly event that served as a teaching event, a seminar, and a yearly gathering of like-minded photographers focused on fine art photography.
From the beginning the Summit was seen as a multi-faceted event, a combination of classroom instruction, guest speaker presentations, field work, print exhibitions, print reviews and exchanges of ideas among photographers through formal and informal gatherings during the event. Above all we wanted it to be a fun and enjoyable event because if you love photography you must have fun doing it.
We decided to invite a different Guest Speaker and Instructor each year. Over the years the guest speakers and instructors have included Michael Reichmann, Jeff Schewe, Charlie Cramer, Joseph Holmes, Mac Holbert, Tony Sweet and many other world-class instructors.
We also decided to organize the Summit in a different location each year, this location being chosen for the photographic opportunities that it offers. Being focused on Landscape Photography, the Summit is always organized in a stunning natural area. Over the years we have offered the Summit in Zion National Park, Death Valley National Park, Moab (Arches and Canyonland National Parks which incidentally is the location of this year’s Summit), Page (Antelope Canyon), Bryce Canyon National Park, and many other fantastic locations.
Uwe and Alain teaching at the Fine Art Summit
4 - Outback Photo.com
Uwe’s website is OutbackPhoto.com. This website is still active as of August 2014, the time at which this essay is written.
OutbackPhoto.com was intended to be a multi-faceted website. As such, in addition to providing a place for Uwe to display his work, it also features camera, software and equipment reviews as well as photography tutorials. Uwe also sold his Photoshop actions and other photography software on Outbackphoto.com. Those continue to be available for purchase and download as of the writing of this essay.
5 - The 9600 Diary
I published a number of essays on OutbackPhoto.com, some of them being collaborations between Uwe and I. One of the main publications Uwe and I worked on together for OutbackPhoto.com was the Epson 9600 Diary. This diary covered my personal experience working with the Epson 9600 wide format printer for several years. It became a valuable free resource for many photographers. In addition to my personal experience, it featured input from Uwe as well as from other photographers working with this printer.
The Epson 9600 diary starts on June 21st, 2002 and ends on April 28, 2005. The first line of the first entry reads, The printer was delivered today. The last entry shows an undocumented tip for resetting the maintenance tank.
Here is the link to the Epson 9600 diary:
6 - Rocky Nook Books
Uwe introduced me to Rocky Nook with whom I have published four books so far. At that time Uwe had already published several books with Rocky Nook. Below are some of the most important ones:
Some of Uwe’s books
Here is Uwe’s author’s page on Amazon.com:
Uwe also published a number of self-designed books on Blurb.com. Here is Uwe’s Blurb page:
In addition to Uwe’s books, each year we also published a Summit Blurb book featuring the work of Summit participants. Uwe designed these books for the most part although some have been designed by Summit participants or guest speakers at times.
The 2007 and 2010 Summit Blurb books
8 - Working with others
Uwe was respected in the photographic community as a photographer, a writer and a reviewer. Uwe worked with many software and hardware manufacturers including, in no particular order: Adobe, Photomatix, HDRSoft, Canon, Xrite, UnifiedColor, Phase One and many other companies.
9 - Uwe’s fine art photographs
I kept the best for last. Uwe’s work is rich and varied. For the sake of simplicity I am placing his work in three main categories: straight photography, texture blending and HDR.
Uwe almost always photographed with his wife, Bettina. Most of their work is signed Uwe + Bettina Steinmueller or B+U Steinmueller because they did not separate their work into ‘his and hers’.
A - Straight photography
Bettina +Uwe Steinmueller
B - Texture blending
Bettina +Uwe Steinmueller
C - HDR
Bettina +Uwe Steinmueller
10 - Where to see Uwe’s work
You can see Uwe’s work in many places on the web. Here is a selection of the main locations:
Smugmug : http://ustein.smugmug.com
Photo Techniques Magazine: http://www.outbackphoto.net/news/category/californiaplaces
11 - Words from Tony Sweet
I had the pleasure and privilege of working with Uwe Steinmueller at the Fine Art Photography summit in Bryce Canyon with Alain Briot. We have been in email contact related to a couple of projects over the past several years since that summit. I did not know Uwe as well as I would have liked, as our only personal time together was at the Summit. However, in our subsequent email correspondences, I found him to continue to be easy to work with and accommodating.
You can tell everything by a person's work, as all of our images are ultimately self portraits. I am lucky to have a couple of signed books from Uwe. Uwe's work is direct, unique, and organic. Uwe was direct, unique, and organic. He was also extremely bright, no nonsense, and a good person. The world, especially the digital photography world, will be diminished with his passing. I will miss him.
12 - Conclusion
Writing a conclusion is not easy. What can I say? In a way, this essay itself is a conclusion: the conclusion of a friendship and of a partnership. I could say more but I find words to be ineffective in conveying my feelings.
In a world in which things come and go faster and faster, I hope that this essay will be both an acknowledgement of Uwe Steinmueller’s contributions to Fine Art Photography and a resource for finding his work on the web. Above all I hope that he will not be forgotten. People are not software versions that we discard after the latest update. We need to remember and acknowledge their contributions for the long term. This essay is my attempt towards this goal.
This essay is part of my regular column Briot's View