Digital photography is more than just perfect-picture technique. It "sees" things not open to the eye and opens new artistic playgrounds. How – this is impressively visualised by the pieces of Tobias Barth. As a soaring photographer he is likely to fill the shoes of his idol Claus-Dieter Zink.
He was born and bred in Brandenburg. Early in life he was experiencing aviation technology. The organised GDR-youth-spare-time-activities were soon indulging his childhood interest with wooden model aircraft. Then the border collapsed.
Tobias was just 13 years old when he was allowed to sit in a glider for the first time. One year later he started his training and by 15 he was the youngest glider maintenance officer in his club. While other youth were raving about motorised scooters, he was completing his first 50km solo flight in a Ka-8. In 1995 at 17 years old he was completing his PPL-C (Private Pilot Licence – Glider). A year later he did double the distance.
Moving to western Germany a necessity for further education changed a lot, but the enthusiasm for soaring remained. In 1998 Barth joined the Flugwissenschaftliche Vereinigung Aachen (FVA).
Since then his love for aviation has known no stopping. Once again a personal long-distance premier. This time it was with a declared 500km flight with a Glasflügel Hornet. Additionally he added to his PPL – motor-glider as well as a towing and an aerobatic licence and started on short flights from St. Croix aerodrome into the French See-Alps.
His career education came to an end in 2000 finishing as a light aircraft builder. 8 years later he also finished university successfully with an aero-space-technology degree. Up until then he had little time for his hobby, usually spent on soaring holidays in France or new personal bests – like the 939km from Aachen and back.
The newly graduated engineer shifted his social hub to northern Germany and his new home became Stade near Hamburg. Likewise it became his new aviation home – with the local aviation club.
Regarding soaring his choice became a Glasflügel Mosquito (built in 1979). She accompanied him to competitions. For example to the International Soaring Cup / Klix. Where in 2015 he managed a podium in racing class – 2nd place! Or his first 1000-Points flight – a declared 650km FAI triangle.
But the young gentleman evolved not only in aviation. Inspired by girlfriend Katinka, who herself had an interest in photography, he discovered from 2004 onwards another fascination in aviation: soaring photography. Initially it was experimentation. The first pre-loved digital SLR-camera did a good job.
In 2013 he went on a big tour with his partner and a new Nikon D90: Africa! Katinka was with him and supporting and encouraging him with her opinion. Thousands of holiday shots were created, with which the young photographers' eye and senses were sharpened.
How lucky, that Tobias Barth's unusual talent did not remain hidden from Fotokalender Segelfliegen. At some stage we took to the phone, the chat got started, and the chemistry was right, our praise and encouragement had the right effect and it became a done deal. We wanted to work together. How wonderful!
* 05.05.1940 † 15.08.2010
The search for the ideal moment: combined with the soaring conditions this undertaking – more than in common photography – is like a Sisyphean labour. Light, vista, distance, fore and background – each and every parameter is constantly changing in aviation. Additionally often thermals are gusty, making photo composition nearly impossible.
Claus-Dieter Zink, doctor by profession and glider pilot by heart, knew about these particular challenges in soaring-photography. “The frozen moment inevitably always develops into the unforeseeable” he once said.
His initial flying at just 15 years of age had been a present from his father. His whole life Claus-Dieter Zink was devoted to soaring. Furthermore by 1970 he discovered his love for photography.
An initial hobby turned into a passion, throughout the years he developed and perfected a unique technique, allowing him to combine soaring and photography into a highly creative art.
Soaring and photography – the synthesis finally lead to the idea to combine the most beautiful soaring pictures in an annual calendar. An enterprise always very much encouraged and supported by his wife Claudia.
Since about 2005 the great photo-artist also undertook global voyages – from Austria, Italy and France to South America (Argentina) as well as the southwest of Africa (Namibia). On his extended journeys, Serres in southern France became his second home. Claus-Dieter Zink spent many month there. Together with other glider pilots he was taking off time and again from the local airfield of Klaus Ohlmann to new photo destinations.
Claus-Dieter Zink bequeathed us an outstanding collection. Soaring on the alpine landscape and the moody lighting of the south, his photographic work was of an unrivalled quality. His fascinating motifs, often from a breath-taking point of view, are just as much a declaration of love for the beauty of our planet.