meeting expectations

Berlin’s Night of Music takes place on the longest day of the year, and that was yesterday; consequently, we are now on the slow slide into winter. That’s not really a bad thing as I like the winter months. It’s also the signal to begin the marathon of festivals and events that make the summer months interesting.

Like we have done for the previous two years, I – along with a group of intrepid artists from the Brücke Kunst – took up our positions on the crossover bridge at Berlin’s oldest harbor near Jannowitz Brücke. We do this to engage with people, both young and old in the process of painting, modeling, etching rubbing, playing an unplayable instrument and posing for an almost instant photographic portrait, all for a bit of loose change.

It may sound odd but we are getting repeat business, especially for the portraits. One family has gone from one child to three over the period and they have sat for a portrait with each new addition, becoming old friends, although I was assured that there would be no extra child in next year’s picture.

The two young ladies in today’s image are sisters from Melbourne, Australia who are travelling Europe and only in Berlin for a couple of days.

And if you were to ask ‘Why do I find this picture interesting? Because it looks like any standard tourist snap shot” then I would reply, “Where are the flash marks, why aren’t the highlights (faces) blown out by the flash, and isn’t the light nicely balanced to bring out the blue in the night sky?” It’s a movie version of what a snapshot should look like.

It looks like a travel snapshot because it’s designed to look like one.

In post some grain was added, a vignette filter to darken the top and warmed the image up a little, but other than that it’s straight out of the camera.

The soft even lighting on the young women is not the product of skillful lighting on my part, but modern technology in the form of a ring flash that cost just over €100. that I was using as a key light in portraits for the first time yesterday.

I think it is important to consider what a photograph will be used for, which in this case is memories of Berlin, and that’s why it is the way it is.

50mm, f5.6, 1/180sec, ISO320, Yongnuo Ring Flash at ½ power



I thought it a good idea to put up the original image from the latest of my relentless investigations into how the photographic process can be used, abused and manipulated as I struggle to get the camera and post-processing deliver the image I want.

Being digital the first thing I do after I taken a shot is look to see if the image is correctly exposed, but at the time the camera showed just a dark blodge with a highlight, it doesn’t look much better now, but this is the images that became the pervious post on the 25th , after minimal post processing.

As I’ve said before, technology, I just love it.

35mm f2.5, 1/20sec, ISO400

Starting before the Beginning

Pictures like this are another reason to consider starting taking photos before the floats move away, especially as time grinds by and those at the end of the queue become a little restless and bored. The extraverts begin to warm up their act with whoever is available, and a man with a camera is the perfect audience. Plus, there is plenty of time for everybody to get ready and there’s rarely a battery of competing photographers jostling for a good shot.

For those of you who can’t read German ‘Denken’ means think.


The set of photos taken before the floats began to move are undoubtedly the best of the marches I shot on the day.

24-70mm, f3.5, 1/200, ISO160

A Lack Of Intent, Karneval and Waste

Yesterday was Berlin’s Karneval der Kulturen, an event held annually on the Pfingsten weekend that attracts close to a million people. Many will party late into the night, consuming large amounts of alcohol that they need to expel at some point, which is unfortunately a problem, because public toilets at the Karneval are few in number, but patronized by many, resulting in very long queues, many frayed tempers and much urinating in the bushes.

The amount of people on the streets of Kreuzberg was incredible, the U-Bahn stations worse, but it’s all in the ‘Berlin Party City’ spirit, so laugh loudly and have another beer.

I shot a huge amount of frames on the day, most of which should be deleted, but being the digital pack rat that I am, I guess I’ll keep them, just in case such visual trash one day becomes art.

I have one, maybe two reasonable pictures from the day, which is what happens when one just goes out to shoot some pictures, in opposition to going out to shoot pictures of the Karneval.

There was a total lack of intent on the day, and it shows.

28mm, f2.8, 1/60sec, ISO160