City Explo[it | r]ation – Nürnberg Maxfeld

Last week I met with Sugar Ray Banister to do some city exploration in Nürnberg as part of my documentation project before I leave Nürnberg for good (clock is tickin’) – stay tuned for a separate feature on Sugar Ray Banister and his work. The main aim was to document the before and after of gentrification in the Maxfeld area in Nürnberg. In particular, Nürnberg is very much concerned about its image as a nice and beautiful city with its castle as one of the central cornerstone in its presentation. But in the end, the city is ugly – not because of the places that one might consider ugly but because of these half-hearted tries to “fix” it and make it a better place. So we browsed through the Maxfeld area and found some pretty amazing sights.

Here are some shots from our exploration discovering and depicting the contrasts and conflicts in Maxfeld (and Nürnberg in general). At this point in time this transition is creating a very dynamic and vivid tension. What you will realize is that in almost all shots you will find satellite dishes. This is mainly because the whole area is full with those ones.

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A couple of days in Berlin

I spent the last few days in Berlin. Unfortunately my plans of exploring the rougher neighborhoods of Berlin for a longer term project did not really worked out, mostly because long patches of rain and some other commitments that I made earlier. In any case I did have some time to take some shoots  – mostly around Prenzlauer Berg trying to catching the before and after of gentrification. I am also working on a related project for Nürnberg – more on this soon.

So here are the ones from the last days – without words. Enjoy!

My last days in Nürnberg

As this is probably one of my last weekends in Nürnberg before heading to Atlanta, I went out today for some more shots and tried to capture the atmosphere of Nürnberg in the summer. This is a highly nontrivial matter as Nürnberg itself is not a photogenic city. While it does have nice structures and buildings in the real world, when photographed most things look flat and ugly. Moreover the nice impressions are almost always destroyed by some clutter, be it just plain garbage or an unhealthy mix of traditional and modern buildings.

Next weekend I am going to be in Berlin, so stay tuned for some photos that will be quite different from this franconian atmosphere.

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Without words

I have been thinking quite a bit the last days about the impact of “naming” or “describing” photos with words.  While at first it might seem to be helpful because it provides context I started to think more and more that actually the opposite is the case. Naming and describing is a reductionism that removes some of the central elements. It deprives the viewer of the opportunity to explore without prejudice.  The opportunity to discover rather than to reconcile vision with words.

Erlangen’s Bergkirchweih 2012

As I said elsewhere, now that I am going to leave Germany quite soon I felt the urge to document my life in Nürnberg and Erlangen a bit. In this spirit, today I have some shots from this year’s Bergkirchweih in Erlangen. That is the drawback of film photography: you are always a couple of days late (I got the rolls back today). This is what wikipedia has to say about the Bergkirchweih:

The Bergkirchweih is an annual fair and beer festival in ErlangenGermany. Locals nickname it Berch, which is the Franconian pronunciation of the German word Berg, meaning mountain or hill.

The Bergkirchweih starts on the Thursday before Pentecost at 5PM. The opening ceremony called “Anstich”, which is carried out by the town’s mayor, takes place in a different beer cellar every year. Thousands gather to watch the opening spectacle hoping to get one of the free beers from the first barrel. Twelve days later the last beer barrel is buried in the cellar where the next Anstich will take place. The Bergkirchweih area is located in the northern extremities of the town of Erlangen and is roughly a kilometer long (0.6 mi). It contains beer cellars, booths and rides – a huge Ferris wheel is the Berch’s traditional landmark.

With its wooden benches under elms, chestnuts and oaks it is the biggest Open-Air-Biergarten of Europe with more than 11,000 seats.

The Bergkirchweih has taken place since 1755. Nowadays the time when the fair takes place is called the “fifth season”. Roughly a million people – about ten times the town’s population – visit the event, making the Bergkirchweih the third biggest fair in Bavaria after the Oktoberfest in Munich and the Gäubodenvolksfest in Straubing.

While these shots are a bit simple and mundane (i.e., they really just document) they capture quite well the dimension and the spirit of this festival. This one is my favorite one:

I decided to give the wordpress gallery a try to remove some clutter from my posts – see below. Let me know what you think and whether you would prefer to have the pictures separately or as gallery.

For the gear heads: All shots taken with a Leica M6 with a 35mm Summicron ASPH on Kodak Ektar 100.

Hamburg Speicherstadt

I just returned from Hamburg. As (surprise, surprise) this year’s summer in Germany is somewhat of a disaster I essentially only managed to explore Hamburg’s Speicherstadt 😦 In any case, I thought I’d share my shots with you. Wikipedia on Hamburg’s Speicherstadt:

The Speicherstadt (lit. city of warehouses, meaning warehouse district) in Hamburg, Germany is the largest timber-pile founded warehouse district in the world. It is located in the port of Hamburg—within the HafenCity quarter—and was built from 1883 to 1927.

The district was built as a free zone to transfer goods without paying customs. As of 2009 the district and the surrounding area is under redevelopment.


Since 1815, the independent and sovereign city of Hamburg was a member of the German Confederation—the association of Central European states created by the Congress of Vienna—but not member of the German Customs Union. With the establishment of the German Empire in 1871, Hamburg could not be a customs free zone and part of the German Empire. Due to treaties of 1888 Hamburg was part of the German customs zone and a free port was established.[1]

In 1883 the demolition of the Kehrwieder area began and more than 20,000 people needed to be relocated. From 1885 to 1888 the first part was built and managed by the Freihafen-Lagerhaus-Gesellschaft (the predecessor of the Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG) During the Second World War the Speicherstadt was half-destroyed and partly reconstructed. Since 1991 it is listed a heritage site in Hamburg,[2] and since 2008, part of the HafenCity quarter.[3] In an attempt to revitalize the inner city area, the Hamburg government initiated the development of the HafenCity area, for example with the construction of the Elbe Philharmonic Hall.[4]

Here is a cross-section view of the Speicherstadt from 1888.

So enough history for today – here are my favorites (not only of the Speicherstadt but a few more). Many more shots can be found below in the gallery.

I decided to give the wordpress gallery a try to remove some clutter from my posts. Let me know what you think and whether you would prefer to have the pictures separately or as gallery.

For the gear heads: All shots taken with an Olympus E-PM 1 and a Panasonic 2omm f/1.7.

Back from NYC – some impressions

I am back from NYC and already got some film back from processing. While I was there for some more mundane, professional stuff I also found the time to browse the streets a bit. This time I only took my M6 and a 35mm Summicron with me and I was actually a big concerned because when I decided for this setup I haven’t had seen a single shot taken with the camera – only got it a week ago. Luckily, everything worked out perfectly well and Leica did not fail me for any of the parts of the trip. The weather was gorgeous with one day of rain which allowed me to also capture some of NYC’s beauty in the rain. I do not want to give you too much of a talk here and let the shots speak for themselves.

The first one, one of my favorite ones, was shot in one of the narrow streets right after the rain. The air was still wet and everything looked very contrasty while the sun was setting.

Shot inside a cab on the way back to the airport. I love how the light falls through the window on the leather.

Wide streets and skyscrapers left and right…

I absolutely love those lights. You can find them everywhere in NYC and it is so “majestic” 😉

That was one of my favorite spots in the narrow streets. This small street was particularly packed. I like the dense feeling, the different lights, and the small street atmosphere.

This one was taken close to times square. Loved these signs. It is soooo dominant.

Another one of my favorites. This is NYC for me. Smoke, extremely varying light, street vendor, skyscrapers, and reflections on the buildings.

Reflections, low sun light, and colorful shops.