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.

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.

The magic of black-and-white (Part 2)

I have been playing high-stakes poker over the last months and now it all comes down to whether I am going all-in or not. It is not easy to make life-changing decisions. Making up my mind is taking quite a toll on me and so I decided to walk it off. I went downtown Nürnberg again and continued yesterday’s project of shooting black-and-white again. In order to get a clearer idea of what it would be like to own a potential black-and-white only Leica without LCD, I set the rule to not review any of the pictures on the screen. This would also be a test how good the focus peaking of the Sony Nex-5n really works – without reviewing I could not retake out-of-focus shots. I was surprised how much it changes the photographic experience to not review. One is much more careful with composition, exposure, focus, etc. because there is no second chance. So here are today’s shots

The first one was taken while walking. Manual focus can work also for moving objects. However what I did is to let the subject “walk” into focus. If I remember correct it was taken at f/2.0 where the depth of field is already quite shallow.

The next three were shot from the hip. Set the aperture to f/5.6 and focussed at 3m. At f/5.6 you have enough depth-of-field to get sharp shots while having still a high shutter speed to avoid blurry images.

All of the shots are at an angle – I guess I have to get used to leveling the camera correctly when shooting from the hip.

And one more from the hip. I actually made two passes because I wanted to get a shot of the guy with glasses in the back.

The next ones were shot close to Nürnberg’s castle. The weather was so nice that many people were outside and enjoyed the sun.

I guess I took this shot several times already – I just love this silhouette.

A nice restaurant close to the castle.

More people close to the castle. I love the contrast of a bright sunny day. While this is a killer for color shots it works quite well for black-and-white.

 This is one of my favorite spots in Nürnberg: the cafés close to the Albrecht Dürer house. Of course I had to have a coffee here as you will see further below.

My coffee 😉


More impressions from Langkawi, Malaysia

So I finally arrived in my hotel room with a lot of impressions from the first day. When I got up this morning the sky was a bit cloudy and overcast. From a photographic point this is more interesting of course because you get nice cloud formations on the one hand and on the other hand you do not always have to fight with “blown out” highlights – these are the white patches in pictures where the sky is supposed to be 😉

So we decided to go for the cable car to go up to the sky bridge and the viewing platform. While this was risky in the sense that it was very well possible that the clouds will block the view, we still thought it would be a nice idea.

In fact, the clouds did block the view as we had to realize pretty soon while getting up with the cable car.

I have been to several cable cars in my life but what is most impressive about this one is the last stretch when it goes up really steep. It feels almost like you are running into the mountain.

Once up on the platform it was really like being in the middle of a cloud. So how “thick” is a cloud? To give you guys an impression check this out:

While I was a bit sad that we could not really see anything of the beaches, the ocean, and the villages of the island, I have to admit that I really loved this cloudy atmosphere. It made all the difference.

At some point we had to leave because the clouds got so intense that you could not see anything anymore.

It was still early, so we decided to continue with something more cheesy and less risky: a duck tour trip. I knew this idea back from Boston and it can be quite nice if well organized. The main “thing” about the duck tour is that you are in an amphibian vehicle which can drive on roads and swim in water (these are old landing vehicles, typically from the US army). The tour itself was a bit unspectacular. Here are two shots of things that I liked on the trip. The first one is of these small fisher boats. They are very colorful and authentic – not flashy and fake as some other things here.

The next one is the complete opposite of the one above. Only fancy yachts.

To finish you off, let me close for today with some sunset shots – yes they are mandatory on such a trip. The sunset here is really amazing. I haven’t seen something that colorful and intense in a long time.

For the gear heads – including myself : All the pictures from the viewing platform, cable car, and the boat trip were shot with the Fujifilm X100 and the remaining one with my Leica Summicron 35mm on the Sony Nex-5n.

Walking Little India in Kuala Lumpur

Today I went out to Little India in Kuala Lumpur to do some street shooting. I had the Nex-5n with me with the Leica Summicron 35mm and the EVF. Nothing fancy, just a few street shots to capture what’s going on in Little India. What probably impressed me the most were the many food and clothing places in the alley ways.

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