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.

the driver – stranger #5

Finally I had a chance to take a shot of my fifth stranger. She has been working as a cab driver for the last 14 years and was complaining about how people treat her in Germany. I could not imagine driving 12 hours every day for so many years. She has quite some stories to tell – that’s for sure.

the driver - stranger #5

I am quite keen on seeing all the shots in the end but I still have a very long way to go. A mere 5% so far – 95 more shots to go. What I find very challenging is that you usually cannot retake your shot and for example today in the cab there was essentially no light. So the shot is a bit blurry. On the other hand this is what reality is about. No retakes 😉

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 😉


The magic of black-and-white

With rumors spreading that Leica is going to announce a new M on May, 10th with a black-and-white only sensor I was very much reminded of the magic of black-and-white. So I took my Nex-5n together with the Leica Summicron 35mm and went out shooting in downtown Nürnberg today to shot black-and-white. I also developed a new black-and-white preset for Lightroom 4 specifically for the Nex-5n with the Summicron to get deep shadows and very contrasty shots. I mean, it is “black-and-white” and not “gray-in-gray”.

I still do not understand why I am so drawn to black-and-white –  I actually almost exclusively shot my 365 project in black-and-white. So here are a few impressions from today’s walk.

The first one is a cheesy one. I liked the shape of the tiles which were in perfect order and just one butt breaking it.

The next one is mostly one of my personal passions: chairs and tables. why? because it means that you are welcome.

One of the many churches in downtown Nürnberg. I like the texture – it has a lot of contrast.

Nürnberg has a lot of old building which give the city a very unique flair and atmosphere.

This is one of my favorite spots down at the water. So many people enjoying the first sun rays of spring. so many stories.

Of course I had to get a coffee myself however i chose the a different spot further down on one of the bridges. There is a very nice, small coffee and in the summer people are sitting outside on the bridge sipping coffee.

A classic one. Wanted to have a silhouette shot as well…

Later that night. Street, bikes, and lanterns.

And another one of the bikes.

Almost home.



More impressions from Chile

I had a pretty good time in Chile here the last day but I am extremely tired. Going from Kuala Lumpur straight to Chile was not a good idea 😉 Here are a few more shots from yesterday and today. All taken with my X100 – was too lazy to carry more gear with me.