Tegel Ceiling

A shot I took at the airport waiting for The Listmaker to deal with upgrade certs…

Now I understand where Daniel Liebeskind got his inspiration for the JMB.

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Zero 7 – The Garden

Time to make another musical recommendation.

Zero 7 has been around for a while. You’ve probably heard their music in every cool hotel lobby, beach club, and chill-out lounge in the last few years, but their most recent album is a step beyond Simple Things and When It Falls, their previous two albums.

The Garden has a certain elegance. It’s modern electronic music for grown-ups, and the production values are clearly audible. Occasionally they come close to sounding like Van Morrison or Crosby, Stills and Nash on their respective early work, but injected into the 21st century.

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Two tracks, though obviously listening to them stream over the Internet makes them sound like elevator music…

Future – Zero 7

Today – Zero 7

The factory gate

Here’s a sample of the kind of photographic work I’m currently producing. I shoot factories, highway overpasses, and radio towers. I make multiple exposures, and then lay them over one another to ensure that the image has a lot of dynamic range. That way I have a lot of detail in the shadows. Then I put it through a black and white conversion, which I then reverse. Finally I do burn the edges in a software preset, which gives it this solarized appearance. What’s important is how you print these, and on what kind of paper. It needs to be a shiny silken (almost silvery) paper, but not glossy.

And it needs to be printed BIG!

I’m not wedded to this process, but I enjoy seeing these kinds of industrial structures in a surrealistic light. It takes away the functionality and draws the eyes to the texture. The parts seem almost out of context.

Click on them to see them slightly larger, but it’s still nowhere near as good as seeing them printed.

The first one is a factory in Berlin, near Tegel Airport:

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The following two were shot in Los Angeles. We rode Mountain Bikes into the concrete slab called the L.A. River. This is the 105 & 710 overpass, which very few people ever get to see on foot, or from underneath.

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Another one, from the same location. The trees sticking out over the edge take on the oddest texture this way.

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Both of the shots from L.A. are hanging in our house, printed at 120 x 120 cm.

Socialist Thugs

Proving once again that the worst thugs in Germany are currently to be found on the Left, not the Right, a former enforcer and body guard for the Communist leadership of East Germany (he was part of the Stasi) has managed to shut down Wikipedia.de until his entry is corrected according to his liking.

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Lutz Heilmann, pictured above, is actually a member of Parliament for a political party called “Die Linke”, a consortium of Communists, Socialists, and general stinkers who’s primary interests include taking Rights away, saying No to progress, and opposing everything while proposing nothing in return. Allegedly this man threatened someone via text message, and got caught.

Nice earring, good thing it’s on the left.

It is depressing to think what all of this means in terms of Freedom of Expression via .de TLDs (German Top Level Domains). If this guy can shut down the entire German Wiki over a single article, then watch the defamation lawsuits begin.

As an aside, it makes me laugh when I hear Americans call Obama a socialist. Here in Berlin he’d be considered something akin to a Christian Democrat, the German equivalent of a Republican. Read Die Linke’s English pages to get a feel for real Socialists.

Daily!? I’d be happy with weekly!

Josef Koudelka, one of the great photographers of our time, wrote:

“You have to photograph daily, like a pianist who must practice every day. You must retain the ability to capture what you’re seeing. Otherwise you will be blind, even though you can see.”

Actually, I read that quote in German, and assume it was translated from his native Czech. I’m sure it’s more elegant in his mother tongue…

I am getting so little time to photograph these days that I am seriously concerned about losing the ability to express myself creatively. To really capture what you see, especially when shooting people, means the camera must be an intuitive extension of you. As soon as you start fretting about the gear, and thinking about adjusting, you’ve lost the shot.

The problem is that I’m not shooting every day. I have to admit that my entire family is very supportive. They like many of my images, and encourage me to go out shooting more frequently. Especially The Listmaker says “Honey, go out and shoot for a couple of hours” but that doesn’t really work. It is impossible (for me) to simply slip into photographer mode between two business meetings. My mind is working on the business side, and can’t just switch over to creative mode.

…but I have pledged myself to try, and will make a point of carrying a camera with me as often as is reasonable. There are a lot of circumstances where it is inappropriate, of course… but having it with me will leave me with fewer excuses!

Snapshot of the day:

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Going out shooting with my 4-year old

I have been INSANELY busy, and I’m not sure why. When I look back through my schedule, I don’t see that many appointments, but for some reason I have had virtually no personal time in the last few weeks… which makes it a little more difficult to keep posting. I guess a blog like this will ebb and flow, and subsequently I’ve decided to make some changes to it. My plan is to create a new photoblog because my old one is slowly breaking down – the host is going out of business, so I will need to move it to WordPress.

Also, The Listmaker was in New York for a couple of days, which left me in charge of “supervising” the family. IVR (my oldest son) had a birthday party on Sunday, and TMR (the newborn) was entertaining the nanny with his favorite ingestion/expulsion trick, so HLR and I decided to go out to do some “street shooting.” My hobby is photography, but it requires a lot of time, and I found myself presented with a great opportunity to spend some time together while showing him how to get the shot.

The idea of Street Photography is to go out and capture people and the mood of the place. Some photographers are shy about taking pictures of strangers, so I thought I’d start that part of his education early.

We had a blast. Mine are the shots in Black & White with my fancy Leica M8, while he was using my trusty Canon G9:

In this first set, I love that he got the composition perfect. It is (easily) argued that his shot would have been better if he’d gotten it before the street cleaner walked into the frame, and that I should have turned the flash off for him…

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In the next shot, we decided to take a picture of a man reading a newspaper. Our shots are almost identical!

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But the next shots really take the cake. Ok, I was more patient by waiting for a good facial expression, but his framing captures the mood much better than mine does. I got the two impatient passengers, but he included the kissing couple in this departure scene. (Note his reflection in my shot).

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The kid will be a fantastic photographer some day. I hope he keeps at it as he gets older. A camera is possibly the only thing that gets a boy even closer to a girl’s heart than a guitar.