Lately a lot of people start conversations with me because of my camera. In Düsseldorf a girl from Libya asked me whether I was a professional photographer. She told me that her family comes to Germany every year, but this year they had to come earlier, because of the situation down there. She also said that they will not be able to return until Gaddafi was gone. “He takes all our money. He cannot go on like this”. I walked around town with this girl for a while and showed her where an electronics shop is so that she could buy a webcam to talk to her sisters. They are still in the country, because they are married. She also told me about their customs and how she is not allowed to live on her own or drive a car, because her father forbids it. She was only a year younger than me.
Yesterday I went out quite late when it was already getting dark. I actually felt too tired to take pictures, but I did my best anyway. I only had my 55-250mm lens on me and realised that this was actually a problem in the dark. It just doesn’t have a wide enough aperture for light conditions like this. The autofocus also hardly worked with the little light that was there. I took a picture of some people walking down the street and a young guy stopped and asked me whether he was on the picture too. I showed him the picture, but it was too dark, so he wasn’t really recognisable. He told me that he had the same camera and that he cannot afford more than the kit lens. And he also recommended a nice spot to take pictures and I wonder whether I’ve been there before or not. One of these days I will check.
Just a few meters down the block the owner of a restaurant was asking me whether I would take pictures at his restaurant too. He was probably hoping for some free advertising. I told him that it pretty much depended on whether I see something interesting or not. He seemed like a nice enough guy. I didn’t see anything interesting though.
Just outside the grocery shop at the corner Turmstraße Beusselstraße there is a map. Two backpackers were looking at it, consulting a city guide, looking at the map again and trying to figure out where they were. I took some pictures of them before walking over and offering my help. As I suspected they were looking for one of the hostels in my street and I gave them directions. The picture of these backpackers was almost the only usable one I took yesterday. Most were too dark and only one or two pictures came out alright. Next time when I go out without my tripod at night it will be with the 18-55mm lens although it’s hardly better in those light conditions.
I think all the stress and sleepless nights of the last weeks and months are finally catching up with me. I’ve spent most of yesterday on my sofa, watching things, reading and relaxing. It made me realise how exhausted I really am. I’m glad that I can take some time off now and just take it easy for a while. Originally I wanted to go to tango last night, but then I felt that I couldn’t face cycling all the way there and back and dancing and dealing with people. I just wanted to stay on the sofa and stare blankly at a movie or series I’ve seen so many times that I don’t need my brain at all. Sometimes that’s necessary.
Overall I’ve probably overused my brain in the last few months, since I feel like mostly watching silly movies. At least I’ve found some mind-space to read some nice books. I just finished The Innocent by Ian McEwan and Letter to D by André Gorz. Although the former was slightly predictable in the plot the actual way of putting things in the end was just crazy. One chapter I read with the horrible feeling of not wanting to hear any of it, but then it was too gripping to not read it. It reminded me of reading Stephen King books where you’re torn between the horror of it all and the absolute necessity to carry on reading.
Letter to D is a short nice book, a declaration of love from Gorz to his terminally ill wife. Shortly after the book was published they committed suicide together because they could not imagine living without each other. Parts of the book make more sense if you know a thing or two about the intellectual history of France in the last century, but the main message is perfectly understandable without knowing any of the names mentioned. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and recommend it warmly.
“You’ve given me all of your life and all of you; I’d like to be able to give you all of me in the time we have left.” (André Gorz in Letter to D)
The Innocent however depends more on your personal preferences. If you don’t like to be confronted with the terrible abyss in which humans can pull you sometimes, then I recommend not to read it. However, if you don’t mind being surprised in the most awful way, then it’s worth picking up a copy, because it is exceptionally well written in my opinion.
“The imagination was even more brutal than life.” (Ian McEwan in The Innocent)
Yesterday’s picture is of a part of a postcard that I bought at the Bauhaus archive here in Berlin. I was playing with my macro converter and since I couldn’t quite get my idea to work I ended up with my two converters just lying on the postcard in weird angles. I quite like the outcome of this little experiment.