one day at a time

day 322: at night

at night © Verena Fischer 2012

at night © Verena Fischer 2012


Yesterday I only left the house very late. It was very hot throughout the day and somehow I didn’t feel like going out at all. However, since on Sundays all the shops are closed in Germany, I had to go out to buy some food. So, just before 11 pm – the supermarket closes at 11.30 pm – I went out with my camera and took some pictures in the backyards on the way.

I walked past the playground in complete darkness. The street lights along the path were off although it was pitch dark. A group of boys was sitting on the playground and they were singing in a foreign language. I couldn’t quite place it, so I assume that it wasn’t Turkish, although it definitely was a related language. I couldn’t see them in the darkness anyway, so I looked onto to ground trying to see the path. I avoided all the dark spots in fear of dog shit.

After crossing the next street I decided to enter the backyards instead of walking across the parking lot. I walked slowly along the street and one of these dark old industrial buildings was looming over me when suddenly an alarm went off. I walked into a dark alleyway right next to the building and ignored the alarm, although it was coming from that very same building. I didn’t give it much thought and just started shooting randomly. What do I care about what happens in some random building? I was way too busy trying to find the right angle to give the alleyway some depth.

After about 5 minutes the police arrived. There were 5 or 6 of them in full gear with bullet proof vests, guns and flashlights. They were walking around the building while I was still trying to take some pictures in the dark alleyway. Suddenly I thought, wait, they might actually find it odd that I’m standing here with my camera next to a building where an alarm went off. I put my camera in the bag and walked out into the light. One of the police officers gave me a side glance, but he wasn’t too interested. Obviously I don’t fall in the usual suspects category.

I walked out onto the parking lot pondering why the police officers were in full gear to investigate a simple alarm. Then I realised that it all belonged to a furniture store chain and only certain types would attempt to rob a chain store in the middle of the night. Immediately I thought of organised crime, of the German TV show Tatort (crime scene) and wondered why the officers had bullet proof vests but no helmets. All pretty weird.

In the supermarket everything was normal again. I picked up my usual groceries, shivered in the cooling section and as usual one of the wheels of the shopping trolley was broken. Everything normal, well, until someone dropped a bottle of beer right behind me. Glass splinters were flying everywhere and it made me jump, but luckily nothing happened. The loudspeakers in the supermarket announced that the shop was closing and I was happy to get out of there. After I had finished my shopping I walked back over the parking lot and along the pitch black path next to the playground. The boys had started a camp fire by now and were holding sticks into the flames.

I guess I live in a strange neighbourhood after all.


7 responses

  1. Interesting story and the photography is beautiful, the night may have surprises. But the adrenaline to shoot great pictures makes it all interesting.

    July 1, 2012 at 11:57 pm

  2. So nice to read your story; not only what happened but how you felt. With a morning coffee (here in America, so later where you are) it is quite a nice little morning event. And by the way, I have found in my experience that ladies make great documentary photographers in the sense that they can blend in. If I were camera-in-hand at a possible crime scene I do think I’d be questioned big time. I’m like this odd, messy-haired, middle aged guy with a nikon. Wuz up with that. No really, I’m enjoying your interesting work as a fine storyteller– a very noble calling.

    July 2, 2012 at 1:51 pm

  3. Super night time photo and a great story describing the events of the evening!

    July 2, 2012 at 4:40 pm

  4. Honestly… the stories you have to tell, Ms. F… fascinating! And they only add to your images! Again with that wonderful hint of mystery! I love the one brightly lit window… it’s almost like you’d expect a story is unfolding there… while the rest of the world is asleep…

    July 2, 2012 at 6:08 pm

  5. Great night shot. Has a feeling of quietness, if there is such a word!

    July 2, 2012 at 7:13 pm

  6. An eventful trip to the grocery store!

    July 3, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    • Definitely. Sometimes even the mundane tasks can take on such an interesting dimension.

      July 9, 2012 at 10:41 am

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