All pictures taken with my Olympus Pen E-PL3 and my Panasonic Lumix 20mm f/1.7.
When we were looking for flats we once ended up in the old East near Karl-Marx-Allee. The flat we looked at was horrible, dark, in a concrete block and the only windows looked out onto a school yard. However, walking around there was really quite an experience. Especially Karl-Marx-Allee was great with its old socialist palaces for the good comrades. The other day when I was faced with having to fill 2 rolls of film over just a few days I decided that it would be a good place for a photo walk. I took both my Zorki and my Olympus and got on the subway. Of course the Olympus with my 20mm lens – roughly 35mm frame – was not exactly a preview for the Zorki with the 50mm lens, but it was a convenient combination. I could still take my street shots from the hip on the way there and still take my time with the Zorki pictures. The external light meter for my Zorki makes things cumbersome, but it’s very good practice. At first I guess what the light must be like and then compare it with what the light meter tells me. This way over time I will get a feel for light, which is a very good ability to develop anyway. Over the next couple of months I will try to fill 2 or 3 films a week and hope that by the end of it I will have a good feel for my Zorki and for light as well. And since my Olympus is so small and light it’s really no problem to bring both cameras along.
On my walk I also did a bit of backyard exploration related to the old socialist buildings at Karl-Marx-Allee. I thought that it would be rather sad, because there are so many concrete blocks in this area, but wow was I wrong. Nice big balconies looking over tons of trees, really beautiful! If I had to go flat hunting now I’d certainly try to look at flats in one of those buildings with a view over the backyard! The second to last picture shows you one of the schools in the area. It’s really run down, but such a beautiful building as well. The area is not great for street photography – it seems rather empty and most people are coming through on bikes – but it sure has character. And since it’s still quite close to Mitte the photo opportunities are not too far away either, another plus for living in Karl-Marx-Allee. Shame that I’m not looking to move in the city right now!
I know I talked about moving after this terrible story at my local supermarket, but at the moment it’s much more likely that I move away from Berlin rather than inside the city. Don’t get me wrong, I really like Berlin as a city: It has tons of museums, tons of things to do, an English language cinema and massive amounts of photo opportunities. However, there are aspects of this city that also drive me mad. The winter is rough, it’s hard to meet people because it’s all so big and anonymous, and all the opportunities the universities here used to offer for me have all lost their funding. In the end I have to face it: I don’t have much reason to stay here, apart from my crappy health and all the photo opportunities. Berlin was supposed to be temporary anyway and since I have been here without a clear end in sight I haven’t actually been happy. Berlin has given me many disappointments, the problem with the funding, the superficial and show-off tango-scene, the rough winter, the lack of social contact and so on. In the end all the cultural offerings of this place don’t make up for the fact that I’ve actually been rather unhappy here. I guess I need to re-think whether I should stay here after all. This is not a short term thing, I won’t just pack my bags and leave – at this point I can’t anymore because I have furniture here and all my books – but in the long run either some opportunity needs to come up or I’ll move to a friendlier place. It’s not quite clear yet how it will all work, but slowly a decision is forming.