one day at a time

Posts tagged “street photography

(s)hoe city

© Verena Fischer 2013

Berlin, Germany | © Verena Fischer 2013

© Verena Fischer 2013

Berlin, Germany | © Verena Fischer 2013

© Verena Fischer 2013

Berlin, Germany | © Verena Fischer 2013

© Verena Fischer 2013

Berlin, Germany | © Verena Fischer 2013

© Verena Fischer 2013

Berlin, Germany | © Verena Fischer 2013

© Verena Fischer 2013

Berlin, Germany | © Verena Fischer 2013

All pictures taken with: Olympus Pen E-PL3 and Panasonic Lumix 20mm f/1.7 ASPH.

Excuse the title, but that’s what it says! These pictures were mostly taken around Friedrichstraße, apart from the one in daylight which was next to the vocational school that is at the end of my street.

The last few days I’ve been busy developing and scanning film. Nothing to show yet, because I want to process them all before I edit the pictures further. I still have 5 rolls to develop and 7 to scan from my trip to Chemnitz. I hope I’ll get it done before we go to Chemnitz again over Christmas. Theoretically that wouldn’t be a problem, there are still 8 days to go, but the next 4 we will spend in Dresden. On that note, here a friendly reminder that there will be an exhibition starting in Dresden tomorrow which will also show some of my pictures. If you want to check it out, it’s at the Hole of Fame in Königsbrücker Straße 39, Dresden. The vernissage starts at 7pm. So, the next few days will be spent with the exhibition, sightseeing and we also want to see a couple of museums. It’s the first city trip in ages, so I’m excited already! Of course I’m taking a couple of cameras, so you’ll probably see some Dresden impressions soon.


up we go

© Verena Fischer 2013

Berlin, Germany | © Verena Fischer 2013

© Verena Fischer 2013

Berlin, Germany | © Verena Fischer 2013

© Verena Fischer 2013

Berlin, Germany | © Verena Fischer 2013

© Verena Fischer 2013

Berlin, Germany | © Verena Fischer 2013

© Verena Fischer 2013

Berlin, Germany | © Verena Fischer 2013

© Verena Fischer 2013

Berlin, Germany | © Verena Fischer 2013

© Verena Fischer 2013

Berlin, Germany | © Verena Fischer 2013

All pictures taken with: Olympus Pen E-PL3 and Panasonic Lumix 20mm f/1.7 ASPH.

Occasionally I feel the need to document my neighbourhood here in Berlin as well. As you can see it’s not too pretty actually. Of course it’s winter already, which always makes a difference, but one has to remember that Berlin is one of those places with especially long and cold winters. This look is a reality for a substantial part of the year. Too bleak for my liking! This winter I will spend at least January and February in San Sebastian hoping that the winter won’t go on much longer after that. Last time spring only came in April, so I’m hoping this winter will be a little shorter. Skipping at least a part of this dreadfully bleak season is already a start though, whatever happens.

Yesterday I had a breakthrough when developing film. I managed to push a roll of Ilford HP5+ to ISO 1600. I tried to push a couple of rolls to ISO 3200 once and somehow it really blew out the highlights. Considering that I was doing stand-development, this was actually an indication that I did something wrong. I researched stand development again and realised that I have been doing semi-stand so far. I usually agitate vigorously for half a minute and then invert once every 30 minutes. When developing film at box speed this actually works really well, but when pushing it was too much agitation. This time I did one minute of slow inversions – 6 in total – and then swirled carefully for 15 sec every half hour with 90 minutes development time in total (it was Rodinal 1:100 in a 500ml solution). I guess I will have to try pushing to 3200 down in the subway next. If I can manage to get decent results I can finally also start shooting in the subway with my Zorki.

As you can see, I’m still learning how to handle film. At ISO 400 I already feel rather confident, because I’ve shot and developed quite a few rolls of that. For box speed I have used D76, Rodinal and Ultrafin so far and I have the most experience (semi-)stand developing with Rodinal. Soon I will also try to develop in Caffenol, because I’ve seen so many nice results with it. However, when it comes to pushing or pulling I still have lots of room for improvement. At least I’ve now found one recipe that seems to work.

Something else I learned was that filtered water is not enough for the the wetting agent in Berlin. In San Sebastian it worked fine even unfiltered, but here I got some serious water stains which I only noticed after scanning. I will have to figure out how to rewash the cut negatives. Last time I tried it, it turned into a bit of a disaster, because I don’t really know how to hang them. For now I got myself 5L of distilled water for the next 9 rolls I have to process.


perfect fit

© Verena Fischer 2013

Berlin, Germany | © Verena Fischer 2013

© Verena Fischer 2013

Berlin, Germany | © Verena Fischer 2013

© Verena Fischer 2013

Berlin, Germany | © Verena Fischer 2013

© Verena Fischer 2013

Berlin, Germany | © Verena Fischer 2013

© Verena Fischer 2013

Berlin, Germany | © Verena Fischer 2013

© Verena Fischer 2013

Berlin, Germany | © Verena Fischer 2013

All pictures taken with: Olympus Pen E-PL3 and Panasonic Lumix 20mm f/1.7 ASPH.

These pictures are from the new set of my ‘down below’ series. Although I was hoping that could finish it soon as well, I think this one will actually still take a while. I also wanted to have an analog part of the series, but so far I’ve been failing at pushing the film correctly in Rodinal stand-development. My only test roll was severely blown and I have since realised that I’ve been over-agitating the roll. Instead of inverting every half hour I should only swirl when pushing. At box-speed my semi-stand method seems to work well, but pushed it just didn’t work at all. I will have to try another roll doing it correctly and maybe test Caffenol as well. This probably won’t be happening this month though, because I am way too busy on another project.

A couple of days ago I arrived back in Berlin after my trip to Chemnitz to shoot for my ‘Memory’ project. Almost every day I went to places that are connected with my past and took pictures. It was a rather strange experience, because almost everything changed or is entirely gone. The apartment building where we lived until I was 7 or 8 is gone, my kindergarten, my primary school and my secondary school as well. The only two places left are the house where we lived until about half a year after I was born and the building where I lived until I was 17. One of these houses I can’t even remember, because I could not even walk when we moved away. It almost doesn’t count at all, since in a project called ‘Memory’ I should actually have a chance to remember. So, in the end only one place is left and I’m not sure whether they will demolish it as well. After all it’s an ugly concrete block and they have demolished so many of them on the other side of the valley. However, I think this one is actually still rather inhabited and even quite central as far as the outskirts of town go. Maybe they will keep it for the time-being. The fact remains that four of five places where I spent my childhood and teenage years are gone. No wonder then that my encounter with the empty lawns or parking garages that took up these spaces instead was rather surreal.

Especially when I walked around the neighbourhood of my childhood I found myself confused and could neither remember in which entrance of the apartment block my best friend lived nor could I be sure whether my kindergarten was an older or a newer building. I think I remember a newer building and that it stood where now a lawn is. The internet confirmed my memories and apparently the kindergarten was demolished in August and September 2012. This happened so recently that Google Maps still shows an aerial view of the building. My primary school already disappeared a few years earlier. I already had the idea for this project several years ago and wanted to take pictures of the exact same places assuming that everything was still standing. I wanted to start with my primary school, but when I got there I had to realise that the building was gone. Since then my brother also had been in the neighbourhood and told me that our house had disappeared as well. Back when I realised that my primary school was gone I saw it as a reason to abandon the idea, but the longer I thought about it the more I grew convinced that I needed to try it anyway. It might be difficult to document something that is already gone, but I believe that this will add to the atmosphere of the project. It is strange that not even ruins remain, but this is what the planning authority of the city council seems to regard as progress. And besides, it helps to keep builders in work.

Although quite a number of places have changed considerably there are also aspects that were completely unchanged. The manhole cover next to the street where my best friend and I sat to count red cars, the hum of the electricity pylon which gives you a slight tingling sensation when you stand underneath, the winding path leading up from the tram stop, all remains the same. Somehow this combination of the familiar and unfamiliar added up to a rather eerie atmosphere. It probably did not help that the area seemed devoid of people, despite the curtains in the windows. Ironically I actually saw more crows than humans in the neighbourhood, which did not improve the atmosphere one bit. I tried to take some pictures of the birds, but when I got too close they all flew up into the air with indignant cawing that kept following me for minutes afterwards. There were so many of them! Let’s just say that I have had nightmares in the past that started in just the same way …!

The crows kept following me even beyond the neighbourhood too, or at least that’s what it seemed like when I was at the other end of town at my secondary school, well, where it used to be. Also there I got indignant caws and a lot of flapping wings at my attempts to take pictures and nevertheless they kept lurking around watching me intently. ‘Surreal’ hardly captures what it was like to be walking around in such eerie surroundings.

By now I almost finished the project. All that is left are precisely those places that are still there, the apartment block where we lived during my teenage years and the building where I only spent a few months. I will have these sessions when I am back in Chemnitz over Christmas and with this I will hopefully manage to finish the shooting part of the project. Next up are film development, scanning and post-processing. Of those I can hopefully manage to finish at least the development and scanning this month so that I can do the post-processing in San Sebastian over the winter. I can also develop and scan later, but I definitely need to finish the shooting part though or else I will have a break in atmosphere if the seasons change in the pictures. So far I only developed one roll. Pretty decent results I have to say at least from what I could gather by just looking at the negatives. I hope the other rolls turn out equally well.


kings

© Verena Fischer 2013

Berlin, Germany | © Verena Fischer 2013

© Verena Fischer 2013

Berlin, Germany | © Verena Fischer 2013

© Verena Fischer 2013

Berlin, Germany | © Verena Fischer 2013

© Verena Fischer 2013

Berlin, Germany | © Verena Fischer 2013

© Verena Fischer 2013

Berlin, Germany | © Verena Fischer 2013

© Verena Fischer 2013

Berlin, Germany | © Verena Fischer 2013

© Verena Fischer 2013

Berlin, Germany | © Verena Fischer 2013

All pictures taken with: Olympus Pen E-PL3 and Panasonic Lumix 20mm f/1.7 ASPH.

Two weeks ago I was shooting for my ‘down below’ project and these pictures are from the first session. As you can see, I had quite a successful session, especially considering that this is the second post on the session. I had several of these sessions and it seems that I will be advancing on the project a lot once I edit the pictures. Since I’ve been considering to make a book project out of it, I will probably continue along these lines when I’m back in Berlin as well.

The last few days I have been so busy with my ‘memory’ project that I hardly had time to edit pictures though. I will have to try to catch up once I’m back in Berlin, although I see myself getting busy developing and scanning film as well. So far this second project is going really well and I will almost have covered all the places that I wanted to capture. I will probably have to go out for another couple of sessions when I’m here in Chemnitz over Christmas, but these will be nice places that should not involve any emotional turmoil. That certainly can’t be said about all the places that I visited so far.

Among the more disturbing places was my primary school, or at least the place where it used to stand. I don’t exactly have happy memories there so I was a bit afraid that it might affect me badly. Already years ago I wanted to try to take pictures there assuming that the school still stands, but when I got there the building was gone and I gave up the idea. After all, how do you capture something that is not there anymore? The school right next to mine still stands though and since it has the same architectural design it was actually almost like seeing the real thing. Also the sports ground and hall as well as the gardening plot still exist pretty much unchanged. Walking across the sports ground was really rather uncomfortable, but despite the fears I had in anticipation of confronting this part of my life, I actually managed to get on quite well and stay relatively unperturbed emotionally.

Today I will go back to the same neighbourhood to look at the spot where our house used to stand. Yes, they did a pretty good job at erasing my past. The house where we lived the first 7 or 8 years of my life, my primary school and my secondary school have all fallen victim to the rather ironic policy of demolishing buildings to improve the city. Sure, they’re right that these buildings were rather bleak and ugly, but somehow it still feels wrong that they are gone. This city has a socialist past and sadly none of the architectural achievements of socialist modernity made it to Chemnitz. Architecturally socialism in Chemnitz produced rather bare and functionalist buildings – and still the city centre would be much nicer if they had reconstructed the existing buildings rather than to build these ugly modern buildings where none of them actually fit together. Albeit somewhat ugly at least the more functional socialist architecture was homogenous. The modern stuff they built instead seems out of place and is ugly nonetheless.

I myself feel rather out of place here at the moment as well because almost all the shops I knew have disappeared along with quite a number of buildings. The other day I wanted to warm up in the market hall when I was out shooting on a very cold day. When I got there I had to realise that it now was a bike shop. Every day I walk past some shop or building that had some meaning to me when I was little but which is now empty and abandoned or gone altogether. I don’t know whether I should read this symbolically. For years I could not even remember my childhood and I have abandoned the city and my old life there as well. Maybe it is only fitting that all signs of my past are gradually being erased. I can’t help finding it rather eerie though that my relationship to my hometown and the state of my memory should be reflected so appropriately by such city planning efforts. No wonder that I keep finding the experiences of re-visiting the places of my childhood so surreal. Maybe in reality I am actually in a padded cell somewhere only imagining my journey to my hometown. This sure would explain the strange resonance between my mental state and my current surroundings, because then the outside world would only be a product of my own making. That said, whenever I face such eerie doubts about reality I remind myself that it might just be my brain having problems to integrate my memories with all the changes that have obviously happened in Chemnitz in the last few years. Considering how much has changed it is rather unsurprising that I would feel rather odd about it. No matter how uncomfortable this feeling of derealisation might be, I have to say that it is at least rather inspiring with regard to my project. I hope that I will somehow manage to convey this feeling in the final images.


knorke

© Verena Fischer 2013

Berlin, Germany | © Verena Fischer 2013

© Verena Fischer 2013

Berlin, Germany | © Verena Fischer 2013

© Verena Fischer 2013

Berlin, Germany | © Verena Fischer 2013

© Verena Fischer 2013

Berlin, Germany | © Verena Fischer 2013

© Verena Fischer 2013

Berlin, Germany | © Verena Fischer 2013

© Verena Fischer 2013

Berlin, Germany | © Verena Fischer 2013

© Verena Fischer 2013

Berlin, Germany | © Verena Fischer 2013

© Verena Fischer 2013

Berlin, Germany | © Verena Fischer 2013

All pictures taken with: Olympus Pen E-PL3 and Panasonic Lumix 20mm f/1.7 ASPH.

Last night I spent a few hours working on the first batch of pictures that I took recently in Berlin while working on my Down Below project. Every day I went down in the subway and spent some time exploring, getting off at every station and taking pictures. It seems to be a good strategy, because I got a lot of interesting pictures and only spent a little more than half an hour for each session. After about 5 stops with trains every 5 minutes and spending 10 minutes at some stations when it was interesting enough, I was already saturated and had taken a ton of pictures with a good results. Some stations are obviously more interesting than others. Usually those are the ones where several lines cross and where more people get off. However, even the stops where you would not expect to see anything interesting can be worth a try, since one might get lucky. After seeing the good results of my first session I’m really curious about the next ones.

The last couple of days I realised how very silly it was to choose November for my plan to come to my hometown to take pictures. Boy is it cold out here! On the first outing my hands were red and stiff when I took my gloves off. These gloves work fine when I have my hands in my coat pockets, but not when I’m holding a metal camera! You can imagine how much fun it is to rewind a roll of film when the camera is really cold and your hands are already freezing before touching the damn thing. So, the first order of business was to get some cold weather gear, which meant going to the mall and getting myself some mittens and leg warmers. And did I mention that taking pictures involves standing around too much in the snow, which is a guarantee for numb toes? I’m hoping that wool inlays for my shoes will help at least a little bit, but judging from experience it won’t prevent cold feet entirely. Only walking helps with that and once the feet are cold they usually stay cold anyway. Somehow the gloves are still a problem as well. The mittens are really nice and warm and work fine with my Olympus, but they are actually a bit of a hassle while shooting with my Zorki. It works, but I tend to cover the rangefinder window while trying to focus, which is hugely annoying. Maybe I have to get some sports gloves instead.

The other problem while shooting analog in this weather is that the film tends to get a bit brittle. Yesterday I managed to break a roll of film in such a weird way that I still don’t know how it could have happened. It basically sliced a bit of film off the long side while rewinding. I guess I can be lucky that this did not happen on the whole length of film or else I would have sliced the whole roll in half. Normally film rips on the short end and you only lose a few frames, but this could have easily ended up ruining the entire roll. The way it happened I only lost about 3 or 4 frames instead of one or two with a regular rip. Ah, the joys of photography in cold weather! No wonder that I’m trying to escape this madness by moving to Spain! At least there it snows just a few days if it snows at all, while here in Germany it’s usually months of this weather! For this project there are only two ways of dealing with the cold though: Putting up with it now or re-scheduling the whole effort to happen in spring instead. I’m already here though, so I might as well try to get it done anyway even though it involves quite a bit of discomfort.


there

© Verena Fischer 2013

San Sebastian, Spain | © Verena Fischer 2013

© Verena Fischer 2013

San Sebastian, Spain | © Verena Fischer 2013

© Verena Fischer 2013

San Sebastian, Spain | © Verena Fischer 2013

© Verena Fischer 2013

San Sebastian, Spain | © Verena Fischer 2013

© Verena Fischer 2013

San Sebastian, Spain | © Verena Fischer 2013

© Verena Fischer 2013

San Sebastian, Spain | © Verena Fischer 2013

All pictures taken with: Olympus Pen E-PL3 and Panasonic Lumix 20mm f/1.7 ASPH.

Before visiting the Meret Oppenheim exhibition in the Martin-Gropius-Bau yesterday I wanted to quickly shoot a test roll at the Ministry of War/Finance right next to our destination. I had abused the film by boiling it in water for 5 minutes and wanted to see how it turns out. The only problem was that at 3.30pm it was already starting to get dark. With this light I only managed to shoot about 30 pictures and knew that there was already too little light. Back home after the exhibition I didn’t have the time to push the roll and so I was a bit worried that it might turn out a bit thin. Well, no reason to worry about light, since my film destruction efforts were a little too effective anyway. There were only 8 shots where the emulsion was not completely destroyed. Next time I’ll try boiling it for one minute only. It was a fun experiment anyway and maybe I can save a couple of shots from the roll.

The exhibition was quite nice by the way. I already visited it once before, but that time we went there so late that we could not see everything. Yesterday with enough time I could appreciate it all a little more. I especially liked her early work and the pictures of her taken by Man Ray. Most of her newer work was a bit too overly conceptualised for my liking. It seemed to lack the immediacy of her earlier work. Still, it was interesting to see it anyway.

The pictures I am posting today are probably the last ones from San Sebastian until I manage to scan some film. Since I just arrived in Chemnitz and my scanner as well as my negatives are in Berlin this will probably only happen in about 2 weeks. Not to worry though, there are tons of shots from Berlin I can show you as well.


too much icecream

© Verena Fischer 2013

San Sebastian, Spain | © Verena Fischer 2013

© Verena Fischer 2013

San Sebastian, Spain | © Verena Fischer 2013

© Verena Fischer 2013

San Sebastian, Spain | © Verena Fischer 2013

© Verena Fischer 2013

San Sebastian, Spain | © Verena Fischer 2013

© Verena Fischer 2013

San Sebastian, Spain | © Verena Fischer 2013

© Verena Fischer 2013

San Sebastian, Spain | © Verena Fischer 2013

All pictures taken with: Olympus Pen E-PL3 and Panasonic Lumix 20mm f/1.7 ASPH.

Somewhere between sleepless nights, writing and going out with the camera I somehow forgot to post some pictures. And no, these were not the fun kind of sleepless nights, but the ones where you toss and turn for all the wrong reasons. In any case, here are some pictures from San Sebastian. On that day I was having extremely good luck with the light and I’m really quite happy with the results.

Preparations for two projects are going fine, although I seem to be behind on both of them. Somehow trying to write 2000 words a day and working on two photography projects at the same time is a little too ambitious. Nevertheless I hope to get it all done in time anyway. Next time I will have to plan my November a little better so that I don’t end up doing 3 or 4 projects at the same time while having my sleep wrecked by completely unrelated issues. Tomorrow I will also travel to my hometown as part of one of the projects. I hope my ability to sleep returns, or else the project might turn out a little too surrealist. Oh well, one has to work with the circumstances, right? After all, the project involves destroyed film, so surreal is actually the aim. I just hope I manage to shoot and develop my test roll later today, so that I don’t end up going in there completely blind.


parallels

© Verena Fischer 2013

San Sebastian, Spain | © Verena Fischer 2013

© Verena Fischer 2013

San Sebastian, Spain | © Verena Fischer 2013

© Verena Fischer 2013

San Sebastian, Spain | © Verena Fischer 2013

© Verena Fischer 2013

San Sebastian, Spain | © Verena Fischer 2013

© Verena Fischer 2013

San Sebastian, Spain | © Verena Fischer 2013

© Verena Fischer 2013

San Sebastian, Spain | © Verena Fischer 2013

All pictures taken with: Olympus Pen E-PL3 and Panasonic Lumix 20mm f/1.7 ASPH.

I love it when randomly unconnected people line up and perform for my camera. How else would 2 independent people be biting their finger at the same time? It is also an excellent example for the reason why you should shoot with narrow apertures on the street. You never know what might be happening in the background! That’s also why MFT is a good format for street photography. It gives deep depth of field even at wider apertures. This might not be great for portraits because it’s harder to isolate the subject, but for street photography this is exactly what is needed.


run

© Verena Fischer 2013

San Sebastian, Spain | © Verena Fischer 2013

© Verena Fischer 2013

San Sebastian, Spain | © Verena Fischer 2013

© Verena Fischer 2013

San Sebastian, Spain | © Verena Fischer 2013

© Verena Fischer 2013

San Sebastian, Spain | © Verena Fischer 2013

© Verena Fischer 2013

San Sebastian, Spain | © Verena Fischer 2013

© Verena Fischer 2013

San Sebastian, Spain | © Verena Fischer 2013

All pictures taken with: Olympus Pen E-PL3 and Panasonic Lumix 20mm f/1.7 ASPH.

The last couple of days I have been looking through my archives and found a lot of completely forgotten pictures that I somehow never got around to sharing. Quite a number of them haven’t even been edited. Two rolls of film are still sitting on my shelf undeveloped and I’m quite sure I could find even more pictures in my archives if I go further back in time. Of course I frantically continue shooting pictures anyway. Is it getting too much? I don’t think so. I just need to find a better way of archiving them, so that I don’t lose track of them all.

On that note, the order of editing the pictures of my last few days in San Sebastian sort of got confused, so I’ll be posting somewhat randomly. These were actually already taken on the journey back. There are some more San Sebastian pictures still to come though and so time might be running backwards for a few days, at least on this blog.


beautiful failures

Since analog photography has much more creative opportunities to fail than “ran out of battery” or “ran out of space on my SD card” I thought it was time for a new category: Beautiful failures. In this category I will post all those shots that are interesting despite being quite obviously flawed:

 

© Verena Fischer 2013

San Sebastian, Spain | © Verena Fischer 2013

My film clips for hanging the film to dry are somewhat destructive. They produce these 3 circular indentations. The shot looked too underexposed to save and was cut off anyway, so I thought I was not destroying anything salvageable. Well, I was wrong.

© Verena Fischer 2013

San Sebastian, Spain | © Verena Fischer 2013

It was pouring down like crazy, so the film got wet. As a result the film was not transported anymore at the end of the roll and I had no indication that the roll was finished. I don’t even know how many times I exposed this shot, multi-exposure deluxe.

© Verena Fischer 2013

San Sebastian, Spain | © Verena Fischer 2013

Since my walk in the rain was like pre-soaking the film for half an hour the film ripped. There is also some sort of stain on the negative from who knows what.

All pictures taken with: Zorki 4K and Jupiter 12 35mm f/2.8.
Ilford HP5+ souped in Tetenal Ultrafin 1:20.