So, what was the fascination with the X100 series and a fixed lens i asked myself when i first saw the camera back when it was introduced. I would feel so limited i thought.
That was before i had the X-T1 and the X-T2. I had used the Fuji X20 and really liked the look of that camera but it still had the problem of ”watery” green areas and always felt it lacked too much to be a reliable travel camera for me.
I have used my Nikon gear for such a long time now and love the quality and the reliability of the system for most of my work, but sometimes using it feel more like work and a chore when you lugg that heavy camera and the heavy lenses around town or up hills in the countryside. Also it screams ”steal me” wherever you take it, always makes you be on your guard when you walk around the city.
When i got the X-T1 though and took it with me to Paris it felt perfect. The first camera i could bring with me without breaking my back and that gave me somewhat of a similar quality to my Nikon gear.
Then i started to buy more lenses and get a pretty decent backup for my Nikon system that i felt i could actually use in case of my Nikon gear failing me in the future. Also it was a lot of fun shooting with Fuji and gave me a lot of motivation again which was equally important.
At the same time the lenses grew bigger again and when the X-T2 came a long i got that and its grip and suddenly the Fuji was not as spontaneous to bring a long as it once was and not as small or light as i considered it fro the beginning. It was still an awesome camera and something i love shooting with but not the little fun companion that you just enjoy taking wherever you go any longer.
So i felt i missed something and a feeling i had when i shot with my film cameras.
Something about just having a point and shoot and the joy of just being able to bring it everywhere you go and not having to think about post production or tweaking it for hours afterwards or having to switch lenses all the time.
So getting the X100F felt like coming full circle again. Never imagined it could be so much fun again!
Its easy to take with you, the film simulations are a lot of fun and the quality of the pictures even the Jpegs are fantastic. Add the easiness of ”Zapping” the Jpegs over to your phone through the Fuji app and you have a very cool travel camera that you can use for just fun documenting your time traveling or any social occasion.
This is not a review by any means and i wont go into any specifications or details but just trying to express the joy i feel using this camera and how much i like using it thus far.
Having that fixed lens now actually feels liberating and adds to the fun.
Look forward to sharing more pictures and thoughts on the Fuji X100F in the near future. I suspect it will be my most used camera the months to come 🙂
So i got the question about helping out for my wife´s friends wedding, and bride to be party. I rarely do weddings and when i do it i often find i like to help out on a smaller scale and then surprise them with some great pictures they were not expecting afterwards, instead of being the one booked photographer for that wedding. So this one was my present for them since we had a connection to them.
Also, that makes me able to do it totally the way i want, and that creative freedom is what makes it fun for me.
I began with the first task which was the bride to be party. So i joined the gang at a hotell in Stockholm to get some pictures inside the hotell but also go with the gang around town to get some fun casual pictures of the group that they could share after the wedding. I brought a light kit due to the distance i had to walk from where i had my car parked. My D4 and the 70-200 and a few primes.
I got 2 speed lights and a diffuser and a reflector for some extra kick light.
The environment at the Hotell was very nice to shoot in. I feared the place would be crowded, but it turned out to be almost empty except for the staff, so i could be relaxed trying to pick my spots for the group shots and the singles with Nok ( the bride).
To fit the group in a good place where the light would be sufficient proved the most difficult task, but I’m happy i brought the 70-200 as i could actually stand across from one of the balconies and shoot from the opposite side. The lighting actually reached them from all across from the windows behind me, and with some post processing it turned out quite nice with the beautiful bigger double door as a backdrop to the group.
After that i wanted to get a bit creative and played some with the depth of field to isolate Nok from the other group members.
Then i shot some singles of some of the people from the group and some couples shots as well for those being close friends etc.
I found a great mirror to use as a ”voyeur” shot of Nok sitting alone in the bar that i liked.
After that we went outside and just casually walked around town and had lots of fun posing them against different backdrops all around the harbor and streets in Stockholm. The weather was great, and the setting sun gave beautiful light.
I wish all shoots were that relaxed and fun!
Noks friends were happy to get some single shots they could share with friends on Facebook and send to friends afterwards.
A few weeks later it was time for the actually wedding night and party. I was not able to attend the ceremony as they kept that private, but i joined their lovely party that evening together with my own family. So i took my DF together with a few primes to take some pictures from the evening , lots of candids but also posed pictures with the guests together. I saw quite quickly that i was not the only photographer there . I counted 3 other hired guns to help the wedding couple. That did not bother me as i did this as a favor and also if they had one extra angle and my personal style adding to what they got from those other photographer, that only meant they had some more great memories from their special night.
It was a beautiful evening, and the food was great as i love Thaifood i was happy to take a break at times enjoying the greta food they had cooked. There were also some great performances from people that wanted to celebrate the couple, and i had some great laughs and some tears when the speeches were done.
It kept going into the night, and i had brought a speed light for that occasion too, so i got some fun pictures from the dance that evening but also from the fun and games. I guess i wish most wedding shoots were like this too! So relaxed and no pressure.
I know after this i already have some standing offers from other friends, so hopefully they will turn out just as fun and relaxed.
I know it has been a while since i updated the blog. But life has been busy. I have been shooting a lot though and testing new lenses as well as making some new projects.
This entry will be a quick one about a day out on an island some distance away from where we live here in Sweden.
A friend of mine that works with Lifestyle typ activities for people of all ages gave me a recommendation about this day that would be perfect to bring the kids to. A day full of activities and an opportunity to test them out in a great environment, this island called ”Värmdö”
As far as equipment goes i brought my D810 together with my 70-200 Vr2 lens and my 24 1,4 G lens to get the wide angled covered as well.
It turned out the 70-200 covered most of what i wanted to shoot but i was happy i brought the 24 as well to get those environmental shots with the kids where they were trying things but i still wanted some more of the background as well.
The weather turned out to be pretty bad, with the temperature dropping as well as light rain, but nothing i would be scared to bring the D810 with those lenses out into.
After a long ride with car and a few stretches with boat to get to the last island, we were finally there.
The place was buzzing with energetic people wanting to try every activity out in the area.
I met my friend shortly and he pointed us to the more ”important” activities to try out before more people arrived or the weather would turn for the worse.
So without further ado here are some pictures to illustrate what we did that day.
The kids really loved the setup at the place, where they mostly never had to wait in line but just run around like they wanted, trying things out.
The people arranging the whole day( a school with courses dealing with Activities and Lifestyle and health) also had a little kitchen set up with a BBQ making Hotdogs and Hamburgers .
The hot coffee and grilled apples with vanilla cause tasted extra good after some shooting i the cold weather and it was a well deserved rest for all of us.
This month i wanted to do something for my hero and lifetime idol( yes I’m old, but i am trying to keep young so i have idols! ) David Bowie.
My first Vinyl was Ziggy Stardust, so incorporating the ”Flash” from those years and those characters seemed like something i would want in a tribute photo.
My wife also wanted a few new pictures for her websites so we played with a few ideas and locations before and what equipment to use.
I wanted 2 indoors locations and one outdoor location and decided on shooting the first pictures in our bedroom where we have a big window to let some background light inside.
I wanted all shots to look classic in style and the first one was going to have a blowup background and use one or two light modifiers from the front to light the face up so as not to get just a darker siluette of my wife.
This was one of the shots i was most pleased with, but my wife kept the ones where you could see more of her.
In the beginning i shot with my DF using the Noct to get a really shallow depth of field. Those shots became really light and beautiful and the blur started almost after her temples. The only light modifier i used in the ”airy” light shots here are a Rapidbox Octa from Westcott with a speed light and the natural light from the back, and in some shots i used a reflector from my right to get some extra catchlights in her eyes.
Since i do not have a proper studio i usually use the bedroom or my hallway which are the bigger rooms and space to put up the light stands and backgrounds if needed.
Also it tends to get very messy and chaotic with our kids running around at the same time, and sometimes we get them in for a quick picture as well since we got all that equipment set up which is a pain to take down again, so might as well be effective and take some pictures of them while it is up.
Here is a quick picture of my daughter who liked playing with one of my wife hats:
After that it was time for the Tribute picture which i wanted against a dark background. I also incorporated a Hat i liked for the shot.
It was quite hard to create a dark atmosphere in the room though as a lot of spill light was coming in through the windows, i tried shutting it out using the curtains and use the bigger background to block it while shooting.
After i had done the shoot and looked through the pictures i actually took the actual Ziggy flash and worked it into the picture( yes i cheated!) to get the feel i wanted, i realized we would not have time to take the makeup off to continue with the rest of the shoot, so that worked out better for us.
For this shot i also added another flash from the back as a hair light and gelled it with a darker blur gel which in the end added another level to the picture in my opinion and a little more drama.
All in all i was very happy with the pictures from the bedroom.
After that it was time to go outside. I had chosen a location not far from our house in a forest where i had shot my wife earlier a few times. It is a little secluded so you get the privacy you would like when shooting and putting up your gear.
It turned out to be a pretty difficult shoot outdoors though due to the cold damp weather and the race against the sun going down!
Also i wanted to try out a few new triggers from Phottix i had bought since the SU-800 was difficult to use outside as a transmitter due to the infrared getting blocked easier there.
As it turned out the Odin trigger was a little bit too big to fit under the flash when it was mounted against the Rapid octa softbox…Now there is the problem you run into when you have not tried your new stuff out in beforehand. It is always a treat finding it out the hard way during a shoot with a cold wife and the patience running out fast..
I improvised and got the trigger working and used my Noct and my 70-200 VR 2 for these pictures since it was so dark.
Really, shooting in the dark like we did was not something i would recommend. I had to crank the ISO way up but with the cameras nowadays it is still possible to get decent results.
I wanted something a little more creative in these shots so i decided to play a bit with some gels and the white balance to create some different effects.
This is how it turned out…
The softbox was gelled with a full cut of orange so the contrast became quite big with the white balance put to fluorescent . I kind of liked the effect i got.
So this was my Tribute shot for David Bowie. Now i am looking forward to spring to be honest, but i might do another shoot or two before the winter is out here in Sweden.
/Over and out…
So i promised to continue with the blog about my Berlin trip. And this will be my last entry for that trip. I wanted to touch on a few things i left out in my last blog about Kreuzberg.
We covered a lot of things those 5 days we spent in Berlin and i felt we did almost all the things we set out to do. Even if 5 days is not enough to completely cover and larger city to be honest.
I already told you about the fantastic tour with Brian , and exciting and exotic Kreuzberg. So what more did we see, well i would not do Berlin justice if i left out our trip to Sanssouci i Potsdam.
That was something i decided upon after we realized trying to squeeze in a quick trip to Auschwitz would not come to fruition. It would have taken too much time from our schedule, so i thought Potsdam would at least be something where we have to leave Berlin and go outside but not be too far off.
Also from what i heard it was a magnificent place to visit. It took about an hour to go there by train, the day was very hot once again but this time i prepared with better sunscreen to save myself the horror from last day to Kreuzberg!
We arrived in Potsdam and had to take the bus the last bit and it was not a very pleasant experience to say the least. It was packed to its limit with people going to visit the castle and gardens.
The only positive thing i can take from it was a very very nice older couple from Usa that i had a chat about many things before finally arriving at our common destination.
Being somewhat late we almost did not get a ticket to the castle itself, and standing in line to buy it took about 40 minutes itself, and while waiting you could see the number of tickets available getting lower and lower making everyone in line anxious not to get one before it was too late. We were lucky though and got a family ticket which was pretty expensive!
Also after getting our tickets the waiting time to actually get into the gardens and see the castle was 1 hour. What to do? Well, we decided to get something to eat and had a look around. There was a cafe/lunch place linked to this interesting looking Windmill just across the ticket office. As with everything else around this area at this time it was crowded and we knew we had to fight to get somewhere to sit while eating.
The food was not horrible, but made without ANY love at all, and a lunch sallad consisted of a plate with some cucumber that was hacked and some weird ham sprinkled on the side. And for that we payed a horrific price. So stay away from that place, just have look at the Windmill afterwards instead. You can go inside and get some historic facts about the Windmill and surroundings.
So when the hour was up we started making our way around the gardens and Castle, which in the end made it all worth it. The surroundings are breathtaking to say the least. I just wish it would have been a little bit cooler and it would have been perfect. I was on the brink of dehydration but my wife and son was worse than me. Still we managed to find some shadow in between. It is actually a substantial walk, so be prepared and bring water and maybe something to eat.
We stopped at yet another cafe at the second castle which was the kings ”vacation” house( a pretty fabulous summer place !). The prices were not better there, so stay away from that place as well. I can see why people feel they have to go in there though as there is nothing else around to get something to eat or drink.
You can also get into the Vacation castle and look at the rooms where the prince spent his days. The rooms hav different themes and are spectacular. I remember 2 specific rooms where the themes were the sea and animal kingdom, and in the sea room the walls and ceiling was covered with seashells that made up everything. Statues, paintings, everything was made out of the shells almost. Amazing. The creativity was really cool to see. Unfortunately you could not use the camera inside.
After that we spent the rest of the time in the gardens before we went home. And as i said, almost the gardens by itself would have been enough for the trip there.
here are some shots from there and around the castle Sanssouci ( which means ”without troubles” basically ).
After we got back from Sanssoucie we had a few days left to go around and do some shopping and see the rest of the more well known places inside of Berlin.
And i made a mental note to spend a few hours at the Hauptbahnhof since i know it would be a great place to tak some pictures at. I heard many photographers went there just because of the architecture of the place but also a busy train station is a great place for watching meetings between people and seeing stories unfold while you document it with your camera.
We actually had out hotel just outside the Hauptbahnhof so i knew we would have some time just before leaving Berlin, so i saved that for the last day.
Other than that we just had a blast walking around Berlin with nothing really planned those last days.
Nang enjoyed shopping at Ka Da Wee which is one of the most famous shopping malls. Huge place, but nothing for me. I think nowadays those malls look the same wherever you go in Europe. Nothing special any longer.
Also we briefly saw the Bombed out church which stands in the middle of Berlin and the shopping streets, quite close to Ka Da Wee actually. It stands there as sort of the last monument to remind the Berliners of the horrors that comes with war, and they had decided to leave it as it is as that reminder forever. We also had time for a boat trip our last day which i felt was not really necessary since we already saw what we wanted to see. It was kind of fun seeing the places we walked by from another perspective though and also going by boat like that the city get compressed since you go around everything much faster. The service and prices on the smal sightseeing boat was pretty bad though.
So, last hours before leaving exciting Berlin i spent at the Hauptbahnhof shooting some, and i felt that was a great ending to this magnificent trip.
I am definitely going back there some day. And next time I’m planning to go by Poland and see one of the camps there. Its something i have to do.
But i will also go back to Berlin itself for its originality and people. Because i felt like it although not the most spectacular sights in the world, it had a pulse and diversity i really really liked.
So i did this photoshoot for a friend a while back. It was going to be for an article in a Swedish newspaper.
He called me and asked me to do something close to where i live in Sweden,
I thought it through and decided i would do the shoot in the school i went to as a child.
His company is promoting an app that is against bullying so i like the idea and decided i would not charge him for it, also i saw it as a fun exercise for my photography and to test my new Westcott Rapid softbox out.
It turned out to be quite a cold day and i know some shots my friend wanted to wear only a T-shirt with the brand which i thought was kind of fun. He would suffer in this shoot for sure!
The shoot took like 3 or more hours all in all and we shot at 2 different places, the school and also a private airfield nearby which at the airport ended quite late just before sunset. beautiful.
My kids were also involved in a few pictures which was fun for them and made the shoot pretty fun and spontaneous.
So after the day was at its end we went and had a a few Hotdogs together, the kind of shoot that everyone have fun. I know my friend DID suffer from the cold, but so did i from time to time and the wind actually knocked down my softball a few times and i also forgot my glove at one of the location which was kind of annoying!
Still it was a fun experience.
The newspaper apparently choose 3 images which i have yet to see…
Here are some images from the shoot.
So, Autumn is here. Just thought i would make a quick entry about that and upload a few pictures that i took exploring the wonderful colors we all associate with Autumn.
To be honest, overall Autumn is not my favorite season here in Sweden. But the few days where the sun shines through the bleak autumn sky, it can be magic. And every year it makes me go out to capture it, even if just a few shots to make me feel i have done it so i can cross it off my list of things to do.
This particular day i had the family elsewhere so it was a good opportunity to go out for almost the whole day to find some good places and also just relax. The weather was definitely just as i wanted it to capture the colors.
I decided to go to a place called Bogesund which is located about 10 kilometers from where i live. There is an old castle there and also a lot of forest and some sea nearby that we usually visit during the summer.
But one of the best things besides having good locations to shoot is a cafe called the ”Parkvilla”. One of the better places around these parts if you are looking for homebaked bread and pies.
That it is located like 100 meters from a fairytale castle and the garden to match does not hurt either in my opinion.
So i sped down the serpentine roads of Waxholm nearby the place of my destination and passed a place i also think is very cool. It is a Bog that looks very eerie at night and pretty spectacular during daytime.
You can sense people in the old days had to stay clear of this area due to getting stuck or drown there in the bog.
So i parked just beside it and shot some frames before continuing to the Cafe where i would begin my expedition.
At the cafe it was unfortunately not deserted!
But considering the weather and time of day that was not so strange. I ordered a home baked apple pie with vanilla sause and a huge home baked cinnamon bun and sat there marveling at the view and feeling the sun on my face while i drank that fresh coffee. So a little slice of paradise there before traveling further.
Then i got going and walked around the castle and castle gardens. I have been there several times in the past so i did not really find anything that i had not seen before, but i just felt like i wanted to view it now in autumn to snap a few pictures before going to other places nearby. The forest around the castle consist of a lot of oak trees and birch trees. Beautiful in the Autumn. So done with the castle and its grounds i traveled further into the forest down to the sea where i found the sun started slowly to go down, creating probably the most beautiful scenery i had seen this autumn with the swans traveling the sea and the sun shining on the beautiful birch trees nearby the little beach. The kind of day you thank the higher powers for being alive and be allowed to witness something like that before your life is over. Great stuff indeed.
After strolling the beach getting those shots i wanted i walked to the car and started to go into the forest nearby because i spotted a hill not too far away where it looked like the sun just about reached the top.
At the top i managed to find a strange place where some trees had died in the middle of the hill. It looked so sad. But at same time very natural. The beauty of the yellow colored birch trees around surrounding the dead old grey tree. Almost like they were paying homage to its life.
I tried to capture that but i am not sure i did it justice to be honest. But here is another shot that i thought looked interesting. After climbing down i wnt to the car again and started to head home. I actually stopped by the Bog because i wanted to go a little closer through the woods. That proved to be a bit difficult but i managed to get pretty close without going down into the bog and becoming a zombie they would stumble upon in centuries later.
It looked like a cemetery for dead birch trees near the Bog and i got a few frames there before hurrying back to the care parked beside the road.Then i went back towards my home and i had one final stop in mind that i had seen from the road. An alley that would look very nice near sunset and the time proved perfect if not too perfect because i knew i only had like 30 minutes before the sun would disappear ! So i parked nearby a church there, set the tripod and took a few shots just before the sun went down. After that i felt like i had enough and with not much light left i felt i had been a good a good time to call it quits.
As i went back though fate had something else in mind. Like a few kilometers from my home , the fog started to roll in from all over and i realized this would not only become somewhat of a hazard to the cars driving but also be a pretty cool thing to document somehow before the last bit of light left the sky.
I Sped towards the Church in my hometown and the fog was all over now making it difficult to see much. I set the tripod and took a few atmospheric photos of the church and surroundings before giving up finally. I got back to the car and went to pick up my family that were patiently waiting at the translation a few kilometers away…
So that was my blog from this years Autumn. Done and filed!
A little fun sidenote from the trip was that during my excursion through the woods near the bog, i managed to pick up a few ticks. in the end though i felt it was worth it…just hope it was not carrying anything i will regret later!
Thank you, Over and out, Martin.
Just a short post to celebrate the fact that i got ahold of this gem of a book finally after several years of searching for it. It is out of print and just by sheer luck did i find a copy at a ”Nygårdsanna” store here in Stockholm which promised it to someone else at first. Then they called me today and said it was mine. So happy.
I did my internship at Carl Bengtsson when i went to photoschool and he was a great inspiration for me, and actually was he who made me to push towards taking portraits more and more rather then the path i was on back then in school.
So now it is time to put on the kettle for some steaming Java, put my feets on the soffa and enjoy this masterpiece. Joy.
So, It was going to be hard to top the tour we made with Brian on the next day. But i know Kreuzberg was high on my list of places to visit before leaving Berlin.
So we decided that going there was dedicated to a whole day traveling around in Kreuzberg but also doing some shopping( to keep everyone happy!) and some ordinary sightseeing.
We were not sure what station to go to exactly just where the boundary for the Kreuzberg area started and ended. that left quite a few stations, but we decided on one that looked to be in the heart of it.
That station was Hallesches Tor and proved to be way of our mark off course. In hindsight that was actually a good thing it turned out. That way we got to walk through a large part of Kreuzberg and see a lot of amazing street art and other pretty cool things. The words cool and amazing were not the words my wife would use to describe Kreuzberg though and she was longing for the more ”safer” areas around Tiergarten etc as soon as we left the subway platform.
Already outside the station there was graffiti and street art all around to see. Sure the area was a lot more ”rugged” and poor than the other parts of Berlin we had visited thus far. But i loved it. And know i would love taking photos there.
But i would not go there during the night or late evenings even in some way it would have been cool to see that aspect of Kreuzberg as well. That would not be recommended with your family in company though.
Even so i enjoyed the walking across Kreuzberg a lot. Meeting interesting people, seeing great art that covered almost every corner along the way.
One thing we completely forgot before this day was to bring some sunscreen. So i went into a small local pharmacy with probably the most shrewd sunscreen seller in the whole of Germany. I asked for a good sunscreen that would not stain or oil too much since i had the camera gear with me and did not want that ruined or messy. She talked me into buying something far to expensive and that also in the end stained and oiled more than any sunscreen i have ever tried. So not a good deal 😉
After a lot of walking we started to arrive in the more crowded parts of Kreuzberg that were also more ”pleasant to walk around in. Lots of cosy personal shops with some pretty cool stuff to buy in my opinion. Even my wife liked it somewhat!
Very atmospheric music stores, cafes, giftshops, you name it. Anything you wanted it was there but in a much more personal way than in downtown Berlin. I would highly recommend going there if you ever visit the place. Here also all houses were in different colors and made the whole area feel very different and inviting.
We spent almost half the way wandering the streets of Kreuzberg, and i snapped a lot of shots there, using mainly my 24 lens since of all the architecture.
I also passed a very cool camera shop that specialized in Leica( what else!), that also made me want to be a millionaire the next time going there. It was a really special shop though even if you did not buy anything. Just browsing it was cool. Also the Dj shop posted a photo of here was one of the cooler Music stores i have ever been inside. It was not a huge place, but all the Vinyl and art on the walls and the atmosphere there made me want to stay there for several hours.
Im glad we did even if it left you sad and empty afterwards. Still, it is just a place you have to visit, you owe it to yourself if you are into history and also owe it to the people lost in the horrific time that was during the holocaust. The structure itself was almost worth seeing because it was so out of place in the middle of Kreuzberg.
The inside had a very special layout of rooms that sometimes just were filled with empty space and voids to let you feel or not feel for yourself how void the world had become after loosing so many lives in the holocaust. It was a pretty powerful thing.
The thing i recall the most and that left the biggest impression on me afterwards besides all the testimonies from people telling their horrific but interesting stories, was the ”fallen leafs” room and monument. A memory of the victims of war. Something to make us NEVER to forget the atrocities of war.
After that we went and had dinner at an asian place in the centre again.
And discussed all that we had seen that day and planned ahead to our coming trips to Potsdam and other places in downtown Berlin.
All in all, a fantastic day in interesting Berlin.
So, I finally made the trip to Berlin this summer in late August and it was amazing. It was all i had thought it would be and then some.
In the end i decided on packing the Nikon DF and 3 lenses. The lenses i brought was my 24 f1,4 , the 58,f1,4 and my 135 DC f2,0. So for me that was going to cover most of my needs. In my mind what i looked forward to the most was making either spectacular wide angled architectural shots or some good street portraits with my 58. The 135 i thought would be good for those candids in crowded places to make some good shots of people like on the subways or plazas in Berlin. As an afterthought i think those lenses was a pretty good choice actually.
The smaller Lowpro flipped sport 10 L was just enough to take the body and the lenses and room for some cleaning gear and batteries. Of course a small bag like that will always leave you wanting more space and the need to put extra stuff in pockets or let your fellow travelers carry something. But nothing beats having a small bag when you have to cover a lot of distance on foot!
I traveled with my Wife and my oldest son , none of them had ever been to Berlin and neither had i. I had been to Germany before though and always thought i wanted to go back to Germany and especially Berlin because of my photography.
I had booked a hotel near the ”Hauptbahnhof” which i know was a decent hotel but more important a very central hotel that made it easy to reach the sites we wanted quickly and without hassle.
The flight went well and we arrived in the burning sun in the early afternoon. The bus left us actually just beside the hotel, but after my huge misstake of reading the map i brought i thought us to be further away, so we walked several kilometers( with bags!) in the wrong direction and ended up having to ask our way back to the original destination to the dismay of my fellow travelers 😉
The Hauptbahnhof was an amazing place for photography, and especially street and candids. I made a mental note to go back there at another point of the trip, at a time when the bags where in the hotel and my wife was not tired and hungry!
The hotel ( Meininger Hotel) was exactly as advertised , decent but with a good location. It was literarily next to the station. I remember thinking that it was lucky i was not a light sleeper, and that proved to be right the following nights when trains and people constantly moving in the area made it very noisy.
So something to think about if you ever go there.
Otherwise it was perfect for our needs. We decided on leaving the bags and trying to go to at least to a few places that first day so to not miss any opportunities of sightseeing the first day
We went directly to the Brandenburger Tor and the subway near Zoogarten just to get a grasp of what the Subway was like and to buy some tickets for traveling around the rest of the trip. We always try to sort that the first day when we travel, to not have to worry about buying extra tickets etc when we travel around later. The Berlin Subway was a joy to travel with in my opinion. Very well organized and a lot easier i feel than the Paris one.
So that first day we just traveled by ourselves and did not take any tours etc.
For Tuesday i had booked a pretty big tour that was called ”Famous Walks and hidden Berlin” which promised to take us into all known and secret places that would teach us the history around the ww2 and also the Berlin wall.
That proved to be the best Tour of my life. The day after we hurried to make it to the point of meeting for the Berlin tour. We came like 1 hour earlier near Zoogarten again and waited at a Mcdonalds there to spot the tour leader in time.
It was not hard to spot Brian as he was called, a tall and very charismatic man with a broad american accent and a fun looking hat that looked to small for his big frame. He told us already in the beginning that the tour was supposed to be around 3 hours but that he had some special guests joining us, some people that had seen his tours in the past and wanted to go with him again. So this time he would take as long as he felt like and needed to make the tour extra special for us and them. I had some second thoughts then regarding the heat that day( around 36 degrees celsius) and realized it would most likely become a problem for my wife and my son. Then again we could always leave, and i know Brian was going to try and take breaks a long the way and keep to the shadow as much as possible when choosing his spots for the walk.
The tour with Brian as the guide was as i said earlier the best tour i have ever taken. He spoke of Berlin and its history with such passion and love and humor sometimes that we all got pulled into his universe and his Berlin the way he viewed it. At some points when he almost broke down telling us about the horrific crimes against the jews during the war, or the times afterwards and the struggles the people that were alive had to go through to rebuild Berlin, or about the desperate last years of trying to tear down the wall and the stubborn politics around it, it made us all tear up as he masterfully told the stories of people and their different tales and destinies. It was fascinating.
The 3 hours actually went on for 6 hours in the burning Berlin heat, and that was pretty difficult for many in the group, but even so they ALL stayed until the end when Brian held his last great speech near Branderburger tour telling us about how Kowalski made the political error at the last press conference that made the final nail in the coffin for the Berlin wall. A small amount of time after that error people started to cross checkpoint charlie and get to the other side and West Berlin. Then we all remember the things from News that TV stations all over the world showed us of happy Berliners crossing the wall and tearing it down. So i won’t bore you with those stories but rather focus on what the tour gave me as a photographer. well to be honest not much! As a person it gave me everything. I loved it just as i said. But the pace of the walk and also the heat made it very difficult to try and snap some pictures along the way. It did however give me a lot of inspiration and insights into where i would go by myself after the tour the coming days to take those shots i so wanted.
I will continue in the next blogpost and cover the rest of my trip to exciting Berlin….