This is one of my favourite places in Berlin, translated literally it means “The Animal Garden”, but it’s one of those confusing compound German words that actually just means “Zoo”, although this “Tiergarten” actually refers to the massive public park in zentral Berlin.
Berlin is located on the European plain, and over one third of the city comprises of forests, parks, gardens, rivers and lakes, much of which is the result of the last ice age, sheets of ice grinding the area flat, the subsequent thaw leaving bare a very sandy soil and thousands of lakes, around which forests have grown..
And all this can be observed in microcosm in the Tiergarten.
This is a series of winter images, mostly capturing the reflections of these trees in the surface lake water.
The Jewish Memorial in central Berlin, can there be a more somber reminder that 6+ Million Jews were murdered during WW II?
In an area of 19,000 square meters the architect, Peter Eisenman, has placed 2711 concrete slabs of differing heights to create a very thought-provoking experience for any visitor to the site.
For any photographer the site offers challenges not usually present at a memorial, as its deliberate blandness quite rightly creates an atmosphere of gloom, the monotonous grey gnawing relentlessly away at the spirit.
Over the years I’ve been there many times to see whether I can discover anything new there, this is a collection of some of my favourites.
Berlin is full of such constructions, heavy steel beams riveted together to form an industrial flavoured urban infrastructure upon which the local public transport system flows.
This is the section between U-Bahn Station Mendelssohn-Bartholdy-Park and U-Bahn Station Gleisdreieck, and although the “U” in U-Bahn stands for Untergrund – Underground – as much as 20% of it in Berlin travels above on these monuments to a bygone age, it’s what gives parts of Berlin it’s urban texture.
On another note, although street photography in Germany is legal, it’s becoming increasingly difficult as I once again discovered when out taking these images, although there is the panorama law in effect, I was approached by a police officer and told to stop photographing.
This is increasingly a problem in Germany, one Saturday afternoon last year while I was sitting on a public bench, on the Ku’damm, a main shopping-street in central Berlin, innocently adjusting the colour balance on my camera, the camera pointing down between my knees, I was approached by 5 different people, who all demanded that I immediately stop what I was doing, because they were of the opinion that whatever it was I was up to, that it was illegal, and I was threatened with the police and/or physical violence if I didn’t do as I was told, and my British accent only seemed to inflame the situation still further.
And it’s becoming ever more usual that when I’m out in a public space with the camera, that I’m approached by a complete stranger, who demands to know what I’m doing and then insists that I delete all the images on my SD-Card, whether I have taken any photos or not.
The natives here certainly have a peculiar sense of tolerance.
Welcome to what will hopefully become a series about street corners.
This is the corner of Mehringdamm/Yorckstraße in Kreuzberg, Berlin, but not just any corner, it’s the South-West corner, 02/11/2020 a Saturday between 14:30 and 15:30, and being autumn,it’s all about dirty streets and cleaning.
Lockdown still, and it’s not as busy as it usually would be, but the leaves are not aware of the pandemic and still fall from the sky in hues of yellow and brown, clogging both curb and drain.
So instead of making myself comfortable at home, the TV remote in one hand, a stale beer in the other, I decided to do something radical, and get myself all tooled up with some useful qualifications for when the crisis subsides, so I’ve enrolled to do an MA in Photography, online in Edinburgh, but being Anglo-Scottish myself, that’s almost like doing it at home.
First real project: a Pecha Kucha.
Apparently it’s a very restricted narrated PowerPoint presentation, 20 slides, each no longer than 20 seconds.
And the theme is to critically explore a local issue in a wider context.
Is that all ?!?!
After ceaseless hours researching the German press for some inspiration, and watching dozens of Danny Dorling videos on YouTube, I suddenly had an idea: Gentrification and the negative effect it has on rents, it’s a huge issue here in Berlin at the moment.
So I decided to head on over to Boxhagener Platz in Friedrichshain, one of the trendier areas of Berlin, to see what all the fuss is about, and the following are some of the photos I took of the area.
“The Boxi”, as it is locally known, wasn’t quite what I was expecting, it’s a curious mixture of recently refurbished housing and what look like squats, everything at ground level covered in a thick layer of urban graffiti, and to compound the effect of the area having all the charm of Skid Row, it was market-day on the square.
Now all I have to do is write something about it !?!?
Danny Dorling is a professor of Geography at Oxford, and very hot on inequality and the reasons for it – so interesting, a real eye-opener.
This reminds me of those family train journeys as a child, the excitement, always racing ahead, waiting for the others to catch up, as though the train would only still be waiting on their account, if only they would just hurry up!!
Image 1: The most eager are always ahead of the pack
One winter’s day in 2019 I was standing on the corner of MehringdammIGneisenaustrasse in Berlin waiting for something interesting to happen, when this old boy unexpectedly came up to me and just started talking, he told me all about his cameras, the photography he used to do, asking me what I was there doing, he was very engaging, we spoke for maybe ten minutes, and then he turned away, thinking, and departed the way he’d come.
One of life’s vignettes.
Image 1: He just came up to me and starting talking
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