Last year when visiting Berlin, I took a day trip to Potsdam. From the train station, Potsdam Hauptbahnhof, I walked to the Neues Palais. I love wandering in unfamiliar places for the surprising things I find along the way. At one point, I turned away from the busy street at a park gate. When I came through, this quiet scene was waiting. It was an entrance to the extensive grounds of the palace. I walked through these grounds and the surrounding parks for the Sanssouci Palace for several hours, including a long nap beside a pond. The palaces weren’t my cup of tea but these parks had a manicured charm that I enjoyed immensely that day.
When I visited Berlin last summer, I spent an early morning and, a couple of days later, a late afternoon touring around Kreuzberg. This borough is divided into two major districts, 36 and 61. I didn’t know enough about them to distinguish them – everywhere I went was heavily covered in graffiti. This street art was an integrated part of Kreuzberg and often reflected the lives passing in front of it.
It was an immersive experience to photograph surrounded by this art. And one which was a great challenge to show that integration of the art with the people. That is what drew me back a second time on a visit where I only had five days in Berlin. I’m glad I did, it was a really interesting place to visit.
I stopped under a railway overpass to photograph a small piece of the morning commute in Berlin. It was interesting to see and compare the vehicles on a German roadway with what I’m used to at home in Calgary.
I have a lot of fun photographing things in motion and the half hour I spent on this street just outside of downtown was no exception. Playing with the shutter speed to isolate subjects as they speed by is a good challenge and can make for strong, dynamic images. Here then are a few more from that session beside the road.
The Berlin TV Tower rises up from Alexanderplatz in the heart of Berlin and is arguably the most prominent landmark in the city. To get an elevated view, I went to the Park Inn’s panorama terrace which is on the 40th floor and faces the tower. The netting wasn’t great for photographs but I enjoyed the challenge of trying to work with it.
The views of Berlin from that height were fantastic. I got there before the sun had set so it was nice to be able to see many of the cathedrals, museums and other sites I had spent the week visiting. The image below is looking to the west and the orderly yet somehow still chaotic mosaic of the city.
Just before midnight I went to the top of the tower itself. The windows at night had reflections to wrestle along with a bit of distortion in the glass so the photographs from Berlin’s highest perch were quite limited. Still great to take in the whole city wearing her night lights. The night market in the centre of Alexanderplatz under the tower nearly empty but provided some colorful lights to frame against the railing shadows I leaned against.
The Brandenburg Gate is a beautiful monument that has been at the centre of pivotal moments in history since its construction completed in 1791. The Tor was commissioned by King Friedrich William II as a sign of peace; Napoleon marched through it in triumph; it was closed to all through the cold war, dividing Berlin – and the world, and divided Berlin and the world; and then it was where the wall first fell and was where the city and Germany reunified. Coming full circle, it has now come to represent peace as well as unity in the country and in Europe.
I was excited to photograph this icon and visited there several times through my week in Berlin. One visit was after midnight and I set up on the west side of the where three streets meet. I wanted to create some long exposures to let the lights from the vehicles create streaks in front of the gate. It is a stunning structure and I enjoyed spending time there and making these images.
When night fell, I had been hanging around the Spree River near Berliner Dom so it was not a very long walk to the Tor. Coming from the east, I photographed the front of the gate first. The Quadriga of Victory looks like it about to leap off the top and carry forward.
It is a stunning structure and I enjoyed spending time there and making these images. With recent events within Germany and other parts of Europe, a visit seemed timely and it would serve many well to consider what the Brandenburg Gate has come to represent from many years of hard learned lessons about peace and unity.