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.
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 architecture on and around Museum Island is impressive to say the very least. I spent a couple of nights photographing the buildings along the banks of the River Spree and the canals nearby. The lighting on many of the buildings at night adds to the majestic feel which seems appropriate given the enormous efforts to restore them since Germany’s reunification. Above is the Altes Museum and below is Berliner Dom which shares the Lustgarten and its central fountain.
Further down the river, I caught the moon rising across the river from the Berliner Dom. I loved the reflection of the lights in the water.
A long exposure as a night cruise passed by this outdoor party blurred the lights on the water – and a couple of people along the boardwalk.
I finished the late night walkabout with a stroll back to the Brandenburg Tor to photograph the eastern side with the absence of the masses that visit during the day and evening. Afterwards, I crossed to the western side and photographed light trails under the gate.
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.
The week flew by here in Europe with a weekend in Gent and then five days in Berlin. I met up with my cousin and two other very close friends and had a blast the whole time. It was fast but I am a little surprised how much was stuffed in. Last night, I spent the evening around Alexanderplatz and went up the Fernsehturm for a true bird’s-eye view of the city. Berlin’s TV Tower is referred to by some as the toothpick and the TV asparagus I’m told. I expect there are more nicknames but its status as an icon of Berlin and a dominating presence in her skyline elevates it above reproach in my book.
When I was down on the ground, the Berlin lacht festival was in full swing so the performances, partying and laughter overran the square. This image shows a bit of the colours and mood of this event – all under the watchful eye of the tower with a lump in its throat.
Anyways, a quick image while I wait for my plane and get home to my kids. I will share more from the whirlwind soon I hope.