My Year 2016 in Pictures

(Note: this is an updated version of a posting I put up on 26 December. Turns out that that was a bit premature for a full round-up of the year)

It’s that time of year again to look back and see what the year has been like. Like many out there, I feel that 2016 has been absolutely disastrous. It started with the death of David Bowie and just got worse. I thought it had reached its lowest point with the election of Donald Trump (a day I think the world will regret for a long time to come), but of course other low points followed: the atrocities committed in Aleppo, the terrorist attacks around the world, including the recent one here in Berlin.

With the world going crazy, in a negative sense, it became important for me to create a space where I connected with people – with new people. Photography allowed me to do that. It started with my intention to capture more portraits of the people around me, my friends; and then on to street portraits, i.e. portraits of strangers that I’d ask on the street. This curiosity also led me to get acquainted with street musicians here in Berlin, which in turn led me to hooking up with a larger circle of people who lead a free-spirited life outside what are deemed social norms. I called them the “Südstern gang”; Südstern being the square in Berlin where we’d meet on an almost daily basis during the late summer months and well into autumn. Describing these experiences (not all of them positive) warrants an article in itself, not one I’m ready to write just yet. Let’s just say for now that it allowed me to experience different life choices, witnessing both the freedoms and the problems that these choices bring with them. With the onset of bad weather, the group dispersed, but the experience resulted in two friendships, one good and one flawed (the flawed one marred by trying to cope with a drug addict, and all the negativity this entails).

On top of these Berlin based experiences, I also took a few trips. Initially just a few short ones, the highlights certainly being Bologna in March and Oslo in early May; however, I’m currently on a three week trip around Morocco, and two of the images taken on this trip conclude the selection, with one image actually having been taken today, on the last day of the year 2016.

Below then are a selection of image for each month, summarizing best what the month stood for. I picked solely people photos, portraits or street photographs, but they also reflect the place and the time of year they were taken in.

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All photos, except two, were taken using the two Fujifilm cameras, the X-T10 and the X-E2, which have definitely become my cameras of choice, especially the X-T10. Being small and unobtrusive, yet providing high quality images even in low light, they played an important part in my life this year.

City Scape: Potsdamer Platz

Potsdamer Platz, Berlin. Camera: Fujifilm X-T10

Almost 20 years after it was built, Potsdamer Platz still divides opinions. Some hate it, some shrug it off, some like it. For some, it’s a symbol of Berlin’s post-reunion megolamania, a failed wanna-be Disney-Manhattan. However, for a city that does not take many chances on cutting-edge, innovative architecture, Potsdamer Platz is remarkable in that here at least are a few designs which did not originate in a Lego box. Personnaly, I like it.

Streets of Berlin: Candid Street Photography



This year, one particular focus of my photography was street portraiture, i.e.
posed portraits of people encountered in the street. Apart from this, I did continue to capture candid pictures of people throughout Berlin. While 2016 is not quite over yet, I have recently posted a selection of this year’s best such images: Streets of Berlin 2016.

The set is a combination of different styles of street photography. When capturing people on the street, I usually approach them closely enough to capture emotions and expressions, but I also try to include context and background. Depending on the setting, though, it’s also fun to take a step back and let the scenery take center sage, so to speak, such as in the image depicted below.

People sometimes ask me if I prefer to shoot in colour or in black and white. My answer: if there is colour, I prefer colour; else black and white. What this means is: I do love working with colours, so if the colours in a scene are right, I capture them. It’s one of the reasons why I love photographing in places like India or Italy: the colours are just gorgeous. But in settings where the colours are drab, distracting, or just not interesting, I go for black and white. Black and white also seems to add intimacy to a portrait. Sometimes, though, the distinction isn’t that rational, and I go with my mood. However, I usually decide how to shoot beforehand – I very rarely change colour to b&w in post-production. About two thirds of the photos in this set are in colour and the rest are monochrome.

Most of the photos were taken with my two Fuji cameras, the X-T10 and the X-E2; which have become my cameras of choice over the past year. However, there are also a couple of iPhone photos inclouded in the set. As the saying goes, the best camera is always the one you carry with you….

Streets of Berlin: Candid Street Photography 2016

More links:

Night Lights

I may have mentioned this earlier, but I love the combination of the Fujifilm X-Series cameras’ low light capability coupled with the 35mm 1.2 lens. Here are a few more shots taken around Berlin at night with both the X-T10 and the X-E2. While black and white works better on account of the higher ISO settings, coming out incredibly sharp and noise-free, the colour ones aren’t so shabby either ….



Here are a couple more examples of night time photography:

Jam Session

One of the perks of being friends with street musicians: you’re often treated to impromptu concerts and jam sessions. Here three members of the Illegal Boys, a Polish group performing around Berlin, rapper Kool Kasai and Malte on accordion got together for a little fun. Being utterly devoid of any musical talent, I’m always amazed how fast and without much of a prologue these guys manage to fuse their different styles into a coherent, convincing whole that makes people stop and listen. 





Camera: Fujifilm X-T10 with 35mm f1.4 lens.

Creatures of the Night

One of the facets I enjoy hugely with the Fujifilm X-T10 camera is shooting at night. Pairing the older 35mm f1.4 lens with the camera’s high, relatively noise-free ISO setting makes it possible to get great results at low light settings.

Here we are again at Berlin’s Südstern. The weather in Berlin has recently once again been very summery, considering it’s already September, which means that we are able to enjoy a few more balmy nights before the onset of the long grey season that once used to be called Autumn and Winter.

Wearing Enigmas…

I have a distinct fondness for tattoos and when I saw this lady sitting in the doorstep of a tatto parlour in Berlin-Kreuzberg, I just had to ask if I could take her photo….

Wearing Enigmas. Camera: Fujifilm X-E2

Südstern continued…

As I keep hanging out around this particular subway station in Berlin, here are a couple more shots of the people who enjoy hanging out there as well….

Ko
Olga and Creed
Riscy (photo by Chris)