Potsdam – Old Market

Not even an hour away from Berlin, Potsdam is a city that feels very different from Berlin. It’s always fun to play the tourist in a place so close to home.

All photos taken with the Hipstamatic app on the iPhone. Hipstamatic is still my favourite camera app, and actually by now the only one I use. 


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Berlin Digital

It’s been a while since I posted any exclusively digital sets, obviously because I have more than ever been concentrating on analog photography for the past two years. I still enjoy shooting on the iPhone, though, and recently I put together two collections of images which I shot around Berlin on the iPhone. 

The first one is called Angular Designs and is basically a collection of architectural photographs focusing on the indeed very angular approach to designing buildings in Berlin. Whether it’s down to regulations, cost restrictions or architects’ lack of imagination, many if not most of the buildimgs built from the middle of the 20th century until today rely heavily on a purely angular form.  Curves are a stylistic element found few and far between, and although notable exceptions exist – Sony Center, Haus der Kulturen etc. – there doesn’t seem to be as much architectural diversity found in Berlin as in other cities – nor as much extravagance. Which doesn’t mean that it has to be all boring. It isn’t… but you get the feeling that with all the building going on, there should be so many more buildings with a distinctive ‘wow’ effect factor. Put that down to Prussian bureaucracy and desire for order, going so far as to actually stipulate the ratio of glass to stone that can exist in a building’s façade…

I guess if I want to put together a collection of curves and round shapes in architecture, I will need to look abroad mostly…..

The second set I added is simply a collection of black and white photos from the last four years or so. Some of the photos are presented as they were taken, but on a number of them, I also applied a fair amount of post-processing using various apps on the iPhone. The set also includes a short series of night shots which I entitled Night Hawks, a theme I may want to explore further in the near future.

Links:

Holga, Jaipur and Kolkata

A few days ago I finally got around to scanning in the remaining Holga photos which I shot in India on the recent trip. A selection of these is now up on the Holga page. [Click here to view]


I also created two new sets in the Travelogue section, one with shots from Jaipur and one with photos from Kolkata. The Kolkata section features shots taken in more unusual circumstances. For one, I was there for the last night of a religious festival, the Durga Pujas  So a number of the photos show the Durga altars that were set up for the festival, and which would be taken down the next day and sunk into the river. What made the night different was that at the same time the fringes of the cyclone Phailin, which struck the Bay of Bengal that day, raged through Kolkata. So while normal you’d have to queue for an hour to get into the makeshift temples to see the altars, now here was hardly a crowd (of course it also meant that you were soaking wet at the end of the night). 



Additionally, there are some photos taken in the two Jewish synagogues that exist in a Kolkatta. The city used to have a Jewish community of over 3,500, with most of the original Jewish settlers having come over from Iraq in the 18th century onwards. Today, that community has dwindled down to 26. Many thanks to Jael Silliman for showing us around the synagogues, the Beth El Synagogue, built in 1856, and the Magen David Synagogue built in 1884.














India Revisited



If you’d ask me what my favourite country for visiting was, I’d say without hesitation, India. I’ve been fortunate enough to visit the country eight times in the recent years, initially for work but recent trips being for leisure.

Now India is one of those places where visitors come away either loving it or hating it. It is a place of extremes. It is rich in history and in culture, reflected in the temples and palaces but also in the mores and beliefs that mark everyday life. On the other hand, especially in large cities like Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore, the squalor and the misery are omnipresent – as are ostentatious displays of wealth. And obviously India has recently been making mostly negative headlines around the world. But defining India by its social and economic problems is doing it as much injustice as defining it by its palaces and temples. India to me has always been about its people – the openness, the generosity and the ease with which Indian welcome strangers in their midst. From each and every trip there, I came back with great experiences and new friendships. 

My recent trip to India, from Christmas 2012 to mid-January 2013, included a few firsts. One was that this was my first trip to Northern India, specifically to the Sate of Rajasthan. It was also the first time that I was travelling alone – although that is a very relative term: you’re never really alone in India. Every day I found myself in good company, and I came back with experiences I would never have made hadn’t I been on the road by myself. Despite earlier plans to tour around, I ended up spending a good deal of time in the city of Udaipur, which turned out to be a good decision. By spending more time in one place, I ended up not just meeting people but also spending time with them, and certainly the highlight of this trip were various motorbike trips around the city and the surrounding mountains with friends I had made there. 

Udaipur is not that big, and it is a good deal more laid back than the cities I visited previously. It features several lakes, several palaces – the huge City Palace, the Lake Palace on an island (now a luxury hotel), the Monsoon Palace on a hilltop and a few minor ones as well. It is prominently featured in the 1983 James Bond movie, Octopussy.





Winter is the main tourist season in Rajasthan as the climate is really agreeable that time of year, but for all that, I was surprised not to see that many tourists around the city – I guess most spend their time being driven around in air conditioned cars and buses. The most visible tourists were the backpackers, but if you stayed away from the places mentioned in the Lonely Planet guidebook, it was easy to avoid them as well. When I visited a graveyard where the local Maharajas (kings) have been buried over the centuries, I found the place to be deserted. When I asked the rickshaw driver, he simply said, ‘Yes, empty. It’s not in Lonely Planet, na.’ 


I said earlier that for me, India is about its people. When I now think back on the trip, the most vivid memories are not the tourist highlights – splendid as they were – but the encounters I made, and the friendships that remain.


This was also the first India trip where I took a Polaroid camera with me. Unfortunately I had chosen to take a 600 camera with PX 680 film, which turned out to be a problem, as it reacted badly to the multiple x-raying at the airports – many of the colour prints ended up having a red discolouring. A fair number turned out alright though, and fortunately I also had some black and white films with me. 



In the photos which I uploaded, you will find a good number of people shots – Indians are not shy about being photographed, or for that matter, photographing others; and I made a deal with the people I photographed in that I shot one photo for them and one for me. Unfortunately ‘though, the best photo I possibly took on the tour didn’t stay with me for long: after having photographed an old priest in the Jain temple in Ranakpur, the gentleman grabbed the photo and ran off before I had a chance to shoot another one. I later saw him proudly showing the picture around. I guess he was happy with the result. 

Beside using the Polaroid camera, I also shot a number of films with a Holga camera. Unfortunately, here too, disaster struck as a malfunctioning camera causing blurred results. Only a handful of pics turned out ok. Because the Polaroid films were damaged, I shot more photos than I normally would have on the iPhone, mostly using the Hipstamatic app. I also put together a selection of those images. 

Here then are the links:

    Budapest Revisited

    I was in Budapest at the end of June, but I only now got around to scanning and uploading the various photos. The set I put together is a rather unequal mix of polaroids, black & white Holga and (mostly) black & white Hipstamatic pics. I had been to Budapest before and shot a good many photos then (which I always liked since it was winter and the city was snowed in), so I felt less of an urge to go out and document the city, hence the photos in this set tend to be a bit more incidental in nature. I still hope you enjoy them.

    Links:

    Christopher Street Day

    Yesterday, the annual Christopher Street Day (i.e. Gay Pride) parade took place in Berlin. This year I skipped the main event and went to an alternative CSD which also takes place every year in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district – off the main drag, so to speak (pardon the pun).  I wasn’t going to take any photos, so I didn’t take a camera along, only my iPhone – and ended up taking a whole bunch of pics with the iPhone; all of them in black & white. Here is the result. Enjoy. 🙂

    Prague in (Almost) Black & White

    I spent a few days in Prague earlier this month. It’s a city that is charming enough but is a bit over-run by tourists – well, no wonder, it does have sights to spare. Here is an album of photos I shot there. Most of them are in black and white, which suited both the city and the weather. Like so many recent sets shot on recent trips, about half the photos were taken with an iPhone and the other half with a Holga.

    A Wedding in Mumbai

    In late Novembre I spent some time in Mumbai, attending the wedding of my friend Akash and his girl-friend Shree.  I brought back a bunch of photos from the event which took place over multiple days. A selection of these photos can be found here.


    Additionally, I posted another set of photos taken around Mumbai. Entitled Streets of Mumbai, this set features mostly photos taken with my Holga cameras.


    Overall it was great being back in India. Staying with my friend’s family gave me a totally new perspective in Indian life and culture. I also had tons of fun (and good food), and made new friends along the way. So, yes, I keep being a great fan of that country.


    I’ve also reorganized the photos from the past trips to India into a new gallery so that all India photos are now in one place.


    Enjoy!