Berlin Gay Pride 2017: May I Take Your Picture?

Berlin’s Christopher Street Day celebration was on this past Saturday. German parliament having recently ratified Marriage Equality, the event was more a matter of celebration this year than in previous years. About an hour into the event, heavy rainfalls began to come down, which didn’t really deter people, and the whole thing became a big party in the rain.

This was the first time in many years that I went back to the CSD march. It’s always been a good occasion for taking photos. This year’s didn’t disappoint either. On occasions like these, people usually don’t mind having their photo taken. I did take a number of candid shots, but the ones I’m happiest with are the ones where I asked people to pose. Gay Pride attracts many photographers, most with huge zoom lenses waiting at the side of the road. My approach is a tad different: I participate in the event, that is, I take part in the march, and I take photos from within, from close-up. When I ask people to pose, most of the time there is a connection, and there is something about the resulting pics which makes them more personal, and also makes them stand out.

I used the Fuji X-T20 camera, with initially a 56mm lens which I soon swapped for the 35mm lens as it was more suited to work from within the crowd.

For more of my Gay Pride photos, [click here]. Photos from earlier CSD events can be found on my Berlin page. Enjoy.

People in the Park

Summer’s Here
And the Time is Right
For Drinking in the Park”

(With my apologies to Bruce Springsteen)

It’s that time of year again where people love to hang out in the city parks to drink, daydream or frolick. It’s always a good time to shoot photos, not just the candid ones: the more relaxed people are, the sooner they agree to have their photo taken, when you ask nicely. And sometimes you also end up having good conversations, as I did with both Piet and Daniel depicted below.

Piet in Görlitzer Park
Daniel in Görlitzer Park
Spread Your Wings And Fly – Skater in Gleisdreieck Park
Walli in Gleisdreieck Park
A Skater’s Life. Gleisdreieck Park
Dreaming in Gleisdreieck Park
Görlitzer Park

Cameras: Fujifilm X-T20 and X-E2

For more portraits and street photography, [click here]

© 2017 gheedon

 

Watching the Watchers at Versailles

Despite having been to Paris numerous times, I never got around to visiting the castle of Versailles. So on my recent trip to Paris a couple of weeks ago, I decided to remedy this. I don’t know if this was a bad idea in general, or just bad timing, but I waited in line for two hours and twenty minutes to get into the castle. The place was packed of course, especially since whole tourist groups are led through there and clog up the rooms. While under normal circumstances, Versailles might be well worth a visit for both the history and the richness of the décor and art on display, but as the place was overcrowded, I got very little joy out of it. What joy I did get resulted from observing the people, many of whom seem to get their joy out of seeing the castle through their smart phones and tablets. Here is a selection:

London Street Photos (Part 2, Colour)

More street photography from London, this time in bright Velvia colours. Taken in and around Camden Market in North London, and Brick Lane in the East End. Both these places attract street photographers, I saw quite a few out and about. Most seem to use zoom lenses (some of them obscenenely huge). I myself prefer prime lenses, here I used the 35mm. For some reason I don’t like zooming in on people – I feel like a Peeping Tom doing that. But maybe that’s just me? Did I watch too many bad movies?

Camera: Fujifilm X-T20 with 35mmR1.4 lens. 
 



London Street Photos (Part 1, Black and White)

It’s been a while… here are some new street portraits and street photographs from a sunny day in London. There is nothing like travelling to get the creative juices flowing. That, and decent weather, i.e. light. 

All images shot with a Fujifilm X-T20 camera and the 35mmR1.4 lens. Colour photographs to follow…

IMG_5548IMG_5540IMG_5542IMG_5543IMG_5545IMG_5547

Faces of Morocco


I recently returned from a three week trip to Morocco, where I visited the towns of Marrakesh, Meknes, Fes, Casablanca and Ouarzazate. I had with me my trusted Fujifilm X-T10 camera, and came back, as usual, with a good many photos. I tend to take two kinds of photos when I do trips: street photography (including street portraits), and photos with which I hope to capture the essence of a city by focusing on details (see my earlier article “Colours and Textures” on this) and on architecture. I seldom take landscape photos, but in Morocco I visited the desert south of Ouarzazate, and also photographed the fascinating landscape there.

I have now gone through the street photos and made a selection which I put up on my site. The 40 images which I selected include both candid shots, and images of people whom I asked to pose. Morocco is not an easy country for street photography. Many people object to having their picture taken by strangers, some energetically so. I was told off a couple of times, and in one instance I saw a young man force a tourist delete a picture she had taken of him. My first instinct was to ask people’s permission. Some agreed to be photographed, but most did not. Some people I got into conversation with and they subsequently agreed to pose, happily so. But even photographing crowds was difficult. Women especially but also men (especially older ones) would turn their head or hide their faces behind a scarf or a hand if I only vaguely pointed the camera their way. In the end I often had to resort to the old trick of seeming to photograph random objects in the street and thereby capturing people who happened to be in the scene at the same time.

The set includes only two black and white photos, the rest are in colour. Colour is an important aspect of Morocco, and it was a joy to capture the country in all its colourful splendour – especially given how well Fujifilm cameras render colour. As I mentioned above, I used a Fujifilm X-T10, primarily with a 35mm lens, but also the 27mm pancake which came in very handy in the narrow alleyways of the medieval medinas.

I will be posting more of the other photos in the weeks to follow but to begin with, here is the link to the street photography set, Faces of Morocco. Enjoy.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

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: