Exterior Night: Berlin (Part 3: Industrial Lights & Magic)

The third part of my series on Berlin night photography showcases a few images that are not about the glittering lights of glass and chrome towers, but the grittier lights of industrial buildings.

The photos were all taken using an iPhone X, and I must say, I have been pleasantly surprised at how well the iPhone now handles low-light situations. While I wouldn’t trade the Fuji cameras just yet, I believe the iPhone has become a viable option for architectural photography such as this. But judge for yourself…:

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Exterior Night: Berlin (Part 2: World of Mute)

I recently watched the movie Mute on Netflix, Duncan Jones’ sci-fi thriller set in a futuristic Berlin. The movie, which I liked, did itself no favour by using panoramic shots clearly inspired by Bladerunner, when the movie was in totally different vein, and most critics never saw beyond that comparison to Bladerunner and basically  thrashed it (if you’re interested, here is a review that I actually agree with).

I was reminded of the movie when I put together this set of photos for the blog. Mute‘s panorama shots are so unlike Berlin, but its regular exterior scenes, a mix of actual footage and CGI, quite nail the city. Berlin isn’t, and will never be, a city like L.A. or New York or London, but it has its own cityline, a strange mix of the new and the old-ish, especially in the East part of Berlin, where the once-divided city’s socialist inheritance mixes, and clashes, with the shiny new capitalist present.

The photos I chose for this blog entry were, with one exception, taken in Alexanderplatz, which was the heart of former East Berlin, and you could even claim that it is the heart of all Berlin now. All photos were taken from places higher up, mixing a view of the streets below with the buildings above.

The photos were taken using Fujifilm cameras and the iPhone.

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Exterior/Interior Night

There is something about cities at night when the streets empty, the shops close down and the lights from inside shine out. The night hides but it also reveals. Interiors and entrances light up as the night swallows the outside. Buildings appear differently, warmer, colder, stranger, depending on the light. Glimpses of lives that stay unnoticed during the day are suddenly revealed, while other sides of life hide away.

Glimpses of urban Berlin, inside out.

Camera: Fujifilm X-E2

Brighton by Belair

I spent this New Year’s in Brighton in South England. I had just before gotten me a new camera, the Lomography Belair x 6-12 camera. It’s a medium format camera, using 120 film. It comes with exchangeable lenses and settings that allows one to shoot either 6×6, 6×8 or 6×12 exposures. I did not have a chance to test the camera before leaving for Brighton, so the films I shot there were pretty much my test run. I decided to use the 58mm lens and either the 6×8 or 6×12 mm size settings to take full advantage of the camera’s panorama abilities.

My experiences with the camera are mixed, and I will be posting a review later to explain. Suffice to say at this moment though is that overall I’m happy with the results, especially considering the less than perfect weather for most of my stay there. Some of the images are formatted not quite right as the shift between what you see in the visor and the result is quite considerable. Also a couple of rolls did not roll up properly, so there is some light leakage on the last exposures on those roll.

Having said all that, here then is a selection of the best Belair pics from a few moody, wintry days in Brighton: click here to view

Another Time: Berlin in Black & White Polaroids

I think I wrote about this already in an earlier post: I believe that today’s Polaroid photography has two distinct faces – colour and black & white. Colour polaroids, especially Impossible Project’s new Color Protection film, are vibrant, and for me very much ‘today’ (to avoid the term ‘modern’), and personally I do not associate them with the images from the 60s or 70s, the heyday of colour polaroid photography.

But for black and white polaroids, I find this to be different. The ‘Silver Shade’ film stock produces results which to me are very much reminiscent of old photographs; thanks mostly to the light leaks and the other imperfections, and the sepia sheen that the photos take on if not stored in a dry place for a while shortly after being taken. David Sylvian, in the liner notes to the catalogue for his Impossible Project exhibition, Glowing Enigmas, called this “the look of something long lost, redeemed from memory, another time and place.” 

Thus when I decided on a project involving black and white film (i.e. Impossible Project’s Silver Shade films), I figured that combining images of Berlin’s historic buildings (and other old landmarks) with the vintage look and feel of the Silver Shade films made perfect sense. So over these past two, mostly cold and grey, months, I was out with the Polaroid cameras, capturing not only the better known historic landmarks in the center of Berlin, but also a number of older industrial buildings throughout the city. As always, there are some exceptions to the rule – so not every building I captured in the series is old or historic.  The industrial buildings by the way I found fascinating enough to want to devote a whole series to them in the near-ish future.

So here it is then, the outcome of my latest project, aptly named “Another Time: Berlin in Black & White“. Enjoy. And let me know what you think.

More of my polaroid work can be found [here] and on [flickr]. 

Read my earlier post about David Sylvian’s recent polaroid work [here].