Urban photography

Over the last weeks I went out twice with rather wonderful Yang to do some urban photography here in Hamburg, which is part of my ongoing project of trying to appropriate this city for myself. As we could only meet after work in the dark, we decided on bringing our tripods in order to be able to do some long exposure work, light streaks and generally be able to use ISOs of less than 3200, which is stretching the micro-four-thirds sensors of our Olympuses a bit (even though its not quite as bad as some YouTubers make it seem).

The first outing was to the Reeperbahn where we had to fight really bad weather with rain, sleet and temperatures below freezing point. I got accosted very early on for not giving enough money to a homeless person (she asked me for money in passing by and questioned my grip on humanity) and Yang got told off for taking out his camera in a closed of red-light district. We had fun.

The second tour went to the Hamburg Dammtor station and Yu Garden, a gift from Shanghai to Hamburg, where I expected to being able to witness a tea ceremony, but it was closed and doesn’t offer regular tea ceremonies, least of all to uninvited visitors. Bummer.

Still, we had a good time and got some nice images of which you can find a selection here.



Hamburg at night – the B/W edition with Yang

The other day I went on a photowalk with Yang (check him out on Instagram here). We decided on doing some long exposure stuff around the harbour, Hafencity and Speicherstadt and when we met a surreal south wind blew us all around and it was an incredible 13 Celsius in January! I forgot my tripod mount for the camera at home, so initially I felt challenged by the situation and decided to rise to the occasion, so I set my ISO up to 3200 accepted the grain for the creative effect it is really not and went ahead. The grain that is there now is simulated film grain over heavily denoised impages. Yang was better prepared and pushed ahead with his images and we walked around. As I am not really at home with architecture I kept close to him and some of my images are heavily inspired by what he did minutes earlier (only with more grain and less badda-bumm). So be it. It was a fun outing, though and I hope we will see to another one, soon.



Bochum at night

There is probably not too much to say about this, as the title is carefully crafted to relieve you of the need to use your imagination in even mildly exaggerated ways. So I’m back in my second home-town for a couple of days to meet old friends and to reflect on this year – which btw has been good when viewed through the lens of photography (see what I did there?).

It feels good to be back in Bochum for a while, everything feels familiar and friendly and troubles at home are far away and drift away quite nicely. Being here I had more coffee-dates with friends than even a caffeine junkie like me can handle easily, so I’m typing away on my tablet quite late at night. In the last two days I went out after dark to capture some impressions of this rugged and likeable town, which I hope you like. As I did not think of bringing a tripod, I could not do some of the stuff I wanted, like capturing clean images in the dark, so I had to ramp up my ISO quite madly, but the low resolution I use here will smooth over the rough edges, I guess.

Anyway. Here they are. Enjoy!

Snapshots – Roadtrippin‘ Tanzania

Being on the road in Tanzania is actually not fundamentally different from being on the road in Germany. That being said, the differences are sometimes harsh. In the last blog I talked about rubble roads and their abundance in rural parts of Tanzania is striking, to say the least. Here I am more concerned with visual differences. The kinds of motorcars, the bustling street life, the amazing colours fuelled by the ocre-dust, the clothing and the general openness of public life in the towns and cities. The blog-post picture shows a bajaji, a three-wheeled motorcycle used as a car. These nimble things come from India but have grown to immense popularity in Tanzania. The streets are teeming with them – at least in parts where a middle-class is forming. Having such a vehicle means huge popularity and mobility as you are instantly able to transport people or goods from one town or village to the next, which is still problematic as the images from the rural areas show:
it’s more rustic. Almost no one has a car or jeep. Some go on motorcycles (more to come) or bikes. Transportation by hauling stuff on your head abounds and is a balancing feat I struggle to understand.
Many of these images were shot from our trusty Toyota Cruiser (Asante, Malik) others were shot candidly on the streets and pathways. I hope these images help portray one aspect of being on the road for two weeks: diversity.

Rough Ruaha

The Ruaha National-Park is located in the western regions of Tansania on a highland plateau of roughly 900m. Since 2008 it has been the largest national-park in Tanzania. Surrounded by mountains it receives twelve hours of continuous sunlight during the dry season with temperatures rising to up to 35C. At night falling winds blow mightily across the plains. These pictures were mainly taken around noon when temperatures are at their hottest and most animals seek shelter under a tree. No one but tourists would go out at that time of day.

Harbour Museum

Claus and Marion took me to Hamburg’s Harbour Museum, which is a registered society that buys, mends and of course displays important objects of the harbour’s technical past. There is a stunning assortment of exhibits that speak to the history of the harbour and we enjoyed a tour of the freight-ship „Bleichen“ (more on that in a later post).

Mysterious attic

Some days ago at work, we noticed that our attic has some mysterious spots and places where some of the natural occurring trash seems to have found a new order. Nicely placed under the windows or in a corner there are agglomerations of tidbits, gimcrackery, paintings, dust and ostensibly artfully assembled arrangements of artificial flowers, books and other trifles. If not for fairies, leprechauns or divine intervention, we seem to house a tongue-in-cheek artistic community that is bereft of a need for audience. Well, no longer. Enjoy!



Today Katharina and I went for a stroll through the Schanzenviertel, one of the last remains of left-wing culture in Hamburg. The quarter is full of graffiti, tourists, punks and hipsters, a strange but not wholly amusing mixture, at least to me. We took a look at some graffiti and wondered whether this is a place to live, considering that for many people it’s the place-to-be, it was a no for both of us. The place is just too run-down.


Katharina taking a picture.

Still the graffiti is rather good:


Kiss me! I’m psychadelic.

There is a playground next to the old bunker, so I took the Atomium shot that others go to Brussels for :D.


The Atomium plaything.

These people were mending the abandoned(?) skateboard park. No skaters around.


Hipster skateboarding.

The following portrait is of »Pflanzpirat«, an artists who helps people with their guerrila-gardening projects.


The streets are rather deserted on a cold Sunday afternoon. That doesn’t make it a comfort-zone.


Here’s a left-over from someone’s last-night supper.


The remains of the day.

Gentrification meets left-wing culture.



A lot of things in Hamburg exist in contrast to Berlin – and for no other reason than that.


Berliner Betrüger.


Photowalk Hamburg

Today I went on a photowalk with Sascha, who keeps a fine and awe-inspiring travel-photoblog here: www.senicer.de. We went to town with nothing other on our minds than that we would not be able or interested in doing landscape, garden, animals. So nothing that I usually do. All right. Here we go.

We started on the infamous Reeperbahn in St. Pauli. The goal was to capture not the hustle and bustle at night as that can quickly get rather dangerous (there was a gang-suicide there just the night before) but the sobering morning. So we went there at 9am to find empty streets, devoid of tourists. There are not many people who live there any more, as the quarter is rather gentrified. Most people who live there are seniors who enjoy the low rent because they are still on contracts from the 1950s. The streets are rather bleak in the morning with no-one around, the sex shops are closed and there is no hint of the night-time glamour left.


Old man and a headless woman.


After that we went on to the harbour where at that time of the day many tourists wander around to get a glimpse of the the Hamburg-skyline, which you can only really see from the southern bank of the river. In order to get there you have to walk under the river Elbe through the „Alter Elbtunnel“, which crosses the river north to south.


The old tunnel.

From the tourist port (Landungsbrücken) we went east towards the Hafencity, which is a new quarter unashamedly built for the rich and home to the new Elbphilharmonie, the concert hall, which although twelve times more expensive than planned (clocking in at a billion euros) is still not finished. Here I managed to sneak in a shot of Sascha who was quicker to walk up to the pier on steps that are laid out to mimic an amphitheatre.


Sascha up the steps

Upps, he beat me to that.

Having arrived at the Hafencity there was nothing really interesting to us. Lots of inhumane architecture with glass and concrete and steel on an inner-harbour island. Probably good for shots with lots of texture and form, but I am no good at capturing that. Still we found a fisher with his fishing rod who was looking for pikeperch.



Walking from the Hafencity towards to city-centre I managed to capture this nice old Porsche complete with its bearded driver in a panning shot. These always seem so innocent and easy to do, but of course I panned a lot and took even more pictures until I got a nice car and good sharpness in one image.


Panning Porsche

Walking up the car park at the biggest media and electronics store in Hamburg we fought our instincts and pointed the camera straight down only to see a clerk from the store trying to bring order to the inner-city car chaos on the first after-Christmas shopping day. If I interpret this image correctly, he had to give up.


Car park

The buskers are still busy, especially as Germany is on holiday at this time of the year and lots of tourists make their way through Hamburg. This man was kind enough to let me take a picture of him playing in the cold.



We stopped at the local Tesla store where a salesman told us that a Tesla sportscar virtually pays for itself and we were quick to agree because he wouldn’t let us go otherwise, he didn’t get our telephone numbers to call us in case there was a sales-emergency but I took a picture of another salesman who did nothing else in these fifteen minutes than polishing the right side of the car. It was really shiny and nice.



Right at the Jungfernstieg at the Binnenalster there were the last remnants of a Christmas Market and this warm-looking busker sat at the entrance. Note that he only got this warm grandfather look after we paid some money. He was a nice enough chap anyway.



To finish our tour we went to the TV-Tower, which is almost out of use. There used to be a restaurant and panorama-viewpoint inside but now bits and pieces of the concrete fall down and people are no longer allowed to go near. It was rather dark, so I took this eight-second shot because I liked the foggy atmosphere.