Crane porn, train porn and night skies

Introduction

Be warned. The following images are all grainy and blurry. It is how I like to do low light photography. It is how I do photography in general. I enjoy walking around and just take shots whenever I see something interesting instead of carefully setting up each shot with a tripod and level. Both approaches are fine but I always feel a certain over representation of technically perfect images online. They are often beautiful but also kind of “clinical” if you get what I mean.

This series of shots was made over 15 years ago in Berlin’s newly built “Regierungsviertel” (government ward). The new main station was still under construction and many lots had to be built on yet. Back then and today this area is a hot spot for low light photographers and you can see dozens of them with their fancy tripods and wide angle lenses. It is a spectacle upon itself and a great area to wander around in the evening.

Train porn and Crane porn

crane train station berlin friedrichstrasse
Train porn and Crane porn (2005)
Canon EOS 20D + Canon EF 50mm/F1.8 1/15s@F1.8 ISO 400

Prewar on the right, socialist prefabs on the left and the old train station in the middle. Berlin has such clash of styles. Ahead they are building something one would call post-modernist architecture which honestly no one really knows what it stands for anymore. With the calm river this is a perfect photo spot.

Bridge of Shame

pedestrian bridge berlin
Bridge of Shame (2005)
Canon EOS 20D + Canon EF 50mm/F1.8@1/60s ISO 400

I call this the bridge of shame. It connects two office buildings of the Federal Parliament but is only accessible to the representatives and employees. You can see it is considerably higher than the open access pedestrian bridge below. This area is very popular with photographers and offers a lot of post modern and brutalist style government buildings.

Thankfully taking pictures of official buildings is pretty much accepted in Germany. The police will not bother you as long as you are not doing something really suspicious. I call it bridge of shame because I imagine that we could parade chastised politicians across while the mob below screams and tries to throw eggs and tomatoes. Which would be futile considering the height. Well maybe it is a good thing that we no longer have mobs with eggs. Although it is a good German tradition (video in German in which the late Chancellor Helmut Kohl gets pelted with eggs and tries to physically assault protestors).

One third hates this institution

ARD Hauptstadtstudio Berlin
One third hate that this institution (2005)
Canon EOS 20D + Canon EF 50mm/F1.8@1/15s ISO 400

This is the capital news room of the German broadcaster “ARD”. It is one of the more contentious institutions in Germany. A good part of the population hates it because we all have to pay almost 20€ a month for their “service”. You can guess my opinion on state financed television. If you dig a bit deeper it turns out that they need the money to finance quite generous pensions they once promised their employees in better times. Some cynics call it a pension fund with a TV station attached. Others complain that big chunks are spend to buy expensive sports rights and that most of the programming is pretty much only interesting for old people. Nevertheless my money bought at least some nice architecture and a beautiful view for those working there.

Trains crossing

trains berlin deutsche bahn regionalexpress
Trains crossing (2005)
Canon EOS 20D + Canon EF 50mm/F1.8@1/60s ISO 400

Berlin features a meandering elevated train line right through the heart of the city. It was partially built on the old town walls that is why it is so curved and only allows rather slow speeds which makes trains take way too long to reach their destinations inside Berlin. But those brick arches are quite something. In some areas the space below is used for retail or bars and restaurants. Noise is part of the charm when a few dozen tons of train rumble directly above you.

Cranes and Glass

cranes berlin main station construction site
Cranes and Glass (2005) Canon EOS 20D + Canon EF 50mm/F1.8@1/100s ISO 400

Berlins new main station still under construction. No one was aware that this would turn into one of the most ugly train stations ever. I have seen quite a few and this is a not place one wants to spend time at. It is huge, dark and full of grey concrete. The upper part is hot in the summer and windy cold in the winter. The lower part is always cold and windy. You need to plan up to 10 minutes to get from the lower tracks to the upper ones (which involves three to four escalator rides) and good luck waiting for one of the few and slow elevators. It is a paradise for photographers though and a nightmare for travelers.

Office Blues

Office Blues
Office Blues (2005) Canon EOS 20D + Canon EF 50mm/F1.8@1/50s ISO 400

Would I love to work in such a nice office building with a view of the river, the train tracks and station. But you could still get the office blues depending on your work and boss. It was one the early office buildings nearby and stood empty for quite while. The area is now built up with more office space and the closeness to the centers of politics will certainly pay off for some companies.

Erect into the sky

cranes berlin main station construction site dusk
Erect into the sky (2005) Canon EOS 20D + Canon EF 50mm/F1.8@1/60s ISO 400

The construction site for Berlin’s new main station. Crane porn galore. I love the colors of the sky. Unfortunately neither the camera nor any display can fully capture the tonal range between red and blue.

Photographic Notes:

All pictures had been taken handheld with exposure times between 1/15s and 1/60s with a 50mm lens. I needed steady hands because sensor based image stabilizers were still a thing of the future and the lens based ones were expensive. Considering my style of photography I made these features a must have for future cameras.

Nowadays sensors are so good that one can crank the ISO up to 6400 and get better results than these images with an ISO of 400. So while stabilizers are great for certain applications they are less of a necessity now. I mean camera makers will surely tell you otherwise. And if not there are always walls, railings, furniture and cars to prop up your camera.

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