Brandenburg Gate - Berlin, Germany
In many ways our trip really started here. While Sweden was indeed the first country we visited our experience there felt more akin to that of a summer trip at a relatives house rather than a month long journey across northern Europe. That feeling – of stepping off into the abyss – came as we emerged from the Berlin Tegal airport in Germany.
Part 1 – Berlin
Wiener Schnitzel - My first meal in Germany
The first few hours in Berlin found us dominated with a mixture of culture shock and adventure. This was the first place where we expected a serious case of the language barrier but, during our stay exploring the city it proved not to be much of a barrier at all. As you can see in the photo at left there was no problem ordering food.
On our first day in Berlin we walked the majority of the city. One of the first things we visited was the Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral) of which I am sure every tourist and photographer alike has snapped a picture of. Its a popular building, and everybody has a camera these days. That’s why when a photographer stepped in my frame as I was about to take a picture of the cathedral I clicked the shutter instead of being mad. I think its a better picture with this man as the subject rather than simply the cathedral because it is basically a picture of what I am trying to avoid. Irony?
Berliner Dom being photographed by a photographer.
Another touristy thing we accomplished during our first day in Berlin was go up the Fernsehturm (television tower – also seen in the background in the cathedral picture). This tower is quite large and as we noted there seems to be a similar high vantage point attraction in every major city on earth. It makes the challenge of finding a unique photograph even harder. When I came across the shadow of the very tower we were in I thought it added a really unique perspective. Kind of like seeing the earths shadow on the moon. It was almost if the tower was a sun dial for the gods.
The second image taken from the television tower is of the main canal running through the city. I think it lends itself to showing a part of Berlin that doesn’t get much attention. On the list of cities known for their canals Berlin is not one of them, I always try to find some aspect of what I am photographing that is different from the norm.
A plaza and train are turned miniature in the shadow of Berlin's TV tower.
The Berlin Ship Canal
Directly after the TV tower we trekked down to Brandenburg Gate. This is where two of my favorite photographs from the entire trip were captured. As with any popular landmark the number of tourists was high as well as the number of street performers and acts. One of the more popular ones were the giant bubbles being made with string tied between two poles (you can see exactly what I mean in the photo at the top of this post). I decided to focus my efforts on this and the results are below. The first photo is that of solely a bubble and the reflection of Brandenburg Gate on its surface.
Reflection of Brandenburg Gate on a bubble
This was pure luck. I wanted to capture an image that conveyed some aspect of what was going on. This picture, and the one below, compliment each other well in that they offer two different perspectives. At left we see the life and times of a bubble and what it sees during its short existence and below we see the other side of things and how children interact with bubbles.
The second photo is my favorite photograph from the entire trip. I favor it so much that I entered it in this years National Geographic Photo Contest. Again centered around the bubbles at Brandenburg Gate but including the human experience as well. I noticed the kids being drawn to playing with the massive bubbles and pointed the camera at them. I think the photo speaks for itself in conveying a childlike moment we have all experienced.
Little Hands Big Bubble
Part 2 – Bad Lippspringe
In the interest of brevity I simply cannot include all the experiences and photos that followed the rest of our time in Berlin. The second part of our time on Germany was spent with the Weitz family at their home in the small village of Bad Lippspringe. We met them when they were touring the western United States and we wanted to visit while we were touring Germany. We received a warm welcome and tour of the surrounding countryside. The photo below
was taken during our visit to a town close to Bad Lippspringe. It is the bored legs of my sister and the daughter of the family we were staying with. The two of them place similar amounts of interest in history, architecture, or anything qualifying as – “old.” Naturally these subjects are so exhausting that they needed a rest.
During our short stay with the Weitz family we made a day trip to the city of Cologne or Köln. The city, about an hour and a half drive away, holds the Cologne Cathedral and an amazingly impressive building. What’s even more impressive is it was built over a period of 600 years and still standing after two world wars. The image below is a small taste of the cathedral’s grand scale dominating the town. I used the tree as a way to both block the repair
The Calogne Cathedral rising above the city.
work being done high on one of the spires and to provide a frame of reference. I like this picture because the cathedral is semi framed by the tree and we can see the enormous size of the cathedral as it creates a wall in the remaining frame. It’s really hard to imagine the size of this building but I think the photo with a tree as reference helps convey the experience.
The next photograph was taken while we toured the city of Paderborn. It must have been a sad day for this bike when its owner cast it into this pond. I honestly took the photo because I felt bad for the bike, which although slowly rusting in the water is also surrounded by bridges, a walkway, and a cathedral giving the pond some nice surroundings. Better to rust away in good surroundings or is this insult to injury – something to ponder?
Bike in Paderborn, Germany
The last photograph below was taken on our way out of Germany in the city of Münster. We stopped here at the recommendation of the Weitz family as a destination famous for its arched shopping district. Mother was elated at this fact. We strolled around the shopping area and then through the old cobbled streets and eventually to another cathedral, this one not as impressive as the one in Cologne but still inspiring. I decided to focus on the finer details presented in this setting which as you can see turned out to be the prayer candles. I really like this picture because the camera was very close to the candles isolating them in their own light. As viewers we are right up next to the candles overlooking the candles at a variety of stages in life candle life.
After our brief stop in Münster we headed West and into the Netherlands to explore the city of Amsterdam. I hope the travels and images I shared with you are enjoyable and entertaining. If you have any questions or thoughts, please feel free to leave a comment, as I would greatly appreciate feedback. As I said our trip continued on into Amsterdam so please check back soon for more images and travels from this amazing journey.
- Stephen Doyle
This post is part of a series detailing me photos and travels from my trip to Europe this summer. The previous post was about my experience in Sweden which you can view here.