Berlin Before the War and Before Photoshop

When I was a lad, there was no such things as google earth, the internet and digital photography were experimental technologies. Accordingly, there was a market for picture postcards.
Before I was a lad, there must have been a market for even more and even cruder photo products. I assume so because, some time ago, I bought a set of 12 old souvenir photos from Berlin.
These seem to be actual dark room prints in a 6x9cm (2.4″x3.5″) format -suggesting they may have been simple contact prints from this size. They have small legend texts in the lower left hand corner which could easily have been added by writing on the negative or -more likely- by placing a transparent layer bearing the text on them.
The can be dated to the inter-war period from the content: the picture of Potsdamer Platz shows the traffic platform, an early attempt at building a traffic signal, although this things apparently was manned.
There are few other giveaways. One object the photographer seems to have been keen on where the relatively modern double decker buses seen in some shots. We no he was keen, because they have been added in post production.
This is most obvious in the vista of the old museum where several cars and a double decker bus appear literally cut and pasted onto the negative. The perspective doesn’t quite match, and the cut lines are clearly visible.
It is less blatant, but still discernible with the bus on the victory column roundabout and on Potsdamer Platz. Look carefully and you can see the cut lines on the asphalt.
This is hardly the first example of analogue cut and paste but, to me at least, one of the more obscure ones. Stalin’s motives were clear enough. About those of the unknown photographer we can only speculate.

Remember, remember the 9th of November ….

During this year’s #filmfeb I professed that my projects for the year were to shoot more 4×5 and revisit some old negatives. Shooting 4×5 in a lockdown is a bit of a challenge, but it seems to be the ideal time for digging into old negatives. I shall start by going some 30 years back.

In front of Schöneberg Townhall, 10 November 1989. Schöneberg is a district of Berlin; during the cold war, West-Berlin’s regional parliament met in this district’s townhall.

One of the side effects of growing up in Berlin during the cold war, was being there when the whole affair ended. Continue reading “Remember, remember the 9th of November ….”

Berlin and its Holocaust Memorials

On my most recent visit to Berlin I decided to do something I had so far avoided: take some shots of the usual Tourist motives. I had done this elsewhere of course, but never in Berlin. The obvious starting point for such a mission is the Brandenburg Gate, where I got the standard shot towards the end of the golden hour. The film was 120 format Kodak Portra 160 in a Zenza Bronica SQ-Ai, I brought a 50mm and a 150mm lens.

Brandenburg Gate

From this first location, Continue reading “Berlin and its Holocaust Memorials”