A Hidden Treasure

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Last year, on holiday in Cabanas in the Algarve, a house suddenly appeared that had been hidden from general view. All the high trees and bushes that had hidden it from view had been cut down and behind it a splendid house hat appeared as if by magic.

What made this house so special is its form. It also had many windows, a garden that must have been spectacular in its heyday and a small swimming pool. Now, it is slowly decaying.

I asked around as to its origin and history at the reception of the place we were staying at. Nobody knew anything. I persisted and finally spoke to one of the other receptionists whose mother had cleaned the place.

He told me that it was a holiday residence. The owner was a film-maker, writer and a painter who lived in Lisbon. He used to come for weeks or months at a time. Now that he has died, the place is up for sale and will almost certainly be destroyed to make way for something ugly.

One afternoon as the the sun was high and the neighbours had their shutters down to keep the heat out, I sneaked into the house and took a few pictures.

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I will be sad to see this place disappear. It is a witness to a bygone age and certainly does not deserve to be torn down.

Archiving before it is too late

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It is hard to believe that this picture is at least eighty years old. It is one of the earliest pictures of my mother. She is the third from the left in the second row. Although I could say a lot about this picture, one thing astonishes me in particular: Its quality. Just look at the depth of field and what you can see on the picture.

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The second picture is of my grandparents and two of their seven children. That only a little of it remains is due to the fact that my grandmother started tearing up old pictures once her mind had gone. It is all that remains.

In both cases I have tried to tidy up the scans a little. When time permits I will improve them some more.

There are so many pictures still to do be done  …

Street Photography

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Of all the many photos I take, I do like street photography the most. Going out, looking for interesting motifs, generally having to react fast to get the picture I want, it certainly is fun.

More than that, it never ceases to amaze me how you are almost always surprised by events. I walk up and down streets that I have known for the past thirty years, even if, as is in the case of the city centre, the shops change quickly.

This morning I walked almost the whole length of one of the main shopping streets, Karolinstr. Almost at the end of it, I was wondering why I had  not gone straight home from work.

Then I saw a pigeon sitting in the water from a fountain and enjoying the sun and the water flowing along his legs and stomach. It was a start.

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A few metres further on I saw two old people eating pretzels and intensely staring at something or other – perhaps the fountain. Those two were too good to miss.

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Off down the Breite Gasse in the vague direction of the railway station, I quickly snapped a picture of a seller of the Straßenkreuzer.  The sellers are often homeless or live in shelters. In any case they are not exactly the most well off of people. They earn money by selling a magazine that they also write. This particular seller had dozed off with a copy of his magazine in the hand. If you look closely to the right of him, you can also see a window cleaner spray in the window obviously forgotten by one of the shop assistants.

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I had finally reached the Lorenz Church and was about to turn right in the direction of the main railway station. The girl with red hair immediately caught my eye and the colours of those walking past her made the picture even more interesting.

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Walking down the Königstr I saw a man with a rather nasty looking fighting dog that was carrying a cloth children’s puppet in its mouth. That picture didn’t quite work out, unfortunately.

The last part of the walk was past the Neues Museum, the New Museum. It is always good for pictures as the glass walls reflect very well. A few pictures later I was at the main railway station.

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Burggarten Nuremberg

Nuremberg as a city is not necessarily known for the best of reasons. Slowly falling apart, there are a number of Nazi buildings that the city would prefer to forget. In addition, there are a number of touristic attractions that draw tourists literally by the million, the biggest being the Christmas Market, Christkindlesmarkt.

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The Burggarten, the castle garden, is one of those tourist attractions that tends to get missed. It is very much an insiders’ tip, even for the locals

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Next to the city wall and made up of a number of separate areas, it is a peaceful and colourful place to go.

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Meet our Neighbour

I saw her dog before I saw her. He is called Walter, rather an usual name for a dog. He is an old dachshund with a very interesting and amusing character. Walter was sitting in the grass as I came round the corner and he had no intention of moving from his elected place. He was obviously enjoying the green grass and the sun.

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Before I got a chance to take a picture of him he came over to me wagging his tail as he walked. Oh well, perhaps another time I thought. I just took this picture of him looking up to me. I know you shouldn’t do so, but his looked touched me and it is how I saw from above.

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The old lady lives opposite us. This morning, after having bought the Sunday rolls, I thought I’d cross the road and say hello. As she is a little deaf – one of the banes of being well over 85 – I thought it better to speak to her face to face.

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We know little about her. As long as we have lived here, meanwhile almost eight years, we have seen her almost daily walking the dog or going shopping. We’ve chatted a little, A few years ago I even took pictures of them both. I am not even sure where she comes from.

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The lady has a very striking colour sense. Her clothes are shrill, but that is the privilege of the old!

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To judge by her Franconian dialect – she must be reasonably local. It is not for the faint of heart but after almost thirty years in Germany, I understand her without any problems.

She sighed and asked me which of two would go first, she or her dog.? “We don’t live forever”, she remarked. I smiled, shrugged my shoulders as I didn’t know anything sensible to say to her. She then announced that the two were now going to enjoy their breakfast and went inside.

Using Old Lenses

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I am one of those people who still shoots film. Although I don’t do so every day, I have spent most of my adult life using film cameras and not digital ones.

One very nice aspect of many digital cameras is the ability to put an adapter on to an old lens and use it on a digital camera. Having done this many times, I must say that I am often impressed by the results and in some cases you can save yourself a fortune by (re)using old glass. Regardless of how good or bad the camera is behind the lens, generally the lens itself is the most decisive part of any camera.

On such lens is the Russian Helios 44M-7. My version originates from 1993 and I bought it as a possible portrait lens.

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The above picture is of a colleague who I press ganged into taking his picture. I positioned him with his face to the window and stopped the lens down to just f2.8. The shutter speed was 1/125 and the ISO came in at 1600 ASA.  OK, this is not a portrait where every detail of the picture has been thought out. It was just a quick and dirty test of the lens.

I am very happy with the result. I will certainly be using this lens for future portraits.

Below are a few more test shots. Better ones will come.

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I Hate Speculators

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This is a rant, if not a very long one.

Most of my photos are taken on walks. For instance, I usually do not take the short way home but walk the long way round to see whether there is anything worth photographing.

A couple of days ago I got into a conversation with some of the locals in the village. Seeing me with a camera in the hand, they joked about wanting their pictures being taken. They also wanted to know whether I was an estate agent looking for properties. Estate agents are not the most popular of people here. They earn an enormous amount of money for very little work. For instance, they get 2.38 months of rent from the tenant when they procure a flat for them. In many people’s eyes estate agents come a little above cockroaches in the order of things.

I was more than happy to show that I didn’t belong to this fraternity by showing them the pictures I had been taking. Staying on the subject, they told me about a large landowner who is in the process of letting places rot rather than renting them out. They told me of a couple of cases. The picture above is one of these lovely wooden houses that is currently being demolished. Seemingly, and not only here, a new small house will be built in its place.

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Film Moments in Nuremberg

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I usually carry a film camera with me in addition to a digital one. Of course the digital camera is more immediate – you can see straight away what you have taken. Film is different – even if I can have a C41 film developed in the city in under an hour.

A couple of days ago I took one of my rangefinders with me – a Voigtländer R2A. It is a fun camera to use. It may night be the quietest but it is certainly inconspicuous. Time and time again I take pictures unnoticed. It is not that I always want it that way, it is just that it happens.

A few days ago I took one of my standard walks round town. Street photography, my favourite, is always full of surprises. You never know what you are going to see.

My first picture is of a man reading his post and smoking a cigarette in front of his flat at the same time. The amusing part of the photo is that both the man reading the post and the mannequins in the shop window are bald. Nice.

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The second picture is also of a man on his own – a busker – without an audience.

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Finally, the loneliness of the long distance mobile phone user. You see so many people, especially young people walking around staring into their mobiles and at the same time completely obvious to their surroundings. A while back I experienced a woman at the railway station that walked into a sign. It would have been worthy of a picture …

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As luck would have it

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I generally take many of my pictures on wlks around the place. I have no real plan, I just see what might come my way. Basically I do a lot of what is called street photography.

That said, sometimes situations come my way that take me by surprise. Here are a few of them:

The first picture is quite literally of ducks in the water. What struck me is that the colours and the reflections in the water – you can see a building and a café with its umbrellas being reflected. I was only walking aside the river to get from one part of the city to another. I only looked into the water by chance.

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The second photo contains what I love most: Unconscious humour. One of the Nuremberg cinemas is situated in the city and operates a café with tables on the street when the weather is good. Sitting in a Strandkorb (beach chair) was a man reading a holiday guide. That was too good to miss.

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