Friday, December 10, 2010

Back on the street

It gets dark early here in Stuttgart in mid-December, but that can't stop me from hitting the streets after work. My eye just has to look a bit harder for light. Yesterday I discovered the treats waiting for me in the street-level shops and restaurants downtown.
Technical stuff (you may skip):
After I watched Jay Maisel and Scott Kelby walk around Manhattan with 70-300mm lenses on their (full-format) cameras, I bought a Sigma 50-200, which is about the same thing. It's OK, but now I've picked up a Sigma 70-300 and it rocks on the street! With my Sony A700, a 300mm lens puts me at the equivalent of 450mm, which is where your super zoom bridge cameras put you when they are totally maxed out. 
What that means is that you can get super close to people across the street from you or on the next corner. It also means you have to hold the camera very steady. The 50-200 has an optical stabilizer built into it, which Sony Alphas don't necessarily need (because they've got the Super Steady Shot built into the body), so you turn off either the OS on the lens or the SSS on your Sony.

On the way to work that morning, I just had to test out the new lens. What crossed my aperture but the perfect frame for "man and his car" scene. Judging from the other cars in this picture, you may not think it snowed much, but I had just finished scraping the ice and snow off our car and can tell you the middle car was, like ours, out all night. In any case, I think the "No parking" signs add a nice frame to this winter work-out.

Two Santas

If you haven't been to Stuttgart's Christmas market, you should go just for the smells! The food never tastes as good as your ol' olfactory makes you think it will. With frozen feet standing at a chest-high wooden table with a smoker, a blabber, a tweeter and a Gl├╝hwein drunker, your food will be cold before you get half of it down. But go and smell. If you are lucky, there will be some good brass players like my friend Christof playing delightful arrangements of Christmas carols. This is a good place to go with some colleagues or friends after work. It probably isn't the best place to go after a hard afternoon's shopping because where are you going to put all the bags? Come back when you have some time on your hands!
Now when it gets cold, homeless people obviously have it hard. 

The sellers of "Trottwar", a newspaper written, published and distributed by homeless people, are present at the Christmas market, hoping to catch some people in a cheerful, generous mood. Often, however, they go about their business of looking for cheap presents in the well-stocked bargain stores.

And then there are the people who come into town to be amongst the masses in order to forget their loneliness. You can read it on their faces and in their body language. Wouldn't it be great if the two men here felt free enough to talk to one another? It would take a great leap in the rules of German etiquette for that to happen.

The young people always have someone to talk to - or chat or skype with or text or tweet. This member of the multi-tasking generation was doing it while his hair was being dried. There were a lot of young people getting their hair done yesterday evening.

Wishing you all a cheery Advent!

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