Thursday, June 18, 2015

Last Night of the Frühlingsfest

On the last evening of the Frühlingsfest in Bad Cannstatt there are always fireworks to mark the end of three weeks of revelry. After the smoke has cleared, there are 45 minutes left for a last drink, a last ride, a last kiss. Hoping to capture all this, I first took my gear to the river and waited. 

My idea was to capture the fireworks in the reflection of the river, which was nice and calm that evening. I had both my Sony A7 and RX100 with me. I set up everything and made sure I knew where everything was in case I had to leave my hiding place in the dark. It was already 9:45 p.m. and there was not much light left when the show started. At 1/6 sec. this shot reveals much of the surroundings.

Turning a similar shot on its head creates a somewhat surreal image, but this is exactly what I was hoping to capture: the dissipating flames waving in the ripples of water.

Later in the show the gathering smoke and increased darkness resulted in images that Carl Sagan may have liked for his show Cosmos.

Others resembled something more like the flowery delights that would thrill a botanist.

In 2012 I shot the Fest-ending fireworks show from the fairgrounds with an old 100-300mm lens. I ended up focusing on the iPad that the guy in front of me was filming the show with. The results looked something like this. (By the way, the pictures immediately preceding and following this bit of text were the only ones from the expensive A7 that I have chosen to show here. More on that later.)

 The smoke blew across the fairgrounds as I packed up and headed over the bridge - where all the other photographers had been standing!

A 5 sec. exposure of the bungee capsule revealed how it twists as it yo-yos up and down on its lifelines.

Time for a last ride and then what? Wait till the Wasenfest in October.

Soon the last Bratwürste were being sold off at half price to the hungry throngs. Many owners shut down early to avoid the last drunken hour.

It all has to be packed up and put away until the next fair - perhaps next week in Strasbourg.

Literally minutes after the last Wilde Maus rollercoaster coasted to a halt, these men were up on the tracks unbolting things bit by bit.

P.S.  As I mentioned earlier, this evening's better camera - and my personal favorite - was the RX100. The little Sony is inconspicuous, silent and helps you make excellent photographs. While playing around a bit with exposures during the fireworks show, I noticed a repeated frame pattern at the top and bottom of the underexposed images taken (at 200 ISO) with the A7. Perhaps you don't want to worry about any photographs you underexpose by 4-5 stops, but when shooting something like fireworks, you never know what exposure may end up to be the most interesting. In any case, I would be very interested to know if anyone else out there has noticed this issue. And if so, what do you think is the cause of this pattern? 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Still life

Recently my wife and three children went to visit Oma for a long weekend. I had to stay home and prepare for a wedding I was going to photograph. After they finished waving sayonara through the sunroof of our receding Renault, I re-entered our house and discovered that I already missed its other occupants. I sat down at the piano and played for an hour - uninterrupted - and then made myself a nice meal, enjoying it at my pace and to the strains of my music.
There were no proverbial fires to put out, nor were there any time constraints on me for the next three days. I was looking forward to it.
After breakfast the next morning, however, I began to miss the noise, the chaos, the life that has become our home. How many of you can relate to that? I looked around the house with a sense of nostalgia - a feeling of yearning for the chaos to return. Being the (only) one who prefers order over random patterns of strewn shirts, fallen wrappers, and endless charger cords, I had to trade my sanity for what you see in these photographs. Granted, these are mostly detail shots - you don't want to see the full extent of the chaos! - but that was the purpose of this exercise: to see the everyday with a new eye. Not only was I bringing the family back to my consciousness, I was creating abstract compositions from what bit of life still remained.
As you look at the pictures enjoy this poem by Al Zolynas, which I think complements my idea well.