After my visit to the Ständehaus in Düsseldorf, I decided to explore the city a bit before taking the train back home. The most famous street in Düsseldorf is probably the Königsallee in the center of the city and it wasn’t far to walk there, always guided by Google Maps. Along the way, I passed a tall, modern, oval office building called GAP 15:
It turns out that the name is actually an abbreviation of the address, Graf-Adolf-Platz 15. The building incorporates another historic building on the ground level. During the past couple of years, the all-glass facade had to be repaired twice because windows had fallen off and impacted on the street below. Luckily, nobody was hurt. No windows fell of while I was taking my photos although I have to admit it would have been an interesting “last shot”.
The Königsallee didn’t appeal to me from a photographic perspective at all, I guess mostly because the weather wasn’t too good so the light wasn’t beautiful and also because there was some sort of demonstration going on with lots of weird people and police blocking the view. However, towards the end of the Königsallee, there was a big construction site where they are building a new subway line and some new office buildings. I went up a little observation tower to get a better view of things and got this interesting perspective on the facade of a building under construction across from the Steigenberger Park-Hotel. It reminded me a lot of a barcode or QR code, many abstract interrupted black and white lines.
Living in Cologne is not exactly optimal for someone who is into photography because most museums in Cologne are dedicated to ancient history and especially the Romans. So I’m already used to traveling elsewhere when I feel like going to a museum. Düsseldorf is fortunately not far away and regularly has very interesting photo exhibitions. When I read about the upcoming Wolfgang Tillmans exhibition, I decided to go and see it. But I never really got around to it. After already being extended, it is going to close next weekend, so for me that meant “now or never”.
The exhibition is located in the K21 Ständehaus in Düsseldorf, a beautiful building with a long history. It was used as the parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia until 1988 and after that converted to a museum for contemporary art. I don’t like taking photos of the photos in an exhibition, so I took some architecture photos inside the building. What I really love about this museum is that they allow photography and give you a little “photo permission” sticker at the ticket office. Although I don’t understand why you need that sticker, it’s free and you don’t have to sign anything so they could just let everybody take photos.
The top floor currently houses the installation “in orbit” by Tomás Saraceno, which was unfortunately closed because it took some damage from the extreme heat that has beleaguered Germany for the past couple of months. Still, the giant mirroring sphere and many nets looked fascinating from below.
Large white walls and a glass roof made the museum’s interior very bright and almost dictated a high key look for the photos. Almost all I had to do while processing the pictures was reduce the color saturation for all but the most dominant colors and increase the contrast in a way that pushed most of the photo towards white while also retaining some black areas. It is a look that I haven’t really used before, but I’m happy with it so I might further experiment with it in the future.
Traveling through the United Arab Emirates, you get used to the omnipresent world records rather quickly. Everything seems to be the largest this, the most expensive that and the fastest what-have-you. So to be perfectly honest, I wasn’t that impressed when the tour guide told me that the carpet I was about to walk on was the largest in the world.
As usual, the exact details vary depending on who you ask but it took 1,200 carpet knotters about 2 years to complete the carpet. It has a total of 2.2 billion knots, weighs about 50 tons and measures 6,000m² – almost an entire soccer field. It is so large that it had to be manufactured in 8 separate pieces in Iran and shipped to Abu Dhabi together with some knotters who finally joined the pieces together inside the mosque. It provides space for up to 7,000 worshipers and the carpet’s pattern matches the patterns of the ceiling, especially the chandeliers.
Speaking of the chandeliers again, here is one more photo that illustrates the immense size of these lamps. You can see how small the people at the bottom of the picture appear compared to the chandeliers hanging above them. And from the side, the upper parts also become more visible with their thousands of small pieces of glass and Svarovski crystals.
Despite all the fascination I have with these chandeliers, I think they only look so good inside the mosque. I can’t imagine having an obviously smaller version of one of those inside my living room, it would just look out of place.
As usual, you can find these and some other photos from inside Sheikh Zayed Mosque in the Abu Dhabi Gallery. I also took a lot of photos outside, but who knows when I’ll post those.
The little irregularities in the last photo kept bothering me, so I decided to try and fix them with some digital trickery in the GIMP. While I was at it, I also enhanced the contrast slightly to brighten up the bottom a bit and make the pattern on the wall more prominent. Here’s the result:
You probably have to directly compare it to the previous version to actually notice the changes in the bottom right. And only if you pay very close attention you can see parts of the cheating in the final image. While I don’t normally do this kind of manipulation on my photos, it is very common among photographers and I find myself playing with it more often these days.