Monthly Archives: August 2013

Inside the Ständehaus

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”.

Woman behind Arch

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.

In Orbit

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.

Webs and Rhine Tower

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.

We Planted a Tree!

While walking along the beach of the Baltic Sea in Northern Germany, I noticed two driftwood trees lying around. I had the idea to drag them into the water and take some long exposure photos with a neutral density filter to give the water a silky smooth appearance. However, when I later returned with my brother we quickly found out that these trees are quite heavy and we couldn’t really move them all the way into the water.
Our next idea was to get one tree to stand up straight so it would look at least a bit like it had grown on the beach. At first, that didn’t really work either because there were still large parts of roots attached to the tree so we couldn’t move it into a stable position. Digging a hole in the sand also didn’t work because then the sand was too soft to support the tree.
Ultimately, we succeeded by digging a hole next to and half way under a heavy boulder and then placing the root of the tree against the boulder before filling up the hole with stones and sand. The whole endeavor took us almost an hour. But we had successfully planted a dead tree on the beach of the Baltic Sea.

Driftwood Tree

I played around with a few different compositions and settings for the picture, mostly to try out the neutral density filters I had bought for the trip. The above photo is a 20 second exposure through a 3-stop ND filter. I toned down the color saturation during post processing to give the photo exactly the bleak, cold look I had in mind when taking this shot.
The tree didn’t seem to be very stable in it’s place so we went back the next morning to check up on it – and sure enough, it had fallen over. Maybe I’ll plant a real, living tree somewhere someday, but it’s not on my bucket list.