BBC and Climate Crisis

March 13th, 2019

I used to think the BBC was a fine example of broadcasting, and in some ways it still is, with some excellent reporters around the world, and programmes on radio and TV with high production levels. But in recent years I’ve been very disappointed, even apalled, at a general failure to address some important issue, and with a consistent bias in favour of the status quo and the upholding of some widely held but cleary fallacious views. And with its often slavish following of what our overwhemling right-wing press decides is news and what the view on it should be, most evident in recent years over its assault on Jeremy Corbyn. Academic studies have confirmed the anecdotal impression that his views and actions have been consistently misrepresented, often even falsified.

The BBC employs people who mainly come from a limited section of society; middle-class, university educated, well-off and conservative with a small c – and for its political commentators, usually with a large C too. The board that oversees it comes from the same type of people, part of a metropolitan elite. Perhaps we need quotas to slim out the Oxbridge and Eton mobs and other over-represented groups.

Perhaps most damning has been its failure to properly address the crisis of climate change, potentially the most disastrous issue we all face (though too many still have their backs turned), with the potential to make our own species extinct, along with most others. While the BBC hasn’t entirely ignored it, it has generally failed to recognise the huge amount of sceintific interest and studies, and has often given the views of fossil fuel investors and the flat-earthers of climate studies the same importance as those of climate scientists in the pursuit of a false impartiality.

Climate campaigners from Extinction Rebellion came to protest at the BBC calling it to stop ignoring the climate emergency & mass extinctions of species already taking place and to end its promotion of destructive high-carbon living through programmes such as Top Gear and those on fashion, travel, makeovers etc. Virtually every programme the BBC broadcasts displays a high resource high pollution lifestyle as the norm and is an aspiration for the great majority of viewers in the UK to live beyond their means and well beyond what our planet can support for the great majority of its population.

I’m not sure we can expect TV ever to come real. I gave up regular watching of television back in 1968 for variouis reasons, largely because I saw the time sitting in front a screen as preventing me from doing things I felt both more interesting and more important – like forming and illustrating my own view of the world. It seemed to me to be too passive, allowing others to write my agenda and discouraging of critical thought. And while there have been programmes since which I have watched and admired, the great mass of output from the BBC and commercial channels which I’ve occasionally and rather randomly seen since have fairly definitively confirmed my views.

Every time I’ve come awake in a hotel room to TV’s breakfast shows I ask myself ‘How can anyone watch this drivel?’ which makes even Radio 4’s often infuriating Today programme seem remarkably adult. We truly need a cultural revolution, and I don’t mean red books and Chairman Mao.

The protest outside the BBC was organised by the Climate Media Coalition (CMC) and its director Donnachadh McCarthy; they brought mannequins wrapped in white cloth to the BBC representing the bodies of a Greek village killed by fire, increasingly common as global warming brings higher temperatures and greater instability to the world’s weather systems.

It was a protest directed both at the BBC to live up to the terms of its charter and agreement, and to the mass media in general to wake up and realise and report the real problems the planet faces. We don’t need to know celebrity trivia but we do need to have a future for life on Earth, both human life and that of other species. The current extinction rate from man-made causes, according to the WWF “is estimated by experts to be between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than the natural extinction rate,” and is rapidly increasing.

Taking place on their doorstep – and with crowds and security barriers through which those working at the BBC had to cross and a volume of noise that they could not ignore even though they chose as usual not to report it, following their policy of not reporting dissent unless it fits a particular agenda (or involves one of their favourite celebrities, political or otherwise) and above all of not rocking the boat.

You can read more about it and see the pictures at Extinction Rebellion at the BBC.

Unfortunately I missed the most newsworthy part of the action, as when the protest organiser deliberately got himself arrested climbing over the barriers I was making pictures at the barrier on the other side of the plaza.

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Yellow Pests – and Soubry

March 12th, 2019

After the protesters in yellow hi-viz jackets had spent some time harassing SODEM and the police on duty in Old Palace Yard, opposite the House of Lords, they moved off to protest outside the vehicle entrance in front of the House of Commons

By now the other photographers who had been photographing the harassment had walked away to file their pictures, but I’d stayed on, wondering if there might be other things happening, and went over to photograph the protesters crowding around and blocking the vehicle entrance, with police trying to clear them to one side. In the crowd watching them there I met an oddly dressed youngish man with CHristmas Pudding glasses who I photographed and exchanged a few words with; I couldn’t disagree with his assessment of the protesters as nutters.

I went back briefly to Old Palace Yard and photographed him rather better as he came to talk with Steven Bray of SODEM, and was filmed by a two man camera team who were accompanying him. I’ve no idea who he was, perhaps a vlogger (perhaps someone will enlighten me), but was amused by his appearance, and when I saw him going with his team to photograph the yellow jacketed protesters who were now outside the public entrance to Parliament, I followed to watch.

The protesters were upset that they were not being allowed into Parliament and complaining loudly, though

Filmed by his crew he did a rather jokey kind of interview, to which they responded fairly warmly. At the end I heard him say to his crew how relieved he was that was over, and was going to talk with him when I heard one of the men in yellow vests point out Ann Soubry, who was talking to a couple of people a few yards away and as the people she was talking left, he up to her and started accusing her loudly over her opposition to Brexit.

She obviously recognised him, calling him by his name ‘James’ (which I remembered wrongly) and then turned and walked away, with him and 3 or 4 others following. It wasn’t easy to keep in a position where I could keep her in view as apart from the small group following her, and by now shouting at her, there were other people around in a fairly restricted space. A couple of the protesters were also filming her on their phones and did rather get in my way.

As she got close to a police officer she stopped and turned loudly towards the protesters shouting that she would not be called a ‘f**king traitor’ and that that was an offence, then calling over the officer to assist her. He seemed to come rather slowly and reluctantly.

The argument continued with the protesters getting close to her and filming her and continuing to accuse her of betraying them over Brexit.

Eventually a police officer did come around to our side ot the barriers and she was escorted away, but no action was taken against the protesters. I was rather surprised at what seemed their lack of interest in what was going on. Perhaps they felt, as I admit I did, that the MP was rather playing up the incident for publicity. It was no more serious than the behaviour of these protesters earlier against Steve Bray and SODEM, if anything rather less threatening.

Later Ms Soubry raised the harassment with the Speaker of the House of Commons. I’d realised when taking the pictures of the incident that, apart from the protesters I was the only person with pictures of it, and that it was the kind of fairly trivial incident that could be excite the media that has little interest in real news. I rushed home to be rather faster than usual to get the pictures into the agency and was pleased to see one of my pictures used in several newspapers.

More at
Extremist Brexiteers at parliament
Anna Soubry MP harassed by extremists

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My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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Berlin 14: Women’s protest, Marx & Engels

March 11th, 2019

Perhaps the most moving of all Berlin’s memorials about the Nazi period is in Rosenstrasse, a sculptural ensemble commemorating the week of protests in 1943 by around 600 German women, wives and mothers of Jewish men, to have the men released by the Gestapo.

It was a desperate and brave protest, one of very few by German civilians against the Nazi authorities, and those women taking part risked their lives to get their men released. Their action saved the lives of the men, and many managed to live until the end of the war. The women’s protest was peaceful and surprisingly none of those involved were punished.

The group of red stone blocks by sculptor Ingeborg Huntzinger (1915-2009) is close to the site of the former Jewish Welfare Administration building where the men were held prisoner, and has an inscription:

1943
Die Kraft des zivilen Ungehorsams
die Kraft der Liebe
bezwingen die Gewalt der Diktatur

Gebt uns unsere Männer wieder
Frauen standen hier
Tod besiegen
Jüdische Männer waren frei

[1943
The power of civil disobidience
the power of love
overcomes the violence of dictatorship

Give us our men again
Women stood here
to overcome Death
Jewish men were free]

Also as a memorial to the event are two 1930s style advertising columns (Litfass columns) with text and photographs giving details about the women’s protest.

Huntziger designed the Rosenstrasse memorial in the 1980s, but the GDR had no interest in a memorial about the event, and it was only after the unification of Germany that in 1995 it was erected following a vote by the new Berlin senate. It is a work which powerfully expresses the desperation of the situation, the determination of the women and the anger of the sculptor at the violence of the Nazi regime. The protest took place during the final roundup of Berlin’s Jews by the Gestapo and SS at the end of February 1943, and though the bravery of the women’s protest saved their men, around 6,000 other Jews were deported.

A short distance away was something which rather lightened our mood, a Berlin Bear, the second of these large decorated figures we had met – later we were to find many more.

The area to the east of Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse near the centre of Berlin was heavily bombed in 1944/5 and parts more or less reduced to rubble. In 1977 a part of the area was redeveloped as a wooded park, the Marx-Engels Forum, a tribute to Marx and Engels with a larger than life bronze of the two men at its centre by Ludwig Engelhardt, (1924-2001), the overall designer of the project. It was finally completed in 1986. After reunification the sculpture became controversial, with many wanting its removal, but it was kept for its artistic and historical significance.

When we were there the sculpture had been removed from the centre of the forum to a wooded corner, possibly for the building of a new underground line, but perhaps as a more convenient down-playing of a period of history many want forgotten. It no longer dominates the area as it was planned to do.

Although some dislike it, and it does seem to be a rather hidden in most of the tourist web sites, and rather denigrated in the guides it remains a popular tourist attraction, with parts polished to a shine by people climbing up on it to have their photographs taken. The statues – Marx seated and Engels standing  – are at ground level, enabling interaction with the people, and appear very successful in that respect. While Socialist Realism may not be to everyone’s taste, they seem to be a very succesful example of it, and considerably better than most late 20th public statues for example those in our own Parliament Square in London.

Marx and Engels are not isolated, both interacting with the public and part of an ensemble of other sculptural works, with two double-sided bronze panels depicting the struggle of humanity to emerge into the bright new world of communism, ‘Die Würde und Schönheit freier Menschen’ (The Dignity and Beauty of Free People)
1985-1986 by Margret Middell (b.1940).


The five panel marble relief “Alte Welt” (Old World) (1985) by Werner Stötzer (1931-2010) forms a backdrop to the two figures.  Also in the ensemble but not in my pictures are are four tall slim double-sided stainless steel columns (stelae) engraved with 144 small photographs illustrating ‘Der weltrevolutionäre Prozess seit Karl Marx und Friedrich Engels bis in die Gegenwart’ (The World Revolutionary Process, from Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels to the Present), a team effort led by Arno Fischer and Peter Voigt, with Friedrich Nostritz creating the stelae and Norbert Blum, Jürgen Frenkel and Hans Gutheil the photographic etchings.

Our walks around Berlin continue in later posts.

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My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images

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Blind Spot for Pictorialism?

March 10th, 2019

Andy Romanoff‘s article,  ‘Even Ansel Adams Had a Blind Spot‘ looks at the continuation of pictorialism in photography after the emergence of straight photography around 1920, which he says ““disappeared” some very important and wonderful photographers from the history of photography“, chief among them William Mortensen and his ‘disciple’ Robert Balcomb.

While it’s true that Mortensen gets little mention in most histories of photography, the contention that Pictorialism is neglected is certainly untrue. Nor was Mortensen really forgotten, but perhaps for good reason ignored. I have a copy of ‘The New Projection Control‘ by William Mortensen, which by 1945 was in its third edition and third printing, one of 8 books by Mortensen then on sale, and when I joined a photographic club in the mid-1970s the great majority or work on display there and in the international salons could stil broadly be described as Pictorialism, still alive if not particularly well.

Although Mortensen was undoubtedly a great technician this did not make him into a particularly interesting photographer, and as Romanoff states:

“In retrospect, although Mortensen’s subject matter was often grotesque and sometimes fell into the kitschy, his mastery of craft was and is astounding. Most people seeing a Mortensen print for the first time find it hard to believe it is a photograph.”

Pictorialism had its great heyday in the years around 1900, and in particular under the curation of Alfred Stieglitz, who established an international movement called the the Photo-Secession and published his magnificently produced Camera Work, from 1903-1917. It is a movement and an age which gets extensively and sympathetically treated by Beaumont Newhall (and I think Ansel Adams) and others in their histories of photography. Perhaps suprisingly Stieglitz doesn’t get a mention in Romanoff’s post, though Edward Steichen, who designed the cover for Camera Work does. It could perhaps be described as a movement which attempted to legitimise photography as art by showing it could produce images that mimicked those produced by accepted artistic printing printing processes using only the manual skills of artists, and which concentrated on the qualities and surface of the print, often involving considerable manual intervention in its production. The object was perhaps to make it hard for people ‘to believe it is a photograph.’

Romanoff’s list of photographers who began as pictorialists but moved on to straight photography is short, and perhaps significantly omits the names of some of its greatest exponents, notably both Paul Strand and Edward Weston. These and others wanted to make work that was purely photographic, some thinking that this was how photography could truly become art, while others felt that photography was a development of the modern age, a replacement, a kind of post-art.  They certainly wanted ot make photographs that really did look like photographs.

Weston’s own struggles with the impact of modernism on photography have been extensively documented by himself and others. His work, and that of other straight photographers, both in the USA and in Europe and elsewhere was new and exciting, while pictorialism remained producing the same old tropes but with less and less creativity.

I’m not a huge fan of Ansel Adams either, but again – as with Mortensen – there is no denying his technical mastery, again encapsulated in his books. His Basic Photo Series, though by then somewhat out of date (and later editions were never quite as good), was the foundation for my own technical education in the medium, though it never led me to try and remake my version of “Moonrise Hernandez, New Mexico.”

To some extent the illustrations to Romanoff’s article speak for themselves. William Porterfield‘s image was made during the heyday of pictorialism and neglected only because it isn’t a particularly interesting picture, and the four later examples do little for me. Mortensen (as did Adams) provided the images for  ‘The New Projection Control’, and a pretty dire collection they are, with the before ‘straight’ version he prints of some images often seeming to me very much preferable to his variously pimped version.

I guess it is a matter of taste, and as Mortensen says in his concluding chapter, “Unhappily, there is no known method of teaching taste, good sense and discretion. To such readers as lack these valuable qualities this book will merely discover new ways of making bad pictures.” And it did in spades. As he continues, “Babies will be butchered and ingenues outraged in the name of Projection Control“. And pictorialism.

Berlin 13: Old Garrison Cemetery

March 9th, 2019

Alter Berliner Garnisonfriedhof, the listed  Old Garrison Cemetery on  the Kleine Rosenthaler Strasse at the corner of Linienstrasse is one of the oldest burial grounds in Berlin, founded around 1706, although I think the oldest graves still here date from the early 19th century.


Wilhelm Alfred von Buddenbrock (1796-1863) and his wife Julie (1796-1872)
The name is a variant of Buddenbrook, a common North German name used by Thomas Mann.

Initially it was only used for the burial of sodiers from regiments actually quartered in the city, but from 1804 burials were allowed for all regiments stationed in Berlin. The cemetery was much larger, and was in two distinct parts, the larger for men and this remaining smaller part for officers.

While most of Berlin’s cemeteries were relocated to the suburbs, this continued in use with burials up to the end of the Second World War. As well as for officers, war victims were also buried in it, including some in mass graves.  The cemetery was finally closed for burials in 1951, though some later burials took place in family graves.  At the insistence of the Institute for Preservation of Monuments and the Cultural League of the GDR the cemetery became a public park and many of the existing 489 graves were levelled, leaving only around 180 standing.

Most of the 180 which remain date from the first half on the 19th century, and are of historic interest with some fine iron castings with clear details and lettering.  There are also some fine examples of later romantic, neo-gothic and art nouveau work and some which are just plain curious.


Gustav Adolf Zeigler (1808=82)


Leutnant Curt Kruge (1889-1914)


One of several mass graves with a long list of names ending with 195 Unknown, all killed in 1945


Monument to the victims of Berlin street fights in spring 1945


An unusual cast zinc monument for Ernst Ludwig von Tippelskirch (1774-1840)

It was time for lunch and I made my way back to our flat in Rosa Luxemburg Strasse.

More from my walk around Berlin to follow shortly.

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My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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Berlin 12: Squats & Graffiti

March 8th, 2019

79 Kastanienallee was I think thoroughly restored in 2008. The fantastic decoration on  this facade is presumably one of a number in the area that were protected, and I suspect dates from around 1900, though I’ve not been able to find anything more about it. Most of the original buildings on the street I think date from around the 1880s. The small balconies with their colourful decorations appear to be a recent addition, a dded either postwar or in the recent renovation. An archway leads through to DOCK 11 Studios, which since 1994 has hosted varying dance, theatre, film, performance, literature, visual art and design events.

Kastianienallee was home to many squats, with one of the best-known being a couple of doors down the street at 77. K77,  one of the oldest buildings on the street from 1848 had stood empty for six years when activists  dressed as doctors and nurses occupied occupied it on June 20, 1992. Like many buildings on the street there were actually three houses behind the facade separated by interior courtyards.

There is a very well-known ‘Old CCCP’ bar in Berlin, not far from where I took this and two other pictures, but I’m fairly sure it isn’t this one, as it looks nothing like this and is not, like this, on a street corner.

It was Clara Zetkin,  who seconded the idea of an international day for women’s rights when it was proposed by another German socialist, Luise Zietz at the 1910 International Women’s Conference before the Socialist Second International in Copenhagen, and she chaired the 1921 Second International Conference of Communist Women in Moscow which set the date of the International Women’s Day to March 8.

This large squattted house, ‘Linie 206’ on the corner of Linienenstrasse and Kleine Rosenthaler Str was clearly under attack. Occupied in 1990, the house was sold to several owners in the first decade of this century and there were a number of attempts to evict the occupants, with the house finally being cleared by police in May 2016.

More from my walk around Berlin to follow shortly.

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My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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SODEM harassed

March 7th, 2019

SODEM are a dedicated bunch of people opposed to Brexit who come every day in Parliament to hold peaceful protests to show their opposition to leaving the EU.

Steven Bray, who founded the ‘Stand of Defiance European Movement’ with a name to reflect his opinion of the people who had told lie after lie to voters to get them to vote for Brexit has been there every sitting day I’ve visited Westminster since September 2017. Sometimes on his own, more often with a handful of supporters, and recently with perhaps a dozen or two or even three as the date for Brexit approaches.

SODEM hold EU flags, tie them to lamp posts and railings, bring banners, dress in various items of clothing in EU blue with the ring of stars, hold placards, wear badges, occasionally shout ‘Stop Brexit’ or other similar slogans, and generally protest peacefully without causing any nuisance to others. Passing motorists hoot in agreement or drive by in silence, while tourists and others sometimes stop to commiserate. Very occasionally people have stopped to argue, and these conversations have been quiet and reasoned. The occasional pro-Leave protester has come along over the past 18 months too, and Steven or some of the others have sometimes engaged in quiet conversations.

There have been occasional times when people walking past have shouted at the SODEM protesters, sometimes rather abusively, but now something far more organised is taking place, with a group of pro-Brexiteers who come along not to protest about Brexit, but to harass pro-Europe protesters. Some of them wear yellow vests in imitation of the French ‘gilets jaunes’ though it seems like a hijacking of the symbol that has failed to realise what the events happening in France are about for some quite unsavoury issues.

Among these – and shown on the jackets – is the ‘Our Boys’ campaign backed by Tommy Robinson, which is campaigning to have a Hindu origin man who has been imprisoned for killing three teenage boys in Hayes by drunk driving tried again under terrorism laws or for murder, along with his passenger. The driver was found to have 2.5 times the legal alcohol limit and received a sentence of 13 years. They disrupted the hearing of his appeal against sentence which reduced it to 10.5 years as a mistake had been made in the earlier court.

Other slogans on their yellow jacket concern a number of tin-foil hat type theories and conspiracies, including the ridiculous “Freeman of the Land”-type beliefs in the illegitimacy of the legal syste, false claims of ritual abuse, discredited claims of sexual abuse and pedophile activity and more. One that perhaps has more reality concerns allegations about a Finchley Road address, now defunct, which does appear to have been used as the registered address for a very large number of companies involved in frauds, scams and tax evasion.

It was a morning which made me think that video might have been rather better at covering events such as this, showing both the movements of people and in particular the insults and bad language. Police did warn the protesters both about the possiblity of defamation and their use of language, and tried hard to get between the abusive yellow jacketed people and the generally polite and restrained SODEM protesters, though I felt they perhaps should have called for reinforcments and acted more assertively. Those in yellow accused the police of taking sides and were abusive towards them.

More about the later activities of the yellow group in another post.

Some more pictures at: Extreme Brexiteers clash with SODEM

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There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images

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Berlin 11: Prenzlauer-Berg 2

March 6th, 2019

Rykestrasse Synagogue, Germany’s largest synagogue, was built in 1903-4. On “Kristallnacht” (Night of Broken Glass), 9 November 1938, it was trashed but not burnt down as it is a part of a residential building, and in 1944 it was bought by the borough of Prenzlauer Berg. During the war it was used as a furniture store. It came back into use in May 1945 and various repairs were made over the years but it was only finally restored to its pre-was splendour in 2007.

Painter and sculptor Käthe Kollwitz (1867-1945) was born in Königsberg, Prussia and first came to Berlin to study art in 1883. She returned in 1891 to live in Prenzlauer Berg after marrying Karl Kollwitz, a doctor for the Berlin poor, living in the same large apartment until she was evacuated from Berlin in 1943; a few months later the building was destroyed by bombing. Weissenburger Strasse where she and Karl lived at 56A was renamed Kollwitzstrasse in 1947 in honour of her. A health centre built in Prenzlauer Allee in 1983 is named after Karl. The statue (1956-8) in Kolwitzplatz is by Gustav Seitz.

KulturBrauerei is a huge leisure/entertainment/arts complex using the historic buildings of the the former Schultheiss brewery, begun in the 1800s, which expanded greatly and was once the largest in the world. The brewery closed in 1967, and in 1974 was declared a national monument. It now has theatre, nightclub, music perfomances, markets and more in a slightly bland gentrifiers cultutral mould.

Stadt Bad Prenzlauer-Berg in Oderberger Strasse, designed by city architect Ludwig Hoffmann and built in 1899-1902 included a small swimming pool as well as at the time much needed washing and bathing facilities for the population  in these municipal baths. Although built to look like a Renaissance palace, the interior was apparently organised on rational lines with 63 showers and bath tubs. Out of use since cracks in the ceiling were discovered in 1986s when I photographed the exterior, the building has now been restored as a hotel and the public can visit them again.

Kastanienallee, 12 with a doorway leading through to a whole series of courtyards. These were widely squatted after the unification of Germany, and the whole complex here became a well-known area full of hippies.

Kastanienallee

KAPITALISMUS (capitalism) ZERSTÖRT (destroyed) TÖTET (killing) NORMIERT (normalised)

More from my walk around Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin to follow shortly.

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There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images

________________________________________________________

Berlin 10: Prenzlauer-Berg

March 5th, 2019

It seems particularly appropriate to be writing about Berlin and our stay in Rosa Luxemburg Strasse today, March 5th, as it is the anniversary of her birth in  1871 in Zamość in southeast Poland.

On Sunday morning a short walk from the flat took me into Prenzlauer Berg, a once working class area which became heavily squatted and a centre of counterculture before undergoing a rapid process of gentrification.  Many of the squats were cleared by police in 1998 but some were still there in 2011.

Senefelderplatz got its name from Alois Senefelder, the inventor of lithography, the basis of modern printing processes. He used a flat stone plate, coating it to repel ink except in the areas required to print which had the text (or line image) in reverse. When the plate was inked it forms a reverse image on the plate, to which the paper was then applied and the ink transferred to give a correct reading image. His name is carved in reverse on the monument.  Later metal plates were used (and paper for low cost short runs), and printing is usually ‘offset’ with a correct reading plate being transferred onto a flexible rubber or plastic sheet in reverse and then transferred onto paper to produce a right-reading print.

Almost all large volume printing in black and white and colour still uses offset litho, with colour mainly being printed from four plates, inked with yellow, magenta, cyan and black inks

A sign shows support for Bradley Manning – now Chelsea Manning. The area had become a centre for radical communities from the 1950s under the East German State and after the wall fell they were joined by many young anarchists and socialists from West Berlin and the wider west.

Many of the walls are covered with graffiti, and this one has an unusual cluster of 42 red boxes for post.

A welcome survival from an earlier age was this vintage octagonal urinal, still in full working order.

And a rather more decorative and useful piece of street furniture.

The watertower at left, Wasserturm Prenzlauer Berg, is Berlin’s oldest and is apparently known as “Fat Hermann”. Designed by Henry Gill and built by the English Waterworks Company, it was completed in 1877 and remained in use as a water tower until 1952.

As well as a large water tank at the top of the tower, it was built with flats for the water company workers below, still lived in but no longer by workers.

Although many of the buidlings from the original development of the area which was planned in 1862 and built in the following years remain. some of the more modern buildings are rather less imaginative, but many were enlivened by various decorations. There were also quite a few small park areas, often with childrens playgrounds. Probably allied bombing created a number of gaps in the area.

I walked around on my own for a couple of hours before meeting up with Linda who had been to one of the churches in the area. Although I  had to pass a German exam to get my Chemistry degree  (a throwback to the century before the war when many of the famous chemists were German and pubished in German scientific periodicals) my spoken German is pretty non-existent, though fortunately you need little or none to buy a beer in a cafe. Though not the one above. This area in particular is one were many languages are spoken and English serves pretty well.

More from my walk around  Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin to follow shortly.

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My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

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Berlin 9: Night in Mitte

March 4th, 2019

Berlin at night might have been easier to photograph were it not for my phobia for tripods, and I think all these pictures were probably made without the aid of either tripod or flash – and flash would generally have been of no use.  However a decent tripod would have been helpful, but I’d left that at home, around 600 miles away, deciding to travel light.

I’d not taken the Leica out with me either in our wander after dinner on to the Museum Island, although that f1.4 35mm lens would have been useful. But the Fuji X100 was a better performer in low light. The picture of the temporary Humboldt Box (due to be demolished by 2019) was taken at 1/3s f2.8 and ISO 1600, and the Altes Museum at 1/2s. It would have been better to use a higher ISO, but for some uknown reason at that time I was reluctant to do so. The X100 isn’t a great performer at ISO 6400, but would have been sharper.

I wasn’t thinking seriously about taking night pictures, but I was there with a camera and gave it a go. In the brighter areas things were OK, but some of the darker areas were a challenge. I think I took a dozen frames of the Altes Museum, but only two were reasonably sharp – the best just very slightly crisper than the one I’ve used here.

Sometimes there was something I could brace myself against when making the picture, perhaps leaning on a rail or against a lamp post, but for other pictures I just had to stand as still as possible, make several exposures and hope. Using digital it’s possible of course to see the image on the back of the camera after you’ve made it. You can then delete those that really are blurred, but can’t tell if things are really critically sharp.

The statue above isn’t quite there, though it will have looked it on the camera back., and could probably be made to look a little sharper in Lightroom. It would have been nicer to have brought out the shadow of a fence on the plinth a little more too.

A little more light got my shutter speed up to 1/20th of a second as Linda walked away, probably fed up with waiting for me as I fiddled around with my camera.

Night brings out quite a different look in the buildings, helped by some good floodlighting, though it perhaps seemed something of a waste of electricity as the island at around 9pm was deserted. We hardly saw a single person, though doubtless there were security guards on duty in some of the buildings they remained invisible.


Der Deutschen Kunst – the Alte Nationalgalerie


The River Spree from Friedrichsbrücke


St. Marienkirche on Karl-Liebknecht-Str and the Fernsehturm at Alexanderplatz.

More from Berlin to follow shortly.

Previous Berlin post

______________________________________________________

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images

________________________________________________________