Give them any excuse, the people in Köln (Cologne) love to party at any time. It’s a wonder but no surprise this is where I find some of the happiest people in the country. As the calendar flips to a new year, the time heralds the annual shenanigans of the Kölner Karneval. For residents and visitors, two of the best-known landmarks in the city are the Kölner Dom (Cologne Cathedral) and the Hohenzollernbrücke (Hohenzollern Bridge).
Above/featured: Dom und Baum (Cathedral and tree).
Colder weather in late-November marks the beginning of Christmas season with food, drink, lights, and frivolity. The festive markets in the Carnival City of Cologne are equally reflective of cheerful people and good times one expects to find on the river Rhein. Four of the city’s Christmas markets are located at the Cathedral, Old Market in the Old Town, at the New Market, and at Rudolph Square. What makes these four special are their descriptions: “Markt der Herzen” (market of hearts), “Heimat der Heinzel” (home of the elves), “Markt der Engel” (market of angels), and “Nikolausdorf” (St. Nicholas village) respectively. Under the glow of Christmas lights, I saw glimpses of big smiles, warm hearts and bellies, happy children, ladies dressed as angels, and the ubiquitous presence of a jolly rotund bearded man dressed in red.
These markets are in the city centre and easily accessible with KVB public transport. During my visits1, there is no admission charge to enter these markets. On multiple visits over the years, we’ve covered all three on foot in a single evening, requiring frequent stops for food among an unspecified number of Glühwein (mulled wine).
What if I’ve landed in Germany, and I wanted to find less-explored aspects in one of her cities? The word “gems” might be overused, but I’ve turned the word into a handy list of “G-E-M-S”, representing a Green space (Grünanlange), a place to Eat (Essen gehen), a Museum, and something a little out of the ordinary or a Special tip (Sondertipp).
They’re not only recommendations, but I’d like the interested reader to consider places where locals go to relax, eat, and enjoy themselves.
The present post is about the Carnival city of Cologne on the river Rhein.
Often, art occurs whenever and wherever you find it.
Whenever I’m in Cologne, Germany, I stop at the Museum Ludwig for their selection of contemporary art, including their Pablo Picasso collection which is the third largest in the world.
I’ve seen some fine examples and works, and perhaps, they provide the necessary inspiration and ingredient to move forward or onto a different course.
Symmetry, form, line, contrast
After a look at their collection of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein in the basement, I headed back up to the ground floor. Looking up, I realized there was lots of geometry in the floors above. Fortunately, the security guard was “cooperative”, and the composition kept its symmetry with the added bonus of a convergence point.
I think the fellow was curious about what I was photographing …
I hung out in the upper corner of the museum, looking out the window and onto Heinrich-Böll-Platz, and I waited for the right opportunity. After some ten to fifteen minutes, I saw at the square two people, each walking along a different path but heading in the same direction. Each person wore contrasting colours: the woman in bright colours and a dark umbrella, the older gentleman in dark colours and a bright patch on his backpack. At the upper right is the sculpture piece “Ma’alot” (Stufen or steps, 1980-1986) by Tel Aviv’s Dani Karavan.
Some have asked: how do you make these kinds of photographs? Here’s my basic list:
- Awareness : keep your eyes open to surroundings and possible situations.
- Composition : get things “right” in camera as much as possible.
- Minimal post : I don’t do a lot of post-processing, but I’ll make the necessary corrections for rotation, distortion, crop, and “dodge & burn” to adjust highlights and shadows, respectively.
- Experience, endurance : photograph as much as you can to recognize the kinds of shots which arise in a variety of surroundings and settings. Sometimes I have to wait until the right situation comes along.
It’s a simple “ACME” list, because each item is not difficult to undertake and does not require a specific or expensive camera. Go out and make photos with whatever camera you have.
Museum Ludwig and Heinrich-Böll-Platz are located between the Cathedral and the Central train station to the west and the Hohenzollern Bridge and koelnmesse Trade Fair Exhibition Centre to the east. Below Heinrich-Böll-Platz is the home of the Kölner Philharmonie; the square is closed to all foot traffic when a concert is held.
More about Köln …
I made both photos above with the Canon EOS450D (XSi) camera and 50mm prime-lens on 25 July 2013. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-3PL.
A desolate former coal-mining industrial region isn’t a usual candidate for a place to visit. However, the Zollverein coal mine in Essen, Germany provided the impetus to seek out aspects of industrial photography. There’s something special about the way light strikes metal which brings out various aspects of shape, form, and texture.
I’m beginning to understand the historical significance of coal-mining to the people and to the economy in the Ruhrgebiet (Ruhr river region). Over decades, a cloud of “grey” hung over the region, as air- and water-pollution took its toll, and the economic influence of coal began to diminish.
To mark its importance to the modern industrial development and history of the region, the Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001. The entire refurbished complex now houses space for art, design, and cultural exhibitions, and is also home to the Ruhr Museum, shedding light on the industrial history of the Ruhrgebiet, providing historical accounts of the economic importance of coal mining and its consequent decline, as well as descriptions of existing and future economic redevelopment plans for the Ruhr region.