While most of Europe has been blanketed in snow this week, Berlin has managed (for once in winter) to stay sunny – but it’s misleading since temperatures have dropped to as low as -13C at night with highs of -5C or -6C during the day! Whenever there are several consecutive days of sub-zero temperatures, chunks of ice collect on the river Spree upstream of the Oberbaumbrücke in Eastern Berlin, as shown here shot earlier today during blue hour.
December is always a dark month here in Berlin – and the clouds make things even worse! But at the end of November the Christmas markets start to open up across the city, and it just wouldn’t be the same without them. My favorite one is on Gendarmenmarkt in the center of the city. It’s a beautiful square and the market is always exceptionally well decorated. There are lots of stalls selling arts and crafts, and plenty of good food as well.
Yesterday I went to the 19th edition of the Potsdamer Schlössernacht – an evening where the gardens of the palaces in Potsdam are open and there are various musical and theatrical performances. The highlight is seeing the palaces lit up at night, and at the end there is a firework display as well. Unfortunately it draws massive crowds (unsurprisingly), so it can be difficult to photograph without thousands of people in the shot!
This picture was taken with a 1 minute exposure using a Hoya NDX400 filter – this way as people move they don’t appear in the frame (unless they don’t move of course!) and it always accentuates the beautiful colors at blue hour.
Last week was like Christmas – I opened the box of my shiny new Nikon D7100! I took a few test shots to try out the settings and menus, but on the weekend I finally headed out with my new toy in Berlin. And here it is: my first “real” shot!
I actually wanted to try some against-the-light sunset shots, but the sunset was a little disappointing, so I decided to concentrate on the blue hour – the time after the sun has set but the sky still has a blue tinge. I use a Hoya NDX400 filter (9 stops) to get very long exposure times; usually I aim for 1-2 minutes. By the time I’d figured out where all the settings were that I wanted to use on the new camera, the light had faded so much that I ended up needing a 4 minute exposure with the filter. When it flashed up on the LCD screen at the end of the shot, I was stunned – I didn’t expect this from my very first 4 minute blue hour shot with a brand new camera!
I’ve been working on a (vaguely) “secret” project in the last few weeks – creating short time lapse clips around Berlin and stitching them together to make a video. I’ve never shot time lapse before so this was an experiment for me and a fun new project. It requires shooting with a tripod every few seconds and then stitching them together. I used LRTimelapse software to do the stitching, and a Triggertrap cable and smartphone app to trigger a shot every few seconds.
I’m relatively happy with the result, but as always there is some trial and error involved and I didn’t always get what I wanted. There’s definitely room for improvement, and the lessons I’ve learned will of course be applied to my next attempt!
I’ve uploaded the video to YouTube and added a link to my YouTube channel in the menu above. Without further ado, here is the final result:
I was out on Karl-Marx-Allee in the early evening today to take some “blue hour” shots with my Hoya NDX400 filter (9 stops) – the filter blurs movement of vehicles and clouds, and adds a nice blue hue to the sky. I’m a big fan of it for city shots and pretty much anything that has water in it! After taking some shots I got in my car to drive home and as I pulled away, I heard on the radio an announcement warning drivers that there was a speed radar on the road. It took me a second to realize – someone had seen me standing the middle of the road with my camera and tripod, and had reported me as a speed radar!