Jumped on my bike immediately after this photo to avoid the incoming drenching.
I haven’t been at Tempelhofer Feld so much the last couple of weeks, and when I have, it’s been doing ultra-lazy laps on my bike, totally not lycra’d up — except for bib shorts under my trackies, ’cos butt comfort. Today was 28° and felt like mid-30s, warm and dry wind, heavy sun, cloudy hazy sky. The Feld was full and the fields have grown from stubble to knee-high in a couple of weeks, doing that luscious, hallucinogenic, erotic green of spring all flushed and horny.
I got in a long-ish, 2 1/2 hour walk in-between the squalls pouring hailstorms on Berlin. Birds were rowdy, really could have kept walking for another 2 1/2 hours.
No fancy camera yesterday, but a fancy dress, ’cos I’m all about assaulting the bland colour palette of Berlin and Germland with shimmering bright colour. Doing my semi-daily walk, saying hi to the Crows and Ravens, Skylarks and Corn Buntings, and one large Eurasian Kestrel. I think the birds I thought were Kestrels are actually Corn Buntings. I dunno. Birds getting rowdy.
Me photographing lycra’d-up cyclists ended up being me photographing trees. I went for my usual bike plus walk, trying to persuade myself to not feel sick or whatever the fuck the last seven months has been about, got myself over to the southern perimeter road, sat under one of the young trees and watched the cyclists do their anti-clockwise laps. And tried to photograph them. Rapidly closing and departing moving targets.
What did I learn? Locking the ISO to at least 400 helps with shooting at an angle towards the sun and helps prevent everything blowing out. Locking the exposure to at least 1/1000 also, because bike wheels are moving quick and I want a nice, sharp, contrasty image. And I can do that on my FujiFilm X-T4 because the sensor is kinda massive and the lens is bigger than my old camera. Heaps of light, fuckall noise. It’s like follow-spot in theatre, I have to move ahead of the action, not follow. If I shoot burst-mode, I can effectively film each cyclist passing, then go back and find the ‘perfect’ shot. I don’t shoot burst because … I dunno, I hate the aesthetic and the mentality. It’s not photography, just like I don’t like cropping. I like that I mostly don’t ‘get the shot’, and like photographing dance, I have to know the work, anticipate what’s coming up, know how a rider and bike is going to look at a certain distance, a certain angle, with the sun hitting them, all that. None of which I really nailed satisfactorily. Like my previous walk, where I got familiar with the manual focus, a pile of nothing special.
This tree I liked the look of though. Last days of bare limbs before spring jizzes everywhere.
Another afternoon wandering Tempelhofer Feld with my camera. After yesterday’s messing around, I did some reading the fucking manual to remind myself how to use an expensive camera and lens. And I learned the 16-80mm F4 lens can also do passable macro at the zoomed end. Which obviously I like, especially if I ever go back to a museum and shoot art.
First stop, the skate park, for some boyz and lads doing ollies and kickflips. And took probably the photo of the day: someone doing a 360. Bit of a walk, bit of a sitdown to work out what buttons I’d pushed and why camera was being weird (accidentally nudged the dial to HDR), shot some cyclists in full aero TT mode. More walking and almost stomped on spring flowers being highly ostentatious, which is where I tested out exactly how macro can I go? Actually very, and the detail is mad.
More walking and got told to smile by some gormless wanker. Joke’s on you, dickhead, I already was.
More walking and these Skylarks were getting well rowdy. And fully not afraid of people, so I just stood there while one came right up scratching for a feed. Photo wasn’t so good though, but once again, yay zoom. And then took a photo of the almost full moon, which I looked at when I got home, and insane detail zooming in in the raw image, the mare are clearly visible, as are the bright craters and rays of Tycho, Copernicus, Kepler, and even Aristarchus. That’s hand-held auto-focus, in daylight with a heap of haze and high cloud, and the moon about 25° above the horizon.
Getting my arse back to Tempelhofer Feld for an arvo stroll. Haven’t been there since mid-December apparently. This time with my still-new FujiFilm X-T4 camera, despite the absence of sun and blue sky. Training my fingers and brain for where everything is amidst all the dials and buttons, and learning what kind of photos it takes.
Besides changing the auto-focus, I’m still shooting very default at the moment. Having a proper zoom lens is by far the one thing I’ve been missing, as well as the combo of substantial slabs of glass and sensor allowing me to shoot zoomed in with low light and still get sharp images at an acceptable exposure time. Actually playing around with ISO, aperture, exposure, and all, as in actually using an expensive camera properly, is somewhere in the future.
As for the photos, all but the last are the jpg versions of the raw photos the camera creates. I find them a little over-exposed (not so much the dim ones here) and flat compared to the raw originals, but I can’t be arsed spending time making them pretty. Except the last one, which I needed to rotate a little and the jpg really looked average. I also need to learn Affinity Photo, which I started using when I ditched Photoshop. The photo is far from great, but it is movement and one of the reasons I bought this camera was to shoot movement – dance, cycling, sport, motorsport, people moving.
I planned to bike along Saatwinklerdamm like I used to do before cyclocross fun in Flughafen Wald. But, realistically, two days after getting booster vacced, 16km of riding and 2 hours of walking felt a little ambitious. So I biked 15 minutes to Plötzensee, walked the east side of that, through the park to Schwarzer Graben and along to the NFL field and Hall of Fame Wedding, back the way I came alongside the canal, back the other way again between the Kolonie Plötzensee, with its garden houses bigger than the places I grew up in on one side and the cemetary on the other, back along Schwarzer Graben and did some random loops of actual Volkspark Rehburg where I got myself lost / turned around and got to walk both of the “I really want to go that way,” paths, which was pretty clever of me, and got back to Uferhallen just as the sunset was lighting up the chimney. Blue sky and sun too, everyone standing around pointing their faces at it like they’d forgotten what it was.
I used to blast through Volkspark Rehburg on my way to doing cyclocross in what I always called Flughafen Wald — which is actually Jungfernheide Forst, but people confuse that with Volkspark Jungfernheide on the south side of the canal, and there’s a lake called Flughafen See at the eastern end of the Forst, so … Flughafen Wald. There’s an enclosure for wild boars at the western end of Rehburg, before the track goes through the Kleingarten (quite a few of which are bigger than my apartment and sitting on land bigger than the whole building I live in). I didn’t see any there, but the bare trees and drizzle and dim light were enough to feel I was out in the countryside and not a 15 minute walk to Müllerstraße.
I’m staying in Wedding for a few days, at Dasniya’s studio in Uferhallen, where I lived with her for five years. It’s nice being back (except for the upstairs neighbour, which is a whole other convo about why older white cishet German women are so much work), and the closest thing I’ll have to a holiday this pandemic. I planned to bike to get vaccinated, but it’s been raining and it’s easier to wash shoes than hose down and re-lube a bike. Walking then, the one thing I can still do four months into some weird round of chronic fatigue symptoms, which could be anything from a fucked neck to depression to just needing a month of getting fucked.
This is so very Berlin, dim overcast light, grey and washed-out colour that has an austere intensity, not raining but damp and the air is soft with drizzle. It feels like being in the mountains or heath, far from people, walking and walking. My home is my International Orange hardshell, the brightest and most vibrant colour on the airport field, warm and dry and shielded from the wind. This, with tramping boots and a backpack, is something I miss and something that works deeply in calming my hectic inner life. I like the vastness of the land reducing me to this small, solitary thing, walking, walking.