Isolation Antidotes (30): Back to Berlin

Here’s another one from the archives, back when I was studying veterinary medicine in West Berlin. One of my favorite places to go to get away from the pressures of university responsibilities was one of Berlin’s many natural parks, the Grunewald, situated in a wonderful old forested section between the suburbs of Nikolassee and Dahlem. I made this photo in the autumn of (probably) 1969. I clearly remember walking on the main path and shuffling my feet in the millions of dry leaves on the forest floor and looking ahead into the slightly misty distance, delighting in how the path curved into mysterious obscurity. I moved a few yards to the left, lay down on my stomach (I can still smell the earthy fragrance), and made this one exposure. The camera was my first SLR, a Pentax Spotmatic, my lens a Pentax 50mm/1.4, and my film Ilford HP4, probably pushed to ISO 250. I was not yet taking the time to record shutter speed and aperture in a notebook, but they were likely approximately 1/30 second at around f/11. I did not have a tripod with me on this particular day, but steadied my camera carefully with my elbows on the ground.

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Welcome to Krikit Arts! I'm a veterinarian; photographer; finger-style guitarist, composer, instructor, and singer/songwriter; fisherman; and fly-tyer. Please enjoy--and please respect my full rights to all photos on this Website!
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23 Responses to Isolation Antidotes (30): Back to Berlin

  1. shoreacres says:

    Long and winding roads always are a pleasure. So is shuffling feet in dry leaves; the very thought makes me eager for fall.

    • krikitarts says:

      It’s been a pretty nice fall here so far, though I really miss the saturated colors of the maples, sycamores, black oaks, and aspens. We have one white birch in our front garden, but its leaves are sparse and fading slowly. There’s nothing like a hardwood/pine forest.

  2. Vicki says:

    Love it. Long paths ending in a light-filled cavity always make me yearn to get outdoors and find one for myself. (I’ve probably got plenty but never thought of converting them to B & W).

    This image of yours is worthy of a frame and a wall.

    • krikitarts says:

      I spent a lot of time here, since it was right on the way through the forest when I drive CD to her work place in Dahlem and I loved to stop for a stroll whenever I had the time. And yes, a fine print of this has had a revered display spot on one of my walls for the past 50 years.

  3. Peter Klopp says:

    Lying down on my stomach is also my favourite technique when looking for a special effect on my pictures. This b/w photo captures the fall scene very well with its focus on the leaves.

    • krikitarts says:

      My current camera has an articulated view screen, but for many years before I came to rely heavily on an angle finder (Winkelsucher) that made it much easier to get this perspective. If you don’t have one, I recommend it most highly. My first was a Hoodman but they stopped making them and I stepped up to one by Nikon.

  4. Because people from my Peace Corps Honduras group have been renewing acquaintances, just last week I digitized a dozen negatives that came from my Pentax Spotmatic in 1969.

    • krikitarts says:

      Do you use a dedicated slide scanner or a regular desk scanner that you’d use for documents, etc.? I’ve had a Konica scanner since I dismantled my darkroom around 2001 and used it a lot, but I was surprised at what a good job the desk scanner does, especially when you push the resolution up to 600 or 800 dpi. There are also a number of phone apps, some free and others very inexpensive) that allow you to scan a slide or a negative (I am very happy with one called Helmut); you just need a good light source. I use a small (8×8″) light table that’s like a cool-light computer screen, but a piece of glass with frosted paper behind it and a frosted light source below it should work well. This gives you an instantaneous look at what a b/w or color negative would look like as a positive image.

      • For some years I’ve had a Canoscan 9000F flatbed which has holders for filmstrips and 2″x2″ slides. If I did a lot of digitizing I’d get a dedicated scanner. This is the first I’ve heard about phone apps for that. It’s getting to the point where there seems to be an app for everything.

  5. Ms. Liz says:

    Delicious contrasts in this photo, it’s a feast for the eyes Gary!

    • krikitarts says:

      I’ve loved this one for a very long time and posted it once around eight years ago; it’s about time it got another chance to see the light of day. Thanks very much, Liz!

  6. Minna says:

    So nice atmosphere in your photo!

  7. Adrian Lewis says:

    Wonderful image and piece of writing too, Gary, excellent. I think you probably mean FP4 for the film, which was I think 125 ISO before pushing; HP4 was 400 ISO before pushing. Adrian

    • krikitarts says:

      That’s quite possible, Adrian, and I’ve just gone through the original metadata journals that I have on hand here, and it’s not among them. So the film was either FP4 pushed (which is very likely) or HP4 at the recommended ISO. Whichever, rest assured that I really appreciate your attention to detail, and please have a double dram of Highland Park with my compliments (which I will retroactively subsidize when I finally make it to your neck of the woods).

      • Adrian Lewis says:

        Thanks, man! I started out with these films too, in the 60s. I can remember Ilford Pan F at 50 ASA (as it was then); FP3 (the precursor of FP4); and HP3 (the precursor of HP4).

      • krikitarts says:

        OK, here we go again with ancient history. I was studying at the university in West Berlin and had easy access to East Berlin, where I bought not only my first enlarger (if memory still serves which is increasingly questionable, it was an Optimus) with a couple of lenses, but also found that I could buy 50-foot rolls of ORWO film for around 1/5 of what they would have cost me on the other sidand re-loaded it into emptied commercial canisters. I also found that the quality of the English films was far superior, so I soon switched.

  8. bluebrightly says:

    Such a graceful composition, Gary, it’s just lovely. The leaves in the foreground, the dark trees in the middle and the pale light in the distance work so well.

  9. This is a great image. The lowdown perspective is enjoyable and gives us a unique view. Plus from down there we get a larger view of the misty distance which pulls us into the image. Very nice, Gary. And of course, we can all identify with the crunching sound of dry leaves.

  10. krikitarts says:

    Thanks for the lowdown on your view of my choice of position. This was a memorable result of an early inspiration in my rapidly-developing photographic passion. And the dry leaves–ah, the memories of raking them into huge piles and doing flip-dives into them, and then stacking them in the street and setting them alight around Halloween–how I have missed the smell of those fires after they went out of environmental fashion!

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