An Analog Examination of Eastern Germany

Sunday, May 1 2011, 3:45 AM

It was around noon on New Year's Eve in 2001. Without thinking too much about it, I pressed the shutter on my brand new HP Photosmart 318 to create IM000001.JPG, my first ever digital photograph. In the following 9¼ years, I would take essentially no more analog pictures. Until now, that is.

Eisenbahnrad - Kodak 100TMX

I had acquired a camera body, a lens and a pentaprism off different eBay auctions. Together, they formed a Pentax 6x7 analog medium format camera. The manual's first page immediately made me feel welcomed:

As an experienced photographer, you know all about the basic technicalities of photography. So we have limited the contents of this manual to those instructions that apply to the operations of this ideal-format single-lens reflex camera.

I wish someone would write a camera manual like that today. Anyway, an Easter trip to Eastern Germany with the usual suspects formed the perfect opportunity to take my new toy for a test drive.

Dust Rays
Dust Rays - Kodak 100TMX

It started with a lengthy exploration of rural Eastern Germany in a vain attempt to escape the traffic jams on the highways. Since Tom had forgotten to download maps of Germany and TomTom only knew the major roads, it was up to my trusted iThingie™ to guide the way. And guiding the way it did. The abandonments flew by faster than I could add and save pins. There should be an app for that!
We met the others a couple of hours later at an abandoned train depot and repair shop and weren't left with that much time to take pictures. Fortunately, there wasn't that much to see. I still managed to fill an entire roll of Kodak 100TMX. It's a very nice black and white film but now that I have the results, I realize that shooting black and white is a lot harder than I had anticipated. I'll definitely have to keep practicing that.

Sea of Light
Sea of Light - Kodak Ektar 100

Our hotel was located in a suburb of Leipzig. A big share of the buildings around it were abandoned but not really worth a second look. Finding abandoned places in this part of Germany is ridiculously easy, the hard part is finding the ones that are not dead boring. We had scoured through flickr and various other sites for worthy locations for a few days and came up with more things than we could ever visit during just one weekend. But we tried anyway.

Window and Pipes
Window and Pipes - Kodak Ektar 100

Our second day was packed with locations. Number one were the Adolf Bleichert Werke, a huge agglomeration of empty and half burnt down factory halls. They featured beautiful architecture and plants had started growing everywhere. Not necessarily the most adventurous exploration but the photo opportunities were so vast that it was the perfect environment to play around with the new camera.
The film I used that day was Kodak Etkar 100, a pretty modern film with fine grain and a very high resolution. It came in especially handy in the last location of the day, an abandoned power station and sheet metal forming plant. Lots of pipes, gears and ovens created an enormous amount of lines and contrasts that the film captured with flying colors.

Fern and Sledgehammer
Fern and Sledgehammer - Kodak Portra 400 VC

We spent our last full day mostly in one location, another abandoned train repair shop. Access was surprisingly easy, but inside more huge, empty halls awaited. In some of them, asbestos removal was under way, in others the fibers were merrily flying around in the sun rays that were shining through windows and holes in walls and ceilings. Luckily, none of our group believed in masks or at that time knew what flying asbestos fibers looked like so we weren't concerned at all.
And just to round up this post, I was mostly shooting on Kodak Portra 400 VC this day. It also has a very high resolution but also beautifully saturated colors. It did do the location and the many colors it presented perfect justice.

Bedienungsberechtigung - Kodak Portra 400 VC

At the end of the trip, I was not all that much wiser than before. I kind of liked all the films I tried. But so far I love the feeling of shooting on film and the extra consideration one has to put into every single shot that I normally skip on digital. If only the camera wasn't so freaking heavy.
Hopefully coming soon will be the digital shots from this trip, including some more locations. In the meantime, I have uploaded all 30 analog pictures from this trip to the gallery:

Analog Easter


#1 by Off-Limits on Feb 21 2012, 16:32
Wow, there's some stunning pictures in this post! Lovely colors and light.
#2 by LB on Feb 27 2012, 04:34
Thanks man, we got really lucky with the light on that weekend. Also check the gallery, there are a couple more pictures!

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