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Bamberg Photo Excursion

October 3

Written October 3

Dear Friends and Family,

As I mentioned on Saturday's diary, Marianne is gone, off visiting family. This makes three-day weekends like this less fun than normal and I need to stay busy. On Saturday, I was doing all sorts of things, some of which made it into the last diary. On Sunday, I never left home. I had things to do, sure, but mostly I was just not inspired -- and it was a beautiful day and hanging around Pommersfelden was OK.

For Monday, German Reunification Day, I knew I needed to get out early and here's what happened.

By early, I meant before dawn, because the goal was to be somewhere photogenic for the morning "golden hour" that photographers look for, just as the sun is coming up (or going down). Sunrise on Reunification Day would be 7:18, so I left home at 6:30, heading to Bamberg. I figured Bamberg has so many nice looking scenes that something would jump out.

On the 20-minute drive, I could see the morning light was coming pretty soon, so I detoured to the first scenic spot I could think of, an ancient fortress called Altenburg, which sits on a hill that was the lookout post for the south and west approaches to Bamberg. I knew that, from inside the fortress, the entire city and neighboring valleys could be seen. Great.

When I got there, the fortress gate was locked closed. Darn. But I still took out the camera and tripod to take a shot of the valley from the sloping lawn. I put the camera on the tripod, turned around, and heard a clunk as the tripod fell over and my camera tumbled down the hill. Darn. I picked it up and wrenched the lens hood off, put it on again, and tried to clean the lens. A few lessons: hold tripods on slopes; bring cleaning material; reconsider the decision to not use a front filter for HDR. My best lens is now scratched.

Undaunted, almost, I shot the valley and the front of the castle and then got in the car to drive into town. Fortunately, I was going slowly and noticed a view of the castle from the downhill side. I stopped and got off a few more shots, of both Altenburg castle and an old tombstone (I think) across the road.

Farther down the road, I could see most of Bamberg and I stopped again. The morning fog was still obscuring things a bit, but I tried some pictures of the old convent at Michelsberg and of the Dom cathedral.

Michelsberg reminded me that, given the empty roads at 7:30 on a holiday morning, I should be able to drive over there without the normal stress from navigating some of the skinniest street in the old city. In fact, I don't think I passed a single car. I jumped out and went around the back of the convent (now an "old folks home") for a few more pictures. At that point, I called it a day for pictures.

However, rather than go home so early, I decided to try to find someplace for a coffee. I drove down into the center of town, to our normal parking garage. When I got there I found it a bit strange that I had to go an extra level down to find space. What were all the people doing?

I walked through the alley out of the parking garage area and turned toward the Marktplatz, the old shopping street. Here, and in all the streets and alleys around the area, was the largest antique and "old stuff" street market I had ever seen: hundreds of kiosks selling old things from brick-a-brack to furniture to farm implements to architectural pieces (where was this when we needed it?)

I walked briskly for an hour and a half, taking a few snapshots, and buying nothing. Our days of accumulating are ending I think. After that, I walked back toward the garage and remembered the coffee I was originally looking for, so I stopped at an outdoor cafe and settled in. Picture-taking is only part of the process and this was an ideal place to work on the "darkroom" part of the process. I love digital darkrooms where waitresses can serve coffee.


From there, it was home and a feeling of a morning well wasted. I had learned some photography lessons. I had discovered a giant street museum. And I had dined out.

From on top of Altenburg, the valley looked magical.


On the way down.

From the road down from Altenburg, the spires of old Bamberg appear just beyond a plowed field. This view may not have changed for hundreds of years.

And from behind St Michel's Church, one direction showed the old town still mysterious in fog and the other way showed Altenburg, my starting point.

More stuff.
Project anyone?
Even a kid's alley.

Of course, I can't tell Marianne I had fun. Don't tell her.





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