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Berlin Long Weekend – Fuji Camera Shots

Red Bike for me!

We find that for our Photo Blog and our Fashion and Car Blogs too for that matter, the kit we use seems to work well. A lot of the shots are taken on our iPhone 6 Plus, and then we supplement these with Fuji camera photos, often the XE-1 matched to our Fuji XC -50-230mm f/4.5 – 6.7 OIS lens and the XM-1 shooting with the Fuji  XF 35mm f/1.4 R Lens. I tend to use the latter often shhoting from the hip using the swivel  rear view finder, while Peanut likes the zoom. the iPhone is always with us so with that you never miss the shot and in truth for blogs the pictures aren’t half bad using the F2.2 lens which shoots fast. The other too cameras while far more compact than SLR’s  do require commitment when you are out for the day sightseeing.

Anyway these are all Fuji camera shots from our walk abouts in Berlin.

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Berlin Long Weekend – Helmut Newton Foundation


I have already blogged our visit to the Helmut Newton Foundation but here are a few shots we grabbed on the FUjI. This girl looked so drab yet had a lovely face, to my mind she looked like a creative artistic type, totally at home in this museum and as such in a street style candid style I found her quite fascinating.


This selection of Newton nudes confronts you at the top of the central stairs that lead to the first floor. I say confront deliberately as to my mind they do just that. To my eye they have a stark coldness that takes away any erotic element you might expect. They confront and challenge you and perhaps it is this very quality that Newton can achieve that makes them stand out.


One of Szymon Brodziak’s photographs – this guy really appealed to us.


That Girl again – couldn’t resist.

green velvet

Newton photographed a lot of celebrities in their hotel rooms and often had them open their bedside tables and photographed the contents in the drawer. It was oddly fascinating. He also did a lot of selfies, so here is our hotel room selfie. we have a few other Newton inspired photo ideas but Berlin didn’t seem to have the background we need. paris, or venice or indeed even malvern might give us what we want for that project though.


Berlin Long Weekend Day 3

Mr and Mrs
Today was Saturday and finally we got to have a lie in which I enjoyed immensely. We went down for breakfast at a quarter to ten and because we did not have to rush we were able to enjoy a more leisurely breakfast which was really good.
The plan for today was to visit the Photography Museum – The Helmut Newton Foundation and after lunch the Bauhaus Museum. It was a lovely day and the Photography Museum was a pleasant 700 metres stroll away. Work by Newton, Horvat, and Brodziek was on show.

 Helmut Newton (born Helmut Neustädter; 31 October 1920 – 23 January 2004) was a German-Australian photographer. He was a “prolific, widely imitated fashion photographer whose provocative, erotically charged black-and-white photos were a mainstay of Vogue and other publications.” We have long been an admirer of his work and we enjoyed this exhibition which focussed less on the fashion shots many of us are familiar with and more on his personal work.

Wikipedia tells me that Frank Horvat is a photographer born on April 28, 1928 in Abbazia (Italy), now Opatija (Croatia), presently living and working in France. He is best known for his fashion photography, published between the mid-1950s and the end of the 1980s, but his photographic opus includes photojournalism, portraiture, landscape, nature and sculpture. In 1988, he produced a major book of interviews with fellow photographers, such as Don McCullin, Robert Doisneau, Sarah Moon, Helmut Newton and Marc Riboud . At the beginning of the 1990s, he was one of the first to experiment with Photoshop. In 1998, he replaced his professional equipment with a compact camera, which he always carries in his pocket, in order to shoot anything, at any moment that seems to him of some interest. In 2011, he put online his first iPad application (Horvatland). Clearly a major figure in photography but in truth we were neutral on his work.

Szymon Brodziak was born 1979 in Poland. As a photographer he specializes in unconventional black and white advertising campaigns with a personal approach. Brodziak is an economics graduate who has been taken over by a passion for photography. After quitting the family business, he worked in various advertising agencies, assisting in fashion and advertising shootings, which today are his main fields of professional activity. Since 2006, Szymon Brodziak has obtained many international awards and honourable mentions, both for commercial and personal projects, including 4 Silver Medals at the 2011 Prix de la Photographie in Paris. Szymon is also the prize-winner of the Johnnie Walker Keep Walking Award for the constant fulfilment of dreams and the passion for setting new paths in the search of beauty. His photographs have been published in various fashion and lifestyle magazines, including international edtions of Playboy and Italian Vogue. Without doubt Brodziak is a rising star in the photography world and his work really stood out for us. As we have said we have long admired Newton, Horvat undoubtedly is to be admired but wasn’t for us and Brodziak for us is the new shining star that we have latched onto.

While Newton’s erotica often has a coldness, perhaps even a callousness to it, Brodziak is warmer. Clearly he is an admirer of Newton but his style remains his own and to call him a Newton imitator would be unfair to the originality he brings to his work. We enjoyed our visit to the museum a lot and came away with a lot to talk about and think about. Put simply it was a very stimulating morning.
The Bauhaus Museum was about a kilometre walk from The Photography Museum and we broke it up with a light lunch at a café on route. Nothing remarkable food wise, though the homemade lemonade was delicious. At the museum there was an audio tour available but we passed on this as while it was free it was a 20 euro deposit and we only had enough cash for one. Rules were not for bending and the officiousness demonstrated by the woman dishing out the audio systems was a quite wonderful mix of arrogance, officiousness and unbending unhelpfulness. Checkpoint Charlie, Stasi, East German, were all random thoughts flashing through my mind. Bauhaus was already blowing my mind as I wondered if there was an irony in encountering this woman’s intransigence in the Bauhaus museum. Unquestionably her form exceeded her function.

Anyway, safely through Checkpoint Charlie, albeit that the headsets had been confiscated from us, we began our perusal of the Bauhaus Museum.

So what is Bauhaus? Wikipedia explains as follows. Bauhaus, was an art school in Germany that combined crafts and the fine arts, and was famous for the approach to design that it publicised and taught. It operated from 1919 to 1933. At that time the German term Bauhaus – literally “house of construction”—was understood as meaning “School of Building”. The Bauhaus was first founded by Walter Gropius in Weimar. In spite of its name, and the fact that its founder was an architect, the Bauhaus during the first years of its existence did not have an architecture department. Nonetheless, it was founded with the idea of creating a “total” work of art in which all arts, including architecture, would eventually be brought together. The Bauhaus style later became one of the most influential currents in modern design, Modernist architecture and art, design and architectural education. The Bauhaus had a profound influence upon subsequent developments in art, architecture, graphic design, interior design, industrial design, and typography.

None the wiser? Me neither really but perhaps the following will clarify it for all of us. In my mind I see it as a marriage of simple but beautiful form with function. The polar opposite of neo classicism perhaps? Not “Art for Art’s Sake” but rather the incorporation of art into industrial production of functional objects. In my mind I see minimalism as a modern evolvement of Bauhaus, but in reality I am not sure if any of this is right. However, a central principle to Bauhaus design is “ form follows function”, a concept first coined in fact by the American architect, Louis Sullivan, in his article The Tall Office Building Artistically Considered in 1896.

“Whether it be the sweeping eagle in his flight, or the open apple-blossom, the toiling work-horse, the blithe swan, the branching oak, the winding stream at its base, the drifting clouds, over all the coursing sun, form ever follows function, and this is the law. Where function does not change, form does not change. The granite rocks, the ever-brooding hills, remain for ages; the lightning lives, comes into shape, and dies, in a twinkling.

It is the pervading law of all things organic and inorganic, of all things physical and metaphysical, of all things human and all things superhuman, of all true manifestations of the head, of the heart, of the soul, that the life is recognizable in its expression, that form ever follows function. This is the law.”

What you can see is that we found the museum visit very stimulating, as we debated Bauhaus over our tea served in Bauhaus designed cups and debated random questions such as, “ Is nature inherently Bauhaus?” and “Is my favourite Lamy pen Bauhaus?” In answer to the first question, perhaps Louis Sullivan had already considered this as far back as 1896 with the assertion that “form ever follows function. This is the law.” At the time we coined the question though we were blissfully unaware of Sullivan’s existence. Bearing in mind he was considering “the sweeping eagle in flight” perhaps it is not unreasonable to argue that indeed nature is inherently Bauhaus! In answer to the second question, Lamy take design seriously and also follow the Bauhaus principle of functional design, “ form follows function” and as such their pens are Bauhaus and consequently were on sale in the gift shop. Similarly Max Bill Junghan watches – clearly Bauhaus – were for sale. My personal Lamy pen however, has a few superfluous holes in its design. Do these compromise its Bauhaus qualities, or are they simple Bauhaus art elements incorporated into the pen? Well, we have to conclude that the functionality of the pen clip which retracts when the rollerball is extended for use and then reappears when the rollerball is concealed, proves the function is preceding the form and that the superfluous holes are indeed simple Bauhaus artistic design elements.

Between the two museums much food for thought was put on the menu and we found it fun. We walked leisurely back to our hotel through some lovely gardens by a canal and the zoo, slowly digesting our mind food. Close to our hotel we stopped again at a roof top café and P had an Aperol Spritz while I enjoyed a fancy ice cream – and no I didn’t ponder upon the Bauhaus qualities of my ice cream delight!

The day ended with dinner at the same Italian restaurant as we went to the evening before just around the corner from our hotel. All in all a rather lovely and stimulating day.

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Berlin Long Weekend Day 2

It was an early start today as we had a Segway Tour booked for 10.00 starting at Alexander Platz in the old East Berlin. The alarm went at seven a quick bath and down for Breakfast at 8. Breakfast was the standard buffet style help yourself affair prevalent on the continent. Cold meats cheeses, serials, pastries, fruit and so on but definitely up there with the best of these that we have sampled and  the surroundings didn’t disappoint either. A good start to the day then.


Away just after 9 and we caught the train just up the road straight to Alexander Platz and I’m pleased to report I wasn’t abandoned on a forlorn platform this time. We reported for Segway duty just before 10.00, signed our lives away and received some training on driving them.

After 5 minutes both of us were at one with the Segways. Now I will have to prattle on now for a bit because quite simply we both thought these were just brilliant. Years ago there was a car advert with the slogan “Man and machine in perfect harmony” but for my money this machine really captured that feeling. It felt like an extension of you responding empathically to your every movement or indeed thought almost. It felt like skiing as the Segway responded to your every movement, shift of weight or bending of the knee. It was a beautifully nuanced experience of oneness that you felt with the Segway.

Put simply then, they are ace – try one.

First stop was the Altes Museum on Museum island. Built by Karl Friedrich Schinkel between 1723 and 1830. Schinkel was Berlin’s most prolific builder of neoclassical architecture. What interested me was that a lot of new buildings are being built from concrete and then faced in this classical style. Works for me.


A quick stop at the – as you would expect – huge German legal library allowed me to grab a great shot of Peanut demonstrating her delightful footwork.

Checkpoint Charlie and the Berlin Wall came next. Here the history far outshines the visual impact of the places. A flying visit sufficed for us.

Hitler’s bunker was next and yes it is now a car park. As an aside an old Japanese couple were being driven in this bicycle thing by a German tour guide. As he pulled away the old Japanese man told the driver that he rather admired Hitler. Boy did that push the driver’s buttons as he remonstrated loudly with the Japanese tourist. I kid you not and we wondered if the driver threw them off his bike round the corner!

The Holocaust memorial is a poignant place when adults don’t allow their children to run amock in there playing hide and seek and screaming blue murder when they find their friends. Who knows perhaps they behave like that precisely because there was a man once who would have done something about such behaviour.

Brandenburg Gate was next and then we headed back to Alexander Platz. Three and a half hours from start to finish and fun all the way. We thanked Tobi our guide and instructor and made a mental note to do a Segway tour whenever we get the chance.

Lunch next in Alexander Platz where I had a Currywurst with chips. Well I had too really. More than anything though I needed a sit down. The fun of the Segway kept me going but it tired me.

From here we went into a large Gallery shop in Alexander Platz, where my research said I would find that which I did seek.

I did and I was able to spoil the lady who spends her whole life spoiling me! I felt rather pleased with myself!

We then walked in the general direction of our hotel along Unter den Linden where we stopped for a cup of tea. We then got a bus back to Kurfürsten straddle and our hotel.  A small rest then Mrs P changed for dinner.

And we headed out for a meander. After walking for 34.9 miles we ended up in a rather nice Italian about 400 yards from our hotel where I enjoyed a glass of wine with a lovely spaghetti carbonara and P enjoyed a huge pizza. We got chatting to a lovely Irish couple on the next table and a very pleasant evening ensued. We are at an age now when it is very enjoyable to chat with people who haven’t already heard my stories seventeen times before. We did inspire them to do the Segway tour though!

Then on the way out we ended up talking to a Norwegian couple who did the tour with us that morning. Small world.

Small world, big world, who cares what matters is my world has a Peanut in it and to spend a day like today with her makes it a rather special world! 

Helmut Newton tomorrow. Might give me a chance to talk pretentious nonsense! Who knows but you know I’ll try!

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Berlin Long Weekend Day 1

Wednesday was an emotional day for Mrs P as it was her last day working for the NHS doing the job she has done since training as a sixteen year old school leaver. Her friends at work gave her a heartfelt fine and dandy send off, spoiling her with gifts and a collection for some garden furniture which Lady P likes. I know she will be missed and she will miss the camaraderie she enjoyed with her work mates but it is time for her to explore a different chapter in her life. Somewhat emotional she hung her lab coat up for the final time and headed off to start her next chapter.

Well it begins in Berlin and that very night we set off for our long weekend there. We drove from home at 18.30 on Wednesday night heading for my cousin’s house in London. We stayed the night  and caught the 08.40 Berlin flight from Gatwick the next morning.

The taxi to the airport collected us at 06.30 and we enjoyed an entertaining chat with the driver – proud Father of seven children! I hate the airport experience but to be fair Gatwick seems to run smoothly and the passbook app on the phone certainly facilitates smooth checking in. A quick piece of toast and jam with tea and we were on the plane. We were out of Berlin airport in no time and walked to the train. The fresh air had my eyes streaming and to be honest at the train station we were clueless. I couldn’t even see the train maps never mind read them. After much bumbling and blustering we bought tickets and chose a platform on the basis of a totally uneducated guess.

A train was stationary with its doors open. Peanut stepped on but blocked the doorway as she asked a passenger where the train went. I was stuck on the platform. Suddenly the doors closed and Peanut stepped further in with shock. I couldn’t open the door and Peanut left on the train without me.

I was abandoned, homeless contemplating living out my days sleeping rough on an East German train station bench. I rallied grew some balls and thought… I still had 26% power on my phone I could phone The Peanut. Oh wait she keeps meaning to get her phone set up to work abroad… I felt my trousers go baggy again as my balls shrunk and I looked sadly at my new home the bench.

I thought again, my balls grew. I had the train tickets I could follow her… Oh no that means P is on a German train with no ticket. They will lock her up… My ping pong balls shrunk again.

Another train pulled in what do I do? Shall I get on it? Shall I stay put. Shall I just get a taxi straight to the hotel?

A beautiful vision appeared before me and suddenly I knew my homeless days were over.    Waving and smiling Mrs P had gotten off the train and my terrible ordeal was over.

After that our trip went smoothly and we got to our hotel a little after 14.00. The hotel sat between the Apple shop and the Hugo Boss shop on Berlin’s finest shopping street and looked stunning as we entered reception. It is all very stylised and our room is lovely. We had a cold drink and coffee in our room, caught our breath and then went for an explore of the local area.

Two shops up was the Tesla shop with a rather nice bit of kit on display. We then had a long and tiring mooch and walk before landing at an Italian restaurant where we had an early evening meal. Nice enough but nothing to wax lyrical about.

We dragged our weary feet back to the hotel, shared a lovely hot bath and settled to watch a Donna Leon serial about her Venetian detective Brunetti in German. Surreal.

Fun we are having!