John Sandell photography
The Brandenburg Gate

The Brandenburg Gate. In September 2014 I had one night in Berlin on my way home (by train, naturally) at the end of a visit to northern Germany. As a complement to my book project based on the Holocaust Memorial I wanted to take some photos of the Memorial at night; I've seen the lights on earlier visits. So I took the S-bahn down to Pariser Platz, walked through the Brandenburg Gate, turned left and down past the American Embassy, hoping the guard wouldn't think my tripod was a weapon. But at the Memorial I found there is no lighting; not tonight anyway. Maybe it's only used on winter afternoons. So back to Pariser Platz to set up the tripod for a shot of the 'revellers' taking their selfies in front of the Brandenburg Gate.

In fact I took four shots, identical except for the positions of the people, which have been merged in Photoshop (Stack Mode > Median) to eliminate objects which don't exist in all four images. In this case the effect has been to create ghostly people – and a tricycle – which I find interesting rather than intrusive. The lighting on the building on the right (Die Stiftung Brandenburger Tor in the Max Liebermann Haus) is stark and too bright, and I've toned it down quite a lot. Shot with a 24mm lens but cropped a little to about 35mm to get rid of a street light. In competition the judge thought the foreground cobbles should be cropped. This is perhaps the conventional approach but I disagree: the camera is dead level and I want the bottom of the buildings to be at eye level, with a long and somewhat eerie lead-in.

Technical: NIKON D800, f=24.0 mm, ISO200, 2 sec @ f8.0

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