Friday, August 26, 2011

Assignment 1: Submission - Photographs and Commentary

I am splitting my write up of this assignment into two parts, this is the second containing the photographs and the individual commentaries on each one.

1. The Olympiaberg


I start this assignment with a view of the complete area, taken from the summit of the Olympiaberg looking due North. The primary legacy of the Olympics has been to leave the city with this fabulous park used by all ages for jogging and cycling or simple sitting and enjoying a picnic.  The stadiums in the middle ground are still all in use either for sports or increasingly for concerts or festivals.  Building continues throughout the area, a recent addition being an aquarium, currently new indoor sports arenas are being built.  This is a living space and one that changes with the years and with the seasons.
This photograph is a panoramic composite of 2 frames shot using a 17mm tilt shift lens mounted such that the shift axis was horizontal.  By shifting the lens fully left and right I was able to create a panoramic image nearly twice the size of a single frame.  Whilst doing this it was key to maintain manual settings and ensure that the tripod was completely static.  I processed each image identically in Lightroom and then output as tiff for stitching in Photoshop.  Once back into Lightroom I made a final crop and adjustments


The bones of a city; a hill rises where no hill stood before
Central to my narrative is the observation that the 1972 Olympics was designed to look towards the future leaving Munich’s Nazi legacy behind.  The fact that the games site is literally constructed from the rubble bulldozed from the bombed out city is very poignant. 
Although far from the most dramatic or complex picture, this was the hardest photograph to create and the one I spent the most time over.  I walked all over this hill looking for a view that would capture the scale of the hill and thus the destruction it represents, but at the same time carrying a message of redemption. It does not have the drama some of the other shots carry, but does capture the creation of a green space out of destruction.
This photograph is a compromise; the trees in the foreground obscure the view, ideally I would want to be slightly higher, that was not possible at that location.  I would also want to provide more detail to the right of the frame, a stand of trees prevented this. I have pushed the reds a little to emphasize the 3 points that lead into the frame and adjusted the colours to align with the two other shots in the sequence.


The previous two photographs were topographical, hinting at people’s occupation of the area, here I have made the use of the space the subject.  With this image I have tried to capture how people enjoy the summer sun, bringing the beach into the city, however artificial the location might be.  This shot starts to transcend the origins of the location and illustrate what it now brings to the citizens of the city.  In constructing this picture I am very much influenced by Martin Parr’s approach to seaside and tourists.
I was drawn to this location by the strong colours of the deckchairs, which I have enhanced in processing.  This was a quickly taken shot; I did not want the people to become aware of me, subsequently I have had to very carefully realign the frame to bring the horizontal lines parallel to the frame.  The deck chairs are slightly cut off, this was necessary, as there was another row behind them that I could only partly frame.

2. The Stadiums


The stadiums that make up the competitive area of the Olympic site were consciously designed to step away from the architecture of the Nazi era 1936 Berlin games.  The suspended acrylic glass roofs are intended to evoke the freedom and space of the alpine landscape just to the south of Munich. In the adjoining landscape there are very few straight lines, all paths curve, all inclines have a smooth contour, echoing the structure of the stadiums.  This is one of Munich’s main playgrounds and a young lad is determined to make it all the way around foreground curve.  Those with a head for heights can also rope up and walk the curve of the stadium behind.
This was another photograph that I sweated over, taking multiple frames over multiple visits.  It works better in portrait taken from a higher point, however, I want to maintain the aspect ratio of the set, and with this photograph captured a moment in time that nicely illustrated the pleasure that people take from this place.  I have darkened the sky and pushed the red to make the boy more prominent in the image, but placed him to the side to prevent it becoming simply a photo of the boy.


Since Bayern Munich and 1860 Munich departed to the newly built Allianz Arena to the North, the Olympic Stadium is now mainly used for cultural events, in this case the final date of the 2011 Take That tour.  Pretty much anyone who has made it in the music industry will have played this stadium over the last 40 years.  With a capacity of 70,000 this is reserved for the really big names, the adjacent Olympiahalle (originally for Gymnastics) captures the next tier with seating for 12,000. Added to this are another few smaller venues, making the Olympic Park a significant global venue for music.
Apart from not being a great Take That fan, this was difficult place in which to take photographs.  First of all an SLR would have been confiscated, so I had to compromise and use a compact.  Secondly there was limited freedom of movement within the stadium; but, I had a good vantage point, so shot this from my seat.  With this photograph I want to illustrate another key use of the site during the summer months, but also to further explore the architecture of the stadium roof and how it encapsulates the audience.  Much processing was needed to reduce noise whilst maintaining sufficient detail and colour.


Having looked at the structure of the stadium and how it relates to the surrounding landscape, this photograph explores the detailed structure of the other venues within the site.  As mentioned previously the stadiums were designed to evoke the landscape of the Bavarian Alps, an architectural legacy that continues to amaze people 4 decades after it was completed.  With this photograph I am making a transition from the Olympiapark of hills and stadiums, to the athlete’s village behind the stadium roof line.
To create this photograph required a telephoto focal length and finding a spot on the hill at the right height to enable juxtaposition of the stadiums with the athlete’s village which is about half a mile behind.  All 3 photographs in this set needed careful management of the quality of the cloudy skies, working exposure to ensure sufficient detail and tonality.  The inky skies are typical of evening here, as the heat of the day builds up thunder showers.

3. Student Village


The athlete’s accommodation divides into two distinct areas, a student village and an apartment complex providing rental accommodation.  The student village is an almost surreal space filled with two story, two room, back-to-back rows of apartments.  These are not the original buildings; they were burned down a few years ago during a large party that turned into a major riot (we have that problem here too).  However, the buildings were rebuilt exactly as they were in 1972, but with more modern facilities.  The students are encouraged to paint the outside of their homes and the place gets more colourful every time I visit.    The crane and building work in the background illustrate the on-going development of the site.
With this photograph I have tried to provide a view of the student housing and how it relates to the rest of the village, using elements such as the bicycles to suggest at the people who live here.  This was also a good test of my ability to hand hold a perspective shift lens.  I have deliberately framed this with the colourful building in the middle and this time avoided over saturating the colours, so that it balances to other photographs in the set.


Stepping into the student village, there is an overwhelming sense of repetition of shape and form.  The pale grey concrete of the walls and flooring are broken by splashes of colour in the doors and vegetation.  The barbeque hints that this is a fun place to hang out on a hot summers evening, having a beer or two with fellow students.

With this and the previous photograph I have tried to illustrate the fact that it is not all about stadiums, the legacy of the games continues in many more prosaic ways, providing interesting housing for students at Munich’s University is just one of them.  I was fascinated by the shapes and forms in this area; I nearly did the whole assignment here, but wanted to say more about the overall space.  Deciding which images to use was not simple.  Here I have used the repeating trees to pull the eye through the frame to the students walking in the background.  The sense of repetition is also echoed in the buildings and the foreground shadows.  I thought about removing the crane using photoshop, but prefer not to make such large changes, it would have cleaned up the photograph somewhat, but I do not find the crane distracting.


Approaching the central plaza of the student village, the architecture takes a bizarre turn, as a large yellow pipe rises out of the ground and heads into the apartment complex.  Throughout the complex overhead pipes in various colours were installed to act as a language neutral visual guide for the athletes through the maze of buildings.  This plaza acts as a party zone, in the left background the yellow wall is in fact a sliding door behind which is a bar.  In the evening portable tables fill the space and the music goes to loud!  The green skip is there for students leaving at the end of summer term to dump anything they wish to have recycled.
This photograph took much thought to frame; where to place the trees, how prominent to make the pipe, include the green skip or not.  This is very much an exploration of colour and structure, the photograph contains very pure reds, yellows, greens, and blues.  I have carefully enhanced all colours except the blue.

4. Apartment Complex


The previous photograph is a link to this one, following the yellow pipe for around 100m has brought me into the village proper. 10,000 people live in the former athlete’s accommodation, making this a small town in its own right, with banks, shops, medical facilities, churches, schools, subway stop, and restaurants; everything needed to sustain modern life.  It also has a large disabled population as all areas are interconnected by ramps; there is rarely a need to use steps.  There are no visible streets in this town of 10,000, the roads run underneath the walkways connecting a complex of underground car parks. 
A very architectural shot, taking full advantage of the 17mm tilt-shift to create a dramatic perspective.  It still has issues, the area to the right is not so interesting and very dark, however, I wanted to maintain the aspect ratio and have the yellow pipe run to the top right hand corner of the frame.  I have tried to place the viewer in the village, providing a sense of being there.


The athlete’s village is vast, stepping inside you enter a maze of walkways and ramps, the coloured pipes frequently being the only way to work out how to return to base.  This photograph is designed to convey the size of the buildings, but also show how a school playground sits within the complex, providing local children with education on their doorstep.  The large number of children growing up within the village is a legacy to the future.
Making this photograph I was very much influenced by Michael Wolf’s studies of the tower blocks in Hong Kong, I wanted this photograph to have some of the sense of scale he achieves, but with a foreground that worked into my narrative.  I have tried framing with the sky eliminated, this makes the photograph much more compressed and oppressive, better in some ways, however, once again it then did not work as well alongside the other photographs in the set.

"31 Connolly Strasse"

Finally I arrive at number 31 Connolly Strasse, the address that more than anything encapsulates peoples memory of the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich.  2 Israeli team members were murdered in this building, 9 more died alongside 5 terrorists and 1 policeman in a failed rescue attempt at a nearby military base.  Immediately apparent is the lack of any balcony plants, clearly different from all the other surrounding dwelling places.  No one would voluntarily live here, it is now short term accommodation for visitors to the Max-Plank institute.
I find it particularly sad that the games are mostly remembered for this terrible event, Munich badly needed to move on from past evils done to the Jewish community.  Even the recent film about the attack was called “Munich”.  I hope that with this set of photographs I have been able to illustrate another legacy of the games, the creation of a community resource that has a central place in the lives of the inhabitants of Munich.
I was very unsure about including a photograph about the attack, and in particular ending the set on this sad note, however, it happened and is a part of the story of the games and its legacy.  If I was exhibiting this set I would not add any commentary to the shot, other than the title, I think people could figure out for themselves what it is and reflect on what happened without my prompting.  I have chosen this particular angle to emphasize the starkness of this one building in contrast with the almost exuberant greenery of the adjoining apartments.

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