Finally the weather took a turn for the worse and a belt of heavy rain crept across the city. I had been waiting for this opportunity to portray the Platz in a different way, more somber, without sun and blue sky. The theme of the resurgence of Jewish community in Munich is supposed to be one of joy and happiness, but I want to counterpoint this with a degree of melancholy and sadness, using a dark day to carry that message. I am not sure if my photography can sustain the narrative alone, although that is my plan at present. The last assignment was heavily dependent upon the accompanying text to establish meaning and context, with this set I would like to attempt that with the photographs alone.
Reality was a little different from plan. First of all shooting whilst it is raining was impossible, the rain was too heavy and I am not willing to risk my camera and have no rain cape. Thus I tried to find vantages from which I could shoot in shelter, but this placed me too far away to get the angles I wanted. This I elected to shoot during intervals in the rain, when the sun was shining! We do not seem to get those wonderful gloomy drizzly days that I remember from my youth in the North West of England. It is either rain and lots of it, or sun.
The result was that I captured an interesting set of photographs using the relfection of sun or sky against the wet ground, this is typical:
The above photo is suffering from the high contrast created by the sky and reflections, it is underexposed in the foreground. The difficulty with correcting this as a colour image is that it starts to take on an otherwordly look, somewhat like a poor HDR job. With such an image the best artistic option is to process to Black and White and take advantage of B&W's ability to handle high contrast:
Both of these shots are very structural and both contain strong contrast, however, in mono they work as I have far more interpretive latitude. The first shot has potential for me the reflection bringing the geometry of the building down to street level, with a little edge lighting bringing structure to the pedestrians who otherwise would be back lit. I am also finding that the enclosed space of the Platz suggests a square format filled with the structure of the buildings.
So far my focus has been on the Jewish center and the associated buildings or the Munich museum, however there are several other buildings in the space, most notably some 18th century houses lining the northern edge of the space, remnants of the old architecture that used to personify this part of the city. There was quite a bit of resistance to the building of the Jewish center, not down to racial issues (although this did rear it's ugly head), but in opposition to the rather brutal architectural style selected, many people wanted to see an extension of the more traditional style represented below:
Just to the south of the Platz is an Innenhof (courtyard) within a block of residential buildings containing a small cafe. I would like to include this area in my set as a counterpoint to the formality of the other buildings, however, I am not sure that I can create a good photograph within this jumble of buildings.
Apart from the more formal representations of buildings within the Platz, I also need to spend some time looking at details, here is a small selection of ideas around that thought. First of all the ever present anti-terrorist barriers, filling every access point.
Another detail and perhaps an introductory photo could be the name plate for the location, not that this is a terribly good photograph, but again this is something that I can explore as I develop the concept further.
Finally a study of the wall of the synagogue, evoking the wailing wall, but in this case containing an emergency exit from the building. This is more interesting as it has narrative potential, even if not terribly interesting in iots own right.
I am also still exploring the occupation of the space by the people who live in the neighbourhood. Few areas of Munich exist as single use, apartments are present almost everywhere and people emerge in good weather to enjoy the space, even though, in this case the weather was very variable.
I started this blog entry thinking about reflections of the rain in the buildings, I finish with a different reflection of the sky on the square synagogue top. The heavens are reflected in a building dedicated to the worship of God. Metaphorical, perhaps. Again a detail that might work well into my narrative.
Unlike other assignments, I have yet to take this set of images and turn them into something that would act as a candidate for submission, partly laziness (I am working 12 hours a day at present), but primarily because the theme has yet to fully emerge from these explorations. I know where I am going and that is towards redemption and rebirth of a culture in the heart of former darkness, but how to get that across is still eluding me. I continue to shoot sequences of images looking for more variety and structure, soon I will have to stop. I have yet to enter any of the buildings, I think that the key to this set might lie within rather than outside, the museums contain historical threads that might help to glue this set of photographs together.
On a more prosaic level, I also need to decide upon the technical treatment that I use for this set. From the outset I have planned to present the assignment in B&W, however, the wonderful colour I have captured so far has driven me away from that approach. But, this may be a mistake, the space is highly structured and the subject potentially somber, B&W will suit both elements very well, plus extending latitude to some well composed but badly lit images. A mix might also work, from darkness to the light, but this is generally frowned upon unless done very well and I am not sure my skills or vision are there yet. Tomorrow I plan to go inside and then underground to the Jewish museum and see what that brings to the set.