Pictures post: tour to Müggelsee, Berlin-Köpenick

Yesterday I went for a walk around lake Müggelsee in the south-east corner of Berlin. It was a wonderfully sunny day and I snapped a few pictures:

The highlight was the ferry trip, for all passengers 🙂 The walk around the lake was nice thanks to the tall trees which provided shade, even if they were also masking the view. It was a long walk, but also refreshing and very quiet. I plan to go to Müggelsee again and maybe rent a kayak to paddle around 🙂 Will keep you posted for sure!

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Book recommendation: “Der Zoo der Anderen” by Jan Mohnhaupt

Source: Hanser Literaturverlag

Here is another book I recently read, and that I wish to review here in English despite it being written in German. The journalist Jan Mohnhaupt has written a detailed report of what happened to the two Berlin zoos during the Cold War, that I found captivating and moving. I have been to both the Zoo and the Tierpark, but at the time with only a vague idea of their history – I am even more curious to come back after this read, to see the animals, trees and enclosures not only as themselves in the present time, but also as traces of a complex past. The interesting side of this book is that the story of the zoos and of the people who managed them and worked there sounded to me as a net of complex, but understandable, human stories, about people who showed the highest dedication to the cause of wildlife, but also had to play smart on the Cold War chess board and to deal with personal life obstacles.

I also have the feeling to be a little more Berliner, with this new piece of local knowledge. I still oscillate between feeling “local” or “foreign” in this city, and I oddly feel close to the most beloved animals in the zoo: adopted by the visitors as true citizens, but forever (hopelessly?) foreign, as members of an exotic species.

Panda bear Bao Bao – source: Berlin Zoo website

I warmly recommend this book to whom has a good German level, and I hope it will be translated to English soon!

Outdoors in Berlin: hikes suggested by Berlin Forestry Commission

Berlin is known for being a capital city with extensive green areas, both within the city and around it. Many wooded areas include waterways and lakes, and are beloved hiking destinations for Berliners and tourists.

A wonderful collection of hikes has been made available by the Berlin Forestry Commission, on the city’s website and in two books (as far as I know, only in German, but the level of German is not scary. Anyway, it is always possible to translate the webpages on the fly.). I have bought the books and regularly pick a destination for our weekend’s tours, and so far I have been very happy about the choice of trails, the thorough informations about landmarks along the path, and the reasonable length of each hike. I tend to make few pictures while I walk, so here are two pictures from Lake Tegel that I made some time ago:

I hope this tip will come handy for your next Berlin visit!

Visit to the Museum for Communication Berlin

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Some time ago I visited the Museum for Communication in Berlin, for the first time in many years that I live here. It was a pleasant experience: I was kept interested by the various ways in which the content was presented, the interactivity of the exhibition (especially in the first floor, with quizzes, robots, and various other funny art-like devices). I was not the only one having fun: there were two groups of children, who ran across the museum in detective suits, looking for specific items and solving riddles, following a tour designed by the museum. As children learn and remember by doing, I find that this kind of tour was a terrific idea to let them have fun and be active during the exploration of the museum.

There was definitely a lot to see! I was especially fascinated by the ceramic insulators display, and the lovely set of historical and iconic post-horns. Among the postal carriages there was an old Italian model from late 1800s that had “Impostazioni” written on the side – in modern Italian, “impostazioni” means “settings”, especially in the IT domain; at that time, it meant “items transmitted per post”. Funny and interesting find!

Outside the museum there are traffic lights, whose poles are completely covered by stickers. A closer look allows to recognise the museum stickers, which work as a ticket, and that one wears during the museum visit. Apparently, visitors who just exited the museum have taken the habit of peeling off the sticker and transferring it to the nearest pole. The whole looks both shabby and artistic:

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That’s a museum I surely will recommend to friends who visit Berlin, and to anyone who hasn’t visited it yet 🙂

 

“Robby Müller – Master of Light”: exhibition at Museum für Film und Fernsehen, Berlin


Yesterday I visited Robby Müller’s exhibition and decide to take all the time I needed to savour it. As the exhibition is about cinematography, the movies were aired in short excerpts, and this helped me ask: “How did Müller convey the impression of a small room? Which angles did he choose? How did he work with light?” instead of the usual “What is happening in this scene? What’s the story?”. I loved the uncommon focus on what is usually considered backstage work, whose goal is to support the narrative. It made me feel at ease, and made me appreciate those film excerpts enormously. It felt like being more than a spectator, there was a connection with the cinematographer and the director rather than with the film characters. This is the role I feel closer to myself: the informed spectator. I don’t see myself as participating in the action, nor as the naive receiver of cinema tricks and devices. I am audience, who aims to feel close to who realised the film.

One film I want to watch in its entirety is Paris, Texas, with its silences, filled up with the landscapes and the human society that lives and walks around the protagonist like a storm of busy insects. Colors and lights are incredibly dense, like in an oil painting.

Image from film-grab.com

The exhibition also included a small selection of Polaroid photos taken by Müller on his travels. They were stunning. No surprise – but it urged me to learn more about picture composition and lights, because they are more important than the technology of your camera. I am struggling with photography books, which go either too little or too much in detail, and with my inability to see my mistakes in the pictures I take. Luckily I can ask advice to a few friends who are both great photographers and good teachers!

Multilingual birthday!

Today is my birthday! I wish to share three funny birthday songs I am fond of, one in Italian, one in French and one in Berlinese. First, Elio’s “Al mercato di Bonn”, about the unlikely discovery of “Happy Birthday”‘s verses, written no less than by Beethoven:

The second is “l’Anniversaire”, from a group of musicians from Toulouse, the Fabulous Trobadors:

and last, “Jeburtstach”, in Berlin dialect, from Rotz’n’roll Radio:

Happy birthday to me! 😀

Landscape and color pencils

landscapes with color pencils
Landscapes with color pencils

Yesterday we went to a large natural area near Berlin, Grünewald. I brought paper and pencils and made a few experiments with color pencils. The first subject I drew is the shrub in the middle, and I realised I didn’t observe it quite well before starting, so most proportions are wrong. Moreover I didn’t decide how much detail to draw, and the colors are not so right, but yes, it was my starting point 🙂

Then I tried to draw the whole landscape. There was a line of needle trees in the background, then broadleaf trees of various species (therefore shapes and colors) and a dry grassland, up to where I was sitting. I think that the third drawing, the one on the left, gives an impression of distance. I suppose that the colors are too bright (the needle trees were much darker but not black) and that the texture is uncertain, but I will keep experimenting 🙂

I hope I have given inspiration to start (again) with color pencils, and am open to suggestions to good books and links about coloring techniques!