I Would Have Been Shot

Brandenburg Gate

Modern German history has fascinated me for a long time. The country has been through so much turmoil, so much change in such a short time. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Berlin, where the scars of the World Wars and Cold War division are still visible – even if they are disappearing. Whenever I am in Berlin near where the Wall stood, I find it hard to fathom that I would have been shot for standing there and taking a picture. Pariser Platz, where this picture was taken, was in the death strip, where the East German border guards had a shoot-to-kill order. A no man’s land after the war, Pariser Platz is now a symbol of a unified and revitalized Berlin, even if a bit of a tourist trap.

This is an older picture taken with my Canon G9 and is one of the first “good” photographs I took. This came out surprisingly nice, mostly due to the good lighting of the Brandenburg Gate and time of day – 10 PM in July, about 20 minutes after sunset. Playing with the G9 I had discovered the bracketing function, which is a great tool to capture detail when no matter what you try one area is under- or overexposed. Merging these photos together is called HDR, or high dynamic range, photography. Many HDR pictures are processed so that they look like paintings or unreal. I prefer more realistic photos, using the method to even out the exposure and add detail not seen in a single exposure. I took three photos using the bracketing function, which means the camera takes the picture at settings of my choosing then take additional pictures at 1 or 2 stops higher and lower. A tripod is a must for bracketing. Software such as Photoshop and Lightroom have functions to merge the images together.

Camera: Canon Powershot G9 on tripod

Photo 1
Lens: 7.4mm
Aperture: f/2.8
Shutter Speed: 0.4 sec
ISO: 100

Photo 2 (darker)
Lens: 7.4mm
Aperture: f/5.0
Shutter Speed: 0.4 sec
ISO: 80

Photo 3
Lens: 7.4mm
Aperture: f/2.8
Shutter Speed: 0.4 sec
ISO: 200

Post-processed using free HDR merge software. Horizon straightened, otherwise no changes.

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