A couple of months ago on a trip to Hamburg, one of the locations that was on my list was the Dockland office building. I had seen tons of images of this architectural marvel and being that it was located on the Elbe river convinced me even more to see it. My favorite German city, Dresden, is also on the Elbe.
So, on my first day in the city, I took the train from Landungsbrücken to Königstraße to scout the location. It was a bit of a walk from the train station to the building – you have to walk down a couple flights of stairs from a wooded park on the hill. The location was away from the city center so it was not touristy, and I had doubts about going there at night when the streets would even be emptier.
It was very dark that first night, and I was not comfortable walking there after a blue-hour shoot at Speicherstadt. That night did not turn out to be a good night photographically since the lights on the office building just turned off soon as I got there. There was a nice red glow coming from the harbour behind it but that was not enough to set the stage for a nice picture.
I was not satisfied with my photos that night but did not plan on returning because I dreaded the long and dark walk by myself. But on my last night in Hamburg, while planning my route for my evening shoot, that image of the Dockland kept popping up in my mind. I was convinced it would look nice in blue, much better at least than what I already have in my camera.
Reluctantly, I went back to this location a third time in 2 days. The sunset had been colorful that night; I was in Landungsbrücken station taking shots of the clock tower on the harbour but this did not fare well because of all the scaffolding around the structure.
There were a couple of photographers when I got to the Dockland but surprisingly enough, they were all finishing up as soon as the sun was well into the horizon. I thought to myself, ” Where are all of you guys going? The fun has just started!” I was disappointed because I needed the company for security sake.
Soon as I saw a glimmer of blue in the sky, I started taking pictures. I took out my 0.9 GND filter because I thought the shadows on the water were much darker than the early twilight sky. I was hunched over my camera dialing in my exposure, getting ready to press my cable release button, when I was startled by a voice behind me.
“Why are you using a filter?” I saw a rather tall guy, medium built, carrying a back-pack with a tripod dangling from its drawstring. Obviously he was a photographer as well, although the first thought that came to mind was why was he already packed-up? Isn’t it just about time to take a picture?
“Excuse me?” was my initial response. I was taken aback by the sudden disruption. I’ve always believed that there’s such a thing as photographer’s etiquette. It’s like talking during a golfer’s back swing — don’t ever ever do it!
“The light is not even bright. It’s just fine.” He said, almost arrogantly.
Naturally, that pissed me off. If I needed a mentor right at that very moment, I’d rather wake Ansel Adams from his grave, and ask myself, “What would Ansel Adams do?”
This wouldn’t have been a big deal to me if it were the first time, but I’ve had a few encounters with all-knowing photographers who’d dismissed me as somebody who didn’t know what she was doing. I’m not sure if it has anything to do with being a female photographer, and I don’t mind this as much as I mind being interrupted in the middle of my work.
I decided to be nice to this guy, so I spared a few minutes of my precious blue-hour time, and said, “I thought there are lot of shadows on the water, and I wanted to even out the light.” Why was I explaining this to him, I had no idea. Then I pressed the play button on my camera and showed him the picture I just took with the filter.
“Well, what do you think?” I asked him.
He bent over and looked at it closely. “Wow, that looks nice!” He said it almost with great disbelief.
He started to walk away, and said, “Well, enjoy!”
I thought that was what I was doing until I was rudely interrupted.
Anyway, that particular photograph I just showed him has just been sold today. It will grace the cover of a travel brochure and will be on the splash page of a business website. That makes it almost worth entertaining my uninvited guest.