Tag Archives: history

One roll, one topic – the Bauhaus Meisterhaeuser in Dessau

I think I tried several times to take decent images of the Bauhaus Meisterhaeuser in Dessau and I’m not sure I succeeded this time. The three double houses for the Bauhaus masters and the single house for the director were built in a small pine forest between 1925 and 1926. The architect Walter Gropius assembled cubic shapes of different sizes and envisioned an industrial Lego to build the houses. The houses have spacious patios and balconies as well as large windows on the sides illuminating the stairways. The    street side of the houses are mostly shaped by the large atelier windows. 

Now let me talk about the challenges of shooting these houses. There is trees allover the place. They are everywhere and really ruin the light as well as an unblocked view. On the other hand, these tall parallel pine trees somehow underline the cubic architecture and sometimes a tree cleverly breaks the parallelism. I guess I was rather luck with the light and the sun even broke through the clouds. I took this as a chance to use a dark red filter and together with the Rollei Retro 400s film it lightened the greens which looks quite fresh compared to the expected heavy dark above the white buildings.

Another quite annoying issue is that the space is very limited. Regardless of the lens used, lines will be falling and nothing is worse trying to portrait a design based on parallel lines and 90deg angles. Sometimes it seems beneficial to make the falling lines even stronger by using a wide angle lens or a low point of view but except using a large format camera or a tiltshift lens, we need to live with it. 

None of the images show the street side views of the houses. I tried one out of twelve and didn’t find it worthy to be shown here. The issues with the trees, the light and the falling lines just seem to be worse. However, maybe a good reason to return and focus on the street facing side.

Last but not least, I want to make some comments about the choice of film. Rollei Retro 400s is a fine grain emulsion that is also very sharp as well as high contrast. I think it’s a good pick to shoot architecture. However, I usually tame the contrast a bit by shooting at ISO 200 and reducing agitation during development. 

The last image doesn’t show one of the original houses. The homes of the directors were destroyed during the last days of WWII. In 2014 new houses were built but they do not resemble the originals. These two houses are new interpretations of the old without being the old.

i will continue with a bit more Bauhaus in a couple of days. Until then, enjoy.

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Polaroid in Bangalore

There is never much time during a business trip to go out and take photos. This is especially true for trips to India since there isn’t much ground to cover between the hotel and the office. I didn’t have much time to add an extra today to look around. So, I chose a one of the cheapest cameras I have, a Euro10 Polaroid Supercolor 1000 which is a no thrill point and shoot being stuffed with Impossible SX-70. I got a couple of b&w and color film packs, loaded the electronic flash and planned to shoot some portraits. First I was a bit concerned going “Gilden” style flashing people from a close distance right in the face. However, when you are a 2m tall western guy with a friendly smile, people start to be interested and I even started talking to some. Although, I wanted to keep the feeling of rushing by, taking the shot and moving on. Sometimes I took a second shot and gave it to the people I photographed. The smile in their faces when the picture appeared had no price. Maybe the picture sticks now on a wall somewhere in Bangalore. 

Looking at the originals, they look just fine. Viewed from maximum of 40cm they look fairly sharp and detailed. But scanning them shows the “truth”. They are not really sharp but what is to expect from a tiny lens and a chemical process that happens all right there in the paper. To me, it’s still pretty amazing  thanks to Edwin H. Land who invented the instant photography. I”m also happy that the Impossible guys picked up the old machines and were able to create their very own instant films. 

 

Looking at the recent appearance of new instant film cameras by lomography, fuji as well as leica, there seems to be a segment that is very popular with young and old. All in all it’s good news for analog photography.

The only thing I haven’t figured out yet is how to display these tiny images. Best thing is just to hang them on a wire to be seen but the’ get dusty. Second option is individual frames. I’ll never be finished drilling hold in the walls.

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praktica history – chapter one – the praktica kw

the history of the series of praktica cameras is in a way connected to me growing up in eastern germany. I think I got my first plastic point and shoot when I was 6 years old. It was a beirette sl100 and I would carry the camera loaded with a 12 frames fast loading cassette everywhere. Later I got a beirette vsn, also a point and shoot but already loaded with 36 frames. But what I wanted was a SLR. My brother had a Exa 1b and I always wanted what my brother had. But I wanted a praktica, the bigger brand of the east german SLRs. When I had saved up the money, my parents and I would drive to Berlin to get the current model since the cameras weren’t widely available. Berlin was a good guess since the east german capital was preferred for its many international visitors as well as Leipzig during the internally trade fair in spring and autumn. My first own SLR was an MTL 5B with a pentacon auto 1.8/50mm multi-coated lens. All this happened in 1985 and I was about to enter high-school. The camera was used heavily until about 1990, the year of the german re-unification, when I got a Canon SLR with auto focus, motor drive and a zoom lens.

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The canon has been sold for many years already but the MTL 5B I still posses. I even shot a couple of rolls until it started having issues with the film transport. Repair would be more expensive than getting the same camera on ebay. So, the camera sits on the shelf and it’s being looked at with sentimental feelings which are even strengthened by the fact that my farther threw all my negatives away in the summer of 1989.

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Recently, I had the rather weird idea to start to collect praktica cameras from the first model introduced in 1949 simply named “praktica” to the last model “bx20s” made until 2001. I also found a nice looking praktica according to the serial number manufactured in 1950/51 with a zeiss tessar 2.8/50mm lens right away on ebay which started this new project. The camera was the successor of the praktiflex which was only the third 35mm SLR introduced. The praktiflex was the first camera with a returning mirror as well as an interchangeable lens with a 40mm screw mount. The later prakticas introduced the 42mm thread mount which was an industry standard until the seventies.

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After shooting the first roll, I also realize that this will take me through many years of 35mm photography, how it advanced and how the photographic opportunities developed. On the other side also the way viewing an image changed a lot throughout these years of ever changing technologies. already while deciding whether to scan an image or not, I was thinking if I had done a darkroom print many years ago. Looking through photo magazines of the fifties and sixties, it’s easy to conclude that the perception of sharpness, detail, contrast have changed significantly throughout the years. I don’t even claim that the biggest steps in photographic development were made in the digital age. This honor is undeserved by bits and bytes but goes to many step by step innovations of the cameras, the film material as well as the ever improving chemicals and darkroom techniques. The aim is not only to collect great work of engineering but the re-creation of the conditions at the time the camera was made.

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The camera has just a few knobs to do things. The waist level finder is fixed with a condenser type ground glass as focusing screen. On the upper right side is the wheel to advance the film with a frame counter and left the know to rewind the 35mm film. The exposure times can be chosen with the remaining third wheel. The release button is in front of the housing and makes a nice pleasant sound when hit. The mirror remains up after the release and needs to be charged by advancing the film first. The fact that there is no “communication” of body and lens takes a bit of getting used to since focus needs to be adjusted with an open lens before stepping down the aperture for shooting. I don’t think I’d be able to work fast with the camera. But looking trough old magazines photographers were still able to catch fast moving. For some shots I tried to use the largest depth of field possible by moving the infinity marker to the aperture used but these images turned out to be out of focus throughout while the manually focused images are OK.

The 2.8/50 tessar lens is quite OK considering its age. It’ fairly sharp and responses well shooting against the light. Of course it can’t be compared with today’s fancy and expensive glass. I’m not sure if I will run many more films through the camera. Yet, forcing myself to shoot with this camera is a re-thinking process and not just hit the shutter and go to the next frame. However, it will also look nice in my just started praktica collection.

These images here were taken on an long expired ORWO NP20 (ASA 80) and semi-stand developed in 1:100 Rodinal. What the camera looks like can be seen here.

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India – the places – the rest – 1 of 2

I have a lot of images and still some memories to write down. I’ll split up the places further and add another entry with just faces. Should this be the first post you’re reading, check the others as well:

Nahargarh Fort in Jaipur

The fort was built as retreat overlooking the city of Jaipur. The guards are happy to show you around and explain a couple of things for one hundred rupees. The living rooms of the maharajah are on the one side of the palace while the seven of the eight wives lived along the several hallways leading to the opposite side of the palace where the maharajah’s favorite wife recited.

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Jaipur old city

Jaipur is the biggest city of Rajasthan and it seems the bigger the cities become the messier they are. I started my trip in smaller places enjoying them more. I would the people made the biggest difference which were much less daring in the smaller places. I liked the area behind the city palace. It was a bit quieter and without the busy stores of the main streets. I’m not going to show you the Hawa Mahal (palace of winds). I know it’s the most photographed building in entire India. And yes, I took some pictures of it as well. I’m just not going to post it here.

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Phalodi city

Not many tourists visit the small town on the road from Bikaner to Jaisalmer. However, the Jain temple and a couple of beautiful havelis are worth a look. Here I made the purchase of a colorfully painted window which isn’t anything very old but apparently collected from an old house. Although, the salesman was a jain and it’s said that followers of the jain religion never lie, I believe the window is brand new since I saw similar windows in many tourist traps later on. I still like it and when I look at it, I smile remembering the conversation with the Kanooga brothers.

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Udaipur

I guess the city of Udaipur should have made it in the top 10. The old city with the havelis and hotels lining up at the lake side as well as the roof top restaurants and cafes and of course the palace watching over all this from an elevated position seems like a still uncut gem in Rajasthan. A stroll through the many little streets and narrow paths appears almost enjoyable while still not being comparable with a Sunday afternoon walk in an European metropolis.

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Pushkar

The day I visited Pushkar, hell came down in shape of heavy monsoon rain to this holy place. Pilgrims come to Pushkar to wash in the sacred lake and visit one of the few temples worshiping god Brahma. The lake is surrounded by 52 stone steps down to the lake which are used for sacred bathing as well as religious rituals. Mahatma Gandhi’s ashes were immersed into the lake here as well, Unfortunately, the ghats are also used to extract coin from travelers. The thing starts as a harmless introduction to the ritual to the point being ask for quite large amounts of cash and even credit cards. The argument, that also gods have to eat and that inflation really drives up the prices, didn’t really impress me. I did give some, still far off the requested amount, but seemingly enough to make the heavy rain stop.

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The Agra fort

The Agra fort is more a  walled city than a fort. The current structures were built under the Mughals but the fort goes back to the eleventh century. During my visit I had two film backs, one loaded with color film and the other supposedly with black&white. However, after shooting twelve frames, I realized it was empty. And that was much later in the day with no chance to return to the fort. Now I only have left three images of one of the amazing courts. Dark clouds started to come up in the sky giving the colors a special hue. I’m still mad that the images I took of the marble structures in black&white are lost but I guess that’s karma. Actually, the view from the castle down Yamuna river to the Taj Mahal is just amazing ….

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India – the people

Again, it’s been difficult to select some images out of so many. Also, what’s a good number to give a wide spectrum of the impressions. Let me start with about 25 images in color as well as black & white, not sorted by any kind of  timeline or importance. Every image has a title as well as they location of capture. Enjoy and don’t hesitate to feedback …

201508_India_MF16_Portra160_006-Editthe model, nahargarh fort, jaipur

201508_India_MF4_Delta400_006man and donkey, mandawa

201508_India_MF7_Portra160_009-Editthe brahman, jaisalmer

201508_India_KB3_APX100_001-Editneighbors, jaisalmer

201508_India_MF10_Portra160_014-Editguides, junagarh fort, bikaner

201508_India_KB7_Foma400_024-Editbubbles, india gate, new delhi

201508_India_MF5_Portra160_012-Editstone maker, close to kolayat

201508_India_KB1_Foma400_021-Editbig smile, bikaner

201508_India_MF8_Portra160_001-Editsheep herder, jaisalmer

201508_India_MF4_Delta400_008meeting, mandawa

201508_India_MF9_Portra160_012-Editboys, chandelao garh

201508_India_KB5_APX100_020-Editin the bus, udaipur

201508_India_MF8_Portra160_012-Editdesert, jaisalmer

201508_India_KB5_APX100_030-Editold city, udaipur

201508_India_MF3_Portra160_004-Editwaiting, jhunjhunu

201508_India_MF17_Delta400_007-Editwaiting for a customer, jaipur

201508_India_KB2_Portra160_018-Editscared, jaisalmer

201508_India_KB5_APX100_028-Edittalking, udaipur

201508_India_KB4_Portra160_026-Editworking, chandelao garh

201508_India_MF18_Delta400_005-Editcurious, abhaneri

201508_India_KB4_Portra160_003-Editspice trader, jodphur

201508_India_MF13_Delta400_015-Editbathing, chittorgarh fort

201508_India_MF9_Portra160_011-Editjust kids, chandelao garh

201508_India_MF17_Delta400_009-Editrickshaw driver, jaipur

201508_India_MF9_Portra160_006-Editguide, jodphur

201508_India_MF20_Delta400_004-Editmonsoon, agra

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India – the places – top ten

I’m gonna post three images of my top five places for each and two for sixth to tenth place. I know this is highly subjective and other people might choose differently. Also, it’s difficult to come up with a ranking. There are so many incredible things to see and to experience in India.

1. Taj Mahal in Agra

The Taj Mahal was certainly the highlight of the trip. In spite of the many people visiting the place, I enjoyed every moment there. I know all the photos taken are just pale copies of shots done a million times before. I didn’t  visit Taj Mahal to take pictures. I wanted to stand in front of it and see if I can feel the amazement of this one of a kind structure. And i did.

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2. Karni Mata temple in Deshnoke – the temple of rats

I’ve been afraid of rats since I was a small boy. Don’t ask me why. It’s just the way it is. And the rat temple has been on a never existing list of places to visit for quite a while. It’s not only that there are rats allover the place but that one has to conquer the temple barefooted. If this isn’t a way to get rid of one’s fear, what else is? In the end I just stopped contemplating, took off my shoes and stepped in the land of cute little rats. I even mastered to see one of the very rare white rats which propels one into god like status already. I guessed there will be other places during my journey where a “god like status”  is a good thing.

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3. Chittorgarh Fort

Chittorgarh fort was a recommendation by an Indian co-worker of mine. She comes from the south of India and has done a Rajasthan trip just a couple of years ago. The place wasn’t on the original itinerary but i managed to convince the driver that this is a “must do”. The old fort, that hosted the capital of the Mewar rulers until Udai Singh II left it and founded Udaipur in 1567,  is one of the largest and grandest in Rajasthan. Among the many different places to visit within the walls of the fort, these are my recommendations: the gaumukh reservoir, the ruins of the rana kuhmba palace as well as the almost romantic padmini palace.

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4. Mehrangarh Fort in Jodphur

Mehrangarh fort in Jodhpur already greats you with its former power from a far distance. The fort certainly keeps its promises once you step through several gates walking through several courtyards serving as official parts of the palace, as living space for the maharajah or his wifes. The museum is very professional run by a trust established by the former maharajah Gaj Singh in 1972. The audio guide included in the entrance fee is just amazing. The guided tour is well planned and there is so much extra information included, even maharajah Gay Singh contributes a couple of words. The views from the fort down to the “blue city” are also worth climbing up there.

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5. Thar desert

The desert is the desert is the desert. It’s sand, dunes and the sky just disturbed by some people and camels. I enjoyed just walking up the dunes and feel the sand under my slippers. I didn’t participate in the many activities offered for tourists such as camel rides, dinner in the desert, folklore performances or even sleeping in the desert. I just walked over the dunes and took some photos.

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6. Jaisalmer fort and old city

The jaisalmer fort is palace and old city within impressive walls. Looking from the edges of the wall down into the new city as well as the endless desert behind isn’t tiring at all. Walking around in the narrow streets of the old city can be a bit confusing. However, you’ll hit a wall quickly while strolling around. People here might invite you into their houses or show you the view from their roofs. Some will ask you for a little money and twenty rupees are usually enough and definitely worth to get a little look inside the life here.

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7. Amber Fort in Jaipur

What an amazing early morning landscape: the amber fort just outside of jaipur. At the time of the trip I visited jaipur I was already a bit tired of visiting another fort and my brain wasn’t willing to take more information in. So, I don’t know much about the place and I also didn’t like most of the images I took there. However, the fort and its surroundings are very unique.

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8. Jain temple in Ranakpur

A temple that just lives up to its destination, a place of worship, a place where gods live, built with an uncountable number of pillars giving one the illusion of something floating. The temple is located in the aravalli mountains with lush green sub tropical vegetation.

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9. Havelis in Mandawa

The Havelis in Mandawa were just built for the purpose of extravaganza showing off the wealth of the traders along the old silk road. They are just lined up in Mandawa, one behind another and all of them are witnesses of a long gone time. Even though many Havelis are not really taken care of, they still exhibit their former beauty. I also loved about Mandawa that there were hardly any western tourists around. Walking through the busiest street wasn’t a race between people asking for money or trying to sell something. It was just a walk through a busy street, people minding their own business. I really enjoyed taking pictures here in Mandawa and I won’t state this about some of the bigger places I visited.

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10. Fatehpur Sikri

Fatehpur Sikri, founded in 1569 and built during the next fifteen years by the mughal emperor akbar, is one of the best preserved examples of mughal architecture in India. Visiting the place in the late afternoon with its low lights and long shadows is a nice experience. The few visitors get easily lost in the large terrain. Just the area around the jama masjid mosque and the tomb of salim chisti was a bit busier. Now I’m slightly mad that I didn’t take more pictures here. Although this gives me a reason to come back to this place.

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India – the first roll

I came back from my trip to India with twenty two medium format and seven 35mm rolls of film shot with a Mamiya 645Pro and a Contax RTS. These are a maximum of five hundred eighty two images to scan, edit and select for presentation. I guess that doesn’t mean much when shooting digital but it’s a hell of a lot using film. Since the moment I touched down back home I’ve been thinking how to sort, condense and write about all the impressions I collected as images as well as thoughts during the sixteen days of my visit to Rajasthan, Agra and Delhi.

201506_India_MF1_Delta400_Mamiya645_002-Edita mughal time well in a village close to jhunjhunu, Ilford Delta 400, Mamiya 645Pro

The straight forward approach had seemed to do a couple of chronological blog entries with the places I visited as titles. I decided against it since it doesn’t really help to focus on the quintessence. I visited so many places, met so many people and took so many shots that there is more confusion than clearness in my thoughts. In addition, India’s stark differences don’t make traveling always easy for the stomach as well as one’s patience.

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201506_India_MF1_Delta400_Mamiya645_003-Edit30m deep mertani baori (stepwell) in jhunjhunu built in 1783, Ilford Delta 400, Mamiya 645Pro

Here is the plan. I’ll do four blog entries trying to concentrate or even just to find my message:

  1. the first roll – introduction and some the images from the very first roll
  2. the places – two images and two sentences with my personal impression in order of my preference
  3. the people – top ten portraits
  4. the urban and rural life – in the end I’m not sure if there was a difference

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201506_India_MF1_Delta400_Mamiya645_006-Editwalking through churi ajitghar village, Ilford Delta 400, Mamiya 645Pro

I’m in the middle of showing the images of the first roll already. The images were shot on the way from Delhi to Mandawa and in Churi Ajitghar village during the first two days of my visit. It wasn’t easy to shoot the first film as it isn’t easy to start this series of blog entries.

I find my first images rather dull and mediocre, a forced trial to find a way inside. Some images were out of focus and it took some frames getting used to the Mamiya’s waist level finder. I did miss my Hasselblad and the square frame. The gray sky of the first days didn’t encourage to take a lot of photos, either. The weather got better and worse again and somehow I think my photography took the same route.

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During my trip I shot ten medium format and two 35mm rolls of Kodak Portra 160 for the film’s natural color, eight medium format  rolls of Ilford Delta 400 for its versatile ISO range as well as the rich gray, tones, four medium format Rollei RPX100 as my favorite ISO100 film right now, three 35mm rolls of Fomapan 400 and two 35mm rolls Agfa APX100.

I’ll start working now in parallel on the three (maybe four) remaining entries. From here on it’s all about choosing the right images …

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Another Afternoon in Taipei – Part 3

The first time I came to Liberty Square was in October or November 2002 to watch the annual free show of Cloude Gate, Taiwan’s well known dance theater company lead by Lin Hwai Min. Together with thousands of Taiwanese I watched “Rice” inspired by the landscape and story of Chihshang in Taiwan’s East Rift Valley. I was just taken away by Lin’s powerful language telling about soil, sun, water, wind and fire. The tale about the village Chihshang producing “emperor’s rice” by adopting traditional means bridges centuries of confucian life, buddhism and human struggle with the elements to the presence. With “Rice” Cloud Gates simply portraits Asia and differences to Western culture become obvious which is most visible in the almost “communal” choreography. Check out Cloud Gate’s schedule to see when they come your way.

Ok, let me get back to today’s walk through Taipei and get back to Liberty square that is bounded by the Chiang Kai Shek memorial and the Gate of Integrity to the East and West, and by the National Theater and the National Concert Hall to the North and the South. The square became the place for public events and gatherings shortly after opening to the public in 1975. The square become a hub of the pro democracy movement in the 80s and 90s. The Wild Lily Student movement of 1990 became the most influential leading to deep-reaching political reforms, the first popular election of the parliament in 1992 and the first presidential election in 1996. The square received today’s name in remembrance of the struggle on the way to democracy after almost four decades (1949 – 1987) of martial law in 2007.

The recent Sunflower movement even shows that democracy is not just achieved but an ongoing dialogue between the few people in power and the common folk practicing their right to challenge them. In March 2014 hundreds of thousand Taiwanese protested against president Ma’s deals with China which many Taiwanese believe will open the gates to the mainland’s economic hegemony across the Taiwan Straits. The event was never covered by international media since it mostly reported about the still missing Malaysian airplane and the Crimea crisis.

However, Liberty Square isn’t only important for Taiwan’s democracy but as a place of public life. Everybody meets here. People practice tai chi under the roof of the concert hall. Teenagers trying out their moves for a dance performance. A band plays music and marches along their choreography. On the big stage a theater group rehearses some kind of rock musicals. And in between all this Taiwanese families, Germans taking their Birkenstocks out for a walk, and groups of yapping mainland tourists stroll along creating a unique, dynamic and unmatched atmosphere.

Honestly, Liberty Square in the heart of Taipei is my favorite place. Its history gives me goosebumps. In spite of being dedicated to Chiang Kai Shek who ruled Taiwan with martial law and an iron fist up to his death in 1975, it has become a symbol of Taiwan’s people and their wish for liberty. The square, I visit almost every year, is alive. It’s complex and complicated looking at its symbolic involvement in Taiwan-PRC (people’s republic of china) relations. And finally, the square is simply part of Taipei’s public life and a great tourist attraction.

All images were taken with a Mamiya 645Pro on Shanghai GP3. I developed the film in Agfa Rodinal.

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A bit of history

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There is one single material in the periodic table of elements that is incredibly important to today’s cyber lifestyle. This element is silicon. It basically exists in huge volume like sand on the beach because it is in the sand on the beach. It has its own native oxide and therefor it can be easily structured into different devices which built the final circuitry. We found ways to shrink the devices and design more and more functions onto the same area of silicon. At the same time we increased the diameter of the silicon wafer getting more and more dies out of one wafer and therefor make the product cheap and attractive for mass production.

The only problem: silicon doesn’t exist in its metallurgic state but as silicon dioxide in sand. And once you obtained silicon by a carbothermic reduction of silicon dioxide, it’s not clean and monocrystalline.

Semiconductor research began with selenium. First simple diodes were built and the rectifying junction was done with a metal plated contact on the selenium. I can still remember the look of selenium rectifiers in old vacuum tube TVs or radios.

A selenium rectifier here.

The Bell labs in the US developed the first germanium transistor in 1947. For the first time a semiconductor device was shown that had a larger output signal compared to its input. The semiconductor amplifier was born.

The first transistor here.

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Back to the silicon: Selenium had a rather high resistance when switched on, a relatively low voltage capability when being off and a bad reliability over lifetime. Germanium basically turns into a metal when heated above 70°C. So, a group of German scientists around Walter Schottky and Eberhard Spenke, which had left Berlin during the last month of WWII, settled down in a small village with the name of Markt Pretzfeld in Franconia, north of Nuremberg and Erlangen,  and started to look into silicon as the base material for the making of semiconductor devices. While manufacturing selenium rectifiers in the former kitchen of a castle, they invented a method, known as the “Siemens Verfahren”, to obtain extremely clean and polycrystalline metallurgic silicon in the stalls of the former manor house. In the next step they were able to get monocrystalline silicon tubes to be used for manufacturing. In the mid-fifties the first silicon rectifiers manufactured there demonstrated the wide ranging benefit of silicon. At the time Siemens held all major patents for the manufacturing of semiconductor grade silicon and they were all born in Pretzfeld’s castle.

Today, the majority of silicon is still produced with the Siemens Verfahren and many new developments have taken place, like MOS transistor (metal on semiconductor) and the DRAM memory cell (dynamic random access memory) to name two of the biggest inventions. However, what happened in the barns, the kitchen and the bedrooms of the castle in Pretzfeld is unique and undoubly the beginning of our digital world.

In the nineties, I spent some time as an intern in Pretzfeld when Siemens was still producing diodes and thyristors for high voltage applications there and I took a little bit of that spirit of the silicon pioneers with me. I’m glad that I still had the opportunity to meet the second generation of researchers after Schottky and Spenke. In 2002 manufacturing now under Eupec (a 100% subsidiary of Infineon, formerly Siemens Semiconductor) finally ceased and the manor house returned to civil use.

Not much reminds the visitor of the castle of the research past now. There are apartments where the workshop and the device testing was done and the people living there just heard about what happened here before. A street named after Walter Schottky is the only sign of the history that was written here.

Some more links:

in German by Martin Schottky.

in English by Peter Voss, who I worked with in the past.

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Images are taken with a Hasselblad 500C/M on Ilford PanF+ and developed in Spuersinn HCDnew.

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Guarding Chiang Kai Shek

What does this young Taiwanese soldier feel about guarding the statue of one of the most influential man of twentieth century: Chiang Kai Shek.

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I don’t want to make this a wikipedia entry. You can check it yourself and brush up on your history knowledge. When I moved to Taiwan in 2002, I found a young democracy practicing and trying to find its own way. Democracy also meant fist fights in front and inside the parliament between opposing groups. A deep cut seemed to go right through the Taiwanese, a cut too deep to heal easily. The DPP, a pro Taiwan party, was in power and Chen Shui Bian, a supporter of Taiwan’s independence, was president. He was later convicted on two bribery charges and has been serving a 19-year sentence since. Now the conservatives are back in power still on the course of “status quo” with regards to the China question.

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In 2002, when I arrived, the nation was split: one half believing in an independent Taiwan and the other half still seeing Taiwan as a province of Greater China under the rule of the KMT. While the groups are certainly more mixed today, it seemed at the time that the supporters of a Greater China are mostly from the families of the one million soldiers which came to the island in 1949 when the communists under Mao had beaten Chiang and his KMT army. Any kind of opposition against the leading KMT was suppressed with unbelievable violence. After an uprising starting on the  27th of February 1947, the KMT killed 10000 to 30000 Taiwanese wiping out a large part of the political and intellectual opposition. The 228 incident marked the beginning of the “white terror” period in Taiwan. During the 38 years of military rule 140000 Taiwanese were imprisoned and 3000-4000 were executed as “bandit spies”. Even after Chiang Kai Shek’s death in 1975 the terror against intellectuals and their families continued.The martial law in Taiwan was lifted only in 1987 and finally, the state of war with China was over in 1991.

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Taiwan is still not represented in the United Nations after the People’s Republic of China took the seat in 1971. Only 22 nations mainly from Africa, South and Latin America maintain diplomatic relations to Taiwan. During the Olympic Games athletes from Taiwan start under the name “Chinese Taipei”.

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I return to Taiwan several times each year. I meet very polite, friendly and professional people. It’s really easy to get around and travel in Taiwan. It’s a safe place. The food’s great. The economy of the country is doing well. When my curious eye looks around, I see construction and the development of infrastructure all over the place. Taiwan developed itself from a world leader in manufacturing into a stronghold of high-tec designs. I just can’t figure out what the young soldier guarding the Chiang Kai Shek memorial is thinking.

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All images were taken with a Fuji GS645S on Fomapan 400 at ISO1600 and developed in Kodak HC110. A good reference to find out more about Taiwanese history is Denny Roy’s: “Taiwan: A Political History”

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