Distanced Observations

Nazi Ralleygrounds

With the daily infection rate on the rise again here in Germany, Covid is still dominating our lives, and somehow also my blogging. A couple of days ago, The Significant Other and I visited the Documentation Center of Nuremberg’s historic Nazi Party Rally Grounds. Our first trip to a museum since the start of Covid was the opportunity for some photographic, distanced obervations…

Marching upwards and sideways

From 1933 to 1938, Nuremberg was the city where the Nazis held their annual Party Rallies. Still visible today are the remains of huge structures in which these propaganda shows were put on display. The exhibition in the Documentation Center Nazi Party Rally Grounds provides a comprehensive view on the history of the National Socialist dictatorship as well as the Party Rallies.

The principal remaining structure of the Nuremberg Rally Grounds is the never completed torso of the Congress hall, that was supposed to accommodate 50.000 attendees (this wikipedia entry shows some exterior images). In here, the Documentation Center opened in 2001. The permanent exhibition “fascination and terror” explains very well the causes for the Nazis raise to power, the people-manipulating activities of this populistic dictatorship and the fascination, that these gigantic annual events had on the hundreds of thousands of attendants. But it also puts a spotlight on the terrors of the regime, that cumulated in the holocaust and horrors of the second World War with its millions of casualties and vast destructions.

Visual Ignorance

I photographed intentionally in black&white, as I wanted the capture the dark mood of the displays, embedded in a combination of modern steel and glass architecture within the old brick and concrete halls of the Nazi Congress Hall, that was modeled to resemble the Colosseum in Rome.

It made for some interesting Juxtapositions, the images of the cheerful mass rallies, and the silently contemplating, socially distanced and masked observants.

Masked Observations

I photographed with my Leica M and the Elmarit-M F/2.8 28mm. Working with a single lens, I fully leveraged the advantages of a light package (not unimportant when you walk three hours through a museum) and a fast prime, that allowed me to shoot without flash in those very dark rooms. Also, being limited to a single focal length, I was forced to “zoom with my feet” and train the eye to search for scenes and compositions that benefit from the wide angle perspective of the 28mm. Before going, I decided on the 28mm because I thought it to be the best lens to capture the atmosphere of the socially distanced observations in a museum during Covid times.

In front of destruction
Alone in the Museum

It was fun being finally out and about again, visiting a museum (albeit masked – a bit less fun) and doing some indoor street photography, for which I have given me the assignment to capture the dark mood of this exhibition, further enhanced by the Covid implications.

Have you given yourself a photographic assignment lately, shooting only with a single camera/lens combo? Don’t be intimated , put on your mask (together with proper social distancing the principal way to contain the spread) and go out and shoot.

If you look for more tips and inspirations for your photography, check out my free Learning Center.

Wish you a great Friday!


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Instant Inspiration (13)- Pictures in an Exhibition

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32 thoughts on “Distanced Observations

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  1. The day I went to Auschwitz it rained a lot and I already thought I will get some of those classical greyish shots, but than the sun came out and what shall I say? It looks still more terrifying in the bright daylight.

  2. Amazing shots from a dark time, including the current pandemic and it’s iron grip on us. Glad you got out a bit and thank you for reminding me about our museum visit that continues to mean so much to me.

  3. Good decision to film in black and white — it does convey a dark moodiness about the place and the larger-than-life photos. And I’m glad you’re out and about a bit more. We’re all getting stir crazy here. Thanks, as always, for objective journalism coupled with amazing photos.

  4. You did beautiful work here and you explained the limitations you set for yourself well. The other day I decided to explore the art filters on the Olympus again – that was a good limitation and I got some interesting results. Have a good weekend!

  5. Wonderful photos. B&W, the most appropriate choice…

    I miss going to museums. Heck, I miss going ANYWHERE but a compromised immune system dictates our sticking close to home. (We’re fine. We’re fine.)

    One of my favorite ways to spend an afternoon is to wander through a museum, camera in hand, and I prefer using a prime lens, zooming with my feet as you mention, but also just capturing small portions of a given piece. I’ve captured some interesting photos this way.

    1. Thanks for your kind words, Julie, so much appreciated! Glad you share the passion for photographing in museums. Stay safe and keep the faith, somehow we will get through all of this! Marcus

  6. My last couple hikes I carried a single “normal” prime. with the ease of stitching together panoramas, a wide angle isn’t as necessary as it was. But that’s not convenient for street shooting … since the foreground keeps moving (if there are people) and it doesn’t give the same perspective. Nice shots, as usual, Marcus.

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Allan, much appreciated. When using a 50mm prime, I also stitch panos. There are always ways to get by with only one lens. I always love the challenge! Marcus

  7. I physically shuddered when i saw the image of Hitler walking up those steps right at me with that demonic smile, hat in hand. Most I have ever reacted to a photograph.

  8. Marcus, great choice to present your impressions in B&W images, to express those dark times in history. Interesting to know that museums in Germany have opened up… here in California all the museums are still closed to public.

    1. Thanks, Cornelia, appreciate your feedback so much! The museum have been re-opened, but only a limited amount of visitors are allowed inside and mask are required for the duration of the visit. Stay safe! Marcus

  9. Very moving piece Marcus, great shots. The black and white really helps to focus on the subjects. Glad to see you can get out again. This has been a strange year for us all and all the more important to record it. Take care.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, Carolyn. It is indeed emotionaly difficult to visit this exhibition. Perhaps even more for us Nurembergians, as we have to live with these monuments and their silent reminders on a daily basis. Never forget! Marcus

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