Sep 142013
 

Three photographs this time.

Getting ready for a week in London next month and I happened be looking at some pictures from a trip in November, 2000.

These are panoramics shot with a Horizon 202 — a Russian film camera with a swing lens.  The film is loaded over a curved film “plane” inside, and when you press the shutter button, the lens rotates in a 120 degree arc.  I wish they made a digital camera that did something like this.

The workflow was similar to shooting with film cameras at that time:  Develop the negatives; cut them into strips and scan them (the Horizon frame is 24 x 60mm instead of the normal 24 x 36mm), remove the dust spots in PhotoShop, then adjust as per normal practice (noise, curves, color balance, brightness/contrast, sharpening, etc.).  Typically I would shoot Fuji Press (ISO 800) film and used a snap in neutral density filter when outside.  This also allowed me to shoot interior scenes — without the ND filter.

I went back and touched up the photos following a little bit before posting them here.

Inside a London Eye Capsule

A typical dreary end-of-November day, but still a nice flight.  The kid was aware that something was happening, because he could see the lens moving.

In a London Eye capsule -- flying over the Thames (click to enlarge)

In a London Eye capsule — flying over the Thames (click to enlarge)

Iconic London Buses

In the Transport Museum, arranged the “old” way.  At that time, the museum was set up to exhibit.  In this area, you could see five buses arrayed in a fan.  Now the museum is set up for activities.  I guess that’s better for kids, but not as good for history buffs.  The gift store, however, remains one of the better ones, and being at Covent Garden, is easy to find and may be on your itinerary anyway.

London Buses.  (click to enlarge)

London Buses (click to enlarge)

The London Eye from Underneath

A view from under the support legs of the Eye.  The two legs cantilever out over the Thames, so when you look straight down from your capsule, you’re over the water.

Underneath the Eye (click to enlarge)

Underneath the Eye (click to enlarge)

I plan on visiting both of these sites…No idea what those pictures will be like.

Links

The London Eye
The London Transport Museum
Wikipedia: Horizon Camera

Sep 062012
 
Polish Army Museum

Located next door (actually the same building) to National Museum, Warsaw, exhibits include a lot of artillery, vehicles, and aircraft stored outside; and a range of arms, armor, and uniforms through the centuries.  Particular emphasis is placed on the Polish Army during WWII and on artifacts from the over 21,000 Polish prisoners (Army officers captured during the 1939 Soviet invasion of Poland, police officers, and intelligentsia – “intelligence agents, gendarmes, landowners, saboteurs, factory owners, lawyers, officials and priests.”) murdered by orders of Stalin in 1940.  It was recently decided to relocate the museum to new facilities in the Citadel, north of Old Town.

Polish Winged Hussar — A major factor in the victory of the Polish forces over the Turks at Vienna, 1683. There is some discussion as to whether the wings were actually worn in battle — of even if the cavalryman could stay mounted on the horse while wearing those wings.

When I first glanced at the sign I thought it was warning against wing-walking on jet fighter aircraft…

The Royal Castle

Up Ulica Nowy Świat (a main shopping and historic boulevard) from the National Museum is Castle Square, the Royal Castle, and Old Town.

Zygmunt’s Column is a meeting spot for Warsaw residents and visitors, and the Castle Square is the location for festivities and official ceremonies.

Zygmunt’s Column, with the original sections, blown up by the Germans in reprisal for the 1944 Rising, in the foreground.

The Royal Castle was painstakingly rebuilt starting in 1970.  After the rubble was cleared following the German’s destruction, it was a cleared area that Poles could see every day for 27 years.  The reconstruction was based on exhaustive research, bits and pieces of the original building salvaged from the original, photographs, and paintings, etc.  The wooden floors are spectacular, with every important room having a different pattern.

Doors of the Church of the Gracious Mother of God (Kościół Matki Bożej Łaskawej)

Located midway between the Market Square and the Royal Castle, the church is adjacent the St. John’s Cathedral.  The doors are by Polish sculptor Igor Mitoraj, who also made the famous partial head that is installed in front of the British Museum, London.

The dates over the door are “1604 – 1944 – 1970”

The Old Town Market Square

Detail of a corner burgher house on the Market Square.

In the Market Square, probably the most famous, and most photographed, fighting mermaid.

Classic Fighting Mermaid pose.

When the mermaid gets hungry…Kabobs?

Warsaw Skyline Panoramic

Taken from a tower overlooking Castle Square.  Almost anything you can see was reconstructed after the Germans leveled Warsaw.  It is estimated that over 150,000 civilians were killed in the Rising and following, and around 550,000 people were expelled.

(Right click on picture and “View Image”.)

Sep 032012
 

I seem to be having a hard time finding sunshine here in Krakow.  However, for a trip to Auschwitz and Birkenau, a bright sunny day might be a bit too incongruous.

Auschwitz

The main gate at Auschwitz — from the inside.

Below is one of the early attempts to deal with the remains of murdered persons.  One pair of a total of four ovens at Auschwitz.  The turntable on the floor allows operators to pull ashes out of an oven, turn the cart 180 degrees, and the push the cart over an ash pit to be dumped.  This particular setup was abandoned as more efficient equipment was developed to handle the mass of murdered people.

Early ovens at Auschwitz.

 Birkenau (Auschwitz II)

The other iconic gateway.

The rail gate to Birkenau.

A railway wagon of the type used to transport to Birkenau for work or to be killed.  This is the place seen in many photos showing people being taken off the trains and, in many cases, immediately sorted and taken to the gas chambers.

Railway goods wagon of the type used to transport people to Birkenau.

Electrified fence line.

On the Birkenau site, opposite from the railway gate, are the remains of gas chambers and crematoria — destroyed by the SS at the Soviets advanced westward.  A picture of the structure is on the sign to the left.

Gas chamber and crematorium destroyed as Soviet forces drew closer.

The memorial, opposite the camp from the railway gate.  The group in the center are Israeli students.  The government of Israel sends thousands of students every year to tour the death camps.  This practice is considered controversial by some.  The students are accompanied throughout their visit to Poland by Israeli security guards (I counted at least 4 with this group).

Israeli students at the memorial.

Inside one of the wooden barracks.  These were designed as stables for the German Army — to house 52 horses.  They held up to 400 prisoners.

Inside a wooden barrack.

Israeli students light candles in one of the brick barracks.

Visiting Auschwitz and Birkenau

Many people take an organized tour, but I’d recommend avoiding them.  You can do all the research you need online, and I don’t think Auschwitz and Birkenau are best absorbed when you are part of a herd.  Also, during the peak tourist months, you can only enter Auschwitz I between the hours of 10:00 am and 3:00 pm as part of an organized tour– due to the crush of visitors.  There are no such restrictions at Birkenau.

My recommendation is to take a bus from the Krakow bus terminal (right next door to the main Krakow train station).  Get a bus that will get you to the museum no later than 11:00 – 11:30.  Then take the free shuttle to Birkenau (Auschwitz II).  You likely find it very quiet.  Take your time and then take any of the shuttles back to Auschwitz that leave Birkenau after 2:45 pm.  You will have managed is to avoid the surge of tours that starts at Auschwitz, then goes to Birkenau, and then home.

Panoramic Photo of Birkenau

A 360-degree view taken midway between the railway gate and the memorial.  (Right click on photo and then select “View Image”.)

Sep 032012
 
Birkenau Panoramics

These are panoramics — each roughly 180- degrees — from Birkenau (Auschwitz II) and provide some sense of the expanse of this Death Camp.  They were taken from the midpoint of the path between the famous main gate and the memorial — at the spot where the first life-or-death sorting of news arrivals occurred.

After you select a photo, enlarge it on your screen so that it is fairly high (about 100%) and then pan right and left.

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