Mayday, Mayday... 
Thursday, May 3, 2007, 01:23 - Shooting
Berlin

Well yesterday I spent the day photographing the various demonstrations here in Berlin held in honor of May 1st, the international labor day. It was a little anticlimactic since I had been led to believe that there would be some clashes with the police and general unrest but nevertheless, there were plenty of good images to go around. Here is a small sample of what I shot…


Speeches... © Damaso Reyes


Police... © Damaso Reyes


Love... © Damaso Reyes


Statements... © Damaso Reyes


Banners... © Damaso Reyes


Anger... © Damaso Reyes


Che... © Damaso Reyes
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Springtime in Germany... 
Saturday, April 28, 2007, 03:17 - Travel, Shooting
Berlin

Berlin in springtime is much nicer than in winter, that’s for sure. I have been wandering around the city with my friend Anna, who is visiting from NYC. Among other things, we have been visiting graveyards where we found some cool old fonts on the tombstones; we have been to a few museums and seen some cool art; we have toured the Berlin Wall and seen a few nice sunsets.


Apes on the Wall. © Damaso Reyes

We’ve also been taking advantage of all the nice things that a big city has to offer including having great sushi and visiting the local establishments which serve alcohol.


Che on the Wall. © Damaso Reyes

Of course I have been working, this week I photographed the Cardinal of Berlin as well as Anna Luhrmann one of the youngest members of the German Parliament. Stay tuned for photos!


A cool tombstone font. © Damaso Reyes


I want one for my house. © Damaso Reyes


Camera phones are cool. © Damaso Reyes

I am looking forward to shooting on Mayday, which I have been told can be quite exciting here in Berlin!


Sunset in Berlin. © Damaso Reyes
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Chillin' in Berlin 
Tuesday, April 24, 2007, 14:22 - Shooting
Berlin

The first time I came to Berlin last winter I was a bit underwhelmed. The Soviet architecture which dominates much of the city was a bit oppressive and the weather was cold and a bit dark. Of course now spring is in full swing and the city has truly come to life. I have spent the past few days exploring the city, mostly by foot, and have discovered some very interesting little nooks. Walking along the city’s river, the Spree, has been especially fun and I have managed to find a lot of little green areas. In short I am having way more fun than I thought I would and I hope to continue to do so.


Taking the train from Stuttgart to Berlin. © Damaso Reyes

In other news, I have begun to blog for Young Germany, a website run by the German government to encourage young people to come and work and study here in Germany. You can check out my first blog posting as well as some galleries of my photos! It should be an interesting experience, who knew I would become so prolific?

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High Tech in the Brain 
Tuesday, March 27, 2007, 01:20 - Shooting
Hamburg

There are days when my job, as great as it is, is difficult. Days where I stand in the rain, a piercing wind slicing through me. Days where I walk for miles to nowhere, alone with only a heavy camera bag to console me.

Then there are days like today where I get to photograph a really cool brain surgery and that I am sure that I have the coolest job in the world. Today I visited the operating room of the Neurophysiology department of the University of Hamburg-Eppendorf. Big thanks to Dr. Engel, director of the department and Dr. Moll for letting photograph his OR. These doctors are doing cutting edge work placing small electrodes in the brain to counteract the devastating effects of neurological disorders like Parkinson’s Disease. The patient was awake the whole time as the doctors used a tiny probe to find the area of the brain that was causing the trouble and the optimal location for the electrodes. It was amazing to see the results on the patient, who had a severe tremor in his hands and legs as they passed a small current into his brain. The shaking subsided and eventually stopped altogether.


Watching the probe. © Damaso Reyes


Millimeter, by Millimeter they go deeper. © Damaso Reyes


40mm deep. © Damaso Reyes


© Damaso Reyes


Sistine. © Damaso Reyes


Test. © Damaso Reyes


In & Out. © Damaso Reyes


Another Small Hole in the Head. © Damaso Reyes


Neurosurgeon's Have Style. © Damaso Reyes


Dr. Reyes (for a day) © Damaso Reyes

We are really living in the future!

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Hafen Hamburg 
Friday, March 23, 2007, 18:42 - Travel, Shooting, Personal
Hamburg

Well I have to say that Hamburg is pretty amazing. I am having a great time, taking photos and running around town. I am lucky enough to be staying with my friend Ewa, who I met at Solitude during a symposium a few months ago.

Today I shot at the Port of Hamburg, much thanks to Christian at the port for facilitating the trip. Hamburg is the second biggest port in Europe and the largest by far in Germany, bringing tens of thousands of containers into the country every day and shipping them out as well. That Porsche you drive probably came through the Port of Hamburg. The day started cold but clear as we drove along the warehouses and cranes to the slip where a recently docked ship form China was being unloaded. As you can imagine the scale of everything at the Port is huge from the 40 foot containers to the 40 meter cranes that unload the ships which are longer than football fields. Giant blue container moving cars zip along the wharves looking like something out of a Lego set gone crazy. Containers were sacked six high, creating instant neighborhoods of corrugated steel. The little kid in me loves all the big trucks and ships and I had a wonderful time photographing them, at least until the rain and wind picked up towards the end of the afternoon, but my long underwear and waterproof Mountain Hardwear coat, pants and hat kept me warm and dry throughout.


An ocean of containers. © Damaso Reyes


My ship has come in. © Damaso Reyes


Up and Away. © Damaso Reyes


Big Wheel, Keep on Turning... © Damaso Reyes


Container Movers. © Damaso Reyes


Temporary City. © Damaso Reyes

Today is also a happy anniversary for me as well. Twelve years ago I truly began my journey as a socially conscious adult. That warm day in March I went to my first demonstration, where thousands of students from the City University of New York had gathered to protest rising tuitions. City Hall Park in lower Manhattan was jammed with placard waving and chanting young college students. I was there with my camera and documented it all including when the police broke up the end of the demonstration. I felt alive, excited by the energy of the students and the passion with which they protested. I became in the movement myself giving speeches and organizing demonstrations and that day set me on the road of journalism with the idea that a few, motivated people can change the world. Every year I think about that day and how different my life might be if I hadn’t gone downtown that day. Life is full of twists and turns and I when I look back at my short life I am amazed at where I have been and how far I have come. I feel lucky to be living a life without limits, one where I can go as far as my talent and passion can take me.

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Carnival in Cologne 
Monday, February 19, 2007, 21:59 - Travel, Shooting, Commentary
Cologne

Day One
“We’re not in Stuttgart anymore, Toto”


It certainly has been a long weekend!

You know, every time I embark on one of these little adventures, I forget how much work is involved. I know, it sounds silly but something like Carnival is so overwhelming I think I block out the unpleasant parts and then am pleasantly surprised when some drunken idiot smashes into me.

I took the high speed ICE train at five and settled in with a book I had been saving just for this trip, Final Impact by John Birmingham. The train was about ten minutes delayed getting in and of course that made me miss my connection in Manheim. Have no fear, I was rerouted to Bonn where before long I caught a train headed into Cologne, just forty minutes behind schedule.

Luckily for me I was met on the platform by the lovely Eva, a cousin of one of the outstanding staff members here who agreed to let me crash at her place, which is actually an old fraternity house. Here I was, seven years late and four thousand miles away, living the college life I never got to have!

After a quick bite to eat back at the frat house, it was time to find me a costume. Now I haven’t really been into dressing up for Halloween or anything since I was a kid, but it is pretty much expected that you will. So we rummaged through the odds and ends in the house and managed to find a complete ladybug costume, which I will spare you any photos of.

One of Eva’s friends knew of a house party and around ten we were off. We took the metro across town to the house where the theme was that of a forest, which some people took more seriously than others, my costume just happened to be a great fit. A real live Carnival music band was just finishing up as we entered, or rather, tried desperately to squeeze ourselves into, the house. Of course the downside of the ladybug costume, with its red fur, is that it is great at trapping heat, especially when you are pressed in cheek by jowl. Nevertheless, this wasn’t my first crowded house party and after a few liters of beer I was well in the spirit. We left sometime around three or four, it’s all a bit hazy…

Day Two
“Around the Way”


Initially I had some ideas about getting up early and shooting some parades but my four a.m. bedtime reordered my priorities. When I did get up, around one in the afternoon, some of the more exciting things in town had already happened. No matter, because invariably when a door closes a window is right there, ready to be opened. As it turned out, that afternoon was when all the neighborhoods in Cologne had their local parades. Cute kids in costumes, no drunken college students, what more could a photographer ask for? Eva’s family lives nearby so we went out at around two thirty and spent a few hours watching little kids throw candy at other little kids who were shouting “Kamella!!!” which translates to “sweeties!” and “Alaaf” which doesn’t translate to anything but is the standard Carnival greeting in these parts.


Eva and her cousin Anna. ©Damaso Reyes

So it was back to the crib for a little sack time, most of which I spent reading. I did manage to catch a few zzz’s before we headed out again into the great maw of Carnival in Koln. First we needed to refuel and we went to a passable Indian restaurant and filled up on some curry.


Man and dog. ©Damaso Reyes

The real problem with Carnival, at least downtown, is that the halfway cool places are literally packed to the rafters with revelers. So we spent the evening going from place to place, waiting in line, paying a cover, and sweating inside where it was only possible to get to the bar by throwing some sharp elbows, which almost made up for the ridiculous crowds (see how I suffer for my art?). Eventually we ended up at a nightclub with some of Eva’s friends which was mercifully not packed like a can of sardines. The music was halfway decent, the drinks were halfway cheap, at least until midnight, and we ended up rocking out until three or so when we left en masse of one of Eva’s friend’s house where we had a late night snack and waited for one of Eva’s roommates who was getting off of work late to give us a ride home.

Day Three
“Stranger in a Strange Land”


Sunday morning, or afternoon to be more accurate, was pretty much a repeat of Saturday. A late breakfast and little motivate to do anything but go back to bed. Today I was on my own and spent much of the afternoon lying in bed, engrossed in my novel of alternate history. Around seven I managed to summon my last reserves of motivation and hurled myself into the night, cameras in hand (if I hadn’t made it clear, I had been shooting pretty much continuously over the previous two days).

I took the metro into town and got off about a kilometer and a half from the Dom or big cathedral which dominates Koln. As I walked down a broad boulevard, only shadows and the occasional car were my companions. Where was everyone? I silently thought to myself, adjusting my camera bag as I continued my journey. How many times had I been here before, not knowing exactly where I was heading, walking down strange streets in unfamiliar cities, alone except for my determination to somehow make this self imposed solitude worthwhile by capturing a few images.

As I approached the Dom the fleeting sounds of drums echoed off the buildings groaning under the weight of hundreds of years of history. In the square in front of the church a few food and beer vendors had set up to service the transient crowds which were walking through on their way towards a night of merriment. An impromptu drum circle had come together and visitors danced and clapped in the crisp night air, not exactly what the architects of the grand house of worship behind them had envisioned when they built the old church.

The square, with its Gothic architecture and boozing crowds was rife with image making opportunities and I wandered from one end to the other, happily snapping away between bites of bratwurst and slugs of beer.

I continued to wander the narrow streets of cobblestone and once again the pavement reflected the distant sounds of drums, and now horns as well. I followed my ears and came upon a mobile rhythm section, twenty or so deep, playing the streets. For the second time in as many days I found myself tapping my foot and photographing to that classic “Eye of the Tiger.” I was quite impressed by the range of music they played from Cologne Carnival classics to New Orleans Mardi Gras anthems.

Eventually, and on the early side compared to the past two nights, I made my way home. I had to get some sack time in preparation for the big day tomorrow. Rose Monday is the culmination of the four month Carnival season and it was one parade I wasn’t going to miss.

Day Four
“The Long Road Ahead”


Despite the warmth of my bed and the sleep still in my eyes, I managed to roust myself out of the house more or less on time to get to the start of the parade before it kicked off at 11. For as far as the eye could see, men and women prepared to march in blue and white. As the parade began to move forward I found myself with a particularly merry group of candy and flower throwing men and stuck with them as the parade wound its way through the heart of the old city.


Alaaf! ©Damaso Reyes


Would you like a flower? ©Damaso Reyes


Where, I wondered were my kisses? ©Damaso Reyes

Kilometer after kilometer the sounds of drums and horse hoofs on cobblestone intermingled with cries of “Alaaf!!!” The crowds were having nearly as much fun and children of all ages dressed as only their imaginations could conceive cheered us on. Carnival here in Cologne is pretty much a family affair and far from the cries for public nudity that I encountered last year in New Orleans, here small children were the one having the most fun.


On horseback. ©Damaso Reyes


Festive attire. ©Damaso Reyes


American imperialism hard at work. ©Damaso Reyes


Echoes. ©Damaso Reyes


Am I the only one who finds this offensive? Comments please. ©Damaso Reyes

And now I am here at the train station, still surrounded by costumed revelers waiting for the train to take me back to Stuttgart. All in all a good couple of days.


In front of the Dom. ©Damaso Reyes
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Off to Cologne! 
Friday, February 16, 2007, 20:27 - Travel, Shooting, Project News, Events
En Route to Cologne

Well here I am, off to Cologne for carnival weekend! Last year I was in New Orleans, which was a lot of fun and hard work. It might be interesting to try carnival in a different city every year, we’ll see if we can make a habit out of this. So I will try to post whilst I am away but you might not hear from me until next week. Catch you later…


New Orleans this time last year. ©Damaso Reyes
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One down... 
Wednesday, February 7, 2007, 17:44 - Shooting, Personal, Commentary
Stuttgart

One month down, five to go!

Time is a tricky thing, something it goes by at warp speed, usually when I’m doing something fun like eating ice cream or nude karaoke; at other times it drags on, most notably when I am loading one of the 16 rolls of films that I have been regularly processing. In truth while I feel totally settled in and I have shot upwards of 40 rolls so far I don’t feel like I have already been here a month, I suppose it is a testament to how quickly I have gotten used to adapting to new circumstances. In reality I think it is simply that I very quickly got into a routine and have been working it like a rented mule.

Yesterday I shot the opening session of the year for the State Parliament, which is just as exciting as it sounds, except that it is in German. As a politics junkie I find European parliamentary democracy fascinating and not just for the fact that politicians commonly boo and hiss one another. I hope to spend more time there next week as I continue my foray into the depths of the German political system with its direct and proportional representation. Admit it, I’m making you a little hot under the collar aren’t I?

Academy Schloss Solitude certainly lives up to its name. On most nights during a walk around this building you will only encounters the shot hum of electronics and the darkness of unlit hallways. Most fellows seem content to spend a good deal of their time working in their studios. I tend to wander a bit, down to the darkroom, into town, I like this whole fresh air and people concept, well the fresh air part, and only if it’s not too cold, but anyway I feel like I have been seeing less and less of people but about one a week there seems to be some kind of spontaneous gather involving food and wine and of course cigarettes, much to my dismay.

Stuttgart is a nice town, of course the logistics of the bus makes accessing the nightlife an all or nothing proposition, no drunken subway rides home at 2:45 here. I like the town and by and large the people are friendly and patient with this non-German speaking foreigner here to take their jobs, women and drink their beer.

So far I have shot at a professional football match, a hip-hop nightclub, three times at the State Parliament, in the forest for some reason, in a field full of smelly sheep, at a party in Munich, and probably some other places my bad memory is getting in the way of. Lucky I got it on film!

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Workin' hard.... 
Wednesday, January 31, 2007, 20:48 - Shooting, Personal
Stuttgart

Okay, I don’t want everyone getting the wrong idea and thinking that this trip is nothing but trips to the mineral bath and beer hall. Sure, those places are playing a crucial role, but I do actually do work from time to time, I just don’t like to always bore you with all the details.

So one of the reasons why I have 40 odd rolls waiting to be processed is that the film drying cabinet that they have here is, well let’s just say, inadequate. So when my request to “modify” it were turned down (what’s the big deal about cutting a hole in the bottom and making it a little taller?), I decided to build my own. With the help of the long-suffering Mr. Ludwig, we set upon the wood shop yesterday and created a mammoth yet stylish film drying cabinet.

It took all day, with the occasional tea break of course.

After a short break it was off to Daimler Stadium to photograph at my first professional football (soccer for you American barbarians) game. It was a bit chilly out but I had a great time photographing the game and the fans.


Damaso at the game...©Damaso Reyes

So see, I do actually work from time to time. Don’t worry, things are ramping up, I predict a great deal of film will be processed this weekend and next week is all about setting up shoots for the rest of the month.

And yes, there will be a trip to another mineral bath…


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Zen and the Art of Waiting 
Wednesday, January 24, 2007, 02:24 - Shooting, Commentary
Stuttgart

Some people think of photography as an action packed adventure but those of us who actually take the photographs know that it is all about waiting. And then waiting some more. And then a little more after that.

Sometimes it’s about waiting for the right moment, other times it’s about waiting for someone to get back to you about a shoot. Still other times it’s about waiting for the bus to take you to the shoot, or waiting for your subject to show up. At the end of the day we often spend more time waiting than taking pictures.

Today I spent the afternoon taking pictures at the state parliament, which mostly entailed waiting. I had tentatively arranged to shoot there through one of the members but as Tuesday grew closer I still had not heard back. When I called her office her assistant said that she was indeed in but in a meeting, the very meeting that I wanted to come and photograph as it turned out.

So I had a choice: sit and wait to hear back or just show up. In true Damaso fashion I chose the later. The security guard didn’t know what to do with me when I arrived but after a few phone calls I was let in and directed to the SPD party floor where I wandered a bit aimlessly, my two contacts not being in their office but, you guessed it, in the meeting. I finally found someone nice enough to let the two members know that I was there. He asked me to wait.

So I had some tea and caught up with the battle of Arnhem.

And I waited.

After a while one of the members who I knew came out. I asked if I could come inside and photograph. The real selling point was the fact that I wouldn’t understand a word they were saying. I find not being able to speak the language of the country I am in as helpful as it can be annoying sometimes. He said he would ask the other members inside.

And then he asked me to wait.

So I had some more tea and kept reading. And reading. And reading.

Finally he emerged and said it would be no problem for me to shoot.

So I spent the next ninety minutes photographing the meeting and later one of the members as he went over a draft of the budget with an assistant. I spent just about the same amount of time waiting to take pictures as I did actually photographing. While this isn’t always the case I find that it is not all that unusual either.

If you want excitement, become a racecar driver.

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Hide and Sheep 
Friday, January 19, 2007, 00:53 - Shooting, Project News
Stuttgart

So, yesterday I got up all early to go hang out with that shepherd that I met the other day. We were supposed to meet up at nine so I got up, showered, put on my long underwear, got all my camera gear ready and went out into the brisk morning air. I searched and searched but found no sign of the sheep. For the better part of an hour I traipsed around the fields and meadows surrounding the Schloss looking for this guy. Finally I spotted a police car and asked the rather silly question “have you seen any sheep today?” Indeed they had and pointed me in the right direction.

So I spot the sheep, nicely penned in by a portable plastic fence that even appeared to have some kind of alarm attached. While I was impressed by the technology, the shepherd was no where to be found. I figured he would return soon enough and I decided to hang tight and await his arrival.

So I waited, staring at the sheep, them staring back. If you’ve never really been around sheep, they spend most of their time eating, sleeping or going to the bathroom right where they stand.

So I waited some more.

And some more.

Finally well past the time he said that he would be leaving this place, sheep in tow, I decided to go back to the Schloss and have some breakfast, after all, I was cold and tired. Having had a little something I returned to the spot where I had left the sheep little more than a half an hour ago and lo, they had vanished. Of course what I assumed was the shepherd’s car was parked in the field, plastic fence neatly wrapped up next to it. But no trace of sheep or shepherd to be found.


But where is the Shepherd? ©Damaso Reyes

Very strange.

In other news, I processed film for the first time, and I didn’t screw it up, woo hoo! Results to follow in the next few days. Tomorrow I have to go and try and get my printer from the evil customs guy who is holding it hostage…

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Watch Out for the Sheep! 
Monday, January 15, 2007, 19:23 - Shooting, Events
Stuttgart

While at lunch today the woman sitting next to me asked “Have you seen the sheep?” Of course I responded “What sheep?” Apparently twice a year a shepherd comes by with his flock to graze on the grasses surrounding the Schloss. So I went out camera in hand and lo and behold there were indeed many, many sheep!


The shepherd and his flock. ©Damaso Reyes

I walked amongst them, petted the sheep dog and even spoke a bit with the shepherd and nice older fellow named Reinhold Weiss who is from Leonberg. I wish I could have spent more time with him but I had to catch a bus into town. I figure he couldn’t have gone too far, maybe I will track him down in the next couple of days and spend a little more time with him. I probably won’t but a guy can dream can’t he?


Sheep and the Schloss. ©Damaso Reyes


Sheep and the sky. ©Damaso Reyes
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Party in Munich 
Friday, January 12, 2007, 22:51 - Travel, Shooting, Personal
Munich, Germany

Traveling in Germany is fun and easy! Yesterday I took the ICE (high speed) train from Stuttgart to Munich for a party at Lisa and Renate’s studio. They insisted that I come so how could I refuse? It also gave me the chance to visit Calumet and to meet with Meike from Ketchum who I also met during Photokina. More about that later, first the train and then the party.

I have to say the train was quite comfortable. I sat back in my somewhat plush seat and rejoined the famous battle of Arnhem in Cornelius Ryan’s great book “A Bridge Too Far.” As I sped through the German countryside the sun fled from view leaving only a cobalt colored sky to backlight the barren tree branches. I paused from the mayhem the Germans were inflicting on the troops of the 1st British Airborne Army to watch an inky darkness overtake the last light of day. Having grown up in New York City, I fell in love with trains of all kinds and this trip simply reinforced that love.


A camera phone photo from the speeding train. ©Damaso Reyes

I arrived in Munich in about two and a half hours and left the main station and boarded a tram for a brief ride. Map in hand, I made my way to the studio and arrived a short time later. Both Lisa and Renate were still at home fixing their faces I suppose but then again I was early so I grabbed a glass of wine and loaded my camera to start taking the first images of my trip so far.

As I have mentioned in a previous entry, or at least I think I did, I am not the kind of photographer who is always running around camera in hand. While I may seem strange that it would take me a whole four days to start shooting, that’s the way I am. While I enjoy shooting for the hell of it, my background in photojournalism, and perhaps more tellingly the fact that until recently I never had as much film as I needed, leads me to shoot only when I have an assignment or something specific scheduled. Over the past year or so I have mostly grown out of it but at the same time I don’t feel I need to shoot if I don’t feel like it, after all, I am not trying to prove anything.

Soon the ladies arrived and the party kicked into full swing. I managed to shoot a few rolls before I decided to put the camera away and socialize, something I need to get better at if I am going to make some friends and not live like a monk up in the castle on the hill. We stayed until two or three (it’s all a little fuzzy) and a good time was had by all.

I woke up with the slightest of headaches, fortunately I remembered to start drinking water towards the end of the night, and set off to walk around Munich for a while on my way to meet Meike. It sounds trite but the history really is all around you in Munich. From the statuary to the imposing buildings it definitely feels like a place that has been around for a while, like a few centuries. Meike and I had a great lunch where I got to sample that famous German delicacy curry wurst. For those of you unfamiliar with it think of a big hot dog on a plate drenched in sauce. That’s not really accurate but hey, I’m not exactly writing for Gourmet magazine either. After lunch I set out for Calumet where I hoped the staff there would be able to sort me out.

Rainer, a tall good natured fellow, entertained my silly questions for the better part of an hour. Most of his responses were in the nature of “No, we don’t have it here but we can probably order it,” a welcome relief if not totally satisfying.

The big issue is still that of the enlarger. Right now there is a decent condenser head in the darkroom but I would really like to get a cold head. If anyone knows of where I can pick one up here in Germany, sing out. But I think I am well on my way to making some magical pictures. I may be ambitious enough to do a little test processing so I will let you know how it goes.

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The Road Home... 
Wednesday, October 4, 2006, 18:30 - Travel, Shooting, Personal
Aboard SwissAir flt 14 to JFK

I'm finally headed back to New York! Often short trips where you try to pack everything into a few days are more draining than a long one when you can take your time. While I did not manage to get to see nearly all of Berlin, I did get to do some shooting and I have some story ideas I do want to follow up on when I return to Germany next year.

As much as I would like to do one more trip to Europe before January I think my time, not to mention resources, would be better spent learning some German and otherwise preparing for next year, after all I don't know when I will be getting back to New York.

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To the German People... 
Tuesday, October 3, 2006, 18:20 - Shooting
Berlin

The Bundestag Dome interior

It's another crisp and sunny day here in the Federal Republic. Right now I am waiting in line to enter the Bundestag and it looks like it will be a little while until I get inside. Tomorrow morning I head back to NYC and I have to say it has been a short but productive trip. I even managed to shoot some film though of course not nearly as much as I would have liked. But I am ready to head back and get some work done. I'm also thinking of trying to take some German lessons when I get back in preparation for next year, anyone know a good place?



Exterior





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