Trip to Berlin

I’m writing this on the train heading home from Berlin — the coolest city in Europe, if you ask me. Visiting Berlin is always something I look forward to: my mom lives there, and there is always something interesting going on in the city.

This time, it was the Festival of Lights — an annual event when many landmarks and buildings are lit using all kinds of creative lighting. This was also the first time I decided to do some serious photographing — now that I’m the proud owner of a Nikon D60 DSLR. As you would expect from a first-timer, I made a few beginner’s mistakes. The most grave one was the decision to pack a Velbon CX Mini instead of a “full-size” tripod. Since D60 lacks the live preview feature, I literally had to crawl on all fours when composing a shot. On the positive side, I found the Nikkor 18-55mm VR kit lens extremely versatile, so much so that I decided to postpone purchasing additional lenses for the time being. To be honest, I don’t think that my night photo walks yielded any decent photos, but it was a valuable learning experience.

The next item on my todo list was a visit to Berlin’s botanic garden. I’ve been there before with the missus, but I had only my point-and-shoot with me, and one of the most interesting pavilions was closed for renovation. This time, I spent almost four hours shooting flowers, but I did have a few problems in the process. Firstly, as soon as I walked into a green house with tropical plants, the lens became covered with condensation, and I had to wait 15-20 minutes before I could use my camera. So here is my question: Is there any way to avoid or mitigate condensation? The botanic garden has an excellent collection of cacti. Unfortunately, the most interesting ones were behind the glass, and I’d like to hear your tips and tricks on shooting through the glass. Despite all these annoyances, I managed to take over two hundred photos. I used RawTherapee to transfer photos to my laptop and quickly review them.

Speaking of the laptop, I planned to take a netbook on my trip, but it turned out that RawTherapee (or any of my favorite photo applications) was pretty unusable on the small screen. So I had to pack my HP production laptop. When going through my photos from the botanic garden, I realized that I made another mistake: I didn’t write down the names of the flowers I photographed. Now all of them go by names like “pretty flower”, “yellow flower”, “flower that looks like a star”, and so on. So next time, I have to remember to write down the name of each plant I photograph, or — even better — take a picture of the sign with info about the plant.

All in all, the trip was a success. Despite a couple of rookie mistakes, I’m heading home with an SD card chock-full of photos and a few valuable lessons. I’ll be slowly posting photos from my trip to Berlin on my Flickr page, so stay tuned.

Freelance tech writer covering Linux and open source software.

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Posted in Photography, Scribbles

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