City Guide - Berlin
A ‘unique perspectives’ city guide
As part of Canon’s continuing ‘Come and See’ campaign, we’ve introduced this series of city guides designed to inspire you to take a fresh look at the world.
Cities are packed full of fascinating stories, breath-taking scenes and hidden gems. You just need to know where to look to find them. To inspire you to look deeper, we’ve teamed up with local photographers to create these exclusive city guides. By uncovering hidden locations from unexpected angles, you’ll be able to capture Madrid, Milan, Paris, London, Amsterdam and Berlin in a whole new light.
Meet Nina – your guide to Berlin
Nina Hüpen-Bestendonk is a graphic designer based in Berlin. On her blog, Smaracuja, she shares her love for travel, photography and design. Inspired by the simple things in life, such as interesting objects and buildings, Nina describes her eye as being drawn to where ‘ugly meets pretty’.
Berlin through Nina’s eyes
Nina is inspired by many things, from simple designs to interesting buildings. She takes us to six unique locations and tells us what it is that draws her to them and inspires her creative eye. We also give you some handy tips to help you take better shots and a downloadable PDF which includes a map to help you easily get from one location to the next.
Natur-Park Schöneberger Südgelände, Prellerweg, 12157 Berlin-Schöneberg
First stop is one of Berlin’s old marshalling yards where we find the site’s solitary train, a magnificent black locomotive constructed in 1940 by the Deutsche Reichsbahn.
Housed and intertwined by an umbrella of birch trees, the old steam train has been a landmark since the Yard closed in 1952.
Nina says, “This former railway yard is an awesome playground for lovers of urban landscape. It’s great to see nature running wild and to roam around freely exploring life in so many forms – from nature to art.”
This stop is a great place to shoot detail. Our tip is to focus in on the train’s architectural lines and experiment with depth of field to elongate perspectives. Get creative by crouching down and snapping images of the plant life.
You could also explore the surrounding parkland boasting metallic sculptures, graffiti clad walls, unexpected tunnels and beautiful plant life. There’s also a special viewing platform offering a unique perspective from which to photograph the park.
TWOONE Street Art, Klosterstrasse 62, 10179 Berlin-Mitte
Next stop is Berlin’s financial and diplomatic neighbourhood, Mitte. The area showcases the majestic and surprising work of Japanese street artist, TWOONE. Hiroyasu Tsuri of TWOONE, lives in Berlin and uses art as his voice to express his feelings and passions in life. TWOONE’s ‘Beast Scape’ mural features towering deer heads - a whimsical, dramatic and colourful work of art.
“Klosterstrasse merges illustrative art with angular architecture, offering a spectaclar contrast that photographs beautifully,” says Nina. “The blue pipes that stand in front of the building adorned with Koi Carp are famous amongst urban photographers in Berlin.”
Graffiti has the creative ability to brighten up conventional cityscape photography and as such is a fantastic subject to shoot. Our tip is to experiment with lenses. Wide angle lenses are great to ensure the context is captured, whilst fixed lenses with longer focal length can be used to highlight details and textures.
The High-Deck- Siedlung, Sonnenallee 323, 12057
We follow Nina to Sonnenallee. Built in 1975 in West Berlin, this gigantic social housing project is home to over 6,000 residents. Painted with flashes of blue and yellow, the building’s sharp and graphic architecture is a playground for urban photography in a remote part of the city.
Nina says, “One of my favourite things to photograph is old concrete buildings like this one. They feature so many interesting shapes and angles and for me offer the perfect example of what I call ‘ugly pretty’ architecture.
Our advice for photographing buildings like these is don’t always feel you need to capture the building in its entirety. Instead pick out a detail, for example, focus on the maze-like bridges to create impactful imagery loaded with character.
The Old Smithy, Richardplatz 28, 12055 Berlin-Neukölln
We then travel back in time to a beautiful 17th Century house of Bohemian style in the centre of Richardplatz. This is where the Old Smithy can be found, surrounded by Art Deco villas and a traditional Church.
“The Old Smithy is full to the brim of fascinating stories and beautiful quirks – from the methods used to the tools lovingly looked after to create and repair. These are details I love to capture and cherish,” says Nina.
A good tip for overcoming low-light difficulties is to use a high ISO or alternatively select a longer shutter speed. Try to avoid using flash if you can as it will bleach out shots and you’ll lose the character of the location.
Café Botanico’s secret garden, Richardstraße 100, 12043 Berlin-Neukölln
Next stop is to a charming little café where hides a hidden oasis, Café Botanico’s Secret Garden. It is home to over 200 different types of plants, all growing around each other, and much of the café’s menu is cooked using the delights from this very patch.
Nina speaks with hushed tones, “This is exactly why I love Berlin so much. A silent oasis in the middle of a big noisy city - totally unexpected and quietly spectacular.”
If you’re a DSLR user, a macro lens will really help you zoom in on detail; from busy bees pollenating flowers to pretty butterflies hiding in amongst green, leafy foliage.
Klunkerkranich roof garden, Karl-Marx-Straße 66, 12043 Berlin-Neukölln
In contrast, the Klunkerkranich roof garden in Neukölln is located on top of a shopping mall, offering a unique 360° perspective over Berlin. The “Garden Gurus” all of whom are volunteers, love to talk about their urban roof project whilst sipping a refreshing cocktail in the rooftop’s cabin bar, with the sun setting behind them.
“Here, I like to experiment with the amazing light cast at sunset and use different techniques to show the city skyline off in all of its beauty,” says Nina. “Plus, the added bonus of live music whilst I snap is always super inspiring.”
Our roof-top tip is to use a wide angle lens to help you get that all-encompassing shot. The addition of a tripod is always welcome to ensure your imagery is pin-sharp.
You can find all of Nina's locations talked about in this article on the map in the downloadable PDF below. As you go from one to the next, remember to keep your eyes open and look around; like all cities, Berlin is full of great photo opportunities.