June 14, 2007

Censorship in Liberal Germany?

As I was preparing for today's post about Hamburg, I noticed a commotion on Flickr. Flickr is the online photo platform I use to upload my Blog pictures. Maybe I should say "used to use"?

Here is what happened:

A photo was posted on Flickr that read: Think Flickr, think! Against Censorship!
This photo was all of a sudden uploaded by more and more people and the photo explanation read:

If your Yahoo! ID is based in Singapore, Germany, Hong Kong or Korea you will only be able to view safe content based on your local Terms of Service so won’t be able to turn SafeSearch off. In other words, German users can not access photos on flickr that are not flagged "safe" ... only flowers and landscapes for Germans ...Copy and upload this picture to your account - show flickr who we are!

Now, I am really surprised! Germany is one of the most liberal countries in the world when it comes to nudity. No, we don't run around naked all the time, but we have legal nude beaches. It is also very common for women to sunbathe topless even in public parks and advertising on TV and in magazines show partial nudity as no big deal. We are not talking porn here (which is also legal with certain age restrictions), but maybe partial nudity that is often shown in a very artistic way.

Why on earth is Flickr (or its parent company Yahoo!) censoring Germany? There are plenty of Photo Communities that do no censor legal photos. It certainly can not be against the law here, so why does Flickr / Yahoo! act this way?

Now you have some idea, how liberal Germany is in this respect and why I am so ticked off by this.

From now on, I will post the photos differently to the Blog. Maybe, if Flickr lifts the ban on Germany, I will go back to linking the photos from there.

But for now, I choose not to!

P.S. Thank you to the duck and the statue that were a perfect match for my little Photoshop work ;)

Yahoo! (the owner of flickr) has posted the storie in the Financial News:


This is Flickr's responds in their Blog and what others have to say about it:http://flickr.com/help/forum/42597/page5/#reply227666

June 10, 2007

Photograpers in Hamburg

As this is a Photo Blog of Hamburg, today's entry is about photographic activities in Hamburg.

Thanks to the Internet, there are many ways of finding fellow photographers in any city. If you are fortunate enough to live in a beautiful city, there will most likely be plenty of events scheduled such as outings and small competitions.

As Hamburg is a very picturesque city, we have plenty of activities around photography. Today was an event scheduled by the Hamburg! Flickr Group. It was a beautiful day. Sunny, no clouds at 30°C!

The assignment for this gathering was as follows:

Every participant meets at 11:00 a.m. at the central station with a digital camera and an empty storage card. Then you are given a topic or a theme for which you have 1 hour to capture a photo and then meet at a new location. At the new location you were given a new topic and so on. This procedure was repeated 3 times. At the end of 3 hours you should only have three! photos on your storage card and they are uploaded from each participant to the Administrators notebook.

What made this event so challenging and fun?

- You really had to think of were you will get the scene for the theme within 60 minutes!

- You are not allowed to do any outside of the camera post processing! That was a really tough pill to swallow.

- You were allowed to take as many photos as you wanted, but you had to erase them before turning the storage card in. Only ONE photo per topic!

Interested in what I came up with? Not really? Here it is anyway:

1. Topic: Black & White

I switched the in camera processing to black and white with the highest contrast. This will give you very sharp B&W contrast. I decided on an architectural scene close to the "Chilehaus" which I mentioned in one of my first posts. I wanted to give it some symmetry and dimension.

2. Topic: abyssal / way down

60 minutes was too short to go up a church or tall building, so I decided on a very long escalator in one of the subway stations. I put the person in the bottom out of focus to make the photo appear deeper.

3. Topic: Pirates

This was probably the most difficult one to capture, as the room for interpretation is limited. I could have gone to St. Pauli and capture one of the Pirate flags that are a team symbol, but I wanted a "real" pirate. Then I remembered the most famous pirate statue. Well, actually the statue is not really famous, but the person was. His name was "Klaus Störtebecker" (Stoertebecker) and is said to have lived between 1360 and 1401. I remembered where his statue is located and jogged there. It was a total of 4 miles I had to cover in 60 minutes, but I liked the idea of taking his picture.

Have you ever tried a photographic challenge like this? I can really recommend it to you, as it boosts up your creativity as well as it will allow you to meet some fellow photographers in your area.

June 06, 2007

Globalization, G8 and Hamburg

Originally uploaded by HamburgCam.

With the G8 Summit starting today in "Heiligendamm" about 100 miles away from Hamburg, the eyes of the political world are yet again on on Northern Germany. Hamburg has a very long history of trade, commerce and manufacturing. And this paid off in terms of wealth for the city. Most visitors are astonished how green and beautiful this city actually is. Although, most parts of the city were destroyed during World War 2, a lot of effort was put into making Germany's second largest city a very livable place.

Hamburg is the city with the most Millionaires, but it is also the city with the most charitable foundations in Germany. It is part of the "Hanseatic" style to give back to society.

I hope that the G8 protesters will get their points across peacefully and that the violent hooligans will not ruin their efforts. I don't want to get too political about the G8 Summit, but I wish for the outcome to be a consensus on protecting the environment and helping the people in need even more, than these nations already do.

June 03, 2007

Coffee Shop War?

Starbucks vs. Balzac
Originally uploaded by HamburgCam.

As the world seems to be inhabited by more and more caffeine junkies, getting your daily dose of "Arabica or Robusta" beans in its liquid stage becomes almost vital to ones happieness.

Drinking coffee in traditional cafes has a long history in Germany. But until 1998, "Espresso coffee chain franchises" were pretty much unknown to Hamburgians. This changed in 1998 when a small local coffee chain opened their first coffee shop in Hamburg. It was called "Balzac Coffee". Up untill 2006, this was the major coffee shop chain in Hamburg.

Just in time for the Soccer World Cup in 2006 the world leader of coffee shops entered the market... "Starbucks"! Somehow, before then the major coffee shop empire had not targeted Hamburg as a potential lucrative market.

Today, the local chain of Balzac operates 34 shops in Hamburg, Lübeck, Berlin and Hannover. The Starbucks label appears on over 13.000 Coffee shops world wide.

Decide for yourself (if you get the chance), which coffee shop is your favorite in Hamburg. I already have my personal favorite :-)