Sep 18

Capturing the Postcard Photo

With Cologne’s great cathedral stretching high into the sky, any shot that represents the city typically features this well-known (and quite beautiful) landmark.  There is, however, one spot where the ‘quintessential’ photo of Cologne is typically made: across the river to the left of the bridge at sunset. There have been tens of thousands of photos made from this spot, and for good reason: the bridge with the cathedral and the light behind the cathedral at sunset or just after makes for a fantastic composition.  Of course, it’s been done before.  Over, and over and over.  If you go to a souvenir stand, you’ll likely find multiple post cards with slightly different variations of the same photo, depending on framing, light on that particular day, etc.

Cologne at Night – Fujifilm X-T1 with Fujinon XF 18-55 f/2.8-4 @ 48mm, f/9, 6 sec

So naturally, last night I went to go make the same photo.  Why?  Because it IS a beautiful spot to get a photo of the city.  And frankly, I didn’t care that it wasn’t great ‘art’ since it’s an extremely cliché view: I wanted my own version of that shot…well, just because.  With Photokina in town, thousands upon thousands of photographers are here in the city, and, of course, quite a lot made the same trek for the same shot. I’m sure the results will be different, as people will frame things differently, or go in close on the cathedral, or go super wide, and so on, but we were generally congregated in a similar area.  I took several different framings and several different focal lengths throughout the hour I was sitting there.  I also had a great chat with another photographer.  I got the shot I was after, above, but just as interesting was watching the people take pictures.  There were far more photographers here than are shown…some above on the plaza up and to the right, some below and behind me on the steps where I was. All capturing the same shot.  And why not?  It’s a beautiful city.

Photographers Shooting the Cologne Cathedral – Fujifilm X-T1 with Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 @ 40mm, f/14, 20sec

Photographers Shooting the Cologne Cathedral – Fujifilm X-T1 with Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 @ 24mm, f/9, 8 seconds

About the author

Jordan Steele

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Admiring Light; Photographer; Electrical Engineer and Dad

1 comment

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  1. Wolfgang Lonien

    I grew up in that city, and lived there for about 35 years. So yes, the photo you took I’ve seen many times before. But still I think it’s one of the most beautiful places in Germany (the city, not that certain point on the right side of the river), because of its diversity. Today you have to search for these spots in a city which looks more “modern” by the hour, but there are places in Cologne which remind you of a film noir. Others look like farmlands. It’s simply amazing how different it can be, and while not all of these places can be reached walking (but they *are* reachable easily by bus or tram for instance), it’s that diversity and the friendly attitude of people (almost like Italians) which are unmatched elsewhere in this country. Of course, you have to spend 2 or 3 weeks there to even remotely begin to see it (no offense, I know you’ve been to Cologne/Köln) before.

    I moved. To Siegburg, Bremen, Freising (close to Munich), and now to a place close to Frankfurt. Still Cologne feels like home, except maybe for the place where I was born (in the ‘Eifel’ district which is also beautiful).

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    […] to get out to shoot a bit while I’m here, and I started with a cliché place (much like I did last year at Photokina), though I’ll be doing some much more varied shooting later in the week. Tonight I wanted to […]

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