The Horse and the Bear

Taken on an early morning walk through Aachen in May 2017, this photograph captures my imagination and encapsulates everything Aachen symbolises to me. I am proud of the composition, my choice of camera settings and the subject itself. The image is unaltered and was captured in fine resolution jpeg.

  • Camera – Nikon D5300
  • Lens – Nikon DX NIKKOR AF-S 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5
  • Manual – F8, 1/125, ISO 100

I shot this photograph in Aachen just outside the theatre on Theaterplatz at about 8am on Friday 26 May 2017. I had spent the night in Aachen for some sightseeing en route to Berlin where I would be spending a long weekend. I was carrying two lenses with me; a NIKKOR 10-24mm, and a 35mm prime. The 10-24mm is perfect for city shooting as it gives enough of a wide angle to capture the stunning architecture, and the ability to zoom to 24mm allows me to capture some nice detail. After depositing my luggage at the Hauptbahnhof until my train later that afternoon, I decided to walk back into town and see what I could find. Below is my favourite photograph of that morning, I call it the Horse and the Bear. I hope you enjoy:

For me, what makes this image so fascinating?

  • It is framed on all four sides, the eye is drawn to the centre.
  • The centre of the image is the horse.
  • To the left of the horse is the bear. This rooftop sign is about 75 metres away from the horse, but yet the image almost places them on the same level. The horse is in some way talking to the bear.
  • The stance of the horse is very vocal; back straight, head up, mouth open, tail erect, legs in the perfect pose. This horse has things to say! Unlike most equine sculptures, this bronze is about the horse, not a person riding it.
  • Another item in the foreground is the road sign to Einbahnstraße. This sign is pointing to the right; directing us back to the horse.
  • There are two bikes; one upright, the second lying on the street.
  • In the background on the left of the image is a stone building. One of the few in this area. There are beautiful features carved into the bay above the second floor windows. One feature in particular of a crouched man, seemingly a mechanic, working on a machine, symbolic of Germanys industrial heritage, and Aachen’s coal mining history.
  • If you look closely, the traffic light is red. Stop. On the fence in the background is a protest sign; STOP Tihange & Doel, in protest of the restarting of two damaged Belgian nuclear reactors.
  • The sign is on a wire fence surrounding a construction site. As a British tourist, I was very conscious of the damage caused to German architectural heritage during the Second World War. This construction sites represents the massive amount of construction taking place in Germany to replace the now dilapidated 1950’s buildings built to replace those lost during the war. The demolished building in this instance was the Tanzpalast & Teatro Elyséee Club.

    Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. I am brought back to this illustration by the author in which Max, in his costume, is in the forest with the moon beaming.
  • Drawn back up to the middle of the photograph is our bear friend. On the same roof of the bear is a satellite dish to the left. It is only upon closer inspection that we see this as a dish. Even now, every time I glance at the image I am pulled in to this narrative where the dish is a bright full moon, the bear standing upright and the horse calling out for the attention of the bear. The bear and the moon reminds me of the original illustration in Where the Wild Things Are.
  • Finally, the image is framed on the right by the pharmacy, Hirsch-Apotheke Aachen, indicated by the red and white Apotheke ‘A’ sign. This building is more typical of West German architecture; no frills, just simple, honest and functional. If you also notice, beside the Apotheke sign is the street sign for Theaterplatz, the location of the photograph preserved for ever.

I hope you enjoy the image as much as I do, and I hope my description of the elements of the composition read true with you. I took a few images of this subject, playing with the manual settings, but this is the one that worked for me. I am not a professional photographer, and I can not abide sitting for hours waiting to capture a single shot. I enjoy walking and exploring my surroundings, bringing my camera along with me for the ride, and hopefully I can bring you some pleasure from my images.