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Hello all

 

I've returned recently from a holiday to Poland for a week to see some of our closest friends, and whilst we were over there made the long journey down to Auschwitz from where we were staying outside of Warsaw - something I've wanted to go and see for well over 12 years now. It was priority shifting, poignant, devastating and one of the most important things I've ever done.

 

As some have noticed my biggest interest in life is photography and every year I compile my efforts in to a kind of photo journal called View From Eye Level. Last year I returned to photography after a wee while away from it, and knowing I was going to be heading over to Poland and indeed Auschwitz, I saved a long space at the end of my project for what I might return with, both from Warsaw and Auschwitz.

 

My photography year stretches from May to May and this year I feel my photography has been the strongest yet.

 

I have my photobook ordered and on the way and I cannot wait to see it in the flesh. Having a book to come back to and physically sit in my armchair and look at is a wonderful thing. It's also a great way to catalogue all the little moments we forget as our lives flash by ever faster. It's amazing all the associated memories I recall when a certain photograph is presented before me, and memories which unprompted would remain forgotten. I take a long time as well to title all my photographs that make it in to the book, which I feel adds more power to them.

 

I have also taken the time to properly display them online this year, so if you are interested in seeing this years VFEL, please head on over to www.viewfromeyelevel.co.uk to see the fruits of my labour.

 

Anyway,

 

Warsaw is beautiful and Poland in its entirety was wonderful (so much so we are heading back in November again)

 

Thanks for reading.

 

Gordon

Edited by frasermade
Change of Title.

"Once you climb The Ladder of Coffee, you are rarely able to come down again."

 

FraserMade 2014. He was a good soul.

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Just had a look through, really beautiful collection of photos, surprising how seemingly mundane pictures can be so evocative and memorable.

 

Bookmarked, genuinely gave me a passion for photography just browsing there.

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There are some stunning pictures there - thanks for sharing


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Places such as Auschwitz will stay with you for the rest of your life after visiting them. As a 16 year old on a school German exchange we were taken to Belsen, which whilst not a death camp in the Auschwitz was still had a very strange atmosphere, there was no birdsong, not even a trace of any small animals in the woods and trees, as though the earth itself remembered what horrors had taken place there. Years later I still remember the place and photography exhibits they had and found it incomprehensible that a human being could wilfully and willingly treat fellow humans that way. I also visited Auschwitz whilst on a few days off in eastern Germany and words still mostly fail me about that. The other place I was taken to as a VIP visitor was the Killing Fields whilst on tour in Cambodia, which was in many many ways worse than the 2 Nazi sites I had visited, it was a place where a tyrannical maniac tried to remove anyone who might be considered remotely intellectual and take his whole country back to the stone age almost. The strange thing it too had this same sadness to the atmosphere of the place as Belsen and Auschwitz. Places like this are the sort of thing that anyone should see at least once in a lifetime to affirm in themselves a feeling that genocide on these scales should never ever take place again, I know one thing the memories of these places will stay with me until the day I die.

 

I remember talking to a good friends father who had been a young soldier in World War 2 and was one of the 1st groups of soldiers who liberated Belsen, he never spoke too much about it but he did say he still had nightmares about it 60 years later.


Common sense is not a gift, it's a punishment. Because you have to deal with everyone that doesn't have it !!!

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Absolutely.

 

There was a number of quotes around the two sites and the one that stuck with me the most was:

 

The one who doesn't remember history is bound to live through it again

 

 

We were quite lucky in that we had an extremely sensitive and eloquent guide (During peak months a tour guide is mandatory) who took us around both sites, offering devastating snippets of what went on in each area. Block 11 was the worst for me.

 

I wanted to visit Auschwitz so that when we have children, I can bring them up with the knowledge of what happened and the feelings that a place like that evokes - who knows where it'll be in 10-15 years. Hopefully maintained and as respected as it is today.

 

Thanks for the lovely comments on VFEL.

 

Gordon


"Once you climb The Ladder of Coffee, you are rarely able to come down again."

 

FraserMade 2014. He was a good soul.

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There's something lovely about a physical book and Blurb, the place I get my books made, have done a brilliant job this time. I opted for some of the "Pro-Line" options - paper and inner sheets - and it's beautiful.

 

I've since gone on to submit 10 of my Auschwitz photographs to the LensCulture competition, here's hoping something comes out of it...although looking at the editors' choices so far it's not looking promising...most are photographs of feet or blurred colours.

 

Anyway, I recommend Blurb to anyone who wants a fantastic, high quality, well made book of any type.

 

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"Once you climb The Ladder of Coffee, you are rarely able to come down again."

 

FraserMade 2014. He was a good soul.

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Auschwitz was an interesting place to visit. I had already been to Dachau so it was nowhere near as intimidating as some first time concentration camp tourists found it.

 

I like your images of it - beautifully captured and processed

 

Here are a few photos I took on my visit


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Interesting, I'm going to Poland in September for a wedding (in the North).

 

How was the coffee?

 

I'm going to skip Auschwitz even though a few people are heading there afterwards, I'm not usually phased but the Killing Fields and Prison of the Khmer Rouge really shook me up when I was in Cambodia and I don 't really want to go through something similar if that makes sense.


Londinium I, Mahlkönig Vario, Hario Skerton, Chemex 1-3 Cup.

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Interesting, I'm going to Poland in September for a wedding (in the North).

 

How was the coffee?

 

I'm going to skip Auschwitz even though a few people are heading there afterwards, I'm not usually phased but the Killing Fields and Prison of the Khmer Rouge really shook me up when I was in Cambodia and I don 't really want to go through something similar if that makes sense.

 

Aaron I would urge you to try and put away your feelings and make the trip anyway it brings home exactly why we should remember and appreciate the generation who fought WW2 in the year which is the 70th anniversary of D Day. Having been to both, although I knew far more about Auschwitz in the 1st place it wasn't quite as" in your face" and intense as a guided tour of the Killing Fields and the Prison, quite possibly because that all happened far more recently than the Holocaust. The main thing I have found really chilling about the extermination and concentration camps is the normality with which the Officers and high ranking Nazi's lived their lives in amongst all this horror, like the camp commandants house where he lived with his wife and children at Auschwitz, and the way that everyone involved in the whole process from the people who manufactured and built the death factories to the guards and other camp personnel never even questioned any of it.


Common sense is not a gift, it's a punishment. Because you have to deal with everyone that doesn't have it !!!

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To be honest the coffee was ok. but the hot chocolate was to die for. Liquid gold.

 

 

I think anywhere that prompts overwhelming feelings of both happiness and sadness are vital to go and experience in ones lifetime, especially places relating to the wars.

 

Like you Charlie, I was astounded at the blase approach to absolutely horrific acts of human brutality. The fact that the camp commandant got his comeuppance 400 yards from where he stayed is all but a drop in the ocean to what he should have got. I'm reading a book at the minute called Auschwitz: Nazi Death Camps which charts the Auschwitz camps from day dot to the discovery by the allieds. It's horrifying.

 

ArronB - where you heading? It's so worth the trip if you can handle 8 hours in the car with 4 hours of mental and physical exhaustion in between. (From warsaw)


"Once you climb The Ladder of Coffee, you are rarely able to come down again."

 

FraserMade 2014. He was a good soul.

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The sad reality is that there are killing fields all over Cambodia. The Choeung EK in Phnom Penn is the one everybody knows about through the film.

 

Its all the more creepy because at first glance it looks like a well kept public garden. That is until you trip up on something, look down, and see that you've tripped up on a thighbone protruding up into the neatly trimmed grass. There are fragments of cloth embedded into the soil everywhere and it is at that point that you realise you are standing atop many hundreds of thousands of bodies, with their horrid truth reaching up through the thin layer of soil.

 

To the edge of the site are marshes where nobody ventures. In the later part of the 70's the water buffalo that lived there had plenty to eat.

 

Creepier still is 'S21'. A former school, used as the processing centre to torture a confession out of everyone on their way to their end at Choeung Ek. I won't go into details, but suffice to say that when I went there in the 90's it hadn't been sanitised in any way.

 

Pure horror. I'm not sure why I went there, but part of it was morbid fascination of which I'm not proud.

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Hello all

 

I've returned recently from a holiday to Poland for a week to see some of our closest friends, and whilst we were over there made the long journey down to Auschwitz from where we were staying outside of Warsaw - something I've wanted to go and see for well over 12 years now. It was priority shifting, poignant, devastating and one of the most important things I've ever done.

 

 

Great to hear you've liked it:) I'd recommend the north, Tri-city area, my home city Gdansk, as well as Sopot and Gdynia, all have loads to offer. We do have lovely mountainous areas way down south, some great lakes north-east as well as Warsaw, Krakow, Wroclaw, Lodz just to name a few bigger cities. Auschwitz is definitely not something easy to go through, too much for some people, heck I haven't been there myself, mostly due to the fact that I've visited a smaller camp up north on a school trip and that was enough to hit me pretty badly for a few days. I do plan to visit sometime in the future as I feel it's a place everyone should see.

 

Btw love the photography, simple yet powerful, I'm liking the colours very much. What kit do you shoot with?

 

Regards,

T.


Espresso: Londinium L1, ZR-71 grinder

Photography: Flickr

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To be honest the coffee was ok. but the hot chocolate was to die for. Liquid gold.

 

 

I think anywhere that prompts overwhelming feelings of both happiness and sadness are vital to go and experience in ones lifetime, especially places relating to the wars.

 

Like you Charlie, I was astounded at the blase approach to absolutely horrific acts of human brutality. The fact that the camp commandant got his comeuppance 400 yards from where he stayed is all but a drop in the ocean to what he should have got. I'm reading a book at the minute called Auschwitz: Nazi Death Camps which charts the Auschwitz camps from day dot to the discovery by the allieds. It's horrifying.

 

ArronB - where you heading? It's so worth the trip if you can handle 8 hours in the car with 4 hours of mental and physical exhaustion in between. (From warsaw)

 

Gdansk, then Gizycko It's a good friends wedding and there will be a group of us so disappearing off to Sopot for good coffee would be frowned upon I think, but I will need my fix in the mornings!

 

Not sure about Warsaw and Krakow, my parents are heading there after so i may tag along depending on work and money and such. Not going until September.


Londinium I, Mahlkönig Vario, Hario Skerton, Chemex 1-3 Cup.

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The sad reality is that there are killing fields all over Cambodia. The Choeung EK in Phnom Penn is the one everybody knows about through the film.

 

Its all the more creepy because at first glance it looks like a well kept public garden. That is until you trip up on something, look down, and see that you've tripped up on a thighbone protruding up into the neatly trimmed grass. There are fragments of cloth embedded into the soil everywhere and it is at that point that you realise you are standing atop many hundreds of thousands of bodies, with their horrid truth reaching up through the thin layer of soil.

 

To the edge of the site are marshes where nobody ventures. In the later part of the 70's the water buffalo that lived there had plenty to eat.

 

Creepier still is 'S21'. A former school, used as the processing centre to torture a confession out of everyone on their way to their end at Choeung Ek. I won't go into details, but suffice to say that when I went there in the 90's it hadn't been sanitised in any way.

 

Pure horror. I'm not sure why I went there, but part of it was morbid fascination of which I'm not proud.

 

Yep. I did S21 the day before the fields, and didnt expect things could get any worse. The fields were traumatising, as you say bones floating to the surface and remnants of peoples clothes, and the overwhelming stench of death.

 

In 2012 it still hadn't really been sanitised in any way, but it is being maintained and preserved as is.

 

I am glad I saw it but wouldnt return. Brutal :(


Londinium I, Mahlkönig Vario, Hario Skerton, Chemex 1-3 Cup.

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Great to hear you've liked it:) I'd recommend the north, Tri-city area, my home city Gdansk, as well as Sopot and Gdynia, all have loads to offer. We do have lovely mountainous areas way down south, some great lakes north-east as well as Warsaw, Krakow, Wroclaw, Lodz just to name a few bigger cities. Auschwitz is definitely not something easy to go through, too much for some people, heck I haven't been there myself, mostly due to the fact that I've visited a smaller camp up north on a school trip and that was enough to hit me pretty badly for a few days. I do plan to visit sometime in the future as I feel it's a place everyone should see.

 

Btw love the photography, simple yet powerful, I'm liking the colours very much. What kit do you shoot with?

 

Regards,

T.

 

Hi T,

 

Thanks for the compliment. I tried my best to be sensitive to the environment but capture things I felt were the not so common shots. (The train track shots are very common granted.) I used my Nikon D7k wich always has my Sigma 50mm f/1.4 mounted. Lightroom 5 for production.

 

I really fancy full frame, if only to get a bit more wideness with the sigma but I'm in to £1k territory for that, for used gear.


"Once you climb The Ladder of Coffee, you are rarely able to come down again."

 

FraserMade 2014. He was a good soul.

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I agree that common shots aren't that interesting even if executed well.

 

I'd think twice about a full frame purely because of the added weight when lugging it around, took mine for a 10 day vacation in Italy and I was suffering by day two:)

 

Regards,

Tom


Espresso: Londinium L1, ZR-71 grinder

Photography: Flickr

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I agree that common shots aren't that interesting even if executed well.

 

I'd think twice about a full frame purely because of the added weight when lugging it around, took mine for a 10 day vacation in Italy and I was suffering by day two:)

 

Regards,

Tom

 

Sissy...:exit:

 

 

I don't mind weight. What I do mind is hand holding a gripped Canon 450D with a Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 for 6 hours at knockhill. Now that's heavy. :)

 

 

What I really want is a D4x, but a D800 would do. The illuminated buttons on the D4x are just......lovely.


"Once you climb The Ladder of Coffee, you are rarely able to come down again."

 

FraserMade 2014. He was a good soul.

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:)

 

If you have the right strap it's probably all good, I'm just used to carrying the camera in my hand all the time, with the strap wrapped around my wrist. It was fine with a D90, but not so great with the D800, you can really feel it in the wrist.

 

Regards,

T.


Espresso: Londinium L1, ZR-71 grinder

Photography: Flickr

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Just came back from Poland myself. No coffee but plenty of other "clear" beverages. It was nice seeing family again but the hayfever and traffic near Krakow airport were horrible! However, Krakow is one of my favourite cities and I always get emotional when I think about it. I studied there for 6 years and it will always remain in my heart. The person I am now is because of Krakow!

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