Plan B (BMW Welt) works

There is a location in Munich, just north of the Olympic park, where there is a major road heading west – southwest. A couple of kilometres down the road, there is one of the few skyscrapers in Munich. On the right hand side of the road there is a park and on the left hand side the Olympic stadium where the 1972 Olympic Games took place. Finally there are two pedestrian bridges crossing the road connecting the parks at its north and south sides. Last Sunday afternoon I went to that location hoping that the clouds would break and I would be able to photograph the road heading into the (dramatic) sunset with the lit skyscraper somewhere in the frame. I was going for a “just before sunset or just before dusk” look with long exposures, car lights, sunset, city lights, etc. As a backup for a photograph subject I had the BMW Welt building, which is also just there.

When I went there it started raining and the sky was completely overcast, so the sunset factor was removed from the equation. Nevertheless, I went to the bridge and set up the equipment hoping for some reflections from the rain. It didn’t rain enough for reflections, so they also were out of the question for the day. Then as it drew darker I saw that the skyscraper wasn’t lit at all. It was Sunday, so I knew that the offices would be closed, but really … a 38 storey building and no lights at all? We all know that “sparen” is the moto here in Germany at the moment, but I think this goes a bit too far. Anyway … I settled for the road with no sunset, no lit building and no reflections. Then there were not enough cars passing through to give me good light trails. Where was everybody? This was very quickly turning into a disaster. So after taking a few unremarkable shots of the road, I turned around and focused on the BMW Welt building.

The BMW Welt building looks more than anything like a spaceship to me. Nikon D7100 with 18-105mm lens. Three exposures at f/18.

The BMW Welt building looks more than anything like a spaceship to me.

All of the shots are composed of three to five exposures blended later at home and in some cases processed with filters for a BW or rougher or just weirder look. I photographed the building from the pedestrian bridge first. In this next image I focused on a detail of the BMW Welt building with the top of the BMW headquarters on the bottom right side of the frame. Built between 1968 and 1972, the BMW headquarters building was ready just in time for the 1972 Olympic Games and has been a city landmark since then. Other than the HDR blending, the only other processing here was to remove the glow from the city lights from the sky to make it completely black and to suppress the red colour in the image.

The BMW headquarters building is itself very spectacular. Nikon D7100 with 18-105mm lens. Three exposures at f/18.

The BMW headquarters building is itself very spectacular.

One point regarding the colours: The building is illuminated at night by colour changing lights. So it is darker for a few seconds, then blue, then red, then darker again and so on. In long exposures these colours mix up giving a bluish-purple tinge. In some cases I kept the purple, in some others I suppressed the red and kept the blue colour only.

The next photo is a close up of the building processed and converted to B&W. I went for a darker, rough look here.

Flowing diagonal lines everywhere you look on this building! Nikon D7100 with 18-105 lens. Three exposures at f/18.

Flowing diagonal lines everywhere you look on this building!

The last photo I took is from across the street at the beginning of another pedestrian bridge connecting the BMW Welt to the BMW Museum. I left the natural look here as well as the purple colour resulting from the multiple exposures. In the background you can see the Olympic tower (in German Olympiaturm), which is situated nearby. The tower is actually very close to the building and a lot taller than shown here. In order for me to get the composition just the way I wanted it, I had to distort the top part of the image (the sky and the tower). As a result, the main building is in the right place, but the tower looks smaller than it actually is.

There were people going over the bridge all the time. Some of them even stopped in front of my camera to take their own photos. None of them showed up in the images though. Nikon D7100 with 18-105 lens. Five exposures at f/18.

There were people going over the bridge all the time. Some of them even stopped in front of my camera to take their own photos. None of them showed up in the images though.

For those of you who have never seen the BMW Welt building up close, this is really a most spectacular architectural feat. According to Wikipedia, it was “Designed by architects Coop Himmelb(l)au for BMW Group, the facility was constructed from August 2003 through summer 2007 at a cost of US$200 million.”

For those that like numbers, here are some fact figures from http://www.muenchenarchitektur.com/ :

  • Total floor area: ~ 73.000 m²
  • Max building length: 180 m
  • Max. building width: 130 m
  • Max. building height: 24 m
  • 800 kW solar power plant on the roof

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