Monday, 19 December 2011

o du fröhliche or shutter-speed

I suppose there is no bigger challenge for amateur photography than a lively Christmas Market (Weihnachts-markt, Christ-kindlmarkt) in its native setting, the festive glow of the booths under an icy sky and many attractions quite kinetic, like the giant Pyramid of the Leipzig, sort of a wooden carousel with Christmas figures that's propelled by the heat of flames. Leipzig's fair is among the eldest traditions in Germany, along with nearby Dresden and Bautzen, and decorated with the holiday trappings and influence of the Ore Mountains' (Das Erzgebirge) arts and crafts.

Beneath the spinning installation, a booth serves a insulating and potent cup of fortified punch called Feuerzangenbowle, a variation on Glüwein--a conditum paradoxum, a "spiced-surprise" in Latin. The sheltered arcades that crisscross the old city were also decked out dazzlingly, like this tall and illuminated tree around the corner from Auerbachs Keller, the historic restaurant, older than the Christmas market itself, that was made famous by Marlowe's and Goethe's Faust. Christmas trees, I understand, became the more dominant symbols of the season but still share a place alongside their highland and up-land forebears, the Pyramide, and creates a composition that really sets the mood--memorable, despite the challenges of sharing that scene and atmosphere in pictures.