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nokia 3650 photo critique (2)

12th November 2003 permanent link

I was in the charmingly-named Munich Ausländerbehörde (“Office For Foreigners”) yesterday, sorting out a visa for Maria’s aunt from Moscow to come over and meet her great-nephew for Christmas. There on the wall was a fascinating sheet showing the number of registered foreign residents of all nationalities in Munich. I was surprised how few native English speakers there are – maybe 10,000 or so in total; I had the impression there were a lot more than that but then, from the people I know I would. There are only just over a thousand Irish – they must all go out drinking, every night, to keep all the Irish bars in business.

The big numbers are the obvious suspects – Italians, Turks, ex-Yogoslavs of various kinds. And then there are the lonely folks who are the only ones from their countries – there aren’t many Dutch Guyanan bars for the one Dutch Guyanan to go and socialise with his or her compatriots.

What does this have to do with Nokia 3650s or photography? Bear with me. I had noticed this interesting sheet on my last visit (the life of a foreigner in Germany tends to involve regular visits to the Ausländerbehörde; at least the one in Munich is generally friendly and efficient. Once I was there and the official at the next desk was explaining to a young Polish guy that having a verbal offer of a job next week didn’t count as being “in employment”, but he was polite about it.) I checked on the website but didn’t find the figures there. This time I thought “if only I’d brought a digital camera with me – but wait, I have!”, and whipped my phone out and took pictures. Here’s a sample, blown up to double the original dimensions.

foreigners in Munich

As you can see, Nokia will not be seriously threatening Minox in the spy camera business any time soon. The paper was white - the darkish grey-green tint is because the picture was taken under not very bright fluorescent lights. The fringing around the writing is, I think, chromatic aberration typical of a not very good wide angle lens being used close to the subject. Even after the application of what I suspect are some of the same sophisticated image enhancement algorithms used by the CIA (i.e. cranking the contrast way up and sharpening in Photoshop) there’s no way to get legible text out of that picture. (Alright, alright - you can see that the first two are “Uruguay” and “USA”, and the number for Uruguay might be 38 and the number for the USA is four figures and might be eight thousand and something)

(Yes, of course this is tongue in cheek – what do you think I expect from taking photos with a telephone? I did sort of hope they might come out legible though)

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