My favorite Photos of 2022

In 2022, I spent a lot of time photographing the city of Detroit. I love photographing Detroit, it's beautiful historic buildings, but also sunrises and nighttime shooting brings its own special look to my images, a look that’s impossible to find in nature. 

I consider the following images my favorite Detroit-themed images of the year, not only because of the images themselves but also for the in-the-field experience and little stories behind each of them. I hope you enjoy, they are not sorted in a particular order.

1. The Detroit Skyline from Belle Isle

This was an incredibly cold winter morning in January with temperatures around 0 deg Fahrenheit (-18 C) and almost no wind. The Detroit River was frozen up so I was able to walk on the ice to find a good vantage point for setting up my tripod with a 280mm lens for this shot.

I had never seen the skyline with such steam clouds as a backdrop and the Detroit River steaming due to the cold dry air moving over the relatively warmer water. Just another spectacular sunrise and a morning I will never forget.

Detroit, Michigan

2. Up in the air at the Fisher

What a fun (and exhausting) day at the iconic Fisher Building with Mia, a seriously talented ballet student and myself,  photographing and being amazed by her phenomenal performance.

Motion is like a third dimension to photography and requires a different set of skills, especially when shooting with camera gear that's not necessarily known for its auto focus capabilities. It's like taking your photography game to the next level. This shot was taken with a 50mm lens @ f/1.4.

Detroit, Michigan

3. A winter storm in the city

It didn't take me long to decide I had to get in a car and drive downtown to photograph the city during this not so unusual winter storm in early February. Here's my preferred shot from that evening in the D with no-one around except myself.

Detroit, Michigan

4. Detroit Fist

While staying overnight during the "Automate" trade show at Cobo Center (now Huntington Place), I did a photo walk with a German colleague one morning, showing him a few scenic places one must not miss when in Detroit for the first time.  It had rained the night before, which made for an interesting mix of clouds and skies while the wind was still blowing. 

Max Schmeling must have felt the same blow when he got busted by Detroiter Joe Lewis in 1938 lol. Louis’ win was considered an American win over Hitler's Germany during World War II.

Detroit, Michigan

5. Saint Curvy   

Ever since I started hobby photography about eight years ago, this abandoned church on Woodward has always been on top of my list of buildings I wanted to photograph. 

When I saw the inside of this hauntingly beautiful church for the first time, it basically took my breath away for a few seconds.  I don't think I will ever forget that moment on a cold Sunday evening.  I took a million photos over several visits but this one might be my favorite composition, a photo I have not posted before.

Detroit, Michigan

6. A reminder of Detroit's musical legacy

Built in 1926, the 14-story Wurlitzer building served as a showroom and offices for the Wurlitzer company, a well-known organ, jukebox, and musical instrument manufacturer.  One of the most anticipated renovations in Detroit paved the way for a chic hotel called "The Siren" which has been in operation since 2017. 

I remember it took me forever to figure out this composition with the right balance between curves, evenly distributed patches of the sky, some faint sunrise colors and getting the entire building into the frame (almost...).

Untitled photo

7. Can a full moon affect your sleep? 

My answer would be, if you're passionate about photography, it probably does. You've got to be willing to suffer for your art LOL. 

I have gotten up real early on many occasions to chase the moon in and around Detroit over the years. This particular morning I thought I'd walk through the city trying to find a spot from where to shot the moon between buildings with a tele lens...and I found it.

Even though it seems like it, nothing in this shot is photo-shopped in any way other than some cropping, exposure adjustments and noise reduction.

Detroit, Michigan

8. The Motor City Dream Cruise on Woodward

I went to the Dream Cruise on Woodward with only two fixed focal length lenses mounted on two cameras and was fortunate to have a beautiful sunset one night. 

I was at the right spot at the right time when a group of Detroit super-bikes rolled in with a spectacular mix of competence, sound and color. The shallow depth of field along with the bike and bikers tack sharp would not have been possible without the tilt function of the lens that I used.  

Birmingham, Michigan

9. Chasing a moon eclipse

I was chasing the full moon eclipse in Detroit early November and got several shots with the moon and iconic Detroit buildings in the same frame. Again, no composite or photoshop involved in this image with the iconic Fisher gold roof and the eclipsed moon.

Did you know? The building's hipped roof was originally covered with gold leaf tiles, but during World War II these tiles were covered in asphalt because it was feared that the reflective surface would attract enemy bombers. After the war, the asphalt could not be removed from the gold tiles without harming them, so they were replaced with green tiles. Since the 1980s, these tiles have been illuminated at night with colored lights to give them a gold appearance. (Wikipedia)

Detroit, Michigan

10. Going back in time

I was given the opportunity to photograph the former office of Sebastian S. Kresge, founder of the S.S. Kresge Co. which opened its first store in 1898, a simple five-and-dime, and soon grew into a major national retailer. Mr. Kresge opened its first store with the name Kmart (hence the "K") in 1977.

Mr. Kresge's former office features incredible woodwork which looked even more beautiful during the sunny morning when I photographed it. 

Detroit, Michigan

11. The perfect moment of opposition

Patience is one of the most important part of photography. I'd argue this to be one of the most important qualities for any photographer, in any genre. 

The word 'patient' comes from the Latin 'to suffer'.  While I'm not suggesting you should suffer while taking photographs, you do need to take knocks and disappointments in your stride, and be prepared to hang around until you finally get what you want :-)

The Wurlitzer, the People Mover, the Simmons Clark sign, a bright red hydrant and....a German brand vehicle :-) contributed to this composition.

Detroit, Michigan

12. Long after the final curtain

It is beyond all bearing that this grandest of all the “grand” theaters downtown, the United Artists Theater, has finally been demolished this year.  Aside from St. Curvy, the United Artists had been on top of my urban exploration list for a long time and I finally found a loophole (or rathole?) to sneak in on an  (yet another) early morning.   

Maybe not the grandest of all photos I took this year but speaking of "experiences in the field", this might have been the most exciting one thus far. 

Untitled photo

13. Mysterious Mood

My wife and I grew up in an area in Germany with lots of fog during fall and winter months hence, we were glad to see a lot more sunny days with hardly any fog around in Michigan. However, from a photographer perspective, fog can also be a source of creativity to form a mysterious atmosphere in photos. Over the last few weeks I was happy to see some pretty dense (by Michigan standards) fog lingering around for more than just an hour or two.

One early morning I was fortunate to enjoy this 'moment of isolation' by the Central Train Station which is undergoing a complete renovation currently. I kept this particular composition as simple as possible.

Detroit, Michigan

14. A Candid Smile

This photo was taken when I was in the right place at the right time and with the amazing Leica 50mm Noctilux mounted on my camera. People already had a few drinks after a long and exhausting day at the Automate trade show and pretty much everyone was in a good mood, including this beautiful bartender.

I thought that the photo-bomber actually contributed to this composition in a good way since his behavior somewhat resonates the overall positive vibe at the Grand Trunk Pub on Woodward that night.

Detroit, Michigan

Photography is just another way of 'telling' and at the same time - be creative. I'm trying to 'tell' my audience about the beauty of our city, whether it's the surreal beauty of abandoned places or the beauty of a growing city on the move.  

I hope that 2023 will provide just as much photo opportunity and that I'll have the privilege to exploit that. It really does rejuvenate the body and soul.

Thank you everyone for your interest and HAPPY NEW YEAR.

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