Archive | August 2011

Public transport Architecture

s-Bahn station

The entrance to the S-Bahn station Botanischer Garten. Photo: Ulla Hennig August 2011

This is the facade of the entrance to the commuter train station “Botanischer Garten” in Berlin. It is one example of the public transport architecture in Berlin, especially regarding the commuter train (S-Bahn). Many of the stations are under the ground, like subway stations, but some of them are above the ground, like the S-Bahn station “Botanischer Garten“.

The Berlin S-Bahn

S-Bahn station botanischer Garten

S-Bahn Station Botanischer Garten. Photo: Ulla Hennig, August 2011

The S-Bahn is part of the Berlin public transport system. It connects the outskirts of Berlin with the center. Normally trains stop at the stations every 10 minutes. On some lines you have a train coming every three minutes.

Some of the stations are quite old. The S-Bahn came into existence in 1924, and in 1929 the electrification of the existing suburban lines was completed.

The S-Bahn Station Botanischer Garten (in English: botanical garden) is part of the line from the north of Berlin going straight down to the south. As you can see on the photo there is a lot of green on both sides of the line – taking the S-Bahn will show you how green Berlin really is!

Two important entries into the book of me

I’ve subscribed to Havi Brooke’s blog “The fluent self” and one of her blog posts that made me think a lot was the one about “The Book of You“. You’ve got to read that blogpost yourself, but what I took out of it was to very deliberately notice the effects that things I do have on me. I actually write some of them down in my daily journal.

I’d like to share two entries with you. The first is: I need about eight hours of sleep. Some people need less hours to feel good the next day – not me. On Tuesdays I usually go to my English Friends’ club which is an informal meeting at a Chinese restaurant. Most of the people I meet there are freelancers or people who can go to work later. So they usually stay till late in the evening. Many times in the past I felt obliged to stay longer than I thought was good for me, with the effect that I felt lousy next morning when I had to get up early, and sometimes even overslept. Last Tuesday I decided to try an experiment – would getting home earlier and going to bed earlier really help? Well, it did! I got up next morning without problems, didn’t feel lousy at all and the day went well. So ! now know: Getting eight hours of sleep is important for me, it does me good, and I will try to get them as many times as possible.

The second thing I learnt this week by experimenting was: The pomodoro method is good for me. This method consists in putting up a timer for 25 minutes and to focus on a certain activity for that time until the alarm clock rings.25 minutes are one pomodoro, and of course you can do as many of them as you like. I applied this method today at work, and felt good with it. I was productive, and I had the impression that I spent the work day the right way. Actually I am doing it now while writing this blogpost. I am using a chrome extension called “Timer tab” at home, and on work I used the

Have you ever thought of writing a book of you? And if yes, what would go in it?

Heat and Energy

Red heat. Vector piece by Ulla Hennig, August 2011

Today I decided to try something new with Inkscape – working with layers. I know photoshop layers, and I know how important they are. I haven’t used them in Inkscape so far, but today I did, with the result you can see above.

The second thing I tried out is gradients. Gradient is also something I know from photoshop, but here in Inkscape it doesn’t work the way it does in Photoshop, and everytime I tried to apply gradients I got frustrated because I failed to achieve the result I wanted to achieve. However I am a rather stubborn person, so I tried it again and this time I found out how to do it. WooHoo!

So another important lesson was learnt: Creativity needs endurance and perseverance. Don’t give up too early!

Mute Swan

White swan

White swan. Photo: Ulla Hennig, 2011

I took this photograph early this year while visiting some friends who lived out of Berlin. The region around Berlin is beautiful – small dark lakes, little villages and old churches.

The swan had approached us hoping that we would feed him. It took some time till he realised that there was nothing dropping from above, and then he or she (I guess it is a “he”) turned around and slowly swam off.

Creating an abstract Design

I did that on Wednesday evening in Inkscape. First I had an idea about the colours – I wanted to have a go at the colour red. So I went to and created a palette. I wanted to create something Indian Summer like, warm and full of life.

When I got the palette I downloaded it and began to play around in Inkscape. I selected the star shape and created stars in various sizes, colours, arranged them this way and that way. In the middle of the whole process I got frustrated and deleted some stars, but I didn’t want to give up. I then tried out the pencil tool and created those yellow ribbons, put them on that star, changed their direction. It took me about 1 1/2 hour to create the design as you can see it above, and even after that time I had to force myself to let it be.

The funny thing is that in traditional art I focus on drawing, not on painting. But with digital art offering the opportunity to work on a piece until you think it is presentable I feel a certain love for colours now!

Five Reasons Why I love Google+

I have been using Google+ for while now, and I must say I love it. I am still on facebook, and I haven’t given up Twitter. I spend about the same time on Google+ than I do on facebook whereas I’ve reduced the time I spend on Twitter quite a lot.

Why do I love Google+?

  • I love its circles, In addition to the usual ones like Following, Acquaintances and Friends I’ve got Arts, Photography and Design and Influencers (I guess you could also say “important people who have something to say” but that would be too long). Everytime I come to google+ I can carefully choose what I want to read about, which informations I want to get. This brings me to
  • the amount of interesting stuff presented in a clear and pleasant way. Be it photographies (Aww, how many beautiful shots to look at!), links to interesting blog posts or videos (I’ve just watched a very funny commercial about Learning English).
  • I love hangouts (video conferences with up to 10 people). I’ve been into two of them (both for newbies), and I think we haven’t seen yet all the possibilities they can provide.
  • I love the way Google+ allows me not to have to deal with games (I think games are a really pest on Facebook!)
  • But I not only love Google+ for its way of providing information, I also love it for how it provides ways to communicate. Almost everytime I posted one of my photos or vector pieces I got helpful, encouraging and appreciating comments. I can scroll back in other people’s postings and post my comment half a day later. That may be more difficult with a growing number of users, but there’s always the possibility to click on a person’s profile looking for her posts.

The gnome who could hear anything…

The gnome who could hear anything... Ulla Hennig, August 2011

Yesterday night, shortly before going to bed, I felt like doing a doodle again, grabbed pencil and paper and began to draw. Twenty minutes later a rough sketch of a gnome was looking at me, with huge elephant like ears.

Today I scanned it in and began to work on it with Inkscape, my vector graphics software. The picture you see above is the result of a 1 hour work. And suddenly the piece is beginning to tell a story:

The poor chap normally loves his huge ears. He can hear even the faintest noise – and often this fact has saved his life. But he wished he’d never been born with those big ears when he was trying to cross the street. Even from far away he heard terrible noise waves, and when he arrived at the big beton band he was almost deafenend every time one of those colourful vehicles on wheels passed him. He would have run straight back to his nice little cave under the willow tree if he did not know that on the other side of the beton band there was a patch full of apple trees with delicious red and yellow fruits…

Antelope Again

Antelope, 2nd version

I did the second step and applied hightlights and dark spots. I used three different shades of brown, one for highlighting certain parts of the body, one for the dark spots and one as the “basic” colour. The shades look very rough with too many sharp edges and I definitely will have to work on the details.

I had a reference photo, but at some point I decided to put that away (which means hiding the photo layer actually) and process without it. This is not to be a realistic copy of a photo, this is something new (at least that’s my intention!)

Over the Roofs of Biberach

The roofs of Biberach. Photo: Ulla Hennig, July 2011

Biberach – the town where I was born – was founded in the 13th century. Many old houses are still standing, and you can see from the photo, how narrow the distances between the houses are. As many of the old houses were built in a half-timbered style fire was a big danger. Once a fire had broken out in one house it easily moved over to the next ones, and soon big parts of the town were on fire.

Between the houses you can see the church tower of St. Martin. St. Martin has been and still is used by Catholics and Protestants alike. In former times Catholics and Protestants had their own mayors, and people from either side would not marry people from the other denomination. Catholic people had “catholic shops” to go to, as well as Protestants had their “protestant shops”. These times are over now – and I am very glad about it!