„Tower talk“: Amateur photographer Werner Schwenk from Rottweil on his favorite motive and the perfect moment to make "click"
Werner Schwenk has been a fan of the test tower from the word go. He constantly surprises us with his unusual images, which have become very popular on our social media channels. In this interview, Werner Schwenk (a veteran of 20,000 ‘tower shots’) tells us why the thyssenkrupp test tower fascinates him so much, reveals his perfect light conditions for taking pictures and gives us some top tips for amateur photographers.
Werner Schwenk, was the test tower a case of love at first sight for you?
Yes, I went to the very first public consultation meeting, on 6 May 2013. The very next week I took a first picture of the original building site. I was in favour of the project from day one. The test tower is the best thing that could have happened to the town of Rottweil.
What fascinated you most about the construction phase?
It was breathtaking to see the tower growing every day. The workers worked day and night from Monday to Sunday, and it was impressive to see how brilliantly everyone worked together on the project. 20 to 30 people all had different jobs to do, and despite that everything worked out great.
Why are you a fan of the test tower? What's the attraction of it?
I think you can't just live in the past. We need the future and new things all the time – Rottweil needed this change. It's a really lively place now. Tourists come to the town from all over the place now. I’m really looking forward to the planned suspension bridge too. With the thyssenkrupp Elevator test tower and the bridge, Rottweil has two real unique selling points. I can tell the tower has a lot of fans from the sales figures for my photo album and the people who visit my blog. I've already started selling my photo album abroad, and people from Russia, the United States, Spain and Poland have been on my blog, where I have documented the whole process of building the tower.
Looking at your pictures, it doesn't look like you're afraid of heights.
I’m not. But my wife and cousin are. Saying that though, they've both overcome their fear of heights by going to the the tower, and they've both been up on the viewing platform on their own several times now.
Most people fall in love with photography when they get their first camera. What about you?
I used to take pictures 30 years ago, but I rediscovered my love for photography five years ago, after I retired. When you take pictures, you see the world with different, open eyes, I like that.
Which photo of the test tower are you particularly proud of and why?
There is one picture showing the light playing in a special way up on the viewing platform. I’m especially proud of that one.
How did you manage to get your the latest picture, with all the lights reflecting?
We turned off the lights on the platform very briefly, which is how we got the reflection.
When are your favourite light conditions during the day? Do you prefer the light in the morning, in the afternoon or in the evening?
I like lots of different light conditions. But I think my favourite time to photograph the test tower is in the morning, right after sunrise, or when it's misty.
Which locations have you already photographed the test tower from, and what was your favourite spot?
I go out with my camera three times a day – in the morning, at lunchtime, and in the evening. So I've accumulated quite a few pictures – I have 20.000 pictures just of the test tower. I can't pick just one favourite place. There are so many great ways to photograph the building. You can take pictures from the Telekom building in Rottweil, or from Dietingen, with the autumn leaves in the shot, or even from 20 kilometres (12.5 miles) away.
Last but not least: Do you have any tips for hobby photographers?
To take good pictures, it helps to keep an open mind. It helps not to be too fixated on one thing or determined to get a certain shot. Photography helps me to see a lot of things in a very positive light. Don't underestimate the potential for taking good pictures in the evening either. Rottweil is very quiet then and you can capture its lights really well. Last but not least, the most important tip: Be patient! It takes time to find beautiful places
Werner Schwenk, thank you very much for the interview.
Interview by Alicia Wüstner