Army Years - Part 3

The International Experience

McCully Barracks, Wackernhein, Germany. When I showed up at the gate, the guard looked at my papers and directed me to the building shown on the right, my new barracks home. At the time I had no idea what this place was or what I was ding here. I reported in and was informed that this was primarily a support base for a Nike Hercules missile site located down the road a few miles. I was assigned to missile site security, given a room on the 3rd floor, and was told that I'd be working 24-hours on, at the site, and then 24-hours off, rinse and repeat, starting the next day. That became my schedule for most of the next 14-months.

Luckily, even though the place had limited facilities, it did have a Special Services photolab, shown on the left, just down the street from my barracks which quickly became by second home. I worked those 24-hours on at the missile site and during my off days I was usually found in the photo lab on the days they were open. It was run by a German gentleman, Ernst Berg, shown on the right, who had an extensive background in photography, a greats sense of humor, an expiremental approach to the field, who quickly became my mentor. It was there my black and white printing improved and I learned how to process and print color materials.

I had so much time to experiment I started with different films and developers, pushing and pulling, honed my burning and dodging techniques, and started working more with some experimental techniques such as the Sabattier effect which I feel I was able to master while there. I could buy my film and paper right there at the lab so I was quickly introduced to Agfa products which I really liked. I printed on Agfa Brovira graded paper and shot lots of Agfa films.

The lab was pretty well utilized and we had quite a cadre of "regulars," all very collaborative and lots of fun. Here are some photos of the facility:



The main black and white lab


A better view of the enlargers, most of which were Omegas.



Inside the color printing lab. I usually used the Beseler 23C in the middle.


Film developing area



Conversation and studio area


Print drying area


Getting Out and About

On some of my off days I tried to get out and see what I could about this new country. One of the first things I did was attend a winefest in Bingen. I figured out the public transportation learned my way around Mainz and Weisbaden, our closest big cities, went Fasching in Mainz, traveled down the Rhein River to visit Rudesheim, even farther to Koblenz. I took the train to see the city of Cologne, went east to Heidelberg for the burning of the castle, and over to Frankfurt a few times. Of course, I always had a camera or two with me. The problem was making sure that I was back to report for duty the next day, meaning that I really couldn't travel very far.

I don't want to turn this into a travelog but here are just a few photos:



Rudesheim am Rhein


Rudesheim am Rhein



Mainz


Weisbaden



Heidelberg


Cologne



From the top of the Cologne cathedral


Headed out for a river cruise on the Rhein


I did try to make the best of the time I had there on my days off. One of my roommates bought a car, an Opel, and that made getting around easier but the public transportation system worked great. Trains and streetcars went just about everywhere. Occassionally I would take a cab. A few times hitchhiking got me where I wanted to go.

Next, we'll look at more travel and back to more talk about photography.

Click to goto to the next page: Army Years - Part 4




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Updated December 2020.