Sunday, 14 June 2015

Aerial photo's of China from 1930

Aerial view on Canton
BERLIN, June 12 (Xinhua) -- An exhibition known as China Flight staged at the Chinese Embassy in Berlin on June 11 with precious old photos of China taken by German deceased aviation pioneer Wulf-Diether Graf zu Castell-Ruedenhausen in 1930s, as well as current photographs of Hans Georg Esch of China as a comparison.
From Canton to the Moghul cities of the north, from the already modern metropolis of Shanghai to the vast untouched mountains of the Himalayas, Castell garnered great impressions of China during his countless flights.
During the early part of the 20th century when flying was still an adventure, Castell was commissioned to set up an air traffic network in China with the Lufthansa subsidiary Eurasia from 1933 to 1936.
As the first European to view China from above, Castell retained a number of unique precious image data with his Leica camera.

Wulf Diether Graf zu Castell in front of his aircraft, portrait shot from the twenties.

As a result, a total of more than 1,500 negatives have been preserved from this period and are preserved in the German Museum and the Museum Five Continents, both in Munich today.
When recalling her father, Castell's daughter said: "My father was a very modest person, and he almost never really talked about the aerial photos. In a long time when no one could fly over China, the photos he took filled a information gap.This makes me very proud."
In the exhibition, one can see that Castell's aerial photographs have frozen unique landscapes of China that no longer correspond to today's image of the country in many ways.
"We also compare the old China and you can see the difference from what has happened in this country," Karin Rehn-Kaufmann, chief representative of Leica Galleries International, also the co-organizer of this exhibition, told Xinhua. "The differences are so impressive because what was once countryside is now megacities."

 The northern slopes of the 2000 meters high border mountains between Kwantung and Hunan decline down to a vast sea of rice fields, and protrude out of the forest hills and villages as islands. (Photo by Wulf Diether Graf zu Castell)

"After the first few flights, I was overwhelmed by the nature of the Chinese landscape so that I decided to hold its special structure in the photograph. It seemed important to me to achieve not only beautiful pictures, but select examples of documentary value," said Castell once.
As Chinese Ambassador to Germany Shi Mingde said in the opening speech, Castell's photography not only has a high value of art appreciation, but also has important reference value to the study of modern Chinese history.
"Compared with 80 years ago, earth-shaking changes have taken place in today's China," he said.
"I think the exhibition is great.From the pictures, you can see, there are major advances in the urban development," said Annette Magold, a spectator from Munich, to Xinhua, "I have not visited China yet, but in my imagination, China would be a very diversified country. I would like to go there."
According to Karin, the exhibition, which allows people to rediscover China, is also scheduled to take place in Beijing and Shanghai this September.

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