art, culture, history, seasons, world

The countdown is started!

dsc_3080-ec_wToday is Sunday, November 29th.

In christian tradition Sundays are the most important day of the week, when all faithful people are supposed to go to church for attending the service. Last Sunday we have had Eternity Sunday as the last Sunday of the religious year. So, today is the first day of the religious year: The first of Advent (Sunday).

(btw. in another past post, I’ve written a bit more about the special holidays before Advent).

The time surrounding the 4 Sundays before Christmas are called Advent, meaning preparation, pleasant anticipation and expectation.

Back in the first half of the 19th century a protestant pastor got the idea to visualize these 4 Sundays until Christmas each with a candle mounted on a wreath made of fir twigs. Each Advent Sunday one of these candles is inflamed, while the candles of the past Sundays are still burning. So, you have one candle burning on the first Advent, two candles on the second Advent, three on the Third and all four candles on the fourth Advent. The christmas tree won’t be erected before Christmas Eve on December 24th (although many families do this earlier nowadays and don’t wait until December 24th).

Over the next years the idea spread over Germany and became about 100 years later common even in catholic regions. Nowadays you can find Advent Wreath in nearly every home, church and even many shops.

It’s also quite common, to put a few pine twigs with some decorations in the homes. The traditional colors of this time are green, red and yellow.

The green stands for live and hope, even in this dark and unfriendly time, when nature seems dead. Only firs and pines are green in this time of the year, so they are also a symbol. The burning candles are a symbol for Jesus, the light of the world. The other parts, like the color of the candles, the further decoration or the order for the inflammation of the candles are part of regional different rules. The shape of the wreath stands for eternity, because a ring has no end.

So, I wish you a happy, peaceful and joyful Advent time wherever you are and whatever tradition, country, religions or ethical group you belong to.

Take care!

culture, landscape, nature, travel, world

Between two continents

600_9759_wDid I mention, Iceland is a land of fire? Sure, I did. Many volcanos can be found here, because of its location right on the crack of the north-american earth plate and the european earth-plate. The gap between these two plates become wider each year, thus the distance between Europe and North-America increases. Hey, North-America flees Europe 🙂

Most of the gap is below the atlantic ocean. But, here, in Iceland, you have the option to have your feet on both continents at the same time 🙂

In the image above, I’m standing on a small bridge right above the crack. It’s a quite funny feeling.

In the gallery below, you can find a map and an info board locate beside the bridge as well.

Take care!

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art, Computer, photography, postprocessing, software, technic

A new kid in the block: Aurora HDR

20150729_204950-610_1948_hdr_wIn my previous post on HDR images I already mentioned this new software by MacPhun: Aurora HDR.

I got the opportunity to test it. As I mentioned in that post, I use HDR sometimes to enhance some of my images. Until now, I worked with Photomatix HDR, Luminance HDR, HDR Efex, Oloneo PhotoEngine and the build-in HDR function of Photoshop. All of these are great. So, why another software?

First of all, Aurora HDR can open RAW files. The other tools only work with TIF or JPG files (never try HDR with a bundle of JPG files!!). Next, it will align your images if necessary and remove ghost artifacts as well as chromatic aberrations. It also works great with a single image, although this is not the common situation when it comes to HDR 🙂

The image alignment and ghost artifacts removal functions work really great. The above image consists of 3 single images +/- 1EV and were all shot hand-held, because it was an unplanned shot. Thus, I didn’t have had a tripod with me. While the alignment function shifts the images in layers in a manner, so that all lines are in the exact same positions, the ghost artifact removal function tries the same with moving elements. You know, taking a few images in a row, moving elements (i.e. the people in the above image) are moving further and the software hast to estimate, which parts to keep for the final image and which parts to skip.

The GUI is very similar to the other MacPhun tools, like Tonality, Intensify and so on. In the lower right corner you get a collection of presets grouped in categories as a starting point. At to bottom of your screen, you can see a small preview of a the pre-sets applied to you current image. You can suppress this area, once you have chosen a preset. Now, you work with the sliders on the right of your screen to adjust the settings inherited from the chosen preset. Each change is displayed at once. So, you can see, what you get when changing a setting. An other similarity to the other MacPhun products is, you can work with layers. This is, you can paint an enhancement in parts of the image, while having a different setting for other parts of your image. So, you can work in layers without Photoshop. On the other hand, Aurora HDR will also work as a plugin for Photoshop (just like the other MacPhun products, too)

Although it comes with many presets, I miss some of the typical HDR presets available in the other tools. Those, with the over the top colorful output. OK, I won’t ever use them, but I guess, some guys out there will complain about it. In my opinion, there are enough presets. Finally, you will end up using only a few of them on a regular basis, those fitting most to your personal style. And, you have the option to save your own presets and eventually exchange them with your friends.

Jump over to MacPhun and get your trial. You can also apply for a free seat and attend a webinar to see this software in action. Currently there’s a Black Friday Promo running ’till December 1st.







art, photography, technic

High Dynamic Range Images

dsc_1194-h3e_wA few days ago, I got another interesting kind of photo software from MacPhun: Aurora HDR

HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. Before I start a review of this new software, I want to explain the basics in this concept first.

Dynamic is the variance from brightest to darkest parts of a natural scene, which is visible lossless when looking on it or capturing it in a single frame. Comparing the capabilities of the human eye and a modern digital sensor, you’ll find a huge difference. According to (Source), the human eye (although not the best in nature!) has a dynamic range of about 20 f-stops (out of 23 – a range from starlight lit scenes to white snow in full high standing sun at noon without clouds in the sky). So, you can see details in the dark, even when the surrounding scene is very bright – or vice vera. The sensor of your camera has a dynamic range of 6 – 8 f-stops in jpg files (depending on the quality of your camera). In raw files you’re able to capture dynamic ranges of about 10 – 12 f-stops (also depending of the quality of your camera) . Why jpg-files are so bad and why you should use raw files instead, was the topic for a past post.

But back to our todays topic: HDR. To cope with the reduced dynamic range compared to our natural experience through our own eyes someone invented a technique to capture more information for an image. Therefore you have to take more than one shot of a scene by using several shots of an identical frame, but modify the exposure slightly by shifting the exposure time without changing anything else. You take one correct exposed shot balanced for the mid-tones. Next, you take an under-exposed image (i.e. -1 f-stop) and next an over-exposed image (i.e. +1 f-stop). The under-exposed image represents the highlights, so you should be able to see all the details in the bright partes of the image. In this image all dark parts might be black, but that’s fine for now. The over-exposed image is the opposite of the under-exposed image. Here, you get the details in the dark parts, while the bright parts are blown out and nearly white.

Don’t try to simply adjust your aperture, by changing the f-stop. Although, this results in a modified exposure-time, it also changes the characteristics of the image: the field of depth is changed, while the exposure balance stays the same 😦 That’s not our intention!

You have to use the “+/-“-key on your camera or switch to manual mode, to dial in the corresponding exposure times manually. Keep in mind, +1 f-stop means doubling the exposure time twice (.i.e. 1/100s -> 1/50 -> 1/25s) and -1 f-stop means dividing the time in halves twice  (i.e. 10s -> 5s -> 2.5s).

Just in case, the +/- 1 f-stop images aren’t enough to bring back details in the dark and / or bright parts, try +/- 2 f-stops or come up with a row of five more images (-2, -1, 0, +1, +2). You could also end up with even more than 5 image for a single series. Expand the series as long as you have any black or white parts in you image. Many cameras assist you in here, while marking these parts blinking (the mode is called ‘highlights’ in my camera menu and works only on the small screen on the back of my camera – the image is ok, only the in-camera playback is marked this way). By using this, you can shift the EV in each direction, as long as all of the blinking parts vanish in that direction. I.e. you increase +EV to get the dark details, but in the same moment, you’ll loose more and more highlights. As I said above, that’s ok. Next you increase your series -EV to capture the details in the highlights, by loosing the darks. That’s also ok. You have to increase +EV as long, as there are no blinking dark parts left and you increase -EV as long, as there are no blinking highlights left. You don’t need to increase in thirds, as your camera might step up and down. It’s enough to use the whole numbers as I mentioned earlier. As you might imagine, all of these requires an unchanged camera position! Always use a tripod for this and disable your image stabilizer while the camera is mounted on top of a tripod!

Back at home, take your series of images (usually 3 or more), make your usual corrections (i.e. shifting the horizon) for all images of that series exactly the same way and pay attention to get correct aligned images at this stage. All of them should show exactly the same cutting and the same orientation, convert them to tiff (for preserving all information – never use jpg in this stage) and use a HDR software, just like Aurora HDR from MacPhun (there are more software products available for creating HDR images) to fuse these files to a single balanced image with details in all parts of the image. Croping should be done at the very last step on the final image! And, that’s the point where I’m continuing soon!

For now, I’ve assembled a small gallery of some of my HDR images. Although, there are some photographers out there, who love very intense colors for their HDR images, I don’t do so! I use this technique very mild to get natural looking images.

Take care!

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art, culture, landscape, meeting, nature, people, travel, world


600_9296-e_wÞingvellir or Thingvellir in latin letters, is the place of the parliament and justice of the ancient vikings. The vikings weren’t a nation. They were organized in independent tribes and these tribes organized themselves. They met on a regular schedule to debate about problems, sit in judgment and to decide about laws.

Whenever vikings conquered a land, they picked a place for their “Thing”. Don’t mix this word up with the english word thing. It has a complete different meaning. This place was donated to the gods and the governing assembly of a viking (and also Nordic and Germanic) society. these societies were made up of the free people of the community presided over by lawspeakers. Its meeting-place was called a thing stead.  Thus, you can say, these Germanic societies were an early form of democracy.

Thingvellir is the place where the Icelandic Thing held place. It’s still an important place in the Icelandic society. Here, the Republic of Iceland was founded in 1944.

In the above image you can see the round Thing stead between the church and the three small houses surrounded by a small wall of broken stones. The whole place is located in a wide valley. This is the crack, where the north American continent flees from the European continental plate. But more on this in another post.

Enjoy the gallery below showing some impressions of this historical place.

Take care!

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architecture, art, culture, history, people, seasons, travel, world

Monochrome Madness 2-33

Another week of Monochrome Madness hosted by Leanne Cole.


November is a month of remembrance. Here in Germany, we have two Sundays donated to those past away. Volkstrauertag (Memorial Day – literally the day of mourning for whole nation) is donated to all people of all nations, who died as a result of war. Volkstrauertag was last Sunday. Next Sunday, we have Totensonntag, the Sunday in commemoration of the dead – all dead people. In our tradition, Totensonntag is the last Sunday before the Advent, the preparation for Christmas.

The photo above was taken on the Britisch Cemetery of Corfu, in Corfu Town, back in May.

Take care!


culture, history, landscape, street, travel, world

Street signs of Iceland

600_9203_wEach country has its own distinct street signs. While most street signs are standardized nowadays, some signs are still local. Here I collected some of the street signs of Iceland and put them in the gallery below. I guess, you will understand most of them at once.

The most funny one, in my opinion, is the zebra crossing for divers. Other noticeable ones are the warning of free running sheep or the warning of attacks by breeding birds next to the street. They even attack passing cars. Very Amazing!

Very interesting is the huge blue map, meant to help you finding the small hamlets and villages somewhere in the nowhere.

Take care!

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art, landscape, nature, photography, postprocessing

Monochrome Madness 2-32


It’s time for another Monochrome Madness hosted by Leanne Cole. Have fun and don’t forget to the check out the other photographers contributions.

Today, I have an image for you, which is kind of typical for November although it’s taken two weeks ago in the early morning of October, 28th at 6:42 a.m. It’s the full moon above a foggy landscape.

When the Romans tried to conquer the parts of Europe north of the Alps about 2.000 years ago, they were confronted with huge dark and dense forests. Because of the Gulf stream, central Europe has a quite mild, but wet climate.* Rain falls down and the forests give back parts of the moisture by sweating fog. For the common sun pampered roman soldiers, these conditions were very frightening. Finally, they were unable to conquer the parts east of the river Rhine, despite their endeavors and they paid a very high price for their efforts. West of the river Rhine the landscape wasn’t forested as east of the river. So, they were able to found several cities in todays France and in todays Germany along the west bank of river Rhine: i.e. Trier, Cologne, Xanten to name a few of them.

Nowadays, we don’t have so much forests anymore. Thus, we have thick fogs ‘only’ in fall and spring. Although, they can occur during summer, too, but only on very distinct weather conditions and only very local.

Take care!

* Imagine, New York is located nearly parallel to Rome in Italy. Rome is locate yet 1° further north than New York, that’s about 111 km. And while New York suffers from snow each winter, Rome almost never sees any snow flake. That’s a result of the Gulf stream.

Rome        41° 53′ N, 12° 29′ O
New York  40° 43′ N, 74° 0′ W

and I’m living about 1,100 km north of Rome

art, world

Some more products

korfukalender2A few days ago, the first product of mine is available at the Zazzle platform.

They deliver internationally, often via local printshops. The front page is also available in several local languages, such as German, Spanish or French. In the lower, right corner you can find the link “worldwide” to select your country.

At the moment you can get there my Corfu photo calendar in German and English. Some more product will follow during the next few weeks. Check it out!

Stay tuned!


architecture, art, food, General, landscape, nature, photography, travel, world

WPC: Ornate

600_7439-e_wThis week’s topic for the weekly photo challenge by “The Daily Post” is “ornate”

Who is the one, who owns the crown in being a genius of decorating architecture way over the top? Antonio Gaudi!


Take care!

(as usual, you can see the photo enlarged, when clicking in it)

art, landscape, nature, photography, postprocessing

Monochrome Madness 2-31

mm31-610_7840-epcb_wThis week Monochrome Madness hosted by the Australian photographer Leanne Cole has a specific theme. It’s clouds.

Clouds are quite special. They bring structure in a dull gray sky or may pop out in bright white on a sunny day. When thinking of photographing clouds, you might think first of beautiful illuminated clouds at sunset. But, in monochrome there are way more situations for beautiful clouds. Have a look on a past post, when I compared a shot developed in color to the same shot in bw. Another kind of cloud-photography you can often find in fineart and architecture photography: long exposures.

For a better contrast, you should use a yellow-filter in front of your lens. This filter works on the color spectrum inside the natural ‘white’ light. The gray tones are moved (other colored filters would do the same, but working on different colors). That part of the light, that has the same color of the filter, is intensified (that means: becomes brighter), while the complement color is alleviated (which means: becomes darker). This effect is very welcomed in black-and-white photography to get a certain mood in the resulting image.

Back to our yellow filter. How does it work? Yellow becomes brighter, while blue becomes darker. So, white clouds pop out of a dark sky.

Why should you do this? Black-and-white film (and software, too, when not correcting this), get too bright skies without much structure. A quite dull image!

Other possible filters are colored in orange, green, red and blue. Each of them works on the mentioned color to brighten it and on the complementing color to darken it. Each of them has its certain field of work. The yellow filter, instead, is the most commonly used filter in landscape photography.

Although not photographers, you can find the effect also in movies by i.e. Alfred Hitchcock or Leni Riefenstahl.

Take care!