landscape, nature, photo-of-the-day, photography

Lens-Artists Photo Challange 159: “Postcards”

We’re having a very interesting theme this week for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge hosted this time by Ana Campo, a guest host.

Over the last years, the traditional mail volume decreased, because our communications habits changed in accordance with the technical development. Most people have email and computers or at least a smartphone. Instead of writing on paper, we’re typing on a virtual or physical keyboard and sending out text messages or emails. Even invoices are arriving electronically. First countries already started to deliver mail less frequently.  While we usually don’t get any mail on Mondays, I got news about Denmark, where mail is supposed to be delivered only once a week. The postmen now have more than one area to deliver the mail: each day in a different area.

According to statistics, I saw recently, the only kind of mail increasing in volume is the postcard.  More and more people travel. Although even images are sent in huge numbers each day from one end of the world to the other. But, to make proof of having been on vacation, sending a postcard seems to be the only valid proof. So, whatever your vacation destination is, you go to buy a local postcard with a stamp and write a couple of meaningful paragraphs to describe the beauty of your chosen location (even if it is the worst place you’ve ever been) to make the recipient envy.

I’m also usually sending 5 postcards. Not to make my family envy, but to get some niche mail to the recipient’s postbox and send them kind of a smile in the face. But, quite often I stood in front of a postcard stand unable to pick a postcard because all of them were soooo ugly. In the end, I’ve chosen the least ugly ones. I’m also using a postcard app every now and then. I like creating postcards with my own images on my mobile and sending them via email or text message service. One of the apps has a very funny feature: it sets a virtual postmark on the virtual stamp by naming date and city based on the GPS location data of your location while creating the virtual postcard. But, that’s unfortunately not the same as a physical postcard. (click on the image to see it better)

At home, we have a twine in the kitchen, right above the kitchen door, where we hang up all postcards arriving over a year with small clothespins. Unfortunately, the twine is currently nearly empty because nearly no-one was traveling over about the last 2 years.

Another option I used every now and then is a postcard printing service. I’m creating a postcard with an app on my mobile with my own photos, typing in the address of the recipient and the message. The service company prints the postcard and sends it via postal service to the recipient. This is great when being domestic on vacation. When traveling internationally, it’s not so good, because the stamp won’t fit the country you’re traveling in.

Sometimes I’m also using a piece of software on my computer to create postcards. Especially, when I plan to send them online. The app on my mobile is not bad, but the options are quite limited.

Today, I’m sending you a picture postcard. It’s not from LA, because I’m not Joshua Kadison. It’s from the small town, where I used to spend a big part of live, although not my hometown.

 

Each year in September, when not having a pandemic around, a funfair comes to town for an extended weekend. Therefore our old town is decorated with old clothing as you can see in the upper left image. This image was even added to our state library as a document of traditional habits and customs a few years ago. The upper right is taken in May when blooming Japanese Cherries are decorating the streets. The lower right image shows the castle near the town in winter. Up to the 1960s, the descendants of the original owner were still living there. Now, it’s owned by the city government and hosts a museum and a great hall is used for civil weddings. The 3 images on the lower left are also parts of the old-town, and in the middle one, you can see the maypole with the signets of the 13 neighborhoods.

I hope, you enjoyed the postcard. Remember, you can enlarge the images by clicking on it.

For finding such images in your archive, Excire Foto is a big help. When using EXCIREFIRE20 at checkout you can save 20%.

Take care!

animals, bird, photography, wildlife

Throwback Thursday: Ghost bike

 

I’m not living in an area where riding a bike is that common, because I live in a mountainous region. Even in my state, we have a couple of cities and regions where biking is extremely popular. Despite in the cities and regions, where biking is normal, the streets are equipped with bike roads, and so on, accidents happen there as well as in other regions. Usually, the remains from such an accident are removed quite fast. So, you can’t notice it after a few days. Sometimes you can late find it only as records in the insurance or court files.

From movies and music videos, I knew the idea of setting up a ghost bike as a memorial. But, I haven’t seen one here in Germany. Neither in the regions where biking is popular nor in the region, where I live. About 3 or 4 years ago, I spotted one beside a street in a biking region. Unfortunately, it was impossible to stop. Earlier this year I spotted one in one of our neighboring towns. It’s on the side of a 4 lane main road. Especially at rush hour, the cars queue up and traffic jams are not a rare occurrence. The sign near the saddle gives us a little information about the victim who died here at the age of 47.

I managed to stop and take a photo on an early Sunday morning when coming back from a sunrise photo trip. The road is divided by a platform here, where I was safe to take a photo with a telephoto lens. I waited a couple of minutes to have a moving car in the frame to stress the idea of a bike hitten by a car. Accidentally catching a red one was perfect.

Take care!

 

landscape, nature, photo-of-the-day, photography, spring, travel, world

Travel Tuesday: welcome to the Fairy Glen


This is Castle Ewen. Not a real castle or ruins of a former man-made building. Instead, it’s a rock. But, shaped like a tower of a castle.

The tradition says it’s built by the little folk also known as elves living in this glen (valley). On the other hand, geologists say, it’s created by glaciers. Decide your own, which explanation you take. Either way, enjoy the beauty of the valley and respect nature.

Leave nothing but footprints (without harming plants) and take nothing but photos and memories!

Take care!

 

landscape, nature, photo-of-the-day, photography

Lens-Artists Photo Challange 158: “Along back country roads”

This week we have another guest host for The Lens-Artists Photo challenge: Beth. She reminds us, to not only discover the cities or national parks, where everyone goes to. Instead, discover the beauty of the backcountry or hinterland. Btw. hinterland is a borrowed word from German and means, you guess it, hinterland or as the Aussies would say outback.

 

 

For finding such images in your archive, Excire Foto is a big help. When using EXCIREFIRE20 at checkout you can save 20%.

Take care!

culture, nature, review, travel, world

Throwback Thursday: The flooding in July 2021 in Western Germany

Currently, Europe is parted into two. A line is drawn from north to south from Finland to Italy. While the regions east of the line are ruled by heat, the western half is suffering from cold.

Hot air can carry more moisture than cold air. So, the moisture comes down as rain in the area where both air masses are meeting. In addition, the high-pressure area and the low-pressure area are very stable and don’t move. Instead, the rain comes down over and over again for days in nearly the same place: in western North-Rhine Westphalia and north-west Rhineland-Palatinate, two German states near the borders to Belgium and the southern Netherlands.

After a nice start into summer end of May, the weather changed by early June. It became colder and the rain began to fall. End of June, the first extreme rain appeared here in the region. A friend of mine reported an overflooded underground car park in his newly built apartment building. Fortunately, they were able to save all cars ahead of the flooding.

Because of the constant and sometimes havier rainfalls, the lakes, rivers, and creeks were already full and the ground was already saturated with water.

Tuesday last week, the weather forecast announced another heavy rain field. For about 120-150 km long and 30-50 km wide. You can see the size in the left map below. Btw. I’m located right in the middle of the pink area. Find Düsseldorf, our state capitol, and take the letter ‘o’. Now, move up and see the horseshoe-like bend of the river Ruhr. I’m near the right side inside the area. The color indicates the amount of rain in mm per 24 hours. Up to 200 liters of water were have been falling per square meter, but no-one said to the people move their valuable belongings to higher places or even leave the area completely. The situation was recognized early enough to warn. Warnings were even sent out, but the people didn’t understand the warnings.

You can find these maps, created by Deutscher Wetter Dienst (DWD), in their official Twitter account. DWD is the official German Meteorological Service.

The next images are not mine. I got them via Facebook. It’s a city quarter of a neighboring town. This place is only about 15 km east of us as the bird flies after only a few hours of rain. The stones are the result of a landslide. It looks bad, but other areas west of us were hit even harder. You can find an article on Wikipedia with a couple of images and containing also descriptions from other affected regions.

The area west of Bonn was hit the hardest. A few smaller towns and city quarters are literally wiped away. Either, because rivers re-conquered stolen land (people built houses in riparian areas or water meadows) or by landslides when the soaked soil slipped down the hillsides. In the town of Erftstadt, we had to watch another phenomenon: in the flat area, the river Erft left the bed and flooded the fields used by farmers to grow food. Unfortunately, the ground wasn’t stable. So, the soil was washed away and left a huge and rising crate, several meters deep. This crate swallowed even complete houses while widening. The only image I found online showing this, is the header photo in this article:

https://www.faz.net/aktuell/gesellschaft/ungluecke/hochwasser-in-erftstadt-dramatische-lage-und-tote-nach-hauseinstuerzen-17440280.html

Among very few hours, creeks with usually one 30cm of water were able to grow up to several meters of water. One river with usually 60cm was reported to grow up 8 meters!!!! Despite this vast amount of water, about 24 hours later nearly all of the water was gone. Only the devastation remained. Many, many people lost everything, including their houses. About 172 are reported up to now even lost their lives here in Germany and 31 in Belgium. While 155 people in Germany are still missed. Yesterday evening the last alarms were deactivated. All the danger points are secured. Fortunately, there was no additional rain. But, many parts in the affected area still don’t have electric power, telephone, water supply, and cellular mobile telephony. Reconstruction works will last months and I guess, some people, having lost everything, will move away.

The railway company announced 600km of railways were destroyed (7 tracks) and 80 stations. No-one knows up to now how many streets and motorways are damaged or completely destroys. Not counting the pipes for water and natural gas, the wires for telephony, internet, and electric power, or the animals (wild and farm animals).

The most affected area also includes an important wine-producing area and vacation spots.

The town, where I live, wasn’t affected. First, we don’t have a river or a lake (not in town nor uphill). Second, The hills are covered with houses. So, the soil couldn’t slip away. Third, some years ago, our city government enlarged the canalization system. Luckily, it was big enough to cope with all the additional water.

I didn’t write anything about Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxemburg, and France. I’m not ignoring them. The reason is, our news didn’t broadcast much about their suffering from the flooding. So, I simply don’t know enough to write about. I only know, the Belgium area bordering the hardest hit German area was also hit very hard. I suspect the people are facing the same problems as they do here.

This last weekend. Germany was hit again: in Bavaria and Saxonia further floodings happened with similar effects as I already described.

I’m so glad for not being affected and feel very sorry for all the affected people wherever they lived. Although this isn’t the first flooding in Germany, it’s IMHO the biggest and the first (?) one in our state. I assume it won’t be the last one.

I just got the forecast for the next thunderstorm to be arriving this weekend, which is expected to hit the already pained region again. 😭

Take care!

landscape, nature, photo-of-the-day, photography, spring, travel, world

Travel Tuesday: even sheep build roads

You can see horizontal lines at the side of the central hill in the image. These are sheep roads. Sheep like it easy and they find the easiest way to climb a hill. Over time, these small roads appear, where sheep regularly roam.

When hiking in an area where sheep roam freely, like in Iceland or Scotland, and you want to go up- or downhill, look out for these sheep roads and follow them. Sheep have found the easiest way to walk uphill or downhill because they are kind of lazy. So, they try to avoid unnecessary efforts. In this image, all the roads are in horizontal directions, but you can also find them leading up and down.

Take care!

 

landscape, nature, photo-of-the-day, photography

Lens-Artists Photo Challange 157: “Getting away”

Another guest host for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. This week’s subject is nominated by Rusha Sams. “Getting away” is a harder one and I really needed the time ahead to get an idea of what to post.

First I had to understand and find my own way of interpreting the topic. You can try to escape from a danger, but you can also refer to a transportation vehicle. Finally, I stayed with ‘travel’.

There are many options to get away: by foot, by train, by bike, by ship, by car, by plane, or by a couple of further possibilities. When I read this week’s topic first, I had a hard time finding suitable images. Excire helped me very much. Typing in the keyword ‘travel’ gave me nearly 400 matches to choose from.

Enjoy the images. Remember you can enlarge them by clicking on one of them as usual.

 

For finding such images in your archive, Excire Foto is a big help. When using EXCIREFIRE20 at checkout you can save 20%.

Take care!

animals, bird, insect, photography, wildlife

Throwback Thursday: purple heron

purple heron (Ardea purpurea) / Purpurreiher

This was really a challenge. According to Google maps and my EXIF data, the nest was about 74m away from my camera. I knew this would be a difficult job, but I expected it to be a bit easier.

A few couples of these very rare herons (at least in Germany – and they are listed in the red part of the IUCN list; meaning they are currently not endangered, but the numbers are decreasing) set up their nests at the edge of a small lake, right in the front row of the reed. The nests are visible from a hiking path and the plants have enough natural gaps of several meters each to easily set up your camera and have a quite good sight. So far, so good. I was also told, to bring a binocular.

After a hike of approximately 45 minutes, we reached the lake. Whan a scene: I saw the lake, the water, hundreds of nests of black-headed gulls in the water, and the ocean of reed as a background of the scene. Did you notice a hint of the purple herons? Me, neither! A friend of mine, a local and being our guide on this trip, pointed to the other side of the lake. Over there, they are! I didn’t notice one. There are a few nests, one beside another. I still was staring at the scene without seeing them. “Take your binocular.” Still no success. “OK, set up your camera and I’m pointing it to one of the nests”. Hey, there they were!!!!!

They are smaller than grey herons (only 70-90 cm long and with 107-143 cm wingspan instead of 90-98 cm length and 175-195 cm wingspan) and despite their intense coloring, they are melting into the surroundings. Not visible, when you not know, they were there and where they are standing or sitting. After I got the first nest in sight, it was quite easy to see the other, too. In my opinion, there were about 10 nests. The nests seem to be founded on some buckled reeds between 20 and 70 cm above the waterline. Surprisingly, some were still building the nests, while others already had quite big nestlings, as you can see in the image above.

The above image is already a crop in post-processing. It is taken with an 800mm lens attached to a camera with an APS-C sensor resulting in 1200mm as their 35mm equivalent. The camera was attached to my tripod by a gimbal. The other guy accompanying me also bought an APS-C camera, but only a 150-600mm lens. With that combo, he only got stamp-like herons. Fortunately, his camera matched my lens too, so I loaned it to him.

Take care!