art, landscape, nature, photography, travel, world

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge 233: “A one lens walk”

This week, Anne is our host for Lens-Artist’s photo challenge. She invites us to a photo walk with only one lens. The idea of doing so is quite old and goes back to the film days when zoom lenses became increasingly popular. In those days, some (many) images taken by non-pros became boring. They overused the ability to zoom into a scene. The advice was (and still is) to use your feet. The famous photographer Roper Capa once said, if your photo is not good enough, you were not close enough. That’s the reason for the advice “go on a walk with only one lens”. Each focal length has its own characteristics. So, when having only one (prime) lens, you have to think about composition more carefully. Thus, this advice is a kind of exercise for your photographic eye and is meant to help to develop your composition abilities.

My first camera was a fixed-lens film camera for 126er film cassettes. Next, I got a 35mm focal length film compact class camera. My first lens for my first SLR was a zoom lens: 35-70mm, later accomplished by an 80-200mm.

Nowadays with all the mega-zooms, the advise is more and more important to improve your photography skills. When you don’t have a prime lens, you can also fix the focal length to a certain focal length with a piece of duct tape or go out with your smartphone, as their cameras usually don’t have the ability to zoom in. Limiting yourself can help a lot. Give it a try.

A few years ago, I led a Photo Walk. I limited myself and went with a 35mm prime lens. You can see some of the results here.

As I sold all of my primes last year, I took my standard zoom (24-120), fixed it to 35mm, put my warm jacket and my boots on, and went out for about half an hour. My first photo walk this year.

Thursday last week, we were surprised by some snow. But it didn’t last long. By Friday nearly all of the snow was gone. Only a few heaps at the roadsides remained where people shoveled the snow from sidewalk removals. But, last night some fresh snow fell and there was still some fine snow falling while I was outside.

Click on the images to enlarge them.

 

Near the end of the walk, I removed the fixture and allowed some other focal lengths.

I love especially this lens. It gives me the freedom to walk with only one lens when i.e. on a city trip or a photo walk. But, I don’t want to miss my others: a 12mm + a 20mm prime, my 105 macro, and of course the long telephoto lenses for wildlife photography.

The new 24-120 is so good in comparison to the old one, that I even sold my holy trinity: 35 f2.0, 50 f1.8, and 85 f1.8. Those three lenses were constructed back in the film days, when it was impossible to correct distortions or uneven sharpnesses in the camera like it is possible nowadays when photographing digitally. (In case, you’re curious about what I’m talking about: take an image with lines in it in RAW format, transfer it to your computer, and view it with the automatic lens correction turned off. Now wonder, how badly the image looks. Even very expensive lenses have that problem. It’s much cheaper for the manufacturer to maintain additional firmware to be installed on the camera to apply the necessary corrections to the jpg than to spend money to do a proper job in lens construction. To have similar good corrected images when using 3rd party lenses (lenses from other manufacturers than from the camera’s brand), computer software comes into action, which is able to do the corrections. Software published by the camera manufacturer only supports their lenses. Commercial software like Lightroom, Photolab, or Luminar is able to do this. But, there is also free software available on the Internet: RawTherapee or Darktable.

Photographing in raw and using such software is nowadays more than ever necessary when using compatible (3rd party) lenses for your camera besides the other pros!

Maybe, I was able to inspire you to dig in your archive and find some images, you can publish your images on your blog and set a link to Anne’s inspiration post. Don’t forget to tag it with LENS-ARTIST, so we can find it.

Take care!

photography, summer, travel, world

Throwback Thursday: Hermannsdenkmal (Hermann’s memorial)

This memorial is dedicated to Hermann aka Arminius (appr. 17 b.c. – 21 a.c.), the son of a chieftain of the Cherusker people. There’s not much known about him. As a child, he was taken from his parents and brought to Rome to educate him and make him a real Roman. He learned well and joined the army. As he was quite talented the Romans sent him back to the region he originated from and made him the leader of a military auxiliaries troop of locals.

After a while, he was able to persuade the locals to fight against the Romans. His troop was responsible to protect the roman army and their civil staff on their way back from the wild area east of the river Rhine back to the fortified cities east of the river Rhine, a trip the roman army did each fall to stay in the cities for winter and not in tents.

On this trip, the track was attacked by the Cheruskers and maybe also other tribes. It seems, no Roman soldier or civilian was able to escape as there are nearly no reports available.

For a few years, archaeologists are pretty sure about the place of that battle because of the found artifacts. Before, there were a few other possible places considered. Nowadays we know, this monument is not in the right place. It’s approximately 100km south of the site, where roman remains were found, which seem to be left after that crushing battle about 2000 years ago. 

On a scouting trip this summer, I used the opportunity to visit this place with my wife. We were there for the first time. It’s a small place, but with an impressive history. I’m not very happy about the look, the mood, and the appearance of the memorial. But, considering the time when the memorial was planned and constructed, I have to admit, it fits in the time. Not only in Germany these glorifying and heroizing monuments and buildings were set up. You can find similar buildings in all parts of the western world.   

While I already used parts of the text above on Monday for Monochrome Monday, I have a total of the memorial for you today. It was built from 1838 until 1875. The whole memorial is 53,46 meter high, while the statue alone has 26,57 meters. Until the Statue of Liberty in New York was built in 1886, this monument was the highest in the western world.

The memorial is set up on top of a 386 meters high hill in a way, that Hermann can look in the plains down to his feet. You reach the memorial from the back. To look in Hermann’s face, you have to pass the memorial and walk downstairs to a terrasse and turn around, like I did for this photo. Otherwise, you can already see him from the plains below. But, nowadays it’s not so easy anymore to see the memorial from the plains because the trees grew since the 19th century.

You can even climb up the memorial. Right below Hermann’s feet is a balcony surrounding the statue. You can even climb up inside the statue up to the face. I skipped climbing up the memorial because of the still unclear situation with COVID-19 at that time.

Take care!

 

culture, photo-of-the-day, photography

Monochrome Monday 9-36

I want to introduce you to Hermann aka Arminius (appr. 17 b.c. – 21 a.c.), the son of a chieftain of the Cherusker people. There’s not much known about him. As a child, he was taken from his parents and brought to Rome to educate him and make him a real Roman. He learned well and joined the army. As he was quite talented the Romans sent him back to the region he originated from and made him the leader of a military auxiliaries troop of locals.

After a while, he was able to persuade the locals to fight against the Romans. His troop was responsible to protect the roman army and their civil staff on their way back from the wild area east of the river Rhine back to the fortified cities east of the river Rhine, a trip the roman army did each fall to stay in the cities for winter and not in tents.

On this trip, the track was attacked by the Cheruskers and maybe further tribes. It seems, no one was able to escape as there are nearly no reports available.

For a few years, archaeologists are quite sure about the place of that battle because of the found artifacts. Before, there were a few further possible places considered. This monument, set up in the late 19th century, is not in the right place. It’s approximately 100km south of the place, where roman remains were found, which seem to be left after that crushing battle about 2000 years ago. 

On a scouting trip this summer, I used the opportunity to visit this place with my wife. We were there for the first time. 

Take care!

 

art, landscape, nature, photography, travel, world

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge 232: “Looking back”

This week, Sophia is our host for Lens-Artist’s photo challenge. The new year inspired her to look back and recognize what changed over time.

When I read her inspirational post yesterday, I started considering how to respond.

In the beginning, many millennia ago, our farthest ancestors took water and clay or mud in their mouths and either sprayed the substance against the walls and ceilings of caves or used fingers and twigs to apply it. They created iconic images from animals around them and from themselves or sprayed negative shadows of their hands. Unfortunately, I can’t find an example of these taken nearly 40 years ago on an analog slide film when I was visiting such a cave.

Then, painting seems to be not important for thousands of years until it got rediscovered by some whimsical people. As their ancestors, they had to create their paint them. They used minerals, saps, and different kinds of clay and mud to create different colors and reinvented the art of painting.

Nowadays, we can simply go to a grocery store and buy watercolors, crayons, or felt pens. Artists instead,  go to special stores to buy the raw materials for their paints to have the highest possible quality to express their imagination.

choose the right pen

 

Find your style!

 

work carefully

 

regardless if your model sits or stands right in front of you or creating a painting from a small photo

 

some artists invent something new like painting with coffee

 

even the style of painting developed over time. From simple lines to complex scenes and even capturing certain lighting situations

In recent times, another new style developed: street-art

The first paintings were assumingly intended for religious purposes. About 500 years ago, religious and political leaders started demanding portraits created showing themselves. Starting from the 18th century painting found their way to the houses of the common people. By the middle of the last century, a new kind of art came even closer to all common people’s lives: street-art, art in the streets, sometimes covering a complete wall of a large house or building. While the first pieces were considered as daub and scribbling, over time the technics developed further and even the acceptance by people as long as the artists got permission in advance of creating their paintings. Now you can find some of these paintings in many cities.

 

Although, some of the quite modern pieces seem to remind of their roots millennia ago.

 

lines

and hands

This is also quite old kind of painting: street painting. I can remember to have seen such artists in the pedestrian areas of bigger cities when I was a child. They were painting on the boardwalk to collect money to make their living. This one was taken during the street art festival I visited last summer.

afraid of water

 

Maybe, I was able to inspire you to dig in your archive and find some images, you can publish your images on your blog and set a link to Sophia’s inspiration post. Don’t forget to tag it with LENS-ARTIST, so we can find it.

Take care!

art, photography, review

My yearbook arrived!

It’s a tradition to create a yearbook by the end of each year containing the essence of the past year. This book does not necessarily have the best images taken during the given year. Instead, it’s a review of the year. I’m trying to have images from significant activities like trips, vacations, and special events to remind me of these activities.

I just got the book. The book has 100 pages and to create it, I worked through my images from 2022 again. In the past, I already explained the process of how I narrow down the images to find the essence of the relevant year. This year this wasn’t different. But, the number of images was quite high because of the number of wildlife images i.e. from Namibia.

 

I really love this type of photobook for creating my yearbook, although the manufacturer is quite expensive and the software running inside the web browser is very inflexible and kind of a torture to use. Having this kind of front page is unique and only available from that one company.

 

This is, how my yearbook looked before I got to know that manufacturer respectively before they came up with the cut-out year numbers. You read right, the numbers are cut out and you can see an individual image behind the digits. The chestnut on the front of the black book below is also created that way. But it’s less attractive than having the year named on the front and seeing my own images shining through the digits.

These yearbooks are a fantastic opportunity to remember the really important activities or trips in a certain year like vacations or photo outings.

Now I have a few pages from my 2022 yearbook to show you, how such pages look like. Each page is approximately DIN A4 (= 21×29,7 cm = appx. 8,27×11,7 in). You can click on the images below to enlarge them.

I don’t use photo paper or lay-flat bindings for my books anymore. First, lay-flat binding is only possible with thick pages. These pages look more like card-box than book pages. Next, when using photo paper, the pages often stick so tight to each other that you risk damaging the pages when haven’t looked through the book for some time.  In addition, I don’t like the thicker material when turning the pages and the glossy surface creates disturbing reflections that make it hard to watch the images. Thus, I use digital print and regular paper.

The books are usually more or less chronologically created and the contents of both sides should (have to) complement each other. I also try to ensure the same dominating colors and/or mood/ambiance on both sides.

In total, the creation process took about a week. Not full-time 😊. As I explained on the other page, I copy all developed images into a special folder of my disk and make sure the filenames follow the same structure: YYYYMMMDDD_hhmmss-xxxxxx.jpg. So, they are already in the right order. Next, I’m resetting the star ratings. This time, there were nearly 4,000 images in the folder. Now, I start rating the images again. In the end, there were 2,000 left with 1 star. The next day, I reviewed the images rated with one star again and ended with 300 having now two stars. On the next day, I reviewed these 300 again and gave 3 stars to the keepers. In case, there are still too many images in the folder, a fourth and fifth iteration can help.

Thus I ended with 150 images to populate the book 😀. The final steps are uploading the images to the web and placing them on the pages, reviewing the final product, putting it in the shopping cart, checking it out, paying, waiting for delivery, and enjoying the final product after delivery.

Maybe, I was able to inspire you to dig in your archive and find some images, you can publish your images on your blog and set a link to John’s inspiration post. Don’t forget to tag it with LENS-ARTIST, so we can find it.

Although it’s a lot of work, I love this process. A whole year gathered right at my fingertips and considering, which of the images represents a valuable memory. A few years ago, I told you about two mice (scroll down that page to find it).

There’s a kid’s tale about a group of mice. All of them were working hard during summer and fall to collect food for the winter. But, one of them was not working that hard as the others did. Instead, he was looking around for the sun, the green grass, the colorful leaves in fall, and listened to the wind and the birds. The other mice were complaining to get the one mouse to help them. I do, the one mouse said. I’m collecting memories. And when the dark and cold winter days came, he was able to cheer the other up by telling them about the warmer days. He told them, how the wind sounded and smelled. Which colors the leaves have had and how the sun rays felt on their backs. That way all of them survived the hard winter.

That’s what I do, I’m collecting memories. Memories are important. Today, I’m about to go out and travel. A time might come when I’m not able to do so either because of a lack of money or because of health problems. When I was much younger I was told, what you have learned, can nobody steal. First hand this sounds right. But, in the meantime, I know about a thief stealing your memories: dementia. Several years ago, my wife lost her mother first to dementia, then her father. This disease is cruel. Not only to the victim but also to the people around them, friends and family. The disease attacks the victim’s brain. The most recent memories die first. That way, the victim goes back in time. At some point their children will no longer be recognized, then their partner. Sometimes it can happen, a child might be addressed by the name of a victim’s sibling or parent because of the family similarity. You know, my wife is working in a pension home as a care assistant and works with elderly people to keep their brains active as long as possible. So, she is quite often faced with the symptoms of this cruel disease. A person might have recognized her yesterday during her visit, but today she is completely unknown to the person.

A yearbook can bring back some memories, just like told in the story of the mice. Looking at images taken during a beach vacation can bring back memories i.e. how the sand felt when walking bare feet along the surf, how the air smelt when leaving the plane, or the taste of a wonderful dish at a warm night in a restaurant near the harbor. I guess you can name many more similar memorable events. File them and keep them to cheer you up when you need a cheer.

Although it takes more room, it’s still usable without any technical device. Different from a book with images taken on a certain trip or event, the yearbook represents all memorable events of a year and can tell, what you have done during that year. Don’t get me wrong, I also have a lot of books dedicated to certain destinations and I really love them. But, the yearbook has the essence, distilled from the bulk.

Take care!

 

art, landscape, nature, photography, travel, world

Monochrome Monday 9-35 and Lens-Artists Photo Challenge 231: “Favorite Images of 2022″

A new year also means reviewing the past year. As a good tradition, I already did it under two different aspects. First, I published my “Top 9 of Instagram” and second, I picked my favorites from six categories.

Today, I’m presenting my top monochrome images.

Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe

 

a hippopotamus swimming in the Okavango river

 

wooden gears inside an ancient wooden windmill

 

a bud of Nigella damascena, love-in-a-mist, or devil in the bush (Nigella damascena) / Jungfer im Grünen (literally: damsel in the green = countryside)

 

Staircase inside an education center

 

Maybe, I was able to inspire you to dig in your archive and find some images, you can publish your images on your blog and set a link to John’s inspiration post. Don’t forget to tag it with LENS-ARTIST, so we can find it.

Take care!

 

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landscape, nature, photography, review, travel

2022 in review or “The Best of 2022”

It’s a tradition to create a yearbook by the end of each year containing the essence of the past year. This book does not necessarily have the best images taken during the given year. Instead, it’s a review of the year. I’m trying to have images from each significant activity like trips, vacations, and special events to remind me of these activities.

I just finished the book and I hope to have it in my hands when this post is published. The book has 100 pages and to create it, I worked through my images from 2022 again. In the past, I already explained the process of how I narrow down the images to find the essence of the relevant year. This year this wasn’t different. But, the number of images was quite high because of the number of wildlife images i.e. from Namibia.

This time, I don’t want to simply select my most loved 10 images or so. Instead, I want to show you the most memorable image from 2022 in a few categories.

1. birds

I saw so many amazing birds in Namibia and got so many really impressive images. I also got images from the white-tailed eagle (and here), cranes in flight, European spoonbills, a hunting common kestrel, and the first sight of an osprey. But, I decided to this hunting Southern Carmine bee-eater. Different from their relatives, the kingfishers, they are hunting for big insects like dragonflies, beetles, moths, and butterflies. I captured this guy in Namibia. They were capturing the insects from the surface of the river. While the kingfishers are plunging into the water to catch fish, the bee-eaters only scratch the surface to catch the insects flying close above the water or even swim or run over the water. Nevertheless, they get wet and have to dry up their plumage in one of the trees aside from the river.

Southern Carmine bee-eater (Merops nubicoides) – Scharlachspint

 

2. nature

the fantastic blue-bells in spring.

 

3. landscape

I’ve seen so many documentaries about this river, but I’ve never imagined going there one day. And now, I have to say, I’ve been there. OK, I’ve not been to the river delta in Botswana. But, I traveled the Okavango river for a few hours.

Okavango river

4. reportage

I already wrote a bit about this image. Follow the link above to find it.

 

 

5. street

I already wrote about the background of this image. Follow the link above to find it. I really love, how the painted face looks at the painter while creating him.

6. wildlife

Although we saw lions, hyenas, jackals, bathing elephants, dancing giraffes, and hugging zebras besides warthogs, wildebeests, and uncountable antelopes, this leopard with her (or his?) prey (an antelope) up there in the tree, is my absolute favorite this year.

 

How about you? Do you create yearbooks? Do you publish a year review in your blog? If so, put a link in the comments and a link to my post somewhere in your post as a reference. I’m curious to see your favorites 😃.

Take care!

 

architecture, photo-of-the-day, photography, spring, travel, urban, world

Travel Tuesday: Ol’ MacDonald’s graveyard

 

 

Take care! 

 

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culture, landscape, nature, photo-of-the-day, photography, plants, seasons, winter

Monochrome Monday 9-34

Happy New Year!

The calendar says it’s January now. January means we’re in the middle of winter in the northern hemisphere and winter is related to snow.

Freshly fallen snow lays on the ground like untouched and clean linen. The same is true for the first day(s) of a new year. Everything is still unclear and uncertain. Although some topics might already have been planned, everything still has to happen.

Take care!

 

culture

Happy New Year!

Another year reached its end. Another year dominated by special regulations due to the Covid19 pandemic. Although some scientists and politicians declare the pandemic for being over, I don’t think so. IMHO the virus stays and is part of our common life now. Vaccinations are still necessary, especially for kids.

Fortunately, the rate of serious infections is quite low, at least in western countries as well as in those countries willing to cooperate with them. But, nevertheless, everyone is due to take care of their own health by protecting themselves from getting infected. Thus, face masks will probably remain just the way it is common in a couple of Asian countries for years already, and facemasks are even produced by major fashion labels.

So, I’m wishing you the very best for 2023: health and wealth. Health for being able to enjoy life with your family and friends and wealth for heaving the necessary funds either by earning them from your job or from your pension fund in case you’ve already retired.

I selected this image from my archive taken a couple of years ago. Before sunrise, I was already hidden in a hide waiting for the sunlight to wake up the cranes standing in the shallow water in front of me about a hundred meters away. Cranes are considered of being birds of happiness and luck. Me, that morning definitely brought happiness to me. Many of the birds started flying straight in my direction, just like the ones in the image above.

May they also bring some luck for you for the new year.

Take care!