art, photography

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge 205: “The eyes have it”

This week, Tina has found a very challenging topic for The Lens-Artist’s Photo Challenge: The eyes have it

Yes, eyes can have a message and you have to be able to read it. For the gallery below, I picked some images from my archive, where the eyes have a message. For us, the mimic is an essential part of our communication. Faces are something a baby can recognize very early. And even as adults, we see faces very easily in everyday things around us, like clouds, tree barks, blossoms, and so on. Even some animals have eyes-like patterns on their bodies like i.e. the peacock butterfly. Other animals have, from our point of view, quite strange eyes. I was even searching for an image with a sheep’s or a goat’s eye but failed to find one.

The first image in the second row is a bit different. It’s a sculpture of 3 boys having circled around a girl. This sculpture is called “Türelüre-Lißje” and pictures an old legend of a girl who used to live here near the cathedral in Aix-la-Chapelle. One day, she had a big need to pee, but a few boys got aware of that problem, circled her, and hindered her to follow the call of nature. I included that image here because the artist was able to model the faces of the figurines so well. Now we can feel how the pained girl must have felt, but also see the cruelty of the boys.

 

Take care!

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

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #204 – “Door and Doorways”

We’re having another guest host for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge this week: Sylvia Bacon of My Colorful Expressions. Her topic is doors and doorways. Doors usually part something from something else but not as strict as a wall would do. Doors can allow access with permission when having the right key.

 

 

Doors can also give some information about the owner or what is hidden behind the door.

a sailship’s captain used to live behind this door back. He build that house in the 18th century.

 

These richly decorated doors can be found in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, the German state located on the south coast of the Baltic Sea. The iconic symbols also tell about the people living here. The doors always have three elements. One of them is most often the rising sun. You can find it on both doors in the lowermost sector and in the top sector of the third door.

 

 

 

But, what happens, when a building becomes useless and abandoned? Doors are open!

no more privacy in the lady’s room
no door is departing the shower from the pool anymore

 

But, there are more doors.

The next three doors are at home in Barcelona. It’s the entrance hall of Orfeo Catalan, the Palau de la Música Catalana.

and the entrance to a smaller audition stage in the basement. Both glass doors are open at the moment.

For the final images, I’m taking you with me to Asia. Asia in Europe. Asia in Germany!

Feng shui, also known as Chinese geomancy, is an ancient Chinese traditional practice that claims to use energy forces to harmonize individuals with their surrounding environment.

 

 

On the other hand, you can find these doors in many places in Japan.

A torii is a traditional Japanese gate most commonly found at the entrance of or within a Shinto shrine, where it symbolically marks the transition from the mundane to the sacred. This one is located in Germany. That Japanese garden was created in 1912 by famous Japanese garden architects. Each year a team of garden architects comes over from Japan to make sure, the garden is still in perfect shape.

 

 

I was really amazed to see, how many images of doors I have in my archive when I started my search. As usual for this kind of job, I used Excire Foto to find them. I simply used the tag “door” and got more than 1,000 results to choose from. I also had a few images with doors in my mind, to share with you. But, it was great to have so many additional images to choose from. I hope, you enjoy the selection.

*AD because of an affiliate link*

In 2020, I introduced you to Excire Foto, software to analyze and organize your images and, most importantly, find them! Since June 1st, the next version is out and includes among other improvements a Duplicate Finder and the ability to analyze PSD files. I’m going to publish a review soon. In the meantime, you can get more information and the prices here.

For now, take care!

 

 

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

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #203 – “Local Vistas”

This time, Anne challenges us to go local. Everyone takes photos while traveling or on special occasions like parties, graduation for school or university, weddings, birthdays, and so on. But, have you ever tried taking photos where you live? You know, I’m primarily in nature photography. But I live in a quiet urban region. Although, I living at the edge of the Ruhr area, you can’t really step out and be in the nature. Even the forests are fields where trees are planted to harvest wood.

I know, some people grab their camera an go into the city for taking photographs. They are either in architecture or in street photography. For me, non of these topics is really interesting although I do it sometimes.

Instead, I’m planning visits to natural places in my greater region. Quite often these are trips to nature protected areas with significant bodies of water to photograph birds. During the last two years, I also captured some butterflies and dragonflies as well as blossoms in our garden, And I hope, this year the monthly photographers roundtables will start again.

So, for today, I assembled a small collection of images taken in our garden dring the last years. Most of the images are unpublished. I’m extremely proud of the hummingbird hawk-moth having visited two times our garden and me being able to get a few very nice images of this really fascinating and extraordinary insect.

As the other kinds of wildlife photography, this can also be quiet time consuming. Be prepared and wait patiently for your subject coming in the right position. Although this collection might look amazing, I’m not one of these guys going out in the wild meadows to search for and photograph insects. I really admire those people bringing back home those fantastic photos of insects, but for me the necessary effort it too high. So, I only have an open eye and capture what’s around me. I can be patient to get my shot but I’m not patient enough to do so for hours.

You can enlarge the images by clicking on one of them and use the cursor keys to jumpe from one image to the next. That way you can also see the descriptions for the images. Have fun!

 

 

I hope, you enjoyed my little insect gallery. I know, not everyone loves them and I have to admit, some insects really look strange and alien like. Nevertheless, these tiny creatures also have their important role to play her on earth. They help feeding us! And each of them is worth the effort to protect them.

Take care!

art, culture, photography, world

Throwback Thursday: A toy?

Ok, some very rich people might consider this car as being a toy. An expensive toy! An expensive hobby. Buying old but beautiful cars, reconstruct them (or let others do that hard job while they spend their money on them), and put them into exhibitions, showrooms, or museums.

I can understand museums or even manufacturers doing this and making the restored cars accessible to the public. But, I can’t understand rich people doing it only for being proud of having them.

I can’t remember what kind of car this is. I photographed it in a showroom waiting for the next owner. Fortunately, that showroom is (was) accessible for everyone, and even taking photographs was allowed. I took this image with a fish-eye lens handholding the camera on my stretched arm to get this image. I only cleaned the edges and removed my legs in post-processing. I love, how the fish-eye lens was not only able to capture the whole car, but also distort the proportions (a bit 😲😂).

I took this image in January 2011 and didn’t find time to edit it until recently.

In case, any one of you is able to give me a hint on the brand and the model, I’d be glad to hear from you. Simply type it in the comment section below.

Take care

 

 

animals, art, history, mammal, photography

A wonderful story came to its end!

mm25-600_9588-eb_w

This story started back in April 2010 with a cat giving birth to 4 little kittens in our kitchen. Fritz was the youngest of them, but the biggest from the birth. Out of his 3 sisters, he stayed the longes with us. only the oldest is also still with us. The middle 2 moved to another family in the summer of 2010 when they were a few months old. These were the first of the four kittens who ate cat food and didn’t drink mother milk anymore. So, the first chapter ended well.
Their mother was less than a year when she became pregnant by accident. According to her habit, we guessed, she was born in the summer of 2009. She became only about 1 year old and died as a result of an accident with a car on a Saturday night in mid-September 2010. Luckily, the kittens were already old enough to survive alone (with our help). The second chapter ended not so nicely.

The first 2 girls were black, just like their father and the 2 younger kittens were tabby, just like their mother. The first-born kitten was the smallest from the beginning and stayed quite small. So, she got the name Petite-Fleur (little flower). The second got the name Felina, derived from the Latin name for cats: Felidae (Felis silvestris catus). The third got her name from the very prominent “M” on her forehead: Mchen (little M). And, the youngest was Fritz. He also has the “M” on his forehead, but less distinct than in his elder sister’s fur.

On Sunday, April 30th, 2017, little Petite passed away because of a severe injury and the third chapter also ended badly.

Today, the last chapter ended and it also ended sadly. About a year ago, we had to bring Fritz to the vet clinic because he collapsed a couple of times. his regular vet was unable to help any further. It was too severe. Apparently, he got poisoned. Although we got him back after a couple of days, but he wasn’t the same anymore. From that day, he had to see the doctor quite often. Every couple of weeks he collapsed again. In October last year, he had to have his molars pulled. Unfortunately, one fang also had to come out. Pills helpt him to recover more or less. But, he didn’t eat cat food. He captured mice and rats. He only took water, a bit of cat milk, and dry cat food. So, it was very problematic to give him the medicine. While we’re on vacation, his condition went worse again and our youngest son (he’s still at home) and his girlfriend took action and brought him to the vet clinic again. They took him in after a short examination. Later, they called our son to tell him, that Fritz’s state was already too bad to heal him. He already had water in his lung and they recommended putting him to sleep. So, this noon, the final chapter ended very sadly again.

Another sad Sunday. But, Fritz is reunited with his mother and his oldest sister.

Take care!

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

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #199 – Mechanical/Industrial

OK, guys. Weekend! Time for my contribution to LAPC. This week John is our host. He went back the memory lane a couple decades and directs our view to the time when machines started to first accomplish and ease, and later replace human labor.

 

I guess, I have to pause the next two or three weeks for LAPC because I’m on a trip. My usual posts are prescheduled.

Take care!

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

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #198 – Lights and Shadows

It’s Saturday again and while others are preparing for going to a party, I’m publishing a post for LAPC. It’s Patti’s turn this week.

We have a saying here “Wo Licht ist, ist auch Schatten” (Where there is light there is also shadow) and that’s definitely true. In photography as in painting, you can play with light and shadow. The human eye is always attracted by the bright parts of an image. Thus, you can use the shadow parts to may the main object pops out. The interaction between lights and shadows works in general best with black-and-white images, but also in color images it’s worth to have an eye on them.

A group of small decorative side towers at one of the towers of Colone’s cathedral at full moon. Here, the dark parts are the main subject also only seen as a silhouette.

During winter, the sun is able to paint wonderful structures on the ground.

This image taken in Sossusvlei is also a good example for what shadows can contribute to you final image.

Not only for abstract images, shadows can help making your main subject really key: the shadows in the back help this cheetah really popping out. Especially, because the low standing sun also models out his muscles.

Shadows can bring some depth in your architecture image. Especially for Lost-Places images this works well in monochrome and in color.

 

This is another example of very strong shadows. The sun was only able to enlight the top parts of the structures of a mountain side on Iceland.

This mushroom pops out from the dark surroundings. Although growing in the shadows, you can recognise it very well and the surroundings doesn’t distract form the main subject.

In this image, take a few weeks ago, the sun paints beautyfull patterns on the ground. The sun itself is positions near the sweet-spot (following the rule of thirds). In addition, the patterns are painting a positive diagonal from the lower left to the upper right and ends in the star-shaped sun. Thus, the patterns lead your view from the dark to the light.

The remaining two images are a bit different. Here we have a partial solar eclipse and total lunar eclipse. In the first one the moon is shadowing a part of the sun, while in the other image the moon crosses the earth shadow. In that image I put together 6 phases from the transition as well as the main image of the bloodmoon itself.

In case you’re interested in participating in this challenge either once or on a regular basis, check out this post published by Amy to learn about the rules and where to find the weekly topic.

Take care!

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

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #192 – Rule of Thirds

It’s Saturday and therefore it’s time for The Lens-Artist’s Photo Challenge. It’s Tina’s turn to challenge us this week. And it’s again a quite technical challenge. She calls for images demonstrating the “Rule of Thirds”.

To understand, what “Rule of Thirds” means, think of 2 horizontal and 2 vertical lines parting your image into 9 equal-sized rectangles. The most important part of the image should be places on one of the 4 points, where a horizontal and a vertical lines are crossing each other. In the screenshot below of an unedited image, I switched on showing these lines. Some cameras are even able to show these lines either in your view-finder or on the big display. Even many smartphones have the ability to help you get more interesting images by overlaying these lines while taking your images.

You don’t need to have your main subject exactly on one of these points. It’s not always possible. But, it gives you a valuable hint for getting better images. And, it’s so easy to incorporate.

Below, you can find some more examples from my archive from different genres.

 

Don’t get me wrong, following this rule is not a force. It’s a good rule, even many of the old and now-famous painters followed them. But, there are some cases, where it is necessary to break the rule. But, that’s for another post 🙂

My advice for a beginner: stay with the rules until it becomes natural for you, to see the world that way. Then begin to experiment by breaking the rule intentionally and knowing the exact reason why it is necessary to break them in a certain image to reach the next level of photography.

Take care!

art, photography

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge 196: “Humor”

This time John challenges us for The Lens-Artists Photo Challenge with Humor 😲 He writes, that he picked this theme because he was considered of having a very special kind of humor. Phew!

How can I picture “humor”? What kind of humor do I have? My wife sometimes states that it seems from her point of view, I’d have to go to the cellar for laughing. I guess, she’s wrong. But, I have to admit, I love intelligent humor and when you have to look around the corner for being able to understand it.

From my point of view, it seems to be impossible to show “humor”. Instead, I picked a few humorous or funny images from my archive for you.

This is quite common in some areas in the countryside to make public that someone on the farm is about to marry soon.

 

We found this open-air shower and washbowl in the high-temperature area of northeast Iceland. Water was running unstoppable. While we were wondering about it and taking a couple of images, a second car arrived at this completely free parking ground. A couple from Slovenia left the car and came up to us. They were also wondering about it. After a short talk, the man decided, that taking here a shower would be a great opportunity because the camping ground where they stayed the night wasn’t that great, and visiting a public bath would be quite expensive.

 

 

This next image was taken during the parade for the annual funfair of our town. It celebrates the idea of Jamaica having its first bob team for running during the Olympic Winter Games. There’s also a movie telling this remarkable story called “Cool Runnings”. The scene below shows the finish of the racing track.

I photographed this funny lady a couple of years ago, also during the funfair parade.

This is a harpy, a fictional character in an anime or manga. I’m not that familiar whit that kind of art, but I love photographing cosplayers during the annual Japantag in our state capitol every now and then.

I love street art and this huge one is painted on the side of a 3- or 4-floor apartment building. Enlarge it, it has funny details, too.

This is also street art: a war-knitter decorated some poles and street-bordering chains.

I stumbled upon these “babies” in Prague a couple of years ago. No idea, what the artist has in his mind while creating them.

This is also in the town where I live. Two times a year the laundry is put up in the old town: in June during the Old-Town-Festival and in September for the funfair. A few years ago this image found its way into our State Archive as it documents a certain folkloristic habit.

 

This final image is taken during our annual carnival escape. It’s one of the fish dealers in the Barcelona Market hall

Enough fun for a day,

Take care!

art, photography

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge 194: “bokeh”

Today, Sofia Alves asks for something called “bokeh”. This word is derived from Japanese. Wikipedia describes it as follows:

“In photography, bokeh (/ˈboʊkə/ BOH-kə or /ˈboʊkeɪ/ BOH-kay; Japanese: [boke]) is the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in out-of-focus parts of an image. Bokeh has also been defined as “the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light”. Differences in lens aberrations and aperture shape cause very different bokeh effects. Some lens designs blur the image in a way that is pleasing to the eye, while others produce distracting or unpleasant blurring (“good” and “bad” bokeh, respectively). Photographers may deliberately use a shallow focus technique to create images with prominent out-of-focus regions, accentuating their lens’s bokeh.

Bokeh is often most visible around small background highlights, such as specular reflections and light sources, which is why it is often associated with such areas.[6] However, bokeh is not limited to highlights; blur occurs in all regions of an image which are outside the depth of field.”

Next, I have a few examples from my archive.

 

Take care!

 

art, culture, people, photography, travel, world

Throwback Thursday and Lens-Artists Photo Challenge 193: “birthday”

600_3780-e_wThis week, John Steiner is looking forward to celebrating his birthday, so I’m happy to join the LAPC party. In some families and in some cultures, birthdays are a reason for huge celebrations. So, I picked up this post published first back in 2013.

There is a certain habit in Cuba of celebrating a girl’s 15th birthday.

The girl gets special clothing, is dressed up, and gets perfect makeup. Then they go to a photographer to take beautiful photographs.

According to our guide, some girls are dressed like a bride for these sessions, others wear cocktail dresses and I also noticed photographs showing a girl dressed like a female version of an old-fashioned, Spanish caballero. The photographs are usually taken in a park or in the streets and not in a studio.

Two weeks later, the parents and the girl have a party with all of her friends, and an album, containing the photos, which is a real eyecatcher for that party. Also, the parents put framed photos from that session on their walls.

I like that idea. (OK, maybe, because I’m a photographer).

600_3779-e_wWe met this young lady in the old town of Havana. Her mother was with her and took care of her hairstyle and her makeup, while the photographer directed his assistant to adjust the reflector.

So, we can congratulate her on her 15th birthday.

Are there any similar habits, where you live or coming from?

While waiting for my next post you can have a look at the previous posts and maybe drop me a note in the comments section below.

 

In the meantime, the girl is a young woman. As I said, I took these photos back in 2013. So, she’s already 24. How much must have changed for her in her life.

As I’m always interested in getting to know habits from other countries, regions, or cultures, drop me a note in the comments and tell me, how do you celebrate birthdays. I’m interested in your personal celebration as well as in general habits and traditions.

Take care!

art, flowers, landscape, nature, photo-of-the-day, photography, plants

Lens-Artists Photo Challange 153: “Wonderful world”

On January 1st, 1968 Louis Armstrong published his song “What a Wonderful World”. It was written specifically for him and describes the beauty of the world and the small pieces of happiness in everyday life. Louis Daniel „Satchmo“ Armstrong was an African American, born in 1901 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Once, Louisiana was part of the southern states in the USA, where slavery was an important part of the economy. But, although slavery became illegal after the civil war, those people were (and are) still not equally treated. Unfortunately, that’s not only in the USA but also in many other countries in the world.

From the mid-1950s more and more (primary descendants of former slaves) stood up against the still existing social injustices and repressions. Probably you already have heard the name Reverent Martin Luther King, who became kind of a leader of the non-violent Civil Rights movement. Unfortunately, he was killed in April 1968.

In this setting of a civil rights movement, the song was published and became very successful. In case, you don’t know the song, go to Youtube and find it. It’s still a wonderful song. You can even find a lyrics video to read the lyrics along.

The intention of the song was to set a countercurrent to the political climate. Thus the song describes the beauty of nature, friendship, and children’s view despite the huge problems of hate, jealousy, and power struggles.

The first verse is

“I see trees of green, red roses too. I see them bloom for me and you, and I think to myself: What a wonderful world.”

I really recommend, to listen to the song, now. And, while Satchmo sings his song you can swipe through the gallery below. Click on an image to enlarge the images.

thank you, Amy, for this wonderful topic, this week.

Take care!

 

art, flowers, landscape, nature, photo-of-the-day, photography, plants

Lens-Artists Photo Challange 152: “Shades and Shadows”

Ann-Christine invites us this week to celebrate the sun for The Lens-Artists Photo-Challenge. You know, when there is light, you will have shadows.

 

 

Hint: I’m currently running a raffle. Until midnight tomorrow, you can enter to win a voucher code for Excire Foto  (*AD because of an affiliate link* ). Check out, how you can become one of the winners 😊

Take care!

art, photography, technical

editing a raw file

Wow, what a long time! I started this post back in March 2015! 😳😲 Unbelievable!
Recently, I got again a question on my workflow, so I decided to finally finish this post. Hint: This post contains some links to software manufacturers. No one paid me anything for getting a link or had any influence on my opinion.

Besides creating jpg files directly in-camera many digital cameras are able to create raw files instead of the JPG or in addition. Raw file means saving the bare information captured by the sensor and not processing it in-camera. This has a couple of advantages. A few years ago, I already published a post on these advantages. Many years ago, I decided to capture only raw files and process them myself afterward to have more control over the process and the final look. No, don’t get me wrong, I don’t use any filters. In only do, what was necessary back in film days.

In the past, I already published some posts covering how I store my images and a bit about, why I’m doing the extra work for raw development. Some of the benefits of doing it this way are in this post. I really encourage you to click on the links and read a bit about the background. Although most recent digital cameras are really great in creating good-looking JPGs, you still have a lot more in raw.

I’m using dedicated raw-processing software and it’s not Lightroom, because this software needs so much unnecessary work which stands in the way where I’d have to work around. The workflow is complicated and not straightforward. And, you’re locked into the software when you want to keep access to your own work.

The DAM (Digital Asset Management) would be nice for the final images, but it’s absolutely the wrong way to import all undeveloped images only for deleting a huge portion right after the import. A database makes additional problems when being used that way and slows down the computer over time. You can google for these problems and find gazillions of people suffering from them. An often recommended solution of having a separate catalog for each job on the other hand leads the whole idea ad absurdum. (btw. the same is true for the recent versions of Luminar, and that’s the reason why I left their affiliate program). Not being able to save all your edits outside of a catalog also hinders you to get your image edited by someone else and get the edits back for learning from the outcome.

These are my steps after coming back from a job or a trip:

  1. copy all images in a dedicated folder on my internal disk named with the date and a tiny description of the contents (i.e. 20210507 – garden birds)
  2. create a first backup of the whole bunch of images, which will hopefully never be used
  3. import the GPS data into the image files (only for trips)
  4. normalize the file names when having used more than one camera body to get them in the right order again. My naming scheme is YYYYMMDD_hhmmss-XXX_xxx.NEF. I guess the first and second part of date and time is easily understandable. I take this information from the metadata of each file: the time of releasing the shutter. The XXX stands for a 3 digit code of the used camera body followed by 4 numbers. These third and fourth parts are given to the file by the camera at creation time. The metadata are pieces of information stored in the images by the camera at the time when the image is captured.
  5. create a second backup on a second external disk. This one is my backup in case of an emergency.
  6. open up a digital light table to check the images and select the ones to get processed.
  7. create a sub-folder called “edit” and copy all selected images in this folder, direct the raw processor to the edit folder and process the images
  8. the final steps are already in the post, I mentioned above.

In this post, I want to describe the actions I do in my raw processor. You know, I started photography more than 40 years ago and run my own lab in those days.  And the options I had in those days are still the steps I do in digital photography:

  1. remove some blemishes and dust-spots
  2. brighten the shadows and darken the lights to get a better balance in the image if necessary
  3. balance the horizon if necessary
  4. correct the with balance if necessary
  5. boost the vibrance or increase the saturation if necessary
  6. crop, if necessary
  7. post-sharpening
  8. export to jpg

You see, my workflow is quite easy and straightforward. It costs me a maximum of approximately 2 minutes per image. Some of the actions can be bundled and applied to a couple of images at the same time to speed up the work. But, in general, I’m not a big fan of such bundlings, besides the export to jpg.

You might ask, what kind of software you can use. There are a couple of commercial products around. All I know, offer trial versions for a couple of days/weeks: DxO Photolab, Capture One Pro (free versions for some Fuji and Sony cameras available), OnOne Photo Raw, NX Studio (free, Nikon only – afaik Canon has something similar), and some open-source products, which are also free of charge: Rawtherapee, Lightzone, ufraw, digikam, Darktable. Affinity Photo is more a replacement for Photoshop or Gimp, although it also has a good raw development module. Photoshop brings kind of a lite-version of Lightroom for raw development called Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) and Gimp incorporates either ufraw or Rawtherapee, depending on the operating system you’re using. There might be some more products in the market, which I didn’t mention here because I don’t know them. So, this list isn’t complete. Sorry!

Although the open-source products usually have a background in the Linux community, they are also available for Windows and macOS. I worked with all of them a bit and would recommend either Lightzone or Rawtherapee. ufraw is a bit like Adobe Camera Raw for Photoshop. Darktable has the same mechanisms as Lightroom. So, it’s unusable for me. I don’t want to import the raw files into a database and stick with this single database because all of my edits are in that database. A corrupt database could make me lose all ever-done edits. DigiKam is an all-in-one solution: fat but mighty. I like the organizing module very much: DAM = Digital Assets Management. For some time, I’m using Excire Foto for DAM. You see, the linked post is quite old. I have to write a new one. This product is amazing.

For modern lenses, it is extremely important to have software being able to adjust and correct lens failures: barrel or cushion distortion and achromatic abbreviations. Back in the film days, the good lenses were designed for not having them. Nowadays it’s easier (and cheaper for the manufacturer) to create a piece of software to correct the failures. All the software I mentioned above is IMHO able to work that way. On the other hand, I have a lot of old lenses, which don’t need such corrections.

In case, you want to start developing your photos, I’d recommend either DigiKam, because it is an all-in-one solution, or Lightzone / Rawthereapee. In case, you need some image manipulation tools, try gimp. You can find tutorials on the relevant homepage I mentioned above or on YouTube. Although there are rumors of Gimp would be complicated, that’s not completely true. Also, Photoshop is very complicated, but there are more talkative called-by-themselves experts telling it otherwise because they are kind of experienced because of extensive usage. Each software is complicated on the first try. But, open-source software usually has a very active community willing to help when you’re investing at least a bit of time reading or watching (YouTube) tutorials. The other option is, to give one of the commercial software a try and download the trial version. Also, commercial software needs you to learn how to handle them. So, giving open-source a try first, won’t cost you any money. When talking about commercial software, I like DxO Photolab the most followed by Capture One Pro. When it comes to image manipulation software, I’m using Gimp and Affinity Photo. In the past, I used Photoshop CS6, but it’s not necessary anymore. First, I need such software only for approximately 10-20 images a year, on the other hand, Gimp has everything, I need. A few weeks ago, I published an article on one of my use cases for image manipulation software on NikonRumors and here in my blog.

I tried all the products I mentioned above last year when I had to investigate a replacement for my raw development software. Although the last update was in 2012 it run well and gave me the flexibility, quality, and tools I needed. Unfortunately, the developer decided to retire the software. For some years I was unable to re-install it if there were a reason to do so, but the recent updates of the operating software of my computer made the tool even completely unusable. So, I needed to find a replacement and I did. Recommending software to someone else is not easy because everyone has her own workflow, her own requirements, and her own wishes. So, you have to try on your own and find the software fulfilling all of your requirements to the best.

Below, you can see two screenshots from while developing a raw image in LightZone. The final image is on the top of this post.

browsing a folder with raw files with the folder structure on the left and the metadata of the selected image to the right

 

a couple of presets on the left, first developing step on the right and seeing the distribution of light in the image (Zone Model of Anselm Adams) in the upper right corner

 

Read the steps on the right from bottom to top. The last step is missing: sharpening

In this image, it was necessary to darken the highlights to recover the fine structures in the petals. In-camera development would have left only completely white spaces. From the raw file, I was able to recover the fine lines in the petals as well as the stamens. The erected twig was removed afterward with image manipulation software (Gimp) as well as the cropping.

Take care and happy snapping 😊

art, flowers, landscape, nature, photo-of-the-day, photography, plants

Lens-Artists Photo Challange 151: “From big to small“

It’s Patti’s round, this week, at The Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. She reminds us of an old principle this week. Start wide and narrow your view more and more.

So, when coming to a scene, take your wide-angle lens first and take a couple of shots. Then, step further into the scene and look for the details. Isolate a mountain, a tree, a flower, a part of a building, you got the idea. This does not necessarily mean doing macro.

Enjoy the gallery. Hint: clicking in one of the images starts the slideshow in a bigger size.

Second hint: I’m currently running a raffle. You can win a voucher code for Excire Foto  (*AD because of an affiliate link* ). Check out, how you can become one of the winners 😊

Take care!

art, culture, flowers, landscape, nature, photo-of-the-day, photography, plants

Lens-Artists Photo Challange 150: “Let’s Get Wild!“

We have a guest host this week for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Diane She asks for the wild because she works in the wild as a park ranger.

I know, there are a few other meanings in the word “wild”, but I’m concentrating on wild as in “wildlife”.

Enjoy the gallery. Hint: clicking in one of the images starts the slideshow in a bigger size.

Second hint: I’m currently running a raffle. You can win a voucher code for Excire Foto  (*AD because of an affiliate link* ). Check out, how you can become one of the winners 😊

Take care!

art, culture, flowers, landscape, nature, photo-of-the-day, photography, plants

Lens-Artists Photo Challange 149: “Cool Colors – Blue and Green“

These are the days, where I’m happy to have software helping me discovering images quite fast. Tina asked for images with blue and green for the Lens-Artists photo challenge and this way I’m able to deliver very fast. Opening the find dialog, choose the two relevant colors and I’m presented with dozens of suitable images to choose from.

I hope you like the selection:

 

 

If you’re interested to give the software a try, there’s a free trial available:

*AD because of an affiliate link* : get the software

art, culture, flowers, landscape, nature, photo-of-the-day, photography, plants

Lens-Artists Photo Challange 148: “Spots and dots“

Spots and dots ….. a hard challenge when photographing primarily nature. But, nevertheless, Ann-Christine, I’m taking the ball. Nobody said a challenge would be easy. That’s the essence and character of a challenge.

So, take the word “spot” first. It can mean a (dust/dirt) spot on a surface, but it can also mean a very certain location of activity or where something is located. In nature, you need to know such certain spots to find your subject.

First, I have a checkered lily and a spring snowflake. Do you see the spots and dots on the petals? I found it a couple of years ago in a very certain spot. Next, a holly blue, a spotted dogfish, and a gray seal. Nature uses spots for hiding the shape of animals to either hide them from predators or, vice versa, to be recognized too early by their prey.

When stepping back a bit, you can see i.e. poppies like dots in the fields or in early spring fields of alpine squills under the trees when they have no leaves yet. And, don’t forget the red dots of Ilex during winter.

The spots in the last image, I’m leaving for your imagination. Guess, what you see 🙂 I’m solving it later 🙂

Edit: the last image is taken by an intentional mis-focus of the tiny wavelets of the Mediterranean sea on a calm day backlit by the rising sun. The nice bokeh is the result of the mis-focus. Each of the circles was a sun sparkle

 

Take care!

art, culture, flowers, landscape, nature, photo-of-the-day, photography, plants

Lens-Artists Photo Challange 146: “Gardens“

Gardens! Nowadays you can find them around many houses. But, the idea of having a garden is not that old. When spinning the time back for about 100 years, you would also find gardens, but they were generally looking way different than today. Instead of flowers and blooming bushes, you would have found vegetables and fruits. The gardens were used to grow food. Not everything was in shops available for sale. So, people had to take care of themselves. Only farmers used to have small so-called farmer’s gardens. But, even in these farmer gardens, you were able to find herbs among the flowers.

In Japan, gardening has a quite long tradition. The gardens usually have a religious background. In the past, I already told you, that our state capital Düsseldorf has one of the three biggest Japanese ex-pat communities (besides London and Paris). Not far away from my home, there is a Japanese garden, built by a Japanese garden architect. In Japanese gardens, each detail has a reason. Every position, size, and direction of each detail has a meaning. So, each year a group of Japanese gardeners comes over to reshape the garden.

I was there a few times and would go again when we would not have the pandemic still around. So, enjoy my images from the past.

This post is my contribution to The Lens-Artists Photo Challenge hosted by Amy.  Head over to her page and read to rules to participate.

As usual, click on one image to enlarge it.

Take care!

art, culture, photo-of-the-day, photography

Lens-Artists Photo Challange 146: “Focusing on the Details“

You might say now, don’t ask me for macros. OK, I won’t do it. But, nevertheless, you can see, focussing on the details does not necessarily mean macro photography. Having an overview is very nice. But, in general, the details are more important. You’re right, you have to focus and work on your inner eye to find the sweet spot, the composing supporting your idea most.

Go out, take your camera and take photos, come back and show your results. Link your post to Patti’s post, as she’s the host for this week’s Lens-Artists Photo-Challenge. Everyone is welcome.

 

You can click on the images to enlarge them. All the images are taken without a macro lens

Take care!

art, culture, photo-of-the-day, photography

Lens-Artists Photo Challange 145: “Getting to Know You“

Or better, to get to know me 😊 (at least a little bit)

There are always two people in an image: the creator and the viewer.

Each image, I’m showing, is a part of me and you can experience a bit about me when watching my images (and, of course, reading the texts).

To find out more about me, you can switch to the About-me page.

I love being in nature and photographing nature, although, photographing the beauty of nature sometimes hurts. I love traveling and coming in touch with the ordinary people in the countries, I’m traveling. I love to learn about their culture. If you want to talk, drop me a note. Modern technology makes it possible 😊.

As I said, sometimes photographing the beauty of nature hurts. So, I picked a couple of images, where it hurt.

getting soaking wet for nearly two full weeks in Iceland
It’s usually freezing cold when we’re on the north sea island Helgoland in mid January

 

Aurora Borealis in Northern Norway – it’s very cold outside, especially at night
getting up very early – hours before sunrise to be in your spot at the right time
also before sunrise

 

in the heat of the day hiking without any shadow
or waiting for your game
climbing up mountains while >30°C

 

staying up all night for capturing a full circle of the bloodmoon, a comet or some stars

 

getting up at 4:25 a.m. to be there at the right moment

Photography hurts sometimes and I’m willing to suffer when the possible results are promising. The last image is from today. Getting up soo early and driving to your destination is exhausting. But, being there enjoying the silence and the light is sooo rewarding.

Take care!