Last week I was on a short family vacation at the Northsea: me, my wife, and our grandson (5 3/4).
We were gifted with fantastic weather. Nicely warm and sunny days at the beach and on the many playgrounds the town set up over the years. We visited that town not for the first time. So, we were able to see the development. Especially my wife was there quite often when our kids were smaller. She went with only one at a time, while the others stayed home with me. Now, all of them are adults and traveling with their partners.
Being at the coast means having a good portion of wind around you all the time. During low tide, the beaches grow. When low tide is in the evening, you can have much space for flying a kite. We’ve chosen that way for the kite instead of going to the kiting ground because there are more pro-kiters and a small kid does not have the room he needs for his little kite.
12 years ago, my wife spent a week with our youngest at the north sea. Thanks to a very proposing weather forecast, I came up with the idea, to surprise them by making a day trip to visit them. So, I told the other two kids to prepare some breakfast suitable to be eaten on the road and get up that early to be able to be on the road at 6 a.m. What a surprise, when we arrived at noon. At that time, the motorway ended early and the remaining nearly 100 km had to be covered on regular country roads. Nowadays the highway reaches much closer to the coast and shortens the distance to only a little more than 3 hours.
After having dinner together, we headed back home and arrived at about 1:30 a.m. What a day!
As proposed last week, I’m continuing with a few images taken in the schoolyard, which we stumbled upon accidentally.
I’m glad, we followed the sign leading us in the narrow street. Fortunately, the painting from the first image in the gallery below was visible from the place where we found the sign. So we went for having at least a brief look. At the end of the street, we found the schoolyard. Full of people (painters and their company), a DJ, lifting platforms, compressors, and a lot of ladders were here. The artists were working on their paintings or talk shopping. Some of them were already done while others even have not yet started.
Last Saturday, we finally met again: monthly photographers roundtable. After nearly one year without a common trip. The past 2,5 years were hard and now it has to become routine again. But, I won’t complain. Despite the overall situation, I was out quite often. And, to be honest, there were a few meetings without a camera, simply for having a talk or celebrating a birthday. But, I missed the regular common photography trips. They are often challenging because you have to leave your comfort zone and face unknown places as well as unknown photography topics. So, this time street photography and art photography from a nature and wildlife photographers perspective. Once started, you have to find your flow first and work on the perspective. Consider, what you want to show. Are you keen enough to photograph strangers? And don’t forget the legal regulation!
Although only 3 of us met in Geldern, a small town near the Dutch border. Each year (with interruptions – sic) on the last weekend of the state’s summer holiday they organize a Street Art festival. This year it was held for the 42nd time. I got notice last year from our newspaper but wasn’t aware of being a regular festival. Unfortunately, it was canceled on very short notice. So, I was very happy one of the other photographers had it on her list and was planning to go (even alone). So, my destination was also found and we would either have a meeting of 2 in Geldern and another one elsewhere with the others. but, it came out that only 4 of us were available that day because of vacations and one had to cancel with short notice. So, there were three of us in Geldern.
All of the painters created their pieces of art with colored chalk. In between, some street musicians presented their skills; fortunately, only very few booths offered drinks or food. I was quite surprised to see so many female artists painting. I guess, 80% of the painters were female as well as many of the solo musicians.
The festival starts on Saturday morning and lasts until Sunday noon. So, the species of art are not supposed to be ready on Saturday evening and you can view them creating their paintings. It’s really fascinating.
The only downside was, that some musicians were too close to each other while playing, although there was plenty of room. So, their music overlapped and it was not nice listening to that noise carpet.
On our way back to the cars, we discovered another interesting site by following a sign in the streets: a schoolyard was decorated by talented graffiti artists. But, I leave that for next week.
A few days ago, I was scouting a location. When I arrived, I was welcomed by a number of stone sculptures, like the one above. In size, they ranged from about 1 meter small up to the gorilla above in nearly life-size. I was impressed by the material, the details, and the kind of craftsmanship.
All of the sculptures were made of only one single serpentine stone. One of the artists was working on one of the sculptures. He was working on the glossy black part of one sculpture with a paste (similar to shoe polish)and a gas burner. Thus, I talked with him. Because black men are quite rarely seen here, I asked him about where he’s from and why he’s here. The answer was quite simple, he’s a member of a community of artists from Zimbabwe and in Germany on invitation for a couple of months to present their art. As I only saw those sculptures standing in the parking lot, he directed me to the inner part of the building, the atrium, where a lot more was presented and offered for sale. Pieces of art made of stone, driftwood, old and rusty metal, as well as from metal sheets were there.
According to a leaflet I got, the relationship lasts already for a number of years. In 1966 a former tobacco farmer who had serpentine stone on his land, founded an artists colony. While the artists initially only worked with serpentine stone, other kinds of art emerged. The artists keep their legacy, spiritualism, legends, and myths alive in their art. It is called Shona-Art after the predominant people living in Zimbabwe.
I was really impressed by their artistry and craftsmanship. I loved also their sculptures. Unfortunates, nearly all of them are too big to set them up at home.
Maybe, you remember my post from Sunday, when I included a part of a sculpture I stumbled upon a few years ago in Aix-la-Chapelle during a day trip. I liked the artistry of the sculptor, and how he was able to model the mimics of the kids. Later at home, I tried to find out a bit more about it.
When spotting the fountain from a distance, you can see kids playing. While trying to find a good angle to take an image, I came closer and closer. When coming closer, I noticed the faces and wondered about the discrepancy between the face of the girl in the middle in comparison to the boys’ faces dancing around her.
The scenery consists of four kids. Three boys form a circle with their arms around a girl, apparently of the same age, crouching down in the middle. When looking at the very detailed modeled faces, you can see, that the boys are happy, mischievous, and showing some schadenfreude.
The name of this sculpture is “Türelüre-Lißje”. This is not German. It’s in an old local dialect relative to Lower German.
Lißje, or Lieschen is a belittling form of the woman’s name Lise (short from Elisabeth, sometime Gisela). The other part “Türelüre” is a kind of ring-a-ring-a-roses. When pronouncing this, it’s also a reference to the time, when the story happened: the time of the French occupation in the Rhineland (1794-1814)
You can see, in this image, that the nearly kid-sized figurines are part of a fountain and the water below the girl is also a reference to the background story. The girl was stopped by the mischievous boys and prevented from going to the toilet. They danced around her until it was too late.
This final image is in my option the essence of the scene: the girl is captured and in fear while the surrounding boys, although only one is visible in this frame, are blocking the viewer to come any closer and at the same time hindering the girl at least on two sides to escape. In addition, the boys are leaning towards the center and covering the girl even in this direction.
For me, it’s kind of a memorial and picturing the cruelty already available even in small kids.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once said, “Let men be noble, helpful and good”. It’s the first sentence of a hymn, he wrote in 1783. It’s a wish and a product of education. It’s not god-given. We have to work hard to respect each other and treat everyone equally.
These are the lyrics of one version of the old song (local dialect) handed down from the 19th century with my translation to German and English:
Türelüre-Lißje uus Klapperjaaß
Wovör hat dat Kengsche et Böksje esue naaß
Haue die Schelme va Jonge jeddooe
Haue dat Kengsche net pesse losse jooeh
Türelüre-Lißje uus Klapperjaaß
Dovör hat dat Kengsche et Böksje esue naaß
Türelüre-Lieschen aus der Klappergasse
warum hat das Mädchen ihr Höschen naß?
Haben die Schelme von Jungs verursacht
Haben das Mädchen nicht pinkeln lassen
Türelüre-Lißje aus der Klappergasse
Darum hat das Mädchen ihr Höschen naß.
Türelüre-Lißje from Klappergasse
why did the girl wet her panties
the rascals of young boys have made things
didn’t let the girl pee
Türelüre-Lißje from Klappergasse
that’s why the girl wet her panties
Klappergasse (rattle alley) is the name of a small street in Aix-la-Chapelle. It’s said, a windmill once stood here. Maybe the girl used to live here because the lyrics says “Türelüre-Lißje from Klappergasse”.
We have a saying here in Germany:
Was Du nicht willst, was man Dir tue
das füge such keinem Anderen zu!
What you don’t want, what people do to you
don’t do that to anyone else!
For decades, a secured border parted two countries here on Usedom: the German Democratic Republic (since 1989 a substantial part of the Federal Republic of Germany) and Poland. While about 90% of Usedom kept German after WWII, approximately 10% belongs to Poland since 1945. Nowadays, you can roam freely from one side to the other and the wooded path, built in the former no-man’s land, leads you right to the shore of the Baltic sea.
All humans (and animals as well) are living together on this wonderful planet. Despite cultural differences, it’s great to roam freely and get used to these differences. All of us can benefit from knowing each other Even when it comes to misunderstandings sometimes, in general, all of us benefit.
Goods, habits, culture, and much more enrich our lives, our minds, our experiences, and our common ground for further growth as mankind. Help to keep the fences down between states, countries, and people! Or, to quote a song by the British rock band Pink Floyd “Turn down the walls”.
The sun is warm,
the sea is cold.
The surf rolls in
and wets your feet.
finding colorful stones,
watching the gulls passing by,
listening to the wind
carrying their cry.
Enjoy your life
before growing old!
From today, a feature update of Luminar Neo is available. With the now published version 1.1 all proposed features are implemented. Therefore, there is no rebate for the reduced functionality anymore. But, with this code SOLANER-NEO, you can save 10€/10$.
One of the long-awaited features now finally available is the portrait background removal tool. Instead of manually removing the background and having to handle each hair separately, AI eases this a lot. With a single click the background can be made transparent.
… from Usedom at the Baltic Sea. OK, I came already back on Saturday from my 2-weeks family vacation. Although it wasn’t a typical family vacation because I was on Usedom with my wife, daughter, and grant-son. That little guy is 5. So this was his first vacation where he was able to notice everything and he liked it a lot. One of his statements was “I like our new home more than our old home”. He didn’t realize, that the vacation home was our home only for our vacation.
Back in 2019, when we were in the Netherlands with him, he was too young to notice such a change. Back in 2018, I was already in Ahlbeck with my wife and we decided to come back with our grant son for his first beach vacation. Unfortunately, this come-back lasted longer than expected because of the SARS2-CoV / Covid19 pandemic.
This time we rented a vacation home near the middle of the town. Ahlbeck is quite small, with only about 3,400 regular citizens but with more than four times the number of guest beds. The apartment, we rented in 2018, was also very lovely, but reaching the beach from there was quite complicated because a huge rehab clinic building barriers the direct way and we had to make a long way around. Reaching the pier also lasted about 20 minutes by foot. You can see the pier in the image above from 2018. We love to walk along the surf in the evening, so we had to pull out the rental bikes first to reach the beach. Very inconvenient. That’s why we decided to get this time an apartment closer to the town and with easier access to the beach. It’s only about 200 meters as the bird flies and about 300 meters walk to reach the waterfront.
Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t perfect beach weather this time. Some drizzling nearly every day for at least some time distributed over the whole day. But, I won’t complain. We had some beach weather, we had cycling weather, we watched the neighboring towns as well as the next town in Poland, which is only about 4 km away. We also rented bikes for our stay and surprisingly the little guy was able to cope with the (quite small) distances on his bike. The longest distance we cycled in one day was 12 km with a couple of pauses. We cycled mostly along the sea on the promenade connecting the 3 neighboring towns grouped under the name Kaiserbäder. They have a lot of bicycle tracks here.
I love the area at the baltic sea for the small villages, the avenues with their chestnut or oak trees, and the forests reaching up to the coast. The sea does not have a noticeable tide (only about 10 cm), the huge beaches with very fine sand, and the flat-bottomed sea which is quite warm and less salty than the other oceans. So, these beaches are very entitled to kids, especially smaller ones.
The term Kaiserbäder (Kaiser = Emporer; bäder = baths) was chosen because these towns were visited by the Emporer of the German Empire back in the 19th century a couple of times. The word Bad (= bath) in a town’s name refers to the idea of being a place for curing and rehab. In the late 19th century, people had already come here to the coast for spending some leisure time, cure, and recuperate. Especially the rich ones and the noble men and women. Even the Emporers were here a couple of times and that’s the reason, why the towns have chosen the name Kaiserbäder to operate under that name. Nowadays, everyone can benefit from the beauty of the coast and retreat from the burdens of daily chores.
For one day (without having a certain date in my mind) it was planned to visit a nature protection area nearby (ok, 1 1/4 hours drive by car) to see White-tailed eagles (very good chance), osprey (maybe – a hope), grey cranes (quite good chance because they are quite common here but very shy), and red kites.
In the end, I saw 2 white-tailed eagles sitting in the trees far-far away and one flying from one side to the other (👍), one osprey (sitting very far away, then flying even further away, but also flying a bit closer to capture him), 5 cranes flying by, 1 stork, 1 crane with a chick in the woods (no photo possible), many grey herons and 3 great white egrets, common terns, lots of different ducks and geese, many swallows, black-headed gulls, cormorants. I’m stopping here to not bore you.
In the meantime, the others were visiting an adventure park in a town nearby very suitable for kids under 12.
For 4 days starting with Ascension Day, the German Masters in Kite-Surfing took place here right next to the pier. I watched the sportswomen and sportsmen for a few hours distributed over several days with my camera. You know, I like to see them “flying” over the water. This was an unexpected event and therefore not planned. But, very welcomed. Even the wind was unexpected those days: some competitions had to be canceled because of too heavy winds.
In the end, this was a family vacation and not a photo trip. Nevertheless, I’m quite happy about the images I was able to capture. The nature protection area has to stay on my list. I have to come again with more time and arrive earlier. Without the overcast sky, I’d have come back with less usable images because the light conditions would have resulted in either overexposed skies or in hopeless underexposed subjects.
It’s Tina’s turn to host the Lens-Artist’s Photo Challenge this week. I assume everyone has some of these dust-catchers in her home. On a cupboard, shelf, sofa, or windowsill you can find more or less valuable things. One bought and valuated then stored in a drawer or a card box at the attic or in the cellar, later put in the bin or sold at a garage sale or flea market.
A few years ago, we had a booth at flea-marked selling toys and games of our kids, where they were too old for in the meantime. I sold one of them for a quite low price, but the receiver wasn’t a kid. Instead, a dog got it. At once the dog bit fierce in the toy. You can’t imagine how that hurt inside to see the dog maltreated a toy having comforted one of our kids for years and was even in their bed. I know, I gave it away and the new owner can now do, what she wants with her property. But, seeing such cruelty isn’t nice.
It’s sometimes hard to find images fitting to a certain challenge. For these tasks, I’m using the help of Excire Foto. I told the software where my image library is located and it starts analyzing the images. It recognizes the main colors in the images as well as the contents (what is in the images) and tags them automatically. Later, I can use the user interface to search for images with certain tags. Currently, you can save a few bucks when ordering Excire Foto, because it’s on sale.
This week, Anne is our host for LAPC. Her topic is water, a topic I wished for so long and would be mine, in case I were asked for a topic.
Without water, life on earth were impossible. At least, that kind of life, we know. But, water is extremely flexible. You can find it nearly everywhere and in many different appearances. When asking a physicist , she will tell you, water has 3 different appearances: solid, liquid, and gaseous. Thus, I try to show you all of them.
Ice, solid as a rock.
Water as a surface and above the surface: the sea, the rain, and the clouds.
Hot water releases steam.
Steam climbs up in higher regions and forms clouds.
When there is enough water in the air, it starts falling down: rain!
Some have fun in the rain.
Others have fun with snow, also a kind of solid water.
And rivers bring the water back to the sea.
Although some (many?) humans tend to complain about the rain, this is what it would look like without water:
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Again, I’m combining two Lens-Artist Photo-Challenges. Last week Amy asked for what “travel has thought me” and this week John is asking for “Change”. I was extremely busy last weekend and over the week I’m following my own schedule. But, knowing the topic in advance, gave me the time to prepare a post although this weekend I’m very busy again.
You know, I was in Namibia last year for visiting and experiencing a desert. Namibia has lots of them. They are different from the sand deserts of the Sahara. But, you can see, how the sun dried out the country. Every now and then, we were crossing sand-filled valleys by using bridges. These valleys are rivers. According to my experience, rivers consist of water. In Africa, rivers cal also consist of sand and dust for some time during the year. They dry out. Here in Europe rivers don’t dry out. Even during the extremely hot summers of 2017-2019, the rivers had at least some water. The water level was very low and even for river Rhine, shipping had to be stopped for a couple of weeks. But, for Africa, it’s quite normal that rivers dry out.
We have to be very, very careful with our activities as they have an impact on our environment. I’m not an ecologist, but Global Warming can’t be denied. Glaciers are melting and the additional water is diluting the salty water in the oceans, which makes the inner-ocean streams (i.e. Gulf Stream or Humboldt Stream) collapse which results in climatic changes on the continents as well as collapses of fish schools. Increasing temperatures are affecting the countries, especially around the equator. Bigger areas of heat and no rain at all will avoid growing food because of the lack of water. Monsoon-like rain at quite low temperatures in other parts will also avoid growing food because the rain will wash away the fertile soil.
We are the generation to initiate the change. Michael Jackson sang in his song “Man in the mirror” (written be Glen Ballard / Siedah Garrett):
I’m gonna make a change
For once in my life
It’s gonna feel real good
Gonna make a difference
Gonna make it right
Who am I, to be blind pretending not to see their needs?
That’s why I want you to know
I’m starting with the man in the mirror
I’m asking him to change his ways
And no message could’ve been any clearer
If they wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself and then make a change
I’ve been a victim of a selfish kind of love
It’s time that I realize
Gonna make that change come on
(Man in the mirror)
You know it
You know it
You know it
Make that change
Earlier this week I watched a documentary about people living in the Zambesi plains in Zambia. The people make their living with fishing. Traditionally, they were fishing with self-made traps and caught only the big fish, while the smaller ones were able to escape. So, over millennia, the system works well. Over time, more and more people came up with the idea to use nets instead of traps, because with the nets they were able to catch more fish. Unfortunately, they now also caught the small and young ones. Guess, what, the number of fish decreased enormously. So, the government forbade using nets but the people didn’t care. during the documentary, fishermen were interviewed by the film team. Surprisingly, they are aware they are exterminating all fish and killing the base of their lives. Their excuse: Even when I stop using nets, the others still use them. So, they will have more fish to sell, than me.
In small, this is the situation, we see all over the world. No-one is willing the do the first step. No government, no company, no women or man.
I want to hand over a loveable and lovely planet to our children. I want to make them see and experience the unique beauty of this wonderful tiny blue pearl in the black and cold universe. I don’t want to forbid. I want you to think about what you’re doing. Re-think it from end to end. When Sting published his song against Cold War in the 1980s, he phrased “The Russians love their children, too”. I believe this. Not only the Russians, all people all over the world. When people don’t have health anymore, who should spend money on products? When we don’t have enough water to grow plants, what do they want to eat? Do CEOs want to go out in the fields to grow and harvest their food on their own, because there are no farmers anymore?
The sentence «S’ils n’ont plus de pain, qu’ils mangent de la brioche.» (if they don’t have bread, they should eat cake) is attributed to the French Queen Marie-Antoinette and is supposed to be the final spark to start the storm of the French Revolution. The result is written in each history book.
A quote supposed to be said by either Chief Sitting Bull, Chief Seattle, or part of a prophecy of the Cree reads “When the last tree is cut down, the last fish eaten, and the last stream poisoned, you will realize that you cannot eat money.” Regardless, who was the first one having said this, it’s true. Thus, I’m reciting Michael Jackson “start with the man/woman in the mirror and make the change!”
Thanks, Ann-Christine, for giving me the opportunity to remember a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Seychelles Islands back in October 2010. For two weeks I was in paradise. La Digue is one of the bigger islands forming the country Seychelles. It’s located in the Indian Ocean and belongs to the African continent. You can find it on a map when staring with your finger in Mombasa at the Kenyan coast and moving to the east and starting with your other finger from the Jemen-Oman-border going south.
Seychelles is south of the equator at 4°16′ S 55°46′ E. So they are outside the cyclone area. No dangerous animals are living on the islands. There is even no malaria threat in Seychelles.
The islands have a tropical climate. It’s hot and the humidity is quite high. Because of the short distance to the equator, there is no twilight. When the sun goes down, it becomes dark nearly at once. The sun rises at around 6 a.m. and goes down at around 6 p.m.
When you want to read a bit more, you can find my posts here. Scroll down to the bottom of that page to start with the oldest post.
This is my first bi-lingual blog-post. Text in Deutsch weiter unten.
A friend of mine started a challenge to inspire the reader to travel without leaving the room and and calls it Zimmerreisen,which translates to room-travel. The German word can be a plural noun as well as a verb. I really liked the idea and I wanted to participate. As she writes her blog in German and addresses people living here I would also write this post in German. But, the majority of my followers don’t understand German, so I decided to write this post in both languages.
Puzzleblume named a few of rules for the challenge:
each second Friday of a month a new turn
pingback to her post
1,500 words should be enough (per language)
Not only images. Tell us a story!
use the tag #Zimmerreisen (and #roomtravel)
use the given letters as stimuli for your imagination to find places or things starting with the given letters
First we start with “A”, “B” and “C”. Use at least one of them for your post
I’ve chosen “Alpes”, “Balloon” and “Carnival” for this first roundtrip from the back of your seat to have
You know, flying balloons depends very much on the weather. While for most time of the year a balloon can fly safely only during the morning or evening hours, during winter they can also have good conditions during the day. So, we met at about 8:30 with the pilot and tried to find a good spot to start. The sky was covered with thick clouds, but the weather report (not the forecast) said, it would be possible to fly. And we did! After a couple of 10 meters, we touched the clouds and when we came out of the clouds, a sunny blue sky was above us. We went up to 1,000 meters and enjoyed the view to the Alpes.
Where’s the “C” you might ask. This happens during the core time of the carnival season while we were escaping the carnival festivities. In German, carnival translates to Karneval. The origin of this word is Latin “carne vale” and means “meat, farewell”. This festivity is the last before the start of the lenten season, which ends on Holy Saturday.
Btw. I’d encourage you, to join. I guess, it’s a lot of fun 😊
Eine Co-bloggerin von mir hat eine Challenge gestartet Post zu schreiben, in denen man reisen kann, ohne das Zimmer zu verlassen und nennt das “Zimmerreisen”. Ich fand die Idee so gut, dass ich mich auch daran beteiligen möchte. Da mein Blog aber in Englisch ist und Ihre Idee in Deutsch, habe ich mich entschieden diese Post Zweisprachig zu schreiben, denn die Mehrheit meiner Leser verstehen kein Deutsch.
Sie hat ein paar Regel aufgestellt:
jeden zweiten Freitag startet eine neue Runde
Pingback zu ihrem Post setzten
1,500 Wörter sollten genug sein
Nicht nur Bilder, sondern eine Geschichte erzählen
Den Tag #Zimmerreisen benutzen (und #roomtravel für englisch-sprachige Leser)
die gegebenen Buchstaben als Inspiration für den eigenen Blog-Post nutzen. Die Orte oder Gegenstände sollten mit diesem Buchstaben anfangen
Wir beginnen mit “A”, “B” und “C”, und mindestens einer der Buchstaben muss verwendet werden
Ich habe mich für “Alpen”, “Ballon” und “Carnival” für diese erste Runde entschieden.
Wie jeder weiß, Ballon-Fahrten sind sehr Wetterabhängig. Die meiste Zeit des Jahres können sie nur in den Morgen- oder Abenstunden starten. Im Winter hingegen besteht in den Alpen auch die Möglichkeit tagsüber zu fahren. So haben wir uns morgens gegen 8:30h mit dem Ballon-Piloten getroffen und einen Start-Platz gesucht. Der Himmel war mit dicken grauen Wolken überzogen, aber der Flugwetterbericht sah für einen Start gut aus. Nach einigen Duzend Metern haben wir die Wolken erreicht und nach einigen weiteren Duzend Metern erfolgreich durchstoßen, wo wir von der Sonne und strahlend blauem Himmel erwartet wurden. Bis zu 1.000m sind wir aufgestiegen und konnten die Aussicht auf das fantastische Alpen-Panorama genießen.
Was ist mit dem “C”? Die ganze Aktion fand in der Karnevalszeit statt. Zwischen Weiberfasnacht und Tulpensonntag, während unserer järhrlichen Karnevals-Flucht (darüber habe ich schon ein paar Mal geschrieben). Karneval, oder in Englisch carnival geht zurück auf das mittel-lateinische “carne vale”, das “Fleisch, Lebewohl” bedeutet. Aschermittwoch, mit dem Karneval abschließt, ist der Beginn der Fastenzeit, die mit Karsamstag ihr Ende findet.
Btw. Eventuell möchtest Du auch teilnehmen. Tu es!
This image is taken during our photographer’s roundtable in January 2010. It’s 11 years old. But I guess, it’s a symbol for this year: a vaccine is available, distribution of the vaccine hast started and the bright area in the sky is proposing a “back to normal” to come soon. Until then, keep safe!
December 31st, the last day of the year! Time for a look back. I guess all of you are happy, this wired year finally came to an end. All of us are tired of the regulations, limitations, and lockdowns we were faced this past year and had to follow even if we didn’t want to.
Right before Christmas, I got my 2020 yearbook. During the lockdown in March-May, I feared, my 2020 yearbook would be quite thin, there was no possibility to go out and take photographs. But, I was wrong. I even had to work very hard, to reduce the number of images to fit in a book. So, I want to name the major topics now:
In the end, I created 4 books this year Iceland, Iceland monochrome, Iceland wildlife, and my yearbook. So, 2020 was a very productive year and without the limitations, it wouldn’t have been possible to have all my 2020 images developed up to now.
But, there were also a couple of downsides this year. Our vacation at the sea in April was canceled because of the lockdown. Our family vacation in May was also canceled because of the lockdown. The extended weekend trip end of September for visiting my brother in Switzerland was also canceled. But this time for bad weather (first heavy snowfalls and closed streets). Our plan was to make a trip to a wine-growing area in October. But, because of the increasing number of infections. We didn’t book a hotel in advance to be able to react short-term to the weather conditions. So, we stayed home instead. Around the first of Advent, my wife wanted to visit a couple of Christmas markets. You guess it: canceled – no Christmas markets were planned or set-up. Visits for Christmas with my parents or our moved-out children??? Very distributed and no gathering.
When looking at my job, it came out, I’m not affected by the lockdown and the limitations to go out for work. I can do my work perfectly from home. All I need, is my company notebook, a headset to telephone, and a connection to the internet. Lucky me! My wife is working at a pension home to keep the inhabitants mentally active. So, she’s working in a secure place.
All in all, it’s good to know, the first vaccines are already approved, and also the pop-up vaccination centers are ready. So, the most endangered people are getting their vaccines now (if they want) and all others will follow during the next months following a priority plan.
In my personal life, there were also a couple of changes. I started a completely new job. I changed from being a project manager for IT projects to vendor management. Instead of reporting to clients, I now get the reports from our vendors. A very interesting change of view.
My daughter also started working again in February. Back in 2016, she started getting educated in nursing but had to quit because of her baby. Despite being a single mum, she’s working shifts (early and late, but no nights) as a nurse in a pension home. She got employed in March after 4 weeks of working voluntarily in that pension home. For 2021 she’s planning to start again to get educated in nursing so that she will be able to earn a bit more money. She also moved to a new apartment in June (after living again with us for about 9 months, because of some problems with her apartment and since February because of her work). Now, she lives only 300m away from us, so that we can take care of her son when he’s not in kindergarten.
Our older son was able to convert his fixed-term contract into an unlimited one and our youngest wasn’t limited too much by the lockdowns to learn for his job. By the end of 2021, he has to pass the written exam and in January 2022 he has to pass the oral examination.
My wife is currently recuperating from the lung inflammation she got surprisingly early December.
So, 2020 was a bad year in many perspectives, but it wasn’t a complete disaster. There is always some light in the dark.
This is the sun at noon on Dec. 24th. That’s a very typical winter sky here in my region. You can see, how low the sun is in the sky. It’s taken from your bathroom window on the second floor. From the street, I would be unable to see the sun at all. The trees are not that large and are about 100m away from our house. But the sun is standing so low during winter.
The image above is also a good illustration of my year 2020: there was a lot of struggling and complicated situations. We were pained by strict regulations to fight against SARS2-CoV. But, there was still some light. Think about your past 12 months. I guess you are also able to find some enlightening memories. Keep them well and let them carry you through the remaining time of the pandemic.
8 years ago! What a day. Perfect weather. Even stars above the scene!
Our monthly photographer’s roundtable led us to this closed former steel plant in the north-western Ruhr area. Instead of tearing it down, the area was converted into a park and many parts are accessible for the people. This was neither my first, nor my last visit. Unfortunately, it’s nearly a 100km drive.
I took this image a couple of years ago, but it could be taken today.
This image is illustrating, how I currently feel: bored, annoyed but at the same time lacking drive. I have so much to do, but I’m not motivated to do anything. So, I’m waiting for the time passing by when I’m back from work.
Only three weeks until winter solstice. Today, sunrise was at 8:24h and sunset is at 16:22. On Dec. 21st the sun will rise at 8:33h and set at 16:22h. But, when having so deep hanging clouds and fog, the days don’t get bright. People living further north even have way shorter days at the moment.
The weekend before last, the temperature was below 0°C even during the days with crisp blue skies. But, on the next Monday, the temperatures rose again and brought this uncomfortable weather: slightly above the freezing point, drizzling rain (with the ability to create black ice on the frozen surfaces of the streets), and the bad sight. A thick, warm jacket or better coat is important. Not because of the low temperatures, but because everything feels colder because of the moisture in the air. An umbrella does not help much. The drops are so fine, they find their way under the umbrella and make your clothes wet.
Unusually we have this kind of weather during November (but with much more rain). This year, November was way too dry. Forests are dying because of the lack of water. Lakes, and especially the artificial lakes for ensuring we have enough drinking water, are dramatically empty. Three hot years in a row without enough rain to refill all the reservoirs have consequences. Nature is fighting back!
We need more large forests to make sure, the rain will come back. But, without water, no forest can grow. Even, if it could, it would last decades.
This is flu weather. Keep yourself warm and take care of not getting infected by any of the bad viruses roaming outside at the moment. You know, there are a few viruses around much worse than flu.
One week ago, I got an email from the Photokina team, the team behind the (former) world-leading fair for photography. Since 1950, every second year in September all eyes worldwide were directed to Colone in Germany to see the latest products and services for photographers: cameras, lenses, tools, gear, paper, printing machines, and so on.
Over the last couple of years, there was already a change visible. In my 2016 Photokina review, I already talked about it. 2018 was the last year the fair was held in the traditional way. Starting from 2019, they changed the frequency and the time of the year to face the changes in the photography business: Starting from 2019 the fair should run each year in May. (I wasn’t at Photokina in 2019, because I was in Wales at the same time). In my opinion, changing the time to May was a bad idea. It’s already vacation time. New consumer electronic products are already introduced at CES in January and for the shops, it’s too early to order products for Christmas. So, I really wonder which audience they want to address.
The other problem is, although we’re taking more photos than ever, only the tiniest part of them is ever printed and put in an album. In my opinion, more than 99% of the photos are taken with a cell phone and will never leave the device (expect from being put on FB or Instagram or being forwarded by a messaging service like WhatsApp, signal, or telegram to only name a few of them). And instead of printshops and laboratory, we only need a computer, software and maybe a desktop printer. And, we have an enormous diversity spreading from the pro wedding or product photographers to the ordinary snappers.
Over the last couple of years, we can notice an increase in camera and lens prices, while, on the other hand, the revenues of the manufacturers are decreasing. In 2015 I was asked by a fellow blogger about my opinion on the future of cameras and wrote a post on it (sorry, it’s written in German, but hopefully, this link works for you to translate it into English). When looking into it today, I see, many things I prophecized are already a reality.
Back to Photokina. In 2020 Photokina was canceled because of the Covid19 pandemic. 2021 now is also canceled because of the still ongoing pandemic and no-one is able to predict if we’re able to run a fair for several hundred-thousand visitors safely. So, this cancelation was already overdue. Now, the email is titled by “Photokina bis auf weiteres ausgesetzt” (suspended until further notice).
Now, the Photokina team has to use the time very carefully to re-invent themself and come back with a (new) concept attracting the manufacturers as well as the audience. CeBIT is an example, where the management did the wrong decisions. CeBIT is history (1986-2018). Is Photokina also already history? When looking at Gamescom (2009-), you can see, a renewed concept can make a fair successful. In the beginning, in the early 1990s, one of the fair halls at CeBIT was dedicated to gaming. Over time, gaming became more and more room. But, at some point, someone came up with the idea to dedicate a complete fair to only gaming, and it became a huge success. Even changing the location from Leipzig to Colone wasn’t able to stop the success.
As I stated above, the audience is extremely diverse in their needs and interests. Photokina could stay relevant when concentrating on pro-level photographers, and leaving out the consumer part. But, the fair needs to refinance itself by getting the entrance fees. During the last years, the entrance fee was already quite high and raised each time. So, I was wondering about many of the visitors. I had the impression their only purpose was filling the room. Many, many visitors seemed to be completely uninterested in the exhibitions. When planning with fewer ordinary visitors (this would probably re-attract more pros), the entrance fees would need to be increased even further. Although pros might be able to deduct the entrance fees from their taxes, I’m not sure if that’s enough.
CeBIT has had similar problems. Once, computer and IT were a small part of the Hannover Messe Industrie (industrial fair). Spinning the computer sector off, was a great and successful idea. But, with the upcoming success of computers, more and more ordinary people interested in computers became attracted by the fair the halls became extremely crowded. Gamescom was able to absorb many of the people interested in gaming, but still, too many people were visiting the fair making it more and more uninteresting for the businesses because they were unable to talk to their business customers. House fairs, organized by either the manufacturers or by big distributors, were taking over and the importance of CeBIT decreased. In 1995 about 755000 visitors and 7500 exhibitors were visiting the fair. In 2018 only 200000 visitors and 2800 exhibitors found their way to Hannover. That was less than during the first CeBIT in 1986.
Today’s subject is inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s famous movie as I kind of felt like the main actor of the story (played by James Stewart) might have felt. No, I’m not sitting in a wheel-chair, nor I’m handicapped otherwise. But, the remaining parts have some similarities.
Last Sunday morning I was attending a personal video conference from our living room. I was sitting on the couch with my notebook standing on the coffee table in front of me. So, I was able to easily watch out of the big window when I suddenly recognized a movement in the garden. That day was already winterly: cold (around 3-4°C), a gray covered sky and it was drizzling. Very uncomfortable being outside. Fortunately, I was sitting inside.
I tried to discover, what kind of movement I recognized from the corner of my eye. It was different from the regular bird’s movements. About 20 meters away from me I saw a gray subject laying on the lawn. But, I was still unable to determine what it was. After staring a couple of seconds on the subject, I got the idea, it could be a bird of prey with its prey after a successful hunt which it now covers with its wings to hide it from greedy competitors. Hurring upstairs for getting my camera, but I was too slow. The gray patch was already gone when I returned.
But, after a couple of minutes, it flew into our apple tree for a short rest. This time my camera was ready.
Here he sits, still having the prey in the left claw. I’m not perfectly sure, what it is (was). I guess it could be an Eurasian blackbird.
Btw. the German name “Sperber” is derived from the Old High German words Sparo (sparrow) and Aar (eagle). So, we have a sparrow-eagle 😊
Btw2. The German title of the movie is “Das Fenster zum Hof” and translates to “The window to the courtyard”, which is in my opinion a better description for the movie. But, as it is Alfred’s creation he has the right to name it whatever he thinks is right.
A friend of mine posted an image on FB of a Ferris wheel at night. I liked the image very much. While chatting with her online, I checked the archive of this blog to see, if I have one of my own images already online. I found a couple of other funfair related posts i.e. here, here, and here. The image I was looking for, I unfortunately only have on my other blog to showcase as an example for the “Kirmeslichter” (lights at a funfair) workshops, I’m offering. This year I didn’t offer that workshop, because there were no funfairs because of the COVID19 pandemic.
Each year in September the funfair comes to my town, but not in 2020. Nearly every year I’m out for at least one night to capture these special lights. The Ferris wheel is usually the center of such a funfair. That one year, there was another circling attraction right behind the Ferris wheel and I was waiting with my camera for a moment when both of them were operating. The carousel in the background only has two arms with a gondola for about 8 people in each. When in operation, the gondolas are circled first in one direction and after a short stop, in the other direction. I can’t imagine how it could feel sitting in one of the gondolas.