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.
Saturday before last, I was in our state capitol to see one of the results of the long-lasting drought, we’re suffering this year. The fourth year in a row. Many smaller rivers and creeks don’t haven’t water anymore. Lakes and ponds dry out or at least overheat and endangering the fishes that way.
That river is one of the big streams here in Europe and it’s used as a road for large barges. When I walked down the riverbank and came closer to one of the spur dikes (they are built to slow down the water) when I noticed this single sunflower, blooming on a part of the riverbed, although the image seems to show something different, because you can’t the exact location.
I’m taking this sunflower as a sign of hope. Hope for water will come back to this level. Hope, because there is still some water in the ground.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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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.
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.
… 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.
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.
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.
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.
Back at the street a final view back to the Old man of Storr and his family with an 85mm focal length. They are standing or sitting up there and enjoying the view down to the sea. The bright spots are some sheep. You can enlarge the image by clicking on it. Do you see the paths? No? Me, neither. As I already told you, there aren’t any.
The group is located approximately 450m above the sea and the name giving “Old man” is about 48m high. The Storr is the name of the whole mountain formation (750 m high), where the rock needles grew out (they were created by the rain while the surrounding material eroded and only the harder parts survived). They have a fantastic view downhill to the sea, the neighboring islands, and even the Scottish mainland (assumed the sight is good enough). I already showed it to you in my past posts
From the parking ground, you can follow a gravel path for a few hundred meters ending at a gate. Up to here, the path is steep but quite easy to walk. Behind the gate, the harder part of the way up starts. Following sheep trails, we climbed uphill. But, the ground was very soft and slippy because of the amount of rain.
I’m very happy to have been able to climb up and come back down safely. In case, you want to try it, don’t try it without very solid hiking boots. In addition, hiking poles could be very useful. I didn’t have had hiking poles but missed them.
I took this image on Saturday before last. It’s already early April, and just like the old farmer’s rule says, April does whatever she wants. Just like last April, we got snow in die mid of spring. But, fortunately, this time most of the fruit trees didn’t have their blossoms so early. Over the last weeks, the weather was very nice and sunny, but cold. But, the magnolias (tulip trees) were affected again. It started snowing Friday at noon and until nightfall, we had a quite solid snow cover on the ground. Saturday morning, I had approximately 15 cm of snow on my car. Although the snow was nearly completely gone by Saturday noon, nearly all petals of the magnolia blossoms were already on the ground. What a pity. The already short period of magnolia blooming time was cut even earlier.
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. With coupon code Eggcire22, valid until 18.04.2022,you can save 22%.
Climbing up a steep hill has not only disadvantages. One benefit is, that you have (or at least can have) a very good sight. For this image, I turned my camera a little more to the left. Thus, The Old man of Storr isn’t in the image like it was in my image last week also taken from this point. But, you can recognize the lake and the sea way better.