art, culture, photography, review, world

Throwback Thursday: Blood-moon

Last Friday there was another opportunity to see a moon eclipse. Unfortunately, western Germany wasn’t in an optimal place for seeing the whole process.

  • Moon rise at 21:23
  • Sunset at 21:26
  • start of the lunar eclipse 21:30
  • maximum at 22:21

Many people were out for watching the event, but not all of them were lucky to see something. I wasn’t able to see a thing, too. I was faced with a moon-rise behind a dense layer of clouds, despite the stars standing higher above the horizon were visible. So, in my location the start of the process wasn’t visible because we’re too far west. Sunset was too late and a layer of clouds didn’t allow a view on the moon during the central part of the process. So, I went back home. At about 23:00 I was able to see the red moon when the moon already rose high enough to be above the cloud layer. But, at this time the reddish color already started to vanish. Bad luck.

Hoping for next time. On January 21st the times are better for us. But, probably the weather will be against us again.

till that, I still have the images from September 2015.

Take care!

Advertisements
art, nature, photography, review, travel, world

Throwback Thursday: A window to the cliff

This image is from my first trip to Etrétat in March/April 2012.

This window had a diameter of approximately 1,50m and was cut in the chalk cliff. A small path led to this place. We’re about 80m above the sea and no fence is between me and the sea. The ground you can see in the im image is the floor I’m standing on. I’m approximately half a meter away from the edge. What a strange feeling!

When I was in this place again in August 2015, only a few remains were visible. Lots of chalk were already eroded.

Take care!

history, landscape, nature, people, photography, review, seasons, travel, world

I’m back ….

… from my summer vacation.

Although, summer hasn’t started (according to the calendar, summer starts on June 21st), I was on summer vacation and came back Saturday evening. The last 2 weeks I was at the Baltic Sea on the Island Usedom. It’s the most north-eastern part of Germany, next to the border to Poland. Usedom is known for being a very sunny area, so that they advertise with the slogan “the sun-island”. Despite, many parts of Germany suffered from bad weather with heavy rain and even some over-floodings, Usedom was dried out: 3 weeks without any rain, when we arrived. When we arrived we had nearly 30°C, crisp and cloudless blue sky and a smell of salt, resin and blooming flowers.

Not far from our vacation home, there was a white beach with very fine sand. Some beach chairs were waiting to be rented. You know, I love being at the sea. I love walking along the shore, listening to the birds, the soft wind and the sound of the waves.

On Usedom you can find several towns and villages. Not all of them are located at the coast. Usedom is the second largest island of Germany (Rügen is the biggest one, located next to Usedom). The island is 66,4 km broad and a bit shaped like a banana with much bigger ends (up to 23 km) then the middle part. The Baltic sea does not have a huge tide. You often even notice the difference between high tide and low tide.

Usedom is located not of the Germany capitol Berlin only in a about two hours drive distance. So, you can find many people from Berlin, here. At the end of the 18th century, rich people from Berlin started to go for vacation and spotted i.e. Usedom as a beautiful place for recovering from the stress and the dirt in the big city. At first, local farmers and fishers gave rooms to the city-people.

Next, entrepreneurs built villas and mansions for the rich visitors. These houses followed a very certain building style with ideas coming from the ancient greeks and romans. Today, that style is known as “Bäderarchitektur” (Resort architecture). I’ll show you some more examples in future posts. Fortunately, most of them are already well reconstructed and in very good shape.

To make the trip more comfortable, the coastal towns built piers in addition to the railway stations. So, the people were able to come by ship and have not only a comfortable stay but also a comfortable trip. We were for your stay in Ahlbeck, the town with the oldest pier. You can see it in the image above.

In the urban hinterland, you can discover many interesting villages by bike. The island has a dense network of bicycle tracks. Most of the island is quite flat, so you don’t have many problems with hills or so (despite, there are a few). You can even find a few lakes on the Island.

Take care!

architecture, art, culture, landscape, long exposure, meeting, nature, people, photography, review, seasons, travel, world

I‘m back ….

from a beautiful week on the Isle of Skye.

While writing this, I’m having a layover of about 3 hours in Amsterdam and hacking this in my mobile phone. All the other group members are on their ways to get home again and I’m the last one sitting in the airport terminal alone for the last hour and waiting for my connection flight. I was on a trip with some friends for seeing the beauty of the Isle if Skye. The island is part of The Inner Hebrides islands and is located at the west coast of Scotland in the Irish Sea.

As I was told before, many parts of that island look very similar to Iceland: fjords, steep hills and small mountains, few trees, green mountainsides, lots of sheep. Spring starts a bit later here, so far in the North.

We visited many famous and also less famous locations. As expected, the weather was quite mixed: warm, sunny moments were interrupted quite often by rain, which was sometimes heavy and equipped with very strong winds.

Over time, some images will pop up here. For today I attached an image of Eilean Donan Castle, located between the Scottish main-land and the Isle of Skye. It’s considered as a doorkeeper and one of the famous locations here.

Our base for exploring the island was somewhere in the middle of the island, not far away from Portree, the biggest town of the island. We had two cars for our group of seven: a Skoda Octavia and a Mercedes C220. The later wasn’t appropriate for the streets, because of the lowered down body and the low section tires. (We ordered a different car, but the rental car station did not have the ordered car).. The roads are quite small and often in bad shape. Some roads even have only one track and passing points every now and then. Usually, the sides of the roads are the worst parts: many potholes and unpaved sides. To avoid hitting a pothole you have the leave the regular track sometimes. But, when you’re encountering an other car or even s lorry, you can’t leave your track without risking an accident. So, over time we got a flat front tire 😕. Unfortunately, that happened at night and there was neither a spare tire nor a bootle of repair foam in the Mercedes. 😭

While two of us tried to get the tire repaired in the next morning, the others were trying to see another famous spot. But, after a few miles an encountering lorry occupying more room of the road (he crossed the middle line of the road and drove also in our half) and thus forcing us to yield to the unpaved side, where we hit a huge pothole and thus got a flat tire on the second car, too 😕. Thanks to a spare tire in the Skoda we were back on track after a short break. Pugh. Day saved. At the early afternoon we met with the second car and used the rest of the day as good as possible.

A few times, we noticed the midges, a kind of large mosquitos which bite very aggressively. Fortunately, we had too heavy wind for them to fly most of the time. So, no-one was harmed. Usually, they come not before end of April or early May, but probably they were earlier this year because of a few very warm days. In this context, warm is a quite relative term. As our landlord said, they have about 15-19 degrees centigrade during summer! So, the 14-16 degrees we had during several days, were quite ‘hot’ for spring time. During the rainy days the temperatures went down to below 10°C, not counting the nights.

So, I recommend dressing with several layers of clothing, starting with a t-shirt. I wore a t-shirt, a hiking pullover, a thin hiking jacket without hood, a thicker hiking jacket with hood and on top of this a windbreaker with hood. The windbreaker was not always necessary. Sometime even the t-shirt was enough. Because of the cold and heavy wind I also used sometimes a pair of Norwegian gloves and my wooden hat. Hiking trousers don’t fight the wind very good, but in my opinion that was warm enough. The advantage of such material is, it dries up extremely quick after a rain. It only lasts 10-15 minutes to dry completely even after a hard rain. During on trip we got very wet. Some of us looked like they were drowned in a barrel of water. My trousers dried up as expected, but because of the heavy wind, the rain was forced through the fabric and ran down the legs. In the end, the water ran inside the shoes. In such situations, the material makes a huge difference. When having leather shoes, drying lasts days, especially when fur-lined. I have shoes made of Goretex. Although, my shoes were completely wet from inside, they were dried up in only 3,5 hours. OK, I got some help by toilet paper and a hair drier.

Regarding shoes, I recommend hiking boots with a solid tread, so that your shoes have grip and save you from slipping. Don’t expect paved paths when heading to a sightseeing spot. Thus, use boots with a high shaft and no trainers. Despite having hiking boots, one of our group members had an accident. He went over on his ankle. Fortunately this happened in the early afternoon of your last day on Skye. So, he didn’t miss much. But, he will probably suffer from the for some weeks.

My advice: always care for good boots and proper clothing when going on a trip.

Take care!

long exposure, nature, photography, postprocessing, review

Throwback Thursday: editing cranes with Luminar 2018 Jupiter!

Recently, I got a review version of the upcoming version “Luminar 2018″ V. 1.2.0 Jupiter. for a short time.

Upgrade was as easy as usual: simply drawing the app in my Applications folder. I had the feeling, the software start doesn’t need as long as before. The interface seemed familiar without any noticeable changes. All presets seemed to be still available. Also, the workflow is the same.

So, I took some of my images for my crane trip last fall and developed them from raw again.

(click on the image to enlarge it)
APS-C, 800mm (~1200mm), f8, ISO 400, 1/6400s
(click on the image to enlarge)
35mm, 155mm, ISO 800, f7.1, 1/500s
(click on the image to enlarge)
APS-C, 800mm (~1200mm), ISO 3200, f5.6, 1/125s

I was quite impressed by the results when comparing the outcome with the one from last fall using Luminar V. 1.0.0: more details, better results in the mid-tones and much better noise-reduction. The noise reduction is so good now, than I’m considering deleting the old app “Noiseless CK”.

For me, a good noise reduction is crucial. When doing wildlife photography, I have to use high ISO settings because I want very short shutter speeds for getting sharp images. You know the apertures triangle: ISO, shutter speed and aperture. As I usually have to use long focal lenses, which are not so fast as shorter focal lenses because of physical limitations. Additionally, the longer a lens, the smaller the field of depth is. This brings in another level of light shortage.

Some of the other new features are:

  • higher speed during import and processing
  • automatic distortion correction
  • improved Demosaicing and green balance
  • support of DCP profiles (Mac)
  • higher speed when importing raw images (Mac)
  • the functionality of the Windows version is adapted to the Mac version by adding support for batch processing, free transformation, rotation and mirroring

Luminar 2018 Jupiter comes as a free upgrade for all current users of Luminar 2018. Users having a previous version of Luminar are eligible for upgrading on a reduced rate. For those of you, not having Luminar already, might consider giving it a try. There’s a free evaluation version available for download for MacOS and for Windows.

When using this code “SOLANER” you can save some money and get your perks anyway 😃.

Take care!

art, culture, landscape, nature, photography, review, seasons, travel, world

Throwback Thursday: Carnival Season

Here in my area we have two of the German carnival capitols: Cologne and Duesseldorf. Carnival festivities take place in the public as well as in many indoor locations. Carnival season starts on November 11th and lasts until Ash Wednesday (the exact date differs each year, because carnival depends on Easter. On that day the Lenten season starts for 40 days ’til Easter)

How are these festivities related? The bible tells us the background.

Easter = resurrection = Jesus Christ rose from his grave
Good Friday = Jesus was nailed on the cross, died and was buried

This festivity is the most important celebration in Christian believes.

Because of Jesus himself lentened for 40 days to strengthen his own belief, there is a 40 day Lenten period.

The word ‘carnival’ has it’s origin in Latin: carne = meat + val = without. It marks the beginning of the 40 day Lenten period.

In medieval times, people started to celebrate before the Lenten period started and to use up nearly all of the food remaining from last year. So, these supplies were used for big festivities (also celebrating the end of the winter). During these days, the established hirachy were turned upside down: the fool became mayor and everyone masqueraded. For one of the days, the Thursday I mentioned in the first paragraph, even became power: they were allowed to reign for 1 day (Altweiber / Weiberfastnacht). All of these isn’t meant serious, but foolish, because everything is turned upside down.

The magic number of carnival is the 11, because you can turn it upside down and it’s still the same.

Over the centuries, carnival starts now on November 11th at 11:11. On that date, the indoor festivities start. These are meetings with a president, a meeting committee and lots of speeches (all funny but usually political). This type of carnival was a foolish reaction to the strict government by the Pruss and Napoleons France. The participants wear costumes inspired by official uniforms of that times soldiers, but with a funny skirt or flouncy sleeves. They also play special music. Often played by marching bands looking like they were kidnapped from the 17th century. Simple melodies and very foolish lyrics (easy to remember, even when drunk).

Starting from Altweiber, the carnival festivities encroach to the streets. Carnival music floods the streets and the radio stations. Carnival meetings are broadcasted by some TV stations. While you won’t remark all of this during winter, is nearly impossible to ignore it during the last week before Rosenmontag (Carnival Monday).

Not everyone likes this!
One of my friends works in the middle of Cologne. Even during the days marking the summit of the carnival festivities (Thursday to Tuesday), when the silly music with their haunting melodies creating earworms to eat up the remains of your mind. Most of the businesses in areas with such a long tradition of celebrating carnival that intense, are closed for these days, because no customer would come, the employees won’t be usable (too tired and drunk) and drunk people probably would trash the unsecured rooms.

His company does not close, because they have also to support customers in areas, where carnival isn’t a topic at all. So, he goes on vacation. Some other friends of us, also working in similar areas, where they don’t have to work. My company office at that time was located in Duesseldorf, but a bit out of the center. So, I left the office always early to avoid encountering with drunk people.

Because all of this, he got the idea, to use these days for a short trip and our annual carnival escape was born.

Over the years we usually visited a famous city in the south, but also Berlin and London. Not everyone was able to take part in every trip. So you won’t find all of them here.

This time was different. Despite we were traveling south, we didn’t the reach the warmer mediterranean countries. Instead, we stopped in the Bavarian Alps for a hot-air balloon flight.

Take care!

photography, postprocessing, review

Luminar and Aurora by Macphun

You know, I mentioned Luminar and Aurora by Macphun several times here in my blog and I’m using them on a regular basis for my images, as well as the older product Tonality Pro.

Macphun will now officially be known as Skylum!

In order to celebrate this, they’ve prepared special exclusive bonuses and freebies which are included to every purchase of Luminar or Aurora HDR. Both software products are available for Mac and Windows.

Both products are currently availlable with a special discount and some bonuses. So, give it a try. Free trials are available for download on the Luminar 2018 trial page and the Aurora 2018 trial page.

Or check out the perks you can currently get:
Luminar 2018 FEBRUARY OFFER  
AURORA HDR 2018 FEBRUARY OFFER

Take care!