culture, landscape, leisure, meeting, nature, people, photography, review, summer, travel, vacation, world

Throwback Thursday: I’m back ….

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.

Take care!

culture, landscape, leisure, meeting, nature, people, photography, review, summer, travel, vacation, world

Throwback Thursday: A day at the sea

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!

Take care!

art, culture, leisure, meeting, nature, people, photography, review, street, summer, travel, vacation, world

Throwback Thursday: Street Art Festival (pt. 2)

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.

 

Take care!

art, culture, leisure, meeting, nature, people, photography, review, street, summer, travel, vacation, world

Throwback Thursday: Street Art Festival

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.

Take care!

animals, bird, flowers, landscape, leisure, nature, people, photography, review, seasons, sport, summer, travel, wildlife, world

Throwback Thursday: I’m back …

… 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.

As usual, click on an image to enlarge it!

Take care!

landscape, leisure, nature, photo-of-the-day, photography, review

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge 189: “Odds and Ends”

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.

 

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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.

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Take care!

 

 

landscape, meeting, photography, plants, review, spring, travel

Throwback Thursday: I’m back … and LAPC #188 “A Special Place”

… from another trip. Thanks to the relaxations from the COVID restrictions it was a quite comfortable trip. Sanitizing hands and wearing a mask during transportation, in closed rooms, and wherever a proper distance can’t be kept is quite easy to follow and a level of restriction easily can be kept. Either way, we were able to enjoy the Mediterranean sun for a couple of days. This year’s destination for our carnival escape was the beautiful Balearen island of Mallorca.
We used Port d‘Alcúdia as our base for exploring some parts of the island. Nearly all of us were in the past already on Mallorca, but partly already decades ago. From Germany, this island is reachable in approximately 2 1/2 hours. Thus, it‘s also one of the most attractive destinations for party people. When talking about Mallorca as a vacation destination, you’re most probably faced with one of the bad images of this island. To name two of them, we have an island of the cleaning ladies (because traveling to Mallorca is quite cheap and requires in many parts of the island no knowledge of Spanish, so anybody can go there). I already named the other group, party people. Because it is so easy to reach Mallorca, and so many flights start each day from every German airport, even young people can travel to Mallorca and have a vacation with nearly guaranteed sunshine.
It’s a shame, people travel to Mallorca only to go to parties and get drunk. The island has so much more to offer. Wonderful landscapes from the sandy beaches with low water and only little tides, nice old town, restaurants with very good and tasty food, a mountain range, that parts the island in the northern part from east to west. These mountains are quite steep and craggy and up to 1.445 meters high. The island, located 170 kilometers off the Spanish mainland,  is about 98 kilometers in an east-west direction and 78 kilometers in a north-south direction. The mountains are approximately 90 kilometers broad with the 15 kilometers broad Tramuntana mountain range as the most important part.  The airport is located near the west coast in Palma, the capital of Mallorca as well as of the Spanish region of the Baleares, a group of islands where also Ibiza, Menorca, Formentera are part. Heading east with our rental cars, we needed approximately 45 minutes to reach Port d‘Alcúdia.
You can find a couple of towns twice on the map, because some towns are located at a safe distance from the sea, have founded a second town centuries ago at the sea to make it easier during the fishing season. The names of these towns start with the word „Port“. Nowadays, most of the hotels are located in these towns located at the coast, while the similarly named town located away from the sea has the Old town. So, when coming to Mallorca, never forget to visit the towns inland.
Unfortunately, the people have committed construction sins starting from the 1970s. So, we find many huge hotels along certain beaches. These concrete mountains mutilate the beautiful landscape. This is also the reason for becoming the most preferred vacation destination for generations of people, especially in Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, and the Scandinavian countries. Over the last 2 decades, people from the former Eastern bloc countries like Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, or Ukraine also learned to love that Island.
It‘s very sad, that this island has such a bad reputation. Besides the beautiful landscapes, beaches, and towns, you can find a lot of tasty products like wine, olive oil, cheese, or gin. Also, the cuisine is very tasty. Besides seafood, you can also get rabbit, lamb, goat, and beef. When paying attention to the restaurant, you can be sure, all the products are local.
When we started last Friday, alone from our starting airport there were 6 flights to Mallorca, 4 of them run by the same airline. And, that’s end of February. You could say, it‘s off-season, and you’re partly right. It’s too cold to go swimming. During the days, the temperature went up to 26 degrees centigrade, but the air is certainly much colder, only 15-17 degrees centigrade and around 4-7 degrees at night. That’s enough to see the island less crowded and enjoy the landscape while going hiking or cycling. Many hotels are prepared for giving cyclists and their bike room for the night. The people are generally very friendly and helpful. In the big hotels, you can find always someone speaking some German or at least some English. But, as always when traveling to a foreign country, it’s much better to know some words and sentences in the local language.
For this trip, we had a small list of planned visits:
– rough Northern cost around Soller / Port de Soller
– neighboring town Pollença (the market at Sunday morning) / Port de Pollença
– Cape of Formentor (the lighthouse at sunset)
– the center of the milky way
– Palma, the capitol, with Old town, cathedral, and a bit of shopping for the ladies
– hiking along a small part of the southern coast
– an old fisherman’s town
As well as a few optional destinations. But, our main motivation to go to Mallorca at this time of the year was seeing the blooming almond trees. And we did. Huge fields of white blooming trees. It was amazing.

Unfortunately, some of the plans were unable to realize:
– Cape Formentor was unable to reach because of a closed road. The only road going to the lighthouse was closed for road construction works about 5 kilometers away from the lighthouse. Too far to walk because we would have walked back in the dark and not knowing if we would have passed the closing by foot.
– photographing the Milky Way had to be skipped because we were unable to find the proper place. Mountains were hindering us from looking in the right direction. Ok, the island is quite big, but also has a problem with light pollution as soo many other parts in Europe too, and we only had a small time frame between rising of the Milky Way at about 4 a.m. and sunrise at 7:30 (twilight starts much earlier). How annoying!
– visiting Palma was also a disaster. That day the Day of the Baleares was celebrated. Ten thousands of people were in the streets, but shops and the
cathedral were closed. Instead, many tents were set up to offer street food, wine, olive oil, and so on while in other places music groups, dance ensembles, sports clubs, and other artists were entertaining the masses. So, the streets were extremely crowded and we left early.
– the planned hike along the coast also raised a problem. One of us was wearing sports shoes instead of tracking or hiking boots. He also is a little bit over-weighted and the path was a natural path and not a paved one. After about 1 kilometer (which lasted approximately 45 minutes) we turned back. The whole round track would have been 8 kilometers long. Nearly impossible under these conditions. Very sad.
– another lighthouse was fenced so that we were unable to get to the right spot.

Our trip even had a bad start. As I told you, there are at least 4 regular flights from our departure point scheduled to Mallorca: 6:00, 8:30, 11:00, and 16:50. While the majority of our group booked for 8:30, two had to take the flight at 16:50 because of their working hours. The day before our take-off, we got a short notification about our flight at 8:30 was postponed to 12:10. After a little investigation, we got aware, this was due to a warning strike of the security personnel. When getting to the airport, we noticed only the 8:30 (postponed to 12:10) and the 16:50 flights were supposed to be operated, while the others were canceled. Phew! Blessing in disguise. Our airline was able to get everything managed as well as possible and was very organized to make the best out of that situation. So we finally arrived at Mallorca with a couple of hours delay, but we did!

Nevertheless, I don’t want to complain. It was a very nice trip and it was so great to see the sun again, not to mention the joy of being outside wearing only a T-Shirt. I was writing this while sitting in my plane back home. This morning, I was getting up while it was still dark and -4 degrees to start working. Each vacation comes to an end and almost always it feels like days were shorter when on vacation.

 

All of my images are still in the camera, so I only have a photo of blooming almond trees taken with my smartphone for you. It’s edited by using the AI module from Luminar Neo for removing the power lines between the palm trees and some of the almond tree twigs automatically with only one click. The other click was to automatically correct the verticals. Great job! <ad> you can try this with your own images, head over to Skylum, and get your own copy. As always, you get a 30-days money-back guarantee. </ad>

This post is also part of the LAPC hosted this time by guest host Karina from Murtagh’s meadow. Thanks for this challenge!

Take care!

landscape, leisure, nature, photo-of-the-day, photography, review

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge 187: “water”

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:

Take care!

 

Btw. <Ad> Luminar Neo is out. In case, you want to try Luminar Neo on your own images, head over to Skylum and get your own copy. As always, you get a 30-days money back guarantee. In case, you want to read a bit more before heading over, click here to read a review I published earlier today. </Ad>

Computer, feedback, macOS, photography, postprocessing, review, software, Windows

Review Luminar Neo

Since Thursday, Luminar Neo is finally available. There were already a lot of rumors around on social media as well as a lot of complaints because of the huge delay. This time I got a review copy again. So, I was able to have a look at it. I’m tagging this as an advertisement, because of setting affiliate links.

First, the GUI looks very familiar when comparing it to the previous versions since Luminar 4. But, under the hood, a lot of progress was made to teach the AI editing photos according to Skylum. As a long-time follower, you know, I’m not a fan of AI editing photos. But, I have to admit, the results are great. You don’t have to rely completely on the AI, you still have the option to adjust the edits done by the AI or level how strong the AI should influence the final image.

According to Skylum, the Luminar Engine was built from the ground up to help creatives do more. Using artificial intelligence to analyzes your photos
unlock new, AI-driven editing possibilities:

RelightAI builds a precise 3D Depth Map of the 2D image to provide quick, targeted control of scene lighting, allowing artists to independently adjust lighting and color warmth for far and near objects across the scene and help easily fix portraits where the foreground subject is underexposed.

RelightAI isolates problem areas for correction, leaving the rest of the image untouched. Combine RelightAI with other scene-aware tools and photographers can precisely adjust the lighting of any photo.

Remove Dust Spots — Automatically identify and seamlessly remove small artifacts, like dust spots, from every photo with the help of AI.

Remove Power Lines — Uses AI to automatically identify and effortlessly remove power lines from landscape photographs to create a pristine image free from clutter.

Layers — Combine different images into unique compositions and include new elements from built-in overlays and object libraries.

Presets — Instant style changes designed by professional photographers of every stripe. Or, build and save your own unique looks for reuse on future shoots.

Luminar Neo is significantly faster than LuminarAI for complex photo editing tasks. Driven by the new Luminar engine, artists can now enjoy the following performance gains.

Luminar Neo ships from February 17th, 2022 with RelightAI, Presets, Layers, and other powerful new tools. Portrait Background RemovalAI and MaskAI are planned for the first free update to Luminar Neo, scheduled for release in the spring of 2022.

Luminar Neo is available as a stand-alone application in the App Store for macOS and the Microsoft Store for Windows as well as a plugin for Lightroom Classic and Photoshop and as an extension for Apple Photos.

To learn more about Luminar Neo and sign up for updates, visit

For demonstration purposes, I picked one of my images taken last year in Namibia. It’s taken in RAW format. In the lower-left corner, you can see, what the camera saved and the photo viewer brings up. In the upper left corner, you can see, what level of details is still in the image. The brightness control is turned to the maximum. In the final image, we still have the ambiance of the scene, but we have all structures in the dark parts. I’m quite surprised, at how well Luminar Neo developed the image and coped with the quite hard light conditions to preserve details as well as the ambiance. Btw. it can also handle ProRes DNGs from iPhone 13 Pro 😲.

 

You can click on the image to enlarge it. The bending in the sky is due to the JPG compression level. In case, you want to try Luminar Neo on your own images, head over to Skylum and get your own copy. As always, you get a 30-days money back guarantee.

I also tried a couple of the other AI features and was extremely surprised by how well they worked, especially the power line removal tool was extremely helpful. Below, you can see the crop assistant in action. Surprisingly the assistant had no other advice for cropping the image than to confirm my composition.

 

But, another issue still exists. There’s still the necessity to work with the catalog. Even when using the edit single photo option, you can only export the final edit and not a workfile like in Luminar 2018 and earlier.

Take care!

macro, photography, plants, review, seasons, winter

Throwback Thursday: frosting

Last week, I found a couple of images taken right before Christmas on the memory card of my camera.

One small hint: When using code HAPPYVALENTINE during checkout, you can save 15% when buying Excire Foto before Feb 20th, 2022. Excire Foto is the perfect tool to find certain images on your disks by searching with keywords either from EXIF data or by the results from the artificial tagging engine. Do you want to know more? There’s already a post here in my blog. Although the post is quite old and talks about version 1.0, the last update to version 1.3 was released in December 2021.

Second hint: when you’re in the US you can benefit from code CNFL-56 and save 43%, because Excire US celebrates the Super Bowl (advertising because of the affiliate link)

 

Take care

 

 

landscape, leisure, nature, photo-of-the-day, photography, review

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge 186: “low light”

A day come to its end

Birds and other animals head to their preferred place for staying the dark and dangerous night



The sun says good night to the mountains 

and another actor enters the stage.

 


Nowadays, humans are usually not afraid of the night anymore.

In the city when the shops are closed and only the owner or the employees are in to clean up.

 

At night at the bus stop. No one is around. Everything seems peaceful and silent.

 

When having a walk in the park now, you can enjoy the silence. Traffic noises from far reaching your ear

 

Artificial light. For millennia, fire and candles were the only artificial light source.

Nowadays, it’s different

Especially in the cities, you have a lot of lights turning the dark to the new day


But, after crossing the city limits and bringing some kilometers or miles between you and the city

you can start experiencing natural light again.

light pollution to the right from a city in about 50km distance, but already some stars in the sky above

Orion nebula
Aurora Borealis / Polar light / Northern light

After a dark night, the next morning starts

From dusk ’til dawn, the light isn’t absent. It’s still present, but on a (very) low level.

Thanks, Sofia, for this enlightening challenge this week for The Lens-Artists Photo challenge.

Why don’t head over to her site, look for the rules, and also write a post.

Take care!

animals, bird, photography, review, wildlife, winter

Throwback Thursday: starlings

Exactly one year ago, I noticed a small troop of starlings in our garden. It was the first time I saw starlings here in our region. Enlarge the image to see the beautiful little heart-shaped spots on their feathers. Unfortunately, they picked a quite bad day for their visit. Because they came back from the warm south (Mediterranean region) quite early, everything was covered by snow. Having snow is in my region nowadays a very rare occurrence. So, they had to dig through the snow first to find some food below. And bad for me, because of the lacking sun, the beautiful colorful metallic glow in their plumage wasn’t visible.

Take care

 

 

landscape, leisure, nature, photo-of-the-day, photography, review

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge 184: “What travel has taught me” and LAPC 185 “Change”

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
You know
Change
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!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take care!

landscape, leisure, nature, photo-of-the-day, photography, review

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge 183: “Memorable Events”

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.

 

first sight of the paradise aka Seychelles

 

the church is already decorated for the upcoming national holiday
one of the fantastic beaches around La Digue

 

a big print of this image is in the image’s rotation box and thus hanging every now and then in our living room for a couple of weeks.

 

nightfall is very fast so close to the equator

 

I loved watching these pretty white long-tail tropicbirds when they were in the air. It seemed to me, they really have fun and enjoy flying fast and amazing courses. 

 

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.

Take care!

animals, bird, nature, photography, review, wildlife

Throwback Thursday: great spotted woodpecker

great spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos major) / Buntspecht

An image taken last year in fall. Although this kind of woodpecker is searching for insects by pecking trees, he tried to find insects like i.e. the European green woodpecker (Picus viridis) by pecking the earth. The European green woodpecker is usually searching for ants. Therefore you can find them usually on the ground, where they are well camouflaged.

Take care!

 

history, landscape, nature, photo-of-the-day, review, seasons, travel, world

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge 181: “Double Dipping”

This week Tina challenges us to show some work out of our own page. hmmm, I usually don’t participate in other challenges than LAPC. So, I don’t have something to say today and I was considering skipping this week. But, I have two other pages for you:

  1. Monochromia: when you’re a lover of monochrome images, this site is for you! You can find images published at least twice a day from many very talented photographers around the world working in different fields of photography. I’m a regular contributor over there. My slot is Friday 13:00h/1 p.m. New York time. But, I’m always reblogging it here, too.
    Here’s one of my last images, I published over there:
  2. The other one is my other, my personal, Blog. Currently, I’m running a poll to find the images for my next calendar. You’re invited to participate. Simply jump over and vote for your favorite images. The instructions are on top of the page in German first and in English below. It’s completely anonymous. I’d be very happy to get a lot of participants.

 

Take care!

 

animals, bird, nature, photography, review, wildlife

Throwback Thursday: orxy antelope

oryx antelope

Although they seem very intense colored with the strong and distinct bars on their face, body, and legs, when looking at them directly, they vanish easily in their surroundings in the Kalahari desert and where else you spot them in Namibia. Regardless if the landscape is gray or reddish, they merge with the background. It’s really fascinating.

The first image was taken at 8:45 a.m. The second at 6:30 a.m. and the third at 8:40 a.m.

 

The last one is taken at 11 a.m. Do you find the second oryx in the image?

As usual, click on an image to enlarge it.

Take care!

 

history, landscape, nature, photo-of-the-day, review, seasons, travel, world

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge 180: “2021 – a review in images”

Today we have the first day of a new year. I often compare this day with a blank sheet of paper laying in front of me waiting to get written on. But, it’s also the perfect day to look back on the just past year and remember. So, this is kind of a follow-up to my yesterday’s post.

A week ago, I wrote about my yearbook. It’s also a book of memories (photographically). So, for today’s post, I’m just digging a bit more into the image folder to find the absolute essence of 2021.

Winter:

In early January we got a little snow for 3 days and in February ice rain and on top a quite solid layer of snow for about 2 weeks. A few crisp and clear nights gave me the opportunity to go out for photographing the night sky and some deep-sky objects.

 

Spring:

Spring started as usual, but too cold. The bluebells were not ready to get photographed, but the tulip fields were great again. Unfortunately, late snow destroyed many blossoms. So, fewer fruits grew on the trees.

Summer:

While June started great, by mid-June the weather turned. Gray skies and a lot of rain. The worst day was July 14th when huge amounts of rain fell over a very small band of land devasting the areas. Small creeks and rivers got soo much water, that they were overflooding the streets, railways, and towns besides them. Meters of water was standing in the streets. Up to now, the damages are not removed. Many people still have no heating in their houses in those areas. Many people lost everything except their lives while others were not so lucky because those also lost their lives.

Because of the bad weather, I didn’t go on excursions over the summer.

Fall:

Because of the weather, I didn’t go on any excursions during the fall, except using the first opportunity to see the cathedral in Cologne without any scaffold. The whole summer and most of the fall the weather was quite bad. Only a few hours of sunshine but even these days were cold. So, the Namibia trip from the second half of November dominates this section.

During December, I was busy developing my images from Namibia. So, there’s nothing to add.

You can find the corresponding posts published by our hosts here: Tina, Patti, Ann-Christine, and Amy

Take care!

culture, nature, photo-of-the-day, photography, review, seasons

Happy New Year

When standing on the beach and watching the waves rolling in you can every now and then find things. In the surf, you can find stones, shells, algae or other sea plants, and even human waste. At the same time, the surf washes away footprints or any other mark in the sand. Heavier waves are able to form the beach and even the coastline anew. This happens usually during the winter storms.

Tomorrow, a new year is starting. A new year comes to us just like the waves on the ocean. Some waves are small, others are bigger and some even might be shaking the foundations of life. You won’t know in advance what the year will bring to your life. You also won’t know in advance, what it will take from you. But, you have to take it and you have to cope with the changes.

The last year and the year before were such life-changing times. While 2020 had severe menaces for our health, we looked a bit more positive on 2021 by the end of last year, because several vaccinations were already available. Now, that another year passed by, we see more and more people getting tired of the restrictions we’re still faced with each day. Although vacations are the easiest and least intrusive treatments, too many people are still denying the existence of the virus, or the power of the impact of the infection (i.e. long-covid and post-covid-syndromes) besides the possible life-threatening outcome of an infection.

I got my vacation in summer and the booster two weeks ago. Up to now, I didn’t get infected by the SARS-CoV-2 virus and I’m willing to do anything to keep this status for the future.

But, in the meantime, it’s much more than not going to a theater, cinema, restaurant, or any other public event. It also changed the relationship and habits between humans. Distance (not only looking at the space between individual human beings), no hugging, no kissing, not meeting friends and family, wearing masks. All this helps cool down relationships. Our societies are changing. Our habits are changing. But, is suffering in an ER or laying in a cemetery a nice and desirable alternative? Centuries ago, people were suffering from pests, pox, and other diseases which are not relevant anymore because scientists were able to find vaccinations and treatments to extinct them. Now it’s our task to cope with Covid and defeat this virus and its mutations. We already reached a very good state. Let’s motivate the hesitating ones to help for the final victory so that we can start gaining our lives back completely. The longer it lasts, the harder it will be to come back to ‘normal’. But, going back to ‘normal’ too early is too dangerous for mankind. This virus has the potential to dramatically reduce the world population because it does not make any differences between people.

Nevertheless, I wish you a happy new year, and may a gentle warm wind strengthen your back and dry up the tears remaining from the past year.

 

Take care!

nature, photography, review

Throwback Thursday: 2021

Last week, I got my yearbook: 60 pages with the best images from 2021. Best means, most important, most touching, or simply special. The 4 images on the cover page are:

  1. Astro: Orion nebula in January representing winter
  2. Wildlife: a European bee-eater in flight in June representing spring
  3. Astro: a partial solar eclipse also in June representing summer
  4. Nature/Landscape: a sunset in Sossusvlei in Namibia in November representing fall

From a nature photographer’s perspective, this year wasn’t a good one, although we had about 2 weeks of real winter with a dense layer of snow covering the landscape. Most of the time, restrictions because of wave 3 were in place. So, I went out alone most of the time.

In April winter came back and brought us snow again. Many blossoms didn’t survive. As a result, in the fall we didn’t get the same amount of fruits as usual. In mid-July, a severe rain front devasted some regions. People lost railroads, streets, bridges, houses, and even lives because of enormous over flooding. There are still a lot of problems in the affected regions. Even all of the houses aren’t reconstructed up to now.

Since mid-June, the sky was gray and rainy. Overall, the weather was more fallish, than summerly. And having the ongoing pandemic in my mind, the situation wasn’t encouraging and motivation to go out with the camera.

Starting from September, the 4th wave of Covid began spreading out. The trip to Namibia, planned for November, became endangered again: would it be possible to travel? Will all the booked planes operate? Which regulations do we have to follow to enter Namibia (a negative PCR test max 7 days old was enough)? Which regulations in Namibia (everything fine)?

Unexpectedly (only one day in advance and we were aware of it only from the news on the internet, not by the airline), we had to do another PCR test on our last day in Namibia to get permission to fly back home (done – thanks to the help of the owner of our last stay in Windhoek). And in addition, 14 days of quarantine had to be followed with another PCR test on the last day of quarantine. So, nothing too complicated. But, it was frustrating and annoying.

Thanks, God, I’m still not infected and I’m set free from the quarantine. So, I’m looking forward to the upcoming holidays and I’m able to celebrate with all my family members. All of us are vaccinated twice and boostered. In addition, a self-test is a voluntary obligation.

 

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Take care!

 

culture, nature, review, travel, world

Throwback Thursday: The flooding in July 2021 in Western Germany

Currently, Europe is parted into two. A line is drawn from north to south from Finland to Italy. While the regions east of the line are ruled by heat, the western half is suffering from cold.

Hot air can carry more moisture than cold air. So, the moisture comes down as rain in the area where both air masses are meeting. In addition, the high-pressure area and the low-pressure area are very stable and don’t move. Instead, the rain comes down over and over again for days in nearly the same place: in western North-Rhine Westphalia and north-west Rhineland-Palatinate, two German states near the borders to Belgium and the southern Netherlands.

After a nice start into summer end of May, the weather changed by early June. It became colder and the rain began to fall. End of June, the first extreme rain appeared here in the region. A friend of mine reported an overflooded underground car park in his newly built apartment building. Fortunately, they were able to save all cars ahead of the flooding.

Because of the constant and sometimes havier rainfalls, the lakes, rivers, and creeks were already full and the ground was already saturated with water.

Tuesday last week, the weather forecast announced another heavy rain field. For about 120-150 km long and 30-50 km wide. You can see the size in the left map below. Btw. I’m located right in the middle of the pink area. Find Düsseldorf, our state capitol, and take the letter ‘o’. Now, move up and see the horseshoe-like bend of the river Ruhr. I’m near the right side inside the area. The color indicates the amount of rain in mm per 24 hours. Up to 200 liters of water were have been falling per square meter, but no-one said to the people move their valuable belongings to higher places or even leave the area completely. The situation was recognized early enough to warn. Warnings were even sent out, but the people didn’t understand the warnings.

You can find these maps, created by Deutscher Wetter Dienst (DWD), in their official Twitter account. DWD is the official German Meteorological Service.

The next images are not mine. I got them via Facebook. It’s a city quarter of a neighboring town. This place is only about 15 km east of us as the bird flies after only a few hours of rain. The stones are the result of a landslide. It looks bad, but other areas west of us were hit even harder. You can find an article on Wikipedia with a couple of images and containing also descriptions from other affected regions.

The area west of Bonn was hit the hardest. A few smaller towns and city quarters are literally wiped away. Either, because rivers re-conquered stolen land (people built houses in riparian areas or water meadows) or by landslides when the soaked soil slipped down the hillsides. In the town of Erftstadt, we had to watch another phenomenon: in the flat area, the river Erft left the bed and flooded the fields used by farmers to grow food. Unfortunately, the ground wasn’t stable. So, the soil was washed away and left a huge and rising crate, several meters deep. This crate swallowed even complete houses while widening. The only image I found online showing this, is the header photo in this article:

https://www.faz.net/aktuell/gesellschaft/ungluecke/hochwasser-in-erftstadt-dramatische-lage-und-tote-nach-hauseinstuerzen-17440280.html

Among very few hours, creeks with usually one 30cm of water were able to grow up to several meters of water. One river with usually 60cm was reported to grow up 8 meters!!!! Despite this vast amount of water, about 24 hours later nearly all of the water was gone. Only the devastation remained. Many, many people lost everything, including their houses. About 172 are reported up to now even lost their lives here in Germany and 31 in Belgium. While 155 people in Germany are still missed. Yesterday evening the last alarms were deactivated. All the danger points are secured. Fortunately, there was no additional rain. But, many parts in the affected area still don’t have electric power, telephone, water supply, and cellular mobile telephony. Reconstruction works will last months and I guess, some people, having lost everything, will move away.

The railway company announced 600km of railways were destroyed (7 tracks) and 80 stations. No-one knows up to now how many streets and motorways are damaged or completely destroys. Not counting the pipes for water and natural gas, the wires for telephony, internet, and electric power, or the animals (wild and farm animals).

The most affected area also includes an important wine-producing area and vacation spots.

The town, where I live, wasn’t affected. First, we don’t have a river or a lake (not in town nor uphill). Second, The hills are covered with houses. So, the soil couldn’t slip away. Third, some years ago, our city government enlarged the canalization system. Luckily, it was big enough to cope with all the additional water.

I didn’t write anything about Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxemburg, and France. I’m not ignoring them. The reason is, our news didn’t broadcast much about their suffering from the flooding. So, I simply don’t know enough to write about. I only know, the Belgium area bordering the hardest hit German area was also hit very hard. I suspect the people are facing the same problems as they do here.

This last weekend. Germany was hit again: in Bavaria and Saxonia further floodings happened with similar effects as I already described.

I’m so glad for not being affected and feel very sorry for all the affected people wherever they lived. Although this isn’t the first flooding in Germany, it’s IMHO the biggest and the first (?) one in our state. I assume it won’t be the last one.

I just got the forecast for the next thunderstorm to be arriving this weekend, which is expected to hit the already pained region again. 😭

Take care!

Computer, gear, photography, review, software

Get your own copy of Excire Foto *** sweepstake powered by the creators of Excire Foto***

Today, I have something special for you. I’m currently preparing a review of the most recent version of Excire Foto. In my opinion, each photographer needs such software, regardless if one is a pro or a hobbyist. While I was preparing the post, a marketing email reached my inbox with keys. I got voucher codes for Excire Foto to raffle them off among my followers. So, you can win one of the serials.

To win one of the vouchers, I want you to post in the comments two things:

  1. why do you want/need Excire Foto
  2. how big is the pile of images on your disk to dig through for finding a certain image i.e. for using it for a competition, a blog post, or friends and family

I’m putting all replies into a hat and ask my daughter to draw the winners.

I’m running the same drawing in my German blog, too. I’m putting each commenter’s name in the hat only once. The comment has to be filed here in my blog on WordPress.com or on my German blog. (No Twitter, no Instagram, no Facebook). The drawing will take place after my vacation: June, 14th. Only comments with a timestamp before June 14th, 00:00h are eligible for the drawing.

When entering your comment for a chance to win, you’re accepting to receive a one-time email in case you’re drawn containing the voucher code and some instructions on how to get the software. The data will not be used for any other purpose.

The key feature of Excire Foto are

  • analyzing the contents of your photos by subject, color, shape
  • tagging your photos by using AI
  • maintaining a database with some basic metadata like Camera, focal length
  • everything is analyzed locally on your computer (no upload to a cloud)
  • manual tagging possible besides the AI tagging
  • searching and finding images based on Camera, color, tag, similarity, and many more criteria

Update June, 14th: the raffle is closed. The winners are notified – congrats to the winners 😊

Take care.