a photographer's view to the world – a traveler's blog
Today, I challenge you with a song from Münchner Freiheit published in 1987 (together with the London Symphonic Orchestra): Solang′ Man Träume Noch Leben Kann. Münchner Freiheit is also the name of a famous square in Munich and translates to “liberty/freedom of/in Munich”. They were very successful at that time and published many top-10 hits. This is one of those top hits. In Germany, this was their second most successful song.
A year has passed quickly
when the rain falls
A sea of questions.
I face you
Remembering days gone by.
Versuchen wir es wieder,
So lang’ man Träume noch leben kann.
Let us try it again
as long as we can live our dreams.
I translated the first verse and the last two lines of the chorus for you line by line to keep as much as possible of the meaning. This song came to my mind when I started preparing today’s post. For 9 years I have published weekly a monochrome image here on my blog. Initially, this was my participation in Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness (Thank you so much, Leanne). When she stopped it a couple of years ago, I continued it on my own. (I’m happy, she restarted it recently). I love monochrome images. I love photography. I love capturing nature in all its glory. Often, I take images with the intention to process them in monochrome. Sometimes, I feel while processing an image, it would look great in monochrome.
You know, back in the 1980s, I run my own lab and monochrome films were more often in my camera than color (slide) films. I still love the gameplay between Lights and Darks.
The song “Solang′ Man Träume Noch Leben Kann” (as long as we can live our dreams) brings a couple of aspects together:
Today, I’m reviewing the monochrome images published here during the last 12 months and republish those of them, I like most. Maybe, you enjoy seeing them again, too.
In a background tab, you could have Münchner Freiheit sing Solang′ Man Träume Noch Leben Kann for you by clicking on the link. In case you’re interested in the full lyrics, they are also available in the usual suspects. Google Translate can help you translate them into your language or at least into English.
Btw. in 1988 they also published a version in English: Keeping the Dream Alive by Freiheit (they staged with this shortened name internationally), which was re-published i.e. by Kim Wild in 2013. Follow the link to Youtube to listen to that version, too. Although the English lyrics are nice, they differ from the German original. So, maybe it’s worth checking both versions. 😁
So, I’m starting today the 10th year of Monochrome Monday / Monochrome Madness. Stay tuned and
That day was a bad one. Heavy winds pushed low-standing clouds over the sea towards the coast. Clouds, full of water and ready to pour it over the scene. So, we had to secure the doors when getting out of the cars. A mixture of rain, hail, and snow welcomed us. No hard rain, but enough to keep some of us inside the cars. To make it even worst, the ground was covered merely with ice and rain poodles on top of them. Very careful movements were an absolute necessity. These were not the conditions we came for. What a difference to 2016, when I was there for the first time.
This time we needed the shortest shutter speeds, even when using wide-angle lenses. While setting up a tripod was possible in those conditions, it was impossible to use it. The wind not only pushed the tripod and made longer exposures impossible, but the guts were also even so strong to make the tripod tumble down. So, I opted for another way to get a long exposure of the waves: I put my beanbag on top of the concrete wall securing the parking ground from the cliff, and pressed the camera in the bag. That way, everything was stable enough for a 20-second exposure at 97mm.
For a long, I was hoping for such a location and the right conditions. You see, you have to be open-minded when arriving at a location. Don’t stick to the idea of recreating the images you have seen online, in books, or have on your bucket list. Look around and discover what the scene and the conditions have to offer. Benefit from what you have in front of you. In German, we have a saying: better the sparrow in the hand than the pigeon on the roof (Besser den Spatz in der Hand also die Taube auf dem Dach.).
In German, we have the word See for the sea. But, it can have two different meanings, depending if one uses the male (der) or the female (die) article.
Der See is a body of water enclosed by land and translates to “lake” in English.
Die See is the same as “sea” in English, but also a poetic name for seas. In addition, we have the word “Meer”, which also translates to “sea”, but this is a more ‘technical’ and emotionless description of “sea”.
Btw. the word “ocean” also exists and is used in the same way as in English.
“Die See” is also referenced when saying “Ich fahre / er fährt zur See / Er is Seemann” (it’s used to describe, the I / he is sailing (the work) or a seaman/sailor).
I love standing or sitting near the sea and watching the waves come in. I love the distinct smell and the sound of the crashing waves. I love the feeling of having sand below my feet or at least below my shoes.
This is one of my favorite images taken in Norway this year. Without being disturbed by the wind, the water in the fjord perfectly mirrors the surrounding mountains. The rising full moon gives this scene a very calm ambiance. In addition, only the peaks of the mountains are still touched by the warm light of the setting sun, while the rest of the scene is already bathed in cold blue light.
Just before we arrived at the small parking lot, two minibusses drove out, stopped and spit out a dozen people. The minibusses clogged the whole parking lot because of stopping right after the entrance and parked side by side in the road instead of giving room for other vehicles. So our own two cars filled up the remaining space and even had to park in knee-deep snow. While most of the minibus passengers didn’t seem interested in the location or the scene, others crossed the road and the guardrail to head down to the water through the still untouched snow. One of them is in the image. Try to find him 😁!
Our hope was to see white-tailed eagles here. When I was there, back in 2016, we saw a couple of them here. They were either in the air or sitting on the ground beside the water. Because of bad weather and being on a long transfer trip, it wasn’t possible to get nice images in 2016. This time, there were no eagles visible. But, we were compensated by this awesome light and mirror. For me personally, the rising full moon and its reflection is an additional eye-catcher that upgrades the image from great to awesome.
Do you dream at night? Are your dreams artistic? Sweet? Or more like nightmares? I supposed, in this bedroom, nightmares are close by. It’s another bedroom for up to two people. In addition to the very artistically shaped ice of the walls, all the lights are changing slowly but constantly and randomly. So, another mood and ambiance is created every other second.
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This is one of the “standard” rooms of the Icehotel near Kiruna, Sweden. When walking around, strong memories of the first Man of Steel movies from the 1980s, where a gigantic crystalline fortress was made by the green crystal thrown by Clark Kent (the later Men of Steel) in the Canadian Arctic.
You can rent a room for a night made of ice. Sleep in a sleeping bag on a bed made of ice covered with reindeer furs set up in a room made completely of ice. They offer three different kinds of such rooms. Besides the “standard” rooms for 2, 3, or even 4 sleepers (the “bed” is broader for more sleepers), there are other rooms that were more individually decorated. You can find a few examples in my “I’m back, …” post. All of these are supposed to melt as soon as spring starts and return their water to the lake beside the hotel. According to the website, “the room holds a temperature of -5 to -8 degrees Celsius. The bed is covered with reindeer hides and you sleep in a thermal sleeping bag. Instead of doors, the hotel rooms have curtains that you draw to give you and your company privacy.“ So, I wish you a good night and sleep well 😁
The entrance fee for seeing these rooms as well as the premium, deluxe, and art rooms, is quite high but definitely worth the money. While I was expecting only a bar made of ice set up in a room made of ice and equipped with chairs and tables made of ice, I was visiting an art gallery where not only the rooms were made of ice, but also the pieces of art itself. Btw. they also have the bar 😁.
A wonderfully bright and friendly snowy landscape in Norway. When looking at the shadows of the bushes, you can see, the scene is backlit. The light source is slightly above the upper edge of the image. The color temperature is quite cool as a result of the silvery light. A real winterly image as there is no warmth in it. But, something’s wrong with the image. Look carefully and try to discover, what’s wrong before reading further. As usual, you can enlarge it by clicking on it.
On the right, you can recognize lights: there’s a restroom on the parking ground and a car with switched-on lights is driving on the street. Far in the back, there are a few more lights from houses and a town.
Although in Scandinavia you have to drive with lights on during the day, the lights were not visible in an image taken at daytime. Same with the lights issued by houses. During the daytime, you would not be able to see them even when being closer to them.
This image instead is taken at night: 22:32h at full moon. We were out there to photograph the Aurora, but she didn’t appear. So, I was using the time to do also other things.
I hope, you like this image and the idea. Try it on your own and be surprised by the results.
Today, I have a more abstract image for you. Before reading any further, guess what you see in the image.
It’s a little dune of snow created by the wind. This was one of the pro sides of the regular strong snow storms we were suffering in Norway. The structure is approximately 20 cm long and 7-8 cm high. The low-standing afternoon sun trow that long shadow. It was located right next to the path we were walking from a panoramic viewpoint back to the parking ground.
… from northern Norway again. During the last 12 days we tried to meet the Green Lady again, but the overall outcome is quite disappointing considering the current peak of solar activity which is the cause of the Aurora.
At first, we had 2 days in and around Tromsø with snowy and rainy weather, but no Aurora. Next 4 days on Senja: snowstorms, thick clouds, and partly rain 😲 to melt the snow, and such even prevented nice winter images.
Thus, after checking the weather forecast for the greater region, we left 1 day early, canceled the next location, and postponed another one. Instead, we escaped to Sweden, which was proposing the best conditions for the next few days.
It was a horrible 320km drive to Sweden crossing a mountain pass: towards darkness during a snowstorm on such a steep and small road is quite a challenge, even with spikes. At first, we lost an hour because the pass was closed for rescuing a truck stuck in the snow. Snow chains were an absolute necessity for trucks. The bad sight demanded further delays because of the quite slow speed for driving. Driving convoy was also necessary to make sure to not lose sight of the car in front of us.
After dinner on the arriving day, we noticed a greenish glow above the town. So, two of us (me included 😁 of course) decided to give it a try. Despite being quite late (in comparison to their usual schedule), she popped out and danced for us. We were back at the hotel at about 2 a.m., tired, but with happy smiles on our faces. My companion even wanted to stay way longer. The first meeting with the Aurora for this trip. The others were too tired from the drive.
Unfortunately, the next two days she was shy again and didn’t show us more than a weak glow between the clouds, that already arrived there, too, although the weather forecast said differently.
After 3 nights in Sweden, we headed back to Norway for the remaining 3 nights.
When we arrived at our last location, we struggled again with bad weather. One day and night got lost to another snowstorm, but we also got two crisp clear nights, but she didn’t pop up. While we got at least a short and weak Aurora in one of these two nights, the other one was completely Aurora-free. At least we got some wonderful sunny winter days.
Overall, this year’s trip for seeing the Aurora was quite disappointing although the conditions are extremely good this year. Solar activity is at or near its maximum. Surprisingly, a green Aurora was visible even in the middle of Germany but not in northern Norway. I guess, because of the high level of solar activity, the center moved south so that we couldn’t see Auroras north of the polar circle in Norway as expected.
The green lights are at about 40km high, while the reds are up to 100km high. Thus, middle Europe usually sees the red lights of an aurora, when a strong Aurora happens. But green lights are extremely rare at these latitudes.
On the other hand, this was again a nice winter trip with nice company and quite well-prepared (although it seemed a bit chaotic sometimes).
Surprisingly, I have more the half of my images already developed and even started creating an ebook with some of my monochrome images taken during this trip. So, even the days with bad weather delivered. During the last third of the trip, I definitely had the best weather. So, be prepared to see some of the images in the future.
For today I have one Aurora image for you (how could it be otherwise). You might have already seen it on Instagram.
Second, an image taken while coping with the bad conditions on the pass. Coincidentally at that time, the shuffle function of my audio collection decided to play „May it be“ by Enya from the first Lord of the Rings movie where it is underscoring how the fellows hiked upwards the Caradhras pass.
The third image is one of the last images, taken near sunset on our last day.
One of the other highlights of the trip was our visit to the Ice Hotel in Kiruna. You can rent a room for a night made of ice. Sleep in a sleeping bag on a bed made of ice covered with reindeer furs set up in a room made completely of ice. They offer three different kinds of such rooms. First, they have the standard rooms, where you feel like standing in a room of the gigantic crystalline fortress made by the green crystal thrown by Clark Kent (the later Men of Steel) in the Canadian Arctic. Other rooms were more individually decorated, like the one in the image below. All of these are supposed to melt as soon as spring starts and return their water to the lake beside the hotel. In a separate huge hall, there are individually designed rooms by some ice artists. I suppose those rooms are not for rent. According to the website, “the room holds a temperature of -5 to -8 degrees Celsius. The bed is covered with reindeer hides and you sleep in a thermal sleeping bag. Instead of doors, the hotel rooms have curtains that you draw to give you and your company privacy.“ So, I wish you a good night and sleep well 😁
The entrance fee for seeing these rooms is quite high but definitely worth the money. While I was expecting only a bar made of ice set up in a room made of ice and equipped with chairs and tables made of ice, I was visiting an art gallery where not only the rooms were made of ice, but also the pieces of art itself. Btw. they also have the bar 😁.
The final image for today is one of the monochrome images taken at a beach in the greater Tromsø area.
Here, the different layers work best in monochrome. The foreground is made of gray rocks, the middle ground is made of dark rocks and the background is formed by the mountains. All of them are well parted by the moving water of the fjord and the white splashes stand out well from the dark rocks while the shoreline leads the eye from the lower left right to the splashes and thus makes them the main subject. The color version is on Instagram for comparison.
So, my advice for photographing on a trip. Don’t stick to the ideas you have on your bucket list. Instead, try always to get the best from the situation you’re in. There is always something for you to take. Use your time well and the location will pay back. When sticking to the ideas from your bucket list, remember that you will never be in the same situation, in the same conditions, and probably in the same place as the photographer whose picture you saw. But, it will limit your ability to see the scene with your own eyes and capture the beauty laying in front of you. Be a creator and not a copycat.
Back in February 2016, I traveled far north to meet the Green Lady and see her dance.
Happy New Year!
The calendar says it’s January now. January means we’re in the middle of winter in the northern hemisphere and winter is related to snow.
Freshly fallen snow lays on the ground like untouched and clean linen. The same is true for the first day(s) of a new year. Everything is still unclear and uncertain. Although some topics might already have been planned, everything still has to happen.
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.
The tree in my image is a white-pink blooming magnolia tree all covered by snow.
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