For decades, a secured border parted two countries here on Usedom: the German Democratic Republic (since 1989 a substantial part of the Federal Republic of Germany) and Poland. While about 90% of Usedom kept German after WWII, approximately 10% belongs to Poland since 1945. Nowadays, you can roam freely from one side to the other and the wooded path, built in the former no-man’s land, leads you right to the shore of the Baltic sea.
All humans (and animals as well) are living together on this wonderful planet. Despite cultural differences, it’s great to roam freely and get used to these differences. All of us can benefit from knowing each other Even when it comes to misunderstandings sometimes, in general, all of us benefit.
Goods, habits, culture, and much more enrich our lives, our minds, our experiences, and our common ground for further growth as mankind. Help to keep the fences down between states, countries, and people! Or, to quote a song by the British rock band Pink Floyd “Turn down the walls”.
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.
*AD because of an affiliate link*
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.
The sun is warm,
the sea is cold.
The surf rolls in
and wets your feet.
finding colorful stones,
watching the gulls passing by,
listening to the wind
carrying their cry.
Enjoy your life
before growing old!
From today, a feature update of Luminar Neo is available. With the now published version 1.1 all proposed features are implemented. Therefore, there is no rebate for the reduced functionality anymore. But, with this code SOLANER-NEO, you can save 10€/10$.
One of the long-awaited features now finally available is the portrait background removal tool. Instead of manually removing the background and having to handle each hair separately, AI eases this a lot. With a single click the background can be made transparent.
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, some very rich people might consider this car as being a toy. An expensive toy! An expensive hobby. Buying old but beautiful cars, reconstruct them (or let others do that hard job while they spend their money on them), and put them into exhibitions, showrooms, or museums.
I can understand museums or even manufacturers doing this and making the restored cars accessible to the public. But, I can’t understand rich people doing it only for being proud of having them.
I can’t remember what kind of car this is. I photographed it in a showroom waiting for the next owner. Fortunately, that showroom is (was) accessible for everyone, and even taking photographs was allowed. I took this image with a fish-eye lens handholding the camera on my stretched arm to get this image. I only cleaned the edges and removed my legs in post-processing. I love, how the fish-eye lens was not only able to capture the whole car, but also distort the proportions (a bit 😲😂).
I took this image in January 2011 and didn’t find time to edit it until recently.
In case, any one of you is able to give me a hint on the brand and the model, I’d be glad to hear from you. Simply type it in the comment section below.
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.
Last week on Saturday morning, my alarm clock rang very early again: at 4:30. Many people don’t like getting up so early. They even don’t like getting up earlier than necessary or earlier than on a weekday morning. Me, usually, too. But, sometimes, the plans say different. So, this weekend: getting up early, drinking one coffee, having a shower, and jumping in the car.
Depending on the general temperatures of spring, around mid-April, the bluebells start blooming and their blooming time only lasts about 3-4 weeks. They depend on loose and nutrient-rich soil and must not become overgrown with bushes. The flowering cycle must be finished before the canopy of the surrounding deciduous trees closes and no light reaches the ground anymore. Although they were very common in Europe after the last ice age, they are very rare now, except in England and Wales. This small (tiny) forest is about 1,5 hour’s drive away from my home. Thus, I had to get up early if I want to be there at sunrise. And it’s only a very small timeslot to find rich blooming ground as well as not too dense foliage.
This forest is a nature-protected area. So, leaving the few paths is not allowed. I’m fine with that rule. But, there are many others not caring about it. The locals usually complain about the reckless visitors. When I was there for the first time, besides me only a few joggers were passing by. During my second visit, 10-15 photographers were also there, most of them equipped with apparently good equipment and a tripod. But, they should know better. When walking through the flowers to get ‘better’ spots / sights, they are trampling down the flowers and compacting the ground to make it next year harder for the flowers to breakthrough. They withdraw their energy into the onions. When I was there last year for my third visit, only very few flowers were blooming. Because of the cold weather, nature was way behind normal development. This year the timing was perfect. Many, many blooming flowers were covering the forest ground. Even from the parking ground about approximately 200 m away as the bird flies, I was able to see the blue glowing in the forest. And only a couple of quite well-behaving dog photographers (dog among the bluebells) were there. But, it was still quite full for the small area.
In the end, I was back at home at about 10:00. Time for breakfast!.
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.
I assume, most of us like sleeping a bit longer on weekends or public holidays. Me, too. But, sometimes certain ideas require something else.
The week before Easter, I got a hint about a special occasion on Holy Saturday morning in Cologne. Cologne is not that far away, only a nearly 1-hour drive. So, I set my alarm clock for 4:00 a.m. When it rang, I got up and checked the sky if stars were visible. They were. So, starting the coffee maker was the next step before heading to the shower. Less than half an hour later, I sat in the car heading to Cologne.
Unfortunately, there were a few fleecy clouds between me and my target. Nevertheless, the results are quite satisfying, except for the black sky. Approximately 20-30 minutes later, the sky would have been perfect.
I gave it a second try on Easter Sunday morning, but now, the moon went down in a different position, so the composition wasn’t possible anymore. According to the source of the hint, this image is possible only once a year. So, Easter Sunday was already too late. The last image is taken on Easter Sunday morning, the others are from Holy Saturday.