I’m back …

… from the Baltic Sea (again).

Those of you, following me on Instagram might have guessed I’m on a trip again, and they were right. For a few days the pendulum inside me as a nature photographer turned from ‘landscape mode’ to ‘wildlife mode’.

I was part of an excursion team for photographing the common cranes while they rest in that region and before they start to the second part of their fall migration. For the first days of my trip I started alone and got some amazing results. Cranes are extremely shy. They have a fleeing distance of about 300m (some rangers even said 900m – but, I can’t believe that). You have to avoid to disturb them. Every start to fly costs much of their energy. And this energy is needed for the migration. They have to eat much to have enough energy for the long and exhausting trip. On the second part they fly from north-eastern Germany to Southern France or Spain. The birds are big. They are about 120cm high (females a bit smaller) and have a wing spread of about 200 – 240 cm.

Most of them life in wet forests in Poland, Russia and the Baltic, but also in Scandinavia. They have only 1 or 2 eggs and each of the parents take care of one fledgling. Now, the fledglings are nearly as big as the parents. But, you can still recognise them easily.

With the excursion team, we got permission to enter some restricted parts of the National Park “Mecklenburgische Boddenlandschaft”. We observed the arrival of the cranes in their sleeping area and the morning start.

Another high-light was the morning trip on our last day: observing the deer rut. About 15 males bellowed in the huge lighting and trying to collect females. Nearly all of them didn’t have had a female, while one stag has had a harem of 21 females (just, like ABBA sang: the winner takes it all). Nevertheless the stags were comparing their strength in bellowing, walking and fighting. Amazing time.

During the excursion I got lent a f/5.6 800mm lens that I used on my APS-C camera (so, I got 1200mm). A very heavy lens, usable only with a tripod. Fortunately, mine was strong enough the carry that burden. My own longest lens is only 400mm. In combination with the tele-converter I also get 800mm, but with lower quality. That combination is less bright and thus less fast. While the 800mm lens does not have an image stabilizer (but a tripod), but I have a working AF. On my 400mm with tele-converter the AF only works under good light conditions.

Most of my images are taken with ISO 3200 and ISO 1600 at f/5.6 or f/6.3 at distances of more than 200 – 300 m. So, the 800mm lens was a necessity to get good images.

Don’t forget, to view the gallery below this post. I already developed a few images an attached them to this post in no particular order.

Help saving our environment and the animals to make this planet a good place to live in for us and the following generations. Also, keep this planet in good shape for your kids, so that the following generations are also able to gaze at the marvellous events and places through their own eyes instead of having to trust ancient documentaries.

Take care!

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Monochrome Madness 4-23

Those of you, following me on Instagram, already know this image.

Although oystercatchers have these beautiful catchy red legs and packer, I do love this image in monochrome, too.

This is my contribution to Monochrome Madness organized by Leanne Cole. Look at here site on Thursday (Australian time), to see many more monochrome images created by many other talented photographers from all over the world.

I’d also encourage you to participate. The conditions are  published in each of her Monochrome Madness posts.

Take care!

Review: Aurora HDR 2018

For a few days the latest version of Aurora HDR from MacPhun is available. This new version is not only for Mac, it’s also for Windows. I got a review version for testing.

Yesterday, while out with my photographers roundtable, I visited a former coal mining building, now a museum. That mining buildings are notable because of its wonderful architecture made from brick-stones. The mine was open from 1899 – 1955.

Most of the time I was inside the machinery hall, a very modern building for that time, but with an unusual architecture style for a mine. Many parts inside reminded me to the movie “Metropolis” by Fritz Lang from 1927.

Being inside a quite dark building on a dark and rainy day gave me the opportunity to take some images by using bracketing. That is a technique where you’re taking one image just the way the light meter says, but two (or more) additional images with exposure correction (+ and – i.e. 1 or 2 EV) to develop them later with HDR or DRI software like Aurora HDR. Often HDR or DRI images have over-saturated bonbon colours, which I don’t like. So, you don’t see many of them here in my blog.

While the user interface of Aurora HDR did not change much and the preset sections are also still available, I won’t waste too much time on these parts. Have a look at my last review.

I want to focus on the new results and an unexpected feature I discovered: distortion control. The export results are much better in quality, than in the original version. I like the resulting colours more and the results don’t have so much noise in it. The auto-alignment feature works quit good. But ist’s still better to have exact aligned images by taking them with a tripod instead of free-hand. The distortion control feature is nice. I’m using DxO Viewpoint for distortion control. The results are great. Compared to Viewpoint, Aurora is too complicated. Here they have some work to do.

When you own some other tools from MacPhun, you can use them as plugins inside Aurora HDR and vice versa. They are also available as plugins inside Photoshop.

Tiny men, huge nature

Monochromia

Look at the tiny men walking down the path from the parking ground. Look at the enormous spray above the cataract. Believe me, you’ll get wet when walking there.

This is the lower cataract of Gullfoss, one of the huge waterfalls of Iceland.

FX, 16mm, f16, 1/100s, ISO 100

More of my images can be seen at my own blog.

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Throwback Thursday: at sunrise

I love the certain mood around sunrise. Everything is so quiet. Although, I love the warmth of my bed, I sometimes get up when it is still dark while everyone else in my house is still sleeping and hurry to my destination. Hoping for the right weather conditions – especially, when I have to drive for a long distance to my destination.

Than, upon arriving, I see, if it was worth the effort.

It’s hard to get up so early. For me, too. But, being on location on time and standing in the midth of a daybreak: sunrise and morning fog. It’s such a rewarding experience! It’s cold and dark when getting out of the car. Finding my way to a proper subject in twilight, probably equipped with a torch or a headlamp. Because of the moisture, the fog usually feels icy. So, warm clothes are a necessity. Under these circumstances ons has to check the sky to find out, where the sun will rise over the horizon or the trees, or whatever surrounds you. When the sun gets up, sends its rays through the fog and touches your face or your back, it’s such a fantastic feeling.

No talking, but listening to the nature: the wind in the trees, the awakening birds. Following the vanishing fog and the movements of the shadows.

Sunday 3 weeks ago was such a day with the right conditions for morning fog. Although the weather forecast announced some rain, for Sunday noon I gave it a try and have set my alarm clock for 5:30h. When I got up, the sky didn’t look very proposing. But, I was already up. So, I started to my destination and hoped for the best. You know, weather forecaster think in bigger dimensions. Fortunately, the weather was perfect for my plan and I got what I was looking for. I hope, you like it, too. 🙂

Unfortunately, this magic golden hour only lasts about 30 minutes. Depending on the density of the fog, it needs a bit longer to vanish completely. So, you have to hurry to get some photos. That’s why I want to arrive early on location. I need time to find good spots, set up the tripod and the right lens.

Summing up the trip, I’m very happy about the results: in quality as well as in quantity.

Take care!

Travel Tuesday: Eurasian spoonbill

Eurasian spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia) / Löffler also Löffelreiher

One evening I was on my way back to our apartment when I noticed a quite big bird flying slowly in my direction. As I saw on the flying style it was neither a goose nor any of the other birds I watched during the last days. I wondered, what bird was coming up to me.

While the distance shrank, I hoped it wouldn’t change its direction. It seems to me like a heron or an egret, but I was still unsure.

A few minutes later, I was sure to see a spoonbill in front of me, a member of the heron family. You can identify this bird easily on the very distinct shape of the spout.

Take care!