art, culture, photo-of-the-day, photography

Lens-Artists Photo Challange 131: “emotions”

Today, Patti gave us a hard topic for LAPC: Emotions!

This is a mixture of model, engagement, wedding, concert, event, street, travel, and still-live photography. Enjoy!

art, culture, photo-of-the-day, photography

Lens-Artists Photo Challange 130: “It’s a Small World”

This week’s Lens-Artists photo challenge is hosted by Anne and she takes us with her in the tiny world of macro photography. She’s right, one can discover a lot with a macro or even a micro lens. Macro photography is defined by everything up to a scale of 1:1. When using a lens able to use at scales between 1:10 and 10:1 you’re talking about micro photography.

A common macro lens is usually working up to the scale of 1:1. But, there are options available to boost the scale being this i.e. by involving extenders, bellows and reverse adapters. I own a set up extenders and a revers adapter und use them sometimes.

Below, I assembled a collection of images taken with my 105mm macro lens, a 35mm prime lens attached via retro adapter or with a 400mm telephoto lens by using extention tubes. You see, there are different ways to do macro photography. Btw. the easiest way is using a macro lens, but the most fascinating one is the retro adapter (end even the cheapest one😊). In case your interested in a howto, drop me a line and ask, what you want to know😊.

Btw. you can find many more examples here in my blog.

art, culture, photo-of-the-day, photography

Lens-Artists Photo Challange 129: “Favorite Photos of 2020”

Ok, it’s January 1st. So, it’s time for a look back on the past year. Did you like it? Did you love it? Or did you hate it?

I don’t want to review the year again, because I already did it twice.

My top landscape images are already published. So, what’s missing now? The birds are missing! And here they are:

In addition, I have the top 9 by votes of Instagram for you:

This post is part of the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. This time it’s organized by Tina Shell. Head over to her site to see her motivational post and links to many other posts inspired by hers.

art, culture, photo-of-the-day, photography

Lens-Artists Photo Challange 128: “And Here Comes the Holiday Season…”

Yep! Holiday season. A strange holiday season at the end of a strange year. I know, this year is strange for all of us, all over the world. Many families in many countries looking back in anger because of a personal loss. Lots of fear for many people: will I get infected? Will a family member get infected? And when having symptoms, the fear changes to “I hope, it’s something else”. And after a confirmed infection, this changes again. Now the question is “will I survives and will I recuperate completely”. I guess I can understand these feelings as I got tested in June in Iceland and waiting for the result was not enjoyable. Earlier this week my wife got tested because of an infection. She (we) had to wait about 30 hours for getting the result. It turned out, the test was negative, but instead, she was diagnosed with a lung infection – also not good, but better as COVID19.

In a ‘normal’ year, December is the worst month of the year. Besides the necessary Christmas-related happenings, I have 13 birthdays during December in my closer family circle plus the close friends. 8 of them are still upcoming, including mine. So, it’s a lot of stress to get all the necessary visits and festivities coordinated. The other thing is, in general, I don’t like the early start of Christmas decorations and products in the supermarkets (really, is it necessary to start end of September selling this stuff????) and playing the same 5 or 6 Christmas songs for months in the shops (yes, Band-Aid, Wham and Mariah Carey are among them 😫). Similar situation, when turning the radio on. Call me Mr. Grinch, but I can’t stand this anymore. Ok, ok, I’m not that extreme as Mr. Grinch. I don’t hate Christmas at all and I don’t try to ruin it for others. But, I don’t like how we are showered with music, decorations, smells, and so on for such a long time each year and always the same kind of stuff. This has nothing in common with the idea of Christmas.

OK, this year is different. No driving to work and working from home instead saves me from hearing these songs over-and-over again in the car (I’d need to commute 2 hours per day). I also try to avoid entering a shop as I’m one of those with a high risk for a dramatic course. Christmas shopping is done either online or I delegated it. Even all the birthday parties are skipped and there no necessity to attend an Advent or Christmas celebration in the office, society, or church. Staying home a lot. I even participated in my first ever virtual Christmas party organized by a lady from my department. It was nice and entertaining. Among other things, she had a Christmas-related quiz organized: 20 questions around Christmas. I had 10 correct answers (it would have been 12 if I would have followed my first idea and not corrected) and in the end, I  ranked #13 out of 96. I guess that’s quite good despite the questions were sometimes very American and British. You could ask me, are there no happy feelings bound to Christmas? Sure, there are some 🙂

Here, we have a saying: Die Dosis macht das Gift (the dose makes the poison). Another one is “putting sugar in the honey”.

So, the grouching hour is over, Christmas season is around the corner. Here are a couple of Christmas related images from the past years. Btw. I want to tell you the greatest and most valuable Christmas present ever that I got: my daughter, my first child, was born the night before Christmas (Dec 23rd at about 22:00h). She really has Christmas spices in her blood! During December she’s always wearing a Santa Clause-like jelly bag cap either in red or in dark-blue with tons of little stars. But, both are having a white edge and pompon. Even her son has such a hat (he only has a red one). So, it’s quite funny to see them walking along the street like two of the dwarfs searching for Snowwhite.

In the past, I wrote a small series of posts on how Christmas and Advent look like here in Germany. Maybe your interested and check them out. They are all tagged with “Advent” and have “Cultural notes” in the subject.

 

a woodcarving crib

 

some Christmas cookies

 

Advent wreath

 

a home-made Advent calendar in our kitchen

 

a felt crib

 

a classical Christmas tree with the gifts for the kids under the tree

 

a detail of the Christmas tree (no wax candles anymore for security reasons)

 

a booth at the Christmas market

 

another booth at the Christmas market

 

So, thank you Ann-Christine for this wonderful theme, and forgive me for my grouching 😊

I wish you and your beloved a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! See you in 2021!!

Take care!

culture, photography, seasons, world

Cultural notes: Advent wreath

The time surrounding the 4 Sundays before Christmas are called Advent, meaning preparation, pleasant anticipation and expectation.

Back in the first half of the 19th century a protestant pastor got the idea to visualize these 4 Sundays until Christmas each with a candle mounted on a wreath made of fir twigs. Each Advent Sunday one of these candles is inflamed, while the candles of the past Sundays are still burning. So, you have one candle burning on the first Advent, two candles on the second Advent, three on the Third and all four candles on the fourth Advent. The christmas tree won’t be erected before Christmas Eve on December 24th (although many families do this earlier nowadays and don’t wait until December 24th).

Over the next years the idea spread over Germany and became about 100 years later common even in catholic regions. Nowadays you can find Advent Wreath in nearly every home, church and even many shops.

It’s also quite common, to put a few pine twigs with some decorations in the homes. The traditional colors of this time are green, red and yellow.

The green stands for live and hope, even in this dark and unfriendly time, when nature seems dead. Only firs and pines are green in this time of the year, so they are also a symbol. The burning candles are a symbol for Jesus, the light of the world. The other parts, like the color of the candles, the further decoration or the order for the inflammation of the candles are part of regional different rules. The shape of the wreath stands for eternity, because a ring has no end.

So, I wish you a happy, peaceful and joyful Advent time wherever you are and whatever tradition, country, religions or ethical group you belong to.

Have a great Advent time!

 

culture, photography, seasons, world

Cultural notes: Christmas market

Christmas markets have a long tradition here in Germany. The best known Christmas market is probably the “Christkindl’s Markt” in Nürnberg, Bavaria.

A Christmas market is not simply a modification of a regular farmers market. Other than a farmers market it opens at about 10 or 11 a.m. instead of 7 a.m. and instead of closing a noon, it stays open until about 8 p.m.

You can buy spices, fruits (during my childhood the Christmas market was the only source for buying oranges, mandarins and some other exotic fruits for the South). You can also buy candles and decoration stuff, but also some food to make you warm from the inside again or some alcoholic drinks like hot spices wine.

While the markets exist in the bigger cities from about mid November until December 23rd, they are set up only for the weekends in smaller cities. Sometimes even for only one day or one weekend. Even some farms set up Christmas markets. Often these farms grow Christmas trees and thus combine the Christmas tree sale with a small Christmas market to attract additional customers.

Have a great Advent time!

 

culture, food, photography, seasons, world

Cultural notes: Cookie time

Advent time is cookie time. In many private kitchens the oven has a hard time during the 4 weeks before Christmas. It’s time for baking Christmas cookies.

There are many receipts available for baking the special Christmas or Advent cookies. Every region has some specific specialities, while others are (nowadays) generally known in the whole country.

Have a great Advent time!

 

culture, photography, seasons, world

Cultural notes: Advent calendar

You know, Christmas is celebrated in December each year. This holiday is a memorial to the birth of Jesus from Nazareth and celebrated on December 25th in many countries. Because of his birth, his parents got gifts from the wise men coming to praise him. In that tradition, we also give gifts for Christmas to our beloved family members and maybe some tight friends.

Especially the kids are looking forward and are eager to know about the gifts they will get. To ease this waiting period, here in Germany, the kids (and also some adults) get an Advent calendar to shorten this waiting period.

Three years ago, I already wrote about Advent calendars and their history. So, jump back and have a look.

Have a great Advent time!

 

art, culture, food, people, photography, still life

Throwback Thursday: picking raisins

Here we have a German saying: someone is simply picking the raisins. Such a guy is called a raisin-picker. What does this mean?

Raisins are dried grapes and often used as an ingredient for baking cakes, torte or bread or while cooking food. Despite, they don’t have much liquid left after the drying process, they taste great. They are soft and sweet. Most people like them. But, because of the way they are produced, they are quite expensive and thus a valuable ingredient.

So, when we say, someone is picking the raisins, he or she is taking a lot of something good and does not leave enough for the others. In this context the ‘good’ not necessarily needs to be food. It could also be public holidays inside the vacation time. Or, when it comes to pay for a round, one always pay only the cheap drinks and leaves the expensive drinks to be paid by the others. Or doing the easy work while leaving the hard work to be done by the others. I guess, you got the idea.

Do you have a similar saying? Leave me a note in the comments.

This little guy is picking a raisin out from a Dresdner Christstollen (or shorter Dresdener Stollen), a typical German sweet, spiced bread. It’s made with a lot of butter, sugar, raisins, candied orange peel, candied citron peel, nuts, almonds, mild, rum and a lot more. Although, it’s known and made in many more parts of Germany, the Stollen from Dresden is best know.

Take care!

art, culture, history, nature, plants, seasons

St. Barbara

dsc_0969_wToday, we have the 2nd of Advent.

All days have a patron. And todays patron is a martyr called Barbara. She used to live in the 3rd century.

Here we have a tradition, of cutting of twigs from certain trees and put them inside the house. When doing so, they will bloom on Christmas. You can take twigs i.e. from cherry trees, apple trees, pear trees, plum trees or forsythia.

To bring them to bloom, they must have a frost first. Either, you cut them after having had a frost outside before December 4th, or you put them into your freezer for a night after having them cut of. Then, put them in warm water for a night (i.e. in your bathtub). So the buds feel can the spring. The next day, you have to to cut the twig diagonally above the cutting surface or tenderize it with a hammer. Put them in a vase and place it in a warm room. Refresh the water every three or four days. Spray them with water, if the air in the room is very dry. The twigs need some air moisture. Dry air makes the twigs shrivel.

For us, this is the first time we’re trying this.

Take care!

art, culture, history, seasons, world

The countdown has come to his end!

dsc_3080-ec_wToday is December 24th, Christmas Eve.

Today I want to tell you a bit on Christmas and how it is celebrated here in Germany.

In case December 24th is a weekday from Monday to Saturday, it is a common working day. But, at about 2 p.m. all the shops close. Many offices, instead are already closed this day. So, the cities and shopping centers are crowded this morning. Many male shoppers are in the streets, those, who forgot to buy a suitable present for their wives.

Many women are also in the shops. They fetch the pre-ordered food: meat, bread or cakes. Butchers, bakeries and fishmongers open very early this day and often have a different counter for those people, who want to collect the usually pre-paid pre-orders.

When I was a child, the grannies went with their grand-kids to a theater or a cinema and watch a play or a movie for the kids to shorten the time until they get their presents for Christmas and, more important, to give the parents time, to prepare the living room with the Christmas tree and the gifts. Nowadays the TV took over the grannies’s role.

You might already got the point, here we don’t have Father Christmas or Santa Clause coming in the night from 24th to 25th. Here we celebrate Christmas in the evening of December 24th.

The next two days, which are holidays, are used for visiting the parents. One spouses parents on 25th and the other spouses parents on December 26th.

Visiting a service at a church is not that common anymore. Some churches start at 5 p.m. with their Christmas service others at 10 p.m. For many people visiting a Christmas service, is this the only time of the year entering a church for visiting the service.

So, I wish you a happy, peaceful and joyful Christmas time wherever you are and whatever tradition, country, religions or ethical group you belong to.

How about you. Maybe you write a bit about the Christmas traditions from where you live.

Take care!