flowers, photography, spring, world

Throwback Thursday: A blue morning

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!.

Take care

 

 

culture, flowers, landscape, nature, photography, seasons, travel, world

plants in the Icelandic highlands

In my last post I started to show you some of the Icelandic plants. Today I have some more plants. These plants grow in the highlands.

600_2530-ecc_wIn the highlands you can find many, many mosses and lichens. But, can also find tiny blooming plants: i.e.

  • Silene acaulis, known as moss campion or cushion pink (Stängelloses Leimkraut)
  • Silene uniflora Roth (Klippen-Leimkraut / Einblütiges Leimkraut)
  • Armeria (Grasnelke)
  • Chamerion latifolium (formerly Epilobium latifolium) known as Dwarf Fireweed or River Beauty Willowherb (Arktisches Weidenröschen)
  • Dryas octopetala, common names include mountain avens, eightpetal mountain-avens, white dryas, and white dryad (Silberwurz)

I’m not a biologist, nor a botanist. Thus, I might have errors in the latin names. I got them by using Wikipedia and a German web-site dedicated to traveling Scandinavia. I’m quite sure about the German names noted inside the brackets, because I made notes from the explanations by our guide on Iceland and compared my photos very carefully to the sample photos on Wikipedia to be as accurate as possible.

Take care!

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culture, flowers, landscape, nature, photography, seasons, travel, world

plants on Iceland

600_6597-e_wUntil now, I showed you much of the fantastic landscapes of Iceland. I guess, you noticed, there aren’t lots of trees around although many parts of the landscape are green. And that’s true. So far in the north, trees need very long time to grow. And in the past centuries (the vikings arrived more than 1.000 years ago and started settling back in lat 9th century). Over the centuries the trees were cut for building houses, ships and for cooking / heating. Thus you can’t find any forests anymore expect small grove, planted by farmers.

Nowadays, you can find many greenhouses for growing food (i.e. sweet pepper, tomatoes and so on). They are heated by geothermal sources. But this is not our todays topic.

Today and in my next post I want to show you several plants, I found. I want to start in the lowlands and more urban parts of Iceland, while my next posts will be dedicated to the plants in the highlands.

Many parts in the lowlands are covered by different kinds of grass. In wet areas you can find blooming cotton grass during summer and angelic, the source for a schnaps (kind of hard liquor). Huge areas are covered by lupines (did you know, you can use the seeds of lupines to make coffee?). They were planted to modify the soil and prepare it to plant other useful plants afterwards, but they spread out widely and now cover huge parts of the land. A photo can’t transport the beauty of these huge fields of blooming lupines.

Take care!

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art, flowers, photography, seasons

Monochrome Madness 2-12

 

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This is Burg Eltz (Castle Eltz), a medieval castle founded in the 12th century and expanded several times over the centuries.. This castle was never conquered or destroyed and it is one of the few medieval castles, which remains in their original shape. The castle is still owned by the original family, for more than 800 years now. If you want to know more, I’d recommend Wikipedia. Although the English doc isn’t as long as the German one, it is quite good.

When we have had our own currency, the Deutsche Mark, before getting the Euro in 2001, this castle was pictured on the back of our second highest value bank-note: the 500 DM bill.

Many visitors from many different countries were there, when we visited the castle. but, it wasn’t that crowded. I guess, that’s because travel season hasn’t really started yet. They have a very big parking ground near the castle. Either you have a walk through the forest, you can also walk along the street or take a shuttle bus for a small fee. We took the street for our walk to the castle. A very, very steep street of about 2 km down to the castle. For our walk back to the parking ground we used the other path, through the forest. This path is way easier, although not much longer. But, also the bus fee is quite fair.

The castle is built on a hill surrounded by other, much higher hills. so, it is quite hidden in the landscape. Usually such castles were set up on very prominent places to overview the landscape. They were set up to guard the people, to collect duties from travelers and traveling merchants. So, they were usually built near navigable rivers or important merchant streets. In this context, it is very surprising to find castle Eltz hidden in a valley.

This is my submission for Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness this week. An image of a subject ‘fallen out of time’.

I also included some other photos of the castle in the slideshow below.

Take care!

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flowers, nature, seasons, travel

Many, many flowers

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Spring is the season of flowers, in my opinion. Colorful blossoms are everywhere. So many colorful spots in different shapes on trees, bushes and on the ground. Don’t get me wrong. I know, there are also many flowers blooming during summer or fall. But, I guess, this feeling comes from the lack of these color-spots during winter. The eye gets attracted by all the fresh color after a long, cold and primarily gray-white-black winter.

All these shots were taken last weekend while our trips trough the vineyards above the river Mosel.

Although the vineyards are men-made, you can find many wild herbs beside the paths.

Here we have among others wisteria, genister, chestnut, some apple (? – only the fruits will tell, because I’m not a botanist) trees and wild strawberries. The other ones I’m not familiar with 😦

At this season, you can also find herbs like anemones below beech trees, because the beech tree leaves are still small, so that some light is able to reach the ground. Thus, these plants only in this time have a chance to grow and bloom.

I’d love to get hints, if someone knows some of the plants.

Enjoy your spring!

 

art, flowers, nature, seasons, world

after the rain

610_4203-e_wor even between the rain.

Here we have a very old song, that still nearly everyone knows: “Wochenend und Sonnenschein” (translated to “Weekend and sunshine”). It’s recorded back in 1930 by the Comedian Harmonists, a male a-capella sextet. They sing about a trip to the forest with their darling. (you might find a recording on youtube – either the original recording, a snippet from the movie Comedian Harmonists or at least from Max Raabe, who is very good in their special singing style).

A sunny weekend is also very welcomed by a photographer. But, also a rainy day gives some opportunities to a photographer. Thus, yesterday I was out when the rain finally made a pause. I got my macro lens to capture a few of the wet blossoms. Although I used a macro lens with a focal length of 105 mm I have a least distance of 10 cm between the front lens and my subject. That’s quite ok in most circumstance, but not always.

What can I do, to come closer to my subject, or in different words, how to get the tiny blossoms a bit bigger into my frame.

There are at least two different ways. First, you can get a Close-up filter and screw it in front of your lens, or you can get extension tubes. An extension tube (usually they come in a set of three, each with a different size of 12, 24 and 35 mm) is to be mounted between you camera body and the lens. They don’t have any optical parts inside. They only enlarge the distance between the sensor and the front lens. While doing this, they also shorten the minimum distance between front lens and subject and enlarge the reproduction scale – says: your subject will be enlarged! Great, goal reached! (btw. there is also a flexible version of these extension tubes available: the bellow)

On the other hand, this has also a downside. In the same time, the reproduction scale is enlarged, the focal depth, that’s the size of the field that is sharp in you photo, is reduced.

This brings us to the most important part of doing macro photography: you need a sturdy tripod!

Moving your lens for only a millimeter can ruin your photo. This can be done by a heartbeat, a breath or simply by the usual (and normal) jitter of your muscles. When using the big screen on the back of your camera (live-view), the problem becomes even worse. To cope these tiny movements, use a sturdy tripod, disable the Image stabilization and use a remote shutter release.

When putting your camera on top of a tripod, the Image stabilization technique will result in unsharp photos.  Why? There are slight moments inside the camera to compensate the human’s slight movements I mentioned above. When the camera is mounted on a sturdy tripod, than there are no movements to compensate. So, this results in unsharp photos.

Using a remote shutter is also meant to keep vibrations away from your camera. If available, you also should activate a small wait between folding up of the mirror and opening the camera shutter. This is also meant to keep vibrations away.

Enjoy the spring and take care!

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flowers, nature, photography, seasons

finally spring arrived

610_3904-sfc_wAs I wrote before: the sun changes everything!

In this context, the sun brought spring. Trees and bushes are getting their leaves and blossoms. Time for Hanami. Many flowers are blooming as well as the trees. Only two weeks left until may-day.

The 1st of May has a very distinct meaning here for centuries. I’ll tell you more of this, soon.

We have had a fantastic week. Many sunny hours during the day, although the nights were still cold with temperatures slightly above the freezing point. Today, the sky is gray again and covered with thick clouds. Thus, I’m not outside as I have had planned. Instead, I’m sitting here at my computer and writing this post for you.

The weather forecast proposed a cloud-free sky. But they were wrong, at least here, where I live.

Take care!

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flowers, photography, travel, world

dps Weekly Photography Challenge – Flowers 2

600_8191-sf_wThis weeks photo challenge at dps is on flowers. Although some people think, photographing flowers would be as easy as eating bread, it’s not that easy. Try it yourself. So, I’m not the typical flower photographer, but every now and then, I try it. I scrolled though my blog and I was very surprised, how many flower photographs are already online here. You can find them with the tags “flower”, “flowers”, “blossom”, “blossoms” and probably a few more. (Does anyone know a tool for editing the categories of many posts at the same time easily?)

Here is a second photo: an orchid (literally 3 of them ans you can see in the gallery below 🙂 )
This one is taken in our living room by using a studio setting: A macro lens, a tripod, a remote for the camera, a black backdrop and 3 manual controlled flashes.

First of all, I had shut the roller shutter at the windows. Next I set the flower on op of a little footstool and the backdrop about half a meter behind. Positioning the flashes is both that trivial. You have to look for shadows. Are they disturbing or appealing and then  rearrange the setting.

I hope, you like them.

Take care!

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flowers, photography, travel, world

dps Weekly Photography Challenge – Flowers

600_7330-ef_wThis weeks photo challenge at dps is on flowers. Although some people think, photographing flowers would be as easy as eating bread, it’s not that easy. Try it yourself. So, I’m not the typical flower photographer, but every now and then, I try it. Although, I’m often not very satisfied with the results. Nevertheless, I won’t to bore you with such lamentations.

Here is my photo:
I saw these funny flowers in Barcelona, Spain, when I was there in March. Their shape reminded me to a toilet brush. But, the colors are more appealing, aren’t they?

I’ve never seen such flowers before. Thus, I don’t know their name. In case, one of you know their name, please write it in the comment box below.

Take care!

culture, flowers, landscape, photography, seasons, travel, world

Living a separate live

600_8450-e_wTulips are sawn by putting onions in the ground. That’s different from i.e. weeds, grass or many flowers. Here you only have tiny seeds, often not much
bigger than pinhead. Thus, you won’t expect to find plants i.e in the unploughed strip or in the boundary ridge.  So, you won’t imagine that such a big seed would get lost. But, it happens, as you can see.

Living in the row means shelter for each single flower. So, i.e. they can stand hard wind easier or cold nights. Although, some of them seemed to have decided to live their own live, separate from the others, more than a meter (more than 3 feet) away from their siblings in the rows. And they are also still standing.600_8417-e_w

It seems to be similar to us. Some people also decide to live their own live, independent from others and different in style.

Respect each individual. Regardless of their origin and their (cultural) background.

Take care!