You know, it’s spring. The week before Easter we had very nice and warm weather: around 20°C. But Holy Saturday, the weather changed much and the temperature dropped. Tuesday after Easter we even got snow. 10-15 cm over night and heavy snowfall all day. Although most of the snow melted in the evening, the next morning looked the same as the morning before: again 10-15 cm of snow.
Here we have our pink tulip tree covered with snow. Most of the small spring flowers were completely covered with snow. Only a few of the bigger ones were able to look out of the snow as you can see in my image of yesterday. Here in Germany, we have a saying: April, April, der macht, was er will (The April does what he wants to). So, the intermezzo is already over again, and no snow anymore.
10 years ago, overnight we got a lot of snow. About half a meter in just a couple of hours. For years we didn’t get that much of snow. Since then, we got some snow, but not that much and not in that short amount of time. When I’m remembering correctly, there were even years without any snow. In a past post, I wrote a bit more about the environmental conditions for my region. You can find it here.
The landscape looks very nice when covered with (freshly fallen) snow, but on the streets, the snow is very dangerous. I makes the streets slippery, so you can fall down easily and the stopping distance of vehicles becomes much longer.
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.
In the highlands you can find many, many mosses and lichens. But, can also find tiny blooming plants: i.e.
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.
Until 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.
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.
This is my photo for Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness this week, one blossom from a star magnolia. It’s a reminder to the past blooming time. Take care!
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.
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!
or 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!