A “detail” from the inside of a wooden windmill, initially built in 1706. Here, you can read more.
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In addition, I want to share some news on Luminar Neo with you. The latest update is capable of working with raw files from OM-1, EOS R3, and Lumix DC-GH6. There’s also another extension announced. So, five of the 7 extensions are already available
Focus stacking is a technology where a couple of images taken with different focus points from exactly the same place are merged to get images with a much bigger field of depth than possible with a single shot by closing the aperture. Up to 100 images can be merged that way. This is extremely interesting for macro photography, but also in certain fields of landscape photography, this is really useful. Many of the more recent cameras already support capturing such a series of images by automatically shifting the focus point through the scene. Luminar Neo supports you with the necessary functions to merge those images into a final one with a huge field of depth.
Never before, I was able to capture one of these guys so close. They are at home around the Baltic Sea, along the North Sea, along the Norwegian coast, and in Iceland. You can also find some of them at some lakes here in Germany. While I was on Usedom for our vacation, I got the opportunity to go to a nature protection area near by. Despite that fact, I needed a really long lens. Unfortunately the sky was very cloudy that day.
White-tailed eagles (Haliaeetus albicilla) are bigger than the American bald eagle, but smaller than the Steller’s sea eagle (Haliaeetus pelagicus), also known as Pacific sea eagle or white-shouldered eagle. The White-tailed eagle has a wingspan of up to 250cm. There’s a saying, when you have the impressing, there’s a room door flying above you, it’s a White-tailed eagle. They are really impressive.
Fortunately, the population is slowly growing again. During the 1970s DDT created huge problems for them. While eating dead animals poisoned by DDT or wit ha huge level or DDT in their bodies, the poison also in the eagles’ bodies enriched which caused a severe problem: the egg-shell became too thin, so the the eagles destroyed their own eggs while breeding them. During the 1980s, DDT got banned and the number of eagles raised again. Slowly, but steadily.
It’s so fascinating watching them passing by. Because of their size, it seems, they were quite slow. Most of the time, they are gliding. But, a a single flap of their wings speeds them massively up. Same is true, when they start using thermal up-streams. You can’t change your lens fast enough to capture them neither in the “elevator” nor on the “highway”.
For hours, 2 of them were sitting on high trees with no activity, but too far away for an image. Even with 800mm attached to my APS-C body (resulting in 1200mm f5.6) would only give me a few dark dots somewhere in the trees.
My last vacation with my wife and my grandson (nearly 6) surprisingly gave me the opportunity to explore an old wooden windmill, a so-called smock mill. A few years ago, I already was there, but wasn’t aware of the option, to tour the windmill. The souvenir shop held me away.
The windmill was initially built in 1706 and reconstructed after a fire in 1920/21. It’s still in use as a flour mill. In the basement of the windmill is a shop offering natural products as well as souvenirs. While in the shop, my grandson asked quite loudly (as kids of that age do), if he could go upstairs and see the inner parts of the windmill and the owner answered (instead of us), that it would be possible when paying an entrance fee and at least one of the adults would accomplish him. So, I’m glad, he was with us and talking that loud.
For a long, I wanted to visit an old windmill with my camera. It was fantastic to see, how everything was constructed. It was amazing to see all this old technology and that it remained the centuries and wars.
The windmill has 4 floors. All of them offer only very few free (unused) room to roam around. I even had to leave my backpack on the first floor to be able to climb up to the upper levels. While my wife and my grandson only claimed up to the second floor and were frightened to use the steep ladders further up, I made my way up to the top. Fortunately, no one else was there at the same time. The next visitors arrived on level 2 just when I came down again from level 3. In my image above, you can watch down the ladder connecting levels 2 and 3.
Last week I was on a short family vacation at the Northsea: me, my wife, and our grandson (5 3/4).
We were gifted with fantastic weather. Nicely warm and sunny days at the beach and on the many playgrounds the town set up over the years. We visited that town not for the first time. So, we were able to see the development. Especially my wife was there quite often when our kids were smaller. She went with only one at a time, while the others stayed home with me. Now, all of them are adults and traveling with their partners.
Being at the coast means having a good portion of wind around you all the time. During low tide, the beaches grow. When low tide is in the evening, you can have much space for flying a kite. We’ve chosen that way for the kite instead of going to the kiting ground because there are more pro-kiters and a small kid does not have the room he needs for his little kite.
Saturday before last, I was in our state capitol to see one of the results of the long-lasting drought, we’re suffering this year. The fourth year in a row. Many smaller rivers and creeks don’t haven’t water anymore. Lakes and ponds dry out or at least overheat and endangering the fishes that way.
That river is one of the big streams here in Europe and it’s used as a road for large barges. When I walked down the riverbank and came closer to one of the spur dikes (they are built to slow down the water) when I noticed this single sunflower, blooming on a part of the riverbed, although the image seems to show something different, because you can’t the exact location.
I’m taking this sunflower as a sign of hope. Hope for water will come back to this level. Hope, because there is still some water in the ground.
12 years ago, my wife spent a week with our youngest at the north sea. Thanks to a very proposing weather forecast, I came up with the idea, to surprise them by making a day trip to visit them. So, I told the other two kids to prepare some breakfast suitable to be eaten on the road and get up that early to be able to be on the road at 6 a.m. What a surprise, when we arrived at noon. At that time, the motorway ended early and the remaining nearly 100 km had to be covered on regular country roads. Nowadays the highway reaches much closer to the coast and shortens the distance to only a little more than 3 hours.
After having dinner together, we headed back home and arrived at about 1:30 a.m. What a day!
As proposed last week, I’m continuing with a few images taken in the schoolyard, which we stumbled upon accidentally.
I’m glad, we followed the sign leading us in the narrow street. Fortunately, the painting from the first image in the gallery below was visible from the place where we found the sign. So we went for having at least a brief look. At the end of the street, we found the schoolyard. Full of people (painters and their company), a DJ, lifting platforms, compressors, and a lot of ladders were here. The artists were working on their paintings or talk shopping. Some of them were already done while others even have not yet started.
Last Saturday, we finally met again: monthly photographers roundtable. After nearly one year without a common trip. The past 2,5 years were hard and now it has to become routine again. But, I won’t complain. Despite the overall situation, I was out quite often. And, to be honest, there were a few meetings without a camera, simply for having a talk or celebrating a birthday. But, I missed the regular common photography trips. They are often challenging because you have to leave your comfort zone and face unknown places as well as unknown photography topics. So, this time street photography and art photography from a nature and wildlife photographers perspective. Once started, you have to find your flow first and work on the perspective. Consider, what you want to show. Are you keen enough to photograph strangers? And don’t forget the legal regulation!
Although only 3 of us met in Geldern, a small town near the Dutch border. Each year (with interruptions – sic) on the last weekend of the state’s summer holiday they organize a Street Art festival. This year it was held for the 42nd time. I got notice last year from our newspaper but wasn’t aware of being a regular festival. Unfortunately, it was canceled on very short notice. So, I was very happy one of the other photographers had it on her list and was planning to go (even alone). So, my destination was also found and we would either have a meeting of 2 in Geldern and another one elsewhere with the others. but, it came out that only 4 of us were available that day because of vacations and one had to cancel with short notice. So, there were three of us in Geldern.
All of the painters created their pieces of art with colored chalk. In between, some street musicians presented their skills; fortunately, only very few booths offered drinks or food. I was quite surprised to see so many female artists painting. I guess, 80% of the painters were female as well as many of the solo musicians.
The festival starts on Saturday morning and lasts until Sunday noon. So, the species of art are not supposed to be ready on Saturday evening and you can view them creating their paintings. It’s really fascinating.
The only downside was, that some musicians were too close to each other while playing, although there was plenty of room. So, their music overlapped and it was not nice listening to that noise carpet.
On our way back to the cars, we discovered another interesting site by following a sign in the streets: a schoolyard was decorated by talented graffiti artists. But, I leave that for next week.
A few days ago, I was scouting a location. When I arrived, I was welcomed by a number of stone sculptures, like the one above. In size, they ranged from about 1 meter small up to the gorilla above in nearly life-size. I was impressed by the material, the details, and the kind of craftsmanship.
All of the sculptures were made of only one single serpentine stone. One of the artists was working on one of the sculptures. He was working on the glossy black part of one sculpture with a paste (similar to shoe polish)and a gas burner. Thus, I talked with him. Because black men are quite rarely seen here, I asked him about where he’s from and why he’s here. The answer was quite simple, he’s a member of a community of artists from Zimbabwe and in Germany on invitation for a couple of months to present their art. As I only saw those sculptures standing in the parking lot, he directed me to the inner part of the building, the atrium, where a lot more was presented and offered for sale. Pieces of art made of stone, driftwood, old and rusty metal, as well as from metal sheets were there.
According to a leaflet I got, the relationship lasts already for a number of years. In 1966 a former tobacco farmer who had serpentine stone on his land, founded an artists colony. While the artists initially only worked with serpentine stone, other kinds of art emerged. The artists keep their legacy, spiritualism, legends, and myths alive in their art. It is called Shona-Art after the predominant people living in Zimbabwe.
I was really impressed by their artistry and craftsmanship. I loved also their sculptures. Unfortunates, nearly all of them are too big to set them up at home.
Its body is only about 1 meter long. It’s a “toy”. OK, not really, it’s a radio-controlled glider. No one is in the glider and the pilot is standing on the ground with the remote control. Nevertheless, it’s amazing to see how well and fast it could move carried only by the winds.
I took this image also from the top of the dead rock heap, I introduced you to four weeks ago while standing on the edge of the heap. Radio-controlled vehicles (ships, planes, and especially cars) were quite popular when I was at school. One of my classmates was active in a model car club and another one in a ship model club. I’ve even seen radio-controlled airplanes, helicopters, and submarines. But, up to now, I’ve never seen a radio-controlled glider.
… 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.
LAPC is hosted this week by Sofia Alves. She introduces us to the concepts of minimalistic and maximalist photography. I’ve picked another image from the sun observatory, I introduced you to, last week. I often use minimalism in my photography because there are no distracting elements. Especially in monochrome, the leading lines are important to preserve harmony.
In this image, you can get an idea of the dimension the sun observatory has. The van is standing right in front of the observatory. A visitors group was brought up here with that van. Here, you can read more about the location.