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

Lens-Artists Photo Challange 144: “Taking flight”

A dream as old as mankind: flying! Spread your wings and fly. The oldest story of flying men in the story Daedalus and his son Ikaros. Daedalus was famous for his artistry. To keep him, the king of Krete sent both to jail. As escaping from an island is nearly impossible. Daedalus made wings from him and his son from feathers and bee-wax. He advised his son to follow him in the sky and warned him to say away from the sun as the warmth might melt the wax. He also warned his son to not fly too low as the water might wet the feathers and becoming too heavy to fly. The story tells us, Ikaros flew too high and then he saw the wax starting to melt, he went down. Unfortunately, he went too far down and the feathers became wet and heavy. Now, he started upwards again to let the sun dry the feathers. In the end, you might have expected this, Ikaros felt in the ocean and went under. His father noticed the problem and started searching for Ikaros. But, he didn’t find him.

A couple of years ago I got the chance to fly. Not with a plane, but with a hot-air balloon. Although a balloon flight is not risk-free, it’s not as dangerous as the wings of Daedalus and Ikaros were.

I want to take you with me on a few balloon flights. Enjoy!

 

Thank you, Tina, for this wonderful topic for The Lens-Artists Photo challenge.

Take care!

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

Lens-Artists Photo Challange 143: “Colorful April”

Wow, what a theme for this week. Amy is our host and she enjoys the colors of spring.

April started very cold this year. We even have had two days with a lot of snow. All the colors of spring were covered by 10-15 cm of snow.

So, I’m presenting a bit of contrast: color vs. white. All the images are taken this week: Tuesday and Wednesday

     

Take care!

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

Lens-Artists Photo Challange 142: “You pick it”

Another week passed by. So, it’s time for Ann-Christine to challenge us for LAPC. This week she opened the theme very wide: “You pick it”.

While I was thinking of simply picking a topic that’s important for me, I decided differently when starting writing this post. I decided to take the theme literally.

You can pick a fruit from a tree or a bush when it is ripe. You can pick a certain product at a store from the plethora of offers. You can pick a dish from a menu at a restaurant or a cookshop. You can pick a painting at a painter’s shop or choose an artist for creating your portrait. And you can pick the next color of your hair. Choose what you like, but choose well! With your choice, you’re deciding about the impact on the environment. Your choice can make a difference.

Take care!

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

Lens-Artists Photo Challange 140: “A change of scenery”

We’re challenged by our guest host this week for Lens Artists Photo-Challenge to find different images of a familiar scene.

All of us are surly familiar with our home town, our neighborhood, the street to the supermarkets or to work. But, going there at night has a very different ambient and the familiar surroundings become at once unfamiliar.

So, I picked a couple of night images taken insid a circle of approximately 5 km around my house.

Take care!

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

Lens-Artists Photo Challange 139: “Special Moments”

It’s Tina’s turn to name the topic for this week’s Lens-Artists Photo challenge and she asks for “special moments”.

There are so many memorable moments in one’s life. Besides, moving to the first own apartment, own wedding, the birth of the first child, the first grand-kid, the first son’s marriage, ….. there is so much more to remember like getting un-injured to of a car after an accident or having survived very serious illnesses. So, I only name a few of them where I have images.

Sometimes a word, a smell, a feeling, a sound, or a light brings up memories deep from your inside you might otherwise not have been faced again. But, all of them are important and part of your inner self. Without them, you won’t be you.

Take care!

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

Lens-Artists Photo Challange 138: “natural light”

For Lens-Artists Photo challenge is Amy our host this week and she challenges us with “natural light”.

What is “natural light”. You could say, natural light is when there is no artificial light in a scene. In general, this term is used in people photography and not in landscape, nature, wildlife, or macro photography. It means you’re working only with the available light and no flash. Sometimes, you have the problem, that certain parts are not illuminated and therefore you need to add light. But, following the idea of natural light, only working with a reflector in maximum for directing the light to your subject.

Many photographers call this kind of photography the royal league of photography. I, personally, love it more than using flashes. Taking photographs outdoors is more challenging than in a studio because you have to cope with the current light situations. This makes it more interesting than the studio with its predictable light conditions.

All these images are taken without artificial light (aka flash). Instead, I only worked with the natural light (aka available light). In some of the images, I used a reflector for directing the natural light to where I needed it or brighten the dark side of the model/scene.

Take care!

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

Lens-Artists Photo Challange 137: “Soft”

For Lens-Artists Photo challenge is Ann-Christine our host this week and she challenges us with “soft”.

There are many soft things around us and I collected a few of them here in this post.

 

The fur of certain mammals is very soft:

 

 

The feathers of birds are also very soft. Have you ever carried an owl on your hand or arm? So big, but so lightweight and their coat is soooo soft.

Some plants produce soft fibers

or in greater areas, they are considered being a soft carpet

 

Fog is able to cover you in softness

as well as smoke can do

 

 

or the soft morning light, which embraces you with warmth

Were you ever able to feel the softness of a cloud? You can do so while flying with a hot-air balloon.

Walking on the beach you can feel the soft warm sand below your feed. The softness hinders you to walk in the same speed as you would walk along a road.

The softness of warm air can embrace you gently as well as warm water can do

  

as well as freshly washed and dried clothes.

or a baby’s skin

or simply love when touching your beloved softly.

 

Take care!

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

Lens-Artists Photo Challange 136: “Starting with an S”

Thanks, Patti, for this week’s challenge, subjects starting with an “S”.

Last weekend we have had fantastic winter weather. While the temperature was far below 0°C we got a quite thick layer of snow. The whole two weeks was already very cold. Icy air from Sibiria found its way to middle Europe. When it started raining Friday evening two weeks ago (Feb. 5th), the rain became ice-rain. Everything became covered by a quite thick layer of ice. Starting from Monday (Feb. 8th), we got more and more snow. From Friday before last (Feb. 12th) the sky became blue again. So, I used the weekend for a photo trip: hiking through a winter wonderland near home. That’s why I had to skip last week’s challenge. All the images in the first part of this post are from that trip.

Snow, sun, sky, slight, sledding, sport, stone, sunset, shadow, sunburst, Saturday, Sunday

The night before I was also outside for finding stars!

During this past week, the temperature changed enormously: from -10°C in the week before to +20°C this week. So, I went yesterday on a wildlife photography trip.

Squirrel, swan, spring, snowdrops, selfheal, snowy egret

 

And a bit from my archive: seal, stork, sparrow, sailships, spring snowflake, snowdrops, sunrise, sheep from Skye in Scotland, Snæfellsjökull (Snæfellsnes peninsula, Iceland), iceberg

  

Take care and enjoy the pre-spring

 

 

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

Lens-Artists Photo Challange 134: ” From Forgettable to Favorite”

…. or the benefits of raw!

Fortunately, the subject for this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge was published ahead. So, I had enough time to prepare this post. Each photographer struggles sometimes over the limitations of the photographic gear and gets images (far) away from the expected result. Fortunately, nowadays in digital photography, you have the option to increase the image in the digital darkroom. As our host this week, Tina asks to show such images as examples.

developed from RAW

You know, I’m taking my photographs in raw format instead of getting the JPGs processed automatically straight from the camera. Although this takes additional time and work, I’m usually getting better images. The link above directs you to a post I wrote a couple of years ago. Despite the abilities of the sensors increased over time, I still don’t want to throw away quality.

Usually, I don’t do much post-processing. I only sharpen my images and balance the exposure by subtly brightening the darks and shading the lights a bit, if necessary. So, the additional effort is very small and I can use batch-processing quite often.

But, every now and then I have images demanding a bit more work, just like the image I’m showing you today.

This image is taken on Helgoland in January 2016. My idea was to capture the light beam of the lighthouse. So I went out during the blue hour because I wanted to have a slight dark-blue sky instead of a black sky. The slight snow and rain that night didn’t disturb much. When I arrived at the planned location, I noticed a family walking towards the lighthouse. So, a quite short exposure was necessary to get a sharp family and get nice light beams. The exposure was set to fit the lights of the window: full-frame, ISO 2000, f4, 1/25, handheld (no time for setting up the tripod because of the family).

out-of-camera JPG

As expected from that scene, the captured image was very dark. Thanks to the raw format, this wasn’t a loss! These steps were taken to get the final image:

  1. increased exposure compensation in my raw developing software by +2
  2. decreased the lights a little bit
  3. increased the darks a little bit further
  4. un-sharp mask
  5. export to JPG

In the other image, I integrated the OoC for comparison. Click on the image to enlarge it. It’s also taken on Helgoland in January 2016. It shows the remains of an old pier.

This long exposure is also taken in raw and the exposure is aligned to the bright areas to avoid burnt-out areas. Besides a tripod, I used a gray-filter and a graduated gray filter.

full-frame, 24mm, ISO 50, f16, 10 seconds

Developing steps:

  1. remove dust spots in the sky
  2. balancing the horizon
  3. lighten the darks
  4. increased the warm tones in the clouds from the setting sun
  5. slightly cropped
  6. un-sharp mask
  7. export to JPG

These dust spots are almost always in your images when using a camera with interchangeable lenses because they are in the air and when changing the lens they can come into your camera. The same is true when you using nun-sealed lenses. When dust is inside your camera, it’s easy for the particles to settle on the sensor. You can recognize them as dark mostly round spots in the image. Most easily you can see them in a bright sky or on homogeneous areas in your image. The other possible source for the spots the lens itself. Either you might have spots on the back lens of your interchangeable lens or on your front lens. And, although the front lens is quite easy to keep clean, spots will appear. When now taking your final image in JPG format to do the corrections, you’re losing quality because the image will always be compressed with a lossy algorithm when storing it. So, it’s much better to do all the necessary work on top of a raw file and export the finished image. I’m recommending reading the post, I linked further up in this article.

For the next 2 images, I also embedded the original image into the final one.

  1. lighten the darks in the face to reveal the eyes a bit
  2. slightly cropped
  3. un-sharp mask
  4. coverted to monochrome by using software that emulates monochrome film instead of desaturating the colors
  5. adding a subtle dark vignette
  6. export to JPG

This is a wildlife image. Despite using a 400mm lens, I was too far away from the seals for my planned composition. You know, gray seals are raptors and you have to stay at least 30 meters away from them. They are much faster as you might think. So, you better respect the recommended distance.

  1. lighten the darks
  2. increased the warm tones a little bit
  3. slightly cropped
  4. un-sharp mask
  5. export to JPG

Take care!

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

Lens-Artists Photo Challange 133: “My Photography Journey”

This week, it’s fun to participate in The Lens-Artists Photo challenge. Amy is our host is week.

MY photographic journey started early. Very early. I guess I was in the second year of secondary school (6th year of schooling. So, I might have been 11). The funfair came to our town, as usual, each year in June. My grandfather, my father, and I went to the funfair (I can’t remember if my brother was also with us. He’s 5 years younger than me). In one of the raffle ticket booths, they had a camera as a prize. My grandfather was often very lucky with buying fortunes. So, I got my first camera. My father bought me a 6×6 roll film. I guess, there was room for 12 images. When the film came back from the lab, we noticed, the body wasn’t lightproof. Sometime later, I got a Kodak 126. This camera is still anywhere.

When I finished school, I went to Bavaria for a few weeks to visit my uncle and his family. A friend of mine lent me his Rollei 35. When I earned my own money a few months later, I researched for buying my first SLR. Finally, I got a Minolta X-500 with a manual 35-70mm lens. It already had a lightmeter build in, but no AF. It was already invented but with very poor performance. For the next years, I changed lenses as well as camera bodies. A good friend of my father was a professional photographer with his own studio and lab. So, I got an introduction on how to work in the lab one evening. Buying a used enlarger, the necessary tools, and chemicals, and my own lab was ready to run. In the meantime, I also got an 80-200 tele-zoom and a 60mm macro. The introduction to laboratory work was the final step to prepare me for bringing final drawings of i.e. logos from paper to serigraphy for a small advertising company.

In 1999 I got lent a digital point-and-click camera. Very expensive, bad results, and very high consumption of battery power. 5 AA batteries lasted for only 3-4 images. So, I went with a cable drum and the power adapter attached through the garden for taking photographs. About 2 years later, I bought a cheap digital point-and-click, which was replaced by a better one another 3 years later when I got it in a sale for a reduced price. And in 2008 I finally went digital with my SLR.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t happy with that camera: APS-C + 18-55 and 55-200. Way too slow and I didn’t get used to the focal lengths. Changing the camera body, replacing the wide-angel zoom to 18-105 after only a few months were the right steps ahead.

In fall 2012 I went full-frame. Finally not only the bigger sensor but also faster lenses.  Especially the wild-angel lenses are very slow for APS-C sensor cameras. I still have an APS-C camera, but only for my wildlife photography. Over the decades, I guess, I did nearly all possible kinds of photography except microscope and underwater photography. Landscape, nature, bird, and travel photography started already when I had my Kodak, people photography with my first SLR. My first astrophoto was in 1985. I learned much by trying or from books and magazines. At that time, there was no Youtube or browsing the internet. Go to a library and find the necessary information.

But I have to admit, the results became faster better after switching to digital. The learning was much slower with the film. You had to write down the settings and compare it with the results when the developed film came back from the lab and there was no possibility to improve the result. Only when doing the development in your own lab, you were able to take action for improving the results.

In the gallery below, I tried to include a bit of many different kinds and tried to show images from many different years. Below each image, I show you the year when it was created. In the second last row, you can find a scan of a print taken with my old film SLR and developed in my own lab. I guess it was an Ilford HP5 film because that was my preferred film in those days for everyday monochrome images. Unfortunately, I don’t know any further details like shutter speed, lightning, f-stop, or paper.

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.