Today, I challenge you with a song from Münchner Freiheit published in 1987 (together with the London Symphonic Orchestra): Solang′ Man Träume Noch Leben Kann. Münchner Freiheit is also the name of a famous square in Munich and translates to “liberty/freedom of/in Munich”. They were very successful at that time and published many top-10 hits. This is one of those top hits. In Germany, this was their second most successful song.
Ein Jahr ist schnell vorüber,
Wenn der Regen fällt,
Ein Meer voller Fragen.
Ich steh’ dir gegenüber
In Erinnerung vergangener Tage.
A year has passed quickly
when the rain falls
A sea of questions.
I face you
Remembering days gone by.
Versuchen wir es wieder,
So lang’ man Träume noch leben kann.
Let us try it again
as long as we can live our dreams.
I translated the first verse and the last two lines of the chorus for you line by line to keep as much as possible of the meaning. This song came to my mind when I started preparing today’s post. For 9 years I have published weekly a monochrome image here on my blog. Initially, this was my participation in Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness (Thank you so much, Leanne). When she stopped it a couple of years ago, I continued it on my own. (I’m happy, she restarted it recently). I love monochrome images. I love photography. I love capturing nature in all its glory. Often, I take images with the intention to process them in monochrome. Sometimes, I feel while processing an image, it would look great in monochrome.
You know, back in the 1980s, I run my own lab and monochrome films were more often in my camera than color (slide) films. I still love the gameplay between Lights and Darks.
The song “Solang′ Man Träume Noch Leben Kann” (as long as we can live our dreams) brings a couple of aspects together:
today marks the 9th anniversary of publishing monochrome images regularly
this year passed quite fast (again)
don’t allow bad weather to stop your progress
there’s so much more to discover in this beautiful world
in each post, there are 2 people: me, as the writer, and you, as a reader
Today, I’m reviewing the monochrome images published here during the last 12 months and republish those of them, I like most. Maybe, you enjoy seeing them again, too.
In a background tab, you could have Münchner Freiheit sing Solang′ Man Träume Noch Leben Kann for you by clicking on the link. In case you’re interested in the full lyrics, they are also available in the usual suspects. Google Translate can help you translate them into your language or at least into English.
Btw. in 1988 they also published a version in English: Keeping the Dream Alive by Freiheit (they staged with this shortened name internationally), which was re-published i.e. by Kim Wild in 2013. Follow the link to Youtube to listen to that version, too. Although the English lyrics are nice, they differ from the German original. So, maybe it’s worth checking both versions. 😁
So, I’m starting today the 10th year of Monochrome Monday / Monochrome Madness. Stay tuned and
… from northern Norway again. During the last 12 days we tried to meet the Green Lady again, but the overall outcome is quite disappointing considering the current peak of solar activity which is the cause of the Aurora.
At first, we had 2 days in and around Tromsø with snowy and rainy weather, but no Aurora. Next 4 days on Senja: snowstorms, thick clouds, and partly rain 😲 to melt the snow, and such even prevented nice winter images.
Thus, after checking the weather forecast for the greater region, we left 1 day early, canceled the next location, and postponed another one. Instead, we escaped to Sweden, which was proposing the best conditions for the next few days.
It was a horrible 320km drive to Sweden crossing a mountain pass: towards darkness during a snowstorm on such a steep and small road is quite a challenge, even with spikes. At first, we lost an hour because the pass was closed for rescuing a truck stuck in the snow. Snow chains were an absolute necessity for trucks. The bad sight demanded further delays because of the quite slow speed for driving. Driving convoy was also necessary to make sure to not lose sight of the car in front of us.
After dinner on the arriving day, we noticed a greenish glow above the town. So, two of us (me included 😁 of course) decided to give it a try. Despite being quite late (in comparison to their usual schedule), she popped out and danced for us. We were back at the hotel at about 2 a.m., tired, but with happy smiles on our faces. My companion even wanted to stay way longer. The first meeting with the Aurora for this trip. The others were too tired from the drive.
Unfortunately, the next two days she was shy again and didn’t show us more than a weak glow between the clouds, that already arrived there, too, although the weather forecast said differently.
After 3 nights in Sweden, we headed back to Norway for the remaining 3 nights.
When we arrived at our last location, we struggled again with bad weather. One day and night got lost to another snowstorm, but we also got two crisp clear nights, but she didn’t pop up. While we got at least a short and weak Aurora in one of these two nights, the other one was completely Aurora-free. At least we got some wonderful sunny winter days.
Overall, this year’s trip for seeing the Aurora was quite disappointing although the conditions are extremely good this year. Solar activity is at or near its maximum. Surprisingly, a green Aurora was visible even in the middle of Germany but not in northern Norway. I guess, because of the high level of solar activity, the center moved south so that we couldn’t see Auroras north of the polar circle in Norway as expected.
The green lights are at about 40km high, while the reds are up to 100km high. Thus, middle Europe usually sees the red lights of an aurora, when a strong Aurora happens. But green lights are extremely rare at these latitudes.
On the other hand, this was again a nice winter trip with nice company and quite well-prepared (although it seemed a bit chaotic sometimes).
Surprisingly, I have more the half of my images already developed and even started creating an ebook with some of my monochrome images taken during this trip. So, even the days with bad weather delivered. During the last third of the trip, I definitely had the best weather. So, be prepared to see some of the images in the future.
For today I have one Aurora image for you (how could it be otherwise). You might have already seen it on Instagram.
Second, an image taken while coping with the bad conditions on the pass. Coincidentally at that time, the shuffle function of my audio collection decided to play „May it be“ by Enya from the first Lord of the Rings movie where it is underscoring how the fellows hiked upwards the Caradhras pass.
The third image is one of the last images, taken near sunset on our last day.
One of the other highlights of the trip was our visit to the Ice Hotel in Kiruna. You can rent a room for a night made of ice. Sleep in a sleeping bag on a bed made of ice covered with reindeer furs set up in a room made completely of ice. They offer three different kinds of such rooms. First, they have the standard rooms, where you feel like standing in a room of the gigantic crystalline fortress made by the green crystal thrown by Clark Kent (the later Men of Steel) in the Canadian Arctic. Other rooms were more individually decorated, like the one in the image below. All of these are supposed to melt as soon as spring starts and return their water to the lake beside the hotel. In a separate huge hall, there are individually designed rooms by some ice artists. I suppose those rooms are not for rent. According to the website, “the room holds a temperature of -5 to -8 degrees Celsius. The bed is covered with reindeer hides and you sleep in a thermal sleeping bag. Instead of doors, the hotel rooms have curtains that you draw to give you and your company privacy.“ So, I wish you a good night and sleep well 😁
The entrance fee for seeing these rooms is quite high but definitely worth the money. While I was expecting only a bar made of ice set up in a room made of ice and equipped with chairs and tables made of ice, I was visiting an art gallery where not only the rooms were made of ice, but also the pieces of art itself. Btw. they also have the bar 😁.
The final image for today is one of the monochrome images taken at a beach in the greater Tromsø area.
Here, the different layers work best in monochrome. The foreground is made of gray rocks, the middle ground is made of dark rocks and the background is formed by the mountains. All of them are well parted by the moving water of the fjord and the white splashes stand out well from the dark rocks while the shoreline leads the eye from the lower left right to the splashes and thus makes them the main subject. The color version is on Instagram for comparison.
So, my advice for photographing on a trip. Don’t stick to the ideas you have on your bucket list. Instead, try always to get the best from the situation you’re in. There is always something for you to take. Use your time well and the location will pay back. When sticking to the ideas from your bucket list, remember that you will never be in the same situation, in the same conditions, and probably in the same place as the photographer whose picture you saw. But, it will limit your ability to see the scene with your own eyes and capture the beauty laying in front of you. Be a creator and not a copycat.
It’s a tradition to create a yearbook by the end of each year containing the essence of the past year. This book does not necessarily have the best images taken during the given year. Instead, it’s a review of the year. I’m trying to have images from significant activities like trips, vacations, and special events to remind me of these activities.
I just got the book. The book has 100 pages and to create it, I worked through my images from 2022 again. In the past, I already explained the process of how I narrow down the images to find the essence of the relevant year. This year this wasn’t different. But, the number of images was quite high because of the number of wildlife images i.e. from Namibia.
I really love this type of photobook for creating my yearbook, although the manufacturer is quite expensive and the software running inside the web browser is very inflexible and kind of a torture to use. Having this kind of front page is unique and only available from that one company.
This is, how my yearbook looked before I got to know that manufacturer respectively before they came up with the cut-out year numbers. You read right, the numbers are cut out and you can see an individual image behind the digits. The chestnut on the front of the black book below is also created that way. But it’s less attractive than having the year named on the front and seeing my own images shining through the digits.
These yearbooks are a fantastic opportunity to remember the really important activities or trips in a certain year like vacations or photo outings.
Now I have a few pages from my 2022 yearbook to show you, how such pages look like. Each page is approximately DIN A4 (= 21×29,7 cm = appx. 8,27×11,7 in). You can click on the images below to enlarge them.
I don’t use photo paper or lay-flat bindings for my books anymore. First, lay-flat binding is only possible with thick pages. These pages look more like card-box than book pages. Next, when using photo paper, the pages often stick so tight to each other that you risk damaging the pages when haven’t looked through the book for some time. In addition, I don’t like the thicker material when turning the pages and the glossy surface creates disturbing reflections that make it hard to watch the images. Thus, I use digital print and regular paper.
The books are usually more or less chronologically created and the contents of both sides should (have to) complement each other. I also try to ensure the same dominating colors and/or mood/ambiance on both sides.
In total, the creation process took about a week. Not full-time 😊. As I explained on the other page, I copy all developed images into a special folder of my disk and make sure the filenames follow the same structure: YYYYMMMDDD_hhmmss-xxxxxx.jpg. So, they are already in the right order. Next, I’m resetting the star ratings. This time, there were nearly 4,000 images in the folder. Now, I start rating the images again. In the end, there were 2,000 left with 1 star. The next day, I reviewed the images rated with one star again and ended with 300 having now two stars. On the next day, I reviewed these 300 again and gave 3 stars to the keepers. In case, there are still too many images in the folder, a fourth and fifth iteration can help.
Thus I ended with 150 images to populate the book 😀. The final steps are uploading the images to the web and placing them on the pages, reviewing the final product, putting it in the shopping cart, checking it out, paying, waiting for delivery, and enjoying the final product after delivery.
Maybe, I was able to inspire you to dig in your archive and find some images, you can publish your images on your blog and set a link to John’s inspiration post. Don’t forget to tag it with LENS-ARTIST, so we can find it.
Although it’s a lot of work, I love this process. A whole year gathered right at my fingertips and considering, which of the images represents a valuable memory. A few years ago, I told you about two mice (scroll down that page to find it).
There’s a kid’s tale about a group of mice. All of them were working hard during summer and fall to collect food for the winter. But, one of them was not working that hard as the others did. Instead, he was looking around for the sun, the green grass, the colorful leaves in fall, and listened to the wind and the birds. The other mice were complaining to get the one mouse to help them. I do, the one mouse said. I’m collecting memories. And when the dark and cold winter days came, he was able to cheer the other up by telling them about the warmer days. He told them, how the wind sounded and smelled. Which colors the leaves have had and how the sun rays felt on their backs. That way all of them survived the hard winter.
That’s what I do, I’m collecting memories. Memories are important. Today, I’m about to go out and travel. A time might come when I’m not able to do so either because of a lack of money or because of health problems. When I was much younger I was told, what you have learned, can nobody steal. First hand this sounds right. But, in the meantime, I know about a thief stealing your memories: dementia. Several years ago, my wife lost her mother first to dementia, then her father. This disease is cruel. Not only to the victim but also to the people around them, friends and family. The disease attacks the victim’s brain. The most recent memories die first. That way, the victim goes back in time. At some point their children will no longer be recognized, then their partner. Sometimes it can happen, a child might be addressed by the name of a victim’s sibling or parent because of the family similarity. You know, my wife is working in a pension home as a care assistant and works with elderly people to keep their brains active as long as possible. So, she is quite often faced with the symptoms of this cruel disease. A person might have recognized her yesterday during her visit, but today she is completely unknown to the person.
A yearbook can bring back some memories, just like told in the story of the mice. Looking at images taken during a beach vacation can bring back memories i.e. how the sand felt when walking bare feet along the surf, how the air smelt when leaving the plane, or the taste of a wonderful dish at a warm night in a restaurant near the harbor. I guess you can name many more similar memorable events. File them and keep them to cheer you up when you need a cheer.
Although it takes more room, it’s still usable without any technical device. Different from a book with images taken on a certain trip or event, the yearbook represents all memorable events of a year and can tell, what you have done during that year. Don’t get me wrong, I also have a lot of books dedicated to certain destinations and I really love them. But, the yearbook has the essence, distilled from the bulk.
Maybe, I was able to inspire you to dig in your archive and find some images, you can publish your images on your blog and set a link to John’s inspiration post. Don’t forget to tag it with LENS-ARTIST, so we can find it.
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Everyone who already has a Luminar Neo license can add the plugins to Luminar by clicking on the puzzle icon and testing the plugin(s) of choice for 10 days for free.
It’s a tradition to create a yearbook by the end of each year containing the essence of the past year. This book does not necessarily have the best images taken during the given year. Instead, it’s a review of the year. I’m trying to have images from each significant activity like trips, vacations, and special events to remind me of these activities.
I just finished the book and I hope to have it in my hands when this post is published. The book has 100 pages and to create it, I worked through my images from 2022 again. In the past, I already explained the process of how I narrow down the images to find the essence of the relevant year. This year this wasn’t different. But, the number of images was quite high because of the number of wildlife images i.e. from Namibia.
This time, I don’t want to simply select my most loved 10 images or so. Instead, I want to show you the most memorable image from 2022 in a few categories.
I saw so many amazing birds in Namibia and got so many really impressive images. I also got images from the white-tailed eagle (and here), cranes in flight, European spoonbills, a hunting common kestrel, and the first sight of an osprey. But, I decided to this hunting Southern Carmine bee-eater. Different from their relatives, the kingfishers, they are hunting for big insects like dragonflies, beetles, moths, and butterflies. I captured this guy in Namibia. They were capturing the insects from the surface of the river. While the kingfishers are plunging into the water to catch fish, the bee-eaters only scratch the surface to catch the insects flying close above the water or even swim or run over the water. Nevertheless, they get wet and have to dry up their plumage in one of the trees aside from the river.
I’ve seen so many documentaries about this river, but I’ve never imagined going there one day. And now, I have to say, I’ve been there. OK, I’ve not been to the river delta in Botswana. But, I traveled the Okavango river for a few hours.
I already wrote about the background of this image. Follow the link above to find it. I really love, how the painted face looks at the painter while creating him.
Although we saw lions, hyenas, jackals, bathing elephants, dancing giraffes, and hugging zebras besides warthogs, wildebeests, and uncountable antelopes, this leopard with her (or his?) prey (an antelope) up there in the tree, is my absolute favorite this year.
How about you? Do you create yearbooks? Do you publish a year review in your blog? If so, put a link in the comments and a link to my post somewhere in your post as a reference. I’m curious to see your favorites 😃.
… 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.
… from another trip. Thanks to the relaxations from the COVID restrictions it was a quite comfortable trip. Sanitizing hands and wearing a mask during transportation, in closed rooms, and wherever a proper distance can’t be kept is quite easy to follow and a level of restriction easily can be kept. Either way, we were able to enjoy the Mediterranean sun for a couple of days. This year’s destination for our carnival escape was the beautiful Balearen island of Mallorca.
We used Port d‘Alcúdia as our base for exploring some parts of the island. Nearly all of us were in the past already on Mallorca, but partly already decades ago. From Germany, this island is reachable in approximately 2 1/2 hours. Thus, it‘s also one of the most attractive destinations for party people. When talking about Mallorca as a vacation destination, you’re most probably faced with one of the bad images of this island. To name two of them, we have an island of the cleaning ladies (because traveling to Mallorca is quite cheap and requires in many parts of the island no knowledge of Spanish, so anybody can go there). I already named the other group, party people. Because it is so easy to reach Mallorca, and so many flights start each day from every German airport, even young people can travel to Mallorca and have a vacation with nearly guaranteed sunshine.
It’s a shame, people travel to Mallorca only to go to parties and get drunk. The island has so much more to offer. Wonderful landscapes from the sandy beaches with low water and only little tides, nice old town, restaurants with very good and tasty food, a mountain range, that parts the island in the northern part from east to west. These mountains are quite steep and craggy and up to 1.445 meters high. The island, located 170 kilometers off the Spanish mainland, is about 98 kilometers in an east-west direction and 78 kilometers in a north-south direction. The mountains are approximately 90 kilometers broad with the 15 kilometers broad Tramuntana mountain range as the most important part. The airport is located near the west coast in Palma, the capital of Mallorca as well as of the Spanish region of the Baleares, a group of islands where also Ibiza, Menorca, Formentera are part. Heading east with our rental cars, we needed approximately 45 minutes to reach Port d‘Alcúdia.
You can find a couple of towns twice on the map, because some towns are located at a safe distance from the sea, have founded a second town centuries ago at the sea to make it easier during the fishing season. The names of these towns start with the word „Port“. Nowadays, most of the hotels are located in these towns located at the coast, while the similarly named town located away from the sea has the Old town. So, when coming to Mallorca, never forget to visit the towns inland.
Unfortunately, the people have committed construction sins starting from the 1970s. So, we find many huge hotels along certain beaches. These concrete mountains mutilate the beautiful landscape. This is also the reason for becoming the most preferred vacation destination for generations of people, especially in Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, and the Scandinavian countries. Over the last 2 decades, people from the former Eastern bloc countries like Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, or Ukraine also learned to love that Island.
It‘s very sad, that this island has such a bad reputation. Besides the beautiful landscapes, beaches, and towns, you can find a lot of tasty products like wine, olive oil, cheese, or gin. Also, the cuisine is very tasty. Besides seafood, you can also get rabbit, lamb, goat, and beef. When paying attention to the restaurant, you can be sure, all the products are local.
When we started last Friday, alone from our starting airport there were 6 flights to Mallorca, 4 of them run by the same airline. And, that’s end of February. You could say, it‘s off-season, and you’re partly right. It’s too cold to go swimming. During the days, the temperature went up to 26 degrees centigrade, but the air is certainly much colder, only 15-17 degrees centigrade and around 4-7 degrees at night. That’s enough to see the island less crowded and enjoy the landscape while going hiking or cycling. Many hotels are prepared for giving cyclists and their bike room for the night. The people are generally very friendly and helpful. In the big hotels, you can find always someone speaking some German or at least some English. But, as always when traveling to a foreign country, it’s much better to know some words and sentences in the local language.
For this trip, we had a small list of planned visits:
– rough Northern cost around Soller / Port de Soller
– neighboring town Pollença (the market at Sunday morning) / Port de Pollença
– Cape of Formentor (the lighthouse at sunset)
– the center of the milky way
– Palma, the capitol, with Old town, cathedral, and a bit of shopping for the ladies
– hiking along a small part of the southern coast
– an old fisherman’s town
As well as a few optional destinations. But, our main motivation to go to Mallorca at this time of the year was seeing the blooming almond trees. And we did. Huge fields of white blooming trees. It was amazing.
Unfortunately, some of the plans were unable to realize:
– Cape Formentor was unable to reach because of a closed road. The only road going to the lighthouse was closed for road construction works about 5 kilometers away from the lighthouse. Too far to walk because we would have walked back in the dark and not knowing if we would have passed the closing by foot.
– photographing the Milky Way had to be skipped because we were unable to find the proper place. Mountains were hindering us from looking in the right direction. Ok, the island is quite big, but also has a problem with light pollution as soo many other parts in Europe too, and we only had a small time frame between rising of the Milky Way at about 4 a.m. and sunrise at 7:30 (twilight starts much earlier). How annoying!
– visiting Palma was also a disaster. That day the Day of the Baleares was celebrated. Ten thousands of people were in the streets, but shops and the cathedral were closed. Instead, many tents were set up to offer street food, wine, olive oil, and so on while in other places music groups, dance ensembles, sports clubs, and other artists were entertaining the masses. So, the streets were extremely crowded and we left early.
– the planned hike along the coast also raised a problem. One of us was wearing sports shoes instead of tracking or hiking boots. He also is a little bit over-weighted and the path was a natural path and not a paved one. After about 1 kilometer (which lasted approximately 45 minutes) we turned back. The whole round track would have been 8 kilometers long. Nearly impossible under these conditions. Very sad.
– another lighthouse was fenced so that we were unable to get to the right spot.
Our trip even had a bad start. As I told you, there are at least 4 regular flights from our departure point scheduled to Mallorca: 6:00, 8:30, 11:00, and 16:50. While the majority of our group booked for 8:30, two had to take the flight at 16:50 because of their working hours. The day before our take-off, we got a short notification about our flight at 8:30 was postponed to 12:10. After a little investigation, we got aware, this was due to a warning strike of the security personnel. When getting to the airport, we noticed only the 8:30 (postponed to 12:10) and the 16:50 flights were supposed to be operated, while the others were canceled. Phew! Blessing in disguise. Our airline was able to get everything managed as well as possible and was very organized to make the best out of that situation. So we finally arrived at Mallorca with a couple of hours delay, but we did!
Nevertheless, I don’t want to complain. It was a very nice trip and it was so great to see the sun again, not to mention the joy of being outside wearing only a T-Shirt. I was writing this while sitting in my plane back home. This morning, I was getting up while it was still dark and -4 degrees to start working. Each vacation comes to an end and almost always it feels like days were shorter when on vacation.
All of my images are still in the camera, so I only have a photo of blooming almond trees taken with my smartphone for you. It’s edited by using the AI module from Luminar Neo for removing the power lines between the palm trees and some of the almond tree twigs automatically with only one click. The other click was to automatically correct the verticals. Great job! <ad> you can try this with your own images, head over to Skylum, and get your own copy. As always, you get a 30-days money-back guarantee. </ad>
This post is also part of the LAPC hosted this time by guest host Karina from Murtagh’s meadow. Thanks for this challenge!
Since Thursday, Luminar Neo is finally available. There were already a lot of rumors around on social media as well as a lot of complaints because of the huge delay. This time I got a review copy again. So, I was able to have a look at it. I’m tagging this as an advertisement, because of setting affiliate links.
First, the GUI looks very familiar when comparing it to the previous versions since Luminar 4. But, under the hood, a lot of progress was made to teach the AI editing photos according to Skylum. As a long-time follower, you know, I’m not a fan of AI editing photos. But, I have to admit, the results are great. You don’t have to rely completely on the AI, you still have the option to adjust the edits done by the AI or level how strong the AI should influence the final image.
According to Skylum, the Luminar Engine was built from the ground up to help creatives do more. Using artificial intelligence to analyzes your photos unlock new, AI-driven editing possibilities:
RelightAI builds a precise 3D Depth Map of the 2D image to provide quick, targeted control of scene lighting, allowing artists to independently adjust lighting and color warmth for far and near objects across the scene and help easily fix portraits where the foreground subject is underexposed.
RelightAI isolates problem areas for correction, leaving the rest of the image untouched. Combine RelightAI with other scene-aware tools and photographers can precisely adjust the lighting of any photo.
Remove Dust Spots — Automatically identify and seamlessly remove small artifacts, like dust spots, from every photo with the help of AI.
Remove Power Lines — Uses AI to automatically identify and effortlessly remove power lines from landscape photographs to create a pristine image free from clutter.
Layers — Combine different images into unique compositions and include new elements from built-in overlays and object libraries.
Presets — Instant style changes designed by professional photographers of every stripe. Or, build and save your own unique looks for reuse on future shoots.
Luminar Neo is significantly faster than LuminarAI for complex photo editing tasks. Driven by the new Luminar engine, artists can now enjoy the following performance gains.
Luminar Neo ships from February 17th, 2022 with RelightAI, Presets, Layers, and other powerful new tools. Portrait Background RemovalAI and MaskAI are planned for the first free update to Luminar Neo, scheduled for release in the spring of 2022.
Luminar Neo is available as a stand-alone application in the App Store for macOS and the Microsoft Store for Windows as well as a plugin for Lightroom Classic and Photoshop and as an extension for Apple Photos.
To learn more about Luminar Neo and sign up for updates, visit
For demonstration purposes, I picked one of my images taken last year in Namibia. It’s taken in RAW format. In the lower-left corner, you can see, what the camera saved and the photo viewer brings up. In the upper left corner, you can see, what level of details is still in the image. The brightness control is turned to the maximum. In the final image, we still have the ambiance of the scene, but we have all structures in the dark parts. I’m quite surprised, at how well Luminar Neo developed the image and coped with the quite hard light conditions to preserve details as well as the ambiance. Btw. it can also handle ProRes DNGs from iPhone 13 Pro 😲.
You can click on the image to enlarge it. The bending in the sky is due to the JPG compression level. In case, you want to try Luminar Neo on your own images, head over to Skylum and get your own copy. As always, you get a 30-days money back guarantee.
I also tried a couple of the other AI features and was extremely surprised by how well they worked, especially the power line removal tool was extremely helpful. Below, you can see the crop assistant in action. Surprisingly the assistant had no other advice for cropping the image than to confirm my composition.
But, another issue still exists. There’s still the necessity to work with the catalog. Even when using the edit single photo option, you can only export the final edit and not a workfile like in Luminar 2018 and earlier.
Again, I’m combining two Lens-Artist Photo-Challenges. Last week Amy asked for what “travel has thought me” and this week John is asking for “Change”. I was extremely busy last weekend and over the week I’m following my own schedule. But, knowing the topic in advance, gave me the time to prepare a post although this weekend I’m very busy again.
You know, I was in Namibia last year for visiting and experiencing a desert. Namibia has lots of them. They are different from the sand deserts of the Sahara. But, you can see, how the sun dried out the country. Every now and then, we were crossing sand-filled valleys by using bridges. These valleys are rivers. According to my experience, rivers consist of water. In Africa, rivers cal also consist of sand and dust for some time during the year. They dry out. Here in Europe rivers don’t dry out. Even during the extremely hot summers of 2017-2019, the rivers had at least some water. The water level was very low and even for river Rhine, shipping had to be stopped for a couple of weeks. But, for Africa, it’s quite normal that rivers dry out.
We have to be very, very careful with our activities as they have an impact on our environment. I’m not an ecologist, but Global Warming can’t be denied. Glaciers are melting and the additional water is diluting the salty water in the oceans, which makes the inner-ocean streams (i.e. Gulf Stream or Humboldt Stream) collapse which results in climatic changes on the continents as well as collapses of fish schools. Increasing temperatures are affecting the countries, especially around the equator. Bigger areas of heat and no rain at all will avoid growing food because of the lack of water. Monsoon-like rain at quite low temperatures in other parts will also avoid growing food because the rain will wash away the fertile soil.
We are the generation to initiate the change. Michael Jackson sang in his song “Man in the mirror” (written be Glen Ballard / Siedah Garrett):
I’m gonna make a change
For once in my life
It’s gonna feel real good
Gonna make a difference
Gonna make it right
Who am I, to be blind pretending not to see their needs?
That’s why I want you to know
I’m starting with the man in the mirror
I’m asking him to change his ways
And no message could’ve been any clearer
If they wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself and then make a change
I’ve been a victim of a selfish kind of love
It’s time that I realize
Gonna make that change come on
(Man in the mirror)
You know it
You know it
You know it
Make that change
Earlier this week I watched a documentary about people living in the Zambesi plains in Zambia. The people make their living with fishing. Traditionally, they were fishing with self-made traps and caught only the big fish, while the smaller ones were able to escape. So, over millennia, the system works well. Over time, more and more people came up with the idea to use nets instead of traps, because with the nets they were able to catch more fish. Unfortunately, they now also caught the small and young ones. Guess, what, the number of fish decreased enormously. So, the government forbade using nets but the people didn’t care. during the documentary, fishermen were interviewed by the film team. Surprisingly, they are aware they are exterminating all fish and killing the base of their lives. Their excuse: Even when I stop using nets, the others still use them. So, they will have more fish to sell, than me.
In small, this is the situation, we see all over the world. No-one is willing the do the first step. No government, no company, no women or man.
I want to hand over a loveable and lovely planet to our children. I want to make them see and experience the unique beauty of this wonderful tiny blue pearl in the black and cold universe. I don’t want to forbid. I want you to think about what you’re doing. Re-think it from end to end. When Sting published his song against Cold War in the 1980s, he phrased “The Russians love their children, too”. I believe this. Not only the Russians, all people all over the world. When people don’t have health anymore, who should spend money on products? When we don’t have enough water to grow plants, what do they want to eat? Do CEOs want to go out in the fields to grow and harvest their food on their own, because there are no farmers anymore?
The sentence «S’ils n’ont plus de pain, qu’ils mangent de la brioche.» (if they don’t have bread, they should eat cake) is attributed to the French Queen Marie-Antoinette and is supposed to be the final spark to start the storm of the French Revolution. The result is written in each history book.
A quote supposed to be said by either Chief Sitting Bull, Chief Seattle, or part of a prophecy of the Cree reads “When the last tree is cut down, the last fish eaten, and the last stream poisoned, you will realize that you cannot eat money.” Regardless, who was the first one having said this, it’s true. Thus, I’m reciting Michael Jackson “start with the man/woman in the mirror and make the change!”
Thanks, Ann-Christine, for giving me the opportunity to remember a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Seychelles Islands back in October 2010. For two weeks I was in paradise. La Digue is one of the bigger islands forming the country Seychelles. It’s located in the Indian Ocean and belongs to the African continent. You can find it on a map when staring with your finger in Mombasa at the Kenyan coast and moving to the east and starting with your other finger from the Jemen-Oman-border going south.
Seychelles is south of the equator at 4°16′ S 55°46′ E. So they are outside the cyclone area. No dangerous animals are living on the islands. There is even no malaria threat in Seychelles.
The islands have a tropical climate. It’s hot and the humidity is quite high. Because of the short distance to the equator, there is no twilight. When the sun goes down, it becomes dark nearly at once. The sun rises at around 6 a.m. and goes down at around 6 p.m.
When you want to read a bit more, you can find my posts here. Scroll down to the bottom of that page to start with the oldest post.
It’s Saturday evening, so it’s time for LAPC and Patti is our host this week.
The first object is from my “toy box”. It’s a view inside a (broken) hard disk.
Many people love lighthouses. This one is not in use anymore for a couple of decades. One of the famous comedians in Germany in the 1970s and 1980s used to live here: Otto Waalkes. Now, it’s used by the nearby city government for weddings.
Even (street) signs can offer something to look at. Decide on your own, which sign you need to follow. I found this in Normandy, France, a couple of years ago.
Or maybe, you’re interested in street art. Some war-knitting activities affected these poles in a street in our state capitol, Düsseldorf.
I met this strict-looking lady inside the botanical garden of Barcelona. It’s a memorial for the famous flamenco dancer Carmen Amaya (1913 – 1963).
Or, maybe you’re more in details. I illuminated this chain with two flashes, each with a gel attached to color the light.
This is another memorial, I found in Barcelona. I have to admit, I don’t know the meaning nor the artist. But, I liked the shape, the color at night-fall, and the minimalism in this image.
When you’re not familiar with a place, have a look for these telescopes. They usually point by default to an interesting area. In this case, it’s Hotel W in Barcelona.
To give your photographic eye special training, take your camera and walk around in your house or apartment. Try to capture interesting things. To make the challenge even harder, you can try to tell a story in only one image
It was a lot of fun, to dig into my own archive and assemble this tiny gallery for you. I hope you liked it. As usual, click on an image to enlarge it.
This week Tina challenges us to show some work out of our own page. hmmm, I usually don’t participate in other challenges than LAPC. So, I don’t have something to say today and I was considering skipping this week. But, I have two other pages for you:
Monochromia: when you’re a lover of monochrome images, this site is for you! You can find images published at least twice a day from many very talented photographers around the world working in different fields of photography. I’m a regular contributor over there. My slot is Friday 13:00h/1 p.m. New York time. But, I’m always reblogging it here, too.
Here’s one of my last images, I published over there:
The other one is my other, my personal, Blog. Currently, I’m running a poll to find the images for my next calendar. You’re invited to participate. Simply jump over and vote for your favorite images. The instructions are on top of the page in German first and in English below. It’s completely anonymous. I’d be very happy to get a lot of participants.
Today we have the first day of a new year. I often compare this day with a blank sheet of paper laying in front of me waiting to get written on. But, it’s also the perfect day to look back on the just past year and remember. So, this is kind of a follow-up to my yesterday’s post.
A week ago, I wrote about my yearbook. It’s also a book of memories (photographically). So, for today’s post, I’m just digging a bit more into the image folder to find the absolute essence of 2021.
In early January we got a little snow for 3 days and in February ice rain and on top a quite solid layer of snow for about 2 weeks. A few crisp and clear nights gave me the opportunity to go out for photographing the night sky and some deep-sky objects.
Spring started as usual, but too cold. The bluebells were not ready to get photographed, but the tulip fields were great again. Unfortunately, late snow destroyed many blossoms. So, fewer fruits grew on the trees.
While June started great, by mid-June the weather turned. Gray skies and a lot of rain. The worst day was July 14th when huge amounts of rain fell over a very small band of land devasting the areas. Small creeks and rivers got soo much water, that they were overflooding the streets, railways, and towns besides them. Meters of water was standing in the streets. Up to now, the damages are not removed. Many people still have no heating in their houses in those areas. Many people lost everything except their lives while others were not so lucky because those also lost their lives.
Because of the bad weather, I didn’t go on excursions over the summer.
Because of the weather, I didn’t go on any excursions during the fall, except using the first opportunity to see the cathedral in Cologne without any scaffold. The whole summer and most of the fall the weather was quite bad. Only a few hours of sunshine but even these days were cold. So, the Namibia trip from the second half of November dominates this section.
During December, I was busy developing my images from Namibia. So, there’s nothing to add.
Last week, I got my yearbook: 60 pages with the best images from 2021. Best means, most important, most touching, or simply special. The 4 images on the cover page are:
Astro: Orion nebula in January representing winter
Wildlife: a European bee-eater in flight in June representing spring
Astro: a partial solar eclipse also in June representing summer
Nature/Landscape: a sunset in Sossusvlei in Namibia in November representing fall
From a nature photographer’s perspective, this year wasn’t a good one, although we had about 2 weeks of real winter with a dense layer of snow covering the landscape. Most of the time, restrictions because of wave 3 were in place. So, I went out alone most of the time.
In April winter came back and brought us snow again. Many blossoms didn’t survive. As a result, in the fall we didn’t get the same amount of fruits as usual. In mid-July, a severe rain front devasted some regions. People lost railroads, streets, bridges, houses, and even lives because of enormous over flooding. There are still a lot of problems in the affected regions. Even all of the houses aren’t reconstructed up to now.
Since mid-June, the sky was gray and rainy. Overall, the weather was more fallish, than summerly. And having the ongoing pandemic in my mind, the situation wasn’t encouraging and motivation to go out with the camera.
Starting from September, the 4th wave of Covid began spreading out. The trip to Namibia, planned for November, became endangered again: would it be possible to travel? Will all the booked planes operate? Which regulations do we have to follow to enter Namibia (a negative PCR test max 7 days old was enough)? Which regulations in Namibia (everything fine)?
Unexpectedly (only one day in advance and we were aware of it only from the news on the internet, not by the airline), we had to do another PCR test on our last day in Namibia to get permission to fly back home (done – thanks to the help of the owner of our last stay in Windhoek). And in addition, 14 days of quarantine had to be followed with another PCR test on the last day of quarantine. So, nothing too complicated. But, it was frustrating and annoying.
Thanks, God, I’m still not infected and I’m set free from the quarantine. So, I’m looking forward to the upcoming holidays and I’m able to celebrate with all my family members. All of us are vaccinated twice and boostered. In addition, a self-test is a voluntary obligation.
To find certain images in your archive more easily, I’m recommending Excire Foto, an AI-driven photo indexing and tagging software with an intuitive user interface for finding a certain image in your archive. You can download a test version (fully functional for 2 weeks) for free and test it with your own archive.
From Dec. 15th – Dec. 31st you can save 25% when using the code “CHRISTMAS-24” during check-out!
Today, I have something special for you. I’m currently preparing a review of the most recent version of Excire Foto. In my opinion, each photographer needs such software, regardless if one is a pro or a hobbyist. While I was preparing the post, a marketing email reached my inbox with keys. I got voucher codes for Excire Foto to raffle them off among my followers. So, you can win one of the serials.
To win one of the vouchers, I want you to post in the comments two things:
why do you want/need Excire Foto
how big is the pile of images on your disk to dig through for finding a certain image i.e. for using it for a competition, a blog post, or friends and family
I’m putting all replies into a hat and ask my daughter to draw the winners.
I’m running the same drawing in my German blog, too. I’m putting each commenter’s name in the hat only once. The comment has to be filed here in my blog on WordPress.com or on my German blog. (No Twitter, no Instagram, no Facebook). The drawing will take place after my vacation: June, 14th. Only comments with a timestamp before June 14th, 00:00h are eligible for the drawing.
When entering your comment for a chance to win, you’re accepting to receive a one-time email in case you’re drawn containing the voucher code and some instructions on how to get the software. The data will not be used for any other purpose.
December 31st, the last day of the year! Time for a look back. I guess all of you are happy, this wired year finally came to an end. All of us are tired of the regulations, limitations, and lockdowns we were faced this past year and had to follow even if we didn’t want to.
Right before Christmas, I got my 2020 yearbook. During the lockdown in March-May, I feared, my 2020 yearbook would be quite thin, there was no possibility to go out and take photographs. But, I was wrong. I even had to work very hard, to reduce the number of images to fit in a book. So, I want to name the major topics now:
In the end, I created 4 books this year Iceland, Iceland monochrome, Iceland wildlife, and my yearbook. So, 2020 was a very productive year and without the limitations, it wouldn’t have been possible to have all my 2020 images developed up to now.
But, there were also a couple of downsides this year. Our vacation at the sea in April was canceled because of the lockdown. Our family vacation in May was also canceled because of the lockdown. The extended weekend trip end of September for visiting my brother in Switzerland was also canceled. But this time for bad weather (first heavy snowfalls and closed streets). Our plan was to make a trip to a wine-growing area in October. But, because of the increasing number of infections. We didn’t book a hotel in advance to be able to react short-term to the weather conditions. So, we stayed home instead. Around the first of Advent, my wife wanted to visit a couple of Christmas markets. You guess it: canceled – no Christmas markets were planned or set-up. Visits for Christmas with my parents or our moved-out children??? Very distributed and no gathering.
When looking at my job, it came out, I’m not affected by the lockdown and the limitations to go out for work. I can do my work perfectly from home. All I need, is my company notebook, a headset to telephone, and a connection to the internet. Lucky me! My wife is working at a pension home to keep the inhabitants mentally active. So, she’s working in a secure place.
All in all, it’s good to know, the first vaccines are already approved, and also the pop-up vaccination centers are ready. So, the most endangered people are getting their vaccines now (if they want) and all others will follow during the next months following a priority plan.
In my personal life, there were also a couple of changes. I started a completely new job. I changed from being a project manager for IT projects to vendor management. Instead of reporting to clients, I now get the reports from our vendors. A very interesting change of view.
My daughter also started working again in February. Back in 2016, she started getting educated in nursing but had to quit because of her baby. Despite being a single mum, she’s working shifts (early and late, but no nights) as a nurse in a pension home. She got employed in March after 4 weeks of working voluntarily in that pension home. For 2021 she’s planning to start again to get educated in nursing so that she will be able to earn a bit more money. She also moved to a new apartment in June (after living again with us for about 9 months, because of some problems with her apartment and since February because of her work). Now, she lives only 300m away from us, so that we can take care of her son when he’s not in kindergarten.
Our older son was able to convert his fixed-term contract into an unlimited one and our youngest wasn’t limited too much by the lockdowns to learn for his job. By the end of 2021, he has to pass the written exam and in January 2022 he has to pass the oral examination.
My wife is currently recuperating from the lung inflammation she got surprisingly early December.
So, 2020 was a bad year in many perspectives, but it wasn’t a complete disaster. There is always some light in the dark.
This is the sun at noon on Dec. 24th. That’s a very typical winter sky here in my region. You can see, how low the sun is in the sky. It’s taken from your bathroom window on the second floor. From the street, I would be unable to see the sun at all. The trees are not that large and are about 100m away from our house. But the sun is standing so low during winter.
The image above is also a good illustration of my year 2020: there was a lot of struggling and complicated situations. We were pained by strict regulations to fight against SARS2-CoV. But, there was still some light. Think about your past 12 months. I guess you are also able to find some enlightening memories. Keep them well and let them carry you through the remaining time of the pandemic.
For this review a got a review copy of Excire Foto 1.0 for free, but no-one tried to influence my review. I’m reviewing the MacOS version, but the Windows version should look and feel the same. The installed version occupies nearly 600 MB of my disk space and an additional 900 MB in my home folder in ~/Library/Application Support/excire-foto. This is the database and thumbnail images of the pile of analyzed images.
After installing the software and starting it for the first time it asks you for the place where to find the images about to get analyzed. Now, the first step is reading all the images and in a second step, they are analyzed and tagged by the internal AI (artificial intelligence). I directed Excire Foto to an image folder on my local SSD containing about 20.000 images in web resolution (~13 GB) distributed among 318 sub-folders. The intake lasted amazingly only about 4 minutes. The analyzing process lasted another 50 minutes.
While playing around with the result I noticed a few things. I sent an email to the support with these things and got some answers very fast. I’m including the answers here as a statement by the support (but translated to English by me).
I’m quite disappointed about recognizing the lens information from my exif-data. I already double-checked a couple of images with exiftool and they all contain the correct lens information. I aussume, not all possible exif-tags are analyzed correctly, as it is not standarized which exact tags have to be ues by the camera or software manufactorers. I included some data extracted from my images as an example
=> we’ll check it. If this is correct, we’ll fix it in a future release
It’d be nice to correct exif-data maually, as i.e. 2 identical cameras are recognized slightly different because of the usage of different software for developing the raw-images. (= normalizing of data)
=> we’ll check it, if possible from a technical perspective. If so, we could add such a feature
Editing / correcting i.e. copyright information in images
=> it’s planned to add an IPTC editor
Is there a technical reason, why only 49 images can be selected for tagging? When coming back from a shooting or a trip there’s always the necessity to tag all images with some common / basic tags (i.e. the location)
=> yes, performance it the reason for this limit. We must change this.
Do you think about adding a feature to take carre of GPS data?
It’d be nice to move tags instead of delete and re-create to build hirarchies afterwards or insert an addition layer (i.e. country – germany – _NRW_ – Duesseldorf)
=> it’s already in our backlog
showing file and folder names would be helpful for choosing the correct tags. There’s already an option to bring an image to full-screen view (including i.e. the filename), but for using those information for tagging this isn’t really helpful
=> we’ll optimize this
for filtering images according to the metadata you’ve chosing boxes instead of circles. When seeing checkboxes, I’m expecting to be allowed to filter for more than one argument instead of radiobuttons.
I’d like to reccomed some further filter like 35mm equivalent, sensor size (35mm, APS-C, middle format, MFT, …)
I like the software and how it works. When you start tagging your images now, it’s useful despite the findings mentioned above. Buying the software isn’t a big deal, as it is not that expensive. It’s already useful and helps organizing (and finding) your images. My test was with version 1.0. Before publishing this review I installed the latest update version: 1.0.5. but the behavior is still the same. Surprisingly my installed version didn’t notify me about the update, although it has such a function implemented.
Another surprise was version 1.0.5 finds still 20.066 images but states to show 43.339 images in the default view with no active filter. I guess, here’s an inconsistency,as the numbers seem to be correct when really filtering.
You can get it here: Update: Version 2 is already out. The review comes soon.
This trip wasn’t planned long ahead. Instead, a friend asked for company for his trip with the option to fit my own plans into the schedule. It was a fantastic road-trip around the island in 15 days. While Iceland and its weather were very cooperative, the surrounding circumstances weren’t 😬 Our departure tickets were booked for June 13th in February, but the governments decided to open the borders not before June 15th and my departure airport was not offered until a week later. So we needed to re-schedule the flights and I had to book an additional train ticket to Frankfurt 😕. The next problem was the connection train to Frankfurt was canceled, but an alternative worked (despite the extra effort for further train changes 🙁). Fortunately, the departure terminal in Frankfurt also changed, but to the one reachable more easily and even faster.
The way back home also came with lots of problems. Online check-in didn’t work by using the airline‘s mobile app. When using my computer I noticed, my flight was canceled without notification. So, I hung in the queue for getting an agent to help me solve the problem. Originally I booked a flight with a stopover in Oslo. Suddenly the Webpage said, my flight was rescheduled to July 1st instead of June 30th and would end in Oslo instead of Düsseldorf. My travel agency was unwilling to help me keep my schedule. The only offered a cancellation with a refund.
So, I booked on my own with a different airline by using the airline sales portal instead of ordering via the travel agency again. But instead of departing at noon, my flight started at 7:45 a.m. which meant I had to get up at about 3:15 a.m. In addition, I had no breakfast and lost 6 hours on the phone. So, the last day of the trip was a complete disaster. While writing this, I‘m sitting in Copenhagen waiting for my connection flight. 2 hours are over, two more to wait.
Now to the better part 😊. In the end, I have 515GB images (= 18.700 raw files) and about 1000 images taken with my mobile on my disk 😳. All the images are presorted but still not reviewed. So, a lot of work is waiting for me 😲.
Our trip led us counter-clock-wise around the island. Nearly 4000 km! That’s about 2400 miles. Our days started early: about 8:00 with breakfast and at around 9:30/10:00 we sat in the car, a 4×4 offroad pickup with a hardcase above the platform for our luggage and containers with food. Despite the hardcase a lot of dirt came inside the cargo bay 😳😲😫. Apartments and hotel rooms were booked ahead, each for 1-2 nights. Usually, we were able to get in the rooms without assistance, as we usually arrived very late. Often around midnight: midnight-sun made it possible! 😊😊
During the last days, I was thinking about, which image I’d choose for today’s post. I wanted an image representing not only a certain part of Iceland or a special event. Finally, I decided to take an image taken with my smartphone instead of my camera (only 4 of my camera images are developed until now). Despite it is taken at a very specific place and thus can’t represent the whole island or the whole trip, it does represent Iceland.
When the Vikings arrived in Iceland more than a thousand years ago, they were astonished by the nature of the island. Initially, they assumed to have arrived in Valhalla, the heaven in their belief because many parts seemed to have sprung up from their sagas. In one place they met a pool, where the water quite regularly sprung high in the air, which they named: Geyser. And nowadays the name of that first natural water fountain is the generic term to describe all of these hot springs around the world.
The term ‘geyser’ dates in English to the late 18th century originating from Icelandic Geysir, the name of a particular spring in Iceland. It is related to the Icelandic word geysa ‘to gush – Wikipedia
Sidenote: the original geyser isn’t active anymore but a couple of meters beside a new one erupts approximately every 5 minutes. Once, the fountain of Geyser was 70-80 m high, while the fountain of Strokkur only reaches 25-35m. Gesyer erupted last in 2000 after an earthquake.
In the past I wrote about tripods. A tripod always has a head to mount your camera on. There are many discussions, what kind of head is the best: ball-head, one-way tilt head, two-way tilt head, and three-way tilt head.
Some tripods came with a certain head attached to the middle-column which is not replaceable while other come with replaceable heads or even without a head, where you have to buy one on your own choice.
The head of my old tripod wasn’t replaceable while my new one came with a replaceable ball head. My monopod came with a replaceable 1-way tilt head.
For wildlife photography these heads are not really helpful. The tilt heads are not fast enough to follow the animals and the ball head can’t be fixed fast enough to be a stable ground. Therefore I have a gimbal. I simply dismount the head from either my tripod or my monopod and attach the gimbal instead. Because of the design, the gimbal is quite stable but I can move it around very fast, if needed.
When sitting in a hide where I have enough room to set-up a tripod, I mount the gimbal on top instead of the ball head. When I want to move around in the field or wait in a tiny hide, the gimbal will be mounted on the of the monopod. Both work very well.
My gimbal is made of aluminum and weighs about 1 kg. It’s 19.5 * 7.5 * 21 cm ( 7.7 * 3.0 * 8.3in). It has the correct screw thread (3/8 “) to attach it directly on most of the tripods and monopod with detachable heads. The plate to mount the camera follows the arca-swiss standard. So, if you already have such a plate, it will fit here too, if not, never mind, the gimbal brings one. There are also some long tele lenses around where the lens mount flange is also fitting in an arca-swiss mount without a separate plate. According to the manufacturer’s specifications, the gimbal should be able to carry gear up to 18 kg (39.7lbs).
The heaviest lens I used a couple of times weighed about 5 kg. When adding my camera there was about 6,2 kg attached to the gimbal, resulting in about 7.3 kg to carry for my tripod.
To mount such heavy gear to the gimbal needs some fine adjustment to distribute the weight equally. That’s why the lens mount flange is below the lens and the flange is that long. Even when the screw on the top left side is loosened the camera and lens have to be in balance. Now, you tighten the screw a little bit, that you can still move the camera easily up and down but it does not have to swing back automatically. The same for the horizontal turning.
I own this gimbal for about 3 years and I’m very happy with it. Compared to the standard heads, this is really a game-changer, also for the monopod. In my other post, you can read about me first struggling a bit when using the monopod. The gimbal helped me out a lot.
When I got the gimbal, it was quite hard to move the swing, but after a short time, the oil inside became softer and the swing was easier to swing up and down.
Recently, I reviewed another software: Gemini 2. You know, as a sign of the zodiac Gemini is the sign for twin and that seems to be the reason for the name.
Each owner of a computer knows the problem of constantly shrinking free space on the internal disk. Not only new files occupy the precious disk space, but also duplicate files are consuming space. Gemini 2 should help one to reclaim the space occupied by unnecessary doublets.
After starting the program it asks for permission to your user folder and then starts scanning for doublets
When finished it presents a summary slide showing how much space probably could be reclaimed.
But, don’t trust this! Check the found doublets very carefully which one of the doublets could be deleted without causing problems. It scans the folders as well as your iTunes-library and the photo-mediathek. So, it finds i.e. photos exported from your photo-mediathek to the disk, when they are still in the mediathek as well.