art, photography, review

My yearbook arrived!

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.

Take care!


art, landscape, nature, photography, travel, world

Monochrome Monday 9-35 and Lens-Artists Photo Challenge 231: “Favorite Images of 2022″

A new year also means reviewing the past year. As a good tradition, I already did it under two different aspects. First, I published my “Top 9 of Instagram” and second, I picked my favorites from six categories.

Today, I’m presenting my top monochrome images.

Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe


a hippopotamus swimming in the Okavango river


wooden gears inside an ancient wooden windmill


a bud of Nigella damascena, love-in-a-mist, or devil in the bush (Nigella damascena) / Jungfer im Grünen (literally: damsel in the green = countryside)


Staircase inside an education center


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.

Take care!



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landscape, nature, photography, review, travel

2022 in review or “The Best of 2022”

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.

1. birds

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.

Southern Carmine bee-eater (Merops nubicoides) – Scharlachspint


2. nature

the fantastic blue-bells in spring.


3. landscape

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.

Okavango river

4. reportage

I already wrote a bit about this image. Follow the link above to find it.



5. street

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.

6. wildlife

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 😃.

Take care!


nature, photography, review

Throwback Thursday: 2021

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:

  1. Astro: Orion nebula in January representing winter
  2. Wildlife: a European bee-eater in flight in June representing spring
  3. Astro: a partial solar eclipse also in June representing summer
  4. 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.



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Take care!


architecture, art, cityscape, culture, landscape, leisure, night, people, photo-of-the-day, star, street, urbex, work, world

Throwback Thursday: 2020 – what a year!

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:

March      - forest animals
April      - blue forest
May        - birding + stars
June       - Iceland
July       - comet Neowise
August     - birding (bee-eater)
September  - heathland
October    - fall

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.

See you next year! Happy New Year!

General, photography, technical

Throwback Thursday: Yearbook

Last week, I mentioned my yearbook. Today, I want to tell you, how to create one 🙂

Each December, I copy all my edited / developed images from the past 12 months into one folder of my hard-disk and rename them to have a naming schema YYYYMMDD-HHmmss- in front of the original file name. Next, I remove all tags and stars from them by using a light-table software to have no filtering at all. Now, I can flip though all of my images and give them stars again. Starting with 1 star for the outstanding images. After that, I can filter again and select all images with 1 star and start again flipping though the already marked images and give a second star to the outstanding images. Repeating this three times I got the top images marked with 5 stars.

You can also ask someone for help: a friend or a family member. But, what are the  quality characteristics? An images must be sharp (expect, you’re looking for a kind of abstract images), well exposed (having details in the highlights as well as in the dark shadows), a balances horizon and have a good composition. Although, inexperienced people can’t name, why an image is better than another image, they are often able to rank them.

What does good composition mean? It’s not that easy. You can study for years to try to learn what composition mean. Different teachers stress different aspects. But, there are a few basic rules. Instead of writing my own thesis on this, I have a link to Wikipedia for you as an entry point.

Now, that you have a selection of your images taken during the last 12 months, you can start composing the book.

Here you have several options as well. I’d recommend, first finding a print shop and use their software for composing the book instead of creating a pdf and upload the final pdf. Try to tell a story in your book and align the images along that story. You could i.e. order the images chronologically (like a trip through the year), by topic (flowers, animals, landscapes, people, still-lifes, macro, …. ) or by the main color of the images (reds, yellows, greens, blues, monochromes and in-between the mixed colors like purple, orange, turquoise and so on to describe the whole rainbow in your book).

Don’t put too many images on one pages. Keep it simple. Your yearbook is the gallery of the best images of the year. Thus, put only one image in landscape format or max two images in portrait format on one page. Or one image in landscape mode on the left page and 4 complementary images in landscape mode on the right page. (i.e. a big landscape and 4 details in that certain landscape). Pay attention to have the images of the same size throughout the whole book. That makes the book look more even. Look for matching or complementary images on the two pages laying side-by-side. Choose a neutral background color for the pages like white, black or a grey tone and keep this color for the whole book. Don’t use cliparts and big texts. When necessary use a simple and neutral font like Helvetica, Times or Courier in sizes up to 10 point for regular text and 12 point for headlines (that’s bigger than in your newspaper! – try it with your home printer for a single page).

When you need an advice for a certain kind of software for any of the above tasks, drop me a note and I’m going a bit more in detail and name the software I’m using.

Take care!