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!