• Travel

    Italia bel paese

    A trip to Italy always has the whiff of a quest. We started across the Verzasca Valley, which is in the Italian-speaking Ticino region of Switzerland, close to Locarno. Harold couldn’t wait to see and photograph the Ponte dei Salti. There in Lavertezzo, the emerald green Verzasca creek crosses an area of streaky rocks with small depressions where the water collects and does not flow any further.

    Ponte dei salti © Julian Köpke
    Verzasca Valley © Julian Köpke

    There was a moment on the day of arrival when seemingly golden light from the late afternoon sun made the hollows look like liquid gold. The next morning, time seemed to stand still, only the electric supply showing the arrival of modernity.

    Verzasca Valley © Julian Köpke
    Morning in Verzasca Valley © Julian Köpke

    Stopover in Pavia, whose main dome shows a honeycomb-like structure, especially when using a focal length of 11mm in full frame. The river Ticino flows quietly and slowly, a counterpoint to the traffic noise of sporting Italians. The photo on the right was taken on the Ponte Coperto.

    Wikipedia tells: Pavia Cathedral (Italian: Duomo di Pavia) is a church in Pavia, Italy, the largest in the city and seat of the Diocese of Pavia. © Julian Köpke
    Sunset Pavia (Ponte Coperto) © Julian Köpke

    A short overnight stay in San Gimignano, the next morning still exploring the area at a distance from the old town. A large car park, a charging station for electrical energy in a multi-layered state of construction – in statu nascendi.

    At San Gimignano © Julian Köpke
    San Gimignano sunrise © Julian Köpke

    Arriving in Siena, we immediately studied the cathedral in the light of the afternoon sun. The contrast between inside and outside could not be greater.

    Duomo, Siena © Julian Köpke
    Colonne all'interno del Duomo. Inside the darkness there is structure. © Julian Köpke

    Probably more famous than the cathedral is the Torre del Mangia of the Palazzo Communale. We could see it from the cathedral and from the Piazza del Campo, where the annual Equestrian Festival takes place.

    Torre del Mangia, Siena © Julian Köpke
    Palazzo Communale e Torre del Mangia © Julian Köpke

    In Assisi, the accommodation did not allow us to be creative because it was far too cold. The man who handed over the flat to us could not be described as sober at all.

    Coming down from Rocca Maggiore © Julian Köpke
    Assisi © Julian Köpke

    We took up quarters in San Gemini, Umbria, and roamed the area from there. On the way there, we passed Trevi. The towns are situated on hills, which made them easier to defend in the past. Inside the old cities, you encounter a maze of alleys and bridges between the houses.

    Trevi, Umbria © Julian Köpke
    San Gemini © Julian Köpke

    At the southernmost point of our journey, in Tivoli in Lazio, we began to feel the winter change. The light and the clouds were now becoming more dramatic, the garden of the Villa d’Este was devoid of blooming flowers, the visitors might be fewer than in summer, all the more eager to take a selfie everywhere. With a little patience, it was possible to take pictures without other visitors in them.

    Villa d'Este, Tivoli © Julian Köpke
    Villa d'Este, Tivoli © Julian Köpke

    In Orvieto, in Umbria, north-east of Tivoli, we then found the perfect fog. The entrance with the car a bit tight on both sides, nevertheless we got away without any scratches. The sunset after the foggy day in the medieval quarter of Orvieto with a break in style because of the electric street lamps.

    Avenue of pines on the entrance road to Orvieto © Julian Köpke
    Sunset medieval quartiere Orvieto © Julian Köpke

    The front of the cathedral was for me of outstanding beauty, always accompanied by a demonstration of former power and wealth, yet also of simple beauty. Before sunrise, the building seems almost threatening, the outer splendour only coming to light in the morning.

    Dark Duomo, Orvieto © Julian Köpke
    Piazza Duomo, Orvieto, at sunrise with clouds and rain © Julian Köpke

    On a foggy and rainy day, Orvieto was a good place to pass the time in the Pozzo di San Patrizio or the city’s underground economic spaces dating back 3 millennia. On the Torre del Moro there was fog at first without any view. We were also not really oriented about the points of the compass. We philosophised about Ed Weston and Ansel Adams, who also argued about whether one should hold out in a place or better moving on. Ed Weston was for staying, Ansel Adams for moving on. Harold, however, did not want to accept my suggestion to simply leave the tower on a trial basis, that the fog would have a chance to clear for me. After one and a half hours, the time had come. In just a few minutes, the sunlight broke through the fog of the old town and exposed magnificent compositions.

    Pozzo di San Patrizio © Julian Köpke
    Duomo Orvieto with fog © Julian Köpke

    If a farewell is to be particularly difficult, one must leave Italy from Florence. A warm sun greeted us with the last of its summery strength, the arrival of winter already noticeable here.

    Giardino delle Rose, Florence © Julian Köpke
    Ponte Vecchio, Florence © Julian Köpke
  • Travel

    Alpe di Siusi

    The Icelanders‘ second season: „winter is coming“. In the Dolomites, the onset of winter is felt with the onset of autumn. The first snowfalls above 2500m are visible and the clouds also give it away.

    Winter is coming. Alpe di Siusi. © Julian Köpke

    In the course of a day, the light situation often changes fundamentally, which is what makes the Alpe di Siusi so special for photographers. Craggy rocks and autumnal pastures melt into an almost picturesque overall impression.

    Piz Ridl Alpe di Siusi © Julian Köpke

    White clouds float light as a feather in the late afternoon sun over the pasture area. It was getting warm once again and our own clothing is not adequate for the second time in the course of the day. Once again, summer unfolds its power.

    Cloud over Alpe di Siusi © Julian Köpke
    Tourist hike up to Schlern houses © Julian Köpke
  • Landscape,  Travel

    High above sea level

    In autumn in South Tyrol, the changeable weather is a series of photographic opportunities. On mountains above 2200m there is already a loose layer of snow. A little below that, autumn shows itself after a hot summer.

    Autumn starts at Alpe di Siusi © Julian Köpke

    The changeability unfolds a grandiose spectacle of clouds and peaks on the Dolomites around the Alpe di Siusi. All you need is a good seat in the café by the cable car to comfortably watch the light change and react to it.

    If it really does rain during the day, a visit to the archaeological museum in Bolzano is a good alternative to board games in the holiday flat. Digital registration is worthwhile, but less significant in autumn.

    The poor man who died 5300 years ago from a painful arrowhead in his left shoulder, probably in shock due to the rupture of the arteria subclavia, is a treasure trove or stroke of luck for science, which has made many research opinions have to be reconsidered.

    The artistic reconstruction of the body by Adrie and Alfons Kennis from the Netherlands does not reflect the finding situation of the glacier mummy. It appears fragile and vulnerable, almost old and tired. One should not be deceived by the physical impression of the fictitious reconstruction. His last ascent from the valley over extremely rough terrain up to the Tiesenjoch at 3210m within about 6 hours was a physical challenge and probably a masterstroke.

    Photography was allowed in the Museum of Bolzano if it was not organic material. This artistic representation made of silicone does not correspond to the finding situation. Ötzi's personal misfortune was a stroke of luck for science. © Julian Köpke
  • Iceland,  Landscape,  Long time exposure,  Travel

    Snæfellsness peninsula

    In the meantime, 0.8TB of photo data has accumulated. It will be a challenge to process all these photos. Fortunately, I am concentrating on a few compositions, each of which will be studied in more detail. The themes of geometry, lines and planes stand alongside the theme of colour contrast, which is easy to focus on in Iceland.

    The basalt rocks of Arnarstapi are ideal for this. With moderately homogeneous cloud cover, they lend themselves to long-term studies. The Phase One camera is able to do without the grey filter through frame averaging, which otherwise often leads to slight shifts in the composition.

    Arnarstapi basalt cliff. 2s, Automated Frame Average. LTE © Julian Köpke

    I’m still not sure whether the basalt rocks of Lóndrangar look better in colour or in black and white. We had drizzle and fog again and again, but also very brief sunny moments. Icelandic weather has returned to normal.

    Lóndrangar basalt cliff. 10s, Frame Average; LTE © Julian Köpke
  • Iceland,  Landscape,  Travel

    From Latrabjarg to Arnarstapi

    A low probability does not mean that something will not happen. For a brief moment, auroras could be observed at night at Hotel Latrabjarg. However, by the time the camera was set up, the phenomenon had already subsided. The night remained cloudless and starry, and the next morning the windows of our car were a little frozen.

    This very sunny day with cool air was the start of the return journey, which we shortened by taking a ferry in the evening from Brjánslækur to Stykkishólmur.

    The bird cliff at the headland of Latrabjarg was completely empty. Only a few seagulls were circling without landing anywhere. The puffins had already left for the Atlantic a week ago.

    Empty bird cliffs at Latrabjarg © Julian Köpke

    From this position you can see the rocks of the Westfjords of Iceland lined up one after the other.

    Westfjord cliffs seen from Latrabjarg

    Our lazy day ended in Brjánslækur. This is where the Vikings first wintered in the 9th or 10th century. A historical plaque refers to boathouses and storehouses that had been built. It must have been a Herculean task to dig depressions in this stony ground. A few tree trunks anchored in the ground are left this. In the background line up the mountains of Snæfellsnes peninsula.

    Landscape at Brjánslækur with a white house and historic poles © Julian Köpke

    Today there is a boathouse here again, with two old boats in it that nobody seems to want to use any more.

    Boat shed at Brjánslækur © Julian Köpke

    On a gentle hill, at the foot of a perhaps nameless mountain, stood another small church with a red roof. These buildings seem almost like a toy landscape when the mountains make them small.

    Waiting at Brjánslækur for the ferry boat to Stykkisholmur Brjánslækur. © Julian Köpke

    The ferry ride was sweetened by a multi-coloured sunset. We drove between the small islands via Flatey to Stykkisholmur. The clouds, however, were to prevent the Northern Lights from appearing when we arrived in Boudoir.

    On the ferry to Stykkishólmur © Julian Köpke
  • Iceland,  Travel

    Winter is coming

    The drive from Flateyri to Latrabjarg is in sunshine with intermittent light cloud. Winter is coming: warm autumnal colours dominate. In Iceland, you walk at sea level and look at glaciers or year-round snowfields.

    Flateyri autumn colors. White hut. © Julian Köpke

    The cloud formations change more every day, appear dishevelled, a thin sun shines, the land no longer gets warm.

    Looking back to Flateyri (Arnarfjord) © Julian Köpke

    The second visit to Dynjandi made us stay down. The colours of the sea were strongly reminiscent of the Caribbean, still warmly outshone by the land in the late morning light around 11am.

    Sunrise at Dynjandi fjord © Julian Köpke

    After the short second visit to Dynjandi in the morning on the way through, we came across the well-known shipwreck of the whaling ship Garðar BA 64. The weather cleared incredibly quickly and we were able to capture the rusting material as HDR. With a fisheye lens, the wreck deformed slightly in an arc under the circularly arranged clouds.

    Wahler shipwreck Garðar BA 64 © Julian Köpke

    Shortly before the turnoff to our accommodation at Hotel Latrabjarg, the path led us to a red sandy beach. There are at least two of these, the other is on the south coast near Vik with the grave of a young Viking around 18.
    The red beach is called Rauðisandur in Icelandic. It lies far in front of the sea. Between the beach and the mountains is a marshland with farms, siels and cows.

    View from Rauðisandur to Snæfellsjökull © Julian Köpke
    Saurbæjarkirkja near Rauðisandur © Julian Köpke
  • Iceland,  Landscape,  Travel

    Westfjords

    A long drive of about 400 km covered this day, which continued with clouds and streaks of rain after a short dry spell. Brief moments of light were replaced by dark, low-hanging clouds. In Kollafjarðarnes, on the 68, we came across a small church, which must have belonged to a farm, along with a small cemetery. A cold sky with a warm, yellowish lawn contrasted with the red of the church roof.

    Kollafjarðarnes Kirkja © Julian Köpke

    Some roads were unpleasant to drive because, despite roadside boundaries, the sloping landscape could not be assessed. And sometimes there was thick fog on top of that. On a sloping gravel road, the fog dissipated and revealed a fjord in glorious turquoise.

    Ice Blue Westfjord in Iceland (Arnarfjord) © Julian Köpke

    In the late afternoon in full autumn light with clouds and haze we reach Dynjandi. Wikipedia reports: „Dynjandi or Fjallfoss is a waterfall of the river Dynjandisá in northwest Iceland. It is 100 m high and broadly fanned out. In summer, 2 to 8 m³/s plunge down here, and in winter about half that. The waterfall is 30 m wide at the top and 60 m wide at the bottom.“

    We approach quickly to get ahead of the impending darkening of the sun by the clouds. Due to the fanning out of the waterfall, we find an area with many small and medium-sized waterfalls, which extends over several floors and shines in magnificent colours.

    Waterfalls Dynjandi in autumn light © Julian Köpke
    We are like ants in this environment © Julian Köpke

    The combination of long time exposure (LTE) and normal exposure (STE) on a waterfall creates a special dynamic that makes it appear more alive. In this image, one shot was stacked at 1/750s and one at 1/15s. The post-processing in colour and black and white each has its own charm.

    Detail of Dynjandi waterfall. Combination of LTE and STE. © Julian Köpke
    Detail of Dynjandi waterfall. Combination of LTE and STE. © Julian Köpke

    After Dynjandi, we reached our accommodation, Holt’s Inn, via good roads. A lady from the southern Palatinate, who had not made herself at home in Cologne, worked in reception. It was so comfortable to talk to a native speaker. Outside it was slowly getting darker, clouds and haze settled over the nameless mountains.

    Evening at Holts Inn near Flateyri, Westfjords © Julian Köpke
  • Iceland,  Landscape,  Travel

    Hvítserkur

    After a day of almost complete cloud cover, the day in Akureyri started with a clear night and an intense morning red. The fog in the valley below our hotel looked like a flood that kept rising and finally hid the morning red. This progression seemed to be a good sign.

    Akureyri sunrise © Julian Köpke
    Akureyri sunrise in the mist © Julian Köpke

    Our first stop was in Siglufjörður, a small harbour town whose heyday was in the 1930s. The beautiful houses had been renovated with great effort. I had to stop in front of this white house. Melodic piano notes came from the neighbouring house.

    The white house in Siglufjörður © Julian Köpke

    From Blönduos to Hvítserkur we drove as fast as possible. The tide was supposed to be at its lowest when we arrived. After a sunny day along the northern coasts, the clouds closed in again. The stone monument gives room for imagination.

    To me it looked like a grazing giant animal, similar to a water buffalo. The size and mass would be comparable to a dinosaur. Few rays of sunlight fell on the creature from time to time and made it shine.

    Hvítserkur with reflection at low tide © Julian Köpke

    The two interruptions of the figure become window and door on closer inspection. A kind of Mother of God niche. At some point the interruption will be too big to carry the whole load.

    Hvítserkur detail © Julian Köpke
  • General,  Iceland,  Travel

    Cold composition

    On the drive from Raufarhöfn via Husavik to Akureyri, we moved along the coast for a long time. The sky was completely overcast and small showers were falling.
    Iceland’s public sculptures are always clearly visible along the roads . The colours blue and green created cool compositions. The image of the coastline with waves warmed up a little or harmonized by the cliffs.

    Public sculpture at Kopasker (85) (Presthólalón) © Julian Köpke
    Coastline near Husavik (Cold composition) © Julian Köpke
  • Iceland,  Travel

    Arctic Circle and Arctic Henge

    After this hot year, it’s starting to get cool, although Iceland is also uncharacteristically warm at the moment. With twists and turns we finally reach the hotel in Raufarhöfn via the 870 with stops in Raudinupur, Skinnalón and the Arctic Henge.

    To reach the lighthouse in Raudinupur we had to walk 6 km there and back. Just arrived, the sunny weather changed and a thick, icy fog surrounded us. We became unsure which would be the right way back. The chattering of the gannets did not stop.

    Lighthouse Raudinupur © Julian Köpke

    My personal highlight of the day is the abandoned farm Skinnalón. It lies at 66 degrees and 31′ north latitude, which is only 1′ below the Arctic Circle, just a few steps from the Arctic Sea. The area was closed off to vehicles, the footpath uneven and a strange smell drifted over to me the closer I got to the former farm. My eyes quickly became irritated and a headache set in, as if an allergic reaction was taking place.

    Abandoned farm Skinnalón © Julian Köpke
    Collapsed storerooms in Skinnalón © Julian Köpke

    The Arctic Henge has been under construction as a work of art since 2002 and is unfinished. Somehow the goings-on at the construction site are reminiscent of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, perhaps because the stone arches are irregular, but geometrically very precisely arranged.

    Arctic Henge in Raufarhöfn. Wikipedia tells: "The Arctic Henge is an Arctic monument planned in 1996 by the artist Erlingur Thorodsen, which has been under construction since 2002 and is up to 11 m high. The name Arctic Henge is based on the name Stonehenge. The Icelandic name is Heimskautsgerði." © Julian Köpke

    In the early evening, a fog began to settle over the place, so we went to Arctic Henge again at nightfall. For a long time I looked at the arch as a gate with a little moving person in the background. Only during post-processing did I recognise a stone.

    Nocturnal deception in the arctic mist at the Arctic Henge in Raufarhöfn © Julian Köpke