The most surprising thing this year was the selection of many of my pictures in the Flickr Explore stream. My best picture in 2021 is again a black and white, this time of the Bernese Alps with a view of the mountain chain Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. The picture was taken on the Schilthorn when I fled the permanent James Bond exhibition.
The end of the year had some surprises in store for both of us. We drove to the Black Forest and hoped for snow to cool off. The snow did not come immediately and a red dawn on January 2nd seemed dangerous and not calming.With plenty of snow, alternating sunshine and snow drift, there were beautiful moments in the countryside in Breitnau near Hinterzarten.
With the help of some tips from a photographer friend I was in school with a long time ago, I tried to improve my photographic technique and post-processing. This includes the trick of placing a piece of newspaper in the sharpness plane of the lens in order to speed up the focus. Very effective.
After 2 years of FaceTime and telephone conversations we see each other again, friends from Lucerne and us. Meeting point halfway between our two residences, near Hinterzarten near the Feldberg and Titisee. After more than 30 years of friendship, the time of hard separation due to borders and infection management had also been painful now and then.
With photography, we have approached in a new way, each with its own approach. With Monald the wildlife and landscape photography, with me the stars, the landscape, the portrait or macro photography. This weekend we used the few hours in the morning and evening for the countryside around the Feldberg, never letting ourselves be stopped by rain or marshland.
The picture at the beaver dam got an explore on Flickr.
At sunrise we placed ourselves with a view of the Titisee just below the Feldberg. Sunrise and fog alternated in rapid succession. Only for breakfast at 9 o’clock we were back in time at the hotel.
The trip to Todtnauer Hütte was longer than expected. Unfortunately, we did not find the hoped-for fog in the valley. There were plenty of autumn trees for this, the sun early behind the clouds.
The Hexenlochmühle had been located by a lake in my memory. Totally wrong. Two large mill wheels are driven by water and the water of the mill stream flows into the Wutach.
My friend’s strong wish was an evening image of the Rhine valley at sunset. Above St. Mägen near Turner we found a parking lot and some meadows with a splendid view down.
The sunset plunged our spot into a red light that became more and more intense. The sun was slightly dazzled and diffused by clouds. Many people came to our parking lot, which is obviously well known to the locals.
It is the photographer’s art to emotionally convey the mood and light during a shot. This becomes all the more difficult the greater the differences between the location of the recording and the location of the processing. When we departed from Iceland, it was only 6 degrees Celsius with nice Icelandic sunshine. In Frankfurt on arrival and in Heidelberg on the following days it was 30 degrees and more.
So it is all the more gratifying when a photo, developed late in the evening, is selected to Flickr Explore after the first 2 days of work and dead tired in the evening at 11:30 p.m. This time it is the famous Black Church of Budir. For aesthetic reasons, I had removed an empty flag pole that belonged to the cemetery.
This year, for the first time, several of my pictures were selected. To keep an overview, I have arranged all the in explores into one album.
On the way to Boudir, we drove through the Hvalfjörður Tunnel, which went alarmingly deep under the ocean. After leaving the tunnel, the rain stopped again and again and the clearing of the thunderstorm clouds over the mountains appeared in the south.
This clearance of the clouds and the breaking of the light were good signs. We had left Keflavik paralyzed by quarantine and in continuous rain. A strange ghost ship at the exit of the village with a big hole in its belly was swaying back and forth, whiped by gusts of wind and rain.
On the very sunny day of our return to Keflavik 11 days later it was gone. As befits ghost ships.
Ansel Adams suggested in his book „The Negative“ a plan for practice in awareness and visualization to improve skills in black and white photography (Chapter 1, p. 3). „Take nothing for granted“: Black isn’t pitch black, but consists of many dark gray values, white isn’t pure white, but consists of many light gray tones.
One of his further suggestions to improve learning visualization of a subject could be the use of Polaroid Land black-and-white films. He made this suggestion 1981, long before LCD monitor and live view. With these tools our learning curve on each subject and imaging situation is steep.
Using Slow Shutter app I’m able to compose an image in live view mode and integrate a period of time to a single image. The app tends to capture the bright whites first, and doesn’t change them very much while integrating the whole image e.g. for 8 seconds. Therefore, I start my exposure at a moment, where the bright values come close to my visualization of the composition – and then I enjoy the completion. I believe, this feeling is close to the moment, when a print came out in the darkroom.
Ansel Adams didn’t have an electronic optical system. His recommendations were aimed at having a trained eye and with a few measuring points an idea of what the distribution of gray values would be in reality, in the negative and in the print (the positive).
This distribution is nowadays given by our cameras as a histogram. Each pixel of a capture is included. Thus, the distribution of gray values is not estimated by some 3 to 10 measurement points. With each pixel of a photo included and millions of them in a single capture we get a quasi-continuous function from the lowest to the highest brightness values: a histogram.
Let’s look at the following photograph of a chessboard from a common game collection and its histogram. (The chessboard was already old and slightly bent.) The chessboard consists of mainly two gray levels: the black and the white chess fields. Each individual chess field consists of slightly differing gray levels. The two peaks in the histogram represent this inhomogeneity of the photographed „black“ and „white“ chess fields.
Departure from realism is a significant contribution to creative imagery if you know to influence your result.
Otto Flechtenmacher was a painter who lived in Austria, an uncle of Christa. I often did photography for documentary purposes, especially paintings.
This morning I listened to a workshop of portrait photography. To some extend the audience received explanations of the PhaseOne camera, which I use quite frequently. The vast dynamic range and the frame averaging feature of a PhaseOne were mentioned.
To reproduce these features I intentionally underexposed a photo of a painting of Otto. The original histogram can be seen on the left, the processed one on the right. The quality is quite surprising, when you are used to full frame sensors.
To compare the quality of a single shot image to frame average files, I did a sample of a single shot and two shots of 5 and 9 averages. Clearly, noise will be reduced. At the same time, structures come out more detailed, what might be seen from the following examples:
I never thought of using this feature for landscape photography – but it makes sense. By applying frame averaging you can get a landscape photograph with preserved highlights and well structured dark parts.
I wanted to study shadows of simple bodies again today. It all started with an egg last week. The shadow of last week’s egg photo was ring-shaped. I noticed that, but it didn’t bother me. Could the ring shape of the shadow be overcome by skillful selection of light and would the backside of the egg lie entirely in the shadow? This assignment was given to me by a school friend, who himself is a professional photographer.
The shadow looks better today, with a little help from Photoshop.
A neighbor had given me simple bodies, which I placed like an egg on the white background. First of all as a play with form and shadow, where I had to think of the X-ra image of a human hand.
The small wooden blocks were wonderfully colorful. Unfortunately, I didn’t have as many as my imagination would have liked. Arranged in concentric circles, they are delightful to the eyes. At the suggestion of a friend, I arranged, the number of blocks into Fibonacci numbers. The processing of the shadows leads to an exciting image, similar to solarization. Since it is a kind of negative, I named the picture after the impression it makes: „Flow of light“, although in reality it was the shadows of the blocks.
Everyone has an idea about infinity. Infinity always confronts us with the question of wether we can see or recognize it at all. Modern mathematics knows that infinite series of numbers may well have a finite limit. The ancient greeks had realized that Achilles will always outrun a tortoise, but they couldn’t prove it. For the solution remained hidden.
Photographing a single, well reflecting steel sphere I got on the surface pointing to my macro lens a distorted image of the surrounding. One can see the tree in our garden, the lens and the tripod of my equipment, even the photographer’s legs are visible. That’s why I think it’s sort of a selfie.
Immediately, I thought of my friend Harold, who had worked a lot on photographing water drops and who had made a book about the photography of water drops. In the juxtaposition of several water drops the environment is displayed several times side by side in the drops.
Well, this happens as well, if you place two well reflecting steel balls side by side. So far, there is nothing unexpected.
On closer inspection, the opposite sides of the spheres show further images of the surroundings slightly outside the original image, well visible on the tree. These images of the tree become smaller and smaller lying within the circular image of the first reflection.
An infinite series of images in one picture is created by the reflection on the surface of two adjacent steel spheres. As the reflected images become smaller and smaller, the total area of the image is finite. A similar effect is known with water drops as well.
It is a nice experience to walk the same path under changing light conditions at daily distance. In winter there is not much botanically happening, only the snow can be more or less – or the fog. The possibilities of imaging with a camera essentially change with the extent of the available light. A sunny day shows a maximum of available light.
Does sunlight make a picture atmospheric ? With cloudy skies or even some fog, the conditions for background and foreground change substantially and pictures without sunlight can be be very varied and gain a special depth of expression.
The above image shows: shadows during a day with a blue sky are blue, too.
The detection of expressive light situations without a tripod and without HDR technology requires a limited amount of light that the sensor can still process with out blown-out lights or drown depths.
January 6th is a holiday in our region, commemorating the three holy kings or three wise men, who had been probably astronomers. The Orthodox Churches celebrate Christmas. In the United States of America, a reigning madman with his mob is degrading his country to a banana republic. Looking at this rises questions about our German history 87 years ago.
I spent the whole night absorbing the latest news. Sleeping was almost difficult if not impossible. This morning a bug in the Flickr software ? A picture of mine with so many views and favorites ? Well, that was the good surprise this morning after all: an in explore for a picture I had been thinking about for a long time and that I repeatedly failed: taking tree trunks in landscape format.
This time it worked out better than expected. Christa and I started a late walk up at Posseltslust to see some people riding sledges. We took a forest trail away from the slopes. The twilight was already advanced, the ISO high and the aperture only slightly closed. A pleasant winter light surrounded us. Between the tress it became bright, the tree trunks covered with snow below. This image got an in explore.
Not far from there, I made a second attempt of the scene, which seems a bit more delicate in my eyes. I posted it two days later.
Winter forest looks a it like a fairy tale to me. That is why color is also important, which additionally stimulates the imagination. Even a tree trunk presumably struck by lightning becomes a sight to behold. It works with the color even if there is only little light.
At the end of the forest path, a light shines like in a cathedral, in which the faithful are moving. Is there the light at the end of the tunnel ?
Thanks to the hint of a friend, I was again aware of the rare constellation of the approach of the two planets that I had observed during the summer. The 21st by December, Jupiter and Saturn were to be only 6 arc minutes apart. Unfortunately, the weather forecasts are not favorable, which is why I hardly figured out a chance to see anything about it at all.
Unexpectedly, the clouds disappeared during the day to retreat th the edge of the Rhine Rifle, where we were allowed to see them in the evening. At the beginning of our photo session we watched the Rhine Valley with our bright and long reaching optics.
First Lorenz discovered the crescent moon in the clouds. It could have sunk our courage, in fact as darkness fell conditions steadily improved.
At the time, it was still too bright to see the planets.
Finally we managed to take pictures of the crescent moon with the the planets Jupiter (the brighter and bigger one of both) and Saturn close to each other before the increasingly yellow moon disappeared in the dark clouds. There was even a little of the ashen moonlight to be seen. Wonderful.