Infinite avenue of trees
On Sunday we met with friends to walk in the castle gardens of Schwetzingen, especially to the cherry garden of the mosque, because the cherry trees are starting to blossom. Weak intermittent clouds created a diffuse light in the park with warm intermediate tones. The well-designed baroque grounds everywhere show the joy of technical possibilities to expand – or even deceive – the human horizon of experience.
There is a small section in the park with a trompe l’oueil designed to make infinity tangible. In summer, ivy grows along the tunnel-shaped lattice to create a tube view.
When photographing the following avenue of trees at the edge of the mosque, it was of course clear that the perspective should give the impression of a long path. I tried 2 days later to increase this effect by repeating the image in the picture, which can easily be done with digital photography and post-processing. After the second repetition, I think the eye is very well deceived and no longer perceives a real end.
Compare to the original here.
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.
The prospects are good: with high probability northern lights are announced for tomorrow and the following days in Iceland. We had wished for northern lights, but in no way expected to see any, nor to be able to photograph them.
Our first day of travel starts with a seven and a half hour delay of the plane. A short wait turned into a long day with lots of sun outside and little movement in the lounge.
„Have camera, will travel.“ I can’t get this sentence out of my head. The prospects are good: beautiful Icelandic landscape and auroras with high probability.
Fragile in Amsterdam
A lot of things are falling apart these days. We feel how fragile we are. How do you show fragility in a picture ?
Entering the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, a new, modern entrance area has been created. Light and shadow in rapid succession through concrete door arches.
The arches are unadorned, yet the eye clings to them. Despite – or due to ? – the simple concept, every perspective offers a new impression.
A still life painting (not „life style“) may be irritating by its compositional elements, like objects at the edge of a table top. Just these elements evokes a feeling of fragility. The next image is a photograph I made in the museum without tripod as indicated. The painting by Willem Claeszoon Heda was about 1635. It is a Vanitas theme, 13 years before the end of a 80 years long war in Netherlands, the end coinciding with the 30 years long war in Germany 1648.
Turn of the year
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.
Back home in the summer heat
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.