• General,  Heidelberg,  Landscape,  reflection

    Snow and sunshine

    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.

    Sunlit snowy branches © Julian Köpke

    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.

    Snowfall in the clearing © Julian Köpke
    Winter walk in the snowy forest © Julian Köpke
  • General,  Landscape,  Monochrome,  Travel

    Ups and downs

    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.

    Tree trunks in winter near Posseltslust in Heidelberg © Julian Köpke

    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.

    Tree trunks in winter near Posseltslust in Heidelberg © Julian Köpke

    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.

    Broken tree in the forest near Posseltslust in Heidelberg © Julian Köpke

    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 ?

    Walk through the forest in winter near Posseltslust in Heidelberg © Julian Köpke
  • Heidelberg,  Landscape

    Staying at home

    This year we spent 5 weeks of our holiday involuntarily in Heidelberg. with the light of a late winter afternoon just before the winter solstice and some mist in the air, dreamlike impressions arise. We didn’t have to cover a long distance. In the hills above the town there is a plateau within walking distance with a farm, commemorative cemetery and a forest all around. Had it not been tor the photo equipment, we would have really been on foot up the mountain.

    Two trees above Bierhelder Hof © Julian Köpke

    Going closer to the fence that surrounds the dairy cattle, you will see straight into the foggy valley. No roofs, no industry, no highway, no noise. Just a wooden house in the forest like in a fairy tale. The colors blur into a monochrome something.

    Valley view in Heidelberg above Rohrbach © Julian Köpke

    Perhabs we feel invited to sit by a bench in the woods. When the seat is dry really ….

    Bench in the woods © Julian Köpke

    At the end of the short walk we step on a Tori, which in the backlight shows us the lightness of Japanese beauty.It is probably to be assigned to the Heidelberg twin town Kumamoto on the southern most Japanese island Kyushu.

    Tori in Heidelberg (Kumamoto) © Julian Köpke
  • Heidelberg,  Landscape,  World at night

    Earthlight, Jupiter and Saturn

    The sun is setting in the west. The Moon moves east and setting in the west, too. If one compares the position of the Moon relative to the prominent planets Saturn and Jupiter, because they appear close to each other, it is no longer below the two, but to the east next to them.

    Yesterday, crescent moon right below Saturn and Jupiter © Julian Köpke
    Today, Moon east of Saturn and Jupiter © Julian Köpke

    Temporarily there was much less haze today, so that the earthlight (in german: aschfahles Mondlicht) of the moon in the right hand image is very well visible. Yesterday you could only guess. With the spotting scope the crescent moon shows up well detailed.

    Waxing crescent moon, 72h old © Julian Köpke

    The spotting scope allows to photograph the two planets Saturn and Jupiter with a full frame camera in a single field of view at lowest magnification (x30, which is about 800mm focal length). The structure of the planets ist better outlined with short exposure times (see insets), the Galilean moons of Jupiter need a longer one.

    Saturn and Jupiter, 4d before Great Conjunction © Julian Köpke
  • General,  Landscape,  World at night

    Great Conjunction

    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.

    Power plant Mannheim © Julian Köpke
    Nightfall over Cathedral of Speyer, distant view with my spotting scope. Every now and then birds were flying through the scene. © Julian Köpke

    First Lorenz discovered the crescent moon in the clouds. It could have sunk our courage, in fact as darkness fell conditions steadily improved.

     

    Waxing crescent moon, 48h after New Moon. © Julian Köpke

    At the time, it was still too bright to see the planets.

    Waxing crescent moon, 48h old. We were watching out for the planets Jupiter and Saturn that are close by 6' these days (Great conjunction). © Julian Köpke

    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.

    Yesterday, crescent moon right below Saturn and Jupiter © Julian Köpke
  • Landscape,  Monochrome,  Yosemite National Park

    Yosemite Valley

    It is always overwhelming to be on the road in Yosemite Valley. One is welcomed by silence and forest air. One of the points that provide an easily accessible overview is the former parking area for road construction machinery at the tunnel to the south: Tunnel View.

    2020 Tunnel View and Bridalveil Fall © Julian Köpke

    Everything slows down when you dive in there. The modern distractions are eliminated. The internet connectivity is so slow that you can’t present your pictures to anyone else while you are there. It’s a pity for those being at home.

    Native americans lived in this valley and were given plenty of water. That has changed in the meantime. Precipitation is missing. An endangered jewel of this earth. It was a privilege to have been there with a friend and to be allowed to take pictures

  • Landscape,  Monochrome,  World at night

    Porphyry

    In our vicinity there is a quarry that shone over to us in the afternoon with its warm colors. Loading the car with the heavy photo equipment, I drove there to try a few shots. The grounds were not as welcoming a I had imagined. Concrete paths and many closed gates that hindered a free study of light conditions. A remarkable amount of people on the road, often with dogs.

    The quarry named Referenz was used to mine for quartz porphyry, a red stone similar to granite, either used for road construction or e.g. statues. One rock formation was outstanding, with trees on it and a warm and yellow surface.

    Quarry Leferenz in Dossenheim (mined for quarz porphyry) © Julian Köpke

    On a mountain north of river Neckar through Heidelberg that was used spiritually by different subsequent cultures, there is a ruin of the monastery St. Stephan, with an arch that has probably bee reconstructed. It was already pretty dark when I got there. For the following shot it took me 2 minutes exposure time and 2 more minutes for noise reduction. You don’t see it.

    Arch of a door of Stephan's monastery Heidelberg. © Julian Köpke

    The Heidelberg Castle is always a great sight. It was almost too late to find a balance between the decreasing daylight and the electrical illumination. Nevertheless, with a single 90s shot at ISO 400and f/8, the basis for this image, which is a kind of negative, was achieved. The dark Heidelberg Castle dominates the scene.

    Heidelberg Castle and castle gardens © Julian Köpke

    There is also a version in Black ad White and a color version of this photo.

  • Landscape,  Long time exposure,  Motion Blur

    Painted waves at Kampen, Sylt

    Looking at waves captivates us just as much as looking at an open fire. Digital photography provides us with very short shutter speeds or exposure times static, better: frozen images of the ups and downs of water movements.

    There are no creative limits when trying to extend exposure times (or shutter speeds) instead of further shortening them, at most technical ones. Longer exposure times merge several moments of water movement and thus paradoxically have a dynamic effect, meaning a look and feel of a movement.

    There is no right or wrong exposure time. There is a special impression for each exposure time in the fusion image of several moments.

    The proof of the pudding is in the eating. By experimenting with a neutral density filter of 10 EV I managed to get at a not too long exposure time of 1/4s to 1/3s making waves look like painted. With only economical digital post-processing worth seeing images were created.

  • Landscape,  Long time exposure,  Motion Blur,  Travel

    Island in the sun

    Always changing weather conditions is normal on Sylt, the northern most island of Germany. Heat, winds and rain alternate continuously. Just arrived I had to go straight to the beach, where clouds and sun welcomed me at the same time.

    On the beach of Westerland © Julian Köpke

    The on average better weather awaits one in the north, the so-called elbow, a peninsula near List. A lot of unused beach chairs with low numbers are standing there.

    Beach at so-called ellbow near List, Sylt © Julian Köpke

    Some 40 km south one finds the south tip of Sylt with its characteristic lighthouse. Many lighthouses can be found on this island, which is surrounded by sandbanks and often changing flow conditions of the water at low or high tide.

    Lighthouse at south end of Sylt (Hörnum) © Julian Köpke

    A beach walk is accompanied by many birds, seagulls mostly, but also cormorants or sandpipers. Sometimes you flush them out unvoluntarily and they fly wildly confused.

    Seagulls at Hörnum (Sylt) © Julian Köpke

    Cyclists become tiny like ants against the seemingly overpowering clouds. Without mountains one loses any scale.

    Clouds hanging over the dike at Rantum polder © Julian Köpke

    Experimenting with longtime exposure my first results of waves at the beaches are not yet convincing. Three seconds turn out to be a vivid interval of the time fusion on my sensor.

    Time fusion waves Dikjen Deel (3s), Sylt © Julian Köpke
  • Landscape,  Travel

    Long, long ago, far, far away

    In a time long, long ago in a land far, far away. A fairy tale could start like this. The feeling of a fairy tale creeps me more and more when I think back to the time in February with my friend Harold photographing in California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona.

    Without doubt, distance is not a purely physical matter. The physical distance is increased by the impossibility of visiting him due to a microscopic being that causes overwhelming damage in his country. Not only the health of many is affected, but also the economic prospects are terrible.

    Harold and I had after a 5 days workshop in Yosemite Valley a peaceful evening in the fields near Caliente (CA). It was silent, only little noise penetrated our ears. The smell of meadows wafted somewhere. We were still protected and did not know.

    Evening at Caliente CA © Julian Köpke