• 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
  • Architecture,  Monochrome,  Travel

    Surprising light

    Looking for a photo opportunity I stumbled over a burial site which is not far from the part of Stuttgart I grew up for several years. I had the chance to test a back for my Phase One. So I visited the grave monument of Württemberg commissioned by Wilhelm I. for his beloved wife Queen Catharina Pavlovna.

    On a sunny day at noon each cam works nice. Hence, for a testing opportunity, the decision to photograph the vault or crypt was made quickly. And she paid off.

    Burial site of Catharina Pavlovna Stuttgart © Julian Köpke

    The central hall is covered by a dome roof, which makes a clear allusion to the Pantheon in Rome. The top of the dome in Rome is open. As a result, the influence of the weather is directly perceptible within the sacred space. In Swabia, with lot of rain and occasional snow, a glass dome was chosen as the end.

    My 35mm lens is on my Phase One equivalent to 22mm full frame sensor. The following image is a single shot without a tripod. No HDR technique was applied.

    Dome roof a the burial site of Catharina Pavlovna Stuttgart © Julian Köpke

    In the tomb one floor deeper, the main person of this burial site is presented with a bust on which a fresh flower had been draped laterally. The delicacy of the flower and its color was impressive. Who put the flower there ?

    Bust of Catharina I, Queen of Württemberg © Julian Köpke

    Bright electric light bulbs were placed in front of the sarcophage of Catharina and her husband so that a visitor could read the inscription. Dark corners are present as well as moderately bright spots.

    Sarkophage of Catharina and Wilhelm © Julian Köpke

    It was hard for me to leave the building, which had given me so many different and actually tricky light conditions, so close beneath together. Each image was obtained handheld, without tripod or flash, of course.

    Leaving the chapel on Württemberg © 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
  • Landscape,  Long time exposure,  Monochrome,  Motion Blur,  Travel

    Leaving in a rush

    I didn’t what would happen this rainy day. But the waves and surf on the mole was so beautiful, that I forgot the time.

    All of a sudden I got an  text without possibility to answer or to ask back. Transfer tomorrow cancelled. Nothing special in the world, but my friend was in need to reach Lucerne tomorrow.

    Heavy winds at Heligoland force us to leave earlier. © Julian Köpke

    Back in my hotel I got everything organized: a ferry boat at 6pm, a train to Hamburg tonight, 2 single rooms for Monald and me in a nice hotel at the harbor. And a gorgeous day for photographers extra in Hamburg. I could keep cool blood all the time. My allergic reactions to pollen had left me in Heligoland once more immediately. It’s been worth the break with a lot of travelling, having a good friend with me.

    Two short days and much recreation. We will have a lot of fun with the next waves to come this evening.

    Welkoam iip lunn - Pier Heligoland © Julian Köpke
    Pier Helgoland © Julian Köpke
  • Monochrome,  Travel

    Tree in the sky

    We went to see our daughter Melitta today on the occasion of a first service after the lockdown, supported by her singing. Well, there’s always enough room in a church for appropriate seating during the service. We were downstairs, she was in the gallery. Moving half-way up, I captured the following image with the morning light from behind. Doubt and fright are best transported with the help of a slight desaturation.

    St. Stephan Würzburg © Julian Köpke

    On the square of reconciliation in front of the church St. Stephan in Würzburg there are coarse stones arranged into a kind of bursting structure. They are supposed to represent an opening bloom, which was formed from building blocks of the Third Reich. Its title is „The March of the Blocks“. A conciliatory act in this time of 100,000 victories over the Nazis. 

    March of the blocks - monument of reconciliation. St. Stephan Würzburg © Julian Köpke

    Less color in the first image gives a more natural feel to the content. The play of light and dark in the second image reflects the severity and harshness of its subject.

    Having left the church and the square of reconciliation a symmetry of branches caught my eye. The composition was just right for me to pre-visualize a print. Color in this image didn’t make sense to me. That way I found my inner balance.

    Symmetrical branches © Julian Köpke
  • Long time exposure,  Monochrome,  Travel

    Origin and destination

    On the penultimate day of our Out of Yosemite conference in Yosemite Valley, the Bridalveil Fall with Charlotte Gibb as instructor was on the agenda that Saturday morning at 6am. I hoped that by participating in her workshop I would gain a less technical or more creative approach to photography of waterfalls.

    She gave us the topic of long time exposure in the preliminary discussion. The spot offers little freedom of movement. There was not much room for all of us, and on top that there were every now and then some people walking around in our compositions.

    Bridal Veil fall © Julian Köpke

    Bridalveil Fall shows a strong variability of location due to the influence of air movement. Especially at sunrise you can clearly feel the rising winds. So you don’t have much time for camera setup. An ensemble of stones in the waterfall can all of a sudden become dry and the composition becomes useless. In return, the neighbouring region becomes dripping wet and appears in a new light.

    Bridal Veil fall © Julian Köpke
    Bridal Veil fall © Julian Köpke

    I know pictures from long time exposures with moving water. They’re interseting sometimes. I rarely find them really good. Often they exhibit a strong technical assessment and their message ist not really accessible to me.

    I begann to study sections of the waterfall, which meant that the rock formations in the composition always showed a new character. That way many compositions can be made.

    Bridalveil Fall © Julian Köpke

    Probably an image that expresses changeability and constancy is best suited to make us think about the origin of the world. Planets orbiting their central star are a well known example for this. Or stars that orbit the black hole of our Milky Way in 11 years.

    My last picture of Bridalveil Fall, with its interplay of light and dark, of flowing and solidification, steps and flow, forms and dissolution of forms, shows the coexistence of changeability and constancy. That’s what makes it so attractive to me.

  • Landscape,  Travel

    Gone with the wind

    The title of the novel „Gone with the wind“ comes from a half line of the poem „Cynara“ by the British poet Ernest Dowson, who spent most of his life in France. His verses were translated to German by Stefan George. Arnold Schönberg and Frederick Delius set selected poems to music.

    The author of the novel, Margret Mitchell, was well-read and knew the melancholy character of „Cynara“. The reception of her novel in the 1930s saw a resilient and admirable Scarlett O’Hara and a wonderful life in the southern states before the war. The ambivalence of the protagonist’s character and the unhappy end of the novel faded into the background. By the filming 1939 this neglect was still solidified.

    The new translation into German from 2020, based on the 1936 edition (The Macmillan Company), adapts the author’s original intention of a clear and simple language. With a sometimes cruel relentlessness, the work depicts an American condition of life: the shaping of personality through money. This opens the reception of a realistically written development novel about a young women from the American South who is exposed to strongly changing living conditions before, during and after the war from 1860 to 1872. 

    My friend Harold led me on our way to The Pinnacles and Trona to a spot with several freight trains on sidings. Around us a sometimes close and then again distant sandstorm. From above the midday sun in a dusty haze. Immediately I felt the disaster of a broken economic cycle, which affects the entrepreneur and the workers alike.

    Trains on sidings © Julian Köpke
    Trains on sidings © Julian Köpke

    Eventually, these trains will be gone with the wind, too. A straight ahead leading track made me the illusion of a still running business, because the switch was set correctly. And a railroad crossing was also present.

    Tracks, points and siding © Julian Köpke
    Railroad crossing Mojave © Julian Köpke

    I really don’t know what goes on with these trains. Maybe, a private company runs them to mine rare earths. Or, they are standing there for 30 years doing nothing. No money to make with it. Has this sight been a premonition of the current crisis that could leave us in a state of disintegration and decay ?

    Trains on a siding © Julian Köpke
  • flowers,  Landscape,  Travel

    Blossom ends, friendship lasts

    It’s been for two weeks and two days, every day very special and filled with exciting photographic moments. Two men got closer about photography, art and life. It’s over now. We had to go home.

    On a turn-out along the I5 near Lost Hills we stopped to change drivers. There we found fields of blooming almond trees with a lovely and sweet fragrance in the air. Following a verdict attributed to John Wayne („A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do“) we immediately grabbed our cameras and did what photographers have to do.

    Almond trees in bud © Julian Köpke

    After a certain amount of time, when the almond blossom is over, Harold’s and my friendship will last and life gets even better. Provided you like almonds and you don’t have any dietary restrictions.

  • Landscape,  Travel

    Zion

    The region around Zion National Park is already more and more beautiful. Taking a short hike to the overlook and finally to Virgin Narrows were our last spots for this travel.

    Zion Canyon overlook © Julian Köpke
    Virgin narrows trail © Julian Köpke
  • Landscape,  Texture,  Travel

    Road to Kanab

    Farewell to Maob, farewell to Eric. He knew every inch of this place like the back of his hand. Everybody goes in his direction. New friends, few words.

    Our destination for the day is Page, we finally reach Kanab. Short branch out to the Valley of the Gods. It’s a lovely place, a bit of haze, not the best of light.

    Valley of the Gods © Julian Köpke

    Before the border to Arizona the rocks of Monument Valley build up and we let it pass us over a pass road.

    Monument Valley pass road © Julian Köpke

    This region belongs to the Navajo nativ Americans. A tribal park is signposted. A packed car stops beneath us, a young man likely nativ steps out and begs for money in obscure language. His tongue is lame, probably due to the long-term effects of incorporated substances. Sad.

    Monument Valley pass road © Julian Köpke