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.
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.
Perhabs we feel invited to sit by a bench in the woods. When the seat is dry really ….
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.
Longtime exposures hold a special appeal for me. Again and again I try do do it. I found the idea for this picture in a book about modern photography. The photographer took a picture of flowers in a vase with a specially built camera for many days until the first petals fell. The passing of time, which often cannot be experienced directly by us, can thus be illustrated by a photograph. Due to the new corona virus we had plenty of time at home to make flower photographs.
With my macro lens I can only realize the aperture value f/32, which means that even at ISO 50 the exposure time dose not rise above 15s possible when the lightbox is turned on. As an approximation to a true long-time exposure, I started a series of 23 HDR images at irregular intervals over the course of 4 days, just as it became apparent that my tulips would rise wide.
Each HDR image was created from6 shots at f/32 and ISO 50 with exposure times of 0.5s, 1s, 2s, 4s, 8s and 15s. The biggest difficulty was to block off a part of our living room before Christmas so that the exposures could always be done in the same way. Furthermore, the camera was not allowed to be changed by switching it on and off, changing the exposure times or removing the memory card.
I processed the layer stack of 23 TIF images in two ways. First straightforward as a smart object and then change the stacking mode in Photoshop as an average. Or fade out the layers after the start shot using black layer masks and gradually paint in interesting parts of the later images with a soft brush to create an overall impression. This approach was more promising to me than averaging the layer stack, which in my eyes expresses the flow of time too weakly.
Just to do the math: each image of my camera has 151 million pixels with a file size between 125 and 180 MByte in RAW format and 866 MByte after a RAW conversion to a TIF file. The total size of the project is something above 300 GB. 138 RAW files sum up to nearly 21 Billion Pixels. The final image has 159 million pixels due to some added background at the top of the result.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Yesterday was a chance to buy flowers for my lightbox before a new virus induced „lockdown“ takes place. Flowers on a lightbox exhibit an illusion of transparency when photographed either as HighKey image or HDR bracket sequence.
I prefer to process my bracketed photographs manually, because there is no possibility to learn how automated HDR software really works. On top of my layer stack I put one up to three HDR software results to layer them in if appropriate.
Photographing flowers is a way to cope with the situation being locked in in a house instead of traveling or meeting friends. Our house looks like a flower store, every now and then we find new compositions. At the end, there is a print.
A composition of flowers often suggests something, not with the eye, but with the inner vision. That’s the fun of it. There are so many compositions yet undone.
My friend Harold is using petals for compositions. I often shy away from cutting off the flowers or tearing out the petals. I was happy to do it today with a fading dark red rose.
Christa, my wife, loves tulips. They may resemble a dream on a lightbox, like balloons taking off for flight. To catch the whole composition I’d either had to climb up a ladder with my 120mm macro lens or change the lens to a 80mm focal length (which I did).
This year there was a complete silence on the part of the equipment manufacturers. That’s too bad. Now the calendar sheets 2021 are finished in own production. This year at the suggestion of or daughter Marlies with the topic food.
Fusion imaging does not wirk int the same way with food as with transparent flowers. But the deep structure of the food nevertheless leads to interesting results. It worked surprisingly well to depict a smoked trout with its bones. And squashes exhibit nearly artistic features.
The calendar sheets are finished now in portrait format 60cm x 42.6cm and can be viewed here.
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.
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
We are the end of a year with unexpected restrictions and new dangers. A walk with friends out in the forest with their dog with a lot of distance between them feels uncomfortable. Time puts its stamp on you wether you want it or not. The feeling of an unstoppable acceleration is spreading.
There is a well where the dog finds some fresh water. Behind the well broken stones and an old tree.
There are less and less leaves on the trees, so that the forest becomes more and more monotous. A few trees and bushes still have yellow, green and even some red leaves. These splashes of colors are are transformed by deliberate camera movement into areas of color and luminous islands that cheer up.
The Old Bridge in Heidelberg has the same attraction to visitors as the Charles Bridge in Prague or th Bridge to the Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome. Not everyone that the connective building between the two white towers houses an apartment. You come to the bridge early in the morning, you’re almost alone. This lonelyness is especially emphasized by a single walker.
The morning calm is reinforced by the fog. Even the car traffic is not so loud as usual. Maybe the noise will decrease even more with electric cars. That would do us good. The view form the bridge downstream shows ships tied up on the shore. Only a few rowers are on the river with trainers whose voices hardly penetrate.
The castle exercises the rule over the city. The strong contrast of the castle ruins over the roofs off the Old Town on the river bank is attenuated by the morning mist.
the Heidelberg Castle is world-famous and famous for the romantic feelings it triggers. Anyone who comes to the city in spring or early summer enjoys a mild warmth and a light wind that flows through the Neckar Valley.
In autumn, the winds that hits the photographer is icy cold and the facial masks that you have recently at hand are a welcome support in taking pictures. The warm colors of the following photographs deceive one of them.
The warmth of the Neckar gives rise to considerable early mist during a cold night, which stretches over the trees to the south and west. The mists also reach the Heidelberg Castle, which subsequently appears a little more romantic and ruined.