• Monochrome,  Sylt,  Travel

    Oh, island in the sun …

    Ansel Adams was a pianist. There’s even an edition of recordings of him from the 30s. For a long time he struggled whether he should become a pianist or a photographer.

    Reading his book “The Negative” not only gives me insight into the technical processes that the “analogue” photographers had to struggle with. His often short sentences or comments on the image evaluation are an inspiring source, which always evoke in me the image of a qualified musician from Ansel Adams. He didn’t loose the spirit of music when photographing or processing.

    His comments on infrared photography inspired me to rework a color image of the northern part of the island of Sylt and to study the effect of different color filters on contrasts and tonality.

    I am feeling rewarded that this picture was chosen for the group in explore by Flickr this morning.

    Land's end near List, Sylt © Julian Köpke

    The contrasts in the color image are weaker, the color also distracts a little from the mood of an impending thunderstorm. A bit of luminosity or radiance comes out better in the clouds in the black and white image.

    Land's End near List (Ellbogen) © Julian Köpke

    My others in explore pictures are here.

  • Landscape,  Monochrome,  Sylt

    Departure from realism II

    The basic question of the creative photographer is, wether the representation of a photograph is literal or a departure from reality as projected in his „mind’s eye“. An expressive image is photographer’s goal. When the interaction of the different factors of exposure, aperture and camera characteristics is well understood, creative freedom knows no limits. Positively speaking: the sky is the limit.

    The scenario of an almost threatening thunderstorm cloud, which, however, is still in a protective distance, is sometimes surprising on the beach. The tetrapods on my image will protect the island from flooding, but not us from rain. 

    A colored picture blurs this impression completely. Black and white rendering clearly shows the energy inherent in a thundercloud. We came across this cloud at Hörnum and it accompanied us all along the beach.

    Thunderclouds near Hörnum © Julian Köpke

    Just a short time before, I managed to capture the impression of a constantly beautiful weather with a cool wind and gentle waves. A strong sun pushes away all dark thoughts. On the horizon, the clouds are raining a bit.

    Tetrapods at Hörnum © Julian Köpke

    Many times we are waiting. We like to draw strength from contemplation. Time is passing by imperceptibly, almost a little too fast.

    Clouds near List © Julian Köpke

    With color photos expressive images can also be created. The true brightness values of a color image like to deceive our eyes. Quantitative estimation with the help of Lab color display is great help in the accurate determination of brightness values. To make an image look like I had it in my „mind’s eye“.

    Thunderclouds above pastureland at Ellbogen, Sylt © Julian Köpke
  • Landscape,  Monochrome,  Sylt,  Travel

    Departure from realism

    An idea of Ansel Adams regarding the reality of a photo keeps me captive. His best photos, as he writes in hisbook “The Negative”, are often described by viewers as truly realistic. But they’re not. On the contrary. These would often have been the most intensively worked on by him.

    He repeatedly insists in this book that the best images would have been those in which he left reality in the processing to show what he wanted to show or felt.

    I am often impressed by the clouds passing by or the play of clouds in the sky. In a colored picture, I don’t quite succeed in directing the weight of the picture to the clouds in the sky. Despite the use of filters with and without gradients, the color image is beautifully colored and bright, but the desired focus is lost. With black and white pictures, it seems to be easier.

  • General,  iPhoneography,  Landscape,  Monochrome,  Sylt

    Learning curve

    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.

    Time fusion groins at Westerland © Julian Köpke
    Time fusion waves © Julian Köpke
    Time fusion beach Westerland © Julian Köpke

    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 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.

    BW photo of a chessboard © Julian Köpke
    Histogram of a BW photo of a chessboard (Photoshop) © Julian Köpke

    Departure from realism is a significant contribution to creative imagery if you know to influence your result.

  • flowers,  Macro,  Monochrome

    Darkroom studio

    The darkroom was the centre of analogue photography. In a darkroom were created the copies of a picture on photo paper, which had been planned when shooting with camera and film.
    The “digital darkroom” is in a way the continuation of the darkroom from analogue times. Nowadays, the role of the film is taken over by the RAW image. The development of the film was linked to chemistry, intentional light and shadow effects and fine feeling. Each print was unique.
    The “digital development” or postprocessing is non-destructive, repeatable and delivers a result, which at least theoretically can be printed as often as desired. In the digital workflow no print is unique anymore.

    With a dark background and systematic shading of daylight, my photo studio became a darkroom where could photograph flowers. Exposure times became longer, almost like a long-term exposure at night outside. The saturation of the colors came out surprisingly strong.

    Anthuria on black © Julian Köpke
    Red gerbera and fern © Julian Köpke

    The creation of a floating cloud with the help of white tulle did not require shading to achieve the effect of a darkroom. As my friend Lorenz mentioned, looking closer you can see nice interference patterns (Newtonian rings). I’m happy with this image idea: the image got two days later a Flickr in explore.

    White cloudy glow of a piece of fabric © Julian Köpke

    The soft variations of light and shadow fit well to a soft vetch.

    Vetch on white fabric © Julian Köpke
    Vetch and white fabric © Julian Köpke
  • General,  Macro,  Monochrome

    Fibonacci numbers

    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.

    Shadow cast of an egg © Julian Köpke
    Shadow cast of an egg © Julian Köpke

    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.

    Shadow cast of building blocks on white © Julian Köpke

    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.

    Shadows around building blocks sorted in circles of Fibonacci numbers © Julian Köpke
    Shadows around building blocks sorted in circles of Fibonacci numbers © Julian Köpke
  • Macro,  Monochrome

    Light and shades of grey

    Shades of grey in interaction with light: this is a theme for monochromatic images. For a long time I wanted to photograph an egg against a white background. The idea was stimulated by photos, mostly of people I know personally. Geometric, white-colored bodies from the mathematical collection would also be fun for me. Unfortunately, access is not as easy for me as with an egg.

    Light and shades of grey © Julian Köpke

    On the left side the egg is brighter than the background, on the right side it is the other way round. The background itself loses a little brightness from the left to the right, but is brighter than the the egg on the right. The contrast changes. There is no clearly defined shadow for this setup. The same is true in the next photograph.

    White egg on a white background © Julian Köpke

    With the help of a simple light source whose color temperature does not matter after conversion into a black and white image, a soft shadow can be achieved if the source is not point-shaped.

    Shadow cast of an egg © Julian Köpke
    Shadow cast of three eggs on white © 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
  • 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.