• Landscape,  Sylt,  Travel

    Flotsam and jetsam

    The Braderuper Heath is a northeastern part of the island of Sylt, with a white cliff of kaolin. While walking we came across an eviscerated duck that was suddenly lying in front of our feet. The head was dark or black, the throat was flabby, the internal organs were probably used for food. Maybe some dog owners had become angry already about their naughty four-legged friends.

    That’s not enough. A short distance later we came across shipwreck whose hull with the upward-facing edges offered the same aspect as the duck’s disemboweled body with its ribs. Since the tide was low, we were able to approach the mortal remains of the ship without water running into our shoes. We just sank a little into the tidal mudflats.

    Wreck in the mudflats of Braderup. © Julian Köpke

    We could have made bets on the age of the ship and the cause of the accident. The three-masted grain schooner was moored as an unauthorized party ship off the coast of Braderup and sunk due to a fire in 1981. The cause of the fire was never determined.

    There are many places with a white cliff. This one is part of the same geological structure as the cliff in Morsum.

    White cliff at Braderup © Julian Köpke
  • 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.

  • Landscape,  Sylt,  Travel

    Cliff at Morsum

    In Morsum one finds a cliff on the northern shore at the border to the Hindenburgdamm, shaped some 120.000 years ago, which is national geotope. It is a soil structure formed by northern European glaciers with red (limonite), yellowish and white(kaolin) sands. These sands itself had been deposited 7 – 11 million years ago. More detailed information can be found in a Wiki (English oder German).

    The image is an HDR of 5 exposures, intentionally overexposed and combined manually and one processed with software (HDR Efex Pro 2). Doing so no traces of a technically generated HDR image are recognizable. The resulting HighKey image looks natural. I adopted this way of processing HDR images from Harold Davis.

    View of Morsum cliff in eastern direction. © Julian Köpke

    The layer structure only detects at close range. These layers are like loose sandstone. Unfortunately, they got knotted. Some layers a pretty coarse.

    North Sea is rough and versatile. The water comes close to the cliff. It was low tide today when we passed by. So we didn’t get wet feet.

    Patterns of deposit layers at Morsum cliff © Julian Köpke
    Patterns of deposit layers at Morsum cliff © Julian Köpke

    It is spring on Sylt, during the year everything blooms later than in the South.

    Willow catkin © Julian Köpke
  • Landscape,  Long time exposure,  reflection,  Travel

    Beach Westerland

    The German philosopher Karl Jaspers described in his memoirs the boy’s experiences with the sea. The sea, he noted, is a symbol of philosophy, because it makes infinity present to us.

    Is a photo on the beach enough to bring us closer to the infinity of thoughtMaybe at that moment, I think, when we stop thinking focused when we look at the photo.

    Different motifs are able to change our inner view. They don’t have to be pictures of the sea. But with these, our feeling is often more evident.

    Technically I did three longtime exposure of 15s, which is a sort of time fusion. I used a 6EV Lee filter to photograph these three stones at the beach short after sunrise. You can see the colourful reflections of the morning sky in the sea and on the damp beach.

    Colors of waves. Early morning near Westerland, Sylt. © Julian Köpke
  • Heidelberg,  Landscape,  Motion Blur,  Train window,  Travel

    Train ride

    Lockdown drives us crazy. Official measures increasingly breathe the spirit of decay. The Age of Enlightenment is over. It is no longer a reasonable reflection that counts or thoughts, that are discussed. Politics behaves more like a war management. The first victim of a war is the truth. That’s more and more disturbing.

    This morning I stepped over an enigma. A structure in the roof of our Main Station in Heidelberg. As an image, there are many ways this structure could be thought of: a top-down bowl, a flying saucer – or a light dome. As it was still dark about 6 o’clock the windows appeared in a dark blue, like the adjacent ceiling.

    Other perspectives show a content that could be seen as a china plate. I couldn’t stop to photograph this dome.

    Longtime exposures made from a train window have a look and feel of their own. Perspective loses its sense. A moment loses its meaning. But these images are inspiring.

    How to photograph the feeling of eternity ? Can there really be a feeling of eternity or are we subjected to a deception when we perceive it ? Does time fusion help although a finite process ? The following image was captured with the Slow Shutter app on my cell phone with 8 seconds.

  • Documentation,  General,  Landscape

    Frame averaging

    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.

    Typical histogram of the RAW-files
    Typical histogram after processing in CaptureOne

    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.

    Roses - oil painting by Otto Flechtenmacher © Julian Köpke
  • Macro,  reflection

    Darkroom studio II (glasses)

    My darkroom studio is convenient for flower photography and high contrast, especially white. Today I tried out glasses with reflections and a nearly complete homogenous white vase. The only variations are reflections imposed on it from little light leaks of my improvised studio.

    White vase © Julian Köpke

    A photograph of a glass in a more documentary style is the following. The representation of the glass cutting is realistic. The stem out of the focal plane is appropriate for the focus of the photograph.

    Glass cutting © Julian Köpke

    The combination of black and green thrilled me in the composition with traditional wine glasses for regional white wine. Unexpectedly, I got some copper allusions with some warmth in the transparent glass.

    Wine glasses with green stem © Julian Köpke

    A more cool representation is the following composition with more glasses, including a tasting glass for Whisky. Is it the morning after a roaring party ? No leftovers can be seen so far …

    Glasses with white and green stem © Julian Köpke

    A more detailed view ist the following photograph, which is more on the warm side. The glasses get a copper-like appearance.

    Details of glasses © Julian Köpke
  • 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
  • Background,  flowers,  Heidelberg,  Macro

    Heidelberg Castle, flowers and flypaper textures

    Heidelberg Castle is a landmark. In winter its red color becomes softer. For one winter Frederick V. became king with his home in this castle. After that, Germany sank into the 30 Years War. The castle had been ruined already by fire a couple of years before.

    Winter Castle of the Winter King © Julian Köpke

    The delicacy and dreaminess of a photo is not always the result of intensive digital processing. The ranuncula of the following image hardly needed editing. You can feel it. With a tripod and a 85mm Lensbaby velvet at f/16 I shot this image with really delicate color.

    Ranuncula © Julian Köpke

    The lavish feast is over. Paradise is no more. The king went into exile. We’re staying.

    The roaring party is over © Julian Köpke
  • flowers,  Lightbox,  Macro

    Callas and pink fern leave

    For a short time the winter kept us still. Nature offers many motifs, the effect of which depends on the time of the day.

    Disturbing scene of ice formations (skull) © Julian Köpke
    Arbre japonais © Julian Köpke

    Shortly after, the snow has said goodbye to us. Still very, very cold cloudless nights, more and more often glorious sunny days let you catch your breath.

    Quarry at Schauenburg ruin Dossenheim © Julian Köpke
    Early spring sun throws light on pampas grass © Julian Köpke

    Yesterday I came across Calla lilies and rosé-fixed fern at the florists’s. „Expensive“, she told me. But I was already determined wether the many possibilities I had in mind.

    Through a chemical process, the fern has received a fixation and new color. That would make it durable for many compositions ….

    Pink fern leave © Julian Köpke
    Red callas in a white vase © Julian Köpke

    The next day, I combined the callas and the fern to a single composition. With a background the image looks soft and dreamy. This texture puts a kind of patina over the image.

    Red callas and rosé fixed fern © Julian Köpke
    Red callas and rosé fixed fern II © Julian Köpke