Archive for 2014

A happy, healthy, and successful 2015!

Since we are currently traveling through New Zealand, we have celebrated the earliest possible "arrival" of the year 2015. We have welcomed 2015 and bade farewell to 2014 in Wanaka, on New Zealand's south island. Here, 2014 has ended with a torrential rainfall and hurricane winds, but just in time for the fireworks it cleared up. We have thus made a long walk along Lake Wanaka in order to look at the fireworks (shown below). On our way, my four light painting assistants have helped create the photograph on the top as a new year greeting from New Zealand.

We wish you a healthy, interesting, challenging, happy, fulfilled and successful 2015! Wherever you are, I hope that 2015 brings you much light and sunshine and only occasional clouds and rain.

All the best,


 New year fireworks 2015 above Lake Wanaka, Wanaka, New Zealand..

2014/12/31 by Unknown
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1 year of communting to Wädenswil

Since one week, we are already on holiday (which is the reason for the lack of updates to this blog), enjoying an extended summer christmas holiday far away. My working year 2014 is thus already over and it is hopefully acceptable to show a selection of "commuter photographs" of this ending year.
It has been almost a year since I have started a new post in Wädenswil, a city that is beautifully situated about 25 km south of Zurich, on the lakeside. Usually, I leave home early in the morning and thus my arrival in Wädenswil often coincides with dawn or sunrise. As my train approaches my destination, along the shore of the lake of Zurich, I can already enjoy the sometimes dramatic scenery of clouds, water, mountains, and the first sunlight. If I am in the mood and the conditions seem interesting, I spend a few minutes at the lake, enjoy the dawning day, and sometimes take a few photographs. A "best of" of these short photo sessions (excluding the three examples already shown previously) of the entire year is compiled here in chronological order.
Being able to witness the same scenery during an entire year, and hopefully many more years, sharpens the senses for the changes during the seasons, the moving sun, and even meteorologic patterns. At the same time, the more dawns and sunrises I observe in Wädenswil, the rarer the truly exceptional ones become. Consequently, I am likely to take less dawn and sunrise photographs in  each year. In my opinion, re-visiting a particular location again and again, even re-taking a specific photograph, helps to see things more objectively and to discover truly unique subjects.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugMoon and Venus over the lake of Zurich (January 29, 2014)

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugPink and orange morning in Wädenswil (February 26, 2014)

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug   Sunrise behind the "Speer" (March 11, 2014)

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugHovering cloud over the lake of Zurich (March 27, 2014)

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugCloud and sun beams seen from Wädenswil harbor (May 19, 2014)

Better in the West (June 2, 2014)

Behind the clouds the sky is blue (August 28, 2014)

"Sky lines" over the lake of Zurich in Wädenswil (September 24, 2014)

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugThree mallard ducks on the golden lake of Zurich (October 9, 2014)

2014/12/13 by Unknown
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November & December 2014 prints: Water cloud & Hay fever

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Just in time, my November 2014 print is presented and it is already accompanied by the December print. Since we will be traveling, I will not print anything in December, but I did not want to skip the last print of the year. The photograph above has been taken earlier this year, in February, on a hike around Pfäffikersee. The cloud appears upside down, because it is not at all a real cloud, but just its reflection on the smooth water surface - it is thus a water cloud. I really like the color gradient from the dark foreground to the light blue background and the shallow waves on the water at the top.

The photograph below was taken three months later, in May. In and around Zurich, this is usually the time grasses start to flower and my hay fever sets in. When I captured the hay fever photograph, I was actually photographing cicadas. I took just this one photograph of the pollen clouds that were released from the blades of grass as I touched them and I was not expecting much. When I looked at the result (only later, at home), I was pleasantly surprised and "Hay fever" is one of my preferred photographs of this year. I am still fascinated that it is possible to capture and visualize flying pollen grains and I really like the light shades of greens and out of focus grass blades.

If you want, have a look at all my prints of this year or suggest a photograph to be printed next year!

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2014/11/30 by Unknown
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Nearby: Re-reflection confusion

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Although I love nature and the outdoors, I have become to really enjoy photography in man-made environments. When I photograph in and around my home, in Zurich, I have to make do with subjects that may not be highly attractive and interesting per se, but which I can try to capture in a way that I find more interesting than the overall scene and subject itself. Thereby, my nearby photography makes me a more conscious observer of my environment and sharpens my eye for tiny details of beauty within the city desert of concrete and glass. Searching, seeing, composing, and creating photographs of hidden, beautiful details makes me a happier person and, I believe, a better photographer.
The nearby photograph shared here is very similar to the one shown recently. It has also been created  at the skyscrapers on Hagenholzstrasse and similarly features patterns of reflections, re-reflections, and shadows. This composition also illustrates the value of returning to the same subject again and again: I have visited these buildings many times this year, under all kinds of conditions and light, and the photograph above is one of my favorites so far.
This re-reflection confusion can be found in the light and shadow gallery as well as in the nearby collection.

2014/11/19 by Unknown
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Flora: Hungarian Gentian - Gentiana pannonica

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug Hungarian Gentian (Gentiana pannonica)

This Hungarian Gentian was photographed in the Bavarian Alps, on a mountain where I knew these beautiful, sightly plants to abound. Gentiana pannonica is a notable gentian in at least two ways: It has purple-magenta colored flowers (not blue) that are grouped in the axilla or at the top, and their stems reach over half a meter in height. The plants propagate clonally and thus sizable populations may cover alpine meadows. An impressive sight!

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The speckled, magenta-purple flowers of Gentiana pannonica

Gentiana pannonica is an alpine plant that occurs in the eastern alps (one of its German names is  "eastern alps gentian") and the western border of its distribution lies in eastern Switzerland. However, there is a very similar, by the looks almost identical, species, Gentiana purpurea, that lives in the western alps. The Hungarian Gentian is thus a vicariant species: one of (at least) two closely related species that are separated geographically or ecologically and thus do not interbreed.

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Sepals and petals of Tulipa sylvestris ssp. australis.

Like many other species of the genus Gentiana, the Hungarian Gentian has been used as a medicinal plant as well as to produce Schnaps. Gentian roots apparently contain some of the most bitter substances known and are used for treating digestive disorders and other afflictions. Due to their beneficial and desirable effects, Gentiana pannonica roots used to be collected assiduously, which has harmed the populations of this beautiful plant. The IUCN red list labels the species as "near threatened", while in some countries, for example the Czech Republic and Switzerland, it is even listed as "endangered".

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Gentiana pannonica bud

I think the large purple-magenta flowers, laced with tiny dark spots, are really beautiful and exceptional. In the three last photographs, the one above and the following two, you can see all the stages of budding and blossoming. At first, the flowers literally seem screwed down, then the large petals slowly unwind, and in the last photograph the creamy yellow center of the flower is exposed.

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An unwinding Gentiana pannonica flower

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A fully opened blossom of Gentiana pannonica

2014/11/16 by Unknown
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Leafcolors 4: Maple green beams

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Another leaf that has fallen before all its chlorophyll was degraded. The bright autumn colors are not generated in fall in order to attract photographers and tourists, but simply revealed as the dominant color of the green chlorophyll slowly clears away. The bright yellow, red, and orange tones were just hidden behind a green curtain. In this particular maple leaf, the green seems caught in the act of dissipating and I really like the remaining green beams. Also have a look at the interesting color patterns of other leaves shown in the leafcolor gallery (all of which are not photographs, but scans of fallen leaves).

2014/11/13 by Unknown
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Watercolors 12: Calanque d'En Vau 3

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This is already the third Calanque d'En Vau watercolor composition. It has been taken from the same spot as the tow other examples (Calanque d'En Vau 1 and 2). In this photograph, the blue of the crystal clear water is blended with the grey reflections of the limestone cliffs.
More watercolor compositions have been shown in earlier blog posts and are presented in a dedicated online gallery.

2014/11/10 by Unknown
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October 2014 print: Autumn browns with chamois

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I am again late to present my monthly print, but the photograph shown here has not only been printed, but also taken in October. We were on a long hike to the Gamsjoch, a rocky summit in the Karwendel, when a herd of almost 70 chamois crossed our path and grazed along the valley slopes. Those of you who understand German realize that the summit's name is most fitting: Gamsjoch translates as "chamois saddle". Our children complained the disorderly distribution of the animals, which made counting difficult. After many counts and deliberations, we agreed on the number 69. The 16 animals in the October 2014 print were part of this huge chamois flock that, I believe, consisted of female and young animals (we could even watch some of them still suckling). Further along during the hike, we kept seeing more and more chamois and even a few ibex and a snow grouse (ptarmigan); but no fellow hiker. What an exceptional day!
Although the colors of this photographs are not flashy and bright, they are nevertheless typically autumnal. I really like the different shades of brown and yellow of the grass, with a slight hint of red, that the chamois complete with they dark brownish winter fur.
Also have a look at my earlier prints or suggest a photograph to be printed!

2014/11/07 by Unknown
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My photo treasures: Diane Varner

Photograph © Diane Varner. Sweet Dawn (flowers of potato vine, Solanum jasminoides).

The photography of Diane Varner did not catch my eye and interest immediately, but rather grew on me slowly. I was attracted by the subjects that Diane Varner discovers on her daily walks: intimate details of trees, plants and flowers, such as the one above, sea-, water- and landscapes, or even birds. What took me longer to fully realize and appreciate is the unique character of her photographs.

For Diane Varner, post-processing is just as important as the actual photo searching and taking process. In most cases, the original content of the composition is not altered, but countless hours are spent exploring the photographs in the digital darkroom. She enjoys experimenting with the computer and to me, her photographs reveal a great effort for the choice and adjustment of the colors and overall appearance. If you are interested, Diane Varner shares some of her digital developing techniques in great detail in post-processing tutorials that feature before and after examples and also include PSD files to explore.

To me, the most distinguishing characteristic of Diane Varner's photographs are the colors, which always create an airy, mystical, and also slightly surreal atmosphere. This unique mood is often emphasized by the contrast between the sharp main subject and the out-of-focus elements in the background. What I appreciate the most is the attention to the small details of beauty that are easily overlooked, but that enlighten our days if we are just willing to look carefully and consciously. None of her photographs feature iconic landmarks!

Diane Varner explores the beauty nearby her home on daily walks with her dog and also shares her creations in an award-winning blog with that name (for example, her blog is in the top 10 on coolphotoblogs!). It is inspiring to read about her growing awareness of the small gems in her environment and how, by her daily explorations, "the mundane had become magical and I wanted to record it and share my excitement of what I had found". To learn more about her photography and to enjoy her images, head over to the daily walks website, visit her galleries, and maybe read some of the interviews that she has given (listed on her "about page"). The photograph above is one that I think is particularly representative for Diane Varner's photography. It is also a photograph that does not only appeal to me, but also to the masses: it has been awarded in the International Garden Photographer of the year 2012 competition with the third place.

2014/11/01 by Unknown
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Leafcolors 4: "Cherry pox"

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Pay attention to the tiny red dots on this yellow cherry leaf, as if it had "cherry pox". Although the signs of pathogen attack and decay are only small, the beauty lies, as it is often the case, in the detail. Over the years, I have looked at many high-resolution leafscans that often reveal details that I hardly ever notice when I just rustle through fallen autumn foliage. Pathogens that cause lesions such as the dark spots on this cherry leaf often alter the tissue around the point of attack. The visual testimony of this host-pathogen interaction is often a distinctly colored halo around lesions. Whatever the cause, you may just enjoy the tiny red spots!
Also, have a look at the other images in the leafcolor gallery, all of which are not photographs, but scans.

2014/10/31 by Unknown
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Watercolors 11: Tuolumne River watercolors

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Today's watercolor compositon brings me back to California, more specifically to Yosemite National Park. During our summer holiday of last year, Tuolumne meadows was our first stop after leaving San Francisco. After a morning hike to Lembert Dome, we made a lengthy pause at Tuolumne River, where the children played in the water and I used the time to photograph. I was particularly intrigued by the watercolor swirls and patterns on the surface of the water gushing around rocks. For me, the photograph above captures the essence of that impression and I hope some of you like it.
If you want, have a look at the watercolor photographs shown in earlier blog posts or at the watercolor gallery.

2014/10/25 by Unknown
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Tilt-shift: A new MILTS camera

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug The building called Forum Chriesbach that has been shown in several nearby photographs already. In this example, the lens was shifted upwards for perspective control. The photograph belongs to the reflections gallery: Almost the entire right half is the mirror image of the left half. The reflective surface belonged to only one of the building's glass panes that was just a few centimeters from the lens away, and yet, focus was on infinity.

I have a new, mirrorless, interchangeable lens, tilt-shift (MILTS) camera. My MILTS camera allows any lens with a Canon EF mount to be shifted by 15 mm and tilted by 10° in any direction (tilt and shift movements are perpendicular to each other). In my case, the camera's specifications are identical to a Sony A7r, but it could just as well be any Sony E mount camera; thanks to the Canon EF - Sony E mount tilt-shift adapter from Mirex (it is not advertised on their website - you have to contact the company by e-mail).

The Sony E mount tilt-shift adapter's specifications are virtually identical to the version for micro four thirds (M4/3) cameras. The tripod mount is interchangeable between the two adapters and the tilt-shift mechanisms are the same; only the lever to rotate the adapter is differently designed. I find it more convenient on the Sony model. First, I had planned to use my micro four thirds tilt-shift adapter with a cheap M4/3 - Sony E mount adapter, but unfortunately the two adapters that I have tried were not fitting properly. Albeit not fitting well at all, the set-up allowed to test my manual lenses and their tilt-shift capabilities on a full frame body. To my surprise, all the nice, old lenses that I am using allow both, tilt and shift movements, although not the full amount. As expected, the corners of the frame get black when the lens is shifted maximally. The exact degree of tilt and shift (without vignetting) is specific for each lens (due to different image circles) and also depends on the sensor size of the camera (it would be much less of an issue with a smaller sensor).

All in all, I am just as satisfied with the Sony version of the tilt-shift adapter as with my micro four thirds model. If at all, handling is even easier on the Sony body, because it is slightly larger than my Lumix GH1 and because of focus peeking: It is quite cool to see colors indicating the areas in focus move across the frame as you tilt the lens. The adapter is, in my opinion, extremely well built and has quickly become an integral component of my Sony A7r body. Since I am using almost exclusively old manual lenses (Leica R, Olympus Zuiko, Voigtländer) that are permanently adapted to a Canon EF mount (with a Leitax replacement mount), I hardly ever take the adapter off the camera. If you want to learn more about the Canon EF - Sony E mount tilt-shift adapter, head over to the excellent review at "on landscape" or post a question as a comment to this posting.

P.S. I have bought the tilt-shift adapter that is described here as a regular customer from Mirex. I am not associated with Mirex and I do not receive any form of compensation for writing this text. 

2014/10/19 by Unknown
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Leafcolors 3: Withdrawing oak leafcolors

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In this detailed view of an autumnal oak leaf, I like the many different tones of brown and the contrasty yellow and greenish leaf veins in the center. The leaf seems to die and dry from the edge and only in the center a small shape remains alive. A thin green line separates the yellowish core from the withered edge. I guess that the leaf has been infected with a fungus and what you can observe is another example of autumnal decaying, as in the last leafcolor example. As all the images shown in the leafcolor gallery, it is not a photograph, but a scan of a fallen leaf.

2014/10/18 by Unknown
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Watercolors 10: Calanque d'En Vau 2

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As promised last week, here is a second example of a Calanque d'En Vau watercolor composition. It has been taken from the same spot as the last example, except that it was captured exactly 25 minutes later (thank you EXIF data!). In this photograph, the greenish-turquois color of the water is more apparent and spotted with the white and blue reflections of the sky and clouds.
More watercolor compositions have been shown in earlier blog posts and are presented in a dedicated online gallery.

2014/10/07 by Unknown
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Leafcolors 2: Stickman watching you

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A decaying, autumnal maple leaf. Or rather a stickman watching you? Autumn is not only the season of bright colors, but also of decay. It is prime time for fungi and a plethora of other decomposers. The second leafcolor composition. It is not a photograph, but a high resolution scan.

2014/10/04 by Unknown
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September 2014 print: Radiating tree

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My September 2014 print is presented most fittingly, despite it being two days late: Completely by chance I have just discovered that the photograph above was taken exactly three years ago - on October 2nd 2011! We were hiking along the Lägern, when the sunbeams broke through the fog and dissolved the heavy mist. Although I am not particularly fond of black and white photography, sometimes color distracts from the main subject. In this particular composition, the sunbeams became slightly orange towards the periphery and some of the geenish leaves were brightly lit, in my opinion also distracting. Therefore, I prefer this particular photograph to be in black and white (with a lot of greys in between). In the composition above, I like how the eye is drawn towards the bright spots in the center, as well as the circular appearance of the whole frame. To me, it looks a little bit as if the photograph was round.
If you want, have a look at the other photographs that I have printed already this year or suggest a photograph to be printed.

2014/10/02 by Unknown
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Watercolors 9: Calanque d'En Vau 1

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The Mediterranean coast between Marseille and Cassis impresses with a formidable cliff line and rocky coves - the Massif des Calanques. Bright grey limestone cliffs rise out of the sea and are in stark contrast to the clear, turquois water of the mediterranean. Supposedly one of the most beautiful of these coves is Calanque d'En Vau, which is accessible by a nice hike over limestone gravel and rocks, through mediterranean pine forest and macchia. When we hiked there last spring, the small beach at the base of the Calanque d'En Vau was filled with hikers as well as some climbers - the Calanques are a prime territory for rock climbing.
In comparison to a bog-standard shot of the turquoise Calanque waters and the bright rocks, the photograph above is certainly a rather unusual composition. However, for me it is linked to a memorable photo session and quiet observation of the water surface for almost an hour. I have been standing right above the water surface on a limestone ridge. The direction and strength of the wind was changing all the time, sometimes a cloud cast a shadow, and thus the reflected colors and the patterns on the water surface varied constantly. During my watercolor photo session I captured many different compositions. The capture shown above is the first example that I would like to share; more will follow. In the meantime, also have a look at the other watercolor photographs shown so far.

2014/09/29 by Unknown
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The interchangeable leg tripod (ILT)

For a long time, I have been searching for the perfect tripod: light and heavy, small and high, versatile and yet simple. As I grew older and taller, my tripods became smaller and shorter, but also used more scarcely. Especially when hiking with a backpack full of clothes, food and drink for the entire family, carrying a regular tripod was a pain; often in vain, because more than once the tripod was not used in the end. 

The ILT: In this particular case, hiking poles and a converted, old Gitzo leg are used. This is my most preferred TrioPod configuration for hiking.

To relieve my fragile knees, I am hiking with poles anyways and have therefore become interested in the Novoflex Quadropod tripod system, which foresees the use of dedicated hiking poles as tripod legs. However, as its name implies, the Quadropod has four legs! Who would want to carry four tripod legs? In my opinion, this pushes the quest for stability to the point of absurdity. Therefore, I had already considered designing my own Interchangeable Leg Tripod (ILT) that would somehow accommodate the legs of my existing tripods, as well as my hiking poles. Luckily, in that moment, Novolflex finally released a three-legged tripod system; the wonderful TrioPod.

With the QP RED 1/4'' adapter plate, any tripod leg can be converted into a perfectly fitting TrioPod leg.

In effect, the TrioPod is only a kind of tripod mount; a base onto which different legs (only three!), as well as a tripod head are attached. The design lacks a center column, which I find a most welcome omission (if I wanted (I don't) to put my camera atop a long, slender, shaky column, I would use a monopod). Besides hiking poles, Novoflex offers different aluminum and carbon legs for the TrioPod (and Quadropod series). However, since I already owned two tripods that have become used less and less over the years, I thought it would be most useful if the legs of these could be recycled for the use on my newly acquired TrioPod.

At this point, a drastic measure was required: I had to destroy my old tripods! I cut off the top part of my tripod legs and had a locksmith attach adapter plates (QP RED 1/4", also from Novoflex, about 10 Euro per plate). Thanks to the QP RED plates, all my "old" tripod legs now perfectly fit the TrioPod and depending on the situation, I can attach the most appropriate legs. For example, when hiking, I use only one short tripod leg and attach the hiking poles whenever I need a tripod. The ILT can thus indeed be light and heavy or small and high. For me, it is the egg laying wooly milk pig of tripods and the perfect tripod solution!

Any tripod leg, short or long, thick or slim, can be converted to become a TrioPod leg.

If you possess an old, maybe little-used tripod (that you dare to destroy in the process), converting its legs is economical (much cheaper than original Novoflex legs), easy to implement, and very effective. Above all, I much prefer recycling existing equipment to adding more and more. Whenever I add a piece of equipment, instead of replacing something that is broken, an existing and functional piece becomes an unused dust catcher in the back of a cupboard. What a waste!

2014/09/26 by Unknown
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Autumn 2014 has started!

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This week, autumn has started; at least here in Switzerland. The mornings are refreshingly cool and a little foggy, the sun is bright, but not burning anymore, the sky has a intense, dark autumn blue, and the trees and leaves start putting on their colorful display. It is the combination of all of the properties and mostly the latter one that make this my most preferred season! For once, the actual percived start of autumn coincides with the astronomical calendar: In Zurich, the September Equinox 2014 was on Tuesday, September 23rd.
This year, I will accompany fall with regular leafcolor contributions, such as the one above. Since many years I have been searching, collecting, and scanning interestingly colored, fallen leaves. The imagery shown under the leafcolor label are thus not photographs, but high resolution scans of autumnal leaves. In my opinion, the detail, patterns and arrangements of colors are often really amazing.

2014/09/24 by Unknown
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Nearby: Re-reflection zigzag

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I just felt like sharing another composition of amazing light and shadow reflections taken at the skyscrapers on Hagenholzstrasse; a kind of sequel to the photograph shown earlier this week. The whole building complex has just been completed and it is really nearby - I can even see parts of it from our kitchen window. This year, I try to broaden my view (I photograph more often with a wide-angle lens) and thus search for wide, complex scenes instead of tiny details. I often find them in reflections and particularly at these skyscrapers.
In my opinion, the reflections and re-reflection in the composition above are quite amazing. First of all, the original light and shadow pattern is reflected both, in the glass panes on the right, as well as on the granite pillars on the left. In addition, in the upper left part of the photograph, the reflection in the glass panes is re-reflected on the shiny granite. Since my reflection photographs are quite different in style (much more colorful), this composition has just been added to the light and shadow gallery as well as to the nearby collection.

Have a nice weekend!

2014/09/20 by Unknown
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Watercolors 8: Prismatic Caumasee

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Caumasee is a wonderful lake that can be reached by foot or bike from Flims, a mountain village and popular skiing location in Switzerland. When we visited this beautiful lake last year, rainbow colors, light and shadow patterns were dancing across the ground of the lake and thereby transformed the shallow shore into a mesmerizing display of abstract, prismatic patterns. Also note how the ground is distorted in some places; almost as if some pebbles were seen through a magnifying glass. In contrast to the other watercolor photographs shown so far, in this composition the colors and patterns are not reflections on the water surface, but rather projected onto the ground. Yet, the patterns and colors are still created by the shallow waves and ripples on the water surface and I am still amazed by the beauty of the scene. I could have watched and photographed for hours!

2014/09/16 by Unknown
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Objective pointlessness - subjective meaning

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Reflected light reflection in Zurich Oerlikon; a photograph from my light & shadow collection. I really enjoy searching, seeing and photographing new subjects and overlooked details of beauty in deserts of concrete and asphalt (despite the fact that I much prefer nature). In this photograph, taken at the skyscrapers at Hagenholzstrasse (already shown in a very different photograph a long time ago), I like how the beam of reflected light in the foreground and its reflection lead straight into the frame and add depth to the composition - ironically in a direction where there was no depth at all; I was just a step away from the glass window.

It has been a (long) while since I have written about my philosophical thoughts; not because I have stopped thinking, but rather because I have hesitated if to write at all and which thoughts to share. Often, I have the impression that too much is being written by too many people and that all I can add are platitudes.

Today's truism is following me since a long time: The nagging awareness that there is no higher, objective meaning of my life, of life in general, or of anything at all. In moments when I become aware of this objective pointlessness, a feeling of vast, all-encompassing emptiness and discouragement may overcome me. Most attempts to fill this void with meaning, for example by objective reasoning, are doomed. However, the antidote to the venomous influence of objectivity is a subjective, inward look at life.

Meaning is by definition subjective; inherently linked to the person, the subject, who seeks meaning. The meaning of my life are thus my experiences and the lasting, happy and appreciative memories they create in my brain. Such a subjective view is also comforting for less fundamental questions than the one about the meaning of life. I often pondered decisions at length because I sought the "right" decision, not realizing that it was not a question about right or wrong, but rather about personal preference.

Please do not misinterpret and conclude that all I advocate is subjectivity. This is not at all my point; after all, I am a scientist! All I am saying is that life without meaning is really quite miserable. It is my objective conclusion that the only way life can have any meaning is with a good shot of subjectivity. I think the label "subjective objectivity" would be a funny, but fitting concoction for this point of view.

It seems to me that photography may actually exemplify the quest for meaning and the importance of objectivity and subjectivity. I believe that many people photograph so that they get an object - the photograph - of their experiences. It is an attempt to attach an objective meaning to their experiences by collecting objects (pictures). On the other hand, the activity of searching, seeing, creating and capturing a photograph may be incredibly fulfilling and rewarding to photographers - to photograph, not the photograph itself, gives (subjective) meaning to their lives.

I wish yo

2014/09/14 by Unknown
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Watercolors 7: Türlersee Watercolors

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A watercolor composition from close-by: Reflections of a grey and blue winter sky on the surface of  Türlersee. As a child, we have visited Türlersee regularly, but since then I had not been there often. It is a beautiful lake between meadows and forests and there is a comfortable and short walk around the entire lake. Also check out the other six watercolor photographs!

2014/09/10 by Unknown
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Watercolors 6: Sol Duc River watercolors 1

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Our summer holiday of 2013 was a prolific and creative watercolor period. Although I had "collected" compositions of colorful and interesting reflections on all kinds of water bodies here and there before, it was during those five weeks that the watercolor theme really materialized. Today's example arose from an exciting photography session at Sol Duc River in Olympic National Park in Washington State. When I suddenly saw these colors, lights, and shades dance on the fast-flowing water, I had to photograph. For me, this composition perfectly captures the beauty and essence of that moment.

2014/09/03 by Unknown
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August 2014 print: Flooded summer meadow

First print 08/2014 (1)

Here is my print for August 2014 - for once a photograph that I have created very recently and not yet shown on my website (it has been added to the "nature details" gallery). Our summer has been unusually wet and many people have suffered not only psychologically, but also physically. In the composition above, the flowers of a summer meadow next to the Weitsee, instead of houses, have been flooded. Only the topmost parts of the purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) inflorescences poke out of the water, while the yellow loosestrife (Lysimachia vulgaris) and all the grass and herbs are inundated. I really like how the cloud reflections, particularly in the upper third of the frame, add a mystic quality to the scene. In contrast, the foreground shows the weightlessly floating blades of grass in great detail.
It is the goal of my monthly print project to print at least one photograph per month in order to improve my printing skills and also to develop my appreciation for prints. If you have a favorite photograph of mine, you are welcome to suggest it as the print for next month (and to obtain the print free of charge). Also, check out the prints that I have created so far.

2014/08/30 by Unknown
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Flora: Wild tulip - Tulipa sylvestris ssp. australis

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug Wild tulip (Tulipa sylvestris ssp. australis)

Earlier this year, we went on holiday to the south of France and I had particularly envisioned  photographing spring flowers on this trip. The plant I was most interested in finding was the wild tulip. Most of us know tulips very well because they grow in gardens and appear in flower shops in a plethora of colors and flower shapes (examples were shown in earlier posts here and here), but there are several wild forms, some of which occur in Europe (even in Switzerland). However, I had never seen a wild tulip and on our trip we did not discover a lot of wildflowers except fir one particular afternoon. We had hiked all day long through the Gorges du Verdon, on the Sentier Martel, and had almost made it back to the parking lot at Pointe Sublime, when I stumbled upon the beautiful yellow wild tulip shown here; its scientific name is Tulipa sylvestris ssp. australis.

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The petals of Tulipa sylvestris ssp. australis have a reddish line.

In the photograph above, the "classical" structure of a flower belonging to the lily family (Liliaceae; the group of plants the tulip belongs to) is easily recognized. It consists of three sepals (the outer ring of yellow "leaves") and three petals (the inner ring of yellow "leaves"), which look almost identical in most tulips. However, in the two photographs below you can see that the sepals and petals in this wild tulip differ in their color. Moving further towards the center of a typical lily flower follow six stamen, which are again arranged in an outer and an inner group of three. Finally, the stigma in the center is typically tripartite. This flower structure and also the overall shape of wild tulip plants closely resembles their cultivated descendents, but the wild relatives look like miniature versions of the bred cultivars. At least the specimen that we have encountered was much smaller, inconspicuous, and rather difficult to spot.

Sepals and petals of Tulipa sylvestris ssp. australis.

Tulipa sylvestris ssp. australis, the particular subspecies of tulip that we encountered and that is shown here, is one of over 70 species of wild tulips. Their natural range extends from Spain and Portugal all the way to China, while the largest number of different species are found in Central Asia. Tulipa sylvestris ssp. australis is characterized by the reddish color on its sepals and petals, which can easily be distinguished in the photograph above. The outside of the sepals is covered by a reddish color, while the petals only have a thin red line. 

2014/08/24 by Unknown
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Watercolors 5: Cloudy Rhône-Arve confluence

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Today's watercolor example is atypical for this series: It was captured from far away (from the Pont de la Jonction) and the striking colors are caused by the waters of the rivers Rhône and Arve in Geneva; not by reflections and distortions. At this point, the waters of the Rhône have just flown out of Lake Geneva and are therefore clear, while the cloudy waters of the Arve carry along silt and sand from the mountains in France. In this photograph, I particularly like the cloud patterns on the two rivers. On the Rhône (left), the cloudy sky is reflected, while the clear Rhône waters entering the Arve create cloud-like turbulence on the right.

2014/08/11 by Unknown
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July 2014 print: Prime Tower reflection 1

Prime Tower, Zurich, Switzerland

For once I am right on time with my monthly print. The photograph I have chosen as the July print has been shown in an earlier nearby contribution. It features an all-blue composition that combines the facade of the Prime Tower and its reflection. There are many things that I like about this photograph - the perspective, the confrontation of the "real" building and its reflection, the color, as well as the symmetry.
I really start getting used to and enjoying my monthly prints and think that it does me good in many ways. Have a look at the photographs I printed before or suggest a photograph to be printed in August!

2014/07/29 by Unknown
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My photo treasures: Eric Meola

Photograph © Eric Meola. Prismatic light in glass. Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.

The famous and well-known photographer presented today is Eric Meola, whose photography and articles I have discovered a while ago on The Luminous Landscape. By this, I have already admitted my photography illiteracy, because I had not known Eric Meola for his iconic advertisement shots, travel photographs, or portraits of Bruce Springsteen (also look HERE), but only discovered and became interested in his more recent, abstract photographs.

The colorful and abstract photographs of Eric Meola, are more about seeing and discovering compositions everywhere than about documenting iconic landmarks. The capture shown above, Prismatic light in glass, is a wonderful example. The subject of this photograph is "just" a glass wall in a Las Vegas restaurant that was transformed into this amazing color palette by reflections. If you look carefully, I think one can recognize parts of a table and chairs, but other than that there is not much hint of the location. Make sure to listen to the audio commentary accompanying this composition. Eric Meola tells the "behind the scenes" of this flashy and wild reflection photograph and you can even learn a thing or two about chromatic adaptation and how we see color under different conditions.

In addition to the strong colors and contrasts in the photograph above and in Eric Meola's photographs in general, I particularly like the way he composes, which I think is quite distinct. Instead of capturing scenes that contain interesting details, he zooms in on the detail that caught his interest. As a viewer, I know immediately what he discovered and wanted to show. The results are carefully composed, straightforward photographs with strong contrasts and colors and without superfluous elements. The tight composition detaches the subject from its surrounding and by this often renders ordinary subjects abstract.

For a long time I have disliked the keyword "abstract" to describe photographs, because, in my opinion, a photograph cannot show something which is truly abstract. However, after reading articles and interviews by Eric Meola, I have changed my mind (I recommend reading The black wall, for example). Photographs can very well be abstract in the sense that they do not aim at documenting an actual subject, but rather show an ephemeral quality - for example color under a particular condition, light and shadow patterns, or a tiny detail of a larger whole. It may be compared to a writer who  describes a particular character trait of a person independent of what that person looks like. In this sense, abstract photographs record character traits of a subject rather than its looks.

There is a plethora of interesting and educative texts by and about Eric Meola. Besides his homepage, including the audio commentaries to several other photographs, I particularly like his articles on The Luminous Landscape. I always find his explanations rich in content and full of insight and at the same time lacking any kind of dogmatism or boasting. They have a quality of humbleness, which I appreciate. His Legends Online site is very informative with short texts to many of his iconic photographs, Syracuse University, where he studied, has a long text about Eric Meola, there is of course also a wikipedia article, as well as many interviews such as the one by Chris Maher and Larry Berman, John Paul Caponigro, or FuseVisual. This is only a small collection of links; if you are interested many more websites and even books wait to be discovered.

2014/07/27 by Unknown
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Watercolors 4: Shallow water waves on Sand Beach

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Regular wave patterns on Sand Beach in Acadia National Park in Maine, USA. It is an unusual watercolor composition in many ways: The colors are soft and subdued, there is little contrast, and everything is out of focus because the photograph was captured with a long exposure (a little over 3 seconds). The growing watercolors series is shown on this blog as well as in the watercolors gallery. I hope you enjoy!

2014/07/13 by Unknown
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June 2014 print: Abstract PWC building reflections

PWC building, Zurich-Oerlikon, Switzerland  Abstract reflections in the facade of the PWC building in Zurich-Oerlikon, Switzerland.

I have just printed the photograph above - the sixth print of this year and therefore the monthly print for June. It is a composition that I have shown you almost a year ago as part of the ongoing "nearby" series. The PWC building is covered by rotating glass panes that automatically position themselves against the sun. The abstract composition comes about due to the reflection of these glass panes in the window behind - the photograph is a look into the inter-space between the panes and the windows. In my opinion, the colors of this photograph fit together harmoniously and I like the regular vertical pattern - it looks a little bit like a colorful bar code. As a supplement, there is even a hint of a moiré pattern!

If there is any photograph on my website that you would like to have as a print, please suggest it as a monthly print.

2014/07/07 by Unknown
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