Archive for 2015

Do you hang what you shoot?

Alpine sunset as seen from the Rigi.

This blog post is related to the one about "boring landscapes" that I have recently written and a somewhat similar idea was also elaborated in a podcast by Brooks Jensen. Although I like and appreciate beautiful landscapes and the outdoors, these subjects are not the ones that I seek the most as a photographer. I find it more challenging and satisfactory to search for hidden details that are only discovered by the careful observer than documenting a beautiful landscape. Interestingly though, if I had to choose a preferred photograph, or select one to be printed in a large size and hung in our apartment, I would choose a landscape composition! Strange, isn't it? Maybe a contradiction even.

Thinking about this topic made me realise that the two types of subjects refer to two completely different disciplines. For me, landscape photography is mainly about the location and moment in time where and when it is conducted. It is about an experience in the outdoors and photography is (only) a documentation of such adventures. It aims to capture the grandeur of a scene as closely (often better) as one remembers it, but the photography does not alter the experience (it may even prevent us from fully appreciating a scene). What does alter the experience is the adventure: the hiking, camping or whatever activity that was necessary to get to the spot where a particular photograph was composed. In my opinion, landscape photographs are about adventures, small or large, and such compositions exclaim "I have been there in this extraordinary moment and it looked like this!"

In contrast, the photography of hidden details is like a riddle that needs a creative solution. It is about finding a composition, at any time and in any place, that will captivate the viewer. Hidden detail photography is a quest for interesting compositions, also in places where I would never seek an adventure. It requires and practices a positive and inquisitive attitude and thus transforms my experience of the environment: it changes how and what I see, my appreciation for a particular place, and even my attitude at my life in general. Being and becoming more conscious of small details that I like makes me more appreciative overall. Most hidden detail photographs ask "Did you notice that?" and encourage me, and hopefully some of you, to experience our everyday environment more consciously.

But let's come back to the question stated in the title of this text. Apparently, often I am not shooting what I would rather hang on my walls. I long for adventures in the outdoors, for majestic views over natural wonders. Photographs that address this longing are the ones that I prefer to be hung as posters on my walls. On the other hand, as a creative activity and a complement to work and family, the photography of hidden details is incredibly satisfying and fulfilling and enriches my life.

I think this is enough about this topic for the moment. Let me know if you have other thoughts, opinions or additions. This post started with a photograph that I may enlarge and hang on a wall, and it ends with a composition that I am proud of having found.

Zig-zag reflection, Forum Chriesbach (EAWAG), Zurich.

2015/12/26 by Unknown
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Foggy christmas tree forest

The subject that lead to this photograph was a forest full of large christmas trees (spruce) and heavy fog. It is not a very original type of composition, camera movement is a widely-used technique to catch attention, but I like the result and think that the style is used to good effect in this case. For me, it embodies the essence of the scene.

The photograph was created in a forest close to where we live; it is thus also a nearby composition and part of the "trees collection". I hope you enjoy, thank you for visiting, and if you are celebrating and on holiday I wish you happy festivities!

2015/12/23 by Unknown
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Carcolors 46: White ribbons

This blog is in its least productive phase ever - I have not been posting for several weeks. But maybe today's contribution is the restart for more regular publications.

Although I am loosing interest in carcolor subjects, I just cannot stop seeing and capturing such photographs. Even when I set out with an altogether different idea, I may discover and end up photographing distorted reflections on shiny cars. This happened last weekend, on a rare photo outing in my neighbourhood.

Although I have not been posting regularly recently, maybe you would like to check out the carcolor gallery and have a look at some of the older carcolor compositions?

2015/12/15 by Unknown
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Nearby: PWC luminous space

Again a nearby composition from the PWC building (or here). This is definitely my most photographed construction; I just do not seem to get tired of it. As in other versions, the subject is the space in between the outer glass panels of the building and the actual window panes. However, this time, there are no strong shadows, but rather a space ablaze with light and only fuzzy patches of shadow. On the right are the vertical blinds, inside the building, and their reflection is on the left. I am still undecided whether or not the hint of a houseplant helps or harms the composition. At the moment, I like this view and tend to the former evaluation, but this may change. Do you have an opinion? 

2015/11/19 by Unknown
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Nearby: PWC building mirror gap

In this nearby composition of the PWC building (or here), I like the repeating reflections on the glass panes and the window behind, which make up the center of the photograph. In addition, I was of course drawn to this subject because of the duplicated, symmetric composition, a characteristic of many examples in the reflections gallery. I visit this building regularly on my photo walks, but did not discover a new composition in a while. However, recently I have found several new angles and points of view; I particularly like the one above. Henrik Fessler has just used the term "reflection photography" for such subjects, which I quite like.

2015/11/08 by Unknown
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Autumnal petioles

Petioles and bud - old and future leaves next to each other.

The other day, I have lamented that simply beautiful landscapes bore me at the moment. In contrast, what I currently enjoy is discovering beauty in overlooked and unnoticed details. The compositions on display here combine this quest with my adoration of fall colors and fondness of regular, geometric patterns.
Nearby where we live, several rows of maple trees turn beautifully red, orange and yellow every autumn.  There is obvious beauty in these trees and in each leaf, but this year I was looking for more hidden subjects. It must have been strange observing me staring lengthily at trees and leaves from an extremely close distance. I was trying to focus (literally) on colorful leaf petioles that provided regular, contrasty patterns. The flashy fall leaves only served as back- and foreground, forming blurry blotches of color. It has become a small, surprisingly homogenous series, I think. I hope you enjoy!

Looking up and through fall colored leves

Shades of red and orange

Autumnal petioles and veins

More autumnal petioles and veins

Petiole crossing

Bud and autumnal petioles in a haze of orange and red

2015/11/05 by Unknown
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(Boring) fall landscapes

Lödensee, three-lake area, Ruhpolding, Chiemgau, Germany

Today, I am sharing three recently created fall landscape photographs and a panorama view from the Sonntagshorn (the highest peak in the Chiemgau region of Bavaria, on the border to Austria). The three landscape compositions are not only from my favourite season, but were also taken in one of my most preferred locations - the three-lakes area close to Ruhpolding (also the starting point for our hiking to the Sonntagshorn). I always enjoy walking around these lakes, preferably in the morning or evening (not in summer because there are too many swimmers). The valley, forests, summits, and lakes meld into a perfect landscape; only the road passing through is a source of (distant) noise (but it allows easy access). For me, this valley is a place and source peacefulness, tranquility, and regeneration. However, I am actually not that much fond of the landscape photographs that I take there or anywhere at the moment. They seem boring in a way. They may show a beautiful scenery, but these photographs are not the particular kind discoveries that I am seeking. At least at the moment, I am much more satisfied with intimate landscape and close-up compositions, with hidden details that are only discovered if one looks carefully and intentionally.
I will show you such compositions in the next post. Today, these boring fall landscapes must suffice. Have a nice weekend!

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugMittersee, three-lake area, Ruhpolding, Chiemgau, Germany

Weitsee, three-lake area, Ruhpolding, Chiemgau, Germany

View towards the Berchtesgaden alps, Sonntagshorn, Chiemgau, Germany

2015/10/30 by Unknown
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Cordial fall greetings

Rocky heart with autumn leaves.

It is time to share a few autumn color compositions - to celebrate my favourite season! The four examples here have been created during the last couple of weeks (the second capture already in summer) and all show heart-like shapes that I have discovered in different locations. Some of them are rather large and obvious, others tiny and inconspicuous; and the heart-shape created by the underwater poplar leaf was only discovered by chance. I am rather stingy with words today, but hope that you enjoy the photographs.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugTiny heart silique

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugOverflooded poplar heart

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugDried iris heart

2015/10/18 by Unknown
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Watercolors 19: Seattle great wheel reflections

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The watercolor composition above was discovered on the same trip as Watercolors 18, but a little further up the coast, in Seattle. In contrast to most of my watercolor photographs, it is a man-made structure that is being distorted and reflected: Seattle's great wheel. The waves and ripples multiply and distort the reflection and thus create countless versions of this attraction. This bewildering display and the overall color and mood of the composition remind me of another Seattle reflection photograph of mine: Spacy Space Needle (Carcolor 33), which features reflections and distortions of Seattle's landmark tower.

In contrast to many of my photographs, this creation lacks a regular, geometric pattern and may seem rather chaotic. In my opinion, the dark grey spots, devoid of any great wheel reflection, anchor the composition. In particular the larger, oval shape in the center of the frame attracts the eye. In addition, there is a clear direction from the lower right corner, with countless great wheel reflections, to the upper left corner, where the reflections thin out. Nevertheless, this example is rather distinct and different from the ones shown in the watercolor gallery so far.

2015/10/15 by Unknown
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My photo treasures: Nenad Saljic

Photograph © Nenad Saljic. Twilight - Clouds.

Traveling is not only an occasion to experience foreign cities and unknown landscapes, but also to discover "new" artists. While preparing for a trip one may look at photographs from a potential destination and while on site we may come across a tiny gallery or local artists while strolling through alleyways leisurely. Both types of discoveries happened to me before and during our summer holiday in the Swiss mountains of the Wallis.

While preparing for our trip to Zermatt, I have come across the fantastic photographs of Nenad Saljic, whom I unfortunately did not know before. Interestingly, he managed to catch and keep my interest with only one subject: The Matterhon! Nenad Saljic is a photographer from Split, in Croatia, with an interesting résumé. By education, he is an economist, even holds a PhD degree in that discipline, was a professor, and has spent many years in the world of business. However, he has also been a mountaineer, caver, and photographer since his childhood and now follows these passions (again); mostly the latter one, I think.

Nenad Saljic must have been most profoundly impressed by the Matterhorn, for he kept returning to Zermatt twice a year for several years and created thousands of photographs. He drove there (by car from Split) in summer and winter, waited during the day and at night, observed clouds appearing and disappearing. The results of these efforts have been shown in exhibitions (at the end of october at Kunst Zürich), in galleries, online, and now also in a wonderful book entitled "MATTERHORN - Portrait of a mountain". I particularly like the composition above, because it shows the Matterhorn with a rather unusual shape. The north face is completely veiled and thus changes the appearance of the peak quite drastically.

The Matterhorn project of Nenad Saljic perfectly illustrates the value of series and themes; in particular for such an often-photographed subject as the Matterhorn. There exists a plethora of fantastic Matterhorn photographs created by photographers from all over the world. But the series of Nenad Saljic is the result of many years of closely observing, waiting, and photographing, which elevates his work, in my opinion, into a whole different league. One (lucky) single shot is much less meaningful and admirable (for me) than a series of dedicated, coherent photographs on a unified topic.

Nenad Saljic is of course not only a Matterhorn photographer, but has and is also pursuing other topics. If you are interested, head over to his website and look at the Petrified, Birth of a Ship, or Palagruza galleries. His work has been featured on many websites (e.g., Slate, Amateur Photographer, Mouth Magazine, My Modern Met, additional reviews), has won awards, is part of several collections, and can be admired in the real world, at the moment (until October 10th) in Zermatt, in galleries and in "Matterhorn - Portrait of a mountain" (summarized here). Myself, I hope to obtain a close look at Nenad Saljic's Matterhorn compositions at Kunst Zürich 15, an art fair where Nenad Saljic will have a solo show (October 29th - November 1st, ABB Hall 550
 Ricarda-Huch-Strasse, 8050 Zürich; nearby where I live).

2015/10/04 by Unknown
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Watercolors 18: Shallow water ripples

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Already the entire year I somehow lack inspiration and motivation for blogging; often I am too tired in the evening, more interested in work-related topics, or not interested in anything at all. At the moment, I try to overcome my inertia by working on photographs on my hard drive and by finishing projects. First, I try to closely inspect, finalise, and conclude the watercolor collection and thus keep showing you more such compositions.

The version here is, in my opinion, similar to the fourth composition shown much earlier, even though the two photographs have been taken at the opposite coast of the United States. "Shallow water waves on Sand Beach" was captured in Maine, while the example here was composed in Oregon; at Smugglers Cove. The composition above may seem technically flawed (out of focus), incredibly boring, or even banal. Yet, it is a photograph I still like, even though it has been taken over two years ago. It has thus successfully stood my test of time.

If you have looked at some of my photographs, you probably realise that I like patterns and intimate views, details, instead of sweeping vistas. In today's photograph, I particularly like the regular, angled waves, the overall harmonious color and mood; even though it is much less colorful than I often prefer. For the attentive inspector, there is even subtle hint of the sandy ground that is shimmering through. If you want, also have a look at the entire watercolor gallery with other recent and older examples of colorful reflections on bodies of water.

2015/09/29 by Unknown
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Watercolors 17: Impressionist birch trees

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Although I have recently posted several times about our summer holiday (and the GX8 adventure), I should officially recommence my regular photo articles after the "summer break"; again with a watercolor composition. Today's watercolor photograph is an early version: bare birch tree trunks reflected in a shallow (artificial) lake.

For me, this composition does not really look like a photograph, but rather resembles a painting. Photographs like this depend much less on resolution or other camera specifications than traditional landscape captures, for example, because they are not about sharpness and detail. As long as I do not print this photograph very large, which I won't, this watercolor composition seems perfectly fine to me; despite the tininess of the camera (and its sensor) it was captured with.

If you want, head over to the watercolor gallery and look at the other recent examples - there are two more photographs (compositions 15 and 16), which have only been presented in the course of the GX8 adventure.

2015/09/12 by Unknown
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GX8 adventure conclusions

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugSunrise on the Bishorn in the Turtmanntal, Switzerland.

It is time to conclude my GX8 adventure - I have written too much about machines and too little about photographs lately. In my defence, I did not plan this adventure; it was mostly a response to the exceptional customer friendliness I experienced (which I have provoked a little). So here are my final GX8 impressions; both as text and in the form of photographs.
Before picking up the GX7 and GX8 for the first time, just a few weeks ago, I had never worked with a rangefinder-style camera. Luckily, no getting used to was necessary at all and I adopted the “new” (for me) ergonomics immediately - they are of course much more sensible.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugAster alpinus (Alpine aster, Alpenaster)

The Lumix GX7 and GX8 both share functions and features that I did not know and seek, but appreciated immediately. The tilting electronic viewfinder (EVF) and the electronic shutter are the most noteworthy for me. The upgrade to the newer model brings small improvements or different design solutions that may require getting used to, but that do not make a big difference overall (different kinds of dials and switches and supposedly a more durable and protected body). A few specifics are of course very different. The GX7 is clearly smaller and lighter than the GX8, but this is, in my opinion, a double-edged sword. Smaller hands, those of our children for example, clearly prefer the GX7, but my paws (which are not that big) favour the GX8. Although there is not a single feature that I am missing in the GX7, there are a few that I strongly prefer in the GX8. The EVF, for example, is a pure delight. It is so much larger and more “realistic”, that it is almost impossible using the GX7 and GX8 side by side. Just as the EVF, the rear screens are miles apart as well. While the GX7 screen is only tilting, the GX8 display is fully articulated; like the one on the GH1. I cannot emphasize enough how much I like this feature. When I photograph, I mainly use the EVF and the rear screen is “closed”. Only with the camera on a tripod or at low angles, I am using the display. I much prefer having the screen tucked away, not disturbing me and neither collecting scratches and marks from my fingers and face. Finally, maybe unimportant, the GX8 lacks a built-in flash - a welcome omission for me! 

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugRainy day, Brig, Switzerland.

A camera review is normally expected to include a pixel peeping section with quantitative measures and comparisons of all sorts. I gladly leave this to the many professional reviewers. As far as I am concerned, the image quality of all current m4/3 cameras is sufficient for my needs, because I neither print very large nor expose my photographs for very long. There is no reason to expect the GX8 to be an exception. Although it has a slightly higher resolution (about 4 Megapixels more; 20.3 instead of 16 MP), this is hardly decisive for preferring the GX8 over the GX7 - the above-mentioned features are more important. Irrespective of which camera you own or buy, you should be happy; both machines are capable of producing photographs with a technical quality that suffices most.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugSempervivum arachnoideum (Cobweb houseleek, Spinnweb-Hauswurz)

2015/09/05 by Unknown
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Intimate Stellisee composition

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugStellisee, Zermatt, Switzerland.

My most preferred composition of our summer hiking holiday in the Swiss alps was already shown in the last blog post - Fly and morning dew - so this can only be the runner up. Already before pressing the shutter, I liked this composition and still do. The regular pattern and orientation - from the front right to the back left - is one of the elements that I like. While the composition only depicts a small scene, an intimate landscape, the reflection on the water, towards the top of the frame, hints at the surrounding mountain landscape (the ice covered summits of the Monte Rosa massif) and the bright blue sky. However, what satisfies my most is the fact that it is a "different view" of an incredibly much-photographed subject. Stellisee is one of two small lakes (the other being Riffelsee) that offer an unobstructed view of the Matterhorn. If you search for photographs of this iconic mountain top, you will find countless sunset and sunrise shots of the Matterhorn and its reflection in these two lakes. I was hoping to discover an interesting composition at these two lakes, but did not intend to repeat one of those classic evening or morning photos. I am satisfied with the result, even though I can imagine that this photograph is less appealing to you than to myself - but maybe, or hopefully, some of you do like this capture.

2015/08/28 by Unknown
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GX8 adventure: Limiting choice

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugEdelweiss (Leontopodium alpinum), Turtmanntal, Switzerland.

Choosing a camera, or anything really, can be a daunting task nowadays. We have far too many choices - different formats (sizes of sensors), different brands, several camera models within each brand, and then we also need lenses, for which we have even more choices (at least for some formats). We can randomly buy what is the easiest to get, purchase what we already know, or try to make an informed decision. Here are the criteria based on which I limit my choices in order to make it easier to eventually decide what to buy.

Concerning the camera format, I have made my decision (more or less informed, sometimes doubted) many years ago: micro four thirds (m4/3) provides, in my opinion, the best compromise of size, image quality, versatility, lens choice, and price. Only if I wanted to print very large (which I don't) or perform very long exposure photography (which I do not either), a larger sensor would be more appropriate. As sensors become better, this situation can only change for the better.

However, even within the m4/3 realm, there are too many cameras to choose from; about 20 at the moment. Do I really have to consider all of these cameras? Of course not. My two "must have" criteria are the following:
  1. Possibility to mount the Mirex tilt-shift adapter
  2. A built-in viewfinder
Unfortunately (or luckily as it reduces the choice tremendously), these two simple criteria exclude all current Olympus cameras and I am down to only six Panasonic Lumix cameras (five actually, as I do not consider the GM5). The secondary criteria are less defined and somewhat arbitrary. They include (in the order of importance) size and weight, viewfinder quality, mobility of the screen, and the absence of "unwanted" features. Since I really liked the GH1, I am drawn towards the GH3 or GH4, but these cameras are targeted at the videographer and are also rather large and heavy. Although the G7/G70 is newer than the GX7, it is also rather large and chunky as compared to the elegant shape of the rangefinder-style GX cameras. Consequently, as long as the GX8 is unavailable, the GX7 is my choice. The GX8 is larger, heavier, and more expensive, but otherwise a better camera in almost every aspect. Between these two cameras, it is a difficult choice. If I did not have a camera yet, I would likely buy the GX8, but I do have the GX7 now and I am happy enough with this tool. I will most likely wait until I can justify a second camera (or until I drown the GX7 in a river ...). 

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugThe GX8 is definitely small and light enough to be carried all day long on strenuous hikes; here on the Schweifegrat in the Binntal, Switzerland.

2015/08/20 by Unknown
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Fly and morning dew

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugA fly is waiting for the morning dew to evaporate, Val Ferret, Switzerland.

One of the big advantages of camping is the fact that I can get up earlier than the rest of our family, go on a photography walk for one or two hours, and then we can still have breakfast together. The Camping des Glaciers in Val Ferret is ideal in this respect (in every other aspect as well - a great campground!), because it is located outside the village and surrounded by meadows and rivers with plenty of subjects to be discovered; especially for macro and detail photography.
At the moment, the photograph above is my most preferred creation of our recent vacation (and of those taken with the GX8). I have searched for and tried different compositions of blades of grass with drops of morning dew. It was only in the viewfinder, that I discovered the tiny fly (only  a few millimeters long) that adds, in my opinion, the icing on the cake in this photograph. The camera was positioned amidst the wet grass and some of the blades were just in front of the camera, others further in the back. I really like the horizontal, regular structure, the light, and the perfectly sharp fly. This photograph is actually one of the cases where a larger display is better - it looks definitely more impressive on my computer screen.
The composition has been added to my "macro gallery", where you can find different kind of close-up nature shots; some of which were taken a long time ago (I did a lot of macro photography in my youth).

2015/08/19 by Unknown
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Four Matterhorn compositions

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugMatterhorn at dusk, with the route of the first ascent illuminated by 50 lamps (not all are visible; a red one should indicate the location where four of the first climbers fell); Zermatt, Switzerland.

Before our recent holiday, I had never been to Zermatt and only seen the Matterhorn from far away summits. For four days, I could see it from my bed - what a view to wake up with!
This year is a special year for Zermatt and the Matterhorn, because it was 150 years ago, in 1865, that it has been (semi-) successfully climbed the first time (four out of seven climbers died on the descent). It was one of the last 4000 m summits of the alps to be conquered! Although photographs of this remarkable summit are omnipresent, at least in Switzerland and especially during this year, the sight in person, from Zermatt, is still irresistible. And despite the many photographs and little chance to contribute a new and interesting composition, I "had to" photographs this iconic mountain. Sometimes it is not important how many people have already photographed a subject, but just a pleasure and wish to do it yourself.
At the moment and in honour of the anniversary of the first ascent, a light installation traces the route of the first climbers with 50 solar-powered led lamps, which added a surprising element to the composition above. At dusk, the lamps light up one by one, for three minutes all lamps shine, and then they are switched off. The spectacle is repeated several times during the night and is, in my opinion, a really felicitous and elegant project. The photograph above is my most preferred capture of this light spectacle and by far the Matterhorn composition that I like the best (of those that I created). Note that not all lamps are visible from this point of view; most notably a red lamp that indicates the place where the four climbers fell down.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugTwo matterhorns - the view from our bedroom (only for four days, unfortunately)!

The second photograph, above, is a composition, that I had imagined before, but that did not work out as envisioned. Either the summit was hidden by a cloud, I forgot, or I did not find a suitable reflective surface to photograph two Matterhorns in one photograph. The composition shown here is the best, but I am certain that it could be improved significantly. Finally, the sunset and cloud compositions that follow are, in my opinion, decent Matterhorn documents. I like the positioning and dynamics that the clouds create in the last picture; it seems to me that the clouds dwarf the summit. All photographs except the first one have been taken with the Lumix GX8.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug The last sun rays reach the summit and the top of the north face of the Matterhorn; Zermatt, Switzerland.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugClouds blowing around the Matterhorn; Zermatt, Switzerland.

2015/08/13 by Unknown
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GX8 adventure: Small enough and good enough

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugView from the Üsseres Barrhorn (Turtmanntal, Switzerland); the highest hiking summit in the alps (3610 m). The view stretches over the main valley of the Wallis (left of the small secondary summit in the foreground) towards Furka pass. At the left horizon are the Bernese mountains, to the right the beginning of the Wallis alps.

Most of the time, I am an "also photographer": The use of my camera is linked to other activities such as family trips and holidays, commuting, business trips. Only occasionally do I set out for dedicated photography outings. Often, "real photography" and "family photography" happen during the same trip. As an "also photographer" I seek a camera that is small enough to be carried around all the time, while for real photography image quality is more important. A situation that many enthusiast photographers are probably in.

For many years, we had a camera for "family photography" and another one, supposedly better one, for my "real photography". The family camera was usually a digital point-and-shoot camera. The "real camera" was first an analog Konica SLR, then a XPan (now sold), for a long time the Lumix GH1 (now destroyed), and shortly the A7r. Interestingly, the only one of these cameras that became THE camera for everything was the GH1. Why? Because it was small enough to be carried around all the time and good enough for my "real photography" (although I mistakenly doubted that sometimes).

Once the Lumix GH1 became the camera for almost everything, carrying a second, "better" camera (e.g., the A7r) became really a burden and contradictory. After all, the main argument for the micro four thirds (m4/3) format is the small size and weight of the cameras and particularly the lenses. How does this relate to the GX8, or the GX7? For me, there are no better cameras for everyday photography than the GX8 or the GX7. Using the GX7 is, at least to me, more similar to the GH1, but in many aspects it is of course much better. In contrast, the GX8 handles more like the XPan or A7r. The Lumix GX8 is the "better" camera in the body of a compact family camera. The GX7 is certainly a good enough camera in an even smaller body.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugEpilobium angustifolium (Fireweed, Schmalblättriges Weidenröschen), Val Ferret, Switzerland.

2015/08/10 by Unknown
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GX8 adventure: Customer friendliness

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugSunrise on the Matterhorn, Zermatt, Switzerland.

This blog post is the first of a series on our recent holiday and on my Lumix GX8 adventure, which has just ended yesterday by posting the camera at our local post office. For 18 days I have been photographing with this exciting new camera in the Swiss mountains and valleys, in the rain (rarely) and sun (most of the time), in the cold as well as in hot weather.

As I have accidentally destroyed my most preferred digital camera so far, my beloved Lumix GH1, just before our summer holiday, I needed a replacement quickly, within a week. In my despair, I filled out the contact form on Panasonic's website, explained the problem and asked if they could sell me a GX8 prematurely. It seemed a hopeless trial balloon. I was so devoid of expectation that I actually bought a used GX7 already; after all it was the last weekend before our holiday and one was on offer close by. It was thus a surprise, when a few days later a friendly person from Panasonic replied that they cannot directly sell to customers, but that they were of course willing to help me. They offered to loan a GX8 to me - two weeks were fine. Woow! No conditions, signatures or anything; just a few friendly emails and the next day the GX8 had already arrived.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugReflections at the entrance of ETH Zurich, Switzerland.

To clear out any potential misunderstanding: I am not turning my blog into a review site and neither have I become an employe of Panasonic, nor received any form of payment for these posts. However, this overwhelming example of customer friendliness motivated me to photograph and encouraged me to write about my experiences and equipment choices. In upcoming posts I will thus write much more about equipment than I usually do, but I will also use these post to share photographs from our recent trip in the Swiss mountains (that were mostly taken with the GX8, but also with the GX7).

Overall, both cameras, the Lumix GX7 and GX8 are a pleasure to use (the children clearly preferred the GX7, myself rather the GX8). Having worked with a Lumix camera for many years, it was intuitive getting used to the new models, setting up the menu and buttons to my liking, and starting to photograph immediately. To summarise my GX8 adventure: the Lumix GX8 is clearly my most preferred digital camera yet (and the GX7 is very nice too) and I am still amazed by Panasonic's friendliness and accessibility!

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugAstrantia major (Great Masterwort, Grosse Sterndolde)

2015/08/09 by Unknown
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Watercolor 14 & summer break

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The watercolor composition above was created recently, on a wonderful evening at the Lake of Zurich. Our son just had his last day of primary school ever and we "celebrated" the occasion by swimming in the lake, eating at the lake, and with a sunset pedalo tour on the lake. It was warm, but not too hot, everybody was happy (and not fighting) - it was really "just" perfect. In the photograph above, I enjoy the smooth and soft-looking surface of the water. To me, it rather looks like a fabric than a liquid.

Photography-wise, it is not an easy year for me. I struggle writing regularly for this blog, feel in between photography projects in a rather unproductive way, our printer is still producing ugly spots and lines all over the sheet (the reason for the missing monthly print), and I keep destroying my photography equipment. I have just permanently put down my trusted and beloved Lumix GH1 - after many years of regular use. The watercolor composition above is one of the last captures of this camera (no, I did not drown it in the Lake of Zurich, but in a much more shallow body of water in a most embarrassing way). My little "photography time" has recently been used to finally create at least one of two planned family photo books (for last year!). Since we will also go on holiday, I am now taking a (hopefully creative) summer break for this blog and only "return" writing here in a couple of weeks, sometimes in August.

In the meantime, we will spend a summer holiday in the Swiss mountains, for which I have received an exciting new camera as a temporary replacement (I will definitely report on this most unexpected and most welcome occasion). I am looking forward to spending a few days with the family, to hiking, and of course to creating photographs. 

2015/07/22 by Unknown
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Carcolors 45: Tarpaulin reflection

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Today's carcolor photograph is the first that does not feature a shiny car body, but rather the dull, grey, scratched tarpaulin of a truck. Isn't it amazing what a blue sky and side view can do to such a boring motive? For comparison, the frontal view of the exact same truck, captured at the same time, is shown at the bottom.

I still have a few more carcolor compositions ready to be shown, but I am loosing interest in this topic. The project has certainly passed its most creative phase and it now seems rather like adding to a collection. Although I am still heading out to search for interesting carcolor reflections sometimes, it is more a habit, mostly because I know where to look for these subjects. On a recent such outing, I had a unique experience: For the first time ever I have almost been beaten by the owner of a car I tried to photograph - he told me that I was violating his privacy (the car was parked in a street, probably on a no parking spot). Shocking, isn't it? The guy was completely beyond reason, but luckily, a young couple just passed by and the resolute young woman prevented the attack. I must admit, that I do not take such events lightly; they shake me up and keep me troubled for a while. However, now, I am mostly amazed at how angry and full of hate the lives of some people apparently are.

Enough negative vibes - I will of course not show a photograph with such an unfavourable association (it was not good anyway). The example shown here is much more interesting - as are the other examples shown in the carcolor gallery (and nobody complained the capture of any of these photographs).

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2015/07/05 by Unknown
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Flora: Serapias

Today's Flora contribution is not about a particular species of flower, but an entire genus: Serapias or tongue orchids. At least 15 species of Serapias are distinguished, which are all characterised by a long, tongue-like lip and a "head" or "helmed" that is formed by two petals and a sepal. The overall structure and aspect of these beautiful flowers is so unique and recognisable that it may be justified treating them together. In addition, and to my shame (I am a biologist after all), I may have misidentified some of the species. If you are a Serapias specialist and have something to comment or correct, please let me know! To my defence, there is even a scientific reason why some Serapias individuals may be difficult to identify correctly: The colour of the flowers is often quite variable, there a closely resembling subspecies, and different species easily hybridise and thus create intermediate forms.

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Serapias lingua (?)

Species in the genus Serapias are native to Europe and most frequent around the Mediterranean; all the way from Spain to Greece, and Turkey. Apparently, these orchids are named after the god Serapis, which was promoted as a deity to unify the Greek and Egyptians in the reign of Ptolemy I  of Egypt (in the 3rd century BC; it is not obvious to me how this may be related to these orchids).

Although some Serapias species may grow tall and be easily spotted, many species are tiny and hidden within the grass and undergrowth (especially S. parviflora). Often we have been standing next to a couple of tiny pinkish Serapias flowers without noticing them at once. Luckily, with time we have become better at spotting them. To me, these orchids signify holidays in sunny and warm mediterranean climate. I have only ever seen Serapias species during spring vacations, at the end of April and beginning of May, in Corsica, the Provence and Côte Azur. All the photographs shown here were created this spring somewhere between Aix-en-Provence and Cannes.

Serapias vomeracea (?)

Serapias vomeracea (?)

Serapias neglecta (?)

Serapias neglecta (?)

Serapias parviflora (?)

Serapias lingua (?)

Serapias lingua (?)

Serapias lingua (?)

2015/06/24 by Unknown
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