Christmas market time – at least in Germany

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Dec 16 2014
Bautzner Wenzelsmarkt

Wenzelsmarkt in Bautzen / Saxony

 

Hey, I’m back from my trip to Germany, where I visited with family and friends and met my granddaughter Tarja for the first time. I spent a little time in my home town Bautzen, in the city of Freiberg, and as well in the city of Dresden. They are gorgeous places but you probably can’t go wrong with any old town in the state of Saxony during Christmas time. They all have a Christmas market and each is a little different and has its own character. The “Wenzelsmarkt” in Bautzen goes back to 1384 and is possibly the oldest Christmas market in Germany. According to the city’s website 90 traders and restaurants offer their goods, food, and drinks on the market this year.

Frauenkirche

Christmas market at Dresdner Frauenkirche

 

Dresden, the capitol of Saxony, has more than one market and the most famous one is of course the “Dredner Striezelmarkt”. The photo above was made at the “Weihnachtsmarkt an der Frauenkirche”, which takes place around the monumental Baroque building of the rebuilt Dresdner Frauenkirche.

 

Big waves

1 Comment | This entry was posted on Dec 05 2014
North Pierhead Lighthouse

Nikon D300s, Nikkor 24-120mm / f4

 

I was supposed to sit in an airplane to Germany while I’m writing this but a strike of the Lufthansa pilots grounded me for another day. Take off from the American continent will be hopefully Friday night instead…

Time to post another photo from our Thanksgiving weekend on the Door Peninsula in Wisconsin. Saturday we had another proof that Lake Michigan is not just a pond… ;-)… Strong winds created big waves that could compete with any ocean in the world at one of our favorite spots on the peninsula, North Pierhead Lighthouse…

 

In search for the right perspective

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Dec 01 2014
tracks in ice

Nikon D300s, Nikkor 24-120mm / f4

 

We discovered the story telling potential of this setting immediately after getting out of the car in Potawatomi State Park along the Sturgeon Bay. The track of broken ice from the island to shore, the reflections, and the overall mood just had an effect on us. However, I scratched my head shortly after starting to work the subject. I just could not find a perspective that satisfied me totally. One of the reasons is that I’m not a big fan of bare branches sticking into the frame from any direction. The canoe needed to be within the picture, because it is an important part of the story, and the curves in the ice are the lines in the story telling. I used my feet for zooming and ups and downs, but sometimes it is just a little detail that makes the difference between a great image, just a decent one, and a goner. (I have not seen Joan’s photo’s yet. She may have kicked my butt… ;-)   )

The blue toned black & white seems to reflect the mood of this gray winter day better than any other finishing I tried. Sometimes it takes me a year or two to find the final version of a photo. But this is ok, it is part of the artistic process and part of the learning curve…

 

Found another stavkirke

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Nov 28 2014
Boynton Chapel

Nikon D300s, Sigma 10-20mm / f4-5.6

 

I have visited almost all stave churches (stavkirke) in Norway during frequent visits in the 90’s because I’m fascinated by their architecture. There are a few replicas here in the US and a year ago Joan and I visited the one on Washington Island just north of the Door Peninsula. You can click HERE to see my post from last year about this beautiful stavkirke.

Just the night before Thanksgiving we found out that another chapel in this architectural style is located not far from Bailey Harbor. There was no question that we had to find it.

Boynton Chapel is a small wooden chapel built in a late 12th-century Norwegian stave church (stavkirke) style. Handcrafted by Winifred and Donald Boynton between 1939 and 1947 on the grounds of their summer residence, the chapel is modeled after the Garmo stave church at Maihaugen in Lillehammer, Norway. A popular site for weddings and a favorite stop among Door County tourists, the chapel contains 41 hand-painted frescoes and numerous exceptionally fine carved-wood furnishings. (source: website Lawrence University, Appleton WI)

The chapel is at Björklunden, a 425-acre estate on the Lake Michigan shore that belongs to Lawrence University, Appleton. It is in a very picturesque setting and with all the snow around we made of course quite a few clicks with our cameras. Boynton Chapel is closed in the winter for visitors, so we were not able to see the interior, but this didn’t spoil our experience with this wonderful piece of architecture.

 

Self assignment

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Nov 27 2014
Ice sculpture - Lake Michigan

Nikon D300s, Sigma 10-20mm / f4-5.6

 

There are definitely some reasons why we keep coming back to the Door peninsula in Lake Michigan in November and one of them is that we have it almost for ourselves. It is a touristy place in the summer but at this time of the year not too many people find the way up here. One of our favorite hikes starts at Cave Point County Park and leads on top of the rocky bluffs along the lake shore into White Fish Dunes State Park. Beside enjoying the crisp and clear air after an excellent Thanksgiving meal we watched out for ice sculptures that have been shaped by the waves and the surf of the lake. We have done this every time during the last three years and it is never the same experience.

I gave myself an assignment today by using only the wide angle zoom Sigma 10-20mm / f4-5.6 for all photos. I was looking for a way to challenge creativity on a subject I have worked on before under similar circumstances. Where is the challenge? The easy way is to zoom in with a longer lens, like the Nikkor 24-120, f/4, because the winter weather with ice and snow on the ground forbids to get really close to the edge of the bluffs. A fall into the icy water might be fatal. The challenge was finding the places where subject, light, and a safe way to make the shot coincided. You can certainly make a bet on the fact that the most interesting ice formations are right at the edge of the bluffs. It is obvious that the second photo wasn’t so difficult to make but above the bluffs it was a different game. Needless to say that cropping beyond keeping the horizon line straight was not an option for today’s assignment. I like to rework known photo subjects or situations with different technical means, during shooting as well as in the post process. I believe it is a valid way to improve… Give it a try! :-)

Ice sculpture - Lake Michigan 2

Nikon D300s, Sigma 10-20mm / f4-5.6

 

Recharging the batteries

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Nov 27 2014

Bailey Harbor

 

We wish all of our family and friends here in the US a Happy Thanksgiving! Joan and I went again to Door County, the peninsula surrounded by Lake Michigan and the Green Bay in northeast Wisconsin. We try to ”recharge our batteries” by relaxing in a cabin, eating good food, and doing some hiking and photography.

After our arrival last night we went down to the lake shore in Baileys Harbor and watched for a few minutes how the magic of colors unfolded during sunset. Nothing spectacular but still worth a click…

 

Nature clicks # 247 – Woodland Vole

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Nov 23 2014
Woodland Vole

Nikon D300s, Sigma 50-500mm / f4.5-6.3 APO DG HSM, Nikon SB 800 speed light,

 

This photo, of what I believe is a Woodland Vole, can create mixed feelings in our house. We knew already since the late summer that the critter is back in our yard after a couple years of absence. The recent development of a system of underground runways just below the grass surface, and even some mounds, is a good indicator. The damage in the yard can be tremendous and Joan is already afraid that none of the flower bulbs in the ground will survive. The diet of a Woodland Vole is diverse and according to several sources it includes roots, bulbs, tubers, nuts, seeds, and even animal material.

I saw the vole for the first time November 17th, a day before this photo was made eating under one of our bird feeders. I kept watching the spot and finally was able to make this one image. I “nuked” the shot with the flash since the natural light was not sufficient anymore in the early evening. It is not really flattering, although it is a sharp image, but I wished I had reduced the output of the flash light a little more. Too much work in post processing… Well, next time… I’m glad I can add this critter to my Iowa wildlife gallery.

 

Colorado landscapes: Last call ;-)

1 Comment | This entry was posted on Nov 19 2014
Maroon Bells 2

Nikon D300s, Nikkor 24-120mm / f4, @120mm

 

We did not see the peak of the fall colors in the Rocky Mountains during the first half of the month but with every day during our journey in September we saw the winter coming closer. The first snow on the summits, and finally on our little tent, left no doubt about that winter approaches earlier in the higher altitudes than here in Iowa. Colorado is a very pretty state and I’m certain you can’t go wrong at any time of the year to create some photos or just enjoy the wonderful nature there.

I like to conclude my little photo series about landscape and wildlife in southern and central Colorado with today’s images. I hope you enjoyed it and if someone picked up a tip or two about how to shoot and where to shoot, I will be more than happy. :-) Thank you to all of you, especially my friends on Facebook, who always encouraged me to keep going and publishing a new blog post during the last two months. I really appreciate your support.

Fall colors at Maroon Bells

Nikon D300s, Sigma 150mm / f2.8 APO EX DG HSM

 

Colorado Railroad Museum, part 2

1 Comment | This entry was posted on Nov 18 2014
Railroad Museum 4

Nikon D300s, Nikkor 24-120mm / f4

 

A few more about Colorado’s railroad heritage…

Railroad Museum 5

Nikon D300s, Nikkor 24-120mm / f4

Railroad Museum 6

Nikon D300s, Carl Zeiss Distagon T*, 35mm / f2 ZF

 

Colorado wildlife: The Sage Thrasher – a first sighting for us

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Nov 15 2014
Sage Thrasher

Nikon D300s, Sigma 50-500mm / f4.5-6.3 APO DG HSM

 

Traveling through bird habitats that are different than what we have here around the Mississippi Valley will necessarily lead to new encounters. The dry sagebrush plaines in the San Luis Valley, not far from Great Sand Dunes National Park, are the ideal place for the Sage Thrasher. There they can find insects, other invertebrates, and berries on the ground and in vegetation.

We saw them on fences, wooden posts, and in the bushes along small irrigation channels in this high-elevation desert. Needless to say that this was a first sighting for us and it took me a while to identify this bird. The Sage Thrasher is the smallest of the thrashers. Generic studies suggest that they are more closely related to the mockingbirds than true thrashers (source: iBird Pro app).

 

Colorado Railroad Museum, part 1

2 Comments | This entry was posted on Nov 14 2014

Railroad Museum 1

 

The tip came already some time ago from my German photography friend Maren Arndt. Don’t miss the Railroad Museum in Golden, if you are in this part of Colorado! Well, we finally used the last day of our journey through the southern and central part of Colorado for a visit. The kids were already back in school and so there were not very many visitors beside us. Good for photography in such a place! ;-)

Railroad Museum 2

 

I grew up in Germany traveling by trains that were pulled by steam locomotives. The smell of smoke and coal and the noise of the steam engine are deep in my memories. As a kid I often stood together with my grandpa Willy Stock on a bridge, west of the train station in my home town Bautzen, and we watched the busy traffic in the train yard. I don’t know if this had somehow influenced my decision to become a mechanic, and later a design engineer, but the technical and logistic side of railroads have always fascinated me. Going to the Colorado Railroad Museum stirred up all these good memories and I felt a little like a kid in a candy store…

Railroad Museum 3

 

I could bubble here about the technical aspects to make photos in a museum, but who cares? The bottom line for my style of photography is to keep the elements out of the frame that cry “museum”. I just want my images to tell the story about railroad heritage.

A last word about the people that work or volunteer in the railroad museum. We hear these days a lot about passion, passion in life, passion about photography, you name it. Everybody we had a conversation with in the museum, from the people at the reception desk and in the museum store to the engineers that kept some of the locomotives running, they all had a spark in their eyes, the spark of passion for railroad heritage… Love it!