Dresden - photo walk at night

Dresden 1  

I like to show you a few more pictures of the nightly Dresden. Rebuilt after the city was nearly destroyed in World War II, it is a pearl among European cities. Drizzle made for some interesting, but unwanted effects on my lens during this photo walk at night.

Dresden 2


“Der Goldene Reiter”, the statue of “August II the Strong” was on my shooting list since a long time. The Elector of Saxony and King of Poland has established Dresden as a major cultural center and is probably best remembered as a patron of the arts and architecture.

August II


Christmas market time - at least in Germany

Bautzner Wenzelsmarkt  

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.



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.


Found another stavkirke

Boynton Chapel  

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.


Colorado landscapes: Mesa Verde - Cliff Palace

Cliff Palace  

I grew up in an over 1000 years old city in Germany. My home town Bautzen was mentioned on a piece of paper for the first time in 1002. Many of the oldest buildings and towers are way over 500 years old. I realized it is not that old  if you look at Mesa Verde.  ;-)

Most of the cliff dwellings were built from the late 1190s to late 1270s. However, by about 1300 Mesa Verde was deserted. The reasons for the migration of the Ancestral Pueblo people are unclear and several theories offer reasons for their migration (source: Mesa Verde NP brochure). It is just great that these very old structures still exist, that they are preserved, and that they are protected for future generations.

We had to be patient to make some images of Cliff Palace, one of the community centers with about 150 rooms. We did not like the light during the day and so we came back to the overlook across the canyon in the evening. The light was gorgeous at about 6:45PM. I bracketed five shots for each image, each shot one f-stop apart. For this photo I finally took the 3 shots on the darker side and merged them in Photoshop into one 32-bit file. Bringing the 32-bit tiff-file back into Adobe Lightroom gives you a much wider range to work with on highlights and shadows. I also tried to merge five shots into an HDR image and tone mapped it, but I do not like this kind of a look, not even with a very subtle tone mapping applied. So, what you see here is just a “pseudo-HDR” but I like it so much better. I have no problem to imagine that the sunset over 800 years ago was exactly the same, except Cliff Palace was probably busier at this time of the day...

Colorado landscapes: Mesa Verde - Cliff dwellings

Spruce Tree House 1  

I like to continue my photo story about our recent trip to Colorado. Our second destination was Mesa Verde National Park. This park was created in 1906 to preserve the archeological heritage of the Ancestral Pueblo people. Mesa Verde includes over 4,500 archeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings. I’m sure you find a way to learn more about this unique place on the internet, if you are not familiar with it yet. There is no reason for me to repeat here in the blog what much smarter people than me have already written down. I just can tell you, it was amazing what we learned about the Ancestral Pueblo people that made the area of Mesa Verde home for over 700 years, long before European settlers came to North America.

Spruce Tree House 2


Let’s talk a little bit photography. The harsh sun in the Four Corner region (Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah) creates a big challenge for landscape photography during the day. I concentrated on close-up shots of some cliff dwellings, for which Mesa Verde is most famous. The images I show you today are from Spruce Tree House on Chapin Mesa. The well preserved dwellings can be accessed self guided (other dwellings require a tour ticket and I was not sure if this would be a good choice for a photographer). I always try to keep people out of the frame. Even the best looking tourist is just a distraction from the subject, which of course is the architecture of these buildings. The overhanging cliffs keep the harsh sun away, at least for part of the day. In order to reveal the colors, that are sometimes a kind of muted during daylight, I used a flash light with dome diffuser. By just pointing the flash towards the cliff ceiling I got a nice mix of daylight and bouncing flash, just enough to enhance the colors of the stones and to give the walls some structure and dimension.

Spruce Tree House 3


A Kiva in Mesa Verde is a round chamber, mostly underground, built in or near almost every homesite and village. Entry was by ladder through a hole in the center of the roof. They were used likely for religious, social, and utilitarian purposes (source: Mesa Verde NP brochure). In order to tell the story about the architecture of a Kiva I used the widest angle available, the SIGMA 10-20mm / f4-5.6 at 10 mm.

There is more to come about Mesa Verde, so please stay tuned…


Chicago...night, light, and colors

Chicago skyline at night  

It was quiet here again in the blog during the last week. I just returned from GRAPH EXPO, the annual trade show of the graphic industry at the McCormick Place in Chicago. I had plans to post some images during this week but due to a “pilot error” the cable that connects the camera with my notebook was not in my photo bag and so I wasn’t able to upload any photos… :-?

Our company stayed at the Hyatt Hotel next to the McCormick Center and it paid back to ask for a high floor during my check-in. There isn’t much time for any private life during a trade show but I did not waste the late night and early morning hours because of the great view to the Chicago skyline from my room...

Chicago- blue morning


Unlike in many airplanes the hotel window was relatively clean and by holding the lens very close to the glass the reflections were almost eliminated. Early Sunday morning the fog from Lake Michigan was creeping into the city. Hours before the Green Bay Packers beat the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field the first light of the day was reflected in the glass of the stadium. The Ferris wheel on Navy Pier stuck out of the fog in the background during the blue hour…, what a great way to start the first day of the trade show…

Chicago - sky reflections


Clouds poured in on Monday and the top of Sears Tower on the left was hidden. The city’s light was reflected from above and made for a spectacular night scene.

Chicago - first sun 1


Wednesday morning the first rays of the sun touched the skyline and revealed the colors and pronounced the lines of Chicago’s wonderful architecture.

Chicago - Sears Tower



Having the right lens in the bag

Dam #11 I took off early from home yesterday morning. The air was cold but it was sunny and clear. I had hope to find some Bald Eagles on the Wisconsin side of the Mississippi River. The river is frozen and only a small stretch of maybe 50- 100 yards below the dam had open water. Unfortunately there were only a couple eagles in a tree, too far away for a photo. They must have had a good breakfast already because they didn’t move at all during the whole time I was there. With other words, I got skunked by the eagles!


Icy details

I have the habit to take more than just one lens on every trip, even if the goal is wildlife photography with a long lens. You never know what may come your way and it allows to change plans and look for different subjects and opportunities. The clear air, the nice light, the snow and ice, the mist from the water coming down the dam, this all invited me to make an architectural image of the dam. I have made photos from this vantage point before but these were by far the best conditions ever. The Carl Zeiss Distagon 35mm/f2 is my favorite lens for this kind of photography. It has manual focus but I love its color rendition and the incredible sharpness. I’m glad I had the 35/f2 in the bag yesterday… ;-) By the way, both photos just add to what I wrote about snow and colors in my last blog post. Wishing all of you a wonderful week!





It's out now - my first book!

BOOK_PRAGUE I did it! My first ebook is finally published and if you like you can download it as a pdf file right here in the blog. And here comes the best, it is free of charge! :-) Just click over in the side bar on “Andreas’s books” and you will enter the download page.

Why a book with photos about Prag, the capitol of the Czech Republic? Joan and I were over in Germany in May 2012 for the wedding of my son André and his wife Seraphine. Following this wonderful event was a three day trip to Prague, which is only three hours away by train from my home town Bautzen. I have been many times in this magnificent city during the Eighties and had very good memories of all the visits. Joan has never been there and so it has been for a long time on her travel agenda.

I didn’t really plan on making a book. I just had the camera with me and was shooting away for three days. We had some gorgeous light situations but no matter how the weather is, this city has so many nice places and subjects for all kinds of travel, street or architecture photography. Back home and after reviewing the images I decided to create a book about Prague as a Christmas gift for Joan. It is a hard cover 12” x 12” and it was printed and bound by a professional print service. Later I showed a first ebook version to some friends and family and everybody asked me, did you publish the book yet? So finally, over a year later, here it is. I added text for some of the images to make it a little more accessible for people that have never been in Prague and made some small changes in the layout.

Travel photography isn’t really what I’m doing most of the time anymore (have done a lot back in the days of film and slides) but working on this book was a great learning experience that hopefully will help me to make another one about wildlife or landscape photography sometime soon. Maybe this book will inspire you to pack your bags and travel to Prague. A wonderful city full of history, good food, and awesome beer is waiting for you…


Stavkirke - but not in Norway

Stavkirke Washington Island  

The third day up on the Door Peninsula was a gray one, and I mean a real gray one with no sun at all. That didn’t stop us to take an early ferry to Washington Island in Lake Michigan and explore this charming area. In this part of the country live many people with a Scandinavian heritage and therefor it was no surprise for us to find a Stavkirke (stave church) on the island. Almost all original stave churches are found in Norway and this one is a replica of one in Borgund, Norway. I have seen many of the Norwegian Stavkirkes during my frequent travels to Norway and the architecture is always awe-inspiring. The church belongs to the Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church on Washington Island and their present stone church is just across the road.

Stavkirke 2



With no quality light present and the high contrast between the snow and the dark parts of the church I decided to bracket five different exposures and merge the images in NIK HDR Efex Pro. I know, it doesn’t substitute good light but the result is better than any of the single shots under these circumstances.

The two photos of the interior were made with an off-camera flash light that was directed into the ceiling. Joan assisted me with the flash light so I had both hands to hold the camera steady at 1/15 s. After a couple test shots I liked the results and didn’t even bother to use the HDR method.

Stavkirke altar



Great subject for overcast day

Arched bridge in Somesville, ME  

We drove by several times at the Arched Bridge in Somesville on Desert Island, Maine. It is a busy place because most tourists like to visit and snap a picture. We chose to stop there on the only "bad weather day". This was actually a good decision. First the light on this wonderful bridge and the little museum was very soft because of the heavy overcast, and second, there were a lot less people than we have seen on other days. With other words, it wasn't so difficult to make an image without someone in the frame. The small village of Somesville is a National Historic District and the bridge is not the only interesting structure there. Overall we saw very few houses in Maine that were not in good shape. If you go there, don't miss to have a look in the little museum. It is a nice display of the local history.

Arched bridge 2


The top image needs actually a little more head room above the roof. I have a few more photos of the bridge without that little flaw, but really liked the reflections on the water in this one the best. Walking around and working the subject a little more led finally to photos two and three. They leave no doubt about what time of the season we visited this nice piece of architecture, and I can tell you, I didn't miss the sun a bit this day...

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