Hole in the ice

Hole in the ice  

Reevaluating the results of previous shootings is part of my endeavors to improve as a photographer. This shooting took place last Christmas in a park in Cherokee, Iowa. I liked the mood of this warm winter day and I thought that the photo shown in my blog post from December 26, 2014 carried the story the best. Looking over the remaining pictures again made me change my mind. How could I miss the colors of the surrounding sky, reflected in the water of the hole in the ice? I don’t know, but if I make a print, it will be today’s photo that will be pinned to the wall…


Gesture of a fence

White fence  

Hi gang! As usual, it is not just laziness that prevents me from posting here but a heavy travel and work schedule. Haven’t shot much during last week, but what the heck, thoughts go through my mind and the beginning of a new year is always a good time to reflect on the previous work and the things that occupy my little brain.

Today’s photo “Division fence” was shot during a walk at last Christmas in Cherokee, Iowa. I saw this industrial made fence near the trail in a public park that we like to visit. The fence itself lacks charm in my books but it was the light that hit the hillside and that drew my attention. Suddenly all the lines made sense and the low sun above the horizon on this almost snowless winter day lifted the ugly fence out of the ordinary…


Sangre de Cristo Mountains

Sangre de Cristo Mountains  

One of my goals for last year was to work a little harder on my landscape photography, especially during our trip to Colorado. Looking through my photos makes me even more aware how important it is to use the early morning hours or, like with this picture, shoot during the time around sunset and even after sunset.

The shot was made during our stay at Great Sand Dunes National Park, just at the southern park boundaries along a county road. The sun was still up but hidden behind a cloud and it just kissed the 14,000 feet tall peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The Rabbitbrush got enough light to make it stand out from the desert and provided a nice foreground for this scene that lasted only a couple minutes.


Tracks in the sand... 2014

tracks in the sand  

The year comes to an end and as always in late December I spend some time cleaning and organizing my photo library. There are always photos that have never seen the public light but they are important to me, and as far I’m concerned deserve to be shown somewhere.

One of the best landscape shootings in 2014 happened on top of the Great Sand Dunes in Colorado one early morning in September. If you missed that story feel free to click HERE and see some of the magic that unfolded during sunrise.

The photo I show you today was made during the ascent to the ridge of the sand dunes. My tracks in the sand left an interesting pattern that inspired me to push the shutter button…


Mild Christmas

Mild Christmas  

This was the mildest Christmas since I have been in Iowa during the holiday season. As every year we spent the holiday at Joan’s parents in Cherokee, a small town in northwest Iowa. Over the years it became a Christmas tradition to have at least once a walk around a lake in one of the city’s parks. I remember years when this walk took no more than maybe fifteen minutes, because the temperatures and icy wind were just brutal. Not so much this year. Almost no wind and temperatures above freezing made for a different experience. Our little dog Cooper didn’t mind that we stretched it out to over an hour on all three “mini hikes” this year.

It was Christmas morning when the sun finally appeared from behind the clouds and lifted all the gray. The lake was covered partially with a thin layer of ice and that’s where I tried to find a photo that tells the story. While working on this image I became aware again how important white balance can be for the story telling. Most of the time when snow and ice is part of my photo I make sure that some blue, at least in the shadows, transmits the message, “it’s cold here”. My first trial with this image was a conversion to black and white with a slight blue touch on the final photo. It looked good but it was just not what this Christmas day was about. The photo was originally made with a white balance set to cloudy and this is how I finally left it. The warm touch of the sun in this image reflects a lot better what I saw and how it felt that morning…


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


Big waves

North Pierhead Lighthouse  

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

tracks in ice  

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…


Self assignment

Ice sculpture - Lake Michigan  

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


Recharging the batteries

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…