All posts by andreas

13 – Sundown’s the Winner

Grr … the first time in days that I had the IOTD post ready before midnight, and just as I tried to submit, had a scheduled outage. It does pay that I copy texts to an editor before trying to post. Here it is:

145 images for today. Not shabby, even if all of them are variations of maybe 20 or 30 motives. It began in the morning when I drove up Dobratsch again, today arriving in time for the beginning of civil twilight. The sky was less dramatic than on Sunday but good enough. I’ll try it one more time on Saturday, and this time I’ll be there even earlier, as I want to go up further for some new perspectives.

It’s funny: I was not alone. During the hour of concentrated shooting I glimpsed another photographer, shooting the sunrise as well. When I finally decided the major drama was over and I could afford a break, I was alone again. I had not seen hin coming, I had not seen him go.

On my way down I reshot an image from Sunday that had an unfortunate merger between some leaves in the foreground and a group of trees in the background. I love it when I can come back.

The time around noon and the early afternoon was filled with Photoshop work and sleeping, before I left at 16:45 for Sundown on Wörthersee. Wörthersee is the best known lake in Carinthia (and there are many), but it is also mostly private property and you can only get to the shore in public baths (closed at this time of the year) and a couple of promenades. I decided for “Friedlsteg” on the northern shore between Klagenfurt and Krumpendorf. Not much foreground interest, but one of the best places for watching the sundown.

It was as tough job to decide about today’s Image of the Day. Finally a sundown image made it for the delicate red traces in sky and water.

11 – Crossing Time

It was a drab day in Vienna. Normally this does not prevent me from taking photographs, though it probably makes finding motives a bit harder. Not so today. I had no time at all, thus here we go with one from the archives. This is a door in Seidengasse, in Vienna’s 7th district, that’s where I live.

The atmosphere is a perfect match for today’s overall feeling. I have taken the image on October, 5th. I used the Sigma 30/1.4 wide open. I really love this lens as it is a “standard lens” on the D200, and it forces me to try harder on composition. Many of the images I take with this lens have somewhat strange angles and strong lines that frequently originate in corners. Actually the style I have at the moment in general, even with the Nikon 18-200 zoom, is strongly influenced by my working style with this lens. The images of the day numbers 8 and 10 are good examples.

What fascinates me in this image is the combination of Art Déco ornaments and Christian connotation. In fact it looks like a cross looming large above me, but at the same time, with the face at the center, it has a strangely heathen aspect. Along with the angle this makes for a disturbing quality.

10 – By the Hands of a Child?

That I am not an expert in botanics is a big, fat euphemism. I am completely ignorant. I can’t tell you what kind of seeds they are, but for sure they are in a most unlikely place. They look arranged, but who’s done it? A child? Probably, as this is near a playground in Vienna.

At first I didn’t even see them. It took the attentive eye of my companion who pointed them out. I have made two attempts, the first one focusing on the second seed from the front, but this one was better. It is not the seeds though, that make the image, it is the curve.

9 – Beginning to See the Light

It’s a little bit late and I really should sleep now. I got up at 4:30 in the morning with the intent of driving up Dobratsch, a mountain in Carinthia near Villach. I got there much too late, civil twilight was almost over, and I had only about 5 minutes of shooting before the sun came up. I was quite lucky though, because the sun soon vanished in semi-transparent clouds. That kept the overall atmosphere and gave me much more time.

In this image I have zoomed halfway in to the left of the sun for the amazing layers of fog pierced by rays of light, the valley being all foam.

8 – My Vision is Blurred

Many years ago, when I was in France, driving along the river Loire, I was amazed about how natural the river looked, starkly different from all those rivers I knew from Austria. In Austria all rivers that are usable for run-of-river power stations get used, thus most of them are like strings of reservoir lakes, far from any remotely natural state. The price the french people pay is, of course, that they have the highest share of nuclear power plants in Europe. Still, the Loire is a beautiful river.

Why do I tell you that? Because we live near such a reservoir lake, about 150 meters above it, and the old people tell that there used to be no fog in autumn before the reservoir was built. Nowadays we have fog from October till April. Not all days but most days. Most of the time it clears up before noon, many times not at all. Today was the first day that, when I woke up and went into the garden, I saw deep fog. It stayed most of the day and when it cleared there were clouds above.

In situations like that and, voilà, we have arrived at photography, I desperately search for color. In this case it comes from defocused dying flowers in the foreground. The composition is very simple, trying to get the trunk and major branches of the walnut tree to connect with the corners while keeping the remaining fourth corner dark, covered by one of the foreground flowers.

7 – Resistance is Futile

I do it with all the contempt that I’m able to muster, but finally I have to admit: Summer is gone. Otoh, for photography this is a feast. I have shot the image today, already in Carinthia, Villach to be precise, on an overcast day. Isn’t this dark ruby red spectacular? There are some others as well, but this one made it for the ondulating lines of the leaves.

Oh, and, when I finally drove home at about 18:00 I found myself in the most horrible situation: Being on a motorway, driving along at 130 km/h, suddenly the clouds broke up and there was the most spectacular sundown I have seen in months. Bad luck, I’d say 🙂

6 – Don’t Comment on This

Isn’t this great what businessmen have made of the Internet? Just yesterday I had enabled unrestricted comments for everyone, and today I had my first comment – SPAM! Something with a “job offer”. I don’t know how silly they think we are. Fascinating. Only 13 years ago I had my UNIX workstation right on the Internet. I could telnet into my machine from everywhere. Oh how I fumed when they introduced our corporate firewall! Unthinkable now, isn’t it? And all in the name of commerce. They hack your computers to install robots that spill out SPAM advertising nobody wants to see. I often wonder what these people think, yes, if they even think at all? Didn’t their mothers teach them to behave? Would they kill for money?

Sorry. This is supposed to be about photography, isn’t it? Well, I got two or three today that could be worth it, but I still cowardly take resort to one from Tuesday. This is in a park on my way from work. The sun is already quite low and I had taken a series of shots into the sunlit grass, mostly with partially defocused flowers as foreground. I like the effect and use it quite often lately, because using the right flowers you can give tremendous color to otherwise rather drab photos. This certain image made it for all its elegant lines.

5 – I am Reflecting About a Hotel

Funny, and I thought I wouldn’t have anything today. There were some images that probably would have been more spectacular, but for its simplicity and geometric quality I like this one a lot.

This is a new hotel, right opposite of where I work. While going for lunch I noticed the reflections on the facade, together with the already visible signs of weather. There was not much choice about composition, because to both sides there were traffic signs, but actually I like the juxtaposition of the group and the loner.

I have pushed contrast and color a little bit in Photoshop, but not too excessive.

4 – Tales From the Playground

Did I mention yesterday that Bryan Peterson nudged me towards color? It’s fascinating: I have to look for it, but of course it is there. Plenty of it and everywhere. The funny thing is, we seem to mostly disregard color in our everyday life. This may have been different in a time when every single day was a struggle for survival, but it seems that nowadays it is enough to be able to coarsely distinguish between red and green. And even people who can’t do that get easily away with it.

In some way this disregard for color must have strongly influenced how as beginners we take photographs. It is fairly easy and obvious to look for proportions, for lines, for tonality, but color, at least for me, was always something of an afterthought. Good if there, but hardly the reason for taking a photograph. Actually I consciously oppose this tendency now, and all these last images are a result of that.

Compositionally this image is quite OK in my book. It’s symmetric, yes, but the juxtaposition of yellow and blue keeps the eye moving. I would probably have liked to get a child in the image, but in fact I’d really be careful photographing other people’s children on a playground. It is rather easy to be taken as a child molester hunting for prey. Or is this hysteria only? Quite a sick world when I think of it.

Anyway. Technically this image is the result of half an hour of photoshopping. Not that it looks so much different from the original that came out of the camera, but the work is in the details. Mostly I have added light to the inside of the slide and drastically pushed color and contrast, while leaving alone the trees and the sky.

While being there I probably could have achieved something similar with a very soft fill flash, but of course not with the camera’s popup flash. I was too near the slide and even took a vertical. The flash would have ruined everything.

I probably can’t do too much photographing tomorrow, thus the next image may end up being one of today’s. That being said, have a nice day 🙂