83 – Dancing in Blindness

“And for their pride they were damned to dance in blindness, forever and ever”.

Or at least until the gardeners in spring remove those sacks and let the roses bloom again ­čÖé

I shot this image at noon (what a fair weather, what a nice noon-time atmosphere!) in Volksgarten, one of the more beautiful baroque rose gardens in Vienna, just opposite the Parliament. I used the Nikon 50/1.8 wide open.

The other thing is, that I have opened an account at photo.net, uploaded the image from 74 – Out of the Fog and given three critiques there. It’s amazing how fast-moving that community is. I got 20 ratings in the first hour, my image was for maybe that time on page one of the top-rated photos, and now it is already at page three or four, that means quick exposure, early oblivion. Anyway, I have always liked photo.net for the incredible quality of so much of the work there, and simply wanted to be a part of it.

82 – Smak #52

At least that’s what I read. I shot that image in Siebensterngasse between Neubaugasse and Zollergasse on my way home from work. I left early to still get some light, but with the new Nikon 50/1.8, even wide open I was down to 1/30 seconds at ISO 400. Goodness, the winter has not even really started here! But at least the days get longer now, if only so slowly.

Over at the Radiant Vista, in a discussion with Alec C. Johnson about one of my images, we had the idea of shooting images about titles of Bob Dylan songs. Accidentally my image was titled “Desolation Row“. Is this a project or is this not a project ­čśĽ

81 – With Central Services on the Sunny Side of the Street!

I don’t even pretend to know what this is. I do know where it is. It is in Westbahnstra├če, between the photo shops “blende 7” and “Orator”, or in other words, between Kaiserstra├če and Schottenfeldgasse.

It really is that yellow. I have not so much added color, I’ve taken away. What I have added is contrast. If I had not felt so much need to flex my Photoshop muscle, I could have used the original image as well, and in a way this probably would have been even more appropriate. Why? Because this photo is special, that’s why. It is the first photo taken with my new Nikon 50/1.8.

You remember, this is the lens I did not buy while in my psychedelic mood. Well, in the meantime I got mail from John DeMott, who reminded me of what an exceptional bargain this lens is. Now, who am I to contradict John DeMott ­čśĽ

By the way, if you have not seen it yet, you really should. I feel how it gets more and more important.

80 – Quake in a Gorgeous Gorge

The quickest way from where we live down into the valley, especially when you want to drive via “Sankt Jakob im Rosental”, is down from Franzendorf to Selkach and there over the small bridge. The road between Franzendorf and Selkach begins narrow, but as soon as you get into the forest, it becomes curvy and steep as well.

I have driven this road maybe 20, 30 times a year for more than 20 years, but it never occurred to me that the gorge at the left side of the street could be a good place for taking photographs. Well, it is ­čÖé

Today, in order to fill the urgent need for an Image of the Day, I parked the car not far after entering the forest and climbed down. It is not exactly dangerous when you are careful, but it was quite exciting nevertheless. While I was down there I felt something and had the impression of a “bump” as well, and, sure enough, seconds later I got a call from home, inquiring if everything was OK and if I had felt the quake.

This was the second earthquake that I have witnessed in my life, the first one having been the catastrophe in Gemona, Italy in 1976. This time of course it was completely harmless. Still, when you are down in a narrow gorge between all those boulders, it is a little intimidating.

79 – Emerald Creek

New Year’s Eve. It’s way past midnight now and I confess it’s been embarrassing, nothing short of embarrassing. Don’t you hate those once-in-a-lifetime or once-a-year chances when you think you’re prepared, everything is controlled, and then things start to slide away, go awry, get their own life?

I was determined to shoot fireworks!

Well, I have never shot a single firework in my life. Of course I have seen many, at least one per year, but shooting them? On the other hand, it must be easy, eh? Put your camera on the tripod, set it to manual mode, f8, bulb mode, trigger the cable release and wait.

OK, the first problem was, that down in the valley there was fog. I was not sure how dense it was, but it turned out being too dense. The next problem was, that obviously some neighbors who had always made fireworks this year didn’t. Maybe they were away, maybe they simply didn’t want to, maybe net incomes really have slacked. I don’t know, but whatever the reason, the fireworks were everywhere but in the direction I had turned my camera.

OK, that’s the beauty of using a wide-angle, right? It won’t be in the center, but from all sides it will bloom into the image, framing a full-moon sky in a special way, right?

Wrong. The timer on the cable release had happily counted minutes and seconds, but I had forgotten to put the camera into manual focus mode. Uh-ohh. No light, no focus, no exposure. See you next year!

Luckily enough, I have some other images for today, for example this one. It is of a creek down in the valley, running parallel to the storage lake of the river power plant east of Ferlach. It is fascinating to see how the algae in its bed keep their deep emerald green, even in this time of winter, when all the surroundings have bleached out.

Oh, and, Happy New Year!

78 – Near Home

I’ve driven through half of Carinthia today and I’ve seen incredible landscapes in fantastic light – only that I could not take a single photo. When I could, it was too late to get to any of the fancier places, thus I kept near home.

This is little more than 1 kilometer from where I live. I came back from a session just out of the fog, at the edge of a forest, and when I drove back, I got to this place, just in the transition zone. This is, of course, the Sigma 10-20 at 10mm.

77 – Not so Red, Not at All

Fridays, travel days. I was almost late to work in the morning, I was not out shooting at noon, this means I have no Image of the Day. So far in these situations I have taken one from October, 10th (there are still some left), but this time we go back for only three days.

This image is from the same session as 74 – Out of the Fog. It is a part of the so called “Red Cliff”, in this case not so red, not at all.

76 – Psychedelic

I have uploaded five images to Smugmug today, I’ll call this a successful day. All of them were shot with my beloved Sigma 30/1.4 and auto ISO, most of them I did prepare with Capture NX. More and more I like this program. It’s easy, you get your results very fast, and it really plays well with Nikon RAW files. I can heartily recommend it.

This is the shutter of a bicycle shop in Westbahnstra├če between Schottenfeldgasse and Zieglergasse. It’s over and over full of graffiti, seemingly not due to an act of vandalism, but endorsed by the owner. Isn’t a little color sweet in winter?

There is another shop that I could avoid so far: one of the photo retailers in Westbahnstra├če has the Nikon 50/1.8 AF in its window. I admit that it lures me just some time now. Many people complain that the normal lenses of the past are now short teles, at least on Nikons, and that they see no use for such a focal length.

To me it is fairly clear that I would use such a lens not only as a portrait lens, but also in a very similar way as the Lensbaby and the 30/1.4: to isolate details when I don’t want the blur and the 30/1.4 is too wide.

Anyway, I could resist so far. Tomorrow I’ll try to put the Sigma 150/2.8 macro to use on the street. If that does not work, maybe I’ll approach the macro aspect as soon as I am in Carinthia tomorrow night. We’ll see.

I guess I won’t be able to resist the 50mm lens forever, but for the time being I still have some toys that are under-exercised. And there is of course the 50/1.4 as well. It’s much more expensive and not a bargain at all, but it is even faster and many people prefer its bokeh to that of the 50/1.8. Oh well, questions over questions ­čÖé

75 – Bondage

Back to work. It is incredibly quiet here between Christmas and New Year. I can’t say that I had much time for photographing, but at least I got inspiration for two shots I’ll try to repeat tomorrow. One desperately needs a polarizer, which I didn’t recognize in my hurry, and the other needs slightly different framing, but both seem repeatable.

Anyway. It’s always a little harder to come up with usable images in Vienna. I have much less time and mostly rely on isolating details. My best tools in that struggle are the Lensbaby and the Sigma 30/1.4, both wide open. In this case we are back to the Sigma.

This is part of a fence guarding a sapling in Seidengasse, right between Zieglergasse and Bandgasse.

74 – Out of the Fog

It’s 3:40 in the morning now, I’m back at Vienna and should have slept for hours. Instead I prepare HDR images and hang around in the Radiant Vista forums. Oh well!

We had a strange day in Carinthia. Clear, but only because we were way under the fog. This is much, much better than being in the fog layer, but I still had the urge to see some sun. That meant Dobratsch again, my sunrise mountain, being used for sunsets lately as well. Obviously I was not the only one with a need for sun, because while I drove up, I saw a steady row of cars come down. The whole of Villach must have been up there. Amazing!

I was late as always, thus when I was high enough to be out of the fog (this time it needed approximately 1400 meters), I decided to not drive up all the way, but to watch sunset from one of the more spectacular viewpoints, the one called “Rote Wand” (red cliff). This is where during the earthquake of 1348 the mountain broke apart most spectacularly.

I was a little annoyed at first, because when I came there, the viewing platform was closed but obstructed my view, it was full of people, many children as well, thus I didn’t want to climb over the fences. Well, of course I did when after sundown suddenly all children were gone ­čÖé

This image was made out of a 7-shot bracketing using Photoshop’s merge to HDR, with different layers created by converting to 16 bit in different ways, and merging the layers by blending modes and masks. Quite complicated work, so complicated in fact, that I kept the Photoshop file.