Funchal and Porto Muniz

Funchal is the municipal seat of the autonomous region of Madeira and its largest city with roughly 112 thousand people. Built into the mountainside it comes across as a rather large city, because there is a lot of footwork involved when you want to explore it. One of its most interesting features is the cable car that takes you from the coastal region high up to the mountaintop of Funchal.

the cable-car ride

There you find two botanical gardens, the „regular“ botanical garden, which requires yet another cable-car ride and the tropical garden, which is right next to the station. There you can spend many hours walking, enjoying the plants, artists‘ exhibitions and sculptures.

a sculpture in the tropical garden

The sculptures differ widely in their range, as the garden is subdivided into a number of zones, e.g. the chinese garden and so on.

another sculpture

Walking down the garden you come to a central spot with an old colonial looking house and a waterfall, which is the main image of this post.

tropical garden, full view

It’s a sight to behold. The waterfall with the central pond is quite amazing, actually and harks back to the many levadas in Madeira.

This is a long-exposure with the camera sitting on a bench, probably at f22 to get the exposure time to around a second. #nofilter

Back to the bottom of the city, you find the cathedral located in the centre of the city.

inside the cathedral of Funchal

In the old-town part of the city there are yet more sculptures and picturesque alleys with painted doors.

But of course, as everywhere in Madeira, the beaches are really rocky, which is why there are bathing facilities made of concrete, which I find interesting, because they seem so fallen out of the 1960s.

Madeira

Leaving Funchal, one might drive to the north-west of the island to find other great places. I rather liked Porto Muniz, where you find amazing vulcanic rocks forming bathing spaces that look much more natural (they are artificially separated from the ocean, though).

Porto Muniz

And a restaurant located right in the rocks where you can eat while a gentle breeze comes from the ocean.

I hope you enjoyed this one.

Hagenbeck Collection

In order to lighten up the bleak wintertime, here is a collection of images from Hagenbeck that is practically bursting with colour. Most of them are from the end of last year, but some are from last weekend. I haven’t been very regularly to Hagenbeck lately as I have been trying to answer questions for myself that I wrote about extensively on this blog.

Still last week I just had to get out of my apartment, so I enjoyed this slightly guilty pleasure at the zoo. As it was a sunny winter’s day, the zoo was packed with people, which was a bit too busy for my liking. Still, this is a nice collection, I think and the pictures might even lighten the mood on a dreary day.

As always, enjoy!

All images used with kind permission by Tierpark Hagenbeck.

The gnat-fen

Well, in German it’s actually »Schnaakenmoor«, a waterland-conservation area in the north-west of Hamburg. Fens are mires in which the water accumulates because the area is slightly lower than the surrounding land, so that there is always an excess of water that rises to ground-level. Mires are inhabited by peatforming plants. As the plants die, they form peat which traps CO2 from the air, as the ground itself is separated from the oxygen in the air, the decomposition processes make it climate-neutral. Most mires nowadays have to be conserved so that they actually keep the water, if they don’t, they will transform into woodland with birches being the most common pioneer species (if around). In that process they will lose their CO2 and release it into the atmosphere, adding to climate change. For that reason it seems appropriate to appreciate these areas and raise awareness for their uniqueness.

The gnat-fen here is in the process of transforming back into wetland, so there are quite some trees around that have to be removed by conservationists.

Enjoy.

Spring in Hamburg

Well, it’s sort-of-finally come. As the sun-hours finally coincide with my circadian rhythm I went out to snap some pics of flowers and such. Here is a small collection from the Hirschpark and Planten un Blomen. Not much to say, really.

Enjoy!

Up North!

Some weeks ago I went on holiday at the northern coast of Germany, more precisely, Sankt Peter-Ording. It’s a nice small village at the Watten-Sea, so there are nice museums, parks and informative exhibitions around that are connected in one way or the other to that national park.

I did not have any special photographic agenda there, but I took some shots at the Wattforum Tönning, the animal park St. Peter and the Westerhever Lighthouse. So this is an assortment but hopefully there is something in there for you to …

enjoy!

The animals of Hagenbeck

I’ve spent many weekends in the past year at »Tierpark Hagenbeck«, the privately funded zoo in Hamburg that looks back on six generations of family-ownership. The enormous costs of €41.000 a day(!) are exclusively covered by ticket-sales, donations or testaments (see their website for more information). The park is famous for its various panoramas, the skilfully laid out paths and of course its history and tradition. If you have the time, you should certainly pay it a visit.

As far as photography is concerned, the animal compounds have a high degree of naturalism to them, which is of course good for the animals, but it also allows for some stunning photographs that seem to show the animals in their natural habitats. In the following you see some of my best shots from the last 15 months, all with kind permission of Tierpark Hagenbeck. All shots here were taken in the park.

Mit freundlicher Genehmigung vom Tierpark Hagenbeck.

Rough Ruaha

The Ruaha National-Park is located in the western regions of Tansania on a highland plateau of roughly 900m. Since 2008 it has been the largest national-park in Tanzania. Surrounded by mountains it receives twelve hours of continuous sunlight during the dry season with temperatures rising to up to 35C. At night falling winds blow mightily across the plains. These pictures were mainly taken around noon when temperatures are at their hottest and most animals seek shelter under a tree. No one but tourists would go out at that time of day.

Birding

Yesterday I went to the „Weltvogelpark Walserode“, which is called the world’s largest bird-zoo, hosting thousands of individuals in six-hundred species. I attended the flight-show and some aviaries to try and get some good pictures. Alas, this time around I lucked out. When photographing birds in fight it’s all about shutter speed. a 1/2000s is preferred, so I dialled that in for a minimum aperture and an iso around 1250. That way I can control changes in light by simply dialling the shutter speed a bit up or down and a M4/3rd camera gives an immediate live-view of whether or not the exposure is good. There is no manual focusing with birds in flight, so I set my EM1 up in continuous autofocus tracking mode with high-speed sequential shutter. In doing so, the camera goes into phase-autofocus, theoretically focusing continuously on the subject I set my original focus on, so I could just follow it with my Oly 75-300ii, getting sharp pictures.

Theoretically. In reality I shot 1.800 images that way. Almost all of them utter, blurry crap. Utter, blurry crap. It’s a well-documented problem that micro-four-third cameras are not well-suited to bird or action photography but I could not believe how dire the situation actually was. That was a discouraging day-out. I’ll show some images that aren’t complete disasters here. The perching birds were shot through wires, so there are some additional problems there. Oh my.

Viking Days

Yesterday I went to visit the „Wikingertage Schleswig“, a really nice Viking-era/Medieval family event. It was filled with extremely nice people, shops, magic and warfare events and everything that you might wish for in such an event. You can learn more about the fair here:

Wikingertage auf Facebook

Interestingly, they liked my shots so much that they will use them in their own publications!!! Enjoy!

(Die Genehmigung zur Veröffentlichung wurde vom Veranstalter eingeholt)

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