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!

Planning a great shot

Most of my shots are ’sort-of-planned-in-advance‘, i.e. I know where I go (always helpful) and I know what I’m interested in, so I can bring the right lens and accessories. And that’s ok. But when I went to Sankt Peter-Ording a couple of weeks ago, I knew I wanted to have a postcardish shot of the famous lighthouse there. So on my third day there, I approached the subject much as I approached my other stuff, packed my camera bag, brought a tripod and decided to drive to the lighthouse. There I realized that I had to walk a couple of Kilometers only to get to the lighthouse, that I would have to wait for two hours in the cold to wait for sunset and that I had already got soggy-wet shoes from the saltmarsh. So, no. I had to get back.

At home I downloaded PlanIt!, a photography app that tells me the time of sunrise/sunset, the position of the sun and that can previsualize a shot based on Google-Maps and the information I entered about my Olympus EM1. That way I had a good understanding of the situation before I returned the next day to take the shot.

The photographic problem that the lighthouse presents is that it is only accessible from its northern side so that it is hard to even get some light on the lighthouse together with the sunset. But as it is situated in a national park it is not nice or ethical to simply walk around it. The solution light-wise is to make an HDR image. I decided on three brackets as you could only stand on rather squishy ground and I did not want my camera to wobble too much over the course of taking five images for each bracket. Having fixed the camera on a tripod I decided on doing a five-step panorama in portrait orientation (you can see a bit of that below).

Stitching all fifteen images together in Photoshop was a breeze and the result is somehow campy, but I like the colors a lot. You get a bit of background in the slide-show below and the actual image is on top of this blog-post. Enjoy!

coming towards the lighthouse – notice the difference in light quality

the final panorama

the shot from a different perspective

from car park to lighthouse

contact sheet

Some more animal park!

Here is an assortment of animal park pictures that haven’t yet found a place elsewhere. You get some some structures and sculptures at the end and some more animals that haven’t been featured before.

Enjoy!

The tropics

Well, not the real ones, of course, but those at Hagenbeck’s zoo, anyway.Here’s a nice selection of shots inside the catacombs of the aquarium and the tropical area. The difficulty here is really to get sharp shots – any sharp shots, as it’s quite dark in the building. Another complication has to do with the thick sheets of special glass that protect the water tanks. They introduce layers of refraction, smudge and take away yet more light. So if you go inside the tropical aquarium be shure to boost your iso number quite high and be prepared to labour for each image, both in making it and in post-production. I wonder how much better the situation would be if I had a full-frame camera….

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.

Harbour City II

Today, some friends took me out to the Elbphilharmonie to make some images. A beautiful, icy-cold and bright winter-day persuaded me quickly to join them. We were not alone. That is actually the reason why there are only a handful of pics in here today, there are quite some more nice images on my hard-drive, but they usually have some person who is tack-sharp in the frame and I shy away from publishing pictures of strangers that I haven’t asked for their image.

Harbour Museum B/W

Here are some more views from the museum and a viewpoint nearby in glorious black and white.

Harbour Museum

Claus and Marion took me to Hamburg’s Harbour Museum, which is a registered society that buys, mends and of course displays important objects of the harbour’s technical past. There is a stunning assortment of exhibits that speak to the history of the harbour and we enjoyed a tour of the freight-ship „Bleichen“ (more on that in a later post).