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Full moon

Last summer we could enjoy some pretty amazing almost cloudless full-moon nights. Not far from where I lived in Bonn there is this little Gothic church that I could see from my window. The view of the crosses under the full moonlight was quite remarkable!

I had to cheat a little bit and make two exposures to get this one right. Taking pics of the moon is tricky, as it is way brighter than it looks. So I used one really quick (about 1/1000s) exposure to get the moon properly, and a slower one to get all the nice shapes and details in the sky and cross.



Yet some more Alpine landscapes. I got a bit tired of green grass and blue skies, so skipped a few photos to jump to something with a warmer light on it. After climbing all the way up to Watzmann Haus and joining the rest of the gang there, we enjoyed the amazing views and a hell of a sunset. This photo is almost as it came out of the camera, just did a bit of fiddling with the exposure and color balance.

Let me know what you think!

River valley

Going on with the Alpine hike, after sleeping in Wimbachklamm Hutte the original plan was and climbing Watzmann through the South traverse, but that is a dangerous route with many via ferrata sections, and with my knee injury I decided not to risk it, so while some of my partners went uphill I took a detour skirting around the mountain (following down the dry river) and then climbed all the way up to Watzmann Haus from the North side. Today’s picture was taken very close to the end of the valley, before starting the ascend (from 700 to 1900 meters).

Let me know what you think in the comments!

Dry river


The dry river valley in front of Wimbrachklamm Hütte. The Watzmann traverse starts not far from here. I know this is lately getting too much about cheesy landscapes, just a few more days until I am done with the Alps and I will move on to more interesting stuff, I promise!

If you like the picture, drop a line in the comments!

Karlingerhaus Valley



This is the valley where Karlingerhaus lies. The third day of hiking we had an splendid weather, and after crossing through the mountain and a hard ascension, we found the house in this idilic valley, looking as if it had been taken right out of a fairy tale!

From a technical point of view, this was a plain old landscape picture. Clouds were moving really fast, casting different shadows in the mountains in the background, so I took almost the same picture half a dozen times at ten minutes interval (while cooking and dining) to be sure I would get the best looking one. I might have been a bit too hard on the post-processing for this one, but this particular landscape, as I rememeber it, really had mind-blowing saturated colors.

Hope you like it!

Stony lake


Going on with the Alpine series, today’s pic is of a little high altitude lake, trapped between two big mountains. I kind of like the hdr enhancing of textures for this kind of pictures. In this one I might have gone a bit overtly dramatic with the effect, but I think it represents very accurately the mood around this place, everything so big and quiet and oppressive, the think grey clouds so close that one could almost breathe them…

Hope you like it!

Baby dragon


Going on with the Alpine collection, here is the portrait of a baby black dragon we met on our way up to Mount Jenner :-D

Unlike angry ducks these little friends are very shy and will stay very still when approached, making them kind of easy to photograph, even easier than cows. Main difficulty when photographing these newts is subject isolation, as they are very small (about 10cm long, including the tail) and very close to the ground, getting a sharp focus on the subject with a nice background blur is kind of tricky. Possibly the easiest solution is to get as close as possible and get mostly everything on focus, resorting to post-processing for background blur.




Stony sky


Another Alps pic. This was on day 2, after climbing Mount Jenner for a warm-up (1160m, from about 600 at Königsee level) we descended to 900m again and headed south to go around Königsee and Obersee. This picture comes from the highest point of the passage between Rossfeld (going up to the right) and Mitterhutte (up at the left, already in Austria), At this point we were above 2000m, and the effort took its toll: it was descending this passage when my right knee decided it had had too much and went on a strike, forcing me to be on painkillers during the rest of the trip.


The mountain stairway

I have spent the last week hiking around the Königsee lake in the Berchtesgaden National Park, located in the German Alps (very close to the Austrian border). It has been a wonderful but exhausting trip of which I yet have to recover.

If I have to summarize some learnings from this trip in one sentence it would be: carrying a tripod (even a relatively light one) to a high altitude hiking trip is generally a bad idea. During the daily hike I could barely stop to fetch my camera and snap a few shots, let alone setting up the tripod. I was expecting for some quality night-time long exposures but the weather turned out to be quite unpleasant by night; plus, having to wake up before sunrise to get moving didn’t really encourage staying out of the sleeping bag till late!

Anyhoo, I managed to get a few interesting shots that I will be sharing in the next days (and probably put together as a collection). The first one is a part of an ascent in which the path turned into a stairway literally carved trough the mountain to get to the other side. The beautiful natural carvings and the rock textures were crying for some hdr enhance, this one is made out of three (handheld) exposures, with 2EV step difference between them. The sky is a bit blown out but this particular day there wasn’t much detail there to recover anyway.



Getting nice photographies of fireworks is quite challenging. First thing that need to be done is, of course, to know in advance when and where the fireworks are going to be displayed. For people living in the US, probably the safest bet is 4th of July; in the UK one might resort to 5th of November (aka Guy Fawkes Night or simply “Bonfire night”). Last May, I happened to be in Bonn during the Rhein in Flammen festival and decided to give it a go. This is one of the pics I got, and here are some of the things I learned that night:

  1. Location, location, location. My biggest mistake in this occasion was not scouting the area beforehand and getting to one of the sweet spots before it was crowded. A miscalculation on the firing place (firing takes place from boats) also ended up on having a tree partially covering the display for me. Not cool.
  2. Focusing in the dark night is almost impossible, so turn off the autofocus, as it will only slow you down. On the bright side, most likely the fireworks will take place quite far away, so focusing at infinity should work most of the time.
  3. Lenses: it is necessary to find a compromise between getting nice wide angle shots or zoomed in details. Since fireworks are actually quite bright aperture is not critical, so a lens with a good range (like the 18-105 or even better an 18-200 if you are lucky enough to have one) will cover most of the shots you may want to take. Changing lenses in the middle of the show is a no-no.
  4. Tripod. This is not negotiable. A remote release can come handy as well but is nowhere as important as the tripod.
  5. Metering will not work, as there is no way of knowing in advance the amount of light a particular blast will have, so switch to manual mode and experiment with a few shutter speeds. A good idea at the beginning is using continuous shooting mode together with some auto-bracketing. Once you have the light setting figured out, turn of the bracketing, though.
  6. Anticipating a nice blast can be very hard. I guess this is one of the things that comes with a lot of practice. I resorted a lot to continuous shooting, which resulted in a few good shots and many rubbish ones.

dPS also has some tips on how to photograph fireworks.

Portrait: Monica

Last weekend we had in Nordrhein-Westallen the “Rhein in flamme” festival. Weather was just wonderful so we went for a picnic by the riverside to spend the afternoon before heading to Rheinaue for watching the fireworks.

Today’s picture is a little portrait of a friend I snapped without her noticing by taking advantage of the good ol’ 70-300. Background blur is achieved by both the long focal length and a narrow depth of field coming from a wide aperture (f/4). Hope you like it!

Köln Dom

Just settled down after moving to Germany. I will spend most of my time during the next few months in the little town of Bonn, in the Rhein valley not far from the bigger and more exciting city of Köln (Cologne).

Today’s photo is the main entrance of the superb Köln cathedral, one of the most impressive gothic buildings ever constructed. Hope you enjoy it!

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