Elbe from above

After already showing you the Hamburg from above blogpost this week is about the Elbe from above. We started our one hour flight at at the tiny airport of Uetersen, about an hour northwest of Hamburg by car on a Friday afternoon.

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Hamburg from above

My buddy Axel presented me and our friend Stefan a very gracious and common birthday gift: A flight with a Cessna above Hamburg and the Elbe river. This weeks blogpost features the pictures from Hamburg while the Elbe pictures will be presented in a different post. After rescheduling the flight two times already and having reserved a date for end of October we got offered a slot for Friday afternoon due to a cancellation. Perfect timing for the flight starting at 18.00 h before sunset and a perfect way to kick-off the weekend (and a one week vacation for me). It takes about an hour to drive from Hamburg city center to the small airport of Uetersen along the Elbe river. It is just a short grass runway with some functional buildings and a restaurant.The three of us with the pilot and our camera gear filled the Cessna pretty much. We had the opportunity to choose our route and went for the classic one: Down the river Elbe, passing the Airbus facility and the harbour towards the city center.

 

Our pilot offered to ask for a low approach flight over one of the runways of Hamburg Airport. We didn't know that this was even possible and agreed to give it a try. He asked the air traffic controller for a slot in normal traffic and surprisingly we got one right away. We headed to Fuhlsbüttel and started our low approach. Although all of us started and landed at Hamburg Airport many times this was a first. Seeing the runway from pilots view through the cockpit and flying over the runway at 10 m height was stunning! 

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My Top Ten France pictures

After a really nice, joyful and relaxing three weeks road trip with some 4.600 km from Hamburg to Southern France and back this is my Top Ten France pictures collection. If you would like to see more and some more blogposts about France click here.

Riquewihr, Alsace

We spent the first night of our France roadtrip in the Alsace region. After visiting Strassbourg we went to the wine villages of Ribeauville and Riquewihr, both incredibly beautiful and picturesque. This is a shot of the colourful timber-framed houses itself photografically framed with an archway. An example of framing in composition.

Mont Blanc, Chamonix, Hautes-Savoie

Chamonix was on our road trip list down to southern France. We took the cable car to Aiguille du Midi on a beautifully sunny day up to 3.700 m. You can walk outside the high-altitude platform. There is a spot where the mountaineers start descending to the Mont Blanc massif. This is where I took this photo. It looks like standing on top of the glacier. Check for more pictures and information about this spot at my Mont Blanc blogpost.

Mer de Glace, Chamonix, Hautes-Savoie

The landscape photographer Thomas Heaton made a video about Mer de Glace, one of the Mont Blanc glacier tongues. We took the cog railway to Montenvers and were treated with this view on a terrace with a glace of white wine in our hands. Photography can be so easy sometimes! This spot is perfect for an S-curve shot of the Mer de Glace ("ocean of ice") and very accessible. Check for more pictures and information about this spot in my Mont Blanc blogpost.

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Old town of Tallinn

Tallinn is known to be one of the best preserved medieval cities in Northern Europe. This Baltic beauty was once home to merchants from Germany, Denmark and other European countries. The name Tallinn or Tallinna is Estonian and is thought to be derived from Taani-linn(a), meaning 'Danish-town'. Its old town is a bustling place especially during daytime in the season when thousands of cruise tourists flood the inner city during day time.  Cobblestone lanes following a 13th century path and iron street lamps, gothic spires and medieval markets, cappuccino and Wi-Fi: The old town has it all.

The lower town of Tallinn during sunset from Toompea
The lower town of Tallinn during sunset from Toompea

A medieval mercantile vibe

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Epic light

Sometimes I see a picture and get an idea for a new blogpost. This one was kicked off by the Addo Elephant Park. I flipped through my Lightroom gallery and looked for some "epic light" shots. Hope you like this little collection and let me know if anything looks familiar to you.

Sunrise at Ranthambore National Park, India

We started our sunrise game drive with some glorious light. Ranthambore is famous for its tigers. To make a long story short: We didn't see a tiger, but plenty of spotted deer, blue deer, monkeys, birds and some incredible landscape. Still so worth the detour from our original location. When we left for the next spot we saw a picture of a tiger behind a large tourist truck going to the park. The tiger was in the village and the very street we stayed in! Check this link for more India pictures.

Blue hour at Camps Bay, Capetown, South Africa

This is one of my favorite shots ever. It is a long exposure of boulders in Camps Bay near Capetown, South Africa. I shot this during blue hour mid February 2014. Find out more about my South Africa trip via this link. And here you can find out more about my "At night" work.

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Hara Submarine Base in Estonia

"Does anyone have an idea what this is?", our Estonian tour guide asked when we arrived. We went on a day trip one hour east from Tallinn towards the Lahemaa National Park and stopped at the coast near the Estonian town of Hara. A beautiful, warm and sunny day at the Baltic Sea. Ahead of us a linear concrete structure reaching far into the sea. The area looked like an abandoned military station and in fact it was. "Something with submarines?", a participant from our group asked. "Right, but what exactly?", our guided replied. Well, I would never have guessed since I never heard of what was coming next.

This spot was strictly confidential and closed to public back in Soviet times. It was not marked on any map. It was one of only two such spots in the USSR and therefore very special. A secret submarine station at the Baltic Sea for smaller submarines doing espionage during the Cold War. But what exactly did they do there? "They used this facility to demagnetise submarines", our guided explained. "They drove the smaller Baltic Sea submarines in a special facility where they demagnetised them". First I though he was just joking because I never heard of anything like that. But after looking it up I learned about submarines being magnetically loaded on their missions due to the magnetic field of the earth. This makes them visible for radar and especially for magnetic mines and therefore they came to these facilities like once a quarter to get degaussed with huge alternating magnetic fields. The Hara Submarine Base was built during 1956 and 1958 and used until 1991 when Estonia became independent again. Today, the place really feels isolated although it has recently been bought. There was only one truck disturbing the quietness and bringing building material to set up a marina next to it. "The place looks like a rotten Soviet Acropolis with all its concrete columns", I read in a post. And this is actually quite a precise description. 

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Linnahall - The former Lenin Palace of Culture and Sport

I looked to the right and saw a massive but slim agglomeration of concrete. "That must be Linnahall", I thought and turn right. I did'nt do much research before we started our long weekend in Tallinn, Estonia. We booked a flight and a hotel, checked some spots on the internet and started exploring the city. I  recognised the spot from some urban exploration pictures and wanted to check it myself. I was not aware of its origin, use or meaning. I like this kind of exploring without an agenda. When something sticks to my head I look it up afterwards anyway. This is what I did with Linnahall.

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My best guided tours

Climbing Ayers Rock, Australia, August 2001

You can easily see that these pictures at the start of my list are the oldest. They are film and diapositives from 2001 in Australia. We spent six weeks down under in Australia and New Zealand with a field trip from university and kicked it off with the red centre before joining the group. We climbed Ayers Rock (or "Uluru" as the Aborigines call it) on an early and very windy morning. Afterwards the sun came out and we circled the famous Australian inselberg. A stunning place to stand on top off and the first example for my best guided tours.

Walking the Great Wall of China, P.R. China, April 2005 and April 2009

I have been to China five times up until today mostly due to my former job. I visited the People's Republic of China in 2005 for the first time together with my father and stayed for three weeks. In 2005 as well as in 2009 I payed a visit to the Great Wall of China, my first of the New7Wonders and the only one I visited more than once. There are a few touristy spots of the Great Wall that are easily accessible from Beijing within an hour or two. I was in Badaling as well as Mutianyu. During that time we were the absolute minority of non Chinese guests there.

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My Top Ten beaches (so far)

Looking through photo collections brings up some new ideas for blogposts. I flipped through my beaches collection and decided to show you my top ten beaches that I have been to so far. Check if anything looks familiar to you and let me know in the comments below.

De Hoop Nature Reserve, South Africa

De Hoop is a nature reserve 230 km east of Cape Town at the Southern coastline of South Africa. Named after the farm "De Hoop" this place turned into a state-run nature reserve in the late 1950s. The reserve has 45 km coast line and is one of the most beautiful places that I have seen in South Africa. Find out about all the De Hoop Beauty and our trip in March 2016 in my blogpost.

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Top Ten Night Photography

Copenhagen, Denmark

I started my photography year of 2014 in Copenhagen, Denmark in January. After a day full of work I found some time to spent in Nyhavn, the old harbour of Copenhagen. I did some long exposure and it was very, very cold. Quite liked the result of the smooth water in Nyhavn in this pic. Find our more about my "At night" work. If you are interested in some more Copenhagen images click here.

Capetown, South Africa

We started and finished in Capetown during our two weeks Garden Route road trip in 2014. I  drove up Signal Hill for sunset. It was really stormy that night so I had to hold my tripod for some additional stability. Ended with some nice shots of the city, the ocean, the soccer stadium and this long exposure between moving trees. This picture got featured on Instagram by @capetownetc and got almost 700 likes. Find out more about my South Africa trip via this link.

Berlin, Germany

I am in Berlin on a regular basis but mostly during day time. I had an overnight stay in May 2014 and went to the Brandenburger Tor for some long exposure work. I really like the shot of the iconic gate with some light streaks in front. If you are interested in other of my Berlin photos follow this link.

Gdansk, Poland

The old port crane in Gdansk is the most dominant building at the river front of the city. I took a few night shots during my first stay there early August 2015. I love the mood of this old Hanseatic city.

Capetown, South Africa

Capetown is definitely within my Top 3 cities in the world. After climbing Lions Head in the morning I spent another hour half way up the mountain to photograph the mother city from above. You can see the Kloof Nek Road towards Camps Bay and a car leaving the Table Mountain cable car station. And the typical table cloth is smoothly descending from Table Mountain. Just a stunning place! Check out my best Capetown and South Africa pictures from March 2016 here.

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Mont Ventoux - The giant of Provence

Did it snow on Mont Ventoux? In June? Looking from afar whilst standing in the lavender fields of the Provence the sandy limestone on top may appear like snow. The upper fourth of the Provence giant is covered in rocks after having left the treeline a couple a hundred meters below. It is hard to be in the Vaucluse, a western region of the Provence in Southern France, and not to see the highest mountain with 1909 m above sea level.

 

Mont Ventoux: The giant of Provence
Mont Ventoux: The giant of Provence
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Course Camarguaise - Where the bull is in focus

The raseteurs and their artistic jumps to escape the bull
The raseteurs and their artistic jumps to escape the bull

I just returned from my summer vacation in the Provence, Southern France. On our road trip we stayed in the Camargue for two days which is a huge delta of the Rhone river west of Marseille. One of the small cities in the region is Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, a 2.700 people town in this huge nature reserve. Saintes-Maries is famous for the Gypsy pilgrimage to the patroness black Sara as well as for its Course Camarguaise - the Camargue version of bull fights. Well, not really fights, but you will find out about that. This blogpost should document this Provence tradition and not judge it.

Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer

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Mont Blanc - The white mountain

"It is -8 °C up there", I said. Looking up the Mont Blanc from the Chamonix valley it seemed far away. And it is: Like almost three kilometers higher than the valley. Chamonix is about 1000 m high and the Mont Blanc, the highest mountain of the alps and the EU, is 4810 m above sea level. We waited in line at the Chamonix cable car on that beautiful morning in early June. Unfortunately, it was quite windy up there and the ride was closed for almost 90 minutes. Afterwards, the 20 minutes ride up the Aiguille du Midi went pretty smoothly. The Aiguille du Midi is a 3842 m rock formation at the Mont Blanc massif and hosts the cable car station, a restaurant and some board walks with stunning views towards the mountain. We stopped in Chamonix for two nights on our way to Southern France to visit the famous "white mountain".

Some roped parties ascending and descending Aiguille du Midi
Some roped parties ascending and descending Aiguille du Midi
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Superkilen - Copenhagen's diversity park

Superkilen, an urban development project in Copenhagen's district Nørrebro
Superkilen, an urban development project in Copenhagen's district Nørrebro

I was in Copenhagen last week for a meeting and had a late flight back to Hamburg. When you check street photography spots in Copenhagen you definitely will find some black and white pictures of leading lines from Superkilen. It wasn't too easy to find the exact location and it is quite a walk to go there from the inner city region. Nevertheless, it is well worth a visit. Superkilen is a public park in Copenhagen's Nørrebro district that celebrates cultural diversity. It is about 30.000 sqm and was opened in 2012. It stretches about 750 m through one of Denmark's most ethnically diverse and socially challenged neighborhoods.

Mimers Plads

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St. Peter's Basilica

My favorite angle of St. Peter's Basilica is this from down low looking over the cobblestone and St. Peter's square.
My favorite angle of St. Peter's Basilica is this from down low looking over the cobblestone and St. Peter's square.

What better way for my Easter blogpost than St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City?

 

St. Peter's Basilica is the Papal Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican. Situated in Italy's capital Rome it is a renaissance church and serves as papal enclave. The basilica is one of the largest churches in the world and one of the holiest sites for Catholicism. It got its name from the burial site of Saint Peter, one of the Apostles and the first Pope. Construction took around 120 years (1506 to 1626). The church was built above the old Saint Peter's church.

 

St. Peter's square is a huge place in front of the church hosting several thousand visitors during liturgical functions. This blogposts will highlight my pictures from a recent Rome trip from the outside, the inside and from on top St. Peter's Basilica. The basilica is also linked with the Passeto di Borgo to the Castel Sant'Angelo. Make sure to check this blogpost, too.

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New7Wonders: 5 down, 2 to go

The list of the 7 Wonders of the World is around 2000 years old. Between 2000 and 2007 there was global survey called New7Wonders that ended with a new list of 7 more modern Wonders of the World. During my travels I had the chance to visit some of them - two of which weren't even officially listed as New7Wonders at the time I was there. As of today I have visited 5 of the New7Wonders. I just recently payed a visit to the only wonder in Europe, the Colosseum in Rome. This blogpost is about my travels and pictures of these New7Wonders. I hope to finalise this list one day. What I like about this collection is that it is easy to see the improvement in my photography between 2005 and 2017 as well as the technical capability of the analogue and digital cameras used. Some of the shots from China and Peru were even shot on slide film as you can easily figure out.

Great Wall of China, People's Republic of China, 700 BC (April 2005 and April 2009)

 

I have been to China five times up until today mostly due to my former job position. I visited the People's Republic of China in 2005 for the first time together with my father and stayed for three weeks. In 2005 as well as in 2009 I payed a visit to the Great Wall of China, my first of the New7Wonders and the only one I visited more than once. There are a few touristy spots of the Great Wall easily accessible from Beijing. I was in Badaling as well as Mutianyu. During the time visiting we were the absolute minority of non Chinese guests there. Interestingly enough this is the only spot of the five wonders I don't have a picture of me being there. Therefore I put a picture of my father Hans in.

 

 

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Rome Street Photography

Whenever I am in a big city street photography becomes part of my daily shooting. What I love about it is that you easily can integrate it whilst walking along the touristy spots. It doesn't even matter that you shoot during midday since the houses and streets have plenty of light and shadow for you to play with. I spent a week in Rome during March 2017 and it was my first time in Italy's capital. This blogpost features my street photography this beautiful old city. If you are interested my other articles on Rome check here for St. Peter's BasilicaCastel Sant'Angelo, My Top Ten Rome pictures, my Colosseum blogpost and my Rome gallery

Around Vatican

Borgo Pio is filled with religious handicraft stores and gathers nuns and clerics from all over the place.
Borgo Pio is filled with religious handicraft stores and gathers nuns and clerics from all over the place.
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Night and day at Castel Sant'Angelo

I enjoy spending time on my own shooting. Especially at night after a busy day. This night out at Castle Sant'Angelo (Castle of the Holy Angel) was much needed after the first full day in Rome in March 2017. I took my tripod, one camera and one lense and just had to walk 10 minutes from our apartment near Vatican City. A perfect little start into a week of photographing the eternal city. Castel Sant'Angelo is located at the west side of the river Tiber and just a few hundred meters away from St. Peter's Basilica. It is a towering cylindrical building shielded by a citadel originally designed as a Mausoleum for the Roman Emperor Hadrian and his family in the 2nd century AD. The connected bridge called Pons Aelius or Ponte Sant'Angelo, also built by Hadrian, is as beautiful as the castle and they make for a stunning architectural combination.

 

Much later the popes converted the Mausoleum to a castle, starting in the 14th century. The connecting wall to St. Peter's Basilica was built by Pope Nicholas III in 1277. It is about 800 m long, has a fortified corridor and is called Passetto di Borgo. It served as an escape route for popes in danger. During these times Castel Sant'Angelo was used as a prison as well as a refuge. Today it hosts a museum and you can enjoy the views around the Italian capital from its roof.

 

I started taking pictures down at the river bank of the Tiber. Is was a warm and dry evening and I very much enjoyed this calm end of the day. Later I finished my shoot on the bridge. The scene felt a bit like Charles' bridge in Prague.

 

During our last day we visited Castle Sant'Angelo from the inside. You will find these pictures in the second part of my blogpost. If you make it to Rome, make sure to pay a visit to this beautiful piece of ancient architecture.

Shooting Castel Sant'Angelo at night

My favorite angle of Sant'Angelo is this wide angle down from the river bank of the Tiber
My favorite angle of Sant'Angelo is this wide angle down from the river bank of the Tiber
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My Top Ten Rome Pictures

I never made it to Rome until March 2017. Europe has so many things to offer, but the rest of the world also does. So I generally tend to go intercontinental in my long vacation since it is easier to endeavor Europe's beauty later in life. Anyway, after a two hour flight from Hamburg it was time for almost a week in the capital of Italy. I had time to reflect on the trip to come up with my Top Ten Rome Pictures this week. if you like what you see make sure to check my other blogposts on Rome: St. Peter's BasilicaCastel Sant'Angelo, Rome Street Photography and my Rome gallery

Piazza Navona

A traveling salesman at Piazza Navona in Rome. A very crowded part of town but with some low angle perspective I made him stand out between people and buildings.

St. Peter's Square

Our apartment for the week was nearby the Vatican - just 5 min walking distance. So plenty of time to shoot this famous spot. My favorite picture still is this low angle shot from St. Peter's Square. You can find my St. Peter's Basilica blogpost here.

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The Colosseum - An architectural landmark of imperial Rome

The Colosseum is a Flavian Amphitheatre completed 80 AD. It is the largest amphitheater ever built. Some 50.000 to 80.000 spectators were able to watch gladiatorial contests and public spectacles such as mock sea battles, animal hunts, executions and dramas based on classical mythology. Today the Colosseum is partially ruined due to earthquakes and stone-robbers, but still an iconic architectural landmark of Imperial Rome.

The amphitheatre at night

I love to play with light streaks especially when the background is that promising.
I love to play with light streaks especially when the background is that promising.
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River Elbe - Lifeline of Hamburg

Moonlight over the Köhlbrandbrücke; January 2014
Moonlight over the Köhlbrandbrücke; January 2014

I search my image library from time to time to find inspiration for new blogposts. When you archive pictures of your hometown for quite some years it is fun to see what you can come up with. I wanted to do another Hamburg blogpost and I found the river Elbe in quite some pictures.

 

The river Elbe is the lifeline of the city. It starts in the Czech Republic and ends roughly 130 km from Hamburg in the North Sea. With its 1094 km it is No. 12 in length in Europe and along the 100 longest rivers in the world. It is Hamburg's gateway to the world, especially for the port. Each of the following ten pictures has a name as well as the date captured.

Elbe skyline; June 2014
Elbe skyline; June 2014
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Top Ten Iceland pictures

I chose my Top Ten pictures every year and thought about my Top Ten Iceland pictures of my 2016 trip. This week I collected my very best shots and share their story. If you want to see more of this check my Iceland Gallery.

Diamond Beach - I missed this spot last time!

During my first trip to Iceland in 2007 I payed a visit to the famous Jökulsarlon glacier lagoon but I missed on its Diamond Beach. And it wasn´t until the 2016 Iceland trip that I realised what marvelous spot I skipped. Diamond Beach is one out of two beaches south of the lagoon where its icebergs meet the ocean. The opposing Jökulsarlon Beach features quite some large pieces of ice and is pretty packed with them on its shoreline. The Diamond Beach instead holds only some smaller pieces that look like diamonds (although they are quite a bit larger). It is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world facing crashing waves towards melting pieces of ice on a black lava beach. I shot this picture as a long exposure on my tripod and managed to give it this blurry look.

Skugafoss - My favorite waterfall

This is my favorite waterfall in Iceland - the Skugafoss. It was a spontaneous find during my last Iceland trip. Just drive the N1 east of Höfn and go left shortly after the tunnel. A twin waterfall in a beautiful landscape. No fences, no tourists. This is what I love about Iceland. You find such a gem and have it on your own! You can even walk behind this twin waterfall. Have you ever stood behind a twin waterfall and seen its water flowing towards the ocean? Make sure to also check my blogpost on Icelandic waterfalls.

Fagrifoss - The 'beautiful' waterfall

One thing you should not miss in the highlands of Iceland is the waterfall Fagrifoss. This Icelandic name means 'beautiful' waterfall. So true! Since we missed it on our way to Laki we got lucky and stopped there on our way back. We neither knew this spot before nor did we expect to see such a beauty on our own! I took some long exposure shots to get the silky look of the water. This also marked the end of our trip to Laki. You can also check my blogpost on Icelandic waterfalls.

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Framing in composition

There are a lot of compositional elements in photography. One of them is framing. I quite often use this element to get a certain perspective of things, to create interest and to put the main subject into a context. Frames can also be helpful to get a needed foreground or some shallow depth of field leading towards the subject. There are natural frames like rocks, trees or shadows and there are plenty of artificial frames like windows, hallways, fences and arches. In all of these cases frames lead the viewer's eyes straight to the place you want it to go.

Ship windows

As you can see with this collection I very much like ship windows as frames. I use them to picture people in front of them or just to frame the view outside the window. The following pictures are shots from Hamburg or taken on my ride on a container vessel along the Elbe river. There is even one shot from a lake in Iceland - guess which one it is...

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Street photography - Egypt style

Egypt is a paradise for street photography. I went to Egypt for the first time in November 2014 with my best friend and we spent 10 days there. We started in touristy Giza, made our way through the oases of the Western Desert, spent some days in ancient Luxor and Thebes and finally got back to Cairo again.

 

With our own car, driver and guide we were able to stop wherever we saw a picture. Since most of the scenes in rural Egypt look very different to European eyes we stopped quite a lot. Enjoy my street photography along the road.

 

And check out my other Egypt pictures as well as my street photography on this site.



At the Pyramids of Giza


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Top Ten Street Photography

I choose my Top Ten pictures every year and thought about my Top Ten street photography images as a blogpost. Collecting my very best street moments from all over the place. If you want more of this check my street photography gallery.

Luxor, Egypt

We finished our Egypt trip in November 2014 with a few days in Luxor. After a sunset dhow ride on the Nile river I saw this silhouette of father and son fishing. I really like their sharp silhouettes during golden and blue hour. And they will always remind me of a very calm and relaxed visit to Luxor.

Wroclaw, Poland

I spent my first days in Poland in April 2015. Went to Wroclaw and had some time for Street Photography in between. This black and white image of a Polish lady is a nice mixture of  

the Rule of Thirds and Leading Lines. Find out more about my stay in Wroclaw.

Riga, Latvia

My bachelor party was in May 2015 in Riga. On our first night out we stopped at a bridge above the Daugava and saw these youngsters showing off.

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Icelandic waterfalls

September 2016, Iceland: I was on a 4x4 road trip in Iceland for 10 days. We spent time in the South and the highlands of this beautiful country. I was especially looking forward to shooting waterfalls in remote locations. Waterfalls that are not a stop for busses full of tourists. We found quite some of these as well as some obvious touristy ones. With the latter it is hard to find your composition without people. With the others you can spend on hour photographing without anybody disturbing you. This is what we did. I made extensive use of my new tripod, L-bracked and ND filters to get the blurry look of the water. I would like to share my most relevant shots with you with this blogpost. If you interested in the rest of my Iceland highlands click here.

Skugafoss

First things first: This is my favorite waterfall in Iceland - the Skugafoss.

It was a spontaneous find during my last Iceland trip. Just east of Höfn and shortly after the tunnel to the left. A twin waterfall in a beautiful landscape. No fences, no tourists. This is what I love about Iceland. You find such a gem and have it on your own for an hour or so! You can even walk behind this twin waterfall. Have you ever stood behind a twin waterfall and see its water flowing towards the ocean?

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Last light of 2016

Ok, it was not the last light of 2016 - but I came close. I went for a stroll around the harbour after finishing work for 2016 on December 30. Barely made it for sunset at Baumwall metro station and at least catched the second to last light in 2016. I love the architecture of the new installation for flood control around. It is white, clean and modern and the stairs make it way more accessible than the previous installation.

 

I also walked down to the Überseebrücke to enjoy the view towards our new landmark. You can see that the Elbphilharmonie is perfectly positioned towards sunset.

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Spectacular metro stations at HafenCity

I work in the middle of the city and I usually take an hour for my lunch break. I had to work between Christmas and New Year's Eve and decided to take the camera along lunchtime. Took the metro U4 - which is the newest in Hamburg - and stopped at HafenCity Universität. Look what colours I came up with.

HafenCity Universität is by far my favorite metro station in Hamburg and a photographer's dream. It has a long line of 12 large cubes - called light containers (equivalent in size to 20 twenty-foot containers) - on the ceiling changing colour every minute or so. I makes waiting for the next metro a pleasure. Every full hour there is a light and sound installation between 11 am and 6 pm.

 

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Elbphilharmonie - Fertig!

After seven years of building and ten times the planned costs the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg opens on January 11, 2017. It will hopefully serve the Hanseatic city as one of the best concert halls in the world and definitely as an architectural landmark in the middle of the Port of Hamburg. I shot this picture in December 2016 during my first time on the Elbphilharmonie plaza. This picture even got featured on Instagram by @Elbphilharmonie and received way more than 1.300 likes. A few weeks before the construction workers illuminated windows of the Elbphilharmonie reading "Fertig" (finished).

 

The Elbphilharmonie plaza is on top of the former warehouse "Kaispeicher A"  from 1963 and below the actual concert hall. Happy to see that after years of building and skyrocketing costs people and media will discuss its purpose as a concert hall from now on. If you haven't been up yourself you have to go!

 

The first part of this blogpost shows the recent pictures even from the plaza. The other pictures show the Elbphilharmonie in the making over the last years. The iconic shape of the roof has been finished for quite a while know when the problem was still the interior. Let me know what you think of this building.

Elbphilharmonie - A concert hall in the making

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Top Ten 2016

Welcome to my 2016 highlights! Each year I collect my top ten shots and this is what I came up with in 2016. Hope you enjoy!

De Hoop Nature Reserve, South Africa

De Hoop is a nature reserve 230 km east of Cape Town at the Southern coastline of South Africa. Named after the farm "De Hoop" this place turned into a state-run nature reserve in the late 1950s. The reserve has 45 km coast line and is one of the most beautiful places that I have seen in South Africa. Find out about all the De Hoop Beauty and our trip in March 2016 in my blogpost.

Capetown, South Africa

Capetown is definitely within my Top 3 cities in the world. After climbing Lions Head in the morning I spent another hour half way up the mountain to photograph the mother city from above. You can see the Kloof Nek Road towards Camps Bay and a car leaving the Table Mountain cable car station. And the typical table cloth is smoothly descending from Table Mountain. Just a stunning place! Check out my best Capetown and South Africa pictures from March 2016 here.

Waltershofer Hafen, Germany

In May 2016 I had the chance to spent a day on a China Shipping container vessel going from the Port of Hamburg to the North Sea. I accompanied the Elbe pilots 130 km via Brunsbrüttel and Cuxhaven to Elbe 1 where they leave the ships again. This picture shows us leaving the Waltershofer Hafen in Hamburg. I really love the skyline-like shadow of the containers in the water. A journey on an almost 400 m long ship along the Elbe river that I will not forget.

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Þórsmörk - One of my most epic landscape shots

I regularly browse the internet for locations that I plan to visit and so did I for Iceland in September 2016. I found some stunning pictures of a valley with a free floating river called Þórsmörk. And here I finally was. At the end of our 10 day trip after an hour hike in the rain before sunset I was on the peak. Since it was cloudy and I had hardly any light, but rain and wind I already started my way back. I felt disappointed and then I saw a tiny bit of blue sky in the dense cloud cover. "When the weather is not good in Iceland, wait for 10 minutes", I remembered. And so I did.

 

The picture shows what happened after 10 min. It gave me a more than satisfied and grateful mood for my descend!

One of my most epic landscapes shots ever. Read the story for my behind the scenes.
One of my most epic landscapes shots ever. Read the story for my behind the scenes.

Our way to Þórsmörk

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Hjörleifshöfði - Unspeakably raw

September 2016, Iceland: I was on a 4x4 road trip in Iceland for 10 days. We spent time in the South and the highlands of this beautiful country. On our way to the village of Vik i Myrdal we stopped at Hjörleifshöfði. An unspeakable location for most Europeans and an incredibly raw place as well. Just turn left from the N1 ring road on your way to Vik. It is located about 15 km ahead of the village. if you don't have a 4x4 these photos indicate where your journey ends.

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Reynisfjara black beach

My last trip to Iceland was almost a year ago. Meanwhile, I published quite some Iceland blogposts that you can find here (at the bottom of the page). What I did not post as of today is my pictures and thoughts of one of the most beautiful spots: Reynisfjara black beach. So here it finally is. Take your time to review and let me know your opinion.

 

September 2016, Iceland: I was on a 4x4 road trip in Iceland for 10 days. We spent half of hour time in the highlands, the rest at the coast near the ring road. After our turning point Höfn we were slowly going westwards again and stopped at Vik i Myrdal for one night to enjoy the local beauty. Vik is mainly about three spots: the Reynisdrangar sea stacks, the black beach of Reynisfjara and Dyrholaey - a cliff with a hole.

Reynisdrangar sea stacks

When you arrive in Vik i Myrdal and just head south you can't miss the local beach and the lookout towards the Reynisdrangar basalt sea stacks. They are framed with a black sand beach that was ranked one of the ten most beautiful non-tropical beaches in the world back in 1991. Legend has it that the stacks originated when two Icelandic trolls dragged a three-masted ship to land unsuccessfully and when daylight broke they became needles of rock. My favorite shot at this beach is this one. A low angle perspective of a black stone surrounded with spray after the waves withdrew.

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Laki, Iceland

September 2016, Iceland: I was on a 4x4 road trip in Iceland for 10 days. We spent time in the South and the highlands of this beautiful country. Half of our time was dedicated to the highlands and we included one night in Laki, or Lakagígar - the craters of Laki. The most prominent eruption was between 1783 and 1784 for eight months. Its effects were noticed even in continental Europe. But especially in Ireland, where the clouds of poisonous hydrofluoric acid and sulfur dioxide killed over 50% of Iceland's livestock. Laki consists of small volcanic craters stretching along a straight line for about 25 km. Leaving the ring road No. 1 at about Kirkjubæjarklaustur you go north for more than two hours. You can't go without a 4x4 and within Laki you even test the limits of your car. This blogpost is about this two day trip. If you interested in the rest of my Iceland highlands click here.

Our way to Laki

We did not have the best weather early September during our stay. We did not even have too much sun especially in the highlands - it was mostly cloudy and rainy. Therefore we enjoyed our moments of stunning light and any sparkle of sun. I like this picture a lot because of the flag-like shape and colours of the landscape. The middle of this moss covered stretch is lit by the sun while we stopped on our way to Laki.

 

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Pietzmoor at sunset

Inspired by a Youtube video (German only) of the beautiful Pietzmoor at Lüneburger Heide I decided to go there for a Saturday night sunset and blue hour. The famous Lüneburger Heide is an hour south of Hamburg and a manmade cultural landscape. Besides the "Heide" (heather) you have some spots where "Torf" (peat) was cut in former time. The biggest still existing peat spot is Pietzmoor near the town of Schneverdingen (find location and description here). There is an almost square shaped  boardwalk taking you around for 4,5 km. Opposite the peat you have the "Osterheide" where you can walk through the heather for hours. After walking the boardwalk once the sun already set. I walked it again to enjoy the most beautiful spots at blue hour. This is what I came up with.



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Lower Engadine

I am a geographer. Part of the fun of my studies was that there were plenty of excursions to choose from. In 2001 we drove to Bavaria, Austria and even parts of Switzerland for a ten days trip. I saw the beauty of the Engadine for the first time back then. The Engadine is situated in the southeast of Switzerland, near Austria and northwest of Italy.

The stunning village of Ardez with the ruins of the Steinsberg castle.
The stunning village of Ardez with the ruins of the Steinsberg castle.

 

Engadine translates to „the valley of the Inn people“. The river starts in the eastern part of Switzerland, passes Austria and empties in the Danube river in Southern Germany. It is a high alpine valley protected by mountain ranges and divided into the Upper Engadine and the Lower Engadine. On a day trip from Austria I went to visit the Lower Engadine again in August 2016.

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The beautiful St. Johann Church and its backdrop

Geislerspitzen

Sometimes the beauty ahead of you is too wide for just one frame. We enjoyed some coffee with Apfelstrudel in the sun and the Geislerspitzen made for our background this afternoon. We spent a couple of hours in the area, walked a bit and I had the time to shoot some panoramas of these beautiful Dolomites peaks. The visit to the Vilnößtal was part of our 10-day trip to Southern Tyrol. I start this blogpost with three panoramas of the Geislerspitzen, from sunny, to partly-cloudy to peaks in the clouds. Normally, I did not use a tripod to make panoramas. I take 3 to 6 horizontal pictures with manual adjustments (aperture, shutter time, ISO, focus) overlapping for a third each. Afterwards I finish with a picture of my hand in the frame. With this I immediately recognize in Lightroom that this is the end of a panorama stitching series. No too long ago Lightroom included a panorama feature that really works well for most of my work. Before that I used PT gui to stitch panoramas.

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Walking the tidal flats to Neuwerk

It is good to plan your trip to Neuwerk well in advance once you want to walk to the island during a summer weekend and stay there over night. We did so mid June and started our tour on a Sunday morning. You either use your worn out sneakers or go barefoot through the tidal flats.  The curvy track is about 12 km and it takes you less than three hours. You have to cross some tidal inlets that will reach up to your knees. Starting in Cuxhaven, Niedersachsen, you arrive on the island of Neuwerk, which surprisingly belongs to the city state of Hamburg although it is roughly 130 km away. If you do not want to walk the "Wattenmeer" you can either go by a horse carriage ("Wattwagen"), ride a horse or by bike. You will find a refreshing Wadden oasis ("Wattoase") as your halfway house before you start your finish. Once you made it Neuwerk rewards you with its quietness!


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With the Elbe pilots towards sunset

You need to be flexible

In November 2014 I started m new position as head of transport, harbour and shipping at the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce. In order to fully understand the shipping business I wanted to go on a container vessel down the Elbe river. The Elbe pilots were kind enough to give me an opportunity to join. I just had to call a shipowner regarding the schedule for their next Ultra Large Container Vessel (ULCV) and off I was. Well, it was not that easy... Since I wanted to join on of the biggest vessels calling the Port of Hamburg I had to be very flexible timewise. These ships mainly start from China and call many harbours on route to Europe. And even within Europe you do not really know what day they call Hamburg. China Shipping sent me the draft schedule of their big vessels calling Hamburg. But my contact did not forget to mention that this list was not too reliable timewise. Some phone calls later combined with a lot of flexibility I arrived at Container Terminal Eurogate Hamburg on May 6, 2016. With this blogpost I would like to give you an idea of what it is like to go on a very large container vessel down the river Elbe. Besides shooting pictures I also shot some video that day. I hope you also like my video about the trip. Make sure to check this, too.

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Bo-Kaap - Colourful Capetown

Bo-Kaap is the most colourful place I have ever seen. Situated at the foot of Signal Hill in Capetown, South Africa, it is home to the Cape's Muslim Community. Many of its about 6000 residents are descendants of slaves from Malaysia (therefore they are generally known as "Cape-Malay"), Indonesia and different parts of Africa. The slaves were brought by the Dutch in the 16th and 17th century.

 

I have been here two years ago and spent another afternoon in Bo-Kaap during my last stay in Capetown in March 2016. It was just a 5 min walk away from our guest house. The colour especially pops during sunset and during my walk the muezzin called for the afternoon prayer.

Hope you enjoy all the colour. On top of that I edited a little video to give you a sense of beautiful Bo-Kaap.

 

 

 



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