Monday, March 27, 2017

More water sports on Lake Como

In my last post I wrote a bit about kiteboarding, which requires a strong wind to keep the athlete on top of the water. When the wind is not quite strong enough for that, the kiteboarders take a break and the windsurfers take over.

Kiteboarders dry their kites and wait for more wind

Meanwhile, on the other side of the lake, the windsurfing school is teaching new surfers the ropes.

And the advanced surfers show their stuff.

Then it is time for a windsurfing break.

Time to dry off and spend a moment with the family (dog).

Time for a selfie while the light is just right.

 One more go at it while there is still some wind.

 Time to pack up and go home.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The beautiful Lago di Como: Kiteboarding

When the wind picks up on Lake Como, the kitesurfers (or kiteboarders) come out in droves. An app informs them where the wind is best and what it will allow them to do. Our first full day on the northeastern shore of the lake in August 2016 provided us with a spectacular wind-and-water dancefest!

Not only were the kiteboarders fun to watch, but the clouds and light were changing as quickly as the people were skittering across the waves. I don't usually like to refer to Wikipedia, but the page on kite surfing is pretty good!

At one point, my eye caught a man who seemed to be riding above the water. Upon closer inspection, it seemed he was up on a foil, which kept him above the waves and allowed him to take off and fly much easier than those without a foil. 

Without being beat about by the waves, he seemed to have more endurance than the other athletes on the water. He surfed/flew back and forth for a good hour. The other kiteboarders seemed to have enough wind to fly and do flips, too, though.

But for the most part, they seemed to require a lot more effort to fly.

The foil-rider, on the other hand, would simply give his kite a jerk and take off. It was spectacular!

Although he didn't do any flips, he did pose at the zenith of his flight.

And at a certain point, he successfully disengaged his feet and turned the board around in the air, while hanging on to his harness with the other hand.

The evening couldn't have been more exciting. The light, the sports and being there with my family and best friend made for a memorable time.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Autumn light

You just can't beat the end of the year for an axis tilt that is bound to give a photographer a few moments of joy. This past autumn I was out and about both in the city and in the countryside while the sun was doing its thing. Here are some impressions from the urban outings.

 If you've been following this blog, you know that I live in Stuttgart, Germany. These pictures show some of the diversity present in this Motor-Town. Nearly 140,000 of the 600,000 inhabitants of Stuttgart are foreigners and a foreign language is spoken in nearly every second household. The international businesses here such as Daimler, Porsche, HP, IBM and Bosch make use of the advanced stage of integration here to conduct business all over the world. Our namesake in America is not quite as outward-looking.

But here I was wanting to talk about the autumn sunlight and not about business in Stuttgart!

The train station is one of my favorite topics, but you already knew that!

Wherever the sun shines brightly and the shadows are long, I can stand and stare forever.

One of my favorite positions when making photographs is, in fact, staring right into the sun. Doing so helps you concentrate on the shapes of objects in front of you and the strength of the light rather than the colors or gestures. Of course it is intense and not easy on the eye (or the camera's sensor), so you have to protect yourself and your equipment by taking frequent breaks. However, when the sun is this low, you have only about 15 more minutes before it has totally disappeared. In the autumn and winter the blue hour is not as glorious as in the summer so take advantage of every minute!

Urban architecture also profits from strong lighting. Following the dark lines of the shadows on the pavement and the highlights reaching into the sky creates a lovely scene. Throw some people and their shadows into the mix and you've got some lovely lines to ogle.

I often have to think that the architects took the changing sunlight into consideration when planning their buildings.

The reflections in the upper storeys of this bank building (and those in the pool below, too) remind me of the symbol for the Freemasons. What do you think?

The square and compass symbol of the Freemasons

With our without color, the inner courtyard of the massive LBBW-Bank near the train station is worth a few shots.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

October exhibitions

Last year one of my photos was chosen as a prize-winner in the photo competition "Unser Neckar", sponsored by the Ministry for Environment of Baden-Württemberg. That was quite an honor.
Now the sponsors have put on a fine exhibition of the prize-winning works at the Zehntscheuer in Rottenberg am Neckar, They used my photo for the invitations, posters and banners that are hanging throughout that beautiful little town.

I attended the opening on September 23, 2016, and was thrilled to see Heiko there, the man in the boat. In order to have my photo considered for a prize, I had to find out who the rower was. This was not an entirely easy task. However, since he was rowing from the Gaisburger Brücke up toward Untertürkheim, I figured he might be a member of the rowing club there. I paid them a visit and showed some of the members the photo. They immediately identified the boat, but said they didn't know the athlete. A few phone calls put me in touch with someone who did. Heiko called me and gave me his permission to use the photo. He and his charming wife came to the awards ceremony at Remseck last year and now I got to enjoy his company again as we went through the exhibition together, chatting with some of the other photographers. As coincidence would have it, he owns the same make of Sony RX100 that I have. Many of my professional photographer friends also own it and love it.
The exhibition is open until October 23, 2016.
Kulturzentrum Zehntscheuer Rottenburg, geöffnet:
Mittwoch bis Freitag von 15 bis 18 Uhr
Samstag, Sonntag, Feiertage von 13 bis 18 Uhr.
Eintritt frei.
Dr. Sabine Schellberg introduced the competition to the audience at the opening.

Visitors at the opening view the winning works.
The photographer is photographed by the model!

Soon after that excursion, I drove down to Tübingen to participate in the Worldwide Photo Walk with some friends. I arrived there an hour before the others, right when the Entenrennen was finishing up. Thousands of rubber duckies were let loose in the Neckar River with numbers on each one. As they are fished out of the river, the numbers are called out - like a lottery - and prizes are awarded. People were able to rent kayaks and canoes to go out on the river during the duck race.

This man was practising Eskimo rolls in his kayak.
There was an 85% of precipitation that afternoon, so the official leader cancelled the walk. It drizzled for 5 minutes but the wind blew the clouds right over us before any of us could get wet.
We were determined to walk and click, and since all of us were familiar with Tübingen, we set out on our own. It was a very nice, small group of photographers. I had my fish-eye lens on my A77 - a trusted combination.
We walked through the old town and then headed down to the river.

A tiny crevice between two buildings offered a nice frame for a shot of the river.

A view from the stairs next to the bridge

As the sun set, there was some beautiful light on the river.

Der harte Kern. The 2016 WWPW walkers in Tübingen.

Die Stocherkähne - river boats - are typical for the university town of Tübingen.

If there is a bridge in Europe, you'll probably find love locks fastened to it.
I'll take one or two pictures from recent walks and exhibit them as part of the German & American Artists' Group at the Zehntscheuer in Zuffenhausen from October 19-23, 2016. The opening is October 21 at 7 pm. Please come join us!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Getting your brass kick

Around 12 years ago I had the pleasure of welcoming Christof Schmidt to the Klett Verlag, where we worked side-by-side for several years until he left to pursue his passion of playing the trombone in various ensembles. He has now pretty much made it to the top, having recently taken over the helm of Stuttgart's Protestant Brass Choirs from Hans Holzwarth, who had the job from 1978 until July 9, 2016, 
Variate, a select group of brass musicians conducted by Hans Holzwarth, here in the Markus Kirche, Stuttgart
In addition, Christof leads a couple of ensembles, including the Hohenlohe Brass, the Hohenlohe Brass Quintet and Trombana, Aside from playing and touring with these ensembles, he regularly plays in regional orchestras when an extra trombone is needed: Mozart's Requiem, Strauß, Mahler, Bruckner. 

His newest project was formed at the request of the Landesmuseum Württemberg, which has opened an exhibition about the Swabians in the Altes Schloß in Stuttgart. In March 2017 Christof's ensemble Trombanda will play with the former Olympic gold medalist, Dieter Baumann, who has now focused his energy on cabaret. It will be an entertaining concert!

In need of publicity photos, he turned to me and I was more than happy to oblige. The day before the shoot I went into town to scout out locations. Then I made some sketches to remind me of the visions I had for the shots. This was the first one we got.

I had actually imagined him running through the picture, but while we were warming up and getting to know one another, we weren't quite loose enough for that yet. However, in our third (and next-to-last) location Dieter suggested that himself, so it was much easier to capture (see below).

After shooting in the courtyard of the Altes Schloß, we went to one of Stuttgart's art museums. I like the lines there and the view of Stuttgart that one has through its glass facades.

Out in front of the Neues Schloß we got some nice shots as tourists walked by, shooting our shoot as they enjoyed the sunny day.

As we were setting up an "Abbey Road"-style shot there, a group of tourists were standing in the way. Dieter, self-assured as he is, asked them to move and they did!

It was a very fun job because every one was relaxed, the weather was on our side and I had a very competent assistant - thank you, Robert!

The "Abbey Road" shot