Thursday, August 30, 2012

More fish-eye photos

Our family went to Eins und Alles again and this time I went equipped with my 8mm fish-eye. This place is nothing for telephoto lenses. It invites you to touch and experience everything there. So I got up close and captured some fun shots.

Julia bathes in a tub full of cherry and peach pits.

Oversize furniture lets adults know what it is like for children to use our chairs.

Little houses of color provide a special sensory experience.

A bridge provides Fynn with an opportunity to hang ten.

A jungle of colorful wooden poles gives new meaning to "watch your head!"
Transforming mirrors provide glimpses into the future.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Lake Constance

Our summer vacation this year took us to Lake Constance, the largest body of water in Germany, which borders on Austria and Switzerland as well. Ferries shuttle guests from one shore to the next and bicycles are omnipresent on the many bike paths surrounding the sea.
Landlocked as we are in Stuttgart (aside from the barely noticeable Neckar River running through the city), it was refreshing to breath the fresh air down at the lake. The area is steeped in history - from Unteruhldingen's 6000-year-old archeological finds to Constance's wonderful cathedral and constant reminders of the role it played in Germanic history. The region is also well know for its agricultural products, especially its apples. Our holiday apartment bordered a pear plantation.
But the real thrill for the kids and adults alike was the allure of the water.

Whether we were on the fast Katamaran ferry or watching the bathers and boaters from the shoreline, the water fascinated us all.

 Every time of day had its charm and different quality of light.

When we walked over to Lindau Island, we usually had to wait for the trains to come and go before we could cross the tracks and continue on our journey. The man in the Bahnwärter house near the tracks didn't seem to be distracted by the 100 or so bike riders waiting to cross. We guessed that he was in cahoots with the man selling coffee at the crossing! I took the following picture through a drainage pipe there that emptied out into the lake.

Another major attraction at the lake is the city of Meersburg. Because the part of Germany near the lake is so close to Switzerland, the Allies did not dare bomb it during WWII for fear of missing their target. Thus, there is a lot of well-preserved history to be seen, such as the old and new castles in Meersburg.
The new palace in Meersburg with a flock of starlings swarming about 
There is also the unfriendliest ice cream parlor employee I've ever met. I stopped to take a picture of  their marzipan offerings and the woman yelled at me to not take pictures and delete the one I'd taken or she'd have me arrested. The gentleman who had just ordered three scoops of ice cream from her told her that he didn't want it any more because she was so rude. She just dumped the ice cream back and went about her witchy ways. Nearly ruined my day.

We also had some nice encounters with animals while we were on vacation. At the lake we enjoyed watching the hungry seagulls dive for whatever crumbs were offered them.

 And we visited the farm owned by our neighbor's parents in Friedrichshafen. I got the full tour with quite an interesting history lesson about how the city had tried to take their land away in the 1970s. They fought the city in court for 22 years, finally proving that they were serious about keeping what was rightfully theirs. We saw their very happy cows - all descendants from their own herd. We helped with the onion harvest. The store was open, so we bought fresh salami, cheese, milk and fruits and vegetables. They invited us for a wonderful supper, which we ate out in their garden. It was the first time I had had really fresh milk in over 40 years!

During our second day trip to Bregenz (Austria), we took the cable car up the Pfänder Mountain and saw animals in their natural Alpen habitats. We also saw the stage set up on the lake for the opera André Chénier. I had seen Fidelio there back in 1995, which was a fascinating experience.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

A few flowers

Today is the day for flower shots. These were all found in the Wilhelma Botanical Gardens in Stuttgart.

Backgrounds in photographs have become nearly as important for me as the foregrounds. They are, after all, in the picture and can either distract from the overall impact of the picture or add to it.

Sometimes you can fill the frame and not worry about there being any background at all (to speak of).

Calla lilies are such beautiful flowers when they are fresh and the main blossom reflects the sunlight onto the powdered stamen. I can understand now why my mother liked to have the around the house and why they often served as subjects for her paintings.

I sold a print of this gorgeous orchid to a friend who just opened a Rolfing practice in Stuttgart. It looks great blown up to 50 x 70 cm.

The light falling on these two camelia blossoms couldn't have been nicer as it filtered through the roof of the green house. The high-quality of the Tamron 90mm macro lens helped preserve the precious details of these shots.