The alarm clock goes off at 5 in the morning. Fortunately, in anticipation of my morning mood, past me already crammed everything into the backpack yesterday evening so I can get started right away. Why today? Because the forecast promised heavy fog for the whole morning. So, despite the apparent lack of fog at this early time, I hop onto my bike, and drive off into nature. All trust placed in the forecast. I have visited this wood many times before; last time in late winter when everything looked naked and cold. So how about today? It’s a different world:
The fog appears as the sun rises. First, it lingers on the fields and streets, but then it slowly creeps into the forest. And with every passing minute it becomes more dense as it wraps around the trunks and branches. The greens get so intense it looks like someone slipped on the saturation slider, while old leaves are scattered across the ground. The birds already conclude their morning symphony, everything is calm and peaceful.
I drift around, on paths, off paths, through the scrub, across small glades. And, as everytime, I realize: photographing woodlands is hard. Everything is cluttered, without structure, entangled. But with enough patience even the woodlands become untangled, as does the mind.
The land is flat and stretches out,
it seems that here the birches sprout
quite willingly in swamps and marsh,
the light is golden, never harsh.
The birds sing different and fly
towards far places, as the sky
turns orange and leaves us behind,
vanishing traces in the mind,
condensed adventure, precious time,
forgetting it might be a crime.
We see faces where there are none. We see patterns where there is only chaos. When we are tasked to produce a series of random numbers, the result does not pass the simplest quality criteria we would demand from computers. In a complex world, we fall back to things we know, concepts we understand, and patterns we have engrained. But: It is brave to acknowledge ‘I don’t know’ – there is no shame in unintentional unknowingness. There is always time to learn. And it’s courageous to think outside the box and propose the unusual. However, this is not to be confused with refuting the consensus. And it does not equate to ignoring or denying the facts. Unfortunately, a non-negligible proportion of society does not seem to be aware of this difference. Instead of arguing in the realm of reality they spread lies. Instead of acknowledging the unknown they act as the keepers of truth. And surely: the other side does the same, however, with another truth. How can such a split society regenerate and reclaim a common truth?
Bright beam of light within the night,
a scenery in black and white.
Dreams are extremes
but, as it seems,
color soaks in and strokes begin
to rise and shine, a hopeful sign.
are leaving spots,
and what is left is sparse:
unite and fight for what is right,
do not incite, do bring delight.
a single error,
one last breath,
machine gun terror,
reign of death.
endless war clips,
Sons with guns are
Little time has passed since I wrote about peace. And here we are, shaken by war – it has been a rude awakening. The mind is trapped in a not so distant country while the body remains comfortably at home. The war is close now and, as it seems, this makes all the difference. Back then I asked myself: Would I fight? What for? The questions keep lingering, flare up, and sink down again. I don’t want to fight. I cannot fight. But then again, the mind is made for adaptation. Many men over there were probably thinking the same a few weeks ago. And in presence of such blatant failure of the human race we still wonder what the great filter might be.
Who doesn’t like Top Ten lists? Admittedly, I couldn’t resist and here is a list of mine, however, it doesn’t contain ten elements. Instead, I have searched the archives for my favorite pictures from the last 12 month – because today it’s this blogs first birthday.
Two geese, Hometown.
Morning mist & our local pond: A perfect match.
A small pine, Harz.
The mystical Harz mountains. One of my early pictures and, until today, probably the best conditions I have ever had in Harz.
Bee in action, Hometown.
Looking forward to the time of the year when nature is coming alive again.
Toad on migration, Harz.
Also in the Harz mountains, in one of the most remote regions. I was quite excited when we saw a single toad on our hike. An hour later there were so many that it became difficult not to step onto one.
One of the last exercises in an introductory course to programming I teach is to implement a straight-forward approach for modeling population growth over discrete time steps with a logistic growth function: The population x of a species at time t+1 is determined as x(t+1) = r * x(t) * (1-x(t)) where x(t) is the population at time t, and r is a fixed reproduction parameter. The choice of r influences the long term behaviour of the resulting time series – thus, the growth of the species population; for example, for r < 1, the series tends towards zero – the species goes extinct. However, for r > 3 the series oscillates – it exhibits a periodic behaviour (for some values of r the series even becomes seemingly random without a fixed period, see e.g. here). The length of the period depends upon r, but it never reaches an equilibrium; like a pendulum, swinging around its only stable position in the middle. Like life pulsating between non-steady positions, but never reaching a balanced state.
Oscillations are present constantly. The term (1-x(t)) models the environmental restrictions that prohibit unlimited growth. Restrictions which prevent us to come to a rest. The fantasy of a steady state is a futile one. There are times where a stable position seems in reach; until external restraints pull us back into another direction. At the moment, it’s the direction of work; and hence, photography and blog posts are somewhat neglected. Winter already fades again, making way for summer. Left are only some solitary pictures of oscillating camera movements and colorless nature.
Madeira – the island of ever-changing weather: From storm to rain to sun to clouds to an ocean breeze, there was a bit of everything. On the island of eternal springtime, it felt like we witnessed at least three seasons in two weeks. But one constant remained: clouds and trees, intermingled on the rolling hills and steep faces of the mountains. Always waiting to be photographed, always changing shape and color. Madeira didn’t get spared by wildfires though; as in most European countries in the recent years, forest fires destroyed large areas in 2016 and the damages can be clearly seen along the southern coast.
The extent to which forests help to battle climate change seems still to be rather unclear: it’s not only about the amount of carbon they can capture, but also about the amount of clouds they produce which in turn reflect sun light. In any case, cutting down trees or setting fire is detrimental – nevertheless, both will happen in the years to come. Trees, clouds, and the sun, here all coming together during our hike on Pico Grande:
After naming this blog post I also discovered that cloud forest is a real term and about 1% of all forests are considered to be cloud forests.
Heavy rain takes turns with strong gusts of wind. I protect the camera, quickly wipe the lens, take a single shot, repeat. From time to time the sun brightens the clouds directly above. And then again, everything is covered in thick fog and sight decreases to only a few metres. Tourists stop in the car park, wait for a few minutes, and leave again. I am lucky that my significant other patiently waits in the car while I battle the weather. There is little chance to check how the photos look – since my camera isn’t weather sealed, I am more concerned about protecting it. The trees around me dance in the wind, characters of long forgotten legends, rooted deep, and yet it seems as they are moving with every step I take: From the lonesome warrior, to the sheltered child, to the ancient sage.