Untangled

Untangled

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.

Ocean, Swamps, and Freedom

Ocean, Swamps, and Freedom

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.

Complex World

Complex World

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?

Collide / Collapse / Collude

Collide / Collapse / Collude

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.
Deceiving thoughts,
are leaving spots,
and what is left is sparse:
unite and fight for what is right,
do not incite, do bring delight.

Perspective

Perspective

Scattered bodies,
overrun,
a single error,
one last breath,
machine gun terror,
reign of death.

Barren friendships,
endless war clips,
dreadful horror, 
needless sorrow.
Sons with guns are
rolling dice,
to sacrifice
their universe.

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.

Clickbait

Clickbait

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.


Morning Gymnastics

Two geese, Hometown.

Morning mist & our local pond: A perfect match.


Nestling

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.


Protected

Bee in action, Hometown.

Looking forward to the time of the year when nature is coming alive again.


The Dream

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.


Prospects

Rofanspitze, Alps.

A perfect sunrise.


Delicate

Poppy flower, Hometown.

One of my goals for this year: Photographing more poppies!


Closing the Circle

Sunset ICM, Hometown.

Spirals in a sunset, warm and cold swirling around each other, as night greets day.


Duck

Duck, Hometown.

Not much else to say here.


Triplet

Three dead spruces, Harz.

It took longer than expected to find this composition of trees during the first snow of the winter.


Parabola

Birch tree catching light, Hometown.

A single birch tree catching the first rays of light in front of the dark forest.


Travellers

Geese, Hometown.

The geese at our local pond during autumn: Every morning flocks of birds start off into the unknown.


Group Picture

Birch trees, Solling.

This makes me wanna photograph more woodlands; unfortunately, fog is rather rare around here.


Rising Clouds

Woodlands, Harz.

Perfect conditions as far as photography during noon goes. Rising clouds and snowy spruces came together.


Companion

Sandpiper, Denmark.

Cuddly, fluffy, tiny.


Lines

Retreating waves, Denmark.

First and only time so far that I have photographed the ocean; looking forward to going there again.


Backlit

Common Blue, Bavaria.

There are many variations of this picture in my archives. This monochromatic one has become one of my favourites.


Aspirations

Three eucalyptus trees, Madeira.

Besides birches, I fell in love with eucalyptus trees: their red bark in contrast to the green leaves and the shape of their branches is wonderful.


Mountain Ranges

Rofan mountains, Alps.

The colors and mood of a sunrise in the mountains cannot be communicated with photos.


Delicate Connections

Water droplets on grass, Hometown.

Two single droplets of water and fine spider webs form an abstract imagery.


Approach

Soldier beetle, Hometown.

Patience, patience, patience. I am looking forward to the day where I can sit and wait in nature as long as I want, without obligations waiting around.


Ordered Chaos

Beech trees in fog, Hometown.

Our local woodlands in late Autumn. I had been waiting for fog for a long time and when it finally arrived, I spent a whole morning outside exploring new paths.


Simplicity

Blossoms of a cherry tree, Hometown.

One of the simplest shots one could make.


Fairytale

Woodlands ICM, Near Hometown.

One of the (very) few times we got snow this winter. We explored some woods close by for the first time as the morning sun unfolded.


The Conversation

4 geese, Hometown.

Four geese on a landing stage enjoying the first rays of warm light, chatting about the happenings of past week.


Cold White Christmas World

Winter, Harz.

Starry night, cold air.


Commander

Group of trees, Madeira.

It were definitely the harshest conditions I shot in this year: Rain pouring down, wind sweeping across the land.


Seagull Portray

Seagull, Madeira.

The palette of colors and ocean in the background is what makes me like this one.


Crooked Heart

Highland cattle, Hometown.

Finding piece in a single picture.


Falling Into Place

At a levada, Madeira.

25 springs are welling right next to this waterfall. A special place and, sadly, quite crowded because of it.


Reminiscence

Sunset, Brocken.

Compositionally quite boring; but a special one to me, because it was a delightful evening trip with my parents.

Oscillations

Oscillations

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.

Falling Into Place

Falling Into Place

When does it all
fall into place?
Why does it feel
like it's a race?
The trail entrenched,
the water clear,
my body wrenched
by wicked fear.
The weight weighs down,
the lone souls drown –
no escape, just chains,
fate leaves the town.
Wrath claims the crown:
Where have I been?
What have I done? 
Escaped my sin, a lying grin
remains.

Cloudtrees

Cloudtrees

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.

Figures of Imagination

Figures of Imagination

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.