Winter-Wonder-Land Part 1

Winter-Wonder-Land Part 1

First snow, crisp air,
blue frost, white glow
buries despair,
and slow I go
onward. 
From 
parallel trees
lined up with ease,
to twigs that please,
like limbs, appease
the camera.
And clouds rise high
try to defy 
the gravity.
As does my mind
left far behind,
outpaced by steps
towards the peak,
wandering blind
through some old week.
But now and then
it sure does speak,
with care: Beware! –
Do neither sink
into the past,
nor outrun now;
instead allow
to be, at last:
right here, right now.
And here, right now,
it's marvelous:
Another world,
curled into snow,
furled onto film,
pearled, carefully,
by ice and frost;
my soul gets lost.
And save to say:
Somehow,
it's winter now.

No Happy Ending

No Happy Ending

Happy endings are pleasant. They are comfortable. They are liberating. They are desired. The good overcomes the bad, the mission is successful, there are flowers, firework, and love. People want happy endings. And sometimes, I do as well. It’s easy going and fun. All the hard pain pays off, the characters I rooted for achieve what they deserve, the reading experience is exhilarating. The ring gets finally destroyed, Voldemort is gone for good, and all the rest lived happily ever after. These stories are, and stay, fairy tales.

But, most often, those stories are not the ones that inspire me the most. Instead, it’s the other kind. The ones that do not end well. The ones that end how most things end: In chaos and hardship, and without loved ones. The stories that feel real. And it’s not because they do not portray happiness. It’s because how they portray happiness. In fairy tales, the happiness only comes in the end, after all bad is gone. But without an happy ending, the happiness has to be portrayed in between. During the struggle, despite the struggle, because of the struggle. They teach courage and perseverance. These stories are the ones that move me, move my heart, that have the potential to cause real change. Because there is no ever after. There is only now to find happiness.

1000

1000

It’s less than a year ago that I started this little project, and what an adventure it has been. What I hoped to be, proved to be true indeed: This is way more fun than social media. I care little about how many people engage and whether you like it (although I am very glad about the positive feedback of some of you!), but instead I can focus on what I want to create.

While I did not really had any idea about the written content of the blog when I started, I knew that there will always be photos. Of nature, animals, landscapes, birds, trees, whatever I might encounter. But I didn’t knew how many – by now, it’s already above 1000!

1000 impressions, 1000 compositions, sometimes interesting, sometimes boring, but, with every picture, I could learn and improve. And behind the 1000 shared photos, there are at least fifty times that many, deleted long ago, or sleeping on my hard drive. I am looking forward to the next 1000 images…

In the meantime: Thanks to everyone who is reading these entries, thanks to everyone who is enjoying the pictures, thanks to the few who are following this little undertaking.

Sundays

Sundays

Car keys jingle and I mingle
into the traffic. With no single 
destination.
Brief stop at the gas station.
I leave behind the city smog.
And then: into the rural parts.
I search and wander, at times wonder
where to go in all this fog;
A yellow birch, a distant church, 
I calm down, forget the town.

And then, quite suddenly, the sun appears, 
and all the fears of all past years
are gone, 
forever, no more tears,
fallen into oblivion. 
Smog got replaced by haze that stays
for long, the bells chime distantly: 
Ding, Dong. 
It leads me ways I haven't walked,
towards where horses graze.
A lonely tree, a distant boat
afloat the lovely lake. 
Most leaves are gone, a mid-flight swan,
a slight cold breeze, my warming fleece.
All earth holds still and is at peace.

I strive to capture, to collect 
some memories, every aspect
of nature into photographs.
But as I try to wrap
this life, this moment, 
carefully, into my trap, 
I fail.
It's too elusive, scurries by,
under the sky, so high above.
Instead, I sail on thoughts away.
Shove my glove on freezing hands,
just take it in and feel some love.

Taking a Gamble on Life

Taking a Gamble on Life

After 25 revision of this post, it needs to go out there. It has already taken too much time, and I cannot justify to spend even more. Even though it’s not as I imagined or planned it and way shorter than its original draft. It’s also a little cliche, but it’s where my head is going from time to time, wandering through the woods. Maybe there will be a version 2.0.

The appeal of gambling is the repetition – repetition of chance. Just wait until the next roll of dice: it will get better. The next hand of cards, it will improve. Failing this time is bearable; there is another opportunity just around the corner. Never the need to place a bet on a bad hand. Instead, waiting is rewarded, until the fortune turns around, until there is a reasonable chance of winning. But the gamble on life is different and harsh. We are being dealt a single hand. We have to play it to the end. There is no escape, no second time; the only option is to start playing.

And with every day rolling by, questions come and stay, in this real life play. Pile up to mountains that obscure the view: Am I satisfied with my decisions? Will I be pleased with the life I lived? When it’s coming to an end? Am I doing what I want to? In this single opportunity? What is my goal? Finding joy while others suffer? Distancing myself from evil? What is my place? Where should it be?

But still, day in day out, we are continuing with daily life. We promise ourselves that soon, so soon, the day will come where we chase our dreams. Where we turn around our life and do what we really want to do, what we should do, what would be the right thing to do, instead of persevering in this treadmill: Dreading potential failure instead of indulging in our aspirations; confused about our singular existence and its meaning. It’s a large gamble in the only real game we will be ever playing – and I am loosing most of the days. And I am afraid that some day, which seems so far away, but will be here any moment, I will awake and realize that I have missed out on my chance, that I missed out on my dreams, that it’s too late to live like I intended, that it’s too late to turn around.

And, while we may be lucky with our 20th roll of dice, in this singular life there will come an end. An end where we loose it all. No matter how we played.

Hidden Places

Hidden Places

The wet grass absorbs my footsteps as I carefully navigate through bushes and cows. Autumn: the season of fog – however, this is only the second time this year that the colors and sounds of the environment are muted and everything seems calm and silent. My paths leads me out of the city, along the country road, and then into nature: The trees still cling onto their last leaves, the muddy ground hinders my movement, and thorns damage my precious jacket: First into a small valley, then into an old quarry followed by a steep ascent. Next, along a hidden path into the woods. The edge of the small forest is already in sight and after I cross an untreated field, there it is: A hidden gem in our landscape, an old orchard, far off from society. Every time I have been here, together with plenty of wildlife, I can feel at peace.

Falling in Love with Fall

Falling in Love with Fall

Most people have a favorite season. For me it was summer for as long as I remember: The mellow evenings, long daylight, warm temperatures. I remember playing soccer for days during the long holidays when I was a kid. In summer, life is easy and joyful. After summer, the second best season is spring. Why? Because summer comes afterwards. Autumn always seemed depressing; and winter, well, winter is cold and rainy.

But my preferences changed in the last year, fueled by my journey through photography. Suddenly, every season brings change into nature and, thus, change into pictures. With every passing week, there are new things to discover: Leaves change color, fog sweeps through, snow coats the landscape, ice transforms the texture of surroundings, the early blossoming plants arrive, and fresh greens flourish. A constant act of discovery – suddenly every season becomes more fascinating than it did before.

Autumn still isn’t my favorite season; but it’s on par with all the others now. I can appreciate it for all its colors, for the misty mornings and foggy woodlands. Getting up for sunrise is comfortably possible at 7 a.m., capturing sunsets can be done before dinner. Many birds pass our latitude, stop at the local pond and calmly wait until the conditions are just right.

Random Access Memory

Random Access Memory

Here, take these cookies, be a member, we remember. All of it. Eat, sleep, work, repeat. We bleed, sweet data. Still we tweet – no chance to cheat. It’s temptation, an online nation. Only little hesitation. Enjoy these widgets, rising digits to the sky. A day flies by. A week flies by. A weekend dies with clear blue skies. I briefly wave – but it’s too late. Too late for greetings, many meetings. Too late for any getaway. This day, at least, from the ever hiding beast. Wishful thinking, blinking prey.

But thanks for remembering this birthday from a long-forgotten friend. Attend, or force the end? Phone shines, mails are answered by AI. We buy. Ever increasing entropy gets organized. Our lives exactly sized and priced: A crime. But, at least, we can access everything, everywhere. All the time. A dulcet chime, a finished rhyme: Technology, boon and bane, like a chain.

Where did all the years go? I know, deep below the surface. Good night, withering planet, so bright and ill. Just give me the blue pill. And let big data suggest the best set of pictures.

Complexity

Complexity

Time and space complexity are among the first concepts one gets to learn in computer science theory. It’s about the analysis of the time and space an algorithm uses as a function of its input data. Lower time and memory requirements amount to a ‘better’ algorithm and, thus, to improved performance on data sets of increasing size. Optimizing algorithms with respect to their time and space requirements is essential in virtually all areas. Reducing complexity is the key.

With a little bit of imagination, this concept can be applied to photography. For me, this became apparent recently as I tried to shoot woodlands more intentionally. Here, if the camera is pointed somewhere at random, the frame is filled with a large variety of shapes, colors, and different impressions. However, visually pleasing photos show some kind of order and structure: They reduce the complexity within the space of the frame. They guide the eyes of the viewer. They clearly show the subject. They are easy to understand. Reducing complexity is the key.

The above pictures are neither good examples of reduced complexity, nor of woodland photography. Just some first tries on a long road ahead. But I already have some improved pictures of woodlands in the queue, waiting for their own post. Reduce complexity: in algorithmics, in photography, in life.

Birches, Deer, Fog

Birches, Deer, Fog

The scene: A large glade within the swamp, stretching under the moon-lit sky. The actors: Multiple deer, hidden between the trees, rutting season has begun; a group of motionless birches, leaves turning yellow. The director: Fog, shaping the landscape, constantly changing the stage.