Author: elke@blog

Pessimism is not an Option

My daughter and I spent a wonderfully inspiring evening at the Goethe University Frankfurt, where the philosopher Prof. Dr. Richard David Precht and the biologist Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Volker Mosbrugger were discussing questions regarding the future of human beings. One major topic that was touched upon in the discussion was, what kind of effect new technological advances such as artificial intelligence and digitalization might have on our cultures and societies. Richard David Precht, philosopher, author and leading intellectual, whose latest book “Jäger, Hirten, Kritiker” deals with this subject, offered sharp analyses, valuable insights and inspiring ideas. (There are people who claim that he raises the IQ by just entering a room.) Although there are those who predict a bleak future – given the big challenges that lie ahead -, Richard David Precht maintains that “pessimism is not an option”. And he further elaborates: “An optimist who has been mistaken in his ideals has still had a more fulfilled life than a pessimist who sees himself confirmed.”

Seminarhaus Campus Westend

I obtained a special permission to take indoor shots at the colorful Seminarhaus Campus Westend at the Goethe University Frankfurt. In return the Studien Service Center received some of my images. I am very happy that my feature image was chosen by them as the title image for their current service guide for students.

Skyline at Night

Frankfurt am Main is famous for its skyscrapers and its unique skyline. In fact, it is the only city in Germany with a skyline of high rises that shapes the cityscape. Although the skyscrapers are always a fascinating sight, it is at dusk that they unfold their true potential. Therefore, on clear evenings, you will find many photographers on the bridges, trying to capture the beauty of the intriguing view.

Saxon Switzerland

The mountain range Saxon Switzerland is located south-east of Dresden in Saxony, eastern Germany. With its bizarre rocky sandstones, table mountains, gorges, cliffs and valleys this fascinating landscape is unique in central Europe. With more than 700 summits and 1,100 free-standing sandstone rocks this spectacular region is a rock climber’s paradise. And if you like to keep your feet on the ground you can explore this area on hiking trails, such as the picturesque Malerweg (Painter’s Way), named after numerous artists who sought inspiration in the alluring and mythic landscape. The rock formation Bastei with its sandstone bridge is the major attraction in the National Park Saxon Switzerland and attracts around 1.5 million visitors a year.

Creative in Dresden

Dresden, also nicknamed Florence on the Elbe, is known for its baroque and rococo architecture as well as outstanding art collections. The bombing of Dresden in February 1945 destroyed the entire historic city center, which was eventually restored after the war. The ruins of the Frauenkirche were left as a war memorial and the Lutheran church was only rebuilt and reconsecrated after the German reunification. Today Dresden is a buzzing city dominated by high-tech industry. My feature image is a multiple exposure of the Gläserne Manufaktur (Transparent Factory, a VW car factory and exhibition space). The other creative images show the Stallhof (part of the Residenzschloss that was used for equestrian tournaments) and the Frauenkirche respectively.

Multiple Exposures

While visiting Jena in East Germany, I experimented with multiple exposures. The feature image is a creative rendering of a street art project that illustrates how dictatorships treat critical citizens. The second image is a multiple exposure from the historic Johannis cemetery.

Black & White Architectural Photography

Due to the high number of skyscrapers Frankfurt am Main is also called “Mainhattan”. Today Frankfurt has 30 high-rise buildings that are at least 100 meters high. Together they shape Frankfurt’s well-known skyline. But each of the prominent high-rises is also unique in its own way and can easily be identified from a distance. And those, who don’t suffer from acrophobia, can explore some of these skyscrapers on special tourist tours. For me these buildings presented a nice opportunity to try my hand at architectural photography.

10th Anniversary of Meeting the Dalai Lama

Ten years ago I had the opportunity to volunteer as an English teacher in a Buddhist nunnery in Lingshed, Ladakh. Ladakh is a mountainous region in the far north of India, bordering on Pakistan and China. Politically it belongs to the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, but its language, culture, and history are closely related to that of Tibet. Lingshed is a remote mountain village that, ten years ago, could only be reached on foot, by horse or helicopter. Well, we walked and the horses carried everything we needed for our two-month stay. Four days and two mountain passes later (4800 and 5000 meter respectively) we reached the little village. Although the visit of the Dalai Lama had been expected and prepared accordingly, it wasn’t until a few days prior that it was in fact confirmed. Thus I joined about 200 locals and 15 foreigners for an instructional teaching. I was sitting roughly two and half meters away and could take pictures of him without any obstruction. At the end of his teaching he …

Partial Lunar Eclipse

On July 16, 2019, I was able to watch a partial lunar eclipse at Lake Constance in Southern Germany. As opposed to a total lunar eclipse, where the full moon is much darker and shows a reddish hue, a partially eclipsed moon will still exhibit a brightly lit part. Thus to the uninitiated, the moon might appear as having a phase – although the moon should in fact be full, as lunar eclipses can only happen during a full moon. During the eclipse I received an extra gift, when the ISS (International Space Station) literally entered the picture and cruised above.

Moonrise above the Lake

On the eve of July 16, 2019, I was treated to a special moment when the full moon rose above Lake Constance in Southern Germany. And with it came the recurring question: Why is the full moon bigger at the horizon? Well, the answer is short: It isn’t. This is just an optical illusion that is triggered by the fact that we see objects at the horizon (such as trees or buildings) and compared to these the moon seems large. When we observe the moon when it is higher in the sky these references are missing and the moon appears smaller. But when you measure it (e.g. on a photo) you will soon realize that the actual size remains the same.

Total Eclipse of the Sun

On July 2, 2019, we could observe a total solar eclipse in our region in Chile. I was extremely lucky, as I could watch (and photograph) the eclipse from my bedroom window. Totality was a moment of rare beauty, intriguing and emotional. But after 2 minutes and 25 seconds the diamond ring effect announced the end of totality and the unique cosmic show was over. But don’t despair. The next total solar eclipse is coming soon. It is happening in southern Chile and Argentina on December 14, 2020.

Jupiter near Opposition

Jupiter, the second-brightest planet after Venus, makes a splendid appearance in the night sky right now. On June 10, 2019, the giant gas planet will reach its yearly opposition, i.e. the planet is located opposite the Sun (with the Earth being between Jupiter and the Sun). Therefore, on and around June 10th, Jupiter will rise when the sun sets, will reach its highest point in the sky around midnight, and will set at sunrise.On my first image Jupiter is the bright dot close to the center of the picture. For the second photo I used a softener filter that highlights the color and brightness of the stars and planets, and thus makes it easier to identify constellations.

The Sombrero Galaxy

For my first try at a galaxy I chose the Sombrero Galaxy (also known as M 104 or NGC 4594). This galaxy is located in the constellation Virgo and is some 31 million light-years away. I took this image in prime focus, i.e. I used an 8″ refractor telescope with a focal length of 1600 mm as a “lens” on my modified DSLR. This image was taken at the Daniel Verschatse Observatory in Río Hurtado, Chile.

The Eagle Nebula

The Eagle Nebula (or IC 4703) is a diffuse emission nebula in the constellation Serpens, some 7000 light-years distant. The cluster of bright stars near the center of the image is called M 16 or NGC 6611. These young and hot stars illuminate the dark silhouette near the center of the nebula. This dark silhouette is also referred to as Pillars of Creation, after a famous photo taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in 1995. The same area was re-photographed by Hubble in higher resolution in 2014. This image was taken at the Daniel Verschatse Observatory in Río Hurtado, Chile.

Omega Centauri

Omega Centauri (or NGC 5139) is the largest and brightest globular cluster in the Milky Way. It has a diameter of 150 light-years and contains some 10 million stars. This stellar beauty can be found in the Southern constellation Centaurus, and is even visible to the naked eye under dark skies.

Startrails

Startrails above the cordillera in the Cochiguaz valley. The image consists of 273 individual photos that were taken during two and a half hours and then digitally combined to produce the colorful arcs of the stars.