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Flower Devils Photobook

15 May

I recently submitted an application for a photo book voucher from Saal Digital and received it promptly. 👍 The voucher code lasts for 14 days.

For compiling the book, I tested the free design software provided by Saal Digital. In the first step, I chose the book format and style: a simple matte look and 28 by 28 cm square format with 28 pages. Further pages can be added or pages deleted later (it became 34 pages). The software allows to switch between auto-layout and manual layout. The photos are added by simple drag and drop and the program arranges them in a smart way. In addition, one can chose between different layout templates, including text. ‎The only glitch I encountered was, that the text formatting kept jumping back to default value when changing the images. 👎 Else I found the software handy and easy to employ. 👍 I was especially curious how images and text spread across two pages would turn out.

Altogether I spent a whole day, selecting, editing and arranging the photos. It was a fun work and I found myself browsing archives spanning over nearly a decade.

I submitted my order digitally on the 9th of May. The voucher code was to be entered at the end of the order process. I ended up with a total of 11,90 Euro instead of 51,90 Euro (with shipping included). The confirmation e-mail told me to expect my book to be delivered on the 15th of May, but I already received it on Monday, 13th of May. 👍

I am very pleased with the overall quality. The matte paper is thick and not translucent at all. 👍 The biggest benefit to me are no fingerprints, as well as a natural look and feel, 👍 even though the colorful images may also look nice on glossy paper. The photos look vivid and show great detail in print. 👍 Any deviations in color are owed to my mean Photoshop skills (they show and I will correct them next time). Thanks to the layflat binding, the large images flow across two pages  seamlessly (without any offset). 👍 I am further pleased with the crispness of the lines on my black and white illustration. 👍 Finally, I allowed for a tiny QR code to be added at the backside. It is really unobtrusive, but can also be left out (for a 5 Euro extra fee).

I tested the basic photo book without any extras. Next time I may opt for a black background on the cover and a smaller font. It may also be interesting to try out options with leather or linen weave, though 20 Euro extra on top of the 40 Euro base price are a bit of an obstacle. ‎👎

👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍 8 thumbs up for the overall service, quality and free software

👎👎 2 thumbs down for the text formatting glitch in the software and the comparably high prices on professional photo books

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Nordfriedhof Düsseldorf

10 May

May 7th, 2019, Nordfriedhof Düsseldorf

Walpurgisnacht 2019

3 May

Having spent past Walpurgis nights in relative solitude for over a decade, the stars aligned now in such way, that this year I was invited to spend it together with fellow photographer and occultista Anna Krajewski. Above are a few impressions of our little sabbath, as we explored a chapel built in follow to the execution of the region’s last witch, and ventured on through the forest, as the blue hour began. Finally we came to sit among tree roots descending towards a lake, in the company of myriads of bats and various waterfowl, a swan and last but not least a grey heron, sliding elegantly across the water’s mirroring surface…

Camellia Flower Tincture

6 Apr

Friday evening is tincture time

Early Bird

5 Apr

This ring-necked parakeet is enjoying an early morning lunch by eating the flowers of the cherry tree in our yard. Ring-necked parakeets are spreading in German cities, especially in North-Rhine Westphalia and are getting into conflict with humans. E.g. Cologne began in 2018 to actively expel the birds from its city center. Meanwhile ornithologists suggest beneficial effects of the parakeets, since their breeding burrows are being reused by other birds, e.g. stock doves, which are listed as threatened. The parakeets breed earlier than our native birds. During autumn there about 3000 parakeets, crows and jackdaws gathering at Düsseldorf’s Kö, a famous strolling promenade.

Kamelienblüte Schloss Pillnitz, Frühlingsanfang 2019

22 Mar

The camellia in Pillnitz is around 230 years old, almost 9 m high and 11 m in diameter. From February to April it is covered in carmine red flowers. During the cold season, the tree, which was planted in 1801 by court gardener Terscheck, is protected by a large glass house with stairs. During this time visitors can enter and view the tree from two levels.

In the mid 19th century Dresden became a European hot spot for the culture and breeding of camellias, and exported them to Russia as well as Italy and Spain. The camellia was viewed as a status symbol among European aristocrats, and Russians in particular, had a high demand for camellia flowers, which were exported in thousands to St. Petersburg and Moscow.

With growing popularity among Westerners, and contrary to its Far Eastern symbolism, the meaning of the flower changed. Thanks to popular literature, most prominently La dame aux camélias by Alexandre Dumas from 1848, as well as real life personae, such as the “Wiener Cameliendame”, a dancer named Fanny Elßler, the camellia became erotizised!

On the other hand the longevity of the flowers, and particularly white camellia flowers, became associated with death and mourning and were woven into funeral wreaths.

The seeds of all known (about 200) camellia seeds yield a valuable oil, which smoothes the hair and juvenates the skin. The oil is rich in linolenic acid, and is also used in cooking and reduces cholesterine. Samurai rubbed camellia oil unto their sword blades to protect them from rust. The oil is also used as a natural surface finish for wood, as lube in watches and precision engineering and more.

Camellia wood is hard and durable and was used in the manufacture of weapons, different tools as well as kokeshi dolls. Up to the Edo period, a camellia rod was used in Buddhist ceremony to punish and drive out malign spirits. The wood also yielded a spark-free and, hence sought after charcoal.

Camellias are highly resistant against diseases and may contain different antibacterial and fungicidal agents.

Besides, the first Westerner to portrait a camellia flower was likely a Saxon gardener by the name George Meister. His book “Der Orientalisch-Indianische Kunst- und Lust-Gärtner” was published in 1692 in Dresden. In it he describes both the camellia as well as its crop plant, Camellia sinensis var. sinensis – the tea shrub!

Further Reading:
https://kamelienschloss.de/botanische-sammlung/kamelien/geschichte-verwendung-von-kamelien/
https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pillnitzer_Kamelie
https://www.schlosspillnitz.de/de/schloss-park-pillnitz/kamelie/

Gallery

February Super Full Moon

19 Feb