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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. ­čĹŹ 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. ÔÇÄThe only glitch I encountered was, that the text formatting kept jumping back to default value when changing the images. ­čĹÄ Else I found the software handy and easy to employ. ­čĹŹ 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. ­čĹŹ

I am very pleased with the overall quality. The matte paper is thick and not translucent at all. ­čĹŹ The biggest benefit to me are no fingerprints, as well as a natural look and feel, ­čĹŹ even though the colorful images may also look nice on glossy paper. The photos look vivid and show great detail in print. ­čĹŹ 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┬á seamlessly (without any offset). ­čĹŹ I am further pleased with the crispness of the lines on my black and white illustration. ­čĹŹ 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. ÔÇÄ­čĹÄ

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

­čĹÄ­čĹÄ 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 D├╝sseldorf

10 May

May 7th, 2019, Nordfriedhof D├╝sseldorf

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 D├╝sseldorf’s K├Â, a famous strolling promenade.

Kamelienbl├╝te Schloss Pillnitz, Fr├╝hlingsanfang 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 cam├ęlias by Alexandre Dumas from 1848, as well as real life personae, such as the “Wiener Cameliendame”, a dancer named Fanny El├čler, 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-G├Ąrtner” 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/

Nordfriedhof, January 2019

23 Jan

Nordfriedhof D├╝sseldorf, January 11th, 2019

Fall 2018

5 Nov

Fall is here, death is here, but the flowers keep on flowering

Regina Bombina, Golden Bee Pendant, The Sacred Bee

14 Oct

“Regina Bombina”, ink, 2017

Totemic artwork, first show-cased at Circle1 gallery in Berlin last year. It is my homage to the great mother and queen, as she has been depicted in the form of crowned bees or half human half bee shaped spirits in ancient civilizations. She is surrounded by her servants, little bee demons.

Golden Bee Pendant, Malia, Crete, 1800-1700 BC

Honey Bee, Malia, Crete, 2018

“The Sacred Bee”, Hilda M. Ransom, Dover Press, 2004

“The Sacred Bee”, Hilda M. Ransom, Dover Press, 2004

After seeing the golden bee pendant from Malia┬áin person, I started a new read: “The sacred Bee” by Hilda M. Ransom. It discusses the mythology and folklore of bees in ancient civilizations across the world and also features a chapter on the roll bees played in ancient Cretan life and worship practice. I am hence delving deeper into the concept behind my “Regina Bombina” and “Flower Devils“.