10 Seconds

17 Jul

You have probably had enough eclipse photos thrown at you by now. Alas, I at least wanted to add an own photo to my “Sun, Moon and Stars” collection. So here are is a sequence of the partially eclipsed moon, 1 per second… and a simple one of the eclipse, 2 minutes before midnight. That was the best I could do with a tripod and Sigma lens. At least one can see the Tycho and Grimaldi Crater, as well as the Mare Nubium and Humorum.

World Goth Day, Observation and Contemplation

23 May

Another exploration of Düsseldorf’s Nordfriedhof, in the twilight of the evening hour and short before rain set in. It’s becoming a habit and I keep being surprised by how much splendor and pomp but also food for thought this place has to offer. Some facts:

The graveyard is the closest nearby place, where I can enjoy a bit of calm and solitude in “nature”. There are wild parts, reminiscent of English landscape gardens, which occur quite magical to the senses. On the other hand, the majority of graves is fostered with an accuracy resembling that of miniature baroque gardens. The ballast bed trend is also taking over people’s last place of rest. There are exceptions, with lush planting gone wild, such as the grave covered in columbine, which is pictured above.

The caretakers seem to employ ecological concepts and care for biodiversity. E.g. I found an abandoned sandy part, previously covered in black nightshade, and now filled with fragrant phacelia, which is a soil conditioner and attracts a multitude of pollinating insects, not only honey bees. There are bee hives being implemented on this graveyard. There is a small pond visited by various water fowl as well grey herons and I spotted at least one large bird of prey, a common buzzard. The entrance on one side smells heavily like fox. There is a huge population of rabbits digging burrows all across the graveyard, which is probably not to the liking of all bereaved, but partly amusing to observe.

There is an abundance of large and impressive family gravesites as well as memorials for the victims of WWI and WWII. The annexed stonemason does an admirable job with the restoration of the historical gravesites.

It is easy to become enticed by the romanticism conveyed through the abundance and sheer beauty of the place and its funerary art. Yet I am also finding something oppressive or at least overwhelming about this. There is some money flowing into the maintenance of these graves, which are also a symbol of status and an ultimate expression of people’s egos. This in turn touches upon my own ego and leaves me behind with mixed feelings.

As much as I am occupied with the topic of death and the dead, I am part of a generation that will likely not enjoy the luxury of such post-mortem vanity. In truth, it has always been only a small part of humanity to take part in such luxury. Further, the fate of today’s youth is likely, to dissolve into spirit and not leaving much traces of physical existence behind. The larger mankind grows, the less space it will have for its exponentially growing amount of bodies. Neither are the monuments built over decades to last forever. However, they help to implement and strengthen the status of a few over a certain period.

Yet I keep returning to these places, which exhibit at least 2 centuries of opulent European grave culture, while caught in a dichotomy between the modern world and the past, between ego obsessions and spiritual ideals, between personal emotions and the need for detachment.

R E D

23 May

Contemplating life, death, the dead, ego, status and family dynasties

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

Nordfriedhof Düsseldorf

10 May

May 7th, 2019, Nordfriedhof Düsseldorf

Gallery

Garden and Park Schloss Berge, Gelsenkirchen

8 May

An epic English landscape garden, a herb garden to drive the witch crazy and a romantic French garden – all in one place. Who thought Gelsenkirchen was so beautiful?

Pflanzenkunst

The park and gardens at Schloss Berge (Gelsenkirchen) offer interesting perspectives. Portals formed by trees frame and reveal new scenes. High beechwood hedges flank the way into a labyrinth. Staggered arrangements emphasize distances. The area around the former castle is divided into three sections: the French garden with its geometrical flower borders and allegorical sculptures was created during the late baroque period, whereas the widespread English landscape garden was added during the 18th century. Between the two lies a labyrinth, which encloses a lavishly laid out herb garden with espalier fruit trees and plenty of healing herbs.

Fellow photographer Anna Krajewski guided me through this wonderful park, while walking her English bulldog. Mist veiled the nature and buildings and provided a chill and relaxed atmosphere. And so the three of us enjoyed the cool day, after an eventful Walpurgis night

French Garden

The first garden at Schloss Berge…

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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/