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Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

How do you capture the beauty of a landscape in a single shot? I shoot landscape shots so infrequently that I feel somewhat helpless when trying to do so. Normally they are kind of an afterthought, a second option when there is no wildlife around.

Last week in Germany, however, I was surrounded by mountains. I knew I had to get some shots of the mountains and I took a lot of them. As I reviewed them, though, not very many stood out. I decided to play around a bit and eventually came up with a couple of images that I really like. Both of them were taken from the destination point of the little cable car that I featured in an early posting.

The first image is one that I converted to black and white using an old version of Nik Silver Efex Pro software.  The second shot is a panorama image that was stitched together from three separate handheld images using PhotoMerge in Photoshop Elements. The third image is the color version of the first image prior to using the conversion software.

It was a challenge for me to step out of my comfort zone and try a different kind of photography. In my experience, feeling uncomfortable is part of the learning process. This year I am going to consciously look for more opportunities to take landscape photos and see where that takes me.

mountains in Germany

mountains in Germany

mountains in Germany

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I am glad that I have neither a fear of heights (acrophobia) nor of closed-in spaces (claustrophobia) or I might not have enjoyed my ride last week on the Laben Bergbahn, a small cable car in Oberammergau, Germany.  The little  gondola cars (I think that is what they are called) took us up a steep slope that rose from 900m to 1684 meters (2952 feet to 5525 ft). A plaque in the car says it holds 11 people, but they would have to be really little people for that to be true.

Halfway up the mountain, there was a stop, leaving the car swinging a little in the breeze. The sign in the second image below was of only minor comfort as we waited and waited to start moving again—it seemed like we were hanging there for a really long time.

Laben Bergbahn

Laben Bergbahn

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

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There were several groves of trees near the Munich airport hotel that I stayed in prior to my return flight to the United States. I figured there might be some birds to photograph and was happy when I spotted birds flitting about. They reminded me of chickadees, but were much more colorful.

I did a little research on-line and think that the bird in the first photo is a Eurasian Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) and the one in the second image looks to be a Great Tit (Parus major).  Apparently they are both pretty common, but they seem rare and exotic to me because they are not to be found in the area in which I live.

Eurasian Blue Tit

Great Tit

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Yesterday I bought a round trip ticket on the Laben Bergbahn, a small mountain cable car in Oberammergau, Germany that took us quickly from 900m to 1684 meters. Some folks, however, bought a one-way ticket up the mountain and used an alternative mode of transportation to come down.

I am not sure if I am courageous or crazy enough to jump off a mountain like that and paraglide to the bottom.

parasailing

paragliding

paragliding

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I couldn’t see the sun actually setting on Wednesday in Oberammergau, Germany, but there was a glow in the sky and behind the mountains that was particularly beautiful.

As I rushed around in the fading light, trying to get some shots, I decided to include the Parish Church St. Peter and Paul, one of the most prominent buildings in this small Bavarian village. A few hours later, I captured the second image with a long exposure made by leaning my camera on a parked car. I love the architectural style of the church and included a third image to give you a better sense of the entire church structure.

Parish Church Oberammergau

Parish Church Oberammergau

Parish Church Oberammergau

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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During most of my travel overseas, I stay at hotels operated by US chains, generally the Marriott. The accommodations are predictable, albeit a bit generic, no matter where I am in the world.

This week in Oberammergau, Germany, I am staying in the Alte Post Hotel, which is almost the antithesis of a hotel chain.  It is old, unique, and charming.

According to information in the hotel, it was initially known as the Lion Inn and was first mentioned in chronicles in 1612. Merchants frequently stopped in as early as the 17th century. In 1851, the first postal station was opened at the inn. In 1864 the inn, minus the postal station was purchased and the new owner renamed it as the Alte Post  (Old Post).

The hotel is a little quirky, but friendly, with lots of wood paneling, as seems to be the style in the region. The first photo below shows the front of the hotel. The second photo shows the view from my room that looks out onto the spectacular mountains.

Alte Post

Alte Post

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Many of you know that I love dragonflies. I actively search for them not only in Northern Virginia, where I live, but also on work trips to Belgium and Austria. Liz, a fellow blogger from New Zealand, knows that I suffer from dragonfly withdrawal during the winter and posted this image to help me deal with my symptoms. Be sure to check out the other cool postings on her blog, Exploring Colour and also The Wandering Moa, a blog on hiking in New Zealand that was the source of this image of a really cool dragonfly.

Exploring Colour

dsc03279Click on the photo to enlarge (you may need to click again for full-size). Photo used with permission from The Wandering Moa

Apparently spelt “humongous” for Americans. I admit I’ve got some particular readers in mind as I post this: Mike Powell who photographs dragonflies in Virginia USA and young Benjamin who follows Mike’s blog and with the help of his Gram enthusiastically inspects all the detail of Mike’s photos.

Just two days ago I found a New Zealand blog newly started in early January – The Wandering Moa. Lili published a post about her first alpine tramp (serious hike) and her story included the encounter with this fabulous dragonfly as she was walking through an area of native beech forest. She kindly granted me permission to share the photo. The orange triangle is the standard plastic symbol used to mark walking tracks here. This is one massive dragonfly!

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