Places

A hike to the Kals-Matreier Törl

During our stay in Matrei, we hiked to the top of one of the local mountains, which I believe is called Inner-Klaunzer Berg, and where you’ll find a mountain cabin/guesthouse caled Kals-Matreier Törl. The altitude is about 2200 meters, so it’s not something that will tax your body greatly, but it is something that you’ll notice and you may experience a headache, depending on how accustomed you are to high altitudes.

It was lovely to be up there. The air was so pure, and other than the whooshing of the mountain winds and the occasional cow bell, there were no other noises. It was a real treat to be away from the unwelcome cacophony of the world. I know some people prefer the noise of a big city, but I’d much rather be far away from all of it, as much as possible.

Here is a gallery of 87 photographs from that hike. Enjoy!

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Places

Krimml Waterfalls

In Austria’s Hohe Tauern National Park you’ll also find Krimml Waterfalls (Krimmler Wasserfälle). This series of tiered waterfalls is Austria’s highest at 380 meters. The waterfall begins at the top of the Krimmler Ache valley and plunges downward in three stages. The upper stage has a drop of 140 metres, the middle of 100 metres, and the lowest a drop of 140 metres. The highest point of the waterfall is 1,470 metres above sea level. The Krimmler Ache is a glacial stream whose flow varies greatly with season. Its volumetric flow in June and July is 20,000 m³/h (about 5.28 million gallons per hour), while in February it is only 500 m³/h (about 0.13 million gallons per hour). The greatest measured flow was on 25 August 1987, when it was 600,000 m³/h, or almost 160 million gallons per hour. That must have been a real sight!

We visited the waterfall in mid-September 2008, when the flow was still generous, but I’m sure the falls are even more spectacular in the months of June and July. Of course, that’s when you’ll have to put up with the summer heat and the most amount of tourists, so just know what you’re getting into. About 400,000 people visit the falls annually, and that means it can get crowded at times.

I took a lot of photos. I loved the different shapes formed by the water as it fell down those tall drops, shapes that could only be seen with high shutter speeds. I also had an ND filter and tripod with me, and that meant I could take long exposures of the waterfall and the river, where the shapes are completely different and everything turns out silky smooth. So you’ll see both kinds of photos, sometimes of the same scene, side-by-side: a high speed photograph and a long exposure, to show the difference.

There is a gravel-paved walkway that winds its way to the top of the waterfall. It takes a little over an hour to get there, depending on how busy it is that day. The forest is beautiful on the way up, with lots of evergreens and shrubs. The misty spray of the waterfall creates ideal growth condition for hundreds of mosses, lichens and ferns, which you’ll see in the photos. That fine mist hangs in the air and you’ll get to see it in most of the photos I’ve taken there; it looks like camera noise, but they’re actually tiny little drops floating in the air and reflecting sunlight, making it seem as if the photos are noisy. Let me give you an example: this is Ligia, standing in front the waterfalls. All the little dots you see in front of her face and in the air around her are tiny drops of mist.

Krimmler Wasserfalle, Krimml, Hohe Tauern, Austria

There are 54 photographs in this gallery. All of them are taken during a 2008 trip to Austria, when we stayed in Matrei i.o. and visited Grossglockner. Enjoy!

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Places

The Virginia garden

Some years ago we were at a party given by friends of ours. They lived in a quiet neighborhood in McLean, Virginia. Since it was a garden party, I thought it only right that I take photos of the garden. Here they are. I still remember their hibiscus blossoms vividly and I think you will too. I have yet to see their equal: large, umbrous petals with lovely ridges.

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Places

Collingwood Picnic Area, Virginia

I hope I won’t spoil this little spot by telling you about it. On one of our visits to Mount Vernon, we decided to meander on down the road, following the Potomac, to see where we’d get.

We stopped at a place called Fort Hunt, which is across the river from Fort Washington (you can see a map of them here). I guess at some point these two forts were used to control water traffic toward the capital, but they weren’t in use anymore. They are now parks and they are open to the public.

As we continued driving south, a little place called out to us. From the road, it only looked like a little parking lot, and perhaps we were simply looking to stretch our legs once more — or something told us to stop. We did, and as you’ll see in the photographs, it was well worth it. The shoreline of the Potomac is special there. The river flows by quietly and you get these little ripples in the water that look wonderful in the light of the late afternoon. Round little pebbles of all colors are mixed with the yellow mud and brown sand on the shore, and when the light hits all of them just right, it makes for magical little vignettes that capture your imagination.

I didn’t have GPS with me at the time, so I had to guesstimate the location 10 years after having visited it, but after spending about half a day looking at maps and satellite imagery, I believe this spot is the Collingwood Picnic Area on the Virginia side of the Potomac River. Perhaps it’s changed since we visited it and these photos represent a certain moment in time when things simply came together. I don’t know. I’ll let you rediscover the place. Enjoy the photos!

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Places

Summer in our garden

I promised I’d put together a gallery of photos taken in our garden last summer (that’d be the summer of 2018 for those of you who’ll be reading this in future years), and here it is.

Get ready to see 347 photos of summertime, taken between June and August of last year. Grab a cup of tea or coffee and enjoy! 😀

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Events

Photos from a recent snowstorm

I know late winter snowfalls are a hassle for most people. I know. Especially after spring seems to have arrived. Having to deal with piles of snow after dealing with it all winter long is not fun for most people.

I am not most people. I love winter. I love snow. I love the cold. And when more cold weather comes, I enjoy it. Like this recent snowstorm. I went outside and took photos in the thick of it. Came back wet, because the snow was melting as it was falling. My camera was thoroughly wet. My lens was wet. Neither of the two are waterproofed. Thank goodness they’re still working.

Remember, it’ll be warm soon enough, and before we know it, it’ll be so disgustingly warm that we’ll be sweating through our clothes and our cars’ ACs won’t be able to handle all the heat. That’s disgusting weather for me. That’s filthy weather for me. It’ll be here soon enough, unfortunately. So I’m going to relish the snowstorms while I still can.

Enjoy the photos!

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We had a beautiful night snowfall recently and even though it was after midnight, Ligia and I went out to walk through the garden. You may know these nights well if you live in a temperate climate. They tend to stick in your memory. Everything is quiet, eerily quiet. Even the sound of your own voice is muffled by the falling snow. If you’re in a town, the ambient light from houses and streetlights reflects off the blanket of white snow and shines right up to the clouds, which are near to the ground, weighed down by the water droplets that will become snow as they fall to the ground. So the whole sky typically shines a tint of yellow from the town lights, and it also reflects that light down onto the snow, lighting everything up even though there’s no moon in sight.

It was that kind of a night when we stepped out. Thick, well-defined snowflakes were slowly making their way down, stopping on branches, building up into impossible mounds on the thinnest of twigs. In the absence of a breeze, everything was frozen as if in awe, admiring the falling snow in concert. We walked through our garden, wading through the powdery white blanket, stopping to breathe the cold, refreshing winter air and to give thanks for the beauty before us.

I hope the photos reflect the atmosphere of that night. They were taken handheld with a 35mm lens at its widest aperture (f1.8) and at at a fairly high ISO (as high as 10000). That means not everything is going to be in focus and there is going to be plenty of grain. But that’s how I typically shoot: handheld, even in low light. I’m more interested in capturing the mood, the moment, than in having everything tack sharp or in setting up a tripod shot.

Events

A winter night

Gallery

It was still spring (26th of May) and a soothing spring rain had just fallen over our town. Raindrops were hanging on flower petals, leaves and blades of grass. The air had been freshened up and any breeze flowing through the garden made you shudder, now that the air and the earth had cooled off. You just wanted to curl up with a nice cup of coffee — which is just what I did after I took these photos. Enjoy the gallery!

Places

A rainy day in the garden

Gallery
Events

On the evening of the summer solstice

It was the summer solstice a couple of days ago. On that longest day of the year, I thought it might be interesting to take photographs in our garden, just as the day drew to a close. I was especially interested in capturing the evening primroses, because we have so many of them this year, and because I was curious to see whether they’d open up sooner or just as dark fell, as is their custom.

Well, they didn’t open up sooner, I still had to wait until it was almost dark, but I found out something new; having never watched them open up before, I had a wonderful surprise in store for me. As it turns out, the blossoms open at a pace that can be observed live, without the aid of time lapse photography. It’s not as fast as a mimosa pudica’s reaction, but it’s fast enough for a person to stand (or sit) there and watch it open. Nature is wonderful!

I hope you enjoy this set of photographs. I took them with my PEN E-P3, whose IBIS mechanism was recently repaired by Olympus Czechia and is now working so well, it’s tempting to use it as my main camera. I plan to use it a lot more than before, that’s for sure. By the way, my setup included the M.Zuiko 25mm f1.8 lens and the lovely and inexpensive MCON-P02 Macro Adapter. It works with several more lenses from Olympus and it’s small and lightweight, so it even fits in your pocket.