Matrei in Osttirol

Here is a large set of photographs from a visit to a little town in Austria called Matrei in Tyrol (Matrei im Osttirol). We visited it back in 2008 and stayed there for a few days, taking daytrips to various cities and places around the Hohe Tauern mountain range of the Central Eastern Alps.

The photos are of the town itself, of the surrounding countryside (including the Klaunz, Glanz, Hinterburg and Strummerhof settlements), and of a hike up and down Inner-Klaunzer Berg, the mountain that rises right next to Matrei. (You can see photos taken at the top of that mountain in this post.) There are also a few photographs of the exterior of Castle Weißenstein, which we would have liked to visit but was not open to the public.

We stayed at Hotel Goldried, which has spartan interiors but good views of the town and a funicular that you can operate yourself. It’s right next to the ski slopes, in case you should visit in winter. And on some evenings, you’ll get to see and hear people singing Austrian folk songs, which was a surreal experience for us. We were coming down from the top of the mountain, tired and sweaty, and as as we approached the town, we could hear songs echoing in the valley below. Not crappy modern music blaring from a loudspeaker, but songs sung by people and laughter, lots of it. Night had fallen around us, and in the dark, the hotel’s open door shone like a beacon, music spilling out of it. Exhausted, we stumbled in and saw a full restaurant swinging back and forth on their chairs, singing a folk song in unison. Those Austrians! 🙂


These were taken in November of 2010, so let’s say it was eight years ago or so. Things may look different now — hopefully better, given how much tourism this little town gets each year.

It was one of our typical jaunts through the medieval fortress, along its walls and back down the stairs toward the bottom of the hill. Still, the images show different spots from the ones you’ve seen here and here.

Should you want to know more about the town, click here and here. Enjoy the photographs!


More images from Sighisoara


Around the town in 2009

This is a gallery of photographs taken in and around Medias in the summer of 2009 (68 photos in total). As I look back on these photos, it’s interesting to see how the town has changed and stayed the same during this time. It’s definitely changed since 2006, when I took these other photos. Enjoy!

I used the following cameras and lenses to take these photographs: an Olympus C770 UZ, a Nokia N95 (my mobile phone at the time), a Canon EOS 5D, a Canon EOS Rebel XTi, a Canon PowerShot G10, a Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS lens and a Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 lens.

Olympus Camedia C-770 UZ

Olympus Camedia C-770 UltraZoom

Nokia N95-1

Nokia N95

Canon EOS 5D (front)

Canon EOS 5D

Canon EOS Rebel XTi

Canon EOS Rebel XTi

Canon PowerShot G10 Front

Canon PowerShot G10

Canon EF 24-105mm f4L IS USM Lens

Canon EF 24-105mm f4L IS USM Lens

Canon EF 50mm f1.4 USM Lens

Canon EF 50mm f1.4 USM Lens



Blue hour and snowfall!

This past Sunday morning, I woke up to a beautiful snowfall and luckily for me, about 10 minutes before the blue hour (which actually lasts less than an hour). I tiptoed down the stairs so I wouldn’t wake up my wife and child, put some clothes and shoes on, and because it was snowing heavily, I took my Canon 7D (my only weather-sealed camera), along with the 10-22mm EF-S lens (which is also weather-sealed). I wanted an ultra-wide perspective to the photos and also the ability to shoot without a tripod at low shutter speeds. An ultra-wide lens lets you do that because of the “reciprocal rule”: as long as the shutter speed matches the focal length, you should get a good photo (provided you have steady hands). A 10-22mm lens would let me use shutter speeds as low as 1/10th of a second, which is just what I did on some of the photos. Enjoy the gallery!

For those of you who love looking at camera gear (I know I do), here is a photo of the camera and lens I used.

Canon EOS 7D

Canon EOS 7D

Canon EF-S 10-22mm f:3.5-4.5 Lens

Canon EF-S 10-22mm f:3.5-4.5 Lens


A walk through town before daybreak

To celebrate the acquisition of a new camera (well, the acquisition is new, the camera isn’t), I took a pre-dawn walk through town. It was cold and somewhat rainy. Water got on my lens a couple of times and I’d forgotten to bring a lens cloth, so you’ll see some weird light artifacts on some of the photos. That’s from the partially wiped lens… I was hoping dawn would come soon and I’d get some nice photos of the “blue hour”. As it turned out, my battery ran out of juice and I got pretty cold before that happened. But it was really nice to walk through town with few to no people around me. I am after all an introvert, so the more time I spend alone, the better I feel.

I am quite pleased with my acquisition. It’s a camera I used and reviewed in the past (eight years ago, actually): the Olympus PEN E-P2. I loved that little camera and I should have bought it back then. After quietly pining for it all this time, I found it online a few days ago at an unbeatable price, second-hand, in great condition: about 100 euros for the body, plus another 100 euros for the viewfinder (yes, I got the VF-2!) and about 200 euros for a wonderful little lens for it, the M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 EZ (it’s a 2x crop factor so a 24-100mm 35mm equivalent).

Now I have the E-P2 and the E-PL1, which I bought several years ago with the two kit lenses offered at the time, the 14-42mm and the 40-150mm. Yay!

I took the photos without a tripod, relying on the camera’s optical image stabilization technology, which shifts the sensor on a 3-way axis in order to keep the shot steady. I shot at 1/10, 1/15 and 1/20, keeping the ISO at 1600 and the aperture wide open. Given that the lens goes from f/3.5 to f/6.3 when it’s at its longest focal length, that means some of the photos are darker. I squeezed every bit of light out of them in post processing, but having shot both RAW and JPG simultaneously, I can tell you the camera’s built-in noise reduction and image processing is so good (for its time), I could have just shot directly in JPG and uploaded them SOOC (straight out of the camera). Enjoy the photos!


Upperville in the spring of 2005

Upperville is a quaint little town on Route 50 in Virginia, about 50 miles from DC. We visited it twice, once in 2004 and once more about a year later. We loved its historic church and library. The stone architecture and cobblestone courtyard had an immediate appeal to us, as the buildings seemed to have come to life from the pages of a fairy tale.

We loved being able to walk about the buildings unhindered, and the orderly appearance of everything around, including the furthest grounds of the church.

Let’s go inside the church for a bit.

Have you ever seen a smaller and more endearing public library?

If you get the chance, please visit it. According to Wikipedia, there are a number of thoroughbred horse farms in the area, so that might be of interest to you as well.


Old Town, Annapolis

About three years ago, we visited Annapolis, MD and walked through Old Town. While it was a bit hot during the early afternoon hours, it cooled off nicely toward the evening and we had a wonderful time walking about.

I love it when towns make the effort to preserve their historic sections. Not only is it good for business (because of the tourists) but it helps to ground the townspeople, because they’re always reminded of their heritage.


Bethesda Flea Market

Friends of ours and we visited the Bethesda Flea Market recently. I forgot to take my 5D along, and used our little Kodak v610 compact. Still, I got some nice photos, and wanted to share them with you.

I’d passed by the market many times, but never bothered to stop before. I’m glad our friends convinced us to finally have a look, because it was a lot of fun to stroll around and look at the items put up for sale. We walked away with two nutcracker sets, and a few old song scores, and we found them at bargain prices.

A lot of oriental rugs were up for sale.

Ali’s flying carpets

Some mannequin was laughing her head off while hanging around…

Laugh your head off

There were many colorful beads and stones for sale. Being obsessed with color, I was sorely tempted to buy a few.

I was told she likes these

Vanity, thou art a beady-eyed vamp

I liked the way sunlight lit up this green embroidery.

Sunlit embroidery

I’m not sure these “nature flavored” prunes would be very tasty. They sure are an odd looking bunch, aren’t they?

The “Nature Flavored” prunes

Found an old Royal typewriter. It must have been nice when only those things were around. One had time to think about what they were writing, about every word, as they put it on the page. It’s much too easy to dash something off nowadays…

It spells QWERTY

Hershey’s still has a kiss for you.

A kiss for you

Nothing but Standard Seeds for her.

Standard Seeds for her

These doors are showing their age, but then that’s the fun of antique furniture, isn’t it?


Here are some African doors for good measure. These were about 5 feet tall.


It’s hip to be square.


Don’t bowl me over.

Multi-colored bowls

Some fashionable item of sorts… Still can’t figure out if that’s a snake or baby aligator. If it’s a snake, why are there little feet dangling off from the neck? Strange to say the least…

A fashionable item

There’s a shadow over the Capitol… We’d be fortunate indeed if that were the only shadow over our Capitol. Between the lobbyists and the politicians, this country is just about suffocated by all that “patriotic” love… Quick, someone pull out a flag and wave it! It’ll make everything better…

Shadow over the Capitol

The Bethesda Flea Market even has a website. Who knew! 🙂 All in all, it was a pretty fun trip!


Romania, my country

Just got sent a PowerPoint show entitled Romania is my country. While I’m not enthralled with the music, the photos are fantastic, and that’s why I’m sharing it. Enjoy it, there are some beautiful places in there, including Medias, my home town. (Thanks, Nick!)


The Virginia countryside

I posted a video Ligia and I took more than 2 years ago to YouTube. We shot it as we drove through the Virginia countryside, from our MINI. It’s unusual because in it, you’ll not only see what you normally expect to see in the country, such as roads, fields and towns, but you’ll also see llamas, and an ostrich. Oh yes, and a wild turkey, but it’s not as unusual as the ostrich. Enjoy!