Christmas Lights

Christmas Lights and Decorated Lanterns; copyright jmeyersforeman 2014

Christmas Lights and Decorated Lanterns; copyright jmeyersforeman 2014

For anyone in the Northern Hemisphere we are headed into the shortest day of the year, I take solace in all the pretty lights that decorate the streets and trees, the christmas markets and the homes. It is lovely to walk around the different cities and towns with the twinkling lights. It is much better than the grey cloudy days we have been having, I must say!

Daylights hours total 7 hours and 41 minutes in Amsterdam, and any other place along the 52 parallel, for those reading Calgary, our home town, is on the 51 parallel while Edmonton is on the 53. I am guessing my friends and family back home are enjoying the lovely Christmas lights that decorate their homes and streets.

 

The Christmas Market Diet

The Christmas Market Diet; copyright jmeyersforeman 2014

The Christmas Market Diet; copyright jmeyersforeman 2014  

Bill and I have spent the last month travelling around Germany, visiting several Christmas Markets, and while each is unique in location and presentation, they all seem to have a few things in common. Two things you will find at every market, food and children’s rides.

Bill and I have done our best to test and taste sample as many different varieties of Frankfurt, sausage sandwiches and wine as we can! The Coburg sausage is a 12 inch sausage with a 3 inch bun! I love their little ceramic mugs. It was set in a beautiful square in the center of town. It was raining, but we found a beautiful little spot with log tables where we could stand and savour our lunch.

After a month of Christmas Markets we are off to Amsterdam. I think they have a Christmas Market that we will visit, and there will be more photos of Christmas Markets and the cities we have visited. But it is time for a change both of scenery and of diet.

After-Before Friday Forum; Christmas Lights of Nuremberg

Nuremberg Christmas Market; copyright jmeyersforeman 2014

Nuremberg Christmas Market; copyright jmeyersforeman 2014

Nuremberg, Bavaria’s 2nd largest city. On jan 2, 1945 the Allied bombers hit the city, hard. over 6000 people were killed and the city was reduced to rubble. Yet today the city, and the main square is impressive, using the original stone, almost all of the city’s main buildings, including the old castle and old churches has been rebuilt returning them to their former glory. It is stunning to walk into the main square and see these wonderful old buildings, built and then rebuilt a testament to the resiliency of the human spirit, and the strength of their will.

It’s Friday and time for the After-Before Forum image; each week Stacy Fischerr hosts a forum of photographers who contribute images, each photographer on their own blog site take time to describe their process to a finish image. Stacy’s blog post is a learning, and sharing forum, one I am happy to contribute to and learning from. Hope on over, to her site and check out what the other photographer are doing this week.
before images; copyright jmeyersforeman 2014

before images; copyright jmeyersforeman 2014

My final image showing above; Nuremberg Christmas Market began with the camera, in the main square.  These are difficult lighting conditions, bright lights in the shops, dark sky and no light on top of the Church. The tripod is a must, finally convinced I can’t do this handheld, and with the Camera on the tripod, I set the exposure at 100 ISO f16 for 30 seconds. I knew with this exposure that the highlights would be blown out, and there would be no detail in the Christmas booths, but the top of the Church should be exposed properly and this seemed as good a place to start as any! After the first exposure I took two more images, one 1 stop under exposed and then next 2 stops underexposed. In the final image the Church steeple is dark, but visible, but more importantly there is good, no great, but good detail in the Christmas Booths.

Back at the computer, in my case the laptop, I imported the photos into Lightroom, select the three photos then taking the photos into Photos shop using the tab at the top of the screen; Photo, edit in merge in photoshop HDR Pro in Photoshop,
Screenshot 2014-12-11 10.17.47
The program will merge the three photos, after Photoshop has worked its’ magic,  I open the Camera RAW Filter. to fixed a few spots, increased contrast. Camera RAW the basic adjustment tab is very similar to Lightroom, so while there I increased blacks and reduced the highlights slightly.
Next I want to fix the Lens Distortion
Screenshot 2014-12-11 10.21.50
Lens Distortion in Camera RAW is much the same as Lens Correction in Lightroom and this step could be done in Lightroom.  While in Photoshop I clone over the light flare that the street light was causing. Saving the HDR image back to Lightroom, I checked for Noise in the image, and using the noise deductions sliders I made the following adjustments.  luminance 32, detail 50 and contrast 6.
Once I am done with an image I like to close the file and leave it sit for a day, nothing changes with the photo while it sits, but I get to look at it with fresh eyes then next day. I think this is a good habit to get into, sometime we look at something for way to long and we are just happy to close the file, say done, when really there is more work to be done, we just can’t see it anymore, it just looks better than it did!
Going back the next day or next week gives us a chance to evaluate our processing choices, and make new choices and adjustments if necessary. In this example, I sent the files off to Stacy for her blog, no time for re-evaluation, the next day I noticed that some of the street light was still noticeable at the top of the frame, and completed the cloning on the sky to remove the flare from the street light.
I am sure there is more than one way to merge three images into one, and make these adjustments, I am learning as I go and if anyone has any suggestions I would be happy to hear them.
Hope on over to Stacy’s blog to see what the other photographers are doing, not only have I learned a lot from them about photography and processing images, I have learned a lot about my own process. Taking notes, being more conscious of what I was doing, and writing it down, thinking it through in a sequential order and more importantly wanting to get it right for the blog has helped give me insight into my work. It is a process I am incorporating into my workflow a little more often these days.

Bamberg Germany

Bamberg Germany; copyright jmeyersforeman 20124

Bamberg Germany; copyright jmeyersforeman 20124

Bill and I have spent a little more than a week in Bamberg, described by Lonely Planet as a disarmingly beautiful masterpiece with an almost complete absence of modern eyesores. The entire Altstadt, or town center is a Unesco World Heritage Site.  The town is bisected by two rivers, and built on seven hills!

We have walked most of the streets, down the park paths along the river, stopped at most of the 10 breweries, and visited the different historic sites. We have made three-day trips, by train to three different cities, all within an hour’s ride, Nuremberg, Wurzberg and Colberg, to visit the different Christmas Markets and see the sights, all beautiful cities deserving on more time. The train system is amazingly efficient, and an economical way to travel in Germany.

We have loved our time in Bamberg and would come back again, tomorrow we are off to Frankfurt.

 

Bamberg Germany and the World of Beer

Bamberg Beer; copyright jmeyersforeman 2014

Bamberg Beer; copyright jmeyersforeman 2014 

There are nine independent breweries around the beautiful heritage city, and 60 breweries in the surrounding countryside. According to the guide we were given at the tourist information, this region boasts a unique diversity of beers and the highest density of breweries, a tradition that goes back almost 1000 years.
We are going to do our best to visit the nine that are in the city! I doubt if I will be very helpful at describing the different beers, but with any luck, and auto-focus on the camera I should have an interesting photo or two before the week is over.

Bamberg Germany

Old Town Hall, Bamberg Germany; copyright jmeyersforeman 2014

Old Town Hall, Bamberg Germany; copyright jmeyersforeman 2014

How time fly’s by, Bill and I visited Bamberg Germany for the first time April 2011! We loved it so much when the opportunity to spend this month in Germany photographing Christmas Markets came up, we knew that the Bamberg Christmas Market would be on the list of places to see. 

We have spent a couple of days wandering the streets, visiting the familiar tourist attractions, as well as some of the coffee shops and breweries that we had visited before. We have also found some new favourites. 

This is the old town hall, and it doesn’t matter how many times I walk by, or which bridge I am on when I see it I think about taking a photo. According to legend the bishop of Bamberg would not grant the citizens any land for the construction of a town hall, so the townsfolk rammed huge wooden beams into the river Regnitz to create an artificial island on which they built the town hall. The location marks the old border of rule between the bishop, the ruling clergy and the local trades people on the island city. 

Old Town Hall, Bamberg Germany; copyright jmeyersforeman 2014

Old Town Hall, Bamberg Germany; copyright jmeyersforeman 2014

the old town hall at night. 

 

The Gamaldegalerie, Berlin;

I have doing some reading about street photography, and wanted to share some photos taken at the Gemaldegalerie in Berlin. The gallery founded in 1830 contains a collection of European paintings from the 13th to the 18th century. The Gemaldegalerie website notes that a complete tour of the gallery includes paintings from some of the great masters as Raphael, Titian, and Jan van Eyck, to name a few, as well as a gallery of Rembrandt’s work. There is approximately 1000 masterpieces on display at any one time.

Our visit to the gallery seemed like a perfect opportunity to practise some of the tips and suggestions I had been reading for street photography. After all walking around the gallery can be a lot like walking around a small neighbourhood.

Some pointers I have picked up from this experience and from my reading;

  1. be patient – working on that one, still working on that one, yup will probably be working on that one for a while. Some times it pays to sit in one place for a while, in a museum where it is alright to sit or stand and study a painting I look a little less awkward, okay I feel a little less awkward. People are generally pre-occupied with the art work, and less concerned with what I am doing.
  2. choose the right lens, 24 mm to 50 mm,  allows for more background or foreground, and provides context to the image, while pulling the viewer in, as if they were part of the image unfolding before them.
  3. have your setting right before you start, ISO and shutter speed fast enough to stop movement. Pre-planning and be aware of light changes is essential. I choose to practise in a space where light was constant, one less thing to worry about for the day.
  4. Look for juxtaposition, or in the case of the museum photography, I looked for people busy viewing the art work, but not blocking the art, so we could see both.
  5. focus; with modern auto-focus cameras and a wide lens, in the 30 – 35mm range, set to lens to f8, generally works to keep most the subjects in focus.

So there you have it, my gallery of images, and a few lessons I picked up along the way. It should be noted that I have a noisy camera, and in a quiet museum people are going to notice, on more than one occasion someone apologized for being in the image!  It is important to check with the museum before taking any photos, and remember to turn off your flash!

I love to visit the museums, the audio guide playing in my ear, learning about the masterpieces on show along with a little history, now I have another reason to spend time in a museum! I hope you have found this helpful, if you have any tips to share please leave a comment.

Sunshine Statues and Silhouette

Sunshine Statue and Silhouette; copyright jmeyersforeman 2014

Sunshine Statue and Silhouette; copyright jmeyersforeman 2014 

It has been cold, foggy, and windy here in Germany and I needed a change from all the Christmas market photos. So I went back in my files to a day in Salzburg when we actually had a little bit of sunshine.

As we walked around the parks of Salzburg enjoying the architecture and statues I noticed the sun peaking through creating a sun-flare near the upper part of the image, and a near perfect silhouette.  Given the weather report for this part of the world it will be while before we see the sun!

Today we will be dressing warm and heading out to see more of Berlin, pictures to follow at a later date.

One more; Charles Bridge, Prague, then we are off to Vienna

Charles Bridge, Prague; copyright jmeyersforeman 2014

Charles Bridge, Prague; copyright jmeyersforeman 2014 

We sat along banks of the Vltave River, not far from the Charles Bridge, where we could see the Old Town Bridge tower, the sun was going down, the lights were coming on and it seemed like the perfect time and a perfect place to stop for a mug of mulled wine.

This hour of day the dark blue colour of the sky mixed with the warm glow of the street lights is one of the most beautiful times of day, of course this time of year, late fall, sunset happens about 4:30. I think that it is a perfect reminder to change gears and slow down.

As a photographer low light means long time exposures and a tripod, causing, dare I say forcing me to slow down and enjoy the view. In this image we can see the lights of the river boats streaking by, they become a blur of light with the long exposures and contrast to the sharp detail of the Old Town.

St. Charles Bridge, Prague at Sunrise

St. Charles Bridge, Prague Hungary at sunrise; copyright jmeyersforeman 2014

Charles Bridge, Prague Hungary at sunrise; copyright jmeyersforeman 2014 

We haven’t been getting up for sunrise very often lately, we wanted to see Charles Bridge in the early morning before it was filled with people. Sunday and there was at least a dozen photographers with tripods, and another dozen or so people walking around with cameras at 6 am! It was cloudy so there wasn’t much of a sunrise, but it was worth getting up early because by 7 am there bridge was starting to get busy, by then we were ready for our morning coffee and croissant.