Noisy Society

This days I realized how noisy our society is. In Germany there is always a road, a highway nearby, where cars and trucks come and go, or someone is working with a machine, or a plane crosses the sky…

This days we are reaching high temperatures, the drought is a fact, and Coronavirus makes a comeback around the world.

I was reviewing my pictures and I found one of an excursion I made last year to the Eifel, a low mountain range between Germany and Belgium. Between the fields and woodlands of the Eifel, there was a chapel, the Bruder Klaus Chapel built for the architect Peter Zumthor.

The sobriety and stillness of the place were moving.

These days of heat, drought, illness and wars I missed the stillness of the chapel.

Evolution of a Landscape

In mid-July, I visited the Lower Lusatia (Niederlausitz), a historical region stretching from the southeast of the German state of Brandenburg to the southwest of Lubusz Province in Poland.

Lusatia provided much of the lignite, known as soft brown coal, that heated German homes and powered the country’s industrial rise.

Lignite mining in Lusatia began in 1860. By now, many villages and communities had to be resettled to allow for lignite mines in the region to be expanded.

Strip mining has a profound impact on the environment and has often devastating effects. The area surrounding the mine is usually never the same afterwards.

As the mining goes to the end, the region is making an effort to develop an entire new lake district clean enough for tourism. Over the past two decades the man-made craters have been slowly re-sculpted to create 26 lakes connected by 13 canals and hundreds of miles of cycle track, a very big tourist destination, a tranquil retreat for people from nearby Berlin and Dresden.

Unfortunately, we know what tourism brings. Many landscapes of the world suffer the negative impacts of tourism.

I visited some areas that now are protected and, slowly, they have again bushes and trees. I found nobody. But the tourist resorts located around the lakes were crowded. In any case, I took some pictures showing the evolution of the post-mining landscapes.

Do Trees Dream of Cleaner Soils, Water and Atmosphere?

One of the best things of landscape photography is that this craft allows a deeper look into the World around us.

It is not only about aperture, shutter speed or composition rules. It is, as well, about, for example, Meteorology, Geography, and Biology.

Working on my project Not Be Able to See the Trees for the Wood, I’ve discovered the secret life of trees.

The trees speak a sophisticated silent language, sharing complex information via smell and electrical impulses. And what impressed me the most, was that trees are social beings: they share food with their own species and sometimes even go so far as to nourish their competitors.

The trees know that there are advantages to working together, which means that trees know the old term of “mutual aid“, popularised by the geographer and philosopher Peter Kropotkin, who defended in his essay Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution, that cooperation, not competition, was the driving mechanism behind evolution.

It seems to me that we, the human beings don’t work together with the trees on the Earth. They suffer a lack of clean soil, clean water and clean atmosphere, three important elements of the cosmologies and mythologies of our cultures that we are poisoning.

The landscape photography allow us to discover the others creatures which we share the planet. And, perhaps, to be more respectful with them.

Take care of you and of others creatures of the planet Earth.

Getaway to the Red Cliffs

With the lockdown relaxing in Germany and other European countries, I decided to spend some days visiting a well-know Nature Conservation Area called Red Cliffs, in the basin of a tributary to the Rhine.

The Red Cliffs are huge deposits of the reddish extrusive rock Rhyolite. The walk last around 3 hours, but taking pictures lasted nearly the double.

Fortunately, I didn’t come across anybody.

During the ascent, I had to cross a little forest with Montpellier Mapels, Wild Cherries and Scots Pines, which reminded me the Mediterranean Forest. While I went up the hill, I had two encounters: the first one with a roe deer, the second with a hare. All of us were frightened.

At first I was afraid: the days were sunny, and most of the time I had to work with backlit. One evening I packed a picnic for dinner and I went in search of an spot with nice evening horizontal light.

I think I got home with some interesting shots.

What do you think?

To Pedal or not to Pedal

That is the question

Some months ago, I took part in an exhibition, which title was Our Future Europe.

My contribution was just a picture. You can see it below, the first one. Far away from a naive joy between golden stars and blue fields.

Naturally, I got some criticisms.

But in the middle of the pandemic, I can see that after all the Nobel prizes in Economy, after a Globalization that promised a wonderful World, after incredible powerful algorithms and “clouds”, after the construction of worldwide Institutions “too big to fail”, all we have is an economic system like a bicycle: as soon as we stop to pedal, the completed economic system falls down and we are seriously injured, when not dead.

All of this, has reminded me of an old film an novel, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?

A True Animal

At some moments, I think on that photo project, The True of the Animal. I have to confess that it is not an easy theme for me.

At the beginning I thouhgt about self- portraits, but my colleagues didn’t feel very excited about my idea. Their opinion was to visit the Zoo and see what could be done.

Since I was a teenager, I hate Zoos. So, in case I wanted to participate on that project, I have to look for some other ways.

In my first attemp, as you can read on my previous post, instead of birds, I found office buildings, the so called modern architecture (you know what I mean: cement, steel and glass tied all together with many straight lines)..

I could see only a pigeon in the middle of the concret jungle, and I took a picture of it. I don’t know if that was the True of the Animal, but, in any case, it was a true animal.

Unexpected Subject

Some friends of mine wanted that I should take part on a project, with a name something like The True of the Animal.

I have no idea of taking pictures of animals and I didn’t understand the real scope of the project.

Regardless of that problems, I visited the banks of Main river where usually there are swans, cormorants, mallards, egyptian geese, and of course seagulls and pigeons.

But I didn’t see any birds. Provide that, nearby it was a town with an important industrial park with many office buildings, I decided to take some “architeture” pictures. The moment was appropiate: sunny day, noon, great contrast. Perfect for practising Blak & White photos.

Wandering at Sunrise

After some weeks confined at home, it seems that many people are holding their breath for the future, while others are anxious about life returning to normal, whatever that normal could be.

While at home, I saw how many photographers have put on the web a lot of interesting videos, workshops, conversations… A lot of helpful resources to feed the feeling that we are not alone, showing how important is to share with others.

Here, near the Taunus range, in April, we have had neither rain nor clouds. What to do? I remembered a place, just 5 or 6 Km away from home, with no special interest, except for some aligned trees. I went there before sunrise and took some pictures. The most pleasant was the walk between the fields, with a very cold air, looking how busy were the birds that had their nests between the crops.

March, even Some Exposures..

Before the winter ended, I wanted to take, if possible, some exposures with a minimalist approach, to practise clean, perhaps semi-abstracts compositions. For example, selecting an isolated tree against a white backdrop.

At the end of March, I visited the Black Forest, a large, imposing, forested mountain range in southwest Germany.

Luckily I found a Campsite close to the Feldberg, the highest peak with an elevation of 1,493 metres (4,898 ft) above sea level and the weather was as bad as I needed. Foggy and wet. And, of course, I found a snow-covered landscape, which gave me unique opportunities for taking the pictures I wanted.

Now, we have to stay at home, trying to avoid that the disease spread out…

Take care and remain healthy.