Christmas Days

This year, Christmas days are under restrictions and challenges. A lot of people complains about not sharing these days with their families. But Christmas doesn’t have to be about families.

A lot of people complains these days about not buying the presents, the special food and drinks they want to share with their relatives. But Christmas doesn’t have to be about consumerism.

Maybe, despite all the restrictions and challenges, we have discovered another way of enjoying and sharing these days, without flying to far countries, without spending a lot of money in presents we don’t need, without losing many hours in traffic jams towards crowded ski resorts.

Maybe we have discovered that we can spend some time in a local woodland, sharing the stroll with our loved ones, looking how the birds facing up to the winter, or just greeting the people locked on nursing homes…

May be we’ll discover the stillness, and we’ll learn to enjoy the depths of a silent winter.

Wishing you all the best for 2021.

Pas de Deux

Pas de deux, is a dance duet in which two dancers perform ballet steps together that portray expressions of affectionate feelings and thoughts between the partners.

Some days ago, I reviewed my photo catalog, and I found some interesting pictures, that from my point of view, built a nice story.

But, the photos I’ve found are not about dancers, but about walkers, strollers, or even bathers and anglers.

So, I decided to start a new project with that name: Pas de deux

A Great Need to Get Away

Because we live with tighter restrictions as local lockdown, quarantine, or self-isolation, I thought that, to look for forgotten books in my bookshelves, could be a good idea.

I found the book Wang River Collection of Wang Wei (699 – 759), a Chinese poet, painter, calligrapher, and musician. Wang Wei is especially known as a poet and painter of nature.

Wang River Collection have the Wang Wei’s most famous poetry, a series of couplets written by him and by his friend Pei Di.

After reading some of the poems of Wang Wei:

 Empty hill not see person
 Yet hear person voice sound
 Return scene enter deep forest
 Duplicate light green moss on

 Hills are empty, no man is seen,
 Yet the sound of people's voices is heard.
 Light is cast into the deep forest,
 And shines again on green moss.

 Deer Enclosure. Wang Wei 

 Autumn hill gather surplus shine
 Fly bird chase before companion.
 Colour green moment bright,
 Sunset mist no fixed place.
 The autumn hill gathers remaining light,
 A flying bird chases its companion before.
 The green colour is momentarily bright,
 Sunset mist has no fixed place.
 Lily Magnolia Enclosure. Wang Wei 

I felt a great need to get away, to the woodlands, to enjoy the scents of wet earth, the ephemeral fog and the vibrant colours of fallen leaves.

Time to Fly Away, over Hills and Forests

After the great review we shall fly away to warm countries, far from here, over hills and forests.

The Storks. Hans Christian Andersen.

It is a commonplace that autumn is one of the best times of the year for a landscape photographer. But, it’s true…I think.

It’s time for enjoying the magnificent and the rich vibrant colors of the foliage. And last but not least, if you want to shoot twilight you don’t have to be out of bed at 4am.

Trough the window of my living room, I can see every day how quickly the color of the foliage change. So I decided to hike trough a Nature Reserve near home.

The parking lot was empty when I arrived and the sun was still under the horizon. I could take some very nice pictures of a fantastic woodland with very old beech and oak trees. The saturated greens of the moss were a perfect frame for the vibrant yellow and orange colors of the foliage.

As the sun was higher, some sunbeams went trough the trees, building soft colors and shadows. A time for a quiet break, enjoying the light, the woodland and the silence…until cyclists and hikers came . It was time to retreat.

On the way back I crossed a dry watercourse when I could see a very, very nice gray heron waiting for his lunch. As I was near him, it flew away.

Autumn Leaves and Fresh Air

I’ve talked about the drought that the country have suffered during the summer, which was very hot.

But, luckily, autumn have brought some rain and fresh air. Time for a getaway to some nice woodland in northern Germany and trying to forget for some days the bad news we receive every day about the world events that are taking place and are anything but peaceful.

Some strolls at dawn and dusk gave me the opportunity to enjoy the first and last murmurings of the wood, the first and last light of the day.

Taking photos in the midst of peace and quiet was a very good way to receive the new season. And, fortunately, I could share the experience with some colleagues. They took very, very nice pictures.

The Party is Over

While summer is coming to a close, televisions and newspapers have reported about the drought that the country suffers. The woodlands are in a dreadful state, the trees died and the citizens have to save water.

I wanted to say to summer goodbye and I visited the Kellerwald-Edersee National Park, in the middle of Germany. The national Park borders on the Eder river to the north, wich forms a big reservoir.

It was difficult to hike in the woodlands of the National Park. Some parts of the route are shared with cyclists. They go fast, and most of the time, they show an aggressive behaviour towards pedestrians. Although they pretend to be “green”, in fact they show an authoritarian behaviour. It seems to me, that a new “fundamentalism” is growing between the activists in the environmental movement.

I hiked along the empty basin of the reservoir. It was a strange feeling. The pontoons and some boats lay over the ground. It was possible to walk between the rests of an old bridge and the foundations of some houses.

I saw a men coming to me. Behind him, a platform looked like an abandoned boat. It was as if a sailor had to continue his sailing on foot.

I thought: yes, the party is over.

Days of Works and Books

I have a friend – a very good photographer – who used to make her own photo books. She bind the books with the Japanese and Leporello (often called concertina) binding.

I was astonished with the results of her books. But I never had the patience to afford to do the job.

And all at once, we were in the middle of the lockdown.

One day I saw the possibility to participate from home, on a book making course run by the photographer Alex Hare -by the way a very good photographer, as you can see on his incredible picture of Ceapabhal, the westernmost summit of Harris island, on the the Outer Hebrides-.

The day of the workshop, the six participants were nearly 6 hours learning the use of paper, bone folder, Stanley knife, glue, an so on.

The result? You can see it yourself. I have to say I’m very happy with the result. I’m working on my second photo book!

Has to Be a Photograph a Factual Rendition of Reality?

The judgement of whether a thing is a work of art is a simple one and can be answered unambiguously. The term art has been settled to mean objects expressing human skill and imagination (read: creativity). Anything that meets these qualifications is—by definition—art.

[…] What remains ambiguous and open to subjective judgement is not whether a thing is or is not art, but whether, and by what criteria, that thing may be considered as “good” art. This is, and should always remain, a matter of opinion.

Guy Tal

As everyone who had learned photography, I learned the rules of composition: rule of thirds, golden ratio, etc.

When I was a member of a Photo club I participated in some competitions and I tried to apply these rules.

The only thing I learned was that my photographs were analysed by a group of individuals called ‘the Experts’ who would be looking for contents and features that meet the established rules.

That is what Alain Briot name ‘the photo police’, who ‘consist of photographers who are telling other photographers what to do by imposing arbitrary rules because they believe they are right and other photographers are wrong’.

Many times, in my exhibitions, some people say to me: Oh…you’ve used Photoshop…! The reality doesn’t look like that!

My answer used to be: Sorry but I’m a Linux user, so there is not Photoshop for Linux. And, why a photograph hast to show the reality? Why cannot I post-processing my pictures the way I want?

Unfortunately there are a lot of people who believe they are connoisseurs, but at the end what they have are a lot of prejudices and they are not able to think that art is, and should always remain, a matter of opinion.

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.