So, Phillip: You haven’t published an article for three months: Where have you been? Well I sat in front of my PC for work a lot but I also was out in nature on my bike with a camera bag on my back.
Enjoying the freedoms C19 left
16.3.20: The first day schools were closed in Germany
I am a teacher so my daily routines changed completely with the closure of schools: I had no longer to be in school by 8am which gave me the freedom to do early morning rides but at the same time my workload increased significantly since new formats had to be developed to fit the new setting, individual feedback took a lot of time and digital tools had to be deployed and colleagues trained in them. So my hours in front of the PC increased a lot, so much so that it would have been stressful to invest even more hours to produce any blog content. A big thanks to Bastian and also to David and Juriaan wo kept the blog alive in the last months.
While C19 took many liberties I tried to make the most of the liberties which C19 left. Riding my bicycle in the early hours when none is around was still allowed under our relatively liberal lockdown rules.To me there is no better place to find respite from the turbulences of life than getting up with the sun and riding through the forest on a cold morning or slightly less frosty evening all by myself. We also had very sunny weather for weeks which I used to experience and capture the spring like no spring before. I want to share some of the many pictures I took in this article.
The Teutoburger Wald in spring
I live at the “slopes” of the Teutoburger Wald, one of Germany’s many low mountain ranges. It is best known for the fact that Varus lost many of Rome’s legions in it when it was a dark and inaccessible area in the roman times. Now some 2000 years later nature has been shaped by humans for many generations, the next road is never far away and there is no true wilderness left here. There are also no big vistas or iconic landmarks around here. I haven’t met a serious photographer in my area ever. But there are many more intimate scenes to be discovered and I want to show you a few in this article.
The valley with the old mill
There are many smaller brooks starting at the foot of the Teutoburger Forest which have shaped our landscape with its many hills and shallow valleys. Back in the day the energy of these brooks was used in many mills. One of these valleys is my favorite photo location around here. The valley isn’t large or very wild and the mill which was build in 1888 wasn’t ever an especially nice looking building but with time I have really learned to know the area and taken many images which are dear to me.
Mill to the left, Teutoburger Wald in the background
5 years ago I had never seen a wild stork in our area now a few couples have been breeding successfully in the wider area and I hope for some of their offspring to settle in the valley.
The meadow and some of the trees around the old mill start to get green again
Not two weeks later nature has made a big leap
This year I was lucky to catch two foggy spring morning in the valley
About a kilometre below the mill the valley has widened and merged with another one. The area is managed by an organic farm to which also belongs a forest I have often roamed when I lived just 5 minutes from here.
Hi Juriaan,can you tell us a little bit about yourself and why you use manual Lenses? Juriaan: I’m a hydrobiologist from Ede in the Netherlands. In the beginning of 2012 my photography journey started out with a Fujifilm bridge camera. In 2013 I bought my first interchangeable lens camera, a Nikon D7000 including a 10-20 and 18-200. While using this camera I improved my skills quite a bit and I discovered my love for astro photography.
However, size and weight bothered me a lot, as did the average quality of my lenses, especially the annoying autofocus and bad manual focus implementation made me switch to an A7S in 2015. I got the Samyang/Rokinon 14mm T3.1 and the Loxia 2/50 along with it. The manual focus experience of the Loxia hooked me up on manual lenses. I found some old m42 primes, including the Pentacon 1.8/50, which I could use with an adapter. I liked working with those lenses a lot so I started to collect them at thrift shops which resulted in quite some nice lenses over the years. This way I could discover a broad range of (bokeh) rendering for little money. As I hated the from factor of the Samyang 14mm I added the little Voigtländer 15mm f/4.5 to my kit. Using manual lenses helped me to improve my photography a lot in a short period. Being unable to just point and shoot I had to overthink things much more which is the best way to learn quick. To everybody who starts with photography I can only recommend to get one or two cheap manual lenses, it will help you to understand the exposure triangle quickly, and it slows you down which makes you think more about things like composition.
Last two years I already visited (by airplane) the Balkan countries Montenegro and Albania for a hiking vacation with my girlfriend and a photography trip with my photo buddy Rick. The wild nature of the Balkans attracts me a lot. As the Balkans are not well known yet, and a lot of people from West Europe think its still dangerous there (most area’s are safe nowadays), you can walk around in the mountains without seeing anyone for a whole day.
The Balkan countries also have very nice, often old cities at the Adriatic coast which are touristic, but not nearly as those in e.g. Italy.
Below you can find a few pictures from my trip last year, which convinced me to go back again this year. Most photo’s of this year can be found in high resolution here. The timelapse video my friend Rick made is also worth checking.
You are going into the mountains for three nights. This is not a dedicated photography trip, but an adventure with friends or family. You have packed your tent, your sleeping bag, warm clothes, cooking gear and food. Your pack is now pretty heavy, but you say something that astonishes your hiking (or bushwalking as we call it in Australia) buddies: you are prepared to add 1.5kg of cameras and lenses to that! As they watch incredulously, you put into your pack……what?
We don’t know what you would do, but we can tell you what we typically pack.
User Characterization: You are a Sony a7 series user enthusiastic about landscape photography but you work on a very limited budget. You look for lenses with a great bang for the buck ratio and good characteristics for landscape photography.
In this post I give you my top picks and a few alternatives for affordable landscape lenses. These where my criteria for this list:
Very good across the frame sharpness at smaller apertures like f/8 or f/11.
High contrast and good flare resistance.
Lenses should be less than $200.
I see manual focus lenses as preferable for landscape photography.
I would like to have nice sunstars but at this budget this is quite difficult if not impossible.
Small size is a bonus.
This is the fourth part of a series on the best landscape lenses for the Sony a7/a9 series in which we explore sets of landscape lenses for different user types.
The very affordable Pentax is as sharp as good modern lenses at f/8 or f/11 and it maintains high contrast with good flare resistance which is rare for a legacy wide angle lens. Stopped down to f/14 it even draws a pleasant sunstar. But of course there is a catch: the Pentax is pretty rare and not easy to find. The best alternative I see is the more expensive Zeiss Distagon 2.8/28 which isn’t better but more easily available.