Werner Ulrich's Home Page:  Ulrich's Bimonthly

Formerly "Picture of the Month"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January-February 2011

   Ulrich's Bimonthly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Year's Concert  

   Hello, New Year! Your turn now!

   To your reign I'll have to bow.

          Can't stop you, make you go away,

          before another year holds sway.

 

   Come on, New Year! Now that you're here

   You might as well be nice.

          Bring me luck not vice.

          Be kind, would that you were!

 

                           Or will you say: "Nay, nay,

                           my friend, I'll let you pay

                                  for all you got wrong last year;

                                  hey! it's my turn now, as you say"?

 

   Forget it, New Year! Not with me!

   I'll not let you be my boss.

          I'll be the one in charge, not ye.

          I'll play the tune and put the gloss.

 

   I know, New Year! You're bound to stay

   and reign till the year is round! But gee!

          I'll choose the sound, you see,

          it's on my playground, hey,

          that you will play with me!

      W. Ulrich, 1 Jan 2011
      (written during the New Year's Concert)

 

Winter photography: on urban playgrounds  A year ago, I dedicated the first Bimonthly of the year to the topic of winter photography. I have continued since to be enthusiastic about this season's photographic potential, which I think is largely underrated as compared to the year's other seasons. As I tried to explain, winter landscapes are among the most beautiful landscape subjects for a photographer, due to what I tentatively described as the attraction of photographic minimalism. Winter photography make us appreciate the essentials of landscapes in a way similar to black-and-white-photography; for example, it invites us to pay attention to simple and clear patterns, to the play and nuances of light and shade, to the role of the sky in composing landscape pictures, and to the silhouettes of trees and people standing out against the brighter background of snow or winter fog.

With hindsight it occurred to me, however, that this earlier introduction to winter photography took it for granted that winter photography is mainly landscape photography, or at least that landscapes are its main attraction. For me this may be so, but I realize this is not necessarily so for everyone. Our current winter weather has reminded me of the beauty of winter in the city! Like in other parts of the northern hemisphere, this past December has brought us lots of snow and freezing days not only in the mountain areas and in the countryside but also in the city of Bern. In the past 20 years or so this has not happened often, so that I had almost forgotten how attractive winter photography can be in the city. I decided to seize the next opportunity for trying my hands at winter photography in the city.

The opportunity came sooner than expected. On Boxing Day or what we here call "Stephanstag" (St. Stephen's Day, = the 26th of December) winter spoiled us with one of those exceptionally bright and radiant days that sometimes occur after fresh snow has fallen, when the sky is clearing up and temperatures are falling markedly below zero. Snow had fallen down to the city for the past few days, now the sun was back and it was a bitterly cold Sunday morning. I shouldered my camera bag, kissed my wife and off I was hunting for winter pictures in the city rather than in the countryside.

 

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For a hyperlinked overview of all issues of "Ulrich's Bimonthly" and the previous "Picture of the Month" series, see the site map

 

 

 

The silhouette of Bern  Photographing winter in the city  I decided to try and capture the wintry ambiance of Berne's medieval town center as a whole, focusing on its silhouette rather than on any specific buildings, places or street scenes. To be sure, photographing winter in the city will have to include street scenes, too, but the wintry silhouette of Bern's historic old town seemed an obvious photographic subject to begin with. Here are some of the views I enjoyed, with no "theoretical" comments this time the technical guidelines I offered a year ago remain valid. In particular it is still a good idea to apply an exposure bias of 1/3 or 2/3 aperture stops as compared to your standard exposure bias (which in my case is -1/3 or -2/3 stops), except when it results in blown-out highlights (be sure to carefully check each picture's histogram). Likewise, it remains essential for capturing the urban winter ambiance to work with a reduced contrast setting, which I would recommend to be combined with a neutral or "natural" color setting. Finally, on gray or heavily clouded days, try switching from automatic white balance (AWB) to a "shaded" or "cloudy" position, as that may help avoid an overly strong blue cast in favor of a somewhat warmer light; however, a little bit of a bluish touch is actually quite adequate to capture the ambiance of a cold and clear winter day in the city.

 

 

 

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Wintry Bern 1

Wintry Bern 2

Wintry Bern 3

Wintry Bern 4

Wintry Bern 5

Wintry Bern 6

Wintry Bern 7

Wintry Bern 8

Wintry Bern 9

Wintry Bern 10

 

Picture data (referring to the picture below):  Digital photograph of Bern's old town taken on 26 December 2010, at 2 p.m.. ISO 200, aperture priority with aperture f/11.3 and exposure bias -0.33, exposure time 1/664 seconds, metering mode center weighted, contrast low, saturation normal, sharpness low. Focal length 36 mm, equivalent to 57.6 mm with a conventional 35 mm camera. Original resolution 5184 x 3456 pixels; current resolution 700 x 525 pixels, compressed to 179 KB.

January-February, 2011

Winter in the city

 The wintry old town of Bern  

New Year's Day 2011: winter in Bern's old town

 

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Last updated 22 Jun 2014 (layout); first published 1 Jan 2011)
http://wulrich.com/bimonthly_january2011.html

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