All of those photos are shot on a Sony a7rII and ZEISS Loxia 35mm, 50mm & Batis 25mm
These lakes were one of the many places we visited on a whim, because of a sign that pointed to them. The area is so tranquil, I imagine we could have easily spent a whole week there, swimming, kayaking and trout fishing, or just lounging on the sandy beaches.
As Chris and I were on the road up to Cape Reinga, he suddenly said “What’s Giant Te Paki?”. The recurring signs leading to it caught his attention, so on a whim we decided to follow them and find out. Several kilometres of gravel road later, we emerged at a sight even I had not expected to see in New Zealand. In front of us was what looked like a giant desert. It turns out Te Paki are giant sand dunes. So what next? Climb them of course. It was hard going and the sand was almost too hot to touch even though it was only a few hours past sunrise. At several points, we were so far into the dunes that we could only see sand and sky in all directions. At other times we were walking over rocks that looked something like the surface of Mars.
Eventually you drive so far north in New Zealand that there are no more towns (the last one was 100km ago), no more houses, no reception; no one really bothers to live somewhere that remote. There’s just bush and rolling hills, and one main highway meanders between views of the West coast and views of the East coast, until you can see both at the same time. Then you know you’ve arrived at Cape Reinga. We got to Cape Reinga at the same time as several tourist busses transporting a ton of tourists, which I found particularly odd as we hadn’t seen driven past more than 3 cars in the last 3 hours. Cape Reinga is where the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean crash together. It has significance to Māori culture; Māori belief is that the spirits of the dead leap off the land and return to the underworld.
When it rains in New Zealand, it really rains. It’s as though the skies open up and pour buckets of water relentlessly until everything and everyone is soaked. Our Bay of Islands trip was dampened by this surprise downfall, which made us very glad to be sleeping in the SUV and not in a tent. At night we tucked ourselves up in a duvet listening to the rain and wind battering the car outside. During the day we donned our raincoats and trudged through the little townships despite the poor weather, enjoying moments of dryness inside quaint cafes and on the ferry ride between Paihia and Russell. It’s hard to believe that Russell, a small town of about 50 colonial style houses, was once New Zealand’s capital.
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Going to italy is probably the most typical german holiday. I’ve spent a lot of time on crowded beaches with my family when I was a kid and I remember exploring old, and charming cities. This time, my trip didn’t take me to the beach or big cities but into north Italy, an area that is mostly covered by mountain ranges. One of the most impressive places there is the UNESCO world heritage called Dolomites.
Together with Florian Wenzel, who perfectly planned our route, I took a two day photography trip to explore those rough landscapes. Our AirBnB room only cost us about 50€ and was in the heart of the Dolomites, a place called “Pozza di Fassa”. The place we wanted to take photos at in the morning was only about 60 kilometers away but what we didn’t consider was the fact that it easily takes 1.5 hours to drive this distance through the mountains. Getting up at 5am, I navigated us through quite scary serpentines and my car’s motor was howling through the night as we got higher and higher to our sunrise destination. The best place to set base in this area seems to be “St. Christina” as it’s directly in the middle of quite a few beautiful landmarks.
The “Alp Di Siusi”, as the Italians call it is a plateau surrounded by a 360° mountain view. Getting there can be quite easy but we took the hard route. Like many times before, Google maps didn’t realise that i’m only driving a Skóda Fabia and not a fancy SUV. I ended up on a road that I wasn’t supposed to drive on and that led directly uphill into a forest. We tried to figure out the situation for a few minutes and then decided that this seems to be the only possible way to get there. So there we were, driving on a one way street through pitch black, sometimes on the edge of a river, sometimes I don’t even want to know what there was or wasn’t next to the road. Even though we didn’t know exactly which point on the Alp Di Siusi we wanna go, the road brought us to the perfect spot with a beautiful view towards the sunrise and a big field full of small wooden houses in front of us. Another thing that we didn’t consider was that the sunrise might be scheduled at 7:30 but it takes nearly another hour until it rises over the top of the mountain. After finding the perfect spot for taking our shots, we stood another hour in the cold, walking in circles to keep us warm just to capture that one moment.
On the way down we found out that there is actually an easier, bigger and “official” road to the Alp Di Siusi. So please, if you plan to go there: don’t take the scary route through the woods. Google Maps might tell you so because it’s shorter but if you drive through a mountain village called “Kastelruth”, it’s a bit longer but you’ll have a way lower heart rate when you arrive. Plus the village is the origin of a super awful german/austrian folk-music group called “Kastelruther Spatzen” so you also drive through a bit of embarrassing music history.
If you have a bit more time and fitness, you might wanna target two beautiful mountain passes called “Gardena Pass” and “Sella Pass”, just make sure you bring proper hiking shoes cause if you go there anywhere close to winter, some tracks will be quite slippery. And believe me, you wanna takes those tracks because they are the ones that bring you to really nice views. The upside of going there in winter is that there is basically no bad light for photography. On one of the mountain passes I photographed in midday sun and the light shaped the mountains in a beautiful, three dimensional way. It’s also quite safe to get there by car. Apart from the usual winding roads, you’ll have no problems and it’s a perfect area if you wanna go for a hike.
Last time I went to Venice, I must have been about 10 years old or even younger. I can't really remember anything. In the last days, i took a little mini-honeymoon with my wife and we spent a few days in Venice. The first thing I noticed was how insanely great and soft the light was. I looked like it wasn't from this earth with its pink-ish color palette, soaking the whole city into beautiful soft pastel tones. The second thing I noticed were the thousands of tourists. Although it was the end of October already and not very warm anymore, most of the main streets were flooded with people and hard to walk through. My wife and I did, what we usually do: We tried to escape the tourists and take exactly the streets that other people didn't take. We ended up in sometimes quite narrow walkways and squares, sometimes quite smelly spots but at the same time very authentic and beautiful places. We walked through streets that the Venice residents live in and enjoyed a sunset by the water nearly alone. Something that's not very easy to do in Venice. We even found some spots where the restaurants weren't as crowded and had some typical and delicious pizza and pasta. We walked between 15 and 20 kilometers every day but it was so worth it because we saw nearly every corner of the city. When our feet were tired, we took the Traghetto, the waterbus which also brought us out to some of the little islands. Venice is a uniquely photogenic city. Wherever you look, you see beautiful architecture, surreal scene with doors leading directly into the water. Venice can also look quite dirty and rugged in places that tourists aren't supposed to see but i guess that's what creates it's charm and at the same it's nice to see all of those facets. I've always felt quite drawn to the water and I got a bit jealous looking and those laid back people, traveling the canals in their little boats, imagining how easy it is for them to escape the hectic and noise of the people just by driving out onto the ocean a few kilometers, catch some fish and then come back into this very special city to have some authentic italian food.
If you drive to Venice from southwest Germany or western Europe, you might drive through Austria and north Italy. Beside the beautiful mountain ranges that you drive through, you'll also cross a few italian towns worth visiting. On our way there we stopped at Trento to have our first italian coffee on the main square and found ourselves in Riva Del Garda, a town by the lake Garda to have some dinner. On the way back, we stopped at a suspension bridge, the "Highline 179" which we found out is the longest suspension bridge for pedestrians in the world and quite scary to walk on. We did it anyways of course and enjoyed our last sunset in the mountains before driving back home.
When I recently got the iPhone 7 Plus, I felt like I really had to make use of it for spending so much money. So past weekend I did something I haven't done in a while: I left my big cameras at home to have no other chance but using my phone for all of my photography and it actually was a great experience it's size and the way it's built are great for quick shots that sometimes wouldn't be possible with a DSLR. It's photo quality is more than enough for sharing online and doing small prints. Of course it still lacks the possibility for a proper bokeh but it brings everything else for getting the photos ready for sharing with as little effort as possible. In fact all the post-work including this blogpost where done with only an iPhone, mostly from the passenger seat of a car 🙂
All of those photos are shot on a Sony a7rII and ZEISS 35mm, 50mm & Batis 25mm
There’s this beach in New Zealand, called 90 Mile Beach. Except it’s not 90 miles long, in truth it’s actually 88 kilometres, or 55 miles. Still, it’s really long, and really straight. It’s a recognised public highway, and sometimes the only available one up to the top of the North Island if State Highway 1 is closed due to flooding.
Driving a car down a beach with the windows down and the sea breeze keeping you cool on a hot summer’s day sounds pretty idyllic. So we thought as we made our way there with the Mercedes GLE350. It hadn’t crossed our mind much that it’s probably not a very smart thing to do with such an expensive car. Until we were standing at the beachfront, and saw the strip of soft pillowy sand at the entrance, and witnessed many other cars (albeit most not 4WDs) slipping and sliding and scraping the bottom of their vehicles on large rocks as they emerged onto the road. There’s also the very real danger of the tide coming and causing our car to sink and disappear forever.
After weighing up all these risks, Chris and I decided that not going on the beach was a cop out, but attempting to drive all the way down to Cape Reinga (which requires exiting the beach by driving through a river) was tempting fate too much. So we summoned our courage, hopped in and rolled slowly but steadily down onto the sand. So far, so good. A quick check to confirm we weren’t sinking once we hit the firm sand, and then Chris got out to snap some photos while I enjoyed the scenery. 5 minutes later we were already back on sealed road again, frayed nerves but proud of the fact that we have now officially driven on a beach. All in all the GLE handled our offroading stint like a champion, and I’m sure it would have coped just fine driving all 88 kilometres.
I love how NZ beaches all have some unique quality to them. West coast beaches often have sooty, black sand and wild crashing waves. Rarawa beach, halfway between Kaitaia and Cape Reinga on the East Coast, has pure white sand the texture of powdered sugar, and gently ebbing waves. It’s truly a peaceful place, and our DoC campsite was just a short walk away over some sand dunes.
Spirits Bay campsite was a definite highlight of our roadtrip. 20kms down a gravel road, completely isolated and far away from civilisation, we made our camp at the DoC site at the edge of the beach and set off exploring. Spirits Bay sand is covered in millions of broken up shells that crunch under your feet and give the beach a pale pink colour. We crossed a river and hopped over a fence and were surrounded by curious horses. There we watched the sunset, wondering at how surreal and beautiful it was and hoping that this moment would last forever.
This year I escaped most of german's winter while being in New Zealand. When I got back, snow was bascially completely gone. In March I met up with Florian Wenzel, an amazing photographer living close by and we explored some areas in the Black Forest. While driving up higher and higher into the mountains, we were quite surprised about how much snow we still found. Walking through the forest was pretty exhausting sometimes because we didn't wanna stick to the paths but it was worth it. We ended our trip on a place called "Hornisgrinde". I've been there a few times and it's a nice plateau on the top of a mountain with a beautiful view. This time it's been a proper ice-desert.
All those photos are taken on the Fuji X100s
All of those photos are shot on a Sony a7rII and ZEISS Loxia 35mm, 50mm & Batis 25mm
New Zealand is a country for travellers and backpackers. I've never seen more backpackers in any other country. You would simply miss way too many great things if you stayed in the same place all the time. On our last New Zealand trip we spent three weeks travelling around the North Island. We slept in the back of the car, ate fish and chips in quaint little towns near the ocean and hiked through amazing landscapes. In those three weeks, we were lucky to have the use of a Mercedes Benz GLE350. An SUV that turned out to be a truly amazing travel-companion. It took us safely along a route of over 4,000 km. The first week of our trip was spent in Northland, everywhere between Auckland and the northern most tip of New Zealand, and even just travelling and driving through those amazing and unique landscapes is worth telling a few stories about.
The distance between Auckland and Cape Reinga is 400km. It takes at least 6 hours to drive though, because there is rarely a straight road where it’s possible to get up to the maximum speed of 100km/hr. There’s a high chance of being slowed down by a tractor or a herd of livestock crossing the road. This isn’t a bad thing of course, because having to drive slowly means having time to take in the scenery and enjoy the open space and coastal views.
Chris calls all the tiny towns north of Auckland “Wild West towns” because of their run-down, patched together charm, and the fact that they’re usually only one street long, with an average of 10 houses, one corner store, a fish and chips store, and a petrol station if you’re lucky. Artist galleries are common too, I guess because many artists choose to remove themselves from the hustle and bustle of city life and seek inspiration in those charismatic little communities. We took a car ferry between two such towns, joining each side of State Highway 1 over Hokianga harbour.
Of all the North Island, Northland is the place to go if you want to escape civilisation. The night sky is exploding with stars, because the nearest light source is often 20km away. The day sky is a misty, pale blue colour that a practised eye will tell you means we’re near to the ocean. It’s always windy and the air tastes of salt. Most places are only accessible by a rough gravel road, filled with pot holes. This was no problem for the GLE, we set it onto offroad mode and went on our merry way.