The year 2020 - a bit different

The Year 2020 in pictures and some stories

Travelling to far away destinations was not an option this year, as everybody knows. I tried to be behind the camera all the same. We have lots of interesting destinations in and around Bavaria and I wanted to focus on these nearby regions.

After the awesome trip to Greenland in March all my plans started to be cancelled one after the other and after some more months the group tours to Falkland/South Georgia/Antarctica and to the Falklands where postponed as well. We managed to change the bookings to later years, at least this was a sign of hope.

In 2020 I did not board an airplane again after the rush back from Greenland. By the way, some people had asked me, whether my marooned red bag had found its way to its true home. Yes it has, many thanks to our host Jannik in Ilulissat!

Bavarian Forest

I am a regular visitor to the mountains of the Bavarian Forest. It is close to Munich, a good hiking area in winter and summer, has pockets of prestine forests (very rare in central europe) and thanks to the wildlife enclosures allows good wildlife photography as well. The enclosures are no zoo. It may take hours to see wolfes or bears, but the probability is quite high to get good views, if you stay there for a couple of days.

During all of my visits I focused a bit on the wild boars. They often stay in the vicinity of their feeding place, they are fun to watch as they are always very active. Due to their agility it is still very demanding to get good shots, but basically it is real fun! During winter you get the animals with their thick winter coat and during early summer the piglets show up with their mothers, very cute and highly recommended.

Of course I tried to get good pictures of the other species as well. Sometimes it worked, sometimes I had no luck and the animals where hiding somewhere in their enclosures! Surprising good was the early summer visit to the brown bears. Due to the lay out of their place it is very hard to get good shots. One of the adults showed up during an endless drizzle, awesome.

Bavarian Forest is not only wildlife, but also good for landscape and forest photography. Untouched forests are nearly impossible to find in Germany, a few patches in the NP Bavarian forest are an exception to the rule. But even in the NP the forest was exploited for centuries and was the reason for the devolopment of the once important industry - glass products. The wood was needed to fire the furnaces. 50 years ago the NP was established and since this date the forests in the core area of the NP are left to themselves.

Very soon the old plant community collapsed. The typical tree skeletons are the remains of the old forest which is now replaced by the natural succession of plant communities. Even after 50 years it is still a long way until a prestine forest becomes a reality again.

I visited a little canyon, which is located outside of the NP for the first time. First we had been there to hike a bit and I knew I wanted to return with all my equipment. I came back some days later in perfect conditions. No wind, overcast sky and the foilage was still a bit wet. It resulted in a series of pictures, prestine, lush, untouched. I am sure that I will return!

After the National Park was founded tourism started to increase. After the fall of the iron curtain, which cut a the huge mountain forest area into two halfs, the corresponding NP on the other side of the border was established and a huge natural area started to develop. Over time tourism became a main source of income for an area, which was once considered a backward part of Germany, the typical Zonenrandgebiet. After the german lock down and all the travel restrictions the Bavarian Forest was a very busy place! Some outdoor museums try to preserve the bygone times, which had been everything but not romantic! It was a hard life in the remote villages....

Finally I want to mention Mount Lusen, my favourite peak. It is a perfect place to get an overview of the hills and the typical landforms. It is an easy hike up there and during peak season it is already a bit crowded. But otherwise it is the perfect place for a morning or evening, even with heavy equipment. Very atmospheric.

National Park Hohe Tauern - Pasterze

About 5 years ago I was quite often in the Hohe Tauern, Venedigergruppe, Zillertaler and of course Großglockner area. The plan was to revisit some of the sites I liked during late summer and fall when the summer haze is gone and the Larch trees turn red. I ended up just with one night at Grossglockner. Early snow stopped me to stay longer and soon after this visit, Tyrol was declared a virus risk area.

At the parking area of the Franz-Josefs Hoehe and on some more view points webcams are installed. I knew from my earlier visits, that the Pasterze, once the biggest glacier in Austria, is collapsing, the signs of its death have been very clear. When I prepared my visit I checked the webcam again and was shocked how the glacier changed. Most of the valley is now covered with a glacial lake, there is nearly no ice left in the valley. A dramatic change! Click the pics to toggle through the years!

Unfortunately the weather changed very fast and snow was predicted. I left after just one night. I hiked down to the valley two times and had some good photography down there. Due to the melting process it is now all fresh moraine material which is not to photogenic, but I tried my best!

During my stay two field campaigns of austrian universities, department of physical geography, took place. I chatted with one of the professors from Graz several times. His students and post grads did most of the work and he had lots of time. It was a bit like a time warp back to the escursions and field campaigns I participated in when a was still in University. We had interesting discussions about the changes at Pasterze, about the changes in Physical Geography and about some people we both knew, this was the extra fun and gossip part of our discussions.

Next year I will try to go back to the locations I missed this year! Lets see how the situation will be in spring and early summer, before the vacations season starts.

At the end of this chapter a last view from Franz-Josefs Hoehe, right from the parking area, Mount Grossglockner was visible for a few moments only.

Sopron - Hungary

On the way back from our cottage near Budapest, which we could visit only once in 2020, we stopped in Sopron for a few days. We just had been in Szentendre for about one week, when Hungary decided  to close its borders again, a very strange decision as neighboring countries like Austria had much lower corona numbers - Honi soit qui mal y pense. After our rush out of Greenland in March, we did not want to risk anything. Therefore we decided to go slowly back with a stop in Sopron close to the border to Austria. Moreover it was just sad to see the deserted touristic center of Szentendre.

Sopron is a lovely little town with lots of history, lots of tourists and picturesque surroundings. Lots of tourists was, of course, not true any longer. Only very few poeple strolled through the streets and lanes of the city center, the restaurants where empty, a very strange atmosphere.

Close to Sopron is Lake Neusiedel / Fertoe to and lots of castles, monasteries and palaces dating back to K&K and even older times. As we wanted to stay only two nights we picked Esterhazy Palace and parts of the Fertoe to National Park. The house of Esterhazy was one of the most distinguished families in Hungary for many centuries. The palace is proof of the influence and wealth of this family.

Nearly nothing survived the wars and the soviet occupation of the last century. The rooms which have been recreated according to old pictures and plans are amazing. The courtyard is awesome and the park, yes, has a very strange, unique design. It is definitly worth a visit. However it is a bit sad, that at least some of the rooms, which are not yet refurbished to the original design, are not used as a museum to show the history of the place and its people. In a place like this, it is not only about art and architecture, but also about the history and how this building changed over time. The palace is not owned by the house of Esterhazy any longer, but by the hungarian state.

The landscape of the National Parks around Lake Neusiedel / Fertoe to is basically a flat depression, a real challange for a photographer. I did not even try, but we had a lovely sunset on one of the viewing towers and met a herd of bulls of the impressive Hungarian Grey breed. A good ending of a day! The next morning we left Hungary knowing that we will not be able to come back this year, without the hassle of quarantine procedures.

Having still some spare days we originally planned to use in Hungary we decided to stay in one of my favourite locations along the Danube, the Wachau.

The Wachau

The Wachau is a UNESCO world heritage site, really pretty in all seasons and full of good restaurants and wineries. Many reasons to go to Wachau. The pictures can tell the rest of the story.

The visit of Esterhazy palace sparked the interest to visit a second huge architectural gem during our way back to Germany, the Goettweig Monastery (and the nearby city Krems).

When you enter the Wacha area from Vienna, Goettweig is always visible. Buildt right on the top of one of the hills, a symbol for the power and influence of the church and its orders. But during the last years we also saw the many cranes and scaffolding, therefore we never went up to Goettweig. This year the renovation was finished and up we went on a beautiful day. Recommended for the interiour and for the view over the Danube depression with all its vinyards and the city of Krems!

The city of Krems (more town than city) is located close to Goettweig and has established itself as an art and art museum center. It is one of the major ports for cruise ships doing the Regensburg - Vienna - Budapest route. It has a wonderful combination of classic and modern architecture. Kudos to the city planners who had the courage to support interesting modern architecture in such a town!

My Wall Calenders and Prints

Are you looking for a christmas present? Do you fancy a wall calender, a big print or a puzzle. Check out this site to look for my work. During the lock down and the summer I produced 18 calenders for the german/austrian/swiss but also for the UK/US/international market. The german calenders should be also available at least through amazon uk/com.

With a click on the thumbnails you hop to the calender.....

The calenders cover a wide range of topics and regions. Landscape and wildlife but also plants and prehistoric monuments. Pictures from Greenland to South Georgia, from african high mountains to the danube delta and of course lots of penguins....

The products are available through many online book shops (amazon, buch24, hugendubel and many others). It is lovely material and all calenders tell stories through their pictures, at least this was my goal. If you have a favourite tell me and spread the word! I bit PR is highly appreciated.....

The prints and the puzzles are cut outs of the (german) calenders.

Bavarian Alps

Right after the lock down I tried to visit the bavarian alps as often as the weather and appointments allowed. Summer is not my favourite season. Our mountains get lots of rain during June/July and due to the many lakes it is often hazy to murky with lots of thunderstorms. This summer was a proof to this rule. Nevertheless I went to try my luck....

I did not had to much luck with typical moutain photography, but at least the villages with its ancient farm houses and alpine architecture worked quite well. I was not to pleased with the overall results. Spring and autumn are the better months.....

Similar story for the alpine foothills and bavarian lake districts. To much haze, but some material turned out quite nice. My plan was to come back in autumn, but unfortunately travel restrictions kicked in again. Lets wait for winter and spring!

Most of my time in the foothills was spent in the Chiemgau around lake Chiemsee. I did not know this part of upper Bavaria very well and it is a very atmospheric and picturesque area well worth a visit. It was a lot of location searching to try to return when the weather and the haze was better. It never worked out. But I will return!

The Dolomites - Trentino and South Tyrol/Alto Adige

The Dolomites are for a reason a touristic hot spot and an UNESCO World Heritage Site. I try to come back at least once a year and my favourite season is late autumn when the larches turn golden and red.

Two times I managed to drive across the alps, first to Brenta/Adamello NP and second (and so far my last trip) to Geisler/Langkofel/Rosengarten or Odle/Sasso Longo/Catenaccio area.

The Brenta is quite far from Germany and most Germans stay in South Tyrol, more western ranges like the Brenta, which is in fact the most westerly at all, or southern ranges like Pale di San Martino are not as overrun especially after Italy finished its vacation season. I tried my luck already last year, but never blogged about it. Therefore I mix pictures from last year October with the ones I shot in September 2020.

In 2019 I tried to cover the Brenta as much as possible. Basically it was a completely new area for me, only during university I visited the Brenta during a geologic excursion. Last year I was lucky weatherwise and had 6 wonderful days, which I spent on the eastern part of the range. As soon as I moved to the western part and Val Rendena the weather changed. Val Rendena is an amazing valley, in the east you have the rock walls of the Brenta and on the west the wide glaciated high planes of the Adamello/Presanella group with a complete different geology and landform.

The next pictures are all from last year mainly from the eastern side of the Brenta.

As weather turned foul last year, it was clear that I had to return.... This year I went already in late summer, as  the main cable car up to the Brenta closes down alread early in September, hard to understand as more and more poeple come during autumn. Especially during this Corona year. The larches were still green, but I had some very nice days and I am, of course, still not finished.

As I am doing lots of B/W processing and printing (and paper testing) I include some B/W work as well. The Brenta looks good in B/W....

After returning from Brenta I waited for a second chance and finally the weather gods seemed to be in my favour. The forecast was 1 week, at least, of stable high pressure over the alps. I packed up and drove to South Tyrol. I did not want to take any risks and choose an area I knew well, to make sure that I can start right away without having to look for new locations.

I arrived when it still was cloudy, The snow which arrived after I left Grossglockner was still around in the alps and in the Dolomites it was still snowing two days before I arrived. The larches were beautiful, all was nice. I made plans for the next days and went full throttle the day after arrival.

I covered the Geisler/Odle range in the morning from Val Gardena/Groednertal, rushed during noon to Valley Vilnoess in the west of Geisler/Odle, discovered that some of the view points I planned where spoiled by many construction sites and cranes, changed plans and hiked to one of the huts at the foot of the famous west face to shoot during the sunset. It worked out nicely, it was a long day, but full of wonderful impressions and pictures.

The Morning

The Afternoon

When I checked the weather forecast in the evening, everything changed. It was still high pressure, but lots of fog with only a very little probability of clear skies was predicted. Moreover the strong southerly wind was supposed to bring dust from northern africa into central europe. This means either fog or clouds or yellowish overcast sky. Both would kill my plans. I decided to stay one more night to give it a try.

The next day was cloudy and foggy but not yet yellowish. I checked some webcams and decided to hike during the day to a mountain hut at the foot of the west walls of Rosengarten/Catenaccio. No sun only fog and clouds during the day. I descended went to a cafe and waited. I knew a good spot for the evening light which was nearly an hour hike from the parking. I started the climb not very motivated, I was pretty sure it will be more physical exercise than photography.

However the gods had mercy. It was just 15 minutes before arrival at my spot, when the clouds started to vanish. I increased my pace to maximum speed (not good for photography, it is never good if you are panting while shooting.... even with tripod) and arrived just in time for 20 min good light before the sun disapeared behind the clouds shrouding the Brenta.

The next day I drove back, weather was as predicted. A bit later travel restrictions tightened again and that was it for the time being.

I wish everybody all the best and stay healthy. Keep your fingers crossed for 2021! And if you like go window shopping at my sites for calenders and workshops....

The final word in german, next workshops

Wir mussten natürlich unser komplettes Programm umstellen. Viele Touren konnten wir einfach verschieben, andere mussten wir komplett streichen. Wir hoffen, dass sich die Situation in 2021 stabiliseren wird. Die große Falkland/Südgeorgien/Antarktis Reise 2021 ist gut gebucht und wir konnten uns noch eine zusätzliche Schiffspassage sichern. Die Falkland Tour Januar 2021 kann leider auch nicht stattfinden. Alle Teilnehmer wurden auf 2023 oder 2024 umgebucht. Wenn jemand noch Interesse an der großen Antarktis/Südgeorgien/Falkland Tour oder Falkland 2023 oder 2024 hat, sollte er mit uns Kontakt aufnehmen.

Wenn wir nach unseren Hits auf den webseiten gehen ist das Interesse and den Grönland und Island Touren sehr hoch. Plätze sind bei diesen Touren aber noch leicht zu bekommen. Trotzdem freuen wir uns natürlich auch bei diesen Touren, wenn sich schon jetzt die Interessentenliste füllen würde. 

Dadurch dass momentan keine Messen stattfinden, sind wir auf mail und telefonische Kontakte angewiesen!

Unsere Fotoreisen und Foto-Workshops

Ein Klick auf die Reise bringt Sie zu einer Beschreibung der Reise. Dabei steht weniger der Reiseverlauf sondern was wie und wo fotografiert wird im Vordergrund. Der eigentliche Reiseverlauf und die Konditionen werden über links zu Auf Kurs! Inselreisen erreicht. Man kann sich natürlich auch gleich den ganzen Katalog holen! Corona Update: Wir haben wegen Corona unser Programm angepasst. Die Termine und Inhalte stehen jetzt für 2021/2022 und teilweise für 2023 fest, leicht Anpassungen kann es trotzdem noch geben.

Thats it for the moment! Stay tuned and healthy!

Munich November 2020