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  • Writer's pictureMike Page

A New Year, A New Start

It's the 4th January, so let me start with a (slightly) belated Happy New Year. I hope you are well as we look ahead to the next 12 months. Pre-Christmas snow on the third Advent got our hopes up, only to dash them with the traditional Christmas thaw, which sadly carried through to the warmest New Year on German record. We have a standing invite from friends to their home in the hills above Kufstein for Sylvester (German New Year's Eve) . The house overlooks a lake and is a great vantage point for watching the midnight fireworks. A little bit of Olympus magic (Live Composite mode) allowed me to capture this lovely image of the fireworks with Orion looking on.

New Year's Fireworks || OMDS 8 mm, f/2.8, 6", ISO 800

Another bonus at New Years was this discovery. I'm an avid birder and am keen to identify any new species I come across on my travels. These days It's rare for me to see a new species in Europe, but this three-toed woodpecker was a first for me.

Three-Toed Woodpecker || OMDS 100 mm, f/4, 1/800", ISO 2000

Between the years, Mr. Tannert graced us with his presence, dragging me out of bed to catch dawn from Hohenpeißenberg - worth it despite my protestations - before heading down to a decidedly autumnal Breitachklamm (Breitach Gorge) near Oberstdorf. These are familiar places and I know in the meantime the best spots in the narrow valley, though I surprised myself with a new vista from the upper bridge that I hadn't been aware of previously. The birds-eye view gives a more abstract picture, Decent photography often involves revisiting old haunts in different conditions and some of my best images have been created this way. Of course, it's not always possible to choose the conditions if you're only in a place for a short amount of time or if it's too far away to capitalise on better conditions, but the Allgäu is my back garden and I know when is best to visit each of my favourite haunts, though we did discover a new spot earlier this week - more on that later.

Breitach Gorge Top-Down || OMDS 23 mm, f/4, 1/6", ISO 200
Sunset at Herrsching || OMDS 12 mm, f/5.6, 3.2", ISO 200
Dawn at Hohenpeißenberg || OMDS 50 mm x 28, f/5.6, 1/500", ISO 200

The Breitach Gorge can be fantastic to shoot in the winter when it's covered in ice, but even without it's always a delight, especially when you can work long exposures like this without a tripod (thank you OMDS!).

Breitach Gorge || OMDS f/9, 1/8", ISO 200
Gorge Moss || OMDS 35 mm, f/4, 1/60", ISO 200
Breitach - Upper Gorge || OMDS 23 mm, f/11, 1/5", ISO 200
Breitach - Looking Up I || OMDS 35 mm, f/4.5, 1/2500", ISO 200
Breitach - Looking Up II || OMDS 92 mm, f/4.5, 1/2000", ISO 200
Breitach Gorge || OMDS 34 mm, f/10, 1/4", ISO 200
Breitach Gorge Detail I || OMDS 20 mm, f/11, 1", ISO 200
Breitach Gorge Detail II || OMDS 75 mm, f/14, 1/5", ISO 200

Most of my readers will know that we have plans for early retirement in a few years time that involve moving down to Austria. I'll miss all these old haunts, it's taken around 10 years to collect them. Nevertheless, at 60 we're not going to be too old to find a new set. It'll just involve a bit of legwork.

Misty Mountains - Allgäu Style || OMDS 57 mm, f/5.6, 1/3200", ISO 200

Earlier this week Sharon and I celebrated our pearl wedding anniversary (30 years). To celebrate we dug out one of our winter hike books (wishful thinking) and headed down to a previously unvisited part of the Allgäu behind Oberstdorf. We'd never visited the Trettach valley before and figured that a valley walk would be the order of the day. Heading up first to Gasthaus Gerstruben we enjoyed a pleasant meal inside. Deviating from the original plan, we decided to descend slightly further up the valley to the Christle lake, however, our original route was closed due to logging activity and we were fortuitously forced to take the Höllentobel path - even though this is officially closed in winter (in the absence of snow and ice we deemed it a risk worth taking). And what a bonus this was. The path takes you past two massive cascades which can be observed from sturdy viewing platforms before depositing you in a side valley with a series of mini falls, a real photographer's treat that would have remained undiscovered had the initial route been open.

Hölltobel I || OMDS 16 mm, f/10, 1/2", ISO 200
Hölltobel II || OMDS 15 mm, f/14, 1/8", ISO 200
Hölltobel III || OMDS 12 mm, f/10, 1/2", ISO 200

I've been thinking recently about photographic direction in 2023 and have come to the conclusion that I want to focus on my detail shots like this shot of sycamore keys against the sun. I've often been complemented on shots like this which are very different from the standard big vistas that my readers might be more familiar with. My hope is that by focussing on this aspect of my photography I might be able to finally sell some images; I certainly find images like this more appealing to hang on my own walls than the big views. Details and elements that are evocative of nature without necessarily being limited to a specific place. Let me know what you think.

Stump Fungi || OMDS 41 mm, f/5.6, 1/40", ISO 200
Sycamore Keys || OMDS 100 mm, f/5.6, 1/60", ISO 200
Evening Light || OMDS 100 mm, f/4, 1/50", ISO 200
Birch Reflections I || OMDS 31 mm, f/5.6, 1/200", ISO 200
Birch Reflections II || OMDS 23 mm, f/5.6, 1/160", ISO 200
Gerstruben I || OMDS 75 mm, f/5.6, 1/125", ISO 200
Gerstuben II || OMDS 28 mm, f/5.6, 1/60", ISO 200
Gertruben III || OMDS 28 mm, f/8, 1/80", ISO 200
Mossy Sycamore || OMDS 92 mm, f/5.6, 1/100", ISO 200
Trettach River || OMDS 86 mm, f/11, 1/2", ISO 200
Mossy Stump || OMDS 57 mm, f/5.6, 1/50", ISO 200

Anyway, that's enough images for now. We're off to Prague tomorrow to retrace the footsteps we took on our honeymoon 30 years ago. Wish us interesting light!

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