An Infinite Ocean of Lights

When you live in a big city or even a mid-sized town, there is one thing you barely see: stars. And I am not talking about moviestars, no, I mean these wonderful lights allover our sky. If you come from the so-called civilized world, it is increasingly hard to find a place where you can look up in the sky at night and see anything. Most of the time the lights of our never-sleeping cities around us prevent us from seeing this beauty above.

Night sky over Maayafushi

The last time I could really see the stars was basically in the middle of the ocean. I was on a tiny island on the Maldives and surrounded only by water. These nights were dark, really dark. Looking into the pitch black water all around you, you suddenly felt very small – and even more so when you looked up. The infinite ocean of lights above you was simply fascinating.

Night sky over Maayafushi

Only equipped with a mini tripod, I tried to take some photos with long exposure. Especially in the sand and heavy wind trying to knock over your camera, this wasn’t too easy. Somehow I managed anyway to produce some decent pictures.

Night sky over Maayafushi

Naturally Saturated

Just a few days ago I visited the small French town of Roussillon. This city is famous for its large ochre fields. The colored mountains inspired the French scientist Jean-Étienne Astier to develop an industrial process for making ochre pigment. And when you get there, you can still feel this fascination.

Roussillon, Vaucluse

The red and yellow colored rocks are in a strange contrast to the green nature around them. Interestingly, the ocre is the reason for a flourishing fauna, allowing plants to grow there which you wouldn’t regularly find in the south of France.

Roussillon, Vaucluse

In the back of the pictures you can even see how the trees have been influenced by the ground they are standing on.

Roussillon, Vaucluse

Sometimes you feel like being on a different planet. Without any editing of the photos, they look almost unreal. Everything appears heavily saturated.

Roussillon, Vaucluse

It is really a beautiful place worth visiting. There is only one thing that might stop you from going: Just like in a Holi Festival your shoes won’t survive this adventure unharmed 😉

Roussillon, Vaucluse

Holi Macaroni

Last weekend I went to a Holi event in my town. Holi is a Hindu religious festival and therefore celebrated mainly in India and Nepal. However, in the last years it has been widely commercialized and turned into a huge party in many cities around the globe. So I went there with mixed feelings…

Holi Festival Of Colours Karlsruhe

I had first seen a Holi Festival in the movie Outsourced quite some years ago, but heard about it from some Indian friends in the USA a couple of years ago. A main idea of the Holi celebration is throwing colored powder at each other and thereby erasing for a moment social barriers such as age, gender, status, and caste. The video of a Sony commercial illustrates nicely how colorful this event is (and no, Sony doesn’t sponsor me, the video is just interesting from a photographers point of view).

So, here are some photos from the event:

Holi Festival Of Colours Karlsruhe Continue reading Holi Macaroni

Upside Down

On a bike trip a while ago I came across a little lake. It was fascinating, the water was perfectly calm. The lake was surrounded by trees which effectively shielded it from any wind. You could not see any movement on the surface.

What fascinated me from a photographic point of view was the reflection on the water. It was like I was looking right into a mirror. Even more, the image in the water seemed much clearer than the bright sky on this summer day.

A Calm Lake

What I did afterwards was turning the image upside down, leaving the viewer (hopefully at least for a moment) puzzled what’s the reflection and what’s not.

Deep Dark Sea

When I visited the Maledives last year, it was a trip to paradise. There’s no other way to describe it. I had never before seen a place that looked literally like the pictures in the travel brochure.

Maayafushi, Maledives

Just at night, that changed a little bit. The pitch black ocean made me feel uneasy – especially after I had seen the shark feeding. On the island it had become a custom to throw leftovers into the ocean at night.

Feeding Sharks

Standing on a barely illuminated pier, you didn’t have to wait for more than a minute until the water was actually boiling from huge sharks fighting over the food.

Sharks on Maayafushi, Maledives

While I thought it was a pretty dumb idea to teach these animals that food is to be found close to the beach, other visitors had a blast.

Sharks on Maayafushi, Maledives

A little later, a boat with fishermen, not equipped with any lights, suddenly appeared from absolute darkness. The men started unloading their fish, throwing the half-dead animals on the pier. I was very hard taking photos as there was barely any light. I have no idea how this boat could even navigate in these conditions.

Fisherboat in Darkness

While I took my share of the typical “oh look how blue the water is”-pictures the days before, on this night I got to see another side of this paradise, a dark side (literally, metaphorically it was awesome). It was surely interesting, but at the same time assured me that I wouldn’t take a night swim 😉

Dead Fish

Focus on the Little Things

Before going to the rainforest, I did tons of reading. How would I have to prepare myself and my equipment for this trip? I found a lot, but no definite answers. Some completely ruined their cameras in the environment, others had no trouble at all. In the end, I choose to take as little equipment as possible. So I just packed my Sony NEX and one lens, the Sigma 30 mm F2,8 (didn’t have a zoom lens at this time). I thought this was the best choice for the rainforest. And then I came across ants…

Ants in the Rainforest

These leafcutter ants, carrying pieces of leafs many times there own size, are for sure impressive – but damn hard to shoot when you have the wrong lens. Usually in these moments you would go for a macro lens and be happy, but I didn’t had any choice.

Ants in the Rainforest

At the same time, I wanted some parts of the picture out of focus, of course making it harder for me to shoot. What I did was switching to manual focus, aiming at a certain point and then wait until the ants came into focus. You shoot some pictures and hope one snapshot GOES well. I learned that it’s best to look up from your screen or viewfinder in order to best anticipate the moment when the ants come into focus. Still, it’s incredibly hard because they really don’t feel like stopping for nice photo. The little bastards keep running 😉

Ants in the Rainforest

In the end, I managed to get some nice shots with the equipment given at this moment. What do you think?

Chillin’ in the sun

Last year I had the chance to visit some of the Galapagos islands. Every morning we went by boat to the various islands. It was a bumpy ride and usually you would always find someone at the rear of the boat throwing up into the ocean.

Galapagos Islands

But once you reached your destination after the 2 hours ride, it was completely worth it. I was blown away by the paradisiacal landscape and the diversity of animal life.

Galápagos sea lion

This friend here, a Galápagos sea lion, waited for our boat on my second day there. As they cool down in the water, sea lions (just like some of us) love to heat up before they take a swim. Just chillin’ in the sun, carefree and untroubled.

Oliver Erb // A Hands-On Guide to Photography // Tutorials, Tips and Inspiration