Frost (Fall 2019 III)

Persistent temperatures below freezing and a fair amount of snow are unusual here in the middle of November.

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Still green trees are prematurely frozen.

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The steep roads were so icy that I decided to take a hike to the Strahl Lake instead of risking a car wreck. Usual this trail is rather bland, but the early snow provided some inspiring views.

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We all should try to show that much color when we are frozen…

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All this will thaw in the next few days, and slowly fade. It tells us that we need to catch the moment when it’s there.

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Preparation (Fall 2019 II)

A week later, after the weather turned cold and a storm went through, the fall is almost over.

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The vibrance is gone, and the mood has changed.

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There is an optimistic sadness in these pictures, that expresses that there are times to come after the times to come.

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Light and Darkness have become one.

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Maybe they are getting ready for one last effort before what promises to be a long winter.

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Silence (Fall 2019 I)

This has been a strange fall season. After a hot and dry summer, many trees seemed to have given up and shed leaves before they turned color. DSC 2072

When it finally happened, the intensity was dazzling. 

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My favorite time and place are the early morning hours at Strahl Lake, where light, darkness, and reflection seem to multiply the silence.

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One should spend an entire night there, like the lone heron in the first picture, becoming one with the landscape.

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This instant change seems dramatic like the mood change of a person from being calm to being upset.

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My first blog post here from almost five years ago shows the same view. The trees have grown, some have fallen, but the place remains visibly the same. Such stability is admirable, given the times.

Eclipse

In 1999, I had my first chance to witness a solar eclipse. That was in Bonn, Germany, and only a partial eclipse. It was very partial, because the sky was cloudy.

Now, in 2017, I didn’t feel like driving for three hours to get stuck in a traffic jam. So instead I contented myself with another partial eclipse and went to Brown County State Park.

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The view from the fire tower was a little eery because the sky was significantly darker. Capturing the eclipse with a wide angle lens is a little silly, but safe for eye and camera.

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Using a tele lens is danegerous, never look through the camera at the sun even with a strong neutral density filter. I used a 10 stop filter on a 300mm lens. This turned out not be quite enough to darken the sun, but one can now at least see the eclipse (and it didn’t fry my camera).

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My main interest, however, was how my favorite lakefront at Strahl Lake that I have photographed (too?) many times would look like during the eclipse.

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The Spider

When I was in third grade, my father brought home a beautiful 2 volume edition of Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories, illustrated by Alfred Kubin.

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The genre name Horror Story describes very unsatisfactorily what Poe accomoplishes. The conventional horror story utilizes a simple scheme: It wins our trust by first presenting a plausible scenario, and then abuses this trust in order to get away with less plausible events.

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In Poe’s best stories, this is not the case. The horror story is happening in the protagonist’s mind, and we become afraid that this same horror might as well infest our own brains.

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There are a few European stories that achieve the same effect, and one of them is Hanns Heinz Ewers’ story The Spider, from 1915. In it, the tenant of a small apartment starts to play a game with a woman in a window across the street: They make movements with their hands, which the other is supposed to copy. The narrator, whose diary we read, is at first surprised how quickly his neighbor can repeat his own movements, until he realizes that he is in fact, against his own will, only repeating the movements of the neighbor.

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This realization comes too late, obviously. No good horror story can end well. The same is true for Hanns Heinz Ewers himself, unfortunately. Despite having understood the machinations of manipulation, he fell under the spell of  a much larger spider, even though he didn’t share their racial ideology, had conflicting sexual preferences, and his books were banned.

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Asleep and Awake

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After visiting Brown County State Park on a very foggy earl Fall day, revisiting the same location two days later on a very sunny day shows a different landscape.

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Just before sunrise, the lake is still partially covered with morning fog, but within an hour, the appearance changes completely.

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That one hour of snoozing gives plenty of time to walk around Strahl Lake,

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slowly separating dream and reality.

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Landscape in the Mist

Fall has arrived.

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As you can see, the Indiana landscape does have opportunities for outlooks, at least in theory.

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I used the first rainy fall day to revisit Brown County State Park with its two lakes.

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My favorite lake front at Strahl Lake has changed only little since my first post about this place, even though some trees are dying.

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There is also Ogle Lake below, which is larger and not as intense.

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The far side of it is more interesting, with groups of trees guarding the secrets of the place.

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Walking through a landscape in the mist has become a ritual since I first watched the film by Theo Angelopoulos with the same title. Fog, light, and borders will never mean the same again.

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Happy Birthday

I started this little blog with visual aphorisms one year ago, so maybe this is reason enough to revisit the very first post, by spending one hour at Strahl lake in Brown County State park.

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This one  hour is how long it takes between dawn and the moment when the sun rays touch the lake at the western lake shore.

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The early morning fog awakens and begins to move in ways impossible to capture in a single photograph.

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The wind leaves strange messages on the water.

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When the sun finally hits the fog, eery hologram like sculptures appear in the lifting fog.

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And then, of course, day is here.

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Seasons

While there are few natural lakes in Indiana, the many artificial lakes have some beautiful shores. One of my favorites is at Strahl Lake in Brown County State Park. To appreciate its beauty, I recommend to be there at the right time of the day. The best time is just after sun rise when the sun illuminates the entire lake front, but not yet the water. This way the reflection in the water is strongest and the sky is not too bright yet. Actually, I recommend being there when the sun just touches the tips of the trees, and then spend some 30 minutes listening to birds, fish and leaves.

I first realized the beauty of this spot in late September 2009, when the Fall leaf colors were on full swing.

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I decided to return at different times of the year, to find out how the same view would look in other seasons and weathers.

Late in the Fall there is a curious asymmetry due to the deciduous trees to the right and the evergreen trees to the left.

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In an early snowless winter, the best time for this view is actually just before sunrise. With a bit of luck, one can then catch the fog over the lake, and the dark colors of the remaining leaves create a gloomy mood.

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With the winter in full swing, it can get tricky. The pictures I have with the lake frozen are no good because they are too bright. It might work in a night with modest moon shine, but I will have to try that yet. Here is a view from late winter where the cloud cover makes a nice contrast.

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In Spring, one gets all shades of green one might wish for.

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Then there is Summer. The enormous humidity can cause the fog to last longer than the sun rise. So yes, it is warm and wet. But the mood is still quite special.

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All these photos were taken with a 24mm lens (35mm/FF).