best of 2019

My annual ritual of compiling and sharing the best photographs of 2019 (yes 2019…. I am slightly, just so slightly late to the party this time around).

So here they are: 5 in colour and 5 in black and white - the best photographs of 2019
my very own top 10 taken in 2019

2019 was my year of black and white photography

brief review

I’m rather pleased with the black and whites. I managed to either capture interesting structures, contrast, clouds, landscapes and any combination thereof. The images were taken either with my DJI Phantom 3 Professional, an iPhone XR, the Nikon Df or the Nikon J5. Lightroom and Nik Silver Efex Pro for postprocessing.

The color photographs are a slightly different story. I struggled a lot with the selection and I’m still not happy with the outcome. All the more a motivation to do more and do better in 2020!

I intend to provide more information about my best photographs of 2019, share the location, the technicalities and some personal views about the photographs. Hopefully, this will happen before the end of 2020!

Having said that, one of my New Year resolutions for 2020 was (and still is…..) to spend more time out and about photographing. Hence, the ex-post analysis for 2019 might well take a back seat for this year.


This is the third time I am going through this selection process to find – what I consider – my top 10 from the previous calendar year. Head over the the posts describing the process and the outcomes of 2018 and 2017. It is fun and sometimes mentally painful to make difficult decisions about which image makes it to the next round and which one doesn’t.

I also want to make explicit reference to master photographer Martin Bailey, the man who keeps on inspiring me to embark on this funny and sometimes mentally very arduous journey to find my own top 10 every year. His master works of 2019 are accessible for admiration here.

managing body weight

I lost 5 kg by dropping two bad eating habits and slightly modifying my exercise regime.

For once, I write about shedding bad eating habits and managing body weight. The usual travel and photography themes take a back-seat for the moment.

the story


My body weight has fluctuated quite a bit over the past 30+ years. From the limited (I use scales very irregularly) data I have, my long-term average is slightly north of 75 kg. This corresponds to a BMI of approximately 23.5. This puts me at the upper end of what is considered “normal” for a European male. During three periods I was clearly overweight (above 80 kg) and during one period, during which my weight dropped below 70kg, I think I was too slim.

2015 – early 2020

Despite exercising rather constantly and consistently (thanks to my Polar watches I have good data to proof that), I gradually put on weight over the past 5 years. Early 2020, I crossed the 80kg mark. In other words, the BMI was above 25, hence I was medically overweight. More subjectively, I noticed that some trousers got a little tight, my face looked round and a small belly started appearing. A few people in my social circle started teasing me as well. Hence, I decided it’s time to do start managing body weight a little more actively. In other words, buy a scale and loose some weight!

my body weight over the past 35 years!
my body weight fluctuates …

setting a sensible target

As long as I’m in the 75 kg body weight range, I “feel” OK. Once I hit the 73/72 range, I feel really really good about my body shape. Conversely, once I hit the upper 70-ies, I start feeling slightly uncomfortable and some of my wardrobe starts sending signals.

TARGET: get back to normal by summer 2020

an ambitious, meaningful, yet realistic undertaking

managing body weight – how?

Target setting was relatively straight forward. The next question was: how to get there? Many ways lead to Rome. If any of the well-known (Keto-Atkins-FDH-WW-etc) methods work for you, that is great. These methods are not for me.

  • I don’t want to follow any third party’s food regime
  • also not interested in spending money on any weight-loss “shakes” or “pills”
  • continue my balanced Euro-Levantine-Indo-East Asian diet
  • no plan to give up on the occasional indulgence into wine, pasta and cheese
  • not keen at all to consistently remind myself that “I’m on a diet”
solution, part I

I started by looking at my eating habits, hoping to discover some low hanging fruit to reduce energy intake. After some pondering, I singled out the following two “bad” habits:

  1. a regular late evening snack
  2. a reasonably regular afternoon coffee with a little snack whilst at work

Hence, I decided to stop those two habits and see how it would influence my weight. Over the course of about ten days, I succeeded to abandon those two habits and replace them with healthier and smaller alternatives or not even snacking at all. Lo and behold, the weight went down.

solution, part II

I’m exercising very regularly for quite a long time already. However, my exercise routine mainly consists of hiking/walking and bike riding followed by some leg-stretching. In other words, I don’t really look after the rest of my body. Occasional spurs into swimming, indoor rowing and weight training never really became a habit.

Mobility, flexibility and general body strength are key to maintain good health as shown by many studies. After pondering over a few options, I decided to revive my decades-old Yoga experience and started with a few simple, yet – at least in my case – highly effective exercises. Out of the myriad of online Yoga courses, I found this one (see below) to be the most efficient. The teacher practises a simple, yet elegant style, pays attention to the key details, total absence of any brimborium just add to the good vibes.. Highly recommended – see for yourself:

managing the challenge

Since I didn’t embark on a strict, prescriptive diet, I elegantly avoided challenges with regards to cravings, huger attacks and the lust for cheese, chocolate, red wine and other often ill-perceived “sins”.

managing the mental challenge: accepting volatility, as long as the general trend points downward!

I was cognisant that the weight loss will be a slow process, taking me a few months to reach “target”. There were frustrating moments, when, despite my discipline, the curve remained flat or even pointed upwards, but a few weeks into the process I realized that I need to live with these fluctuations and remain calm.

solution part III

Recently, I changed one more eating habit: about once a week, I replace lunch (meat/carbo/vegi/sauce) with a home-made smoothie. This third tool provides flexibility. In other words, if I indulge in an afternoon snack or a late evening supper, I can balance it with a lighter lunch to manager overall intake.

Here is the recipe:

healthy smoothie

Time needed: 5 minutes.

  1. mix

    half banana, an apple (or orange); 2 spoons home made un-sweetened yoghurt and a small scoop cereals (acai, etc at your liking)

  2. add

    0.5 dl of cold water (or milk)

  3. blend

    until the smoothie is as smooth as you like it

  4. enjoy


From late Feb 2020 to late June 2020, I lost roughly 5 kg. This is in line with my original goal of shedding about one kilogram per month.


I’m authoring this post at the end of June 2020. My current weight is 75.4kg. I aim at shedding another 1-2 kg to “land” in the 74 kg range. As long as I can maintain my routine, this appears achievable by middle of July 2020. Subsequently, if I can reduce a little further, that will be great, but not a must!

Stay tuned, will keep you posted.

the annual ritual

This is the yearly “my company has grown a year older” advertisement message. Head over to the Megrow website to read how the company has evolved and what Megrow and its partners have delivered to clients. And give Megrow’s podcast a try as well (see below).

A Month in MTB – Paradise

This is my longest post ever… so much to tell and so much beauty to share. I decided to put it all into one post to give the story the necessary epic feel.

July 2019

A brand new Scott Scale bike, work/holiday schedule under control, dry and hot weather in Switzerland, plenty of trails to choose from, good food and wine. It cannot get much better than that, right?

The Roll-In

The good people at Trailnet built a few very nice and, in-part, rather challenging trails in the Regio Basiliensis. Both the “Gempen Nord” trail and the “Arlesheim” trail can be accessed from various locations (see the weblink for details). The uphill is straightforward, follow the signs over gravel and fire roads (“Forststrasse” in German) to reach the fun parts of the respective trail. Ride in spring and you’ll enjoy a wonderful Cherry Blossom. If you ride in early summer you might be lucky to sample cherries right off the trees. Please don’t just pick them off the trees yourself, ask the farmers, they let you sample or sell half a kg at a very competitive price. Cherries make for an excellent snack! You might wonder why I’m so particular about the cherries? Two reasons: firstly, beautiful childhood memories about harvesting and eating ripe cherries and secondly, almost everything we eat in Singapore comes by air cargo from lands very far away, so the experience of fresh, tasty, sweet, delicious, non-tropical fruit is very expensive and more often than not, leaves a lot of room to improve.

Gempen Nord Trail

The markings are there, but if you are not a local, there is a 100% chance you will get lost. Bring a map – that will seriously add to the experience. If you head for the “Gempen Nord” trail and you have a craving for caffeine (or any other legal stimulant) before the downhill adrenaline kicks in, visit the restaurant “GempenTurm“. You can sit outside and enjoy the views of the Jura mountain range. Coffee is reasonable, just don’t expect the artisanal, hand-ground, soy-latte, gluten-free, vegan option.

The downhill section (aka the fun part) starts a few meters from the restaurant, not for the life of it could I find a marker…. A quick check on Google map suggests a small trail and then a fireroad heading downwards to Gempen Stollen. Nice and easy downhill rolling, no real technical challenges, a good solid “blue”. Once at “GempenStollen”, I have to look for the trail several times & promptly miss it…. . So I decide to follow the road down to Restaurant Schoenmatt, then a few more hairpin turns and as soon as I reach the forest, I turn right and dash straight into the forest and hit the trail. The fun really starts there. Super flowy single trail, technically not too difficult, probably just about a black (but still pay attention….) and very well marked. A real pleasure. The last 200 or so meters are rather steep and tricky, especially once wet. The trail ends up at a rather busy bike route connecting Muenchenstein with Muttenz, plenty of signage there to get you home.

The Arlesheim Trail

The Arlesheim trail is better marked. Start from the Arlesheim/Dornach railway station and simply follow the signs. A few road crossings to watch out for, then you need ascend app 200 meters of altitude difference et voilà, there is your downhill. The downhill section is about two kilometres long, so you get all the fun to compensate for the climb! I reckon this is a solid “black”, so do this if you can handle switch backs, steep terrain and the like. I pass a few riders, who apparently went a bit too leisurely over the humps and bumps and promptly crashed quite hard.

The Real Stuff: The Jura Trail

A nine stages trail, starting in Basel and ending in Nyon, at the shores of Lac Léman, looks very tempting. But can I really bike 40 kms with a lot of climbing every day? Some doubts emerge. Additionally, I was pondering whether I should do it the “real way” and spend the nights at the respective end/starting points of each stage or take public transport back to base camp. Staying “on” the trails would save me two hours travelling every day and give the ride more of a multi-day bike trip feel. On the other hand, I have time for four stages only and the respective end points are within one hour of my basecamp near Basel. Hence, I decide to return back to base every evening. Maybe not the hard-core option, but logistically the easier and cheaper option. The (also) good people at MySwitzerland have all the information you ever need: trails, altitude profiles, access, restaurants, escape plans, and all the other data you think you need.

Stage 1: Basel – Laufen, 31km, 880 m Ascent

I skip the highly recommended sight-seeing in Basel and head straight for the trail. Well-marked off the main railway station the road winds up to the outskirts, gradually leaving the city behind and offering views into the Jura mountain range. Rolling comfortably through the Agglo for a few kms, before a short, but really steep climb finally gets me out of civilisation and into the forest. Once I reach max altitude, it is easy cruising on fire roads and a long decent into Laufen, the end of stage 1. This was a very enjoyable “get out of it all” ride, nothing spectacular today, just soaked-up the journey from the heat of the city into the cooling forests and the country side. A coffee in Laufen and (lazy as I am) a short train ride back to my base camp.

Stage 2, Laufen – Delémont, 31 km, 1000 m Ascent

get up early and enjoy a beautiful sunrise

Train to Laufen, then ascend to Grindel, a small village nestled away close to the French speaking part of Switzerland; a few fellow bikers only, either elderly riders on eBikes or some hyper fit sports freaks, in other words, everybody overtakes me.

Otherwise, magnificent silence as I ride, huff and puff through the forest.

After Grindel a really steep climb on a road, then a single trail and I reach the “Welschgaetterli”, a mountain pass that marks the border between two Kantons (“province”) and more importantly the transition from SwissGerman to SwissFrench.

That is it for the day in terms of hard climbing, the rest is pedalling up and down through a few villages, some forest trails and a fair chunk of single trail, where I manage to slip and fall on the only, really the only root within a 2 km radius.

The only technical difficulty is this fence:

maybe Danny MacAskill could ride this??

After a few hours of strenuous, but not exhausting cycling I arrive in Delémont, end of stage two.

A short video covering stage 2:

Stage 3: Delèmont – St. Ursanne, 42 km, 950 m Ascend

The plan for today is grand: do the hard part up to the Col des Rangiers, sip a latte, then cruise down to St. Ursanne and enjoy the local specialty: fresh trout.

Total solitude as I leave Delémont, not a soul in sight once I pass the shooting range and cruise along a fire road. The climb up to the viewpoint high above the city is rather steep at some places. Again beautiful solitude as I pedal through the forest.

A few kms later, the ride follows the crete, I arrive at the Col des Rangiers, which is a total disappointment! The restaurant is gone and the famous “Le Fritz” as well. I bump into an eBiker, who cannot resist making a few dumb jokes about me pedalling support-less.

Later on, I indeed manage to loose the trail somewhere on a downhill section. I’m either day dreaming or cannot focus on the steering and trail-searching at the same time. I end up on a steep road, which brings me back up to “Sous Les Bois” from where it is all downhill (too much road biking for my liking) to the Doubs river.

easy cruising along the river
and way too much road biking today

Rather “not amused” with the amount of road-biking, I arrive in St. Ursanne, a marvel of a medieval town right at the Doubs river.

ah yes: the fish.. yummy
and the train back to base camp

I do surprise myself in terms of fitness. Yes, I do bike at “only” 120 BPM rhythm, ie I’m not pushing it very hard. I learned over the past year or so, that staying around 120 average lets me go for a rather long time, fatigue is not much of an issue and recovery is fast. My legs don’t cramp and in the evenings, I still have energy to ride 10 kms to a dinner place and back to base.

Enjoy some of today’s highlights:

Stage 4: St. Ursanne – Saignélegier, 30 km, 900 m Ascend

Stage four looks comparatively easy at only 30 kms to cover – even with the premonition that the climb from the Doubs River up to the crete will be tough.

which one of these signs to follow...
its #3 stupid....

Easy start, follow the road along the Doubs river, pass a few camp sites that look idyllic, but even for my taste, are hidden too far in the moist shades of the forest.

Then a climb – OMG what a climb – I get off the bike and push. This seems not to end. Even two e-Bikers need to get off their machines and push to preserve battery.

soo steep and apparently endless….
This is the “kaputtest” farm I’ve ever seen in Switzerland.
Everything is rusty, broken, dirty ..

Once I reach Césai, even though the climbing doesn’t stop, it feels that I’ve done it for the day. The landscape opens up, wide pastures, trees, blue sky, horses. Everything that makes this country so so so beautiful can be found here. At full “inner peace” I enjoy the cycling.

Saignélegier is in the heart of Swiss Watch making territory, and no, there is no “direct factory outlet Patek and Rolex sale” here… A somewhat strange lunch: a wholewheat crèpe with ham and cheese.

I have enough energy to continue after lunch. I safe the official stage 5 for another year and ride a loop to the Etang de Gruère (has nothing to do with the Gruyère cheese). More enjoyable cruising over pastures, past impressive farm houses – all under clear blue skies in warm sunny weather. And yes, it is super scenic, some single trails, forests, greenery and then the colour of the lake: simply marvellous.

I stop cycling in Tramelan, chill with an ice-cream and hop on the train back to base camp.

and here is the “tube” evidence:

The Real Stuff: Graubünden

10 days biking .. clearly not enough… So we head to my hometown in Graubünden. The first few days, I do easy roll-ins, 15 km before breakfast: nice and easy does it.

I’m very privileged to have access to a semi-pro cycling cousin. Cycling with him has a lot of advantages: I get to ride all kinds of secret and beautiful gems in and around Klosters, I have a guide and a bike trainer (luckily he is patient….), and he knows every GoPro spot.

Pischa And Jakobshorn Trail

It’s very hard for me to adequately describe the beauty of the Pischa trail and the overall experience of that day. It just all fits. I’m in reasonably good shape (by my own standards…), good mood, good company, the trails are a challenge, mostly doable, the weather is fantastic and the landscape is epic. I write this blog a good six weeks after the ride(s) and the memories are still fresh and vivid.

After the Pischa trail we head for lunch. A technically nifty downhill trail from Jakobshorn to Davos is desert. To round the day off, we cycle from Davos to Klosters.

Let the motion picture tell the story:

elated to share the joys of that day

and then some…

So if all that marvel and beauty wasn’t enough, I manage to convince our daughter to join me for some off-roading. We take it easy, rent a decent 27.5″ hardtail and start with 5km loops to get into the groove. Step-by step our excursions get longer until we complete a very respectable 12k loop with quite some climbing and a stop at the cheese factory restaurant.

Finally, I know what it means “live to bike”. I WANT MORE MORE MORE MORE….. already looking forward to summer 2020 in Switzerland.

The Return of the Isdal Woman

I’m a fan of long-form reporting

A very well-made, suspense loaded and sometimes thrillingly tense BBC podcast engulfed me early 2018: two journalists reported, over the course of ten episodes, their efforts to shed light on the death of an mysterious, unknown woman (the “Isdal Woman”) in Bergen, Norway, some 40 years ago. The story had it all: money, sex – maybe not that obvious, given it was a BBC podcast – and international politics with a possible hint of a nuance of a spy tale.

The podcast series ended on a very disappointing note after episode 10: the team, through their own and many others’ efforts, managed to unearth some circumstantial evidence only. Thus, the identity of the woman remained unknown and the back-story to the case continues to be an enigma.

I could hardly contain my anger with the well-reputed BBC. How could they dare to publish a 10-episode podcast and let us hang out in the dry without even a hint of what really happened to that still unidentified woman? After calming my self down and receiving a fair dosage of gloating joy from my loved ones (“why do you even bother, she has been dead for 40 years”), I resorted to the easy way out, aka speculation: the whole podcast was well-engineered by the BBC, creating suspense and listener engagement and certainly they wouldn’t be committing that level of resource if there wasn’t something bigger behind it, would they?

Low and behold, a few days ago, the BBC announced in one of their podcasts that Episode 11 of the “Death in Ice Valley” podcast would be released late June 2019.

Chewing nails in anticipation!!

Why do I blog about this?

I’m a great fan of the occasional binge splurge into long-form reporting. Such long-form journalism is an oasis of mental wellness in the 21st century. A counterbalance to the omnipresent cacophony of 7 second news. Additionally, I’m a decade-long addicted podcast listener, especially on my weekend hikes in Singapore, where the scenery, although being full of nice sights, is no longer the prime attraction (after having walked the same routes over and over and over).

So, dear BBC, please keep them coming and solve that conspiracy theory behind the Isdal Woman.

top 10 images from 2018 – the details

photograph by photograph

In a previous post I shared how I selected the 10 best photographs I took over the course of 2018. Now it’s time to dwell a bit more into detail and share my thoughts about each image. The sequence of images in this post is NOT a ranking, I simply use capture date to sequence the images.

Jan 2018
Hong Kong: Cultural Centre

Nikon Df, 24mm, f/22, 1/25 sec, ISO 100; converted to b&w in LR, slightly cropped and sharpened. I initially wanted to capture the interlude between all the man-made lines of the floor and wall tiles and the natural structure of the trees. I liked the perfect peace in the middle of bustling Tsimshatsui in Hong Kong when composing the image, when all of a sudden this pedestrian walked into “my” shot. Initially, I was quite displeased with the apparently ruined image, but upon a second look, the picture started growing on me. The dynamic of the walker contrasts with the stoic calm of the scene and his slight look to the left let’s the viewer ponder about the walker’s thoughts and direction.

April 2018
Singapore: Marina Bay Sands and Flower Dome

Nikon Df, f/5, 1/125 sec, 35mm; ISO64, around 07:15 to catch the rising sun, only a light touch with LR (the colours are as “taken”). My original plan was to do long exposure shots with an ND-filter in front of the lens to get a smooth, silken water surface. When arriving on location, I realised in horror that I left the ND filter at home. I decided to go for faster shutter speeds, hoping that the quiet and calm water surface would give some good reflections – and it did! Having said that, I plan to go to this location again – this time WITH the ND filter.

July 2018
Hamburg, Germany: subway station

Nikon J5, 55mm (FF equivalent). f/4.8, 1/25 sec (IS on), ISO 3200, the purists will notice quite a bit of distortion in the upper part of the image and the grain caused by the small-ish 1″ sensor.

This image makes no sense to me. That’s exactly the reason why I chose it. A square in a rectangle in front of other rectangles, the slightly cold colours – this image somehow speaks to me in its simplicity.

July 2018
Hamburg, Germany: Elbphilharmonie

Nikon J5, f/5, 1/1600 sec, ISO 160 (base), FF focus equivalent of 62mm, taken from a moving ferry, so not much time to adjust settings, just wanted to make sure enough shutter speed to avoid camera shake. Silver Efex Pro conversion to b&w and “uprighting” in LR6. I’ve written an entire post about this stunning building, choosing a “final” from all the images was very difficult. I selected a picture that displays one of the many particularities of the building: each and every window is in a different shape. This photograph is all about diversity 😉 .

If you look closely, you also will notice that the reflection of the sunlight puts each window into a different light (hahaha – pun intended).

November 2018
Singapore: downtown – photographed from a public viewing terrace

Nikon J5, f/5.6, 1/200 sec, ISO 400, 81 mm (FF equivalent); pp in Silver Efex Pro, pulled the shadows all the way into the “dark” in LR and slight crop. Whilst setting up camera and tripod for a “city scape” shot, all of a sudden dark clouds appeared and very heavy rain set in. Initially, I was rather disappointed that the “blue sky” image was of the agenda, but then I tried to capture clouds, skyline and the rain in one photograph. After quite some trial and error (luckily, the rain lasted long enough), I got the clouds, the buildings and rain streaks.

November 2018
Singapore: Bukit Timah Nature Reserve

Nikon Df, f/4.5, 1/640 sec, ISO 400, exp comp +1/3, 35mm; cropped and mild pp in LR (shadows, highlights, clarity and sharpening), I have no clue why I chose these strange settings, better would have been something like f/8 to get more depth of field, but since it was taken at 35mm, the luck of the innocent was with me.

I’ve made this image my desktop background. The enormous range of natural greens fascinates me every time I look at it. My two internal critiquers wanted to remove this picture from the finals, both saying, “it’s just green” – that’s exactly why I left it in.

December 2018
Switzerland Klosters: the dark river disappearing

Nikon Df, f/5.6;1/125 sec; ISO 200, 35mm; pp in Silver Efex Pro (high contrast and detail preset), in Adobe LR I reduced the shadows to turn the river into a “black stream”. I keep loosing myself in this image. The inverted “Y” of the two merging rivers disappearing in the distance, the almost symmetry between the lower and the upper part of the image and the massive, almost threatening looking fur trees on the right domineering the scene. And last but not least the plethora of structures.

December 2018
Switzerland: Klosters

Nikon Df, 85mm; ISO 100; SilverEfex Pro and cropped and sharpened with LR.
At first, the photograph looked like an attractive image of a light transition from the lower left to the middle right and then further upwards (bright – dark – mid tones). But then, all of a sudden, when the eye wonders across the image, the group of trees “peeking” out of the mist towards the upper right add a completely new dimension to this photograph. Beauty at second glance.

December 2018
Switzerland: Klosters

Nikon Df, 85mm, ISO 100; some serious “slider” play in Colour Efex Pro and Adobe LR.

I’m – under most circumstances – NOT a fan of colour-filters, but in the case of this image the filters brought out the clouds, mist and structures of the trees much better than the original image and much more pleasantly and eye-catching than any other pp-method. So whilst initially not a fan of that “purple haze”, the more I looked at the image, the more I liked it.

December 2018
Switzerland: Davos winter wonderland

Nikon J5, lens flare is obvious, I decided not to even try to remove it; set black and white points, sharpened and slight crop in LR. This image violates all classic composition techniques (straight into the sun, too many structures, no focus point that catches the eye, etc), but capturing that many aspects of nature’s beauty in one photograph made it rather easy to award a “top 10” position to this photograph. I spent probably one hour in freezing temperature at this location shifting camera position, focal length, metering method and other parameters until I managed to get this image.

I hope you enjoyed looking at the pictures and found my “scribble” either entertaining or helpful. It is 2019 already, so off to new photographic adventures.

btw: my best of 2017 collection can be accessed here and here 

top 10 photographs of 2018 – the journey

Originally inspired by pro-photographer Martin Bailey (website), I just compiled – what I most humbly consider – the 10 best photographs I took in 2018.

My target was to have a “top10 2018 collection”, containing 5 b&w and 5 “colour” images.

Adobe Lightroom (kind of a love-hate relationship) is a valuable tool to make cataloguing and selecting/grouping of pictures a relative breeze. I started out with app 1500 pictures, removed all family photos and selfies, leaving me with app 750 pictures. I removed the family pictures and selfies, because I’m not a particularly good and diligent people photographer and also to preserve some privacy. From the 750 I got to 80 within approximately 60 minutes. Then it got difficult.

the split

I’m really struggling to mix colour pictures with black and white images during the selection process, hence I decided to split the 80 into a “b&w” sub-collection and a “colour” sub-collection. After a bit more of “culling”, I ended up with 29 colour pics and 26 b&w. Then it got hard.

the last 26 of the b&w set

So a good two dozen b&w left: some determination was necessary. In one way or another, I liked all these images, otherwise they wouldn’t be in the final 26 (just to state the obvious).

the last 26 black and white images “standing”

First, I removed anything which still has (too) obvious flaws and second, cut images that IMHO lack “oompf”. I struggled quite some time to remove the two images showing the beautifully structured leaves. Then, out of the seven autumn/winter landscape pictures (second last and last row), some had to go as well.

the five chosen black&white

After some “fierce” debate with my two family-internal critiquers, I needed another 30 mins to reduce the selection down to the final “5”.

that was tough… so here we are: the FINAL FIVE!
the final stretch for the colour photographs
the last 29 “standing”

Left with 29, I removed those that had a story to tell, but the story didn’t come across as clearly or as evidently as I wanted to when taking the photograph. For instance the crane and the signboard about the monkeys.

down to 12 for the colour set
getting there, but still 7 (SEVEN!!!!) need to go
from 12 to 5

then it got painful, really really painful.
The fire-works shot: I was initially very pleased when I caught the fireworks, the smoke AND the lasers from Marina Bay Sands Casino in Singapore in one photograph. However, at closer, final inspection, there is too much noise and the composition isn’t quite there either.

The snow canons: When I spotted the lined-up canons, I immediately thought of a picture called something like “man vs nature”, because the canons were so neatly lined up “against” the mountains. I took a few pictures from different angles, thinking confidently that I “nailed” it. However during post-processing and the final stage of the selection process, I cringingly realised that the message is NOT coming across. Hence, it was mentally “painful”, that I missed this image, but quite straightforward to remove the photograph. And: I have a target to go this location (in Switzerland) and try again next year!

The bench and the colourful waterproof bags: “killed” by my two internal experts.

and here we are: the final 10
hooorrrayyyy – it’s done: the best of 2018 are chosen!!

I will elaborate in more detail on some of the images in an upcoming blogpost. For the moment I’m just very happy with the pictures and slightly exhausted from the selection process!

why it is soo difficult

I’m thinking a lot why “fake news”, “simplistic populism” and other contemporary movements have gained so much momentum over the recent decade (or more). After all, in a world in which information is largely open and freely available, the days of being obviously miss-informed should be over, shouldn’t they?

A simple solution for a complex problem appears to be the way to win political elections and other contested posts. However, in the vast majority of circumstances there are NO simple solutions for complex problems. Otherwise, humanity would have stumbled upon the perpetuum mobile a long time ago.

So when I spotted (and bought) St. Pinker’s most recent book, I was already elated by its subtitle (see the image). “Finally”, I thought, “somebody makes a point for science, for reasoning and for enlightenment”. 

S. Pinker’s 2018 book

But then as I read the book, whilst being OK with most of its content, I started asking myself: who on earth will change his/her opinion because of a book like that? It takes the author several pages, graphs and chapters to try to convince the readers that the world is a better place today. In case of infant mortality and similar measures he definitely is correct. 

I expected more on the “how” to take populism the wind out of its sails and much less of preaching to the converted. So after the reading, I left the book somewhat disappointed. After all, those who read this book, are mostly likely aware of improved infant mortality numbers already.

Maybe Mr. Pinker keeps the “how” to himself because he wants to either write a second book and/or he plans to run for an election and doesn’t want to give his “line” away too early? We shall see.

late November: year end panic

Since last year I adopt a practice of choosing – what I consider – my best pictures of the year. Pro-photographer Martin Bailey inspired me to embark on this journey. I gave the process my own spin by choosing my “best of colour” and a separate set “best of black and white”. I find it estetically so much more pleasing to show the two on a separate virtual canvas each.

With 2018 being over soon, I had a quick glance over my 2018 oeuvre as it stood late November. Lightroom’s catalogue function is very helpful here. I opened the filter bar with the “\” key,  selected “2018” in the metadata column, then selected “cameras” to Nikon J1, Nikon J5, Nikon Df and Apple iPhone 6+. I needed to do this selection because my Lightroom catalogue also takes care of pictures that other family members took and I didn’t want to get praise for their work! Lastly, I deselected all pictures with family members on it and removed all selfies from the selection as well. I did this for two reasons: first, I’m not a diligent portrait/people photographer, so the people pictures are mostly snaps and secondl I’m trying to preserve a little privacy.

black and white is fine

I glanced over the 2018 black and white pictures first: scrolling through the images gave me a lot of comfort: I most humbly think there are a plenty of pictures to choose from and certainly a few worthy ones to end up in the “final” selection “best of 2018 b/w”. Hence, all appeared good in this section.

colour — oooooo very very thin

But when I looked for appealing colour photographs, I started panicking. Firstly, there were not that many and secondly, the ones I saw, didn’t exactly scream “quality” at me. Panick reigned in. Having said that, I will choose my best of “2018 in colour”, simply because best of 2018 is best of 2018, regardless how good I think the pictures are. These best of 2018 might not make it into my “best of the 21st century” list, but that is a different matter.

a panic excursion

Having said that, I couldn’t let that “thin selection” sit with me. Hence, the first weekend in December, I packed my Nikon Df with the wide angle zoom and the 85mm f1.8 and headed for the Bukit Timah nature reserve in an almost last minute attempt to “make up” for what appears to be missing from my 2018 colour-collection. Creativity under time pressure: an ideal set-up for failure 🙂

Gutenberg gallery test

Waddling through the jungle in Singapore, battling the high humidity, the occasional heavy downpour and some very slippery paths was not ideal, but still I managed a few decent outdoor shots.

Gutenberg has a gallery function, which is much easier to handle and offers a bit more and better functionality than the “classic” editor ever had. You choose a “gallery” block, then simply drag and drop pictures into it. This really is neat and so much more efficient than in the previous editor.

However, it appears that the functionality still is rather limited. For example pictures cannot be rearranged once the gallery is set up. At least, individual pictures can be added and removed and the layout can be adjusted via changing the number of columns.

WP & Gutenberg bugs
  • it appears that the preview option under WP 4.9 doesn’t offer options “desktop/tablet/mobile” anymore?
  • as of writing this, WP converts the “featured image” of a post into a neat blue “slush” when viewed in Safari.

Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg

First time I saw a picture of this building, I was simply blown away by its outer-worldly beauty. I had to go and visit it. Herzog De Meuron designed something extraordinary. I’m sure archeology professors and students will ponder about the significance of this building and structure when they discover it under water (global warming,,,,) in a few thousand years from now. 
The shape of the roof: sails, waves, wind – take your pick.

So came summer 2018 and an opportunity to visit Hamburg for a few days. Enjoy the sights below.

pictures – set 1

pictures: set 2

for the photographers:

Pictures were taken with a Nikon J5; kit zoom lens, handheld, recorded in RAW. Postprocessing in Adobe LR (cropping, straightening up and sharpening) and Silver Efex Pro for the B&W conversion and “tickling” some contrast and details out of the images.

and a video

shot with the Nikon J5, editing done in Davinci Resolve v14

for the voyagers

There are hotels in the vicity of the building, if you want to indulge yourself choose the hotel that is right in the building. It might be worthwhile to pre-book a slot for visiting the viewing platform, which is the level marking the transition from the old, brick wall building to the new structure. This can be done via the web. 

The view from the Elbe river is spectacular; I suggest to take public boats which are easy to find and do exactly the “route” a curious tourist needs to see. There are many “cruise” options available as well – your choice.