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Easter-getaway to Germany

After a trip to Kuwait and a visit from a good handful of friends from Denmark, April had already provided lots of experiences and good fun – but more was in store! With the extra holidays provided by Easter, my girlfriend and I had also planned to visit some friends living close to the Bodensee in Germany. I had driven past it on a few of the summer-holiday trips south I had been doing with my family many years ago, but had never really had the chance to do more than that – which proved to be a bit of a shame, as the area is absolutely stunning!

We stayed on the northern shore of the lake, and started out with a very nice walk through the many flowering fruit-plantations. The weather was amazing, with sun, warmth and clear blue skies, and a bit of elevation provided for some amazing views across the lake, and into Switzerland. It was even so clear, that we could see the top of Säntis (which we could also see back when we were on one of our winter hikes – just from the other side).

After a quick pit-stop, tasting some of the local wine, we walked back along the shore of the lake, enjoying the sunset. A very cozy evening and morning later, we were on our way back to Zürich – taking the ferry across the lake to Konstanz, just to really get the last part of the holiday enjoyed as much as possible.

Visit from home!

Sometimes, one of the things I miss from Denmark, is the extra week of holiday. But luckily, my friends back in Denmark still have that – meaning they once in a while have time to come visit! This was the case during the week of Easter this year, so I took up the task of making sure they got a good taste of what Switzerland has to offer.

Having spent the first two days in and closely around Zürich, I was finally able to take a day off work – so we rented a car, and went on to find some real mountains! First trip was a hike at the eastern part of Vierwaldstättersee – a very beautiful area with mountains, forests and a large lake spreading across numerous valleys (regular readers may even recognize some of the scenery from previous hikes – in particular my Schwyz hiking post from last year ;). The plan was to drive to the small town of Bauen, take the ferry to Rütli, and then hike back. This proved to even be educational, as Rütli is where the original oath of the Swiss Confederacy was sworn, and much of path we would be hiking was part of the “Weg der Schweiz” hiking route – with a stage for each of the 26 cantons.

Apart from being educational, the hike obviously also offered absolutely fantastic views – and with a quick detour to a local cheese shop, my friends definitely got to experience a good bit of Switzerland :)

On the following day, with slightly sore feet, and not feeling like spending too long in the car, we opted for a less demanding route closer to Zürich, and headed to Einsiedeln. With a first stop at the impressive monastery, we had a nice walk along the shores of the Sihlsee (learning a bit about the creation of it along the way), before enjoying a nice piece of cake at a local konditorei, and then taking a quick detour to visit Rapperswil on our way back.

My friends had another day to spend, and enjoyed some even realer mountains near Interlaken – but sadly without me, as I was back to work. All in all though, a very enjoyable week – great company, mostly great weather (especially after the first day being rainy and cold), lots of Swiss experiences, and just generally a very very good time! Now I’m hoping that they’ll go spread the word, so that I can get some more visits from home ;)

Kuwait

I’m still going strong on my quest to visit a new country every year – so when my girlfriend asked me if I wanted to accompany her on a combined work/mini-holiday-trip to Kuwait, I was intrigued. Obviously mostly at getting to spend a week together a bit away from the daily bustle in Zürich, but also about seeing a part of the world that I’d never visited before.

So – off we went! Going in early April, the weather was pleasantly warm – 20-25C, with quite a bit of sun – a welcome change from the still somewhat unpredictable Swiss spring weather. My girlfriend had a concert to play on our second day there, so the first two days were mostly spent relaxing at the pool, and rehearsing. Our contact in Kuwait (who was also playing in the concert) was a great host, and both made sure that everything went smoothly, and that we got to see a few sights afterwards also.

The concert went really well (to the point where they ended up with a big picture of them on the front page of one of the local newspapers!), and with that well over, we could focus a bit more on the sight-seeing part. This included the iconic Kuwait Towers (designed by a fellow Dane), the bustling Arab market, the first performance of a jazz-gospel-opera, and a visit to the impressive Al-Hashemi-II – the worlds largest dhow (a traditional Arab type of ship) – which was placed in a dry-dock right next to the hotel we were staying at, and currently housed a just-as-impressive ballroom.

All in all, Kuwait was definitely an interesting place to experience, even though much of our time was spent relaxing at the pool-side with delicious lemon-mint lemonades ;) (…and obviously also taking pictures!)

From summer to winter…

It’s been a while since my last post here – so the change from the summery photos in the last post to this, may seem a bit abrupt ;) The last six months have been busy for me though, and while I have been able to get out with the camera, I’ve rarely been able to get enough good shots to warrant a complete post.

With winter having arrived in Switzerland though, and a couple of Saturdays to spare, my girlfriend and I decided to head out for a bit of hiking in the snow. We opted for the “easy” solution, and went for prepared hiking trails without deep snow, where you can go without any fancy equipment. Instead, we brought along the cameras!

First trip was to the western part of Graubünden, where we hiked from Mundaun to Lumnezia. The weather forecast had looked a bit suspicious, but it turned out much better than we could have hoped for. Blue skies most of the time, and the clouds that we had, mostly just served to make the photos better – so except for some slightly lacking signalization of the hiking trail at times (giving us an hour of extra hiking down ski pistes and deep snow), all was good!

Next trip went to the Toggenburg area. The weather was even better, the path better marked, and absolutely wonderful. Through forests, large patches of untouched snow, and with clouds rolling in for the sunlight to play in, and all the time majestic mountain vistas on both sides. Couldn’t have been much better!

Summer at Vesterhavet…

Like most other places in Europe, Denmark has had a crazy summer too – weeks upon weeks of sun, warmth and blue skies. This luckily didn’t change much for the 1½ week I had planned back home during my summer holidays. My parents had rented a summer-house on the Danish west coast, only a few minutes of walking distance from Vesterhavet (the sea, for those not familiar with Danish geography (or language ;) ).

Although we usually get out to see and experience things while on vacation, this time we ended up mostly just hanging out at the house and on the beach. This was due to a combination of most of us apparently just needing some time to do absolutely nothing, the addition of a 10-month old (and absolutely adorable!) baby to the family, and also of it being too hot to really do anything else. The only thing I ended up with pictures of, was thus basically the beach at sunset. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, because as motifs go, sunsets on the beach are quite beautiful! And especially when you’re a Dane spending most of your time in a place without any seaside, beaches or saltwater (not to say that Switzerland isn’t beautiful either – but it just hasn’t really caught up with the idea of seasides yet…).

So while the pictures below may seem a bit alike, I hope they’re still enjoyable to look at :)

If it ain’t broken…

I had been quite busy in the weeks leading up to this year’s summer holiday, and with the weather in Switzerland potentially looking a bit dodgy, I dragged out actually planning what to do in the holiday for quite a while. In the end the holiday began, and I still didn’t have a plan. Not wanting to sit at home spending a week trying to figure out something new and exiting to do, I went for the easy solution, and repeated what had worked so well last year – and booked a hotel for a handful of nights in Lugano.

I’m usually not one for repeating plans like this, but here it made sense. There was still things I wanted to see in Lugano and the area around it, the weather forecast looked good, and I knew that I had some good places where it should be possible to just kick back and relax – which was probably what I needed the most. So off I went, and had a bunch of great days!

Hiking from Monte Tamaro to Monte Lema, checking out the Buskers Festival, spending half a day in Morcote (which I’d only had about an hour in last year), eating great food (tagliatelle with porcini as one of the highlights), and just relaxing at the hotel pool and on the nice little balcony that my room had. And obviously also spending a bit of quality time with my camera, trying not to shoot too many things that I had already done the year before…;)

Hiking in the Canton of Schwyz x2

It’s summer in Switzerland – and you’d be a bit daft if you voluntarily spend all of it inside. Thus I’m doing my best to get out of the apartment and taking in as much as possible of the wonderful scenery that Switzerland has to offer. By coincidence, this has until now meant two hikes in June in the Canton of Schwyz, basically in neighboring mountain areas. Normally I don’t put photos from separate events into the same post, but seeing as these two hikes were close together in both time and location (and as I’ve been busy and ended up processing the photos at the same time in any case), I thought it’d make sense here…

The first hike was with my parents visiting – weather forecast was a bit so-so with possible thunderstorms, so we made sure to find a route that wasn’t too far from Zürich, and that wasn’t too high up or too exposed. A route around the town of Brunni, in the shadow of the peaks of the Grosser and Kleiner Mythen, seemed to do the trick, so off we went. After a good, initial climb, we ended up on a nice route with fantastic views to the Vierwalsstättersee and the area around it – including the peak of Rigi, which incidentally was also the destination of last years hike with my parents. The weather played along nicely too, with no signs at all of any thunder or even rain.

Second hike was arranged by one of my colleagues, who had the location and route all planned out, and invited me and a good handful of additional colleagues along. Starting from the town of Stoos, it was located less than 10km south of Brunni – but with the mountains of Switzerland, that’s still enough to give a completely different experience! (although admittedly, the views were somewhat similar ;) An extra perk of the hike was that to get to Stoos, you have to take the new funicular, which at up to 110% incline is the steepest in the world – and made with nice rotating carts, to keep passengers from rolling around inside during the ride. For a bunch of engineers, that’s obviously almost on its own enough to make the trip worthwhile… After marveling a bit at the technical achievement during the ride, we arrived in Stoos, heading directly for the initial climb up to Klingenstock, from where we’d then walk along the ridge to Fronalpstock. A beautiful trail with fantastic views to both sides. Weather was pretty great too, although, being in almost 2000m height, it was a bit chilly – and with the occasional cloud passing quite closely over us too – but that mainly just made for some more interesting photos.

All in all, two great hikes – and pretty fun to be able to look towards an area you’ve been in before from afar ;)

The Rheinfalls in Full Frame

As teased in my last post, after many careful considerations, I have very recently gone ahead with a slight upgrade of my trusty Nikon D7100.
(Warning – camera tech-talk coming up – skip to the next section if you just want to read about the waterfalls ;)

After that disclaimer, back to camera-talk! My D7100 has served me very, very well, but I was getting a bit annoyed by the optical quality of my 18-200mm lens – even though the flexibility definitely is amazing, I started to often feel limited by the lack of sharpness. After having looked around a bit, I couldn’t really find a new lens that seemed like a good substitute on the crop-sensor D7100, and since I had also toyed with the idea of going full-frame, I ended up getting a Nikon D750 with the 24-120mm lens. Having read a bit around, the 24-120mm was obviously not the optically best lens available, but it sounded like it did pretty well for its zoom range (which would definitely make it better than the 18-200), and was even a bit wider at the wide end – something that I’d also wanted (although the difference isn’t huge…). And obviously, the full-frame D750 would be a good step-up from the D7100, seeing as even though the resolution is basically the same, the sensor in the former is more than twice as big – meaning more light captured, thus lower noise and more sharpness. At the same time the camera itself is basically the same size, and has the exact same button layout, so switching couldn’t really be easier. It also uses the same battery, is supported in my existing editing software, and, since it’s a couple of years old now, was available at a really good price.

So – fast forward to the new camera having arrived back home with me, and my fingers itching to go give it a decent spin. With four consecutive days off due to the Ascension holiday (and me having moved my labor day holiday from last week), I decided on heading north, to the canton of Schaffhausen – more precisely to the Rheinfalls. 150m wide, 23m high, and with a summer average of 600m3 of water per second constantly passing through, it’s rather impressive! Numerous platforms have been placed at the sides of it, to allow visitors to get really close to the action – and interestingly enough, without really getting wet! After having spent the early morning trying to get a good bunch of different pictures of the falls (seeing as it’s the main motif, it took some work to not get all the pictures looking the same ;), I went for a nice hike in the backcountry also. This was mostly through woods, which weren’t as photogenic as the falls though (thus the rather obvious lack of pictures from that part of the day). After the hike, I went back to the falls for a cup of coffee and some more pictures (now with afternoon sun – and a good heap of extra tourists) – before catching a train back to Zürich after a day well spent.

Looking at the pictures at home, it seems I definitely got what I expected – even though it’s probably not visible from the low-res versions of the images here, the shots are a lot sharper – and the dynamic range is insane too – lots of extra data to work with from the image files. All in all – a great day, and some new equipment that is working well :)

Four cantons, one lake, summery weather, and a bunch of great views…

In Denmark, when you head south to enjoy some warmer temperatures, people will often tell you to bring back a bit of the warmth – which rarely works though… However, ever since I came back from my recent holiday in Spain, weather in Zürich has been more or less amazing. It culminated last weekend with lots of sun and temperatures in the high 20s – which is pretty good, considering it was still only April! In that kind of weather I didn’t want to just stay inside, so I consulted the internet for some hiking routes around the Vierwaldstättersee (which I had visited the year before on my trip up Rigi) – which is not only a really nice area, but also quite close to Zürich – and found an interesting half-day hike up a hill on the south-western part of the lake.

The weather proved to be as nice as anticipated, and with spring having really arrived, had flowers and green plants everywhere. Can’t really imagine how it could have been better! After a really nice hike, I ended up spending the afternoon in nearby Luzern afterwards – which I thought was about time, after almost two years in Switzerland ;) I wasn’t the only one with that idea though, and had to share the space (especially around the iconic Kapellbrücke) with throngs of other people. For some reason the very nice area around the old city fortifications were almost deserted in comparison though, and provided a nice finish on a great day!

Looking back here a week later, I almost feel a bit nostalgic also – as this trip may be the last one documented with my trusty Nikon D7100. After more than 4 years of good use, I’ve ended up going ahead with a slight upgrade – more on that in a future post – until then, enjoy the pictures here :)

Kickstarting the holiday season

Even though spring has been preparing its approach for some time now, you can never really be sure when it’ll finally manage to send winter on holiday. Not in Switzerland, and not in Denmark. Thus a bunch of my Danish friends had been contemplating a quick getaway to somewhere that should be guaranteed to be at least a bit warmer than either – and invited me along too! So off to Spain we went, to spend a week in a pretty awesome mansion – relaxing, eating good food, hiking, sightseeing, and everything else you usually do on a holiday.

Being late March / early April, the temperature obviously hadn’t gone to extremes yet, but the 15-20 degrees and, more importantly, almost constant blue skies and sunshine, provided a pleasant change from the “have-some-snow!” approach to spring that weather had taken in Denmark and Switzerland.

In the way-too-short timespan of a week, we managed to see both Valencia and Alicante, go to the picturesque village of Guadalest on the top of a mountain, hike along rocky paths to the top of Penyal d’Ifac, eat lots of icecream, and I even got to make my very first paella (which turned out pretty successful :).

And as usual, I brought along my camera also…

Calendar says March…

…but apparently the Swiss weather doesn’t really care too much about that. After a week of bitterly cold temperatures, on March 1st I woke up to Zürich being covered in a beautiful blanket of fresh powder snow. With temperatures still well below 0C, the snow even stayed real snow, and didn’t transform into the annoying slush that is otherwise the only “snow” we’ve seen in Zürich this season – which was also the reason that I hadn’t really been able to get any half-decent wintery pictures yet.

So when the snow was still there on Saturday, and the weather forecast said that temperatures would stay in the freezing region at least until noon, I got up early and went up to good old Uetliberg, hoping for some somewhat interesting views and motifs. Down in the city it was cloudy, and the top wasn’t really visible, but I hoped that all this was below the top – and I was more or less right –
even though there was still a thick layer of clouds above, it was otherwise clear at the top, with the cold weather providing excellent views to the real mountains in the south. Having cheated a bit taking public transport to the top, I managed to get there while there was still a bit of morning light, providing for some really great views.

Afterwards I hiked back down, taking care not to be run over by the many sledges out getting the last fun out of the soon-to-be melting snow – and of course also getting in a few more shots of the snow-covered forest. And in the end, my timing was good – in the afternoon on the same day the temperatures rose, and the snow started melting. Maybe the weather managed a look in the calendar after all ;)

2017 – the lost pictures

With 2018 already well underway, and me on a busy schedule without much time for taking photos, I took a look back at last years photos to see if there was something I had missed – and indeed there was! Some had been hovering around in my “to-process” queue due to only a couple of pictures from the set being decent, some due to other things overtaking it before getting around to processing – but that doesn’t mean that there weren’t a few pictures here and there that deserved a bit of love after all.

It’s not as mixed a bag as you could suspect, with pictures mainly coming from last winter (with some actual snow in Zürich!), a trip I did to the (pretty nice!) Zürich Zoo last fall, and a handful of pictures from my recent Christmas holiday in Denmark to top it off.

Hopefully there’ll soon be some new stuff also, but my current combination of being busy at work, and spending several of the past Saturdays skiing (which isn’t too compatible with carrying a DSLR in your backpack) just make things a bit difficult at the moment ;)

New York revisited

I recently had to do a work trip to Pennsylvania in the US – and as I was planning the trip, realizing that I’d need a rental car in any case to get to the slightly rural setting of Lititz, flying to New York and driving from there quickly materialized as a workable option. Or well, doing that, just flying in two days early and spending the weekend in NYC was the actual option I was thinking of ;)

Cue plane landing in JFK, and me heading toward Manhattan for a quick revisit of “the city so nice they named it twice”. The setting was slightly similar to last time I stopped by – as in that it was still in the darker months of the year, and still bitterly cold. But as the snow had been exchanged with Christmas decorations and throngs of people (it was the weekend after Thanksgiving after all), it still provided a very different experience. All in all I had less than two days, but still managed to see the Frick Collection, have waffles at the Christmas market in Bryant Park, see Central Park without snow, do a nice walk down the High Line, and see lots and lots of Christmas lights (although I’m still a bit confused as to the connection between Christmas and the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs-themed decorations that Saks Fifth Avenue had spent a lot of effort putting up in their windows… ah well…).

I could easily have spent a couple of days (or possibly months ;) more in the city, but even so, still a great weekend!

Blue skies in Lausanne

On my quest for getting as much out of the wonderful autumn as possible, my next stop was in a part of Switzerland that I hadn’t yet visited – to the west, around Lake Geneva. I didn’t go all the way to Geneva though, but instead opted to stop in Lausanne. I had gotten a few tips from one of my co-workers who knows the city very well, so armed with that, I got on the train early in the morning. Having arrived, I did the same thing once more – got on another train (although for a much shorter ride!), to Grandvaux, just outside Lausanne, but within the large World Heritage Site of the Lavaux vineyards. The weather was perfect – slightly chilly (it was October after all), but with blue skies and wonderful autumn sun.

I had a good walk through the vineyards, learning a bit about the history and processes along the way, before ending up in Lutry, and taking the train back to Lausanne. After strolling around the city, I visited the Palais de Rumine which had an exhibition by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. I’m normally not that big a fan of contemporary art, and initially, I didn’t really get the point of most of the pieces exhibited. When I finally got around to have a look in the accompanying booklet though, the added context and explanations turned it into a very interesting experience – especially with my recent trips to Beijing in mind.

Next stop was the Lausanne photography museum, but as I found out when I got there, it was currently closed as they were putting in a new exhibition. Ah well… I took a walk in the nearby park, and came upon the Olympic Museum instead. I wasn’t really prepared to do a full tour, but they had a special exhibition on Sports Photography, which seemed kinda relevant to me ;) And it was really good! Some fantastic and very varied photos, and some really interesting stories behind them also.

After the museum, I took a stroll along the waterfront, found some dinner, enjoyed a spectacular sunset, and then headed back to Zürich after a day well spent!

Amazing Autumn

Back in 2004 I spent August to December in New Zealand – and I think that may be a reason why I enjoy autumn as much as I do. Being on the southern hemisphere, the seasons are reversed, so I traded the typical Danish late-summer-autumn-early-winter sequence for a late-summer-winter-spring-winter sequence instead, and essentially missed a complete autumn. The year after, being back in Denmark, I remember suddenly enjoying the autumn much more than I had done in earlier years – and ever since, despite the often not-so-great weather, the autumn season has had me marvel at the fantastic colors whenever outside.

This year is of course no different. Last year I did a nice bike ride which took me along the river Sihl, and the forests it runs through – I thought that could provide another good way to spend an autumn Saturday, so I climbed on my bike and set off early (or well, early for a Saturday;) in the morning. Got a great ride with some amazing morning light along the Sihl, and stopped at the Sihlwald, where I had a good hike in the forest – all the way up to the Albis Hochwacht lookout-tower. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was certainly surprised by the view from the top! It’s not that far from Uetliberg, but its more southern location means that there’s an unobstructed view of the Zugersee, with Rigi right behind it. Sadly it was a bit hazy though – on a clear day, it must be absolutely amazing…

I totally got what I came for though – awesome colors, fresh air and fantastic views. And the fact that the rear tire on my bike was flat when I got back from the hike didn’t manage to ruin a thing (especially since the pretty great Zürich public transport system had a train station right next to where I’d parked;).

Zürich Photowalk

For some reason, I can find it difficult to find inspiration when trying to ‘force’ doing photography – for instance during photowalks and similar, especially in places I know well. When Johannes, one a of my friends and co-photographers from my local church, arranged one here in Zürich though, I kinda had to tag along. And it actually went pretty well! I got a good handful of interesting, different shots from places I thought I knew well, and had lots of fun during it all.

A ski resort in the summer…

If you have even been skiing in the alps, you’ll also have noticed some of the billboards and commercials around the various resorts, that do their best to get skiers to come back during the summer, with pictures of fantastic scenery with lots of mountain flowers and nice green grass – a slight contrast to the snow skiers are usually looking for. Living in Denmark most of my life, and usually going to places with a beach during summer, I’d never actually seen a skiing resort up close that wasn’t covered in snow.

That changed last weekend though, when I, late Friday evening, finally found out where to go hiking the next day (in Switzerland, such a choice can be quite overwhelming for newcomers!). I set out Saturday morning, taking the train to Unterterzen, and then a set of ski lifts up to Maschgenkamm, about 2000m above sea level. Sure, taking the lift up could be seen as cheating by some, but it meant that I could concentrate on enjoying a great hike around the area, instead of having to spend all my energy on going up and down ;)

Being more or less surrounded by mountains, the views were not as impressive as for instance Rigi, but being able to walk for basically hours without seeing cities larger than a couple of houses, definitely has its charm too! On top of this, the air was fresh, the weather was nice, and the main noise was caused by the bells from the large number of cows wandering around on the hillsides (and often on the hiking trails too…).
All in all, a pretty good hike! – and nice to see finally get to try a ski lift during summer also :)

A different side of Switzerland

Two well-deserved weeks of summer holidays were approaching, and I had been planning to do a multi-day biketrip around the Alps close to Zürich – staying at cozy mountain hotels, eating lots of cheese and all that stuff. However, due to a last-minute problem with my bike, that ended up as a no-go, as it required some repairs that couldn’t be done in time… Hmm…

Luckily though, Switzerland is nicely positioned in the middle of Europe, which means that you can jump on a train, sit there for two hours, and then get out in something that’s pretty close to Italy – in my case, Lugano. Situated south of the Alps, between tree-covered mountains, right next to the Lake Lugano, with language, cuisine and weather that is definitely inspired by the southern neighbor, you can’t really get closer to Italy without actually being in Italy.

I had found a very nice hotel right at the lake, close to the city-center, and was prepared for about 3 days of relaxing, hiking, photography, and eating pizzas – ended up a success on all accounts :) From enjoying just sitting in the city park reading or enjoying the sunset, over hiking in the nearby mountains (followed by well-deserved stints in the hotel pool), to great pizza, pasta, risotto and ice cream.

It was basically just what I needed to throw myself into holiday-mode – and I think it’s not that last time I’ll be doing that!

Spring hike to Rigi

Back in May, my parents came to visit me in Zürich. The weather was fantastic, so apart from enjoying it in Zürich itself, we also decided on finding somewhere to go do something that is widely available in Switzerland, but pretty impossible to do in Denmark – hiking up a mountain! The nearby Rigi massif looked interesting, surrounded by a number of lakes, and according to my dad who’d been up there shortly on a work trip many years ago, the views should be quite good too. So we drove to Weggis at the shore of the Vierwaldstättersee, and at the foot of Rigi, applied a couple of liters of sunscreen and off we went. It started out nicely, going through forests, the very impressive Felsentor (basically a small portal through a couple of very big rocks), and fields with cows (it was Switzerland after all…). We were aiming for lunch at Rigi Kaltbad around halfway up, and after the last part (which was tough – steep paths, rolling gravel, and a blazing sun), we agreed that the rösti and bratwurst was well-deserved. I nearly didn’t make it further, slightly tempted to just stay at one of the very nice looking Spa resorts in Kaltbad, but in the end we did take the last part too up to the peak – Rigi Kulm. The views had been great during most of the hike, but at the top, they were absolutely fantastic. I had of course opted for lugging along my camera, so I was able to capture a bit of the views – even though it only partly can capture the feeling of being on top of the world (ignoring the much higher alps in the horizon of course ;). Slightly exhausted, we took the train and cablecar down – and especially the cablecar was almost worth a trip on its own – again great views, and lots of whooooaaa moments when going over the sides of the mountain :) All in all, a great day!

2047 Apologue

In May, I spent close to two weeks in Beijing for work. Even though the pictures from that trip may suggest otherwise, there was actually work involved also ;) To be precise, we were doing the first rehearsals for the show “2047 Apologue”, which was to be shown at the National Centre for the Performing Arts (or NCPA) for three evenings in June. So – early June, I went back to Beijing for quite a bit less sightseeing, and quite a bit more work. The show was a concept theater, directed by the famous Chinese director Zhang Yimou, that seeked to investigate the future relationship between people and technology, by combining traditional Chinese performing arts, with state-of-the-art stage technology. And at Verity Studios where I work, we can provide good amounts of the latter ;) Our main competence is doing drone-shows – for instance a large fleet of small drones with lights, flying around in complex patterns – more on this later! In any case, since it’s a bit hard to explain everything in pictures only (luckily I got a few!), I thought this trip was worthy of a slightly longer write-up…
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Beijing!

Having to travel for work can be annoying for some, but I usually quite like it – especially when being able to go to places like Beijing, as I just did for the past almost two weeks :) Spanning two weekends, there was luckily a bit of time for relaxing and having a look around also, so I tried to make the best of it. Amongst others, this included visits to Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, a few of Beijings traditional ‘hutongs’, and also the Great Wall of China.

As most people, I had heard about the Great Wall, but seeing it, and realizing how it follows and tracks the landscape across mountain ridge after mountain ridge, was nothing short of breathtaking. Curving along, and going up and down (rather steep in places!), it seems to have just been built in place as they went along, rather than having been subject to lots of planning beforehand. But then again, with thousands of kilometers of wall to build, that was probably the easiest solution. Impressive none the less! Main problem was that it quickly became a bit challenging to figure out ways of not making all the many pictures I shot look just totally the same :)

One of the things that surprised me the most, was the amount of trees scattered all across the city. Usually when hearing about Beijing as the city, it’s about the massive size, immense amounts of people, and air pollution – so seeing basically every single street and avenue lined with trees was a positive surprise – and made for a very different impression than the concrete desert that I had somehow subconsciously expected. The air was still bad though – luckily not so bad to be much of an issue, except for a single day, where a sandstorm in a nearby region covered the city in a yellowish fog (classified ‘Hazardous’, with pollution levels as high as 900 – ‘Unhealthy’ is hit at 150, and can be compared to the about 15-30 we usually get in Zürich). With convenience stores stocking masks for such occasions, we geared up, and luckily survived without more problems than a few irritated throats.

All in all though, it was all part of the experience ;) – and made for a very interesting trip!

Easter hiking

With the whole week around Easter off work, I figured it was time to get out and discover a bit of Switzerland. The weather was looking to be really nice (~20 degrees and sunny!), so a hike sounded like something that would fit the bill. It’s a bit daunting to start out with that in Switzerland though, as the amount of places you can go is overwhelming – and selecting where to head out can be a bit of a challenge. Looking around some maps, I spotted a limestone cave open to visitors near the Thunersee, close to Interlaken though – and as I’ve always had a thing for limestone caves, that seemed like a good idea, especially as there was a nice hiking trail passing by it.

So, armed with my camera I headed off to the train station (very…) early Monday morning. Everything went smoothly though, and soon I was hiking down towards the Thunersee. The route was clearly marked with numerous signposts, so finding the way around was easy (in any case, just following along the shore of the lake would probably have worked too ;). Passing through deltas, forest, by lake shores, up mountains, through small charming villages – and all in wonderful sunshine – I made it to the Beatuscaves. Situated halfway up a mountainside overlooking the Thunersee, and with numerous waterfalls coming out from inside the caves, the location was pretty amazing by itself. And the caves were really nice too – running almost a kilometer into the mountain, and with lots of waterstreams thundering through it at places, it was quite a bit different from other limestone caves I’ve visited.

The rest of the hike to Merligen went well too, got on the bus, and ended up spending the evening in Bern – wandered around the old town centre, and found a nice place to have dinner before heading back to the train station to make my way back towards Zürich. All in all, a pretty okay way to spend a day!

Snowshoeing at Mutteristock

Even though Zürich hasn’t really had much winter (as in, snow, ice and temperatures below 0) since January, some of the higher-located places (as in, the mountains) still have plenty of snow. And you don’t even have to go far – about 50km from Zürich, the area around Mutteristock apparently got a nice new cover of snow during the week – so together with two of my colleagues, I went snowshoeing. Starting in 900m above sea level, heading up to about 2200m and down again, over about 14km in total, it was quite a hike. We expected to maybe have to wear the snowshoes about half the time, but as soon as we went from the parking lot onto the trail and started sinking in pretty deep, we realized that we should probably just put them on right away. As we got further up, the snow proved to be completely untouched in most places – and basically a good 40-50cm of the finest powder! All in all, it made for a pretty great hike – although my legs complained a bit during and afterwards ;)

When in Rome…

Since 2010 I’ve been trying to visit at least one new country every year – which has been working out pretty well! 2016 was well underway though, and without any obvious trips coming up, I was almost planning on using me having moved to Zürich as an excuse to justify not getting a new country this year. But after having studied my calendar a bit, I decided on not giving up on my principles without a fight – and started planning an extended weekend in Rome in November. It’s not that I’ve never been to Italy before (actually, as can be seen from my other galleries, both my vacations earlier this year have actually been to Italy also ;) ), but – I’ve never been to the Vatican – which is pretty much a no-brainer to visit when in Rome, even without funny ideas about visiting new countries. So off I went, and spent three very nice days enjoying St. Peters Basilica, the Vatican museums, the Pantheon, Forum Romanum and the Coloseum, attending an awesome violin concert of Vivaldis the Four Seasons, eating pizzas and paninis, and a whole lot of other stuff – and much of it in t-shirt and sunglasses, even though it was deep into November…
However, even though I’ve been to quite a few other bigger cities lately, Rome did annoy me a bit more than usual, by kinda requiring a wider lens than my trusty 18-200mm. Big things in narrow spaces are apparently a thing here! (I’m looking at you, Trevi fountain) But all in all – still a great trip, and managed to snap a few shots of the stuff that *did* fit in my cameras field of view :)

Walensee Hike

One thing you kinda have to do when you live in Switzerland (apart from eating cheese and chocolate), is to go hiking. And with the abundance of lakes, mountains and forests, spread all over the country, it’s easy to see why. I hadn’t really had much time to really get started with this though (except for my numerous trips up Uetliberg), so when some of my colleagues proposed a company-hike, I obviously didn’t want to miss it. Even though the weather forecast didn’t look that good, we ended up heading to Walensee, about an hour away from Zürich – and it ended up being a good decision, as Zürich had rain all day – and we didn’t get a single drop during the hike :)
It was a beautiful tour too – starting out at lake-level at around 400m above sealevel, then heading 300m further up, down again to the lake for lunch at a lake-side restaurant, and then heading a good 400m upwards again, before heading down to lake-level for the trip back to Zürich. The path was mostly through autumn-coloured forest, had almost constant view over the lake, and the extra elevation on the hills provided some good views too. All in all a pretty good way to spend a Saturday in November!

Uetliberg revisited – again…;)

Last weekend I had my parents visiting from Denmark for a few days, and got the chance to show them around Zürich. This included another trip up Uetliberg, which is basically just such an easy thing to do when in Zürich – but that at the same time is a pretty good hike, and offers some great views from the top. Also – for people from Denmark, who are not used to anything higher than about 170m – it’s quite a different experience from what can be done back home ;)
It was also my fourth trip up Uetliberg in the about half a year I’ve been here, but luckily none of those trips have been alike. The first trip was in brilliant clear weather during spring, the second on a partly overcast and slightly wet and cold summer day, the third on a hot summer evening, and the fourth on a misty autumn day – luckily the mist stopped just short of the peak, providing for some quite interesting pictures – and lots and lots of godrays!

Autumn in Zürich

I’m in the lucky position that I usually can enjoy all the four seasons – the snow and frost in winter, seeing everything come to life during spring, sun and warmth in summer – and the stunning colors in autumn. And even though I hadn’t yet experienced the latter in Switzerland, I had a pretty good idea that it wasn’t going to disappoint in the color department… Having enjoyed the colors during my usual everyday commutes, I ended up doing a nice little bike ride around Uetliberg one Saturday, with a visit to a nearby Wildnispark, sporting moose, bison, wolves, wild boars and bears – all set in a nice autumn-colored forest. Not at all a bad day!

Update: I added an extra shot from the following week, from a walk at Lake Zürich – it’s still autumn here, so I guess it fits in quite well ;)

Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe!

With the weather in Switzerland being more or less perfect during most of the last couple of weeks, two of my friends, Phil and Justin, and I, decided to head to Jungfraujoch to enjoy the view. Jungfraujoch is a col at almost 3500m above sea-level, situated between the Jungfrau and the Mönch summits, which are both more than 4000m high – so on a clear day, the views are great – and most definitely something that you wont see anything similar to back in Denmark ;)
The train ride from Zürich took quite a while, but with the view being stunning even from the train windows most of the way, it didn’t matter much. Heading through valleys with forests, picturesque villages, pastures and waterfalls running out over cliff faces several hundred meter high, the scenery was absolutely stunning! Arriving at Jungfraujoch, suddenly walking around in snow, knowing that most people were struggling with +30 degree temperatures back in Zürich, was quite an experience too. After having spent most of the day enjoying the views and the fresh mountain air, taking lots of pictures (giving my polarizer a good bit of exercise) and having my first (but not last!) taste of cheese fondue, we headed back towards Zürich – stopping for a bit in Kleine Scheidegg for a quick hike around the hills, and in Bern for dinner. All in all a great day!

Holiday in Cervo

Rather exceptionally, this year my parents, my brother, his wife, and myself, managed to all take a week off at the same time, and choose to spend that together in Cervo in Italy. A very charming town, and fantastic food and weather made for a great week of holidays. Only problem was that it was a week or three too short!

Zürich and Uetliberg revisited

This weekend I had a good friend from Denmark visiting me in Zürich, which also meant that I had to act a bit as a tour guide. Friday afternoon (with nice sunny weather!) was spent in the city where I finally got around to climbing to the top of the Karlsturm at Grossmünster, whereas we opted for a trip up Uetliberg on Saturday. The weather was a bit more diverse than during my last hike up there, but with only a slight bit of rain for the first half of the ascent (except for a heavy thunderstorm right at the beginning, which we luckily got to watch from inside a Migros store), it wasn’t at all that bad, and the slightly more interesting sky also made for some nice photos. Oh, and Saturday evening was spent at the absolutely fantastic Coldplay concert, which was more or less just one gigantic colorful party – so all in all, not a bad weekend!

Tour de Zürichsee

Weather has gone back to being decent here in Zürich, and without other plans for the weekend, I decided on biking around lake Zürich (or, most of it at least). All in all about 80 km, with absolutely great views during most of the tour – and passing through charming towns, wine-fields and quiet parks. I obviously brought my camera along, but “sadly” the sky was just boringly blue all across ;) Got a few shots of in spite of this though, although I spent most of my energy on enjoying the tour, the views and the weather.

From Drejø to Zürich in a week

As noted in the last post, I’ve just moved to Zürich to start a new job, and pretty much also a new life. Leaving Odense after almost 14 years wasn’t easy, but the last couple of months has had me enjoy as much of it as possible – and I also barely managed to squeeze in a trip to the very small island Drejø with my choir, the last weekend before leaving for Switzerland. A great trip, and some wonderful people – which I also got a couple of pictures of.

Being in Zürich for a week now, I’ve had time to look around already. Thursday was a public holiday, the weather was great, so I decided on heading up to one of the highest points around – the Uetliberg. A 4½ hour walk with almost 500m of height difference wasn’t the most relaxing way to spend the holiday, but the fantastic views and an altogether very nice hike, more than made up for it. And yes, obviously I brought my camera also ;)


Skiing in the Dolomites!

It’s winter! – which can mean that there’s snow in parts of Europe not all too far away from Denmark – so I jumped on a bus with a couple of friends, and headed for Canazei in the Italian Dolomites for a very nice week of skiing. The views are absolutely fabulous (at least when you’re not stuck inside a cloud), but as I deemed carrying around several kilos of camera equipment slightly detrimental to my skiing abilities, I only got around to bringing the camera onto the slopes two of the eight days – and those days didn’t have the clearest weather, but even so, made for some nice shots!

It *was* dark, but I forgot my sunglasses…

The last month has had me traveling quite a bit for work – Ireland, France and the US. On the last trip, we had a six-hour layover in Chicago on our way back, so instead of just sitting around in the airport, my colleague and I headed into the city to have a look around – main thing we discovered: a couple of hours is not nearly enough! – and I should have brought my tripod too, instead of stuffing it in my checked luggage…

Paris in autumn? Oui monsieur!

My work sometimes brings me outside Denmark – and on some of these occasions it’s possible for me to squeeze in a bit of leisure too. This time around I had to do a bit of work in France in the beginning of the week, so I departed from Denmark early, and got to spend the weekend in Paris – including enjoying the lovely autumn colors, seeing the Louvre (or well, part of it – and I thought the Met was huge!…), climbing to the top of the Notre Dame, experiencing a violin concert in the Sainte Chapelle, and eating lots of cheese and taking lots of pictures… All in all – I could think of much worse places to spend a weekend ;)

Moments from the Danish summer 2015

Autumn has arrived in Denmark – the sky is gray, the weather is wet, and it’s dark before 8 in the evening. So – a good time to reminisce a bit on some of the things I did over the past three months, and to try to clear up my Lightroom backlog a bit. (Oh, and in some of the cases I’ve experimented a bit with the post-processing, so some of the pictures may be a bit more funky than usual…)

Munkebjerg Hill Climb 2015

The summer has finally arrived in Denmark (with such a nice timing that it happened the week I went back to work after the holiday), and luckily this years classic Munkebjerg Hill Climb had been scheduled for this incredibly nice weekend. Lots and lots of cool classic cars, noise, smelly exhausts, hair-pin cornering, and me enjoying pretty much all of it. Got a couple of nice shots of it all also.

Summer in Munich

During my well-deserved summer holiday, I had a week without any plans – and instead of spending it sitting inside back home, hoping for the Danish summer weather to show itself from a slightly better side than it had done for the first part of the summer, I semi-spontaneously decided on booking a trip to Munich. I’d been there for five days when I was exhibiting at Automatica back in 2010, but at that time I didn’t really get to see much of the city, apart from the Munich Congress Center and a couple of restaurants. So – I thought I’d give it another shot – and I wasn’t disappointed! Munich proved to be a fantastic city, and I ended up doing some nice walks and bikerides around the old city center, seeing a lot of very interesting castles (the Residenz and the Numphenburg castle) and museums (the Alte and Neue Pinakothek were particularly nice!), eating some fabulous food, getting quite a bit of the Biergarten-vibe – and enjoying weather that was apparently quite a bit better than back in Denmark. And (surprise!) I brought my camera along also…

Springtime in Denmark

With summer being well underway here in Denmark (according to the calendar at least – the weather still has a bit of catching up to do…), I thought I’d better have a look at my backlog of spring images. Lots of spring-ishness coming up:

A weekend in New York

Last week I had to spend a few days in Texas for work – and managed to put in a weekend in New York on my way back. First time I’ve been to the States, and I did have a great time – although my legs were getting a bit tired after spending more than two days sightseeing a fraction of the stuff that NYC has to offer. The High Line, Times Square, Central Park, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Brooklyn Bridge, the Top of The Rock, jazz at Lincoln Center and a quick peek into B&H Photo were just some of the things I managed to squeeze in. And of course – some pictures:

Christmas and Winter 2014

December 2014 in Denmark was gray and wet. But even so, Christmas did of course arrive – and surprised me quite a bit when I woke on the 25th, and saw that it had brought with it cold weather and even snow! That of course made for some much more interesting stuff to shoot – some of the results can be seen here…

Cornerstone Israel Tour 2014

Apart from photography, one of the other things I do in my spare time is to sing in a gospel choir in Odense – called Cornerstone. We’ve been talking about going on a tour for a few years, but this autumn we finally made it happen. That meant that I got to spend almost 9 days doing concerts, sightseeing and generally just having a great time in Israel with some awesome people – I can’t really think of a better way to spend the autumn holiday :)
And of course I brought along my camera also – first batch of shots are up below – more will follow!

Kilimanjaro

I’ve just come back from a trip to Tanzania, where I, together with 7 others (and a lot of guides and porters), climbed up Kilimanjaro. An absolutely fantastic experience that I’d not want to be without – and at the same time something that I’ve no interest in doing again – at least not within the next couple of years ;)

It was incredibly exhausting – especially the last trek to the summit – and I didn’t get to take quite as many pictures as I’d assumed I would. Mainly because a DSLR is a bit cumbersome to get out whenever there’s an interesting subject, but also because my habit of holding my breath when taking pictures, makes managing with thin air quite tough.

In any case though – I did get around to taking a few hundred shots – gallery is below (6/4 – Updated with the last set of photos).

Time for an upgrade…

My trusty Nikon D5000 has been with me for over 4 years, and has done well. But – in preparation for a coming holiday, I decided now was the time for an upgrade. Enter, Nikon D7100. A fantastic piece of hardware, and obviously in a different class than the D5x00 series cameras. It has buttons for everything, and it doesn’t feel artificially limited like it’s smaller siblings sometimes do (lacking bracketing, and similar features) – and the auto-iso feature is working quite well too.

I’ve not had much time to shoot with it yet, but have managed a few decent shots. More will most probably be coming in a few weeks :)

If a tree falls in the forest…

On December 25th we usually visit my moms oldest brother (together with a good part of their rather large family) in the western part of Jutland. Quite a bit of pine forest around, which had been marked by the recent couple of storms we’ve been having during the last few months. Several of our usually-used paths were blocked, and at one place a large area had been completely swept clear of any trees that had dared approaching more than one or two meters above ground. Incredible forces at play, that’s for sure…

Christmas tree timelapse

As usual, we spent some of the evening on December 23rd decorating our Christmas tree – and I thought I’d try playing around a bit with some timelapse photography. Apart from not having set the camera to manual exposure (to avoid the slight flickering whenever the exposure changes), and the lighting being not completely optimal, it still worked quite well… Merry Christmas!

Rllmuk photo competition – August 2013 – Subject: Turn

For the last couple of years I’ve been somewhat active on rllmuk – an internet forum mostly dedicated to gaming, but with numerous subforums and smaller communities – including one dedicated to photography and other creative arts, where I’ve been taking part in a monthly photo competition. It’s just for fun (winner gets to choose the subject for next month) and typically with 8-10 entrants, so it’s nothing big, but the quality is quite high, the low volume makes sure that no photos get lost in the flood, and as it’s the first time I’ve been doing stuff like this, I find it very interesting (and challenging!) to actually have a theme that I need to shoot a photo for.
Thus, I thought that I’d do a small writeup for some of the entries I’ve provided for the contests during the last months. First one up is from August 2013, where the subject was “Turn”.
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A slightly shameless plug

There’s a nice company in Denmark doing canvas print of photos called Sumopix – I have a 100x60cm canvas of one my photos (a lotus flower in a small water basin outside a temple overlooking Sun Moon Lake in Taiwan) decorating one of the walls in my living room, and am really happy with it. Interesting thing is, they also let individuals apply for approval as “artists”, and will then let you upload your own photos to their artist database, for others without photos of their own to use. Should someone else decide to order a canvas print of one your photos, you’ll get a nice percentage of the order total.

I got approved some time ago, and currently have five photos uploaded on my Sumopix Artist profile. I haven’t exactly been able to quit my day-job just yet, but to my surprise, I actually sold two prints of the “Winter” photo last year. Pretty nice feeling, and just knowing that someone else actually wants to have your stuff hanging on their wall is kinda more worth than the percentages I got…

I’ve added some scaled-down versions of the images currently on my Sumopix profile, and also included a quick snap of how my own print looks on my living room wall. Be sure to go buy a few prints of my photos if you like them ;)

Post Danmark Rundt 2013

Last week, one of the largest annual sports events in Denmark took place – Post Danmark Rundt 2013. Like previous years, one of the stages passed through my home town Vejle, including several climbs up the rather steep Kiddesvej, where I (together with my camera and quite a lot of other spectators) had found a good spot to get a look at the action. Getting some decent shots proved harder than hoped though – getting composition and focus right, while also trying not to hit any of the riders with my zoomed-in tele-lens ended up giving me quite a lot of garbage shots, but luckily a few decent ones also…

Amazing sunset

Had an amazing sunset on the last day of my summer-holiday, with the sun basically shining up on the clouds from below. Lying on the couch watching Top Gear, I had to hurry outside with the camera once I noticed what was going on. Managed to get a few shots, although they don’t really do it justice.

Egeskov Castle

As summer is upon Denmark (and holiday is upon me), I chose to spend the day at Egeskov Castle. Took the bike, which gave me a nice 2 hour ride in each direction. Weather was great, although a pure blue sky does look rather dull in a photo. I’ve had too many summers with bad weather in Denmark to be able to complain about that though ;)