21 days of Iran!

I haven't posted in quite a while - sorry! My excuse is the following: I spent three amazing, breathtaking, unforgettable weeks in Iran, travelling around the country and meeting other photographers and artists as well. Right now I am sifting through a couple of pictures I took (about 10 million roughly ;)), so it´ll take a while..meanwhile, check out my instagram account, where I am currently posting pictures from Iran for 21 days spent there:

https://www.instagram.com/joannascheffelphoto/

Imam square, Esfahan. Cooling off!

New Life in the Park

Every winter, I get to that depressing point where I feel it will never get warm again, dirty snow-ice slush, cold wind and rain for eternity. And then, suddenly, this miracle called "spring" happens. Call me sentimental, but I think it´s amazing! And this year, I didn't want to miss this so very short time of the year, and went into the park to see new buds everywhere :) Here are some of my favourites. Camera: Fuji XT10, Lens: 50mm f2

Dance, dance, dance!

My good friend Daniela introduced her new contemporary dance project "The Wheel" last Sunday at the English Theatre in Berlin. It´s brilliant! Read more about her work here and check the trailer of "Connecting Fingers" here: https://vimeo.com/1303484

Way to Westend

Berlin's districts and "Kieze" (i.e. neighbourhoods) are little self-contained cities and microcosms. There is no "city center" per se - Berlin has a variety of different city centers, depending on where you live or which area you identify with; something which has confused scores of tourists. Some know Mitte, or Neukölln, or Kreuzberg, and if you are really adventurous, maybe even the lakes in Grunewald or the appartment blocks of Marzahn. For the past 10 years or so, the diverse city scape of Berlin has been gradually changing towards a more bland look, due to the much-cited gentrification that is taking place in fashionable neighborhoods, but there are still some areas left that have a very distinct "Berlin" feel to them. For me, Westend is such a place - West Berlin, but nothing like the chic Charlottenburg of Savignyplatz and Kurfürstendamm. Westend is the Kiez of sometimes questionable character but a very special charm of its own.

 

I think I´ve fallen in love...

with the new Fuji 50mm f2 lens, which was released in February. I know, cheesiest teaser headline ever. And no, Fuji doesn't pay me (yet?). I tested the new lens, courtesy of my dear friends at Probis Berlin (who don't pay me, either ;)), last week because I am planning to do a portrait series while traveling light, and don't want to take the Nikon mothership. The 50mm f2 is not only light and sturdy and super sharp, but really versatile as well: it´s great for portraits as well as outdoor/landscape shots. It´s very fast, so it´s also great for sports. The photos below are not edited (only cropped). Shortest review ever - absolute recommendation: can`t go wrong on this one!

Review of Sleeklens Lightroom filters

Every photographer you meet will tell you how much work goes into the postproduction and editing of a photo shoot. When you don’t have a lot of time and just want to quickly polish a batch of photos, filter presets and brushes for your editing program can be a solution - using either your own or commercial ones. I normally don’t use filters for client work and am a bit skeptical of using commercial presets, but I often take landscape photos for fun and daily practice, and rarely get around to edit those properly. When Sleeklens asked me to review their Lightroom presets and brushes for landscape photography, I was curious to see what they could do.
First of all, Sleeklens presets and brushes come in a great variety and are easy to install in Lightroom or Photoshop. I picked three photos I took on my recent trip to the Lofoten in Norway and one in the park right outside my apartment in Berlin, all landscape, but very different in composition and look.

I wasn’t really happy with the original look and meddled around with different presets, until I found some I liked. With a quick click, you can combine different presets and brushes and, most importantly, adapt those settings if you want the changes to be more subtle or more extreme.

In the following examples you can move the sliders to see the difference.


1. Seagulls in Bodø, Norway
Here, I wanted to change the lighting and give the picture a more dramatic feel without overdoing it. As a preset base I used "Basic Film", then added two color correct bases, "Deep Blue Skies" and "Reduce Blue", and for some final touches used the brushes "Subtle Clarity", "Add Golden Sun” and "Darken Shadows”. You might argue that I would have been faster to make those changes without any filters, but I was actually inspired by the look of the different presets you can scroll through and just adjusted a bit to keep the colours natural.

 

moeven_before moeven_after

2. Norwegian houses on Lofoten islands
The day was really overcast and even though my Fuji is amazing with colours, the atmosphere didn’t quite translate in that picture; it seemed a bit dull. Here, I only made some really small changes, but to me, they had an incredible effect on the atmosphere of the picture. The preset base I used is "AutoTone (Color)" and “Desaturate” and I then adjusted the white clipping and vibrance settings.

haeuser_before haeuser_after

3. Thaw in the park
The bushes and trees in the park outside my apartment were full of tiny, thawing water drops, the ice was melting in the sun and I just had to get out and play around with direct light and reflection. Since I was shooting directly into the midday light, my results were almost without color and warmth, so I decided to regulate this with the brushes “AddGoldenSun,” “BrightShadeLight,” and “High Saturation”, and used the Cinematic preset for this one.

park_before park_after

The only (constructive) criticism I would offer is that it would be good to include the names of the different brushes used in the Lightroom history (just like the preset names are included) - that will make it easier to jump between different versions and looks. In addition, Sleeklens also offers a variety of different gift certificate templates, especially useful for portrait or wedding photographers, that have a nice and classy look. If you know someone who would like some affordable filters that make the most of your pictures, give them a try.

Source: https://sleeklens.com/

Fog is beautiful!

Blue hour is beautiful, and blue hour with fog is even more beautiful. So let me share some pics I just had to take this late afternoon (on my way to the supermarket...).

So what about Greece?

Originally, this series was called Very Late Season. But for me, there is more to it - the emptiness and stillness directly translate the economic crisis in Greece. Islands are especially dependent on tourism - main season is more or less the only time of the year to make money. Needless to say, if main season is slow, the rest of the year will be worse.

Paros, Cyclades, Greece. October 2016.

 

Surviving Norway

I love to go on longer bike treks. There's nothing that compares to that feeling of freedom, knowing you carry everything you need on your bike and are free to go wherever, whenever. Well, almost: When I cycled along the coastline of Lofoten islands last September, I realised quickly that cycling in almost constant rain, wind and an average of 10° C is less fun than one might anticipate (especially if you are not able to cook yourself a warm meal because the rain is sloshing down on your tent). Still: the translucent light, quick weather changes and spectacular scenery make for great photo opportunities at almost every corner. I took along my Fuji XT 10 (which I can absolutely recommend), a zoom lens and my beloved 35 mm f2 along on this one. The variety of mosses and ferns fascinated me especially, here´s a selection of favourites!

I´m starting a blog!

I take pictures every day - and most don't make it to my website, for various reasons. I´m starting this blog to be a kind of visual diary, updated on a more (or less) regular basis.

I spent New Year's at the North Sea with friends, doing absolutely nothing but read, cook, play cards and chase sheep in this very flat part of Germany. The light is amazing..