Landscape photography in spring: Many shades of green

The end of winter and the beginning of spring is always a special time. Nature awakes. It’s a great time for photographers too. After a long time where we see mostly brown and grey in the landscape, there is an explosion of green and yellow. However, you have to act fast to capture the many shades of green.

The beginning of spring is not the same every year. Sometimes it happens earlier but in some years when it’s cold and there is still snow spring comes late. Usually, you see the first plants already in February on the Northern Hemisphere: Snowdrop plants and later on cowslips appear even there is still snow. The Yellow forsythia is a herald of spring. But it’s still a long way. However often in April, everything happens very fast. Meadows become green and yellow again. In some areas, the Meadows turn into an intense yellow when the dandelion is blooming.

The motives are easy to capture. You don’t need expensive gear. However, it is great if you have a camera which shoots in raw mode. There are much more opportunities to play around with the shades of green later in post-production.

The different phases of the spring season

The most interesting part happens when the trees are sprouting. Only for a short time, we see what is called the “fresh green” in nature. It’s the time and weeks after spring awakening. Later in May, we see mostly a darker green in gardens and forests. The foliage doesn’t show so many different shades of green then. Thus, landscape photographers have to be quick and be ready when the right moment comes.

Cowlips are among the plants which appear early in spring.
Fruit tree blossom in April. The most trees are still without leaves.
The nights are still cold. It looks like spring is still far away but within days there will be graduated shades of radiant yeallow and green. Spring awakening is already in full progress.

In the Northern Hemisphere the growing season begins in the South as Italy or Greece and arrives later in Northern countries. Farmers know a lot about the dynamics in nature and there are scientific parameters too. The most important parameter is the grassland temperature sum (GTM). The sum is based on an equation. If the sum is 200 Celsius the farm work begins.

If you want to learn about the beginning of the growing season check with your local weather services website. There is often information about the progress of spring there. If you are used to read weather data there are also specialized weather websites for farmers etc, for example https://www.agweb.com/weather in the US.

Weather, of course, plays a crucial role. You will see fast changes in nature after a period of rain in the spring. These are often the best moments to shoot pictures.

Sunlight is good to capture the many shades of green in Spring. However, a rainy day can be very interesting too since there are a lot of different moods. Morning time and the time before sunset is often the best time for shooting pictures of blooming trees.

The graduated shades of radiant green

Pictures of fresh green mostly don’t need a lot of post-production. However, some filters and development can help to create stronger differences between the shades of green.

End of April: Often the best time to capture the graduated shades of green. Use the luminance panel in photoshop or lightroom to add details to the many shades of green. Be careful with saturation because the colours are already very strong.
Colors of foliage change very quickly in spring. The “fresh green” lasts only for a short ime.

One week later there is a different shade of green
It’t the first days when trees are spouting you see these radiant colors.
Birch trees have very distinct colors.
A rainy day can very interesting for landscape photography
First Week Of May: Colors are darker now. It still looks great but its already a completely different mood.

Where to shoot

It’s good to know where you can find the “many shades of green” in Spring. The best thing is to have a plan where to go long before the season begins. Generally, you might want to look for a forest with a huge variety of trees, a mixed forest. If you don’t have nature reserves or these type of forest around you can do also great pictures in landscape gardens, English-style. Mountain forests with many fir trees can also be interesting but there is, of course, less variety of colours there. Look also for meadows which are very natural and where there is a variety of flowers and plants. The pictures above were taken in Germany, Upper Bavaria between the river Lech and the lake Ammersee.

Peter Engelmann, May 8, 2020

https://stormypictures.de/peter-engelmann/

Magnificient Skies And Brilliant Colors Like Never Before

April 6, 2020

The Corona crisis is an unparalleled situation and there is no bright side to this. It would have been wonderful if we could have made observations about changes in the atmosphere, weather and perhaps climate change under different circumstances. Nevertheless, it appears there is a unique chance for a potentially positive change in the future. For some days we see for the time how a sky would look like with little or no pollution in the air.

When the crisis reached Europe and the rest of the world air traffic declined. In Germany, there was a lockdown after middle of march. There are fewer planes operating. We now see an immediate effect: In Middle Europe, there was a high-pressure weather pattern in March and is still lasting in April. The air became clear and cold with some dust in the morning. However, there was a new quality in the atmosphere.

Over the last years there was a lot of pollution in the atmosphere due to increasing air traffic. The contrails never disappeared. The sky always looked dirty. It looked liked as the atmosphere couldn’t take any more. It was too much pollution. The result was often a strange sky with unusual clouds which presumably inspired the “Chemtrail Conspiracy theory”.

Now we have a chance to see how a sky without pollution and air-plane traffic looks like. It is not only like looking through a window which was cleaned up after a long time. We see different colors. There is some otherworldliness too it. It is like entering a different realm, a world remembered from childhood days for the elder generation.

The absence of pollution and air traffic doesn’t only mean clear skies and great colors. It looks like a healthier world and might have also effects for weather and climate. Hopefully there is a chance for scientists to do research even the circumstances appear difficult.

Air traffic created an artificial cloud layer on many days. Thus, there was less cooling in the night. The pollution added to global warming. We will see how weather patterns develop if there is little or now pollution in the upper atmosphere.

There is another interesting question: We don’t know very much about cloud development and how the increased air traffic has changed the development of clouds as rain clouds. Over the last years climate change led to many droughts. Scientists say this is mostly because of the CO2 emission but perhaps there are other factors. If we see more clouds now like we had a long time ago it could mean that air traffic had a much bigger impact than previously assumed.

Sky In Upper Bavaria before “Shutdown” with residue of airplane exhaust
Sky after lockdown end of March after shower
Sunset April 1, 2020
The next day.
April 5, 2020, Sunday Afternoon

The Magic Pools Of Oberstaufen: Buchenegger Wasserfälle

In the South-West of Bavaria is one of the most spectacular places of the Northern Alps located: The Buchenegger Wasserfälle with two huge turquoise pools of water and a strong waterfall of crystal clear water. It is really an impressing sight and an unforgettable experience.

The Buchenegger Waterfall is a wonderful motive for any photographer. Of course, on weekends during summer there are a lot of people around. This is because it’s not only something to watch but there is a five-meters deep pool where people can swim. Most of them, however, leave quickly since even in July and August the water is pretty cold. Furthermore, there are courageous young people who do a 30metre high jump from above the waterfall. It is a bit like Acapulco.

The Buchenegger Wasserfälle is part of an impressing canyon of the river Weissach. The Weissach river is coming from the Hochgrat-Mountain and cascades between two villages Buchenegg and Steibis. Further down the river reaches Oberstaufen, which is a famous and excellent tourist location. There are many hotels and attractions there. The landscape isn’t usually as dramatic as in other parts of the Bavarian Alps. Therefore the canyon of the Weissach and the Buchenegger Wasserfälle is an extreme contrast adding to an unforgettable experience.

Oberstaufen can be reached by train or by car. The trains commute frequently. Oberstaufen is located in the West of the Allgäu not far from Kempten and the Bodensee. It is also close to the Austrian border.




There are two paths leading to the Buchenegger Wasserfälle. One path begins near the parking-space in Buchenegg (a very narrow mountain road is leading there and it is crowded on some days – thus it is not recommended particularly for drivers who are not experienced to drive in mountain areas. Better use the parking spots in Steibis on the other side). There is another reason for this particularly for people who are not experienced hikers. The path is in very good shape but it is very steep. If you are afraid of heights or don’t feel safe walking in such rocky areas use the path coming from Steibis. This is much shorter and is most of the time an easy walk.

You can also use the bus from Oberstaufen to Steibis. The path begins near the stop “Berggaststätte Hirsch”. Before the path enters the canyon, there are two lovely farmed alps. One of them is the Alm Neugreuth, the other is the Alpe Neugschwend. These are very good places to rest and grab some tasty food before hiking down the canyon.

 


Entering the canyon is deeply impressing from the first moment. It is not only the white waters, the cliffs and the waterfall: There is a primaeval forest growing inside the canyon with a huge variety of trees and plants. This adds to the scenery and offers much more attractive motives.

The best time for catching the fantastic atmosphere is during summer even there are a lot of people around. The morning hours are a convenient time to do pictures because it isn’t so much crowded early in the day.

There are a few things to keep in mind when you want to do pictures of the waterfall and the pool: Your camera will often pointing southwards. Thus, in the middle of the day there is backlighting and strong contrast. Furthermore if you get closer to the waterfall or the wind gets stronger there is a misty spray of the waterfall. It happens easily that there are tiny droplets on the lens. Therefore it is good to always check the camera and clean the lens. Of course be careful because the terrain can be slippery.

June 2019: Dramatic Hailstorm put sailors in danger and a monster Heatwave.

May 2019 was the first month in Middle Europe for a long time which wasn’t too hot. There were some rainy days. It seemed that weather might turn in a more “normal” mode compared to 2018. This was before June. In the larger Munich area people experienced a freak hail storm on Whit Monday. There was also severe weather in other parts of Germany in the first half of June. Later the month, large parts of Europe suffered from one of the most extreme heatwaves ever recorded.

Aftermath of severe Hailstorm in Munich region

Thunderstorms and severe weather didn’t came unexpected on pentecost. Weather models showed a highly likelyhood for thunderstorms in the Alps and the Upper Bavaria region. However the events on June 10 proved again how tricky severe weather developments can be and how difficult it is to set precicely the right weather alert in motion.

Sunday, June 9, was more or less a qiet day. It was getting warmer in Upper Bavaria and other regions. There were already weather warnings issued. On Monday, June 10, the alert system of the huge lake Ammersee south-west of Munich was activated in the morning hours, but then it was quiet for most of the day. A lot of tourists enjoyed the holiday in Germany. People were swimming and sailing. Weather forecasters and and the lifeguard service were still expecting something to happen.




The weather radar showed signals getting stronger in the Allgäu and the Upland before the Alps around Kempten after noon. Here an incredibly strong cell was building up. When I checked the radar a couple of times in the early afternoon however, I couldn’t figure out which path that storm would take. I also didn’t figured out how fast this monsterstorm would move eastwards, so I was also surprised when it suddenly became really dark on this summer afternoon.

It was around 16.23pm when the orange alarm lights at the Bavarian lakes were activated again. There were still a lot of sailors out there. At one lake the lifeguard service warned people who were still swimming in the “Wörthsee” and closed the shore. 50 minutes later all hell brake loose on lake Ammersee. The Starnberger Merkur Newspaper later published a very interesting coverage.

Alex Beck, a sailor, told later the Merkur-reporters that the storm-cell was “racing”. Very soon the lifeguard service had to solve hands full over the next hours.

The same applied to firestarters and police: The thunderstorm left a path of destruction beginning in the Allgäu, hit several communities around the North side of the lake Ammersee region and also hit the west and the north of the Munich area.

Hailstorms in Upper Bavaria are not unusual. There is particularly a history for severe weather in May and around Pentecoste. What’s so unusual was the path, which was hard to predict. Big hail is often more seen in the South-East were there is even a special cloudseeding flyer unit for this problem. I didn’t find any report from a professional weather researcher, but I am sure this was a strong super-cell. Super-cells are more likely to take unusual paths.

The intensity was the other unusual fact. I experienced also strong wind gusts and smaller hail but 10 km to the north it was raining hailstones with the size of tennis balls.

Within minutes roofs very destroyed, nameless cars damaged, a motorway tunnel was set under water, greenhouses were completely destroyed and also a grocery store. It ended up in estimated damage cost of 30 Mio. Euros.

The same time people on the lake Ammersee were struggling for their lives. A couple hung on their capsized sailing boat, others were stranded and another sailor couple were only safed by their “persenning”, a cover, from the hail bombardement. They had reached a buoy but couldn’t leave their ship. Then they had to wait out the storm. At this time they experienced waves like never before according the their account in the “Starnberger Merkur” newspaper.

Another thunderstorm in June

The following weeks people began to recover from the hailstorm, settling insurance matters and repairing windows, cars and houses. There were more thunderstorms but nothing like the cell on June 10. However another extreme weather situation was already throwing a shadow.

Weather models predicted an enormorous heatwave for the second half of June. Weather services were astonished by themselves about the numbers. And the models were mostly right. Germany saw new temperature records but not the 40 degrees Celsius. Nevertheless, there were set many new records. It didn’t took long and the bushfires, which were a problem in May started, again.

France saw the worst with some over 40 degree Celsius records. The authorities had to issue a state of emergency in some areas. Particularly Southern France was affected.

The situation calmed by the end of month. On July 1, 2019, a cold front with thunderstorms reached Southern Germany. There are still wildfires raging. The heatwave is only part of a problem which has the potential to become the real big threat for the near future: In wide parts of Germany there is still a drought. The government published recently a study about the effects of a drought lasting several years.

cold front and thunderstorms July 1, 2019