Android remote controls for Nikon

To all the Nikon users who until now felt a little aggrieved by the absence of a decent Android remote control app for your dSLR cameras…rejoyce.

In recent months two apps have become available through the ‚Google Play‘ market that allow cabled control of most camera settings.

The apps even offer live view.

Both apps rely on the tethering of a mobile phone, or tablet, to your camera via a USB-on-the-go-cable. That is basically a small adapter cable that connects your mobile phone with the USB cable of your camera.

‚dSLR Dashboard v0.26.5 beta‘ is a free app that seems well supported by the developer and is actively progressed towards a full release.

Currently not all advanced functions work and the interface is a bit clumsy.

‚RYC USB Pro‘ is also a beta release and costs less than a cheap bottle of wine.

Not all advanced functions work but the interface is currently a lot more attractive than that of ‚dSLR Dashboard‘.

Both apps seem well liked by the Android user community.

I have used both during recent excursions and have managed to maximise image sharpness by not touching my camera before exposures.

With my longer lens it makes a significant difference.

I use it for landscape photography in conjunction with delayed exposures.

This flicks the mirror out of the way and any vibrations dissipate before exposure.

Check it out. A cheap alternative to the very pricey Nikon remote options.

Sweating the small stuff

I’m guilty at times of not following the above headline.

As photographers the images we create are often informed by photographic history.

We don’t work in isolation and, being passionate about what we do, we make ourselves aware of what others have done before us.

In landscape photography the name that often pops up, a man who is still one of the most recognisable identities in the tradition of western photography, is Ansel Adams.

Ansel, in general, sweated the big stuff.

He is very famous for his studied black & white landscape images of the american west.

The images and grandeur of Yosemite National Park in California, as captured by Adams, have become iconic and still inspire many photography students and accomplished photographers today.

In my own landscape work I don’t work in large format and I rarely work in black & white.

I’m influenced by Adams in that I tend to seek the bigger views. The open skies and magnificent vistas that New Zealand has to offer.

Now I am in northern Germany and the topographical layout of the land is very different to New Zealand.

Gentle rolling hills or flat lands are all around me. What views exist are mostly restricted by fields of sweet corn which are approaching two meters in height.

To find grand vistas requires that one grows into a giant, or carries a tall ladder, or fix a platform on the roof of a car (Adams again).

I’m neither a giant, don’t like to carry ladders through the landscape and also don’t own a car.

Hence I need to change what I see and again learn to notice the small things under my nose.

It’s all possible of course, and even though uncomfortable to start with a new challenge brings opportunities and it is fun.

Below are images of the small stuff.

A grass that grows in the Harz mountains of Germany.

The region is famous for its hardy stock.

The people are quiet and a grunt can mean many things depending on the pitch and context.

It’s the only region in Germany where no one mows their lawns, not even the local authorities. They apparently never have and according to local knowledge can’t understand why anyone would anyway. Why bother when the grass just grows straight back again.

Ok, I get this!!! But it’s a kind of logic that seems anathema to German thinking and somewhat skews my stereotypes.

So I have fallen in love with this region.

The plants in the Harz are also hardy. To survive in the cold and windy environment takes effort.

Accordingly many plants grow smaller than in other parts of Germany. Others cling to the ground and don’t much like to put their heads up.

But then there is always a surprise.

Grass grows amongst the pine tree forests that have established themselves in this environment.

It is very soft and delicate, and spreads in carpets anchored on moss.

Listening to the locals there is nothing better than to spend the afternoon in the occasional sunshine, frolicking with your loved one on one of the grass carpets and to………ok……..we have to stop here, this is a ‚G‘ rated show.

To finish…sometimes to sweat the small stuff is really worth the effort.

The locals agree.

Carpets of grass cover the forest floor in the Harz mountains of Germany

Carpets of grass cover the forest floor in the Harz mountains of Germany
Carpets of grass cover the forest floor in the Harz mountains of Germany.



The Magical Forest

Some forests are different.

To step into them is to be suspended in time.

These are the magical forests.

They breath, they watch, they collect stories and somehow store history which they share with who is willing to listen and watch.

They aren’t without time, but the one used is more organic than human time.

Here the mechanical movement of hands on the clock face is irrelevant.

The scale by which time is measured is the progression of light.

No hour is quite like the one before or the one following.

Time here is physical, a flowing around and teasing of the senses.

No tangible ticking or linear path.

There is purity in these forests that does not exist elsewhere.

In centuries of existence the changes are constant.

They are determined by the light.

An ancient forest in Billerbeck as seen during the evening light in the Muensterland, Germany
An ancient forest in Billerbeck as seen during the evening light in the Muensterland, Germany.



I worried about the light – I needn’t have

Before arriving in Germany I had some anxious moments worrying about the quality of light I would find in Germany.

Some popular opinion amongst friends said that there would be no blue skies, the light would be lacking contrast and that the weather would be decidedly average.

I needn’t have worried.

The light where I’ve been so far has been just as varied and amazing as the light found in New Zealand. Different for sure, but just as interesting.

The images below were taken in Fuerstenberg, which is in the Weserbergland region of the state of Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony).

Stunning scenery, a question of being in the right place at the right time.

Late evening brings golden rays of light to Fuerstenberg, Weserbergland, Germany

Late evening brings golden rays of light to Fuerstenberg, Weserbergland, Germany
Late evening brings golden rays of light to Fuerstenberg, Weserbergland, Germany.

Wind turbines – mechanical giants that overshadow the German countryside

It is easy to walk around the German countryside and imagine oneself back a century or two.

While one can expect change in a country over a quarter of a century, some of what has happened is at odds with itself.

In many parts of the country nothing appears to have changed. The same country lanes, forests, fields and age old buildings that have stood for centuries.

Yet in my travels across varying regions of Germany one recent addition stands out like the proverbial sore thumb.

The wind turbine.

It seems that everywhere there is a small rise in the land – a hill, ridge, mountain side – there is a wind turbine.

In some areas there are so many it is difficult to count them.

At first I wasn’t sure what to think.

The turbines are oddly sculptural and there is a certain aesthetic to them when viewed in the right light. The gentle and concerted movement of the many blades first struck me as meditative and somewhat mesmerising.

But they are completely out of context with their surroundings, and they make a decent racket when cutting through the wind.

Having lived with these constructions for a month I’m convinced they’re ugly and a blight on the landscape.

I’d be surprised if the (generally) environmentally aware Germans would have easily allowed the infestation of these things without some significant protest.

The turbines must  have crept up in a slow but steady manner to catch the population off guard. Or there must have been some very good arguments by the government to convince people to let the landscape be changed in this way.

I guess with many Germans being anti-nuclear it is  easy to see the government being able to present wind energy in a positive and less threatening light.

But if this is supposed to be environmentally friendly and green technology then I’m personally wondering if the material for construction, industrial energy and manpower needed to make and install these things has been calculated into the carbon/energy foot print.

What about the visual pollution? I assume it doesn’t count if it can’t be measured?

I’m truly glad that New Zealand has an anti-nuclear policy, but I hope that the government will have a close look at the German countryside before adopting a widespread distribution of these ugly machines. Perhaps there are better alternatives.

Otherwise New Zealand’s search for renewable energy might lead to a wholesale destruction of significant parts of the New Zealand environment.



Personal project 3 – Germany

Those who have visited my blog in the past will be aware that I have two New Zealand based personal projects to which I add images whenever I can.

The below image is the first from a new project to which I plan to add over the next 6 months.

The project won’t be broken into specific categories at this stage but will include all kinds of images from my current stay in Germany.

In the past I have concentrated mainly on black & white people photography when spending time in Germany. This time I will begin with colour landscapes.

I have a fondness for trees.

Therefore my first post from this new series will be of trees in an ancient German forest that carries the aura of having been there a very long time.

This particular forest invites one in to spend time, but it never feels like a ‚right‘ to be there.

Our presence seems at the discretion of the trees, and I can imaging the ambience within the forest quickly changing if our presence weren’t approved off.

A mixed ancient forest near the renaissance town of Bad Karlshafen, Weserbergland, Germany
A mixed ancient forest near the renaissance town of Bad Karlshafen, Weserbergland, Germany.