My Favorite Images Of 2020

2020 has been  some sort of a roller coaster ride to all of us I guess. But despite Covid 19, my life this past year has been dominated by whitnessing and photographing the coolest comet in ages, traveling to France with one of my sons and of course roaming the back yards of my beloved home. Life is good, even with a lot of restrictions. So here are my twelve favorites of 2020. Enjoy and have a good one in 2021!

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Milky Way above Hohe Göll Ridge, Upper Bavaria, Germany…

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Comet Neowise, Stilfser Joch, South Tyrol…

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Setting crescent Moon above hop fields, Lower Bavaria, Germany…

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Crescent Moon and Venus above hop fields, Lower Bavaria, Germany…

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Comet Neowise and noctilucent clouds above my home town, Lower Bavaria, Germany…

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Comet Neowise at Stilfser Joch, South Tyrol…

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Bidding farewell to fading comet Neowise, Lower Bavaria, Germany…

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Setting crescent Moon above a field of round bales of straw, Lower Bavaria, Germany…

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Setting full Moon in the morning, seen from Biarritz, France…

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Twilight at Col d´Osquich, France…

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Mother Mary mosaic at Lourdes, France…

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Star gazing with my son – Saturn and Jupiter above our heads, Cirque de Navacelles, France…

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Along France´s Coastline

Some impressions from France´s coastline from around Calais down to Biarritz while traveling it for three weeks in Aug./Sept. 2020. Enjoy!

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First night at the sea, Cap Gris-Nez…

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First morning at the sea, Cap Gris-Nez…

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Oyster poles, Cap Gris-Nez…

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A windy sunday afternoon at Ambleteuse…

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White cliffs at Le Treport and…

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Mers-les-Bains…

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A couple enjoying the show at Le Treport…

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White cliffs at Etretat…

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Overlooking Etretat…

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Storm is coming in at Etretat…

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View from Longues-sur-Mer towards Arramanches-les-Bains and the remains of the Mulberry B complex…

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Les Braves monument at Omaha Beach…

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…the reason I initiated the Tour de France…

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Mont-Saint-Michel out in the mud flats…

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La Tombelaine at sunset…

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View from the dunes of Pilat towards the Atlantic Ocean…

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Les Cavaliers beach, north of Biarritz…

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Setting full Moon in the morning, seen from Biarritz, facing Spain´s coastline (to the right)…

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Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France, Sept. 2020

The reason we did a detour to this small town at the foothills of the French Pyrenees? My uncle Xaver has been stationed here for a couple of weeks as part of the German occupying forces during WW 2 in April/May 1941 (he has been killed in the war around Wolchow/Russia, Sept. 1942). Since I still have a postcard and two photographs from that time, I´ve been very eager to come to this place and to see for myself – 79 years later. To be honest, this has been the most emotional experience during the whole three weeks of traveling. As always, this story is told by the photos I took…Enjoy!

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The original postcard from 1941…notice the bridge and the road leading towards St.-Jean-Pied-de-Port, the main road at that time, the railway tracks to the left, crossing the road at the small building off-center right. We have been on the search for this location where the photo has been probably taken for a couple of hours…the tick in the image probably marks the place of his guest family he lived with…

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Backside of the postcard, which I unfortunately can´t decipher…

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My uncle Xaver (right) with his guest family…

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I´m not sure where this young lady fits in, maybe a romance…

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Like all places of the Basque Provinces, St.-Jean-Pied-de-Port also got two names – a French one and a Basque one. Most of the French names of the places along our tour have been made unreadable, not wanting to be recognized as French…

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We went uphill to the vineyards around St.-Jean, searching for the location where the postcard might have been taken and ended up at a very steep gravel road, overlooking the whole area…

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Pano of 23 images, overlooking the vineyards and St.-Jean-Pied-de-Port…

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While heading down to town, I noticed a wine grower in one of the fields. I stopped, turned back, grabbed the postcard and photos and went towards him. He has been pretty stunned to see a German tourist with his Sprinter traversing the vineyards I reckon. I greeted him politely in french and showed him the postcard, not speaking any French at all, in hope he could point me towards the right location the postcard might have been taken. With hands and feet I tried to explain him the meaning of this all, I even wrote 1941 into the soil with a stick and showed him the other photographs. As I mentioned the word “Onkel” (German), and since the translation and prononciation for it in French is almost the same – oncle – he suddenly realized I was on the search for my uncles past. The moment he realized it, his eyes got wide open and he smiled at me, something like: good on you. At that very moment, my eyes got wet and I almost started crying. He gave me directions where to look for and wished me a good day. All that happened in an blink of an eye and unfortunately I got no image of the farmer, but this moment will be with me forever.

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The brigde from the postcard is still there…

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The old main road with the bridge leading to St.-Jean…

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We finally found the site where the postcard have been taken, but overgrown with trees and buildings – who wonders after almost 80 years…mission completed…

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Apocalypse de St-Emilion, St-Emilion, France, Sept. 2020

While being on the way from Carnac to Biarritz, we stopped by at a town called Saint Emilion, some 50 km east of Bordeaux. Never heard of it before, the travel guide acknowledged it as a spot for its world famous wines and its medieval architecture. We haven´t been prepared for what to come – to say the least. The church has been tremendous, with its old paintings and frescoes, but walking through the side door into the cloister, we starred at a wall full of paintings of the Apocalypse of the New Testament. We were blown away by the beauty of the paintings, a modern interpretation of the Apocalypse of John – we had no clue at all what would await us around these holy walls. I´m not very much into surprises, but this one made my day. More info about this exhibition can be found here (in french): http://apocalypse-saint-emilion.com . Enjoy!

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Tour de France, Nightscapes, Aug./Sept. 2020

Back from a three-weeks tour around France in Aug./Sept. 2020, traveling some 5700 km with my son and my trusted Sprinter van. Not to many nighttime shooting possibilities this time, but we got away with some cool locations. As always, nightscapes first. Enjoy!

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Setting crescent Moon above the Channel…

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Setting crescent Moon @ Cap Gries-Nez, with the lights of the south coast of England to the right…

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Constellation of Cassiopeia @ Longues-sur-Mer…

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Reflections @ Longues-sur-Mer…

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Big Dipper and Arcturus @ Longues-sur-Mer…

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Camper van parade @ Longues-sur-Mer…

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Crepuscular rays after sunset @ Biarritz…

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Full Moon setting in the morning, with Belt of Venus and Earth Shadow, looking towards Spain…

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Nautical twilight @ Col d´Osquich…

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Enjoying the show @ Col d´Osquich…

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Saturn, Jupiter, Milkyway @ Lac des Gaves…

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Saturn and Jupiter @ Chateau de Queribus…

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Saturn, Jupiter, Milkyway @ Cirque de Navacelles…

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Milkyway above the light polluted Cirque de Navacelles…

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The beauty of the night sky – what better than that @ Cirque de Navacelles…

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Round Bales Of Straw At Night

Just got back tonight with some impressions from a field with round bales of straw, just a stones throw away from where I live. From tomorrow on, I´ll be heading on a “Tour de France”, joined by one of my sons – three weeks of traveling, camping and goofying around. Enjoy!

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The first crescent Moon after New Moon setting above a field of round bales of straw…

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At the end of nautical twilight, the first stars become visible…

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Simplicity…

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More and more stars becoming visible…

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An oncoming farmer with his machinery providing some artificial light…

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The beauty of the night sky, big dipper in the center…

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Saturn and Jupiter and some satellite flare…

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Stilfser Joch, Umbrail Pass and Gavia Pass – Daytime Impressions

Being back home from a tour, I´m mostly searching through the nighttime images I took back then and process them. Which doesn´t mean I leave out the daytime images – they just come later. Over the time I have learned to take the advantage of a shot when it arises, no matter what, even I don´t arrive at my designated destination in time. So here are some daytime impressions from my recent trip to South Tyrol, Switzerland and Italy! Enjoy!

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Watering of the fertile grounds of Vinschgau valley, South Tyrol…

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Vinschgau valley, South Tyrol…

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Road to Stilfser Joch, South Tyrol…

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Going downhill, Stilfser Joch, South Tyrol…

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Lago Scale, Italy…

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Passo Tonale, Italy…

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Umbrail Pass, Switzerland…

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Road sign, Italian style, Stilfser Joch, Italy…

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Torri di Fraele, Italy…

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Gavia Pass, Italy…

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Lago di Cancano, Italy…

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Comet Neowise: Stacked Image

Stacking a set of comet frames can become a real pain, since the outer solar visitor travels much faster than the stars (not exactly right, because the stars don`t move, but it looks like that because of the rotation of the Earth). So if you stack a set of frames, you either limit your set to a maximum of about 10 min. of total exposure time (before the comet starts blurring), or you use all of your frames and stack one for the stars and one for the comet, and combine them. This option didn`t work out for me this time, so I stacked 10 frames (out of 35), 60 sec. each. One can`t believe, how much more information a stacked image got. I`m using Pixinsight, a processing platform specialized in astrophotography. It got a steep learning curve, to say the least; because of that, I`m more than happy with the outcome. Enjoy!

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Single shot from that set, 60 sec., 200mm/2.8, full frame, Polarie, LR only…

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Stacked image, 10 x 60 sec., 200mm/2.8, Polarie, PixInsight, Viveza, LR, Stilfser Joch, South Tyrol, 07/19/2020…

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Chasing Comet Neowise, July 18th-21st

I got two days off from work so I packed my stuff and went to South Tyrol, Switzerland and Italy on Saturday, to travel to some high alpine passes I always wanted to see but haven´t been able to in the past. Stilfser Joch, Umbrail Pass and Gavia Pass were the chosen ones, all of them ranking between 2500 – 2800 m. The first night was a blast; the sky cleared up and comet Neowise was easily visible to the northwest, while the Milkyway was towering in the south. Around 4:00 am, the last crescent Moon before New Moon rose to the east, with Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter wandering along the ecliptic. The impressions of those nights are almost not bearable, and since I´m traveling on my own, there is no one to talk to about feelings and emotions. Very intense nights. From crystal clear skies to sheet lightning, I got it all, not to forget the stunning scenery during day time. So here are just my favorite comet images from those three nights and hopefully I will be able to process/stack a set of single frames of Neowise from the first night. Enjoy!

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The sky cleared up on the first night, Stilfser Joch, 2757m, South Tyrol…

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Comet gazing…

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Colorful comet Neowise…

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What a beauty, 81 sec., 200 mm, Polarie…

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Neowise to the left, Venus, Hyades and Pleiades to the right…

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Fading away during nautical twilight…

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Lots of airglow around on the second night, Umbrail Pass, 2501 m, Switzerland…

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Neowise hiding behing 3000 m mountains, just showing its tail, surrounded by airglow, Gavia Pass, 2621 m, Italy…

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but finally showed up during nautical twilight, making one last impression…

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More Of Comet Neowise, July 13th/14th 2020

Some more impressions of comet Neowise from July 13th and 14th. Lots of clouds around and short nights, but the view is astonishing, to say the least, and it won´t be back for the next 6.800 years. Enjoy!

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Nautical twilight at a wheat field, where minutes prior a badger crossed my path…

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what better?

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Around the hop fields

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July 14th…

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Clouds  coming in…

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Between the clouds…

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End of nautical twilight, colors are fading…

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Single shot: 60 sec. @ 200 mm and Polarie…

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