Beautiful, Interesting and Ooo Shiny! Images From Various Places

Austria

Giant Games & Weird Art


Location: Austria
Camera Info: Fuji Finepix A303 • Automatic Point & Shoot
ISO 100 • f 7 • 1/210 sec

Are you up for a game of chess? What about if the pieces are as big as you? I was intrigued by this giant chessboard during a walking tour of Salzburg. There was already a game in progress, but how fun would it have been to join in!

Salzburg’s giant chess board is in the heart of the Kapitelplatz, near the Dom Cathedral. The Kapitelplatz is the part of Salzburg’s Old Town, and is a square featuring art displays, music and cultural activities. While giant chess boards are not unique (there is even a site pinpointing them all around the world), the other two main attractions in the site are creative.

One is a fountain/pond with a statue of Neptune on it. Back in the 1700’s, it used to be the Kapitelschwemme, or horse bath. On the other side, right next to the chessboard, is a 30-foot statue of a man on top of a golden orb. This piece of art, known as Sphaera, was made by artist Stephan Balkenhol in 2007. Since the artist’s other works around Europe feature the same man on top of various objects, the locals nicknamed this statue “Mann auf Mozartkugel” (Man on Mozartkugel). Mozartkugeln are the best chocolate candy balls in the city, just as an FYI. 😉

You can find all sorts of fun things in town squares!

Have you ever seen (or played) a giant board game of any kind?


A Shot in the Dark: Night Photography

Location: Austria
Camera info: Fuji Finepix A303 • Automatic Point & Shoot
ISO 100 • f 2.8 • 1/60 sec

Night photography is one of the more difficult techniques to learn. This picture of Vienna’s town hall (the Rathaus) came after several blurry or underexposed attempts I threw out. Mostly that is because you need light to take photographs, and at night, it can be hard to come by! Here are some simple tricks to help get you started, so you don’t have to be afraid of the dark.

  • Know the weather forecast, sun and moon rise & set times, and any other factors (such as light pollution from cities) that can affect your photos and plan accordingly.
  • Know this: flash is evil and it won’t help you in this setting. Turn it off.
  • The key to night photos is long exposures, so learn how to adjust your shutter speed down or use a bulb (some pictures take 1/2 sec up to an hour or two). You will also need a higher aperture (11+) to keep your depth of field sharp as well as a higher ISO setting to let more light in (here’s an explanation of some of these settings). When in doubt, bracket your photos (most DSLRs will take 3 photos with different exposures in a range, so you can pick your favorite or combine them later). And yes, I know I broke these rules in this week’s photo. But hey, sometimes you just get lucky!
  • Next, DON’T MOVE! Or at least, don’t allow your camera to move. Use a tripod, and don’t press the shutter button to take pictures. Instead, use the camera’s self-timer, a remote control, or a cable release. Also, if using a DSLR camera, set the mirror lock-up function to further prevent internal camera shake.
  • Don’t forget battery backup, warm clothes, and a flashlight! It will make your life a lot easier.
  • Manual focus is helpful here, since autofocus typically won’t work at night. Set it to infinity for buildings and landscapes. The same goes for your automatic white balance settings. Manually set it to “Daylight” to get the correct colors.
  • There is a lot of discussion on timing. Some photographers advocate shooting right after sunset to maintain colors and avoid streetlights, while others prefer the night sky around 2 am. Figure out what works best for you and try it!
  • Finally, if you want to get REALLY technical, try light painting.

What, besides fireworks, looks so cool at night that you really would like a picture of it?


More Than Salt in Salzburg

Location: Austria
Camera info: Fuji Finepix A303 / Automatic Point & Shoot
ISO 100 • f 2.8 • 1/550 sec

Time for some more tourist tips! The city of Salzburg (lit. “Salt City”) was one of my favorite visits, because there was just so much to do! I posted earlier about The Sound of Music tours, but the city sports many other things to do. Some people come to hear all about the birthplace of Mozart, and another travel reviewer described the Salzburg as “a Disneyfied city with scrumptious cakes, sugar-coated mountains and one helluva fortress.”

I took this photo from the top of Festung Hohensalzburg, which roughly translates to “Fortress High (Above) Salzburg.” Appropriate, I guess. It was a good view of the city, and they had a great classical music concert. That was after a day of exploring the salt mines on the Austria/Germany border. If you’ve never ridden a speed slide into a cave, you have to try it! For those on a budget, even walking around the old town to see the baroque architecture and trying out the variety of food is a good way to spend the day. Salzburg was nominated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. A quick search online will reveal a long list of things to do, or not do, when visiting Salzburg. No matter what type of activities interest you, I would definitely recommend taking a trip here next time you’re in Europe!

Sound off if you’ve ever visited this city! What was your favorite thing to do or see?


The Hills Are Alive… With Starstruck Tourists!

Location: Austria
Camera info: Fuji Finepix A303 / Automatic Point & Shoot
ISO 100 • f 2.8 • 1/100 sec

Most of you probably recognized this one already. If not, just sing with me.
Do, a deer, a female deer
Re, a drop of golden sun…

Now before you shoot me for getting that song stuck in your head, won’t you admit you’re just a little bit curious about why I brought it up? This week’s picture is from Mirabell Gardens in Salzburg. This was the backdrop used during filming of certain scenes in The Sound of Music. In fact, while I was in Austria, I got to see several places that were used in the movie. Some tourist companies even offer tours*, though I just explored on my own (knowing German was a plus!).

Along with the gardens, I also visited the Residenzplatz, shown in the beginning of the movie as Maria was leaving her abbey. Next was Hellbrunn Castle, which is where the gazebo is located (used in several scenes). However, I didn’t realize that at the time, and missed it while walking around the castle grounds! 😦 Oops! I didn’t have time to visit all of the sites, but it was fun to walk up to something I recognized instantly from a movie.

Have you ever been on a movie set or seen something that came from one? What was your experience like?

*Here are a few: Tour 1 Tour 2 Tour 3 Tour 4