Experience Germany Like a Local

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Travel Photography: Curating the Content in Your Images, Including the Tourists!

What I'm Learning Now via CreativeLive: Travel Photography the Complete Guide with Ben Willmore

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This post is the third in a series of four. If you missed the first one, double-back here to get caught up. It's explains why I’m passionate about CreativeLive, and why I’m currently taking Ben Willmore’s Travel Photography: The Complete Guide class. The second in the series discusses Ben Willmore's sorting and processing style that will make going through your vacation photos a breeze. If you need to catch up on processing large amounts of photos, click to the second part here. I’m going to pick-up where I left off...

Dealing With Tourists
This subject grabbed my attention right away, and admittedly it was one of the first sessions I watched. Willmore presents some really great tips, all illustrated with examples from his own work. But, it gets even better, because included with the class purchase is a mobile-optimized, 35-page PDF guide, in a ‘done for you’ note-taking style with the photographic examples. It didn't take up that much space on my phone, and I've flipped through the pages like flash cards several times to refresh my memory. Old habits die hard!

Here are my four favorite tips that Willmore suggested for dealing with tourists:
1. Use the tourist to your advantage through their presence physically adding color or their placement in the composition.
2. Crouch down or move, solve your tourist-problem by getting physically flexible.
3. Compositing in Photoshop might be simpler for very popular spots, just keep your camera still and concentrate on where people move in order to be sure you have the entire scene necessary to successfully composite.
4. Patience. It’s hard when there are endless photo opportunities all around you, or if you have family members bored out their mind waiting for you to finish up. Sometimes, its worth it to be patient and wait out the crowd. If you do NOT have the time, see 1-3, knowing well that with #3, compositing in Photoshop, you’re going to be spending extra time editing. Is outlasting a crowd for five-ten minutes worth the time it would take to create the composite in Photoshop? You have to pick your battles.

Challenges in Shooting Architecture
One tricky topic Willmore brings up that I never noticed before, and now I can’t stop seeing, is distorted, small buildings. The fact that buildings are skewed/distorted with perspective I always assumed was out of my control. Not so! Apparently, its more the fact that personally as a short person I’ve been more likely to hold my camera at an angle to the straight angles of the buildings, where the distortion comes in. If I held the camera perpendicular to the buildings, the building lines would also be straight. This definitely poses a challenge for me as most of the buildings I enjoy shooting are much taller than I am, and the alleyways in Germany are so narrow its hard to back up far enough to keep the camera and the building perpendicular. Willmore offers a few solutions, one of which I’ve been working on implementing is trying to incorporate more than 1 side of the building. That way it doesn’t appear as though all of my buildings are falling backwards.

Willmore also explained the concept of ‘Visual Merging’, which is where objects in the foreground visually combines in your composition with your background. For me, this is another example of being mindful of the negative space objects create, but I hadn’t considered it in relation to travel photography. This trip, I’ve been consciously looking to see if foreground statues are separating enough from their backgrounds, and if they’re merging together I’ve tried Willmore’s suggestion of either shifting my position or switching my depth of field in order to solve the issue.

Local Subjects
My eyes sort of glazed over when Willmore discussed working with local subjects. For where I travel, predominantly Germany, local subjects are hard to come by, and even harder to become visually interesting as subject matter. Germans look and dress the same way, for the most part, as I do, and as I see in Florida every day. Even if you do see someone in traditional Bavarian clothing, chances are they’re not from Germany, but a visitor like myself. To be honest, I have a hard enough time getting my own family members to behave in front of the camera, going to a stranger to create a portrait isn’t in my realm of interest. It was interesting to hear how he (Ben Willmore) has an ongoing series with his wife doing yoga poses in various countries. Having a go-to concept for an ongoing series could be a solution for camera-shy family members. While his tips were helpful, for me they weren't as easily applicable.

Coming Up Next
Part 4 will explore whether or not this class improved my travel photography and come out after my return from Germany in October! As I embark on this mini-series, please feel comfortable in providing feedback through the comments section below, or through email. I’d love to hear from you. Definitely let me know if you’re interested in this type of content.

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Free Photography Classes


Burg Eltz: Where Medieval Castle Fantasies are Fulfilled

Going to Trier, Germany? Here's your dessert: Burg Eltz!

It was crisp, chilly fall day. Instead of rain, a misty cold spritz was falling from the sky, making the cobbled ramp down to the castle an adventure. I had a tight grip on Sebastian’s arm, and right as I felt my foot miss its next mark, he caught my arm up, nearly lost his balance himself, I caught him, and we proceeded to do our ‘stingray shuffle’, barely lifting our feet up at all, as we continued down the remaining part of the drive.

Nestled in a beautiful wooded valley, Burg Eltz in Germany.

From the time we were at the top of the ramp and took our first photos of the castle nestled within its leafy valley, until we arrived at its entrance, the exterior stones of the castle had shifted its color, darker and warmer with the moisture.

Front entrance of Burg Eltz, medieval castle near Trier, Germany.

Built onto a rock, German medieval castle Burg Eltz has been inhabited for over 800 years.

Medieval German Castle Burg Eltz is a blend of Romanesque to Baroque architectural styles.

The only way to get inside the castle if you’re not family is through a guided tour. We waited in the castle’s courtyard and tried to stay dry. It was only about a fifteen minute wait.

Burg Eltz inner courtyard geraniums with dew

Although I’m not a fan of tour groups, if there’s no other way of getting in, by all means I’m going. I was agog at all the elaborate floor and ceiling murals, and to see the oldest surviving painted Renaissance bed from 1520. Photography of any kind is not allowed on the castle tour, however they have a wonderful website in English with beautiful photos that will more than inspire you to visit. The tour is interesting and weaves in personal histories which helps to hold my squirrel-like attention span within a group setting. You might want to familiarize yourself with the history on the castle’s website beforehand. It never hurts!

Where Neuschwanstein, the most famous of Germany’s castle, feels uninviting and sterile at times, Burg Eltz is authentic, warm, lived in and loved on. Of course it should, since it has been lived in throughout its 800-year-long history by the same family and entourage of servants. Burg Eltz has an appealing hodgepodge look resulting from its 500-years of construction showcasing every architecture style from Romanesque to Baroque swirled together.

Inner Courtyard of Burg Eltz and Treasures | "The Goddess of Hunting" by Joachim Friess, around 1600, is the highlight of the Treasury

On your way out, do not miss the jewels and treasure collection! You’ll be amazed at the skill that must have gone into making the pieces on display. My favorite was a sweet duck that the artist cleverly incorporated a shell in its design.

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The Colorful Main Market Square in Trier

Trier Hauptmarkt (Main Market Square)
The center of Trier is dominated by a large and fascinating market square called Hauptmarkt, meaning Main Market Square. The very first market square of Trier was at the river, but in the 10th century Archbishop Heinrich I moved the main market square to its current location. In the middle ages, the market was used for trade of goods and to this day you will see many vendor booths selling fresh produce, souvenirs and flowers. The right to hold markets was also granted in the 10th century, which means the vendors at the market had to pay a fee or tax to the city in order to do business there.

Photo by @Feanor0 via Flickr | Petrusbrunnen | Fountain of St. Peter
The market centers around the much decorated Petrusbrunnen (Fountain of St. Peter), which was built in 1595. It shows St. Peter, the patron saint of Trier, surrounded by the four virtues Fortitude, Justice, Prudence, and Temperance, all as female figures. In contrast, you will see monkeys and monsters portraying the vices. In between the female figures are animals such as dolphins, eagles, geese, and lions together with a coat of arms. Take your time to circle the fountain to find even more interesting elements.

Photo by @Feanor0 via Flickr | https://flic.kr/p/6s9nrM
From the fountain we also spotted the Löwenapotheke (Lion’s Pharmacy), which is the oldest pharmacy in Germany - first mentioned in 1241. Across from the pharmacy is the tallest building of the market square, which is called Steipe, which means “to lean on” in the Trier dialect. The white, castellated building got its name from its short pillars on top and was originally built in 1430 (see the first picture). During WWII the Steipe was completely destroyed, but reconstructed in 1968, after a lengthy discussion of the citizens, who were trying to decide between a modern building and the reconstruction of the original Steipe building. I am glad the citizens of Trier voted for the reconstruction of the original building, it looks authentic and fits perfectly into the market picture.

On the ground level of houses on the square are restaurants, cafes and shops. It sure takes a while to get a feel for the space and to take it all in. Why not sit in one of the cafes and enjoy some German cake and coffee? This should give you some extra energy to explore the other sights of Trier.

An interesting fact about the main market square: All roads in Trier lead to the Hauptmarkt, which makes it a great place to navigate from. When you stand at the Petrusbrunnen fountain in the center, you will have the Porta Nigra to the north, the Cathedral to the east, the Kaiserthermen to the south, and the Mosel river to the west.

This was actually the first market square I have ever taken Denise to, and it is by far one of the prettiest in Germany with its colorful restored facades and old town feel. Have you been there? What was your most favorite memory of the Trier Hauptmarkt?

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Roman Treasures and Excavations at the Rhineland Museum

Roman Treasures and Excavations at the Rhineland Museum, Trier
If you really want to dive back into an era where Roman emperors governed Trier, you should not miss the Rheinisches Landesmuseum, Rhineland Museum, in Trier. It is spiked full of history with more than 4,000 artifacts, with the most valuable of them behind separate glass enclosures. The glass enclosures let you not only see each and every detail up close, but also give you a 360 degree view of many of them without jeopardizing the art treasures.

Glass Painting From the Trier Cathedral, around 1530 • Landesmuseum Trier © GDKE - Rheinisches Landesmuseum Trier, Th. Zühmer
The museum is not only limited to the Roman Era of Trier, although it is the biggest draw for this museum. It starts with excavated weapons and other finds from the stone age, continues through Roman and Frank times and ends with the last elector of Trier. Particularly interesting were the many busts and building elements from Roman times including a large replica of the city of Trier, created on the basis of many excavations. There are also many large and impressive building columns that were recovered and restored back to their original beauty.

Mosaic Display of a Charioteer, around 250 A.D., • Landesmuseum Trier © GDKE - Rheinisches Landesmuseum Trier, Th. Zühmer
The Rhineland museum features the oldest archaeological collection in all of Germany, including the largest coin treasure ever found in Germany (2,500+ coins in 1993) and many original pottery items, so make sure you plan several hours for a visit.

Scene of hairdressing of a roman tomb, before 220 A.D., • Landesmuseum Trier © GDKE - Rheinisches Landesmuseum Trier, Th. Zühmer
Make sure you do not miss the multimedia presentation “Im Reich der Schatten,” In the Kingdom of Shadows, which is shown twice daily. You will be in a room filled with Roman gravestones with floor to ceiling panoramic projections for 45 minutes. It tells the story of Gaius Albinius Asper, who mourns his dead wife Secundia. The fictitious plot shows his search in the world of the dead to find Secundia, his late wife. Whether Secundia really died before Albinius or not, we can only guess today. For 45 minutes we plunged into another world where we saw how stone-carved figures and characters came to life.

Corpus of finds dated back to the Bronze Age, around 1600 B.C.,• Landesmuseum Trier © GDKE - Rheinisches Landesmuseum Trier, Th. Zühmer

Included in the entrance fee is a great audio guide, that also has an English language option and will give you a much better understanding of the stories that go along with the artifacts.

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Podcast Episodes That Will Free You From Tourist-Filled Tour Groups Vol. 2

Podcast Episodes That Will Free You From Tourist-Filled Tour Groups Vol. 2

Stuff You Missed in History Class Podcast
This podcast was actually my gate-way drug into the world of podcasts. At first I was overwhelmed with the vast library of episodes they've created since 2008, but the more I listened, the more I was just relieved I wouldn't run out any time soon.

Through many of these episodes, you'll be asking yourself, why DIDN'T they teach this in history class? People would have paid attention!

Personally, and I've mentioned it before, it was always a running-gag ever year that, "Bet you we won't get past World War II in History Class." No one would take that bet. We'd never, ever, get past World War II! There was never enough time in the school year. Come summer-time, I'd be disappointed again, and peruse the untouched chapters in the back of the history textbook. This podcast was all of my dreams come true, and more. Not only does it go past World War II, but it goes all over the world. Histories I didn't know, that I didn't know.

What amazing podcast hosts! I'm not ashamed to admit that I really wish Holly Frey and Tracy V. Wilson were my best friends in real life. They're REAL, and personable, and I find when they laugh in an episode, I'm already laughing too. Thank you Holly and Tracey, and thank you Stuff You Missed in History Class past hosts!

Here's an iTunes banner to help you find it quickly:

Stuff You Missed in History Class Podcast: German History Episodes
This is a podcast series that is still producing content, and on a bi-weekly schedule. There are hundreds of episodes from years of content creation, and I made a valiant effort to grab every one that covered Germany. That being said, I'll add more to this list as I find them, or as they're created. New episodes are around 30-40 minutes, while some of the earliest episodes run around 5 minutes.

Each episode title is a link that will take you to that episode's page on the Stuff You Missed in History Class website. There, you can choose to either download the episode or follow links to Google Play or iTunes to download the episode.

**Content Housekeeping**
All of the amazing and witty episode synopses you'll read below are written by the Stuff You Missed in History Class team and Copyright © 2016 HowStuffWorks, a division of InfoSpace Holdings LLC. The original source can be found by clicking the respective episode title link.

German Fairy Tales
A Grim Tale: The Brothers Grimm "Fairy tales weren't always safe fodder for the latest Disney film. In fact, some were downright macabre. Learn more about the original versions of fairy tales -- and the eccentric brothers responsible for popularizing them -- in this podcast."
Was There Really a Pied Piper of Hamelin? "Everyone knows the story of the Pied Piper -- but how much of this legend is factual? Learn more about the fact and fiction behind the story of the Pied Piper in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com."

German Royal Intrigues
Charlemagne's Coronation "On Christmas Day in 800 AD, Charlemagne became the emperor of Rome in a coronation headed by none other than Pope Leo III. Learn more about the growth of the Holy Roman Empire in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com."
Mad King Ludwig Dines Alone "From his opulent, solitary dinners to the amazing Neuschwanstein Castle, it's no surprise that King Ludwig II was known as an eccentric. In fact, people thought he was mad. But why?"
The Princess Who Swallowed A Glass Piano "Princess Alexandra Amelie of Bavaria was part of the House of Wittelsbach. The princess was frail, and she exhibited unusual behavior. She told her parents that she had swallowed a glass piano as a child, and was afraid that she would shatter."
The Prisoner Princess: Sophia Dorothea of Celle "Sophia Dorothea of Celle (Lower Saxony, Germany) married her cousin, George I of Great Britain. Sophia had an affair with a Swedish count, and her in-laws decided to stop the couple from running away together. The ensuing events became known as the Königsmarck Affair."

German Women Making History
Caroline Herschel: Astronomy's Cinderella "Herschel managed to break the barrier of women in scientific fields far earlier than you might suspect, in part because of her association with her brother, and in equal measure due to her steadfast dedication to her work.
Emmy Noether, Mathematics Trailblazer "In the early 20th century in Germany, Emmy Noether pursued a career in mathematics, despite many obstacles in her path. She became one of the most respected members of her field, and developed mathematical theory that's still important today."
Hildegard von Bingen "Hildegard was a Christian mystic of medieval Europe who was way, way ahead of her time. If she had lived a few hundred years later, and been male, people probably would have called her a renaissance man."
The Women of Bauhaus "While the Bauhaus school is well known, and its original manifesto proclaimed an environment of equality, most of the women who went to the school were ushered into specific courses, rather than given their choice of studies."

Germans in the American Revolution
Hessians "If you've only seen the Hessians referenced in movies or TV, you probably don't have a clear picture of who these very capable soldiers actually were. Hessian troops were skilled, disciplined armies for hire, and a huge economic boon for their homeland."

Germany in WWI
What was the Christmas Truce? "Amid the bloodshed of World War I, the Pope pled for a truce on Christmas Day. The commanding powers refused the truce, but soldiers across Europe crossed battle lines to spend Christmas with the enemy."

Germany in WWII
The Bloodiest Battles of World War II
Could Treasure Hunters Have Discovered Nazi Gold? "Several treasure hunters think they might have found Nazi gold. Learn about the history of Nazi gold, the role of Swiss banks and much more in this podcast from HowStuffWorks."
Did Any Germans Resist Hitler? "During World War II, the Nazi totalitarian party did not tolerate dissent. Despite the risks involved, some Germans did attempt to resist Hitler's government. In this episode, Katie and Sarah explore the story of the White Rose, a secret resistance group."
How Hitler's Propaganda Machine Worked "Adolph Hitler's legendary propaganda programs steered public opinion with unprecedented precision."
Improbably Effective Holocaust Rescuers "There are many amazing, heroic stories of people who risked everything to protect Jews and other people at risk before and during the holocaust. A few turned to particularly ingenious, unexpected or daring plans to save people."
Live from FanX: Nazis, the Occult and Indiana Jones "It's fairly common knowledge that the Nazis were prolific looters and that there was occult interest among the officers of the organization. How weird did things actually get, and how close are the Indiana Jones movies to what really happened?"
Sink the Bismarck! "The German battleship Bismarck was the most feared warship in the world - a powerful complement to U-boats. But when she sank the pride of the British fleet, the battle cruiser Hood, in a matter of minutes, her fate was sealed."
The Nazi Games and Jesse Owens "Most people associate the 1936 Berlin Olympics with African-American sprinter Jesse Owens. Yet the games were successful in terms of Nazi propaganda: More nations than ever participated, and the Olympic torch was used for the first time."
The Match of Death "After the Nazis invaded Kiev, a bakery owner asked some Ukrainian soccer players to form a team. Their team was pitted against occupying powers. Many say their crucial victory over the Germans led to their deaths. But how much of the story is true?"
Who Stole the Amber Room "Often hailed as "the eighth wonder of the world," the Amber Room is an opulent room adorned with gold and precious amber. History buffs would love to see the room for themselves, but there's one problem: it's missing."
Who Wore the Pink Triangle? "When Hitler came to power in Germany, gays and lesbians were continually persecuted. Soon, homosexual men also faced prison time. Thousands were eventually arrested, and many wound up in concentration camps, where they were labeled with pink triangles."

Who Would Have Been the Nazi King? "Although Edward VIII is often remembered as a British King who abdicated the throne for love, FBI files suggest that there may have been a more sinister motive. Tune in and learn more about Edward VIII's possible Nazi connections in this podcast."

Cold War Germany
How the Berlin Wall Worked "The Berlin Wall divided a country and a city, but it had a purpose. Learn more about its history and how JFK and Barack Obama fit into the picture in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com."

German Discoveries
Johann Beringer's Fossils "In 1725, Beringer was the University of Würzburg's chair of natural history and chief physician to the prince bishop. He was also unpopular, and some of his colleagues sought to discredit him. There are two versions of the story -- but which is true?
Johann Dippel and the Elixir of Life "Johann Konrad Dippel was born in 1673 at Frankenstein Castle. Originally a theology student, Dippel began dabbling in chemistry, medicine and alchemy. Today he's remembered for creating a panacea that was used on a variety of ailments. How did he do it?"
The Kaiser's Chemist: Fritz Haber "Fritz Haber has a mixed legacy. The Nobel-Prize-winning Father of Chemical Warfare was responsible for fertilizers that fed billions, as well as poisonous gasses used during World War I. Tune in to learn more about Fritz's complicated life and work."

Why Podcasts?
With my work as a product photographer (read: photographing inanimate objects that don't talk), I've dived headfirst into a love and appreciation for podcasts. It reminds me of the simpler days of being read to after recess, but where an audiobook is a big commitment financially and time-wise, podcasts are free and in short-installments. Its a lifelong learner's experience of being a kid in a candy store without any cliff-hangers to disturb your afternoon.

All the better, you can learn more about the history and culture of the country you're going to visit. The more you know beforehand, the less likely you'll feel the need for a guided tour group. One episode at a time, you're becoming a more independent traveler.

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Show more posts about traveling in Germany

Thank you For Reading! Denise & Sebastian | Photo by Irene Fiedler