If you’re looking for a tranquil, breath of fresh air while exploring the skyscraper city Frankfurt am Main, I have the place for you. In the middle of the city, is a large, historic, landscaped park showcasing a large greenhouse complex, gardens, playground, lake, and more. Like many of Frankfurt’s attractions, Palmengarten has always been a public park supported by the citizens of Frankfurt. A joint stock company was founded in order to acquire the famous plant collection of the Duke Adolph of Nassau (who found himself on the losing side of a war and needed to sell), and Heinrich Siesmayer, a landscape gardener laid out the initial design for the Palmengarten in 1869 in an English garden style. It's easy to forget that in those times, a majority of the plants on display had never seen before as they were from inaccessible, far away countries. Today, with global travel becoming easier for more people, it's still fascinating to see faraway habits recreated in the middle of Germany. It's possible to visit all of the exhibits in roughly two hours. Check the calendar to see if there are any temporary exhibits being shown in the Palm House.
As a photographer, there was beauty everywhere and I had so much fun shooting plants I’d never seen before in such a calm environment. I’m excited to share my best shots from our visit.
Is There a Rose Garden?
Of course there’s a rose garden. What plant collection would be complete without one? It's peak time is in spring and summer, and a favorite rental space for weddings.
All Year Long
Palmengarten boasts multiple greenhouses, each showcasing habitats from all over the world, even Tazmania and the Arctic! Thanks to the greenhouses, you can enjoy the Palmengarten all year round, no matter the weather. We went in September, and although it was cooler and overcast, the dahlias were in full bloom and we loved visiting the Tropicarium.
When you enter the Tropicarium, you’re met with an oversized spinning globe, surrounded by plants. From there, you choose which simulated natural habitat you’d like to see, arid or humid. There are semi-desert regions, fog desert, deciduous dry forests and thorn forests in the southern, arid habitats. The monsoon forests, cloud forests, mangrove swamps, and lowland rainforests are in the northern humid habitats. I was delighted to see turtles and birds living inside the greenhouse. The turtles were basking on a log by a fountain.
I was surprised to see an old fashioned style train. The park is a bit of a walk if you do everything. Palmen-express train connects the northern and southern parts of the park for a small fee. Parents with tired kids will love this, but I was enjoying the long walk personally. It's a cute element to the park.
One of the best things about visiting Germany in September is that the dahlias are in full bloom. I was in dahlia heaven when we made it to the northernmost part of the park. In front of Haus Leonhardsbrunn was an enormous arched bed of plenty of dahlia varieties. A family of swans were daintily posing on the playing field in front, adding to my photographer’s euphoria.
Rock and Heather Garden by the Lake
The Frankfurt Palmengarten could also be a great date destination. In addition to providing a beautiful, calm backdrop, there’s also a large shallow lake which offers paddle boat rentals. Overlooking the lake is the waterfall from the nearby rock and heather garden.
If you want to see red German squirrels, Palmengarten is a great place to spot them. I saw four. Normally I count myself lucky if I spy ONE squirrel in two weeks in Germany.
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I ended up postponing this progress report until after we made our second trip for Christmas in Germany, and I’m really glad I did. I’m proud to say I have made definite progress both in keeping my architecture shots from becoming distorted, in incorporating tourists purposefully into my shots, and being mindful of visual merging. If you’re scratching your head, this is the 4th and final post in a series about learning and improving travel photography from a CreativeLive Class Travel Photography: The Complete Guide with Ben Willmore. If you missed them, here’s where you can get caught up:
Back? Ready? Ok!
Is That Building Falling? Or Is It Me?
I tried to break my bad habit of tilting my camera up at a building when shooting architecture. Being short, this was a tough one. I tried to instead get more than one side of the building so short buildings didn’t appear to be falling backwards. I had really good luck with this technique when visiting the World Unesco Heritage Pile Dwelling Site in Uhldingen-Mühlhofen.
When I had to shoot up at the building, like with this shot of the Dom in Konstanz, I embraced it and tried to make the viewer feel like an ant looking up at this towering facade, which is how I felt at the time.
Using Tourists To My Advantage
Out of my four favorite tips that Willmore suggested for dealing with tourists, I was easily able to implement #1, using the tourist to your advantage through their presence physically adding color or their placement in the composition. While at the Liebieghaus in Frankfurt am Main after Christmas, I was shooting the outside architecture of the museum. It was an overcast, blah-December-day, and a woman started walking towards the entrance, dressed in black with a red shawl. I wanted to hug her. It was just the pop of color I needed and of course her presence also provided nice scale comparison to the building itself. To read about my other 3 favorite tips dealing with tourists in your shots, review part 3 again.
Visual Merging Fountain in Bodensee
After learning about ‘Visual Merging’, which is where objects in the foreground visually combines in your composition with your background, I made a concerted effort to look for merging when shooting sculptures. While in Lindau on Lake Bodensee, we hunted for a fountain that had come highly recommended by a museum volunteer. Upon finding it, I tried shooting various angles of it, always looking to see if anything was merging into the background. This is the first, initial photo I took.
I wanted the focus to be on the top statue, and here the foliage behind it are visually merging in a distracting, busy way. I wandered around to the opposite side, where I could get more separation between the figure and the foliage.
Ninja-Phantom Lightroom Presets
Wow. Just wow. In part 2, I mentioned that when you purchase the class, you get a gigantic set of Ben’s tried-and-tested presets, and even includes a 2-page PDF with screenshots of how to install them. Having them has sped up my editing, as well as taught me additional tricks in Lightroom. Do you need your blue sky about 25% brighter? He’s got a preset for that, in percentage increments of 25. Willmore is so specific with his sorting of presets, if I have an issue with an image, I can easily navigate to the right folder and find a few presets that thanks to their naming, I know I can try to solve my problem. By doing so, the assigned settings are applied and you can literally see what tool sliders he adjusted, learning more about how Lightroom’s tools can be used in the process.
Since I began this series, CreativeLive now offers an app in iTunes, compatible with iPhone, iPad, iPod, and AppleTv. The convenience factor of Creative Live has increased 10 fold. It's free to download, and you have access to all of the channels live streaming. After purchasing classes, you can access the episodes directly on the app as well, and it remembers where you left off.
For our 10 year anniversary since we've been together, the one thing I wanted most was photos, really good photos. Probably not what the jewelry industry wants to hear! We hadn’t had photos taken since we were married, and that was 7 years ago. Now, the past year we’ve spent countless hours building this blog together, and I wanted to have updated, beautiful photos of us together that we could use for our blog.
At first, Sebastian thought we could have family members take them, but I didn’t want these to turn out like most of our vacation photos. I’m very rarely in those photos because I’m taking them, and when I am, all the photos look the same. The photos visually verify that I was somewhere with Sebastian, but the capture did neither us nor the location any justice. I reminded Sebastian of the nice Heidelberg photo we have of us where the castle was just outside the composition. Instead, we had a fluffy, diva shrub in the background.
Lifestyle Photographer in Frankfurt am Main
The hunt for a photographer was on! Without any referrals, it was just Google and I trying to find the perfect photographer. Besides the obvious roadblock of language, I initially had a difficult time finding photographers that shoot what’s called in the United States as ‘Lifestyle’ or ‘candid’ style photography, which revolves around natural lighting and very little posing. Sometimes, what you’re looking for is on (gasp!) the 2nd page of Google search results. That’s where I found Irene Fiedler and fell in love with her body of work. I was encouraged when I saw that she had some English on her website as well. I could tell from the engagement photos and wedding shoots Irene had done that we would be a great fit, and we shared a similar visual aesthetic.
Photo Shoot Locations
From Sebastian’s parents house it's a half an hour on the local train and ta da, we’re in Frankfurt! Frankfurt am Main is a beautiful city with enough fantastic museums and closeness to family it would easily be my top pick if we ever needed to move to Germany. It was the first city we ever featured in our German City Series, and I know we have so much more to share than what we could fit in a month. All of this adds up to why I wanted to have the shoot in Frankfurt. From there, picking locations was relatively easy. I love the skyline of Frankfurt and wanted it as a background. That led us to the Eiserner Steg bridge and the riverfront.
I also love the half-timbered beauties of the Römer.
Cafe Mozart was the first German cafe I was ever at, and stands out in my memories for it's bright red interior.
Finally, the Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof feels like a magic carpet ripe to Europe to me. Everytime we go somewhere, we pass through this building.
If you need a lifestyle photographer in Frankfurt, Irene Fiedler is amazing! Her work is just dreamy and lovely and I'm so, so glad I found her. She over delivers and is a delight to work with.
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