Empty Lake

Living in a remote area in southern Germany I like to wander around, first of all by car and the last quarter mile by foot. By scanning the landscape for potential photographs I find myself looking for constellations of simplicity and clarity, of light and structure. In the last days, I visited the “Hagerwaldsee” together with my wife. That’s being an artificial barrier lake for preventing the nearby valleys and villages from getting flooded by heavy raining. Two creeks are supplying the lake with water, simultaneously introducing a lot of sand and mud. So from time to time, it is necessary to drain off the water for dredging the bottom of the lake. The last time that was done was in 2004 and now it’s time again. The sediments of at least 10.000 cubic meters will get removed and used for soil improvement on nearby agricultural cropland. Likewise, the channel flow technique, the regulation of the water level, which is remote-controlled, will become replaced by a new one. Currently, we are in the time between the lake is empty but not yet dugout. For my wife a good innings to gather some freshwater mussels. For me a good chance to gather some photographs. So we did, here is the photographic part of the result.

Blinde Rot (Canon RP, Zeiss Sonnar 2,8/85)
Blinde Rot (Canon RP, Zeiss Sonnar 2,8/85)

1. The first picture “Priel der Blinden Rot” shows one of the two creeks that have to pass the lake anyway. When capturing this frame I was impressed by the S-shape, guiding the viewer to that sunny background. The colors and luminance are contrasty: the shadowed ground is interrupted by the gleaming water of the creek and its curves. The course to the horizon is no direct one, it’s winding and twisting but reaches its destination. – The technical aspect: I used a Canon RP camera with a Carl Zeiss Sonnar 2,8/85mm lens from the former Contax camera system. I like these lenses as their level of resolution matches the pixel pitch of such a mid pixel sensor like this one of 26MP. The suppression of stray light is a strong feature of Zeiss glass achieving good light separation and defined edges. The micro-contrast being one of the best among the lenses I have and had in use. So I’m waiting for modern Zeiss optics matching the RF-mount. But for the near future, there is less hope, as those mounts like Nikon Z, Panasonic L or Canon RF are patented and licensed in a comprehensive manner, as the development expenses were immense.

Hagerwald Seegrund (Canon RP, Zeiss Sonnar 2,8/85mm)
Hagerwald Seegrund (Canon RP, Zeiss Sonnar 2,8/85mm)

2. “Hagerwald Seegrund” shows wet and dry parts of the landscape. The sunrays of the late afternoon are connecting and combining either. The sunlight as a link between the different zones of photographic subjects is an almost universal perspective in photographic life. The landscape changes, the shafts of sunlight remain the same. The light is a bridgebuilder connecting what is separated. So as photographers we have the chance to display the incorporating power of light.

Hagerwald Seetreppe (Canon RP, Zeiss Distagon 2,8/28)
Hagerwald Seetreppe (Canon RP, Zeiss Distagon 2,8/28)

3. “Hagerwald Seetreppe” is a staircase to ground. The atmosphere is reflecting some tristesse: missing water, the cold concrete of the stair and the dark brown-grey ground of the lake. Getting empty and reaching the ground seems less desirable, a dull ambiance, but looking to the upper side brings brightness back: the sun is reflecting on the last remnants of water. The ground is in a way lighted and lifted bringing up a kind of relief. – In this case, I took the Zeiss Distagon 2,8/28mm, a lens with less inspiring MTF-curves, but with an inspiring amount of fine detailed and crisp rendering.

Kontrastgestruepp (Canon RP, Zeiss Sonnar 2,8/85mm)
Kontrastgestruepp (Canon RP, Zeiss Sonnar 2,8/85mm)

4. “Kontrastgestruepp” and the following five photographs emerged from glimpses I got by going a few footsteps here and there around the lake. While my wife was taking care of the mussels I had sufficient time to change from glimpse to intensely viewing the subjects. As not winning the favor of spectacular sights too high mountains and deep waterfalls I had to look for luck in small sites. And I got it. In this case, I saw something like black and white striped »sea snakes« coolish hidden in the brushwood. That attracted my attention looking instantly for a point of view to find out a certain order in this chaos of confused branches. To discover structures is an essential attitude in my approach, probably in any kind of photograph, – for me enjoyment as well. So here I saw a trinity of sea snakes: straight branches that had to be arranged to good looking order.

Stumpfhöhle (Leica SL, Zeiss Sonnar 2,8/85mm)
Stumpfhöhle (Leica SL, Zeiss Sonnar 2,8/85mm)

5. “Stumpfhoehle” – there was a hole in a stump of a fallen trunk close to the lake. I was attracted by the graphical pattern of this hole in conjunction with the thin twigs and the spread particles from sawing. The dark grey wood of the stump itself had a certain shimmer, a slight resemblance to the inner luster of a shell. The directions of the light twigs upon the dark hole lend the composition a touch of an abstract painting.

Moosaeste (Leica SL, Zeiss Sonnar 2,8/85mm)
Moosaeste (Leica SL, Zeiss Sonnar 2,8/85mm)

6. “Moosaeste” – a sudden glimpse I got when looking aside the small asphalted way that leads around the lake. By the way, this small road provides a nice opportunity for run training as the differences in altitude being comparable to a number of the famous city runs in our region. This photo was a self-arrangement, without long composition time I shot and got. I was surprised by the inspiring look of this network of green mossed branches surrounded by the pale-colored ground and background. It looks like a modern architectonic construction seen for example in the Olympic arena in Beijing.

Kugelgeäst (Leica SL, Zeiss Sonnar 2,8/85mm)
Kugelgeäst (Leica SL, Zeiss Sonnar 2,8/85mm)

7. “Kugelgeaest” is a mixture of chaotic disorder of innumerous twigs and branches and a macrostructure resembling a sphere. The latter is not discernible easily, but on the second view, one will proceed. I regard this as a hint to not only view but to contemplate photographic subjects as well. The same weighs for postprocessing: the more often I take a longer look, nota bene in different time intervals, the more ideas I get for shaping the post-process. In this case, the picture’s look resulted in a combo of very sharp details with an overall impressionistic character.

Hagerwald Stammpaar (Leica SL, Zeiss Planar 1,4/50mm)
Hagerwald Stammpaar (Leica SL, Zeiss Planar 1,4/50mm)

8. “Hagerwald Stammpaar” is an example of a strong simplicity. The photo resembles a scenery at a beach in the South Seas but is only a view in a remote rural province. I integrated the lens flare of a 40 years old Zeiss-Contax Planar 1,4/50mm. On this frame, the ground is pictured, where the freshwater mussels can be found. When gathering and keeping at home they won’t be incomplete shape for a long time, as the missing of water is drying out their shells, and they begin to crack with more or less loud sound – one shouldn’t be worry about that, it is no housebreaker.

Astgespinste (Leica SL, Zeiss Sonnar 2,8/85)
Astgespinste (Leica SL, Zeiss Sonnar 2,8/85)

9. The frame “Astgespinste” seems to tell a story, but I don’t know which one? I didn’t look for this composition, it looked for me. So we came together and felt like an old couple, a never rusting old love. This photograph for me is a question mark so far.


Rainer Uhlman
January 2020
Rainer Uhlmann
Gschwend, Baden-Wuerttemberg

Photography is my main leisure activity since more than 40 years. In analogue times I used formats from 35mm to 8x10", today digital FF of different brands. My subjects are in the landscape I'm living, a remote region in southern Germany.

Article Type: Columns, MISC

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