|return to the Brocken
||[Aug. 18th, 2013|02:02 pm]
The Harz mountains are the go-to hiking spot for all of northern Germany and the rest of the low countries. This little bit of topographical relief is centered on the Brocken, a rather flat-topped prominence of 1200 meters. Coming from the western U.S., it's a bit hard to call this a "mountain", but the area is nonetheless beautiful, offering lakes and forests and peace and recreation.
This time we started the hike at the town of Bad Harzburg and walked 13 km up to the top. One interesting point along the way is the Eckerstausee, a reservoir that was divided in half by the German-German border during the time of divided Germany. Even the face of the dam was `zerschnitten` by the border. The trail goes along the crest of the dam, and 2/3rds of the way across one encounters a concrete pillar striped in faded black, red, and gold, the former demarcation between West and East (and now between the states of Lower Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt). (Here are some photos from 1978 of the border.)
We took the little dog along. I was expecting she might tire out and need to be carried, but it turns out the she LOVES HIKING and has INFINITE ENERGY. While the rest of us walked about 20 km, the little dog must have done about twice that, as her latent herding instincts kicked in and she commuted between the leaders and stragglers of the group, always watchful that everyone was accounted for. Even the next day, she showed only the slightest evidence of fatigue.
One difference between a walk in the woods in north America and one in Germany is that here one is quite likely to stumble upon a beer garden just about the time one is getting peckish. So at a place just below the reservoir called Molkenhaus I enjoyed a tall Hefeweizen and a rack of spare ribs (if the little dog wasn't having the Best Day Ever already, the left-over bones made it a red-letter day for sure), and of course a the top there was Wiener sausages and Sauerkraut and Schwarzbier and even Apfelstrudel.
One of our party decided to take the steam train down, while the rest of us walked down to Torfhaus via the Goetheweg. From Torfhaus we needed to get back to the car in Bad Harzburg. The next bus would come in 45 minutes. Instead I stuck out my thumb, and in the Most Efficient Hitchhiking Ever, the first car stopped, the three of us and the dog piled into the back, and we were back at our car in 10 minutes. Hitchhiking in nature parks always works amazingly well.
The steam train arrived in another town, Wernigerode, which we discovered to have not just a beautiful old town dating from the ~1500's and a castle on a hill but also a summer "castle festival", very much to the delight of our American guests, who exclaimed that it was "as German as they could imagine".
Here's a comparison of the Brocken summit scene from a winter trip last January:
<3 the winter/summer compare.
Wrt scampering dog photos: does the camera have "AI focus" or "servo" modes? You select a point and it autofocuses on it right up until the photo is taken. Kind of uncommon on point and shoots unfortunately, perhaps due to limited CPU power?
Ah, of course! The camera has this mode -- Panasonic calls it AFC for Auto-Focus/Continuous -- but I've never used it since it seemed too annoying. But I guess this is the intended application for such a mode.
Strangely, however, the AFC mode is disabled when using the 20mm
lens. Also, the camera has only contrast-detection auto-focus, which I would guess precludes true focus 'tracking', since it can't tell whether the subject is moving towards or away from the camera(?).
BTW, What is the story with cameras advertsing a small number of "points" of auto-focus, i.e., "23-point contrast-detection auto-focus system"? (1) Why can't the phase-constrast auto-focus region be totally arbitrary? Limited by CPU? (2) Of course I don't want to focus on 23 random points, but rather one particular point...
Autofocus often suffers with attachment/nonstandard lenses because they reduce the light so badly that there's not enough left for autofocus to deal with. (AF in general requires LOTS of light. This is also why D/SLRs keep the diaphragm completely open even if you've requested like f/16, to maximize light for AF and through the viewfinder. But then it necessitates that goofy "depth of field preview" button so you can actually see what it looks like at f/16.)
I don't know why here, though, since f/1.7 is insanely, above-averagely bright. Perhaps something to do with it being wide-angle, they couldn't get it to work reliably? Wide-angle lenses mean a reliably much wider range in the incoming light, which I guess could also screw up AF. But it sounds like AFC *does* work in video mode, which is just confusing?
I've never understood the focus point thing either but I think at some point you do have to choose a point, and it should probably be on something important to the photo. But the new pro DSLRs are up to something like 45 points, and selecting one manually is kinda absurd. My 7D has presets to select what region you want the AF point autoselected from, which makes it a little easier but also yes confusing why it can't just pick one reliably by itself. Gets even more strange when you combine it with continue-autofocus and it keeps changing what point it likes.
2013-08-19 10:04 am (UTC)
I also love the summer/winter pictures.
It's hard to imagine any living thing having more fun than a dog that loves running around outdoors.