Monday, 28 March 2011

Google Earth sometimes gets it wrong...

I recently came across information regarding ruins of a 14th century castle about ten minutres drive from where I live.

Google Earth also informed me that there were indeed ruins to be found in this Area.
Further searches informed me that the ruins of Witwald were in a hazardous state and that there would be no responsibility for any injuries suffered.

I decided to venture forth on a Saturday morning with fellow Brit and hobby photographer, Stephan. We began our search at 10:30 in the morning and, using info from the Swiss castles website, we set off through the forest to try and locate them.

Stephan has lived in the area for fifteen years but had never heard of these ruins so we had to largely guess where they might be.

We walked and walked and we walked. It was mostly uphill and the forest was quite dense. We had to stop several times just to catch our breath. The picture I had saved was used to try and identify the ruins under a rocky outcrop and a few times, we thought that we had found them but it always turned out to be a false alarm.

I didn't want to go home empty handed so I took some HDR images in the forest. 

Finally after three hours of walking and finding nothing but trees, we decided to head back home.

When we reached our starting point, I saw a Land-rover coming towards us with "Forestry service" emblazoned on it's side. Stephan flagged the driver down and asked him if he knew where the ruins were. 

The driver parked his car and talked a while to Stephan. 

"They're one hundred meters over there" he said pointing into the bush over our shoulders.

We couldn't believe it. Barely visible through the foliage, were the ruins. We had spent three hours walking with rucksacks, water and camera gear in a totally different direction. Google Earth had placed the ruins in a totally different area.

On this screenshot, you can see where Google Earth has placed the ruins (Ruine Witwald) and where they actually are (blue rectangle)

Five minutes later, after another uphill climb, we were at the entrance to the ruins. Exhausted, tired and gasping for breath.

After we caught our breath (even Stephan's dog Leila was exhausted), I set up my tripod and camera to take some HDR's. Ten minutes later we were finished and making our way home.

Here are two of the images from the ruins.

The entrance to the ruins.

HDR was used to bring out the background details

On another note. I took the above video using the very small Sony Bloggie camera. It shoots three different HD video formats and still images as well at 5 Megapixels. I'm going to carry it around with me more and post videos from time to time. Feedback would be appreciated.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Spring is in the air

Well I know that technically, Spring hasn't yet begun but the countryside around where I live is at long last, starting to look attractive again.

The skies have been a fetching shade of blue lately, buds are starting to show on the trees and snowdrops have made a welcome appearance.

Today, Oksana (the missus) and I went for a drive to the countryside. I took my light weight benbo tripod, my EOS 5d and a 17-40 zoom lens.

I found a nice location by looking in "Google Earth". It was called Schöntal. A little village in Baselland.

We arrived and went for a walk. There is a "sculpture park" near the village but that costs Fr 10 for entry. I hadn't bought my wallet with me so we explored the village itself.

A five minute walk outside the village revealed a piece of "artwork" on a hill so we went there and I recorded it for posterity (and this blog) .

As I've mentioned in a previous blog post, I don't pretend to understand modern art but this was interesting to photograph with the village in the background. It was an extremely hazy day but shooting HDR helped to minimise it.

The same image in Monochrome

Different viewpoint

From there, we took a walk back to the village and I took a few more HDR's. I wanted to take a picture of the former Cloister, which is now a modern art gallery, but the sun was shining directly into my lens so I've made a note to return when Spring is fully underway.

This was the only image that I took of the former monastery.

Thanks for visiting.