Double Vision/Doppelt gesehen

For almost two years we have followed each other’s blogs. Recognizing that we’re kindred spirits, we soon began sharing observations about nature, blogging and language by email. As ideas were tossed back and forth across a 4900 mile, 9 hour time difference, a theme emerged: we tended to focus on differences and similarities in our environment, both physical and cultural. Plant species, the weather, words and phrases – we compared and contrasted them all. It was an entirely virtual relationship, honed in the realms of blog comments and emails. Then last month I traveled to northern Germany, where I visited my grandmother’s birthplace. That happens to be near the city where Almuth lives, so we had an opportunity to meet in person! A plan developed: we would spend a fine Spring day together.

 

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We met at the Bnb in Hannover where I was staying, then took a tram to Herrenhausen Gardens, an array of historical gardens dating back to the 17th century. The popular Great Garden (Großer Garten) is one of Europe’s most admired baroque formal gardens. Its history is interesting, but we prefer botanical gardens so we bee-lined for the Berggarten (Mountain Garden), across the street. After a stimulating stroll through gardens packed with Spring flowers, we enjoyed treats and coffee in the stylish park cafe. We jumped back on the tram to Hannover’s old town, where we discovered a few offbeat “historical” sights, like the protective wrapping around the facade at the old Town Hall (Altes Rathaus).  We capped the day with a traditional German meal at the Broyan Haus restaurant.

Of course we both took dozens of photographs and unsurprisingly, some are almost identical. After I got home Almuth proposed that we collaborate on a post with our favorite photos from that memorable Spring day. What a great idea, I thought! We quickly realized how many permutations there can be for posting “together.” There are the complications of different languages. Readers might be confused by too many photos. After thinking it through we decided to each create a post about the day, using our own photos, with links to the other person’s post. We sent drafts back and forth so the flow of text and images in our posts would almost match. If you’re using a desktop, try opening two browsers and viewing the posts side by side; on smaller devices we hope you can get the idea by going back and forth.

Here’s a look at the day through my eyes, and here’s a look at the day through Almuth’s eyes.

 

1. As soon as we entered the garden we noticed a set of beautiful shadows on a wall. I’m often drawn to juxtapositions of man-made and natural shapes, and this fits the bill.

2. There’s a great German word, Schattenspiele – it means shadow games. It’s too bad we don’t combine words more in English, the way Germans do.  It’s interesting to think about how language differences influence the way we see our world, but whether it’s Schattenspiele, shadow play, or whatever you name it – photographers everywhere love shadows.

3. I chose black and white to convey the different textures here – a highly textured ground cover, the fine-lined birch bark, and smooth shadows falling evenly over everything.

4. Almuth photographed a naturally landscaped stream with gorgeous birch trees. Of course I like that too, but trees like this one really aroused my interest. Like many trees in Europe, it appears to be pollarded. Pollarding is a pruning practice wherein upper branches are removed, promoting dense growth while maintaining a manageable size. Wikipedia says this very old practice kept trees within the bounds of medieval walled cities. Pollarding is far less common in the US, where space isn’t typically an issue. I always associated it with France, but I found many examples in the Netherlands, Belgium and northern Germany.

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5. While in Europe I made a conscious effort to take more photos of people than I ordinarily do, so here’s a gardener watering a bed of tulips. The light was harsh and I have a lot to learn about photographing people. I think I prefer Almuth’s version.

6. There we are, engrossed in the beauty of Spring flowers. I couldn’t resist playing with the colors in this photo (made by a certain patient someone).

7. We sat down to rest and made friends with this little fellow, who happily devoured all the peanuts we were willing to give away. We have a similar squirrel in the Pacific northwest but it doesn’t have those cool ear tufts.

8. Throughout my travels in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, I was impressed by huge specimen trees in the cities. Over here, trees planted by humans haven’t had as much time to grow. Our giants are more likely to be in the forests.

9. Thick “fuzz” that protects this fern from the cold was sloughing off in an attractive way, another sign of Spring. The horticulturalists wrapped last year’s dried fern fronds into a nest-like bowl for winter protection. See Almuth’s post for a photograph of this intelligently aesthetic landscaping practice.

10. A group of rare Suntel beech trees (Fagus sylvatica var. suntelensis or F. sylvatica ‘Tortuosa’) kept us glued to the path, wide-eyed and smiling. This European native naturally grows in a low, twisting, criss-crossing form, making the trees ill-suited to most commercial purposes. They were called Witch wood or Deveil’s beech in the past becasue people believed the trees were bewitched. Many were destroyed. This old Berggarten specimen gets meticulous care. Cultivars are now sold in nurseries around the world.

11. In the old town we found a few weathered gravestones standing mute among the flowers.

12. This is exactly the kind of sculpture I love seeing in Europe. I don’t know when it was carved but it has the vivid, emotional power of art from the Middle Ages, and it gets the message across, especially when reading isn’t an option.

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13. Wrapped buildings have intrigued me for years, and Hannover’s gothic Town Hall (Altes Rathaus) is a fine example (as long as restoration continues to be done on it). The burning question is whether the color of the wraps was intentional or not, because it sure does harmonize nicely with that old brick! Almuth called it Brick Gothic bagged – I love that!

14. A newer wrapped building provided us with more photo ops just a few blocks away.

15. Construction sites are always good places to see buildings in a different light.

16. My world was jostled and turned every which way on this trip, but everything was as rosy as the paint color on this building (which I changed in Color Efex). Old, new, virtual, real – the categories didn’t really matter.  It was a whirlwind of impressions.

***

Readers of this blog know that I feel strongly about place. The uniqueness of each place on earth is worth celebrating. I believe that despite global culture we are still situated in place, that geography influences us more than we realize. I also believe being situated in a particular time and culture influences the way we think; for example, my native language leads me to see the world differently than the way someone who speaks another language sees it. We each construct slightly different realities.

These differences have been part of the pleasure of getting to know Almuth, but we also share a lot. Her approach to life, the way she sees and thinks – those qualities felt familiar to me even before we met. I imagined I would feel comfortable with her and I did. Yet differences persist, and they are fascinating. This is part of what resonates with me here on the internet: we find differences and similarities. Our curiosity is endlessly pricked. We learn, and our horizons expand.


61 comments

  1. Pingback: Doppelt gesehen/Double vision – naturaufdembalkon

  2. I rarely shoot with other photographers but when I have it was a lot of fun. My friend that I shoot with lives several hundred miles away, so we don’t often get the chance. Your photos are stunning and PLANTWAS (translated) has a very similar eye as you.
    I’m particularly fond of #14, #15 and #7. True story: I once had a garden statue exactly like your furry friend in #7. The statue was supposed to scare other squirrels, who were eating 97% of the bird food I put out. It didn’t work.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good story, Ken…we’re finding the little western red squirrels, aka Douglas squirrel, aren’t a problem at all, but as usual, the Gray squirrels are bad boys. It figures that you’d like the construction tarp shots – they’re always fun.

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  3. I have completely enjoyed both of these parallel posts. As much as I liked the photography and the commentary – which I liked very very much – what I admired even more was the fact that you did it. I hope this idea spreads and we see more international, intercultural collaborations. In your shadow play photo I love the way the reflection of a tree trunk on the opposite side exactly aligns with the shadow.

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  4. What a great idea to meet. I’ve met in person a couple people that I got to know on line and it’s always been a very pleasant experience. So far it’s always been a pleasant surprise. Numbers two and four really draw me in! I love shapes

    Liked by 1 person

    • I actually met four bloggers on that trip – one in the Netherlands, three in Germany – it was great. Almuth and I both are often intrigued by shapes, especially branches, bark, anything plant-related. Thanks for commenting!

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    • I think you have to pick and choose, and be open to change…which may mean dropping or picking up a particular network(s) at various times. There’s nothing like just being alone outdoors, but I’ve really enjoyed being able to communicate so quickly and easily with people who live very far away. Thanks for commenting!

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  5. I´m happy that I´ve found your blog. Such interesting und authentic pics! I also enjoy the Double-Post, really interesting, two persons walking along the same roads und taking different pictures …….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank YOU for being so specific in your comment – it’s helpful. I’m glad you enjoyed the post….and there will be more from Europe in the future, and of course, more from the Pacific northwest. 🙂

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  6. Interesting, both meeting up with another blogger and doing a shoot. I’ve rarely shot with other photographers, but it’s always been fun. Adding a cultural spin could only add to it.

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    • It can be hard to concentrate on photography with so much going on, but it’s not about making the finest photos, it’s more about the whole experience. I met several other bloggers while in Europe, and each time it was really wonderful. Thanks Dave, enjoy your weekend!

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  7. Two posts for the price of one! What a wonderful day you had. I love when I get to meet online friends in real life. Since you live so close maybe we’ll get to meet one day. Wonderful photographs from both of you.
    Alison

    Liked by 1 person

    • I really think we will meet, Alison….one of these days. I’m glad you liked the collaboration – there’ll be another one coming up too, with a different person (another blogger I met on the trip), different place, different emphasis. And photos from Leiden one of these days. But as you know, Spring is beautiful and that too draws me. No complaints, except that I can’t keep up with blogs – I’ll see what you’ve been up to soon. 🙂

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    • merci irene…oui, voir et savoir regarder sont des choses différentes. j’espère que vous avez pu comprendre un peu cela – j’ai rencontré un blogueur en Allemagne, et nous avons tous les deux raconté notre journée ensemble….a comme son blog est ci-dessus. Bon week-end!

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    • Thank you so much, Karen. Maybe not as artistic as I’d like, but taking photographs while traveling is different from visiting subjects on home ground. It was quite a trip! I will post more at some point, but Spring calls….

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  8. Yes, you two did share many similar visions that day. Of course I enjoyed the image of you at work…nice to see you. Number three is very nice with the tree and ground cover. I think I unintentionally “pollarded” one of our dogwoods two years ago. 🙂
    Wrapped buildings are interesting too. I don’t know if I’ll ever be out in the Northwest nor you here in New England but shooting together would be fun.

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    • 🙂 I hope your dogwood is looking OK. Thank you Steve….one doesn’t necessarily do one’s best work when other people are present, but it’s not about that, it’s about the exchange, and I’m sure we would learn things from one another. Who knows? It may happen.

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  9. Yes, very interesting to see Almuth’s blog too, and how great to be able to meet a fellow blogger like this – and I know what you mean about taking pictures while travelling, it hard work. I very much like 6, 8 and 19 here, but 14 really gets to me. A 🙂

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    • I’m glad you clicked the link Adrian. It was fun…and I met several other bloggers on the trip, too. I have a feeling I would have a great time on an outing to the Levels with you. Maybe some day!! It’s interesting that you pick #14 as a standout for you. Thanks!!

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  10. What a delightful experiment! I can only imagine the effort and the joy this collaboration must have provided. It took me awhile to figure out how to get the two side by side… not the actual doing, but Almuth’s German throws me all the time (used to be a button where I could get google or some computer assist with translation, but can’t find it these days.) Don’t know how I missed the clue you provided in your title (Doppelt gesehen)!!! That finally told me what to look for at Almuth’s blog. Sometimes I’m just dense. But I persisted… it was well worth it. Great example of how we have such different vision at times. Then the ones where you were nearly identical.

    It’s wonderful that you came back with such positive experiences.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s my fault, Gunta, I have to fix that link – when I originally published the post it was her newest link but it’s not any more. I meant to change it but you know how it is…anyway, I’m glad you enjoyed it, and very happy that you could see them side by side. More positive experiences than I can tell, and a few negative, but very few. As time goes by I will post more about it. Happy weekend!

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  11. One of the best things about blogging has been making connections, and I have been lucky enough to meet several of my blog friends in person – it’s always been a treat, and I am glad that you got to meet up with Almuth!

    My blog friend Ehpem (at Burnt Embers) and I co-posted a series a few years ago after I visited him in British Columbia. It was extremely interesting to see how photos we made standing (sometimes literally) shoulder to shoulder could look so different. Your post reminded me how much I enjoyed those days we spent together…

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  12. Melinda, good to hear from you. It IS a treat, and it’s interesting every time. I know Ehpem – the blog – and he’s been generous with some suggestions and advice in the past. I didn’t know you two met and collaborated – maybe before I followed you. I’m happy this brought back a good memory.

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  13. Thanks for sharing this wonderful experiment, which hopefully can be repeated again before too long. Next time, please consider posting each other’s images side-by-side, or above/below, and don’t worry about a large number causing confusion. The pairing, after all, is what commands our interest. As long as the placement is consistent, I can’t imagine there’d be any problem.

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    • If there’s a next time, I’ll think about it – we did consider doing that and both agreed we would prefer each doing a separate blog. There are so many ways to go. We also wanted to show how there were times when we took almost the same photo, and times when we took different ones. In any case, thanks for your input, it’s appreciated. (I’m doubting there will be a repeat anytime soon actually, but another German blogger and I are working on a very different type of collaboration).

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