About Me

My photo
Spofford, New Hampshire, United States
Jeff Newcomer had been a physician practicing in New Hampshire and Vermont for over 30 years. Over that time, as a member of the Conservation Commission in his home of Chesterfield New Hampshire, he has used his photography to promote the protection and appreciation of the town's wild lands. In recent years he has been transitioning his focus from medicine to photography, writing and teaching. Jeff enjoys photographing throughout New England, but has concentrated on the Monadnock Region and southern Vermont and has had a long term artistic relationship with Mount Monadnock. He is a featured artist in a number of local galleries and his work is often seen in regional print, web publications and in business installations throughout the country. For years Jeff has published a calendar celebrating the beauty of The New England country-side in all seasons. All of the proceeds from his New England Reflections Calendar have gone to support the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program at the Cheshire Medical Center. Jeff has a strong commitment to sharing his excitement about the special beauty of our region and publishes a blog about photography in New England.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Prague to Budapest II

Hungarian Parliament, Budapest

Salzburg Castle
I apologize for the lateness of this post. We have been back from our Danube River trip since late last Tuesday. I came back with great memories, over 2600 images and a rageingly bad flu/bronchitis. The worst time to develop a respiratory infection is while slogging through ten hours of plane flights to get home. I'm only grateful that I wasn't hit until the trip was over. I will skip the drippy details, and only say that after several days of sleep, antibiotics and groaning, I now feel strong enough to lift my fingers to the keyboard and share a few more images from our fantastic trip. The Groaning, however, continues.

Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic
The river cruise portion of the trip was lovely although the weather was a bit spotty. I wish we had traveled the river more frequently during daylight, but it was very convenient to have our hotel follow along with us. the itinerary tended to focus on larger cities, Linz, Salzburg,

Melk Abby Library
Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest,
but I particularly enjoyed our stops at smaller towns that were more effective at preserving the old world feel. Sadly even the small villages were contaminated with tourist traps, but by simply looking up a bit or finding winding back streets I was able to feel transported to medieval times. The cities had their own charm. It was interesting to see how enthusiastically former communist block countries have embraced capitalism. 

Vienna Opera House Entrance
For proof, you need only notice that the Communism Museum in Prague is located on the second floor above a MacDonalds Restaurant. Our favorite cities were Prague and Budapest. Both have carefully preserved their old world architecture . By Contrast, Vienna's monumental structures were more diffusely scattered though-out this modern city. 
We did enjoy a tour 
Imperial Crown of Charlemagne
of the Vienna Opera House and the fabulously opulent Habsburg Treasury.  It was amazing to see the actual crown worn by Charlemagne over 1000 years ago. Sue and I broke away from the group to spend a relaxed afternoon exploring Schonbrunn Palace, the Habsburg's little 435 acre, 1400 room summer retreat. It was tempting to dwell on thoughts of the starving peasants who lived outside the walls of this glittering monument to criminal opulence, but it was hard not to be captured by the breath-taking beauty of the buildings and gardens which are 
Schonbrunn Palace Gardens
now freely open to all. Budapest was a fitting ending for the trip and I'm glad we broke away for a couple days of independent exploration. The city is especially beautiful at night, on the last evening of the cruise we traveled the river under the several bridges that connect the two halves of the city. With the Palace and Cathedral on the Buda side and the brilliantly illuminated Parliament on the Pest side, the city reflected in the Danube was Magical.

Imperial Palace at Dawn, Budapest Hungary

Charlemagne (ISO 6400)
A trip like this would necessarily lead to a few valuable photographic lessons . First I was freshly impressed with the low light capability of my Canon 5D Mark II. I had recently been using higher ISO more regularly, but in the inky darkness of many of the museums and cathedrals I was only able to capture images at the camera's maximum 6400 ISO. Flash was rarely permitted. I was surprised to discover how the noise reduction application in Camera 
Ornately Baroque Melk Cathedral
(Three hand helded images)
Raw produced very serviceable images. The only challenge was to remember to turn down the ISO when I went back out into the sun. The tip-off was when I found myself shooting at f19 and 1/5000th! I knew from the work of Trey Radcliff and others that cathedrals would offer a wonderful opportunity for HDR images. While touring with a group it was impractical to set up a shot with a tripod, but I was amazed to discover how well Photoshop CS5 managed three handheld bracketed images. It helped to have the shutter set on burst to capture all images with a single click and here again high ISO was a necessity. Finally, I found that my stripped-down kit seemed to work well. My new bag provided to be easy to carry and accessible.  I suspect I will be using it more often at home.

St Barbara's Cathedral and Jesuit Monastery
Kutna Hora, Czech Republic

Schonbrunn Palace from Fountain, Vienna Austria
Overall it was a great trip, but it is nice to be home getting ready for the foliage season. I am terribly behind on orders and other projects. Not to mention that the 2012 Calendar should be available for me to distribute in about one week. It will likely be some time before I can start seriously working on the European pictures. I will continue to send some to Flickr, but the more complete set will be building on my web site in the "Out-a-Town" section. This brief discussion can't begin to cover the number of wonderful experiences on this trip. For that you will simply need to come over and watch the entire show. You bring the wine.

For more images check out my "Out-a-Town" page or
My Danube Flickr Set

My first European Posting is Here