Best shots of 2012


It’s that time of the year again – actually it’s the first time for me to a full-year review and pull out my personal 10 most meaningful and best shots of 2012. Due to surgery in Dec 2011 I wasn’t able to get out as much as I wanted for the first half of 2012. Looking at the whole year, I have almost made twice as many photos in 2010 and 2011.

Having said that, I had the opportunity to travel to more countries and explore unknown territory for me. One week of full-time shooting in Australia was great and this is also the majority of my shots, which I chose to be my personal favorites of this past year.


The shot was taken from Bonn highest mountain (hill) the “Ölberg”. Countless times, I hiked up and down just to create this one perfect sunset photo. A light like this only appears a few times a year and being spontaneous is a must in capturing that perfect moment. The mountain is set back a little bit from the others and gives this perfect landscape portrait. The grass green hills in front, the setting sun, reflecting on the Rhine River and sending the last rays in the city of Bonn, the former German capital. Just seconds before it completely disappeared behind the clouds. Magical and unique.

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Recently featured by National Geographic Traveler and the new Front Cover of the 2013 international Syndey Guide published by National Geographic. My personally biggest success this year – I just had to include this shot. The Sydney Harbor Bridge along with the Sydney Opera House represent the symbols of Australia and Sydney in itself. A fantastic sunrise, could not have been more spectacular opened some amazing colors in the sky just after the sun had set.

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After about an hours of bushwalking in the Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia, I found these beautiful cascading waterfalls flowing into the pool below. The spot was just perfect with the lush green moss, leaves and trees deep in the valley, basically not getting any sunshine.

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The Three Sisters, is a spectacular rock formation in the Blue Mountains of NSW, Australia. Most spectacular at sunrise and sunset. The view is absolutely mind-blowing and one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. The Three Sisters is a popular tourist attraction, but I’d recommend avoiding the crowds and go later in the day or very early in the morning. I did both on my last trip and was the last one to leave and the first one to arrive the next morning. I took hours each time to wait for the perfect light. At first I was disappointed, about the overcast sky. However coming back and examining the photos on a large screen I have to say, that I was lucky, as add a lot more drama and mystery to the overall scene.

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A sunrise shot from Australia Eastern shoreline. As the sun rose behind me, it lit up the clouds and I used a longer exposure to capture the changing colors in the sky as well as to create a beautiful water area around the rocks. A moment, that just feels perfect, when you already see the outcome on the little screen on your camera and know it was worth getting up at 6am on your vacation. Seeing it on the big screen and as a print is even better.

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An early morning sunrise after heavy storms the day and night before make for some great clouds and colors the next morning. Lucky to witness the spectacle, I used a long exposure technique to capture the waves coming in at the shoreline. A deep drop just in front of me and hoping my tripod would stand firm for the time of exposure. Taking it all in, in a “Moment of Silence”.

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This particular location is somewhat tucked away and hard to get to. Once you think you have seen Cathedral Rock, find out, that it is not accessible from where you thought it would be. Under time pressure, I drove around the area to try and access this dramatic scene from the other side. It was already getting dark and I climbed through very unstable and slippery terrain, jumped between rocks and deep rushing water to the spot I took this photo. It is always rewarding when you see a photo turns out even better than what you would have imagined, which makes this one of my personal favorites.

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As the evening came to an end, I went to the spot, I wanted to take photos of during the late night hours. Two images made it into the Gallery. One of them is displayed here at the later point in time with an exposure of 140 seconds. The areas around the rocks and the shore create a beautiful highlight in the photo.

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Spending some time in Newcastle, NSW, Australia and visiting some friends allowed me to visit the local tidal pools. Not being an Australian and seeing those pools, I thought there were the greatest invention ever. So easy, almost no maintenance, safe and simple. The photo you see here was actually not planned for. I was walking along the pool to get to a different spot, when I stopped and moved a few meters back. Having this composition in mind, I set up my equipment and I am glad I did. If I had to come home with one shot that night – it would have been this one. One of my Top10 favorite photos from 2012.

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I have spent quite some time in Cincinnati or better on the side of the river in KY during my time as an intern and also during my time working in Canada, having my back-office in the KY close to the airport. I know the area pretty well and this time, finally took my photography gear, knowing I had one night off. I went up to Mount Adams to get this shot, which is compromised of 43 individual images carefully stitched together. The total shot is roughly 173 Megapixel. The 43 images were taken each at f/8 with 15 seconds exposure. I have not been able to process the shot any further, but will do so when I have more time. The original PSD file is over 2GB in size! I have a full-res shot for you available to look at, at – file size is 28MB so it might take a while to download depending on your connection.

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2 Bronze Awards at the Epson Pano Awards

I am happy to announce, that I received an email earlier yesterday with the news, that I have been awarded with two Bronze Awards at the International Epson Pano Awards. The Panoramic Awards by Epson are the worlds largest international competition for panorama photography. Entering for the first time in this award, I just call Bronze a success and guess. The bronze awards were give for the Amateur competition, which basically just means, that I am not a full-time photographer and earn less than $20,000 / year with my photography.


We have also been working hard on this website and to make it more attractive. A re-launch was done earlier this year with a new look to it. The formerly white background has been changed to black and new photos have been added mainly in the South America section.


Thanks again to all those, who have purchased prints so far this year. We could already collect a good amount for charitable organization.



Exhibition of Prints in Bonn

Again, it’s been a while since my last blog entry and I should do better in keeping up with current things. Lots is happening and moving forward my photography. I am glad to announce that the APC Bonn (American Protestant Church – decided to exhibit 7 framed photos as a more or less permanent exhibition in their coffee fellowship room.

André Distel Photography - Exhibition Bonn

André Distel Photography - Exhibition Bonn

All prints are 45x30cm, framed in Nielsen frames with real glass and museum quality mats. About twice a year, the prints are auctioned off for charity. The raised funds will go towards one of the many local and international projects the church supports. They also can be bought off-the-wall for €150 per print including frame. All funds will be donated to the APC and distributed accordingly.

If you wish to have more information about this, please feel free to contact me or the APC Bonn directly. We’d be more than happy to help you out.





A new shot from a recent trip to Lauca National Park is now online – “Survival”. Chile is such a vast and diverse country, reaching from the cold arctic in the south to nothing but desert in the far north. Lauca National Park gives some great photo opportunities, for those who can make it up there. At an altitude of 4,500m and more, Lauca is certainly not for everyone and altitude sickness “Soroche” is not uncommon.

For more infos about Lauca visit the Chile & Atacama Desert Gallery. To view this photo in large, click here.

Tunnel of Light

I am currently in the process of titling all of my images – well at least my portfolio and gallery art. It’s an important part for me and the viewer. With the title I am trying to bring across thoughts, ideas, feelings and messages at the time of capture and the ultimate goal I had in mind at that time.

The latest gallery addition “Tunnel of Light” in image taken in the world famous Antelope Slots, just outside Page, AZ in the Southwestern US. An incredible place for photography, but also hugely disappointing if you don’t plan ahead. Do some research about times, tours and equipment needed in the slots. Most people don’t get the opportunity to go there more than once so make sure, you are well prepared and get home with the shots you wanted to get.

I can recommend Chief Tso-Tso Tours (or something like that). We had a fantastic guide and were taken in separately and not with the large “Asia Group”, which gave us the time we needed to walk through and enjoy.

Feel free to comment if you want to know more

Landscape Photography Workflow Tutorial

I have recently switched from Aperture 3 to Lightroom 4, thus my workflow has changed! I wrote a new free tutorial which can be found here: Landscape Workflow Tutorial with Lightroom 4

If you are out there and shootings lots, you probably want to know, what is the most efficient way to get everything sorted, organized and processed when you get back, right? Well, I have read many photography workflow tutorials – and they were all different. That’s the beauty of it. Every photographer has its own unique style about photography and the processing. A few things are the same everywhere such as backups, importing, etc. however quite a few aspects are very different and depend on the style. That’s why I called this tutorial “Landscape Photography Workflow Tutorial”. My style of photography is landscape and I have found that the following fits my needs the best and helps me to get through thousands of shots, when I return from a location fast, easy and with minim risk of loosing images.


To give you a bit of a background, I shot with a Nikon D7000, 16GB Sandisk Extreme Memory Cards and use Apple Aperture for most of my processing and organization and only shoot RAW.


  1.  Getting back from a shooting, I import the memory cards into Aperture. My iMac has nice SD card slot on the side and importing goes pretty quick. Usually importing from a SD card slot or memory card reader is faster than direct import from your camera. Also, there is no worries, that the batteries will drain, when importing a few thousand photos from even higher capacity cards. My Aperture presets are that all of my photos are automatically imported into projects, which are separated by date. So shooting only on one day, will put all files into one project folder. Coming back from a vacation, the shots are automatically sorted by date, neatly separated by project date.
  2. Immediately after the import is finished, I run a quick backup with the build-in Aperture Vault on an external storage drive. All photos remain on the SD cards, until I am sure, everything has been imported properly and after all backups have been successful.
  3. Now comes the part, that takes much time but helps tremendously in moving forward. I start to rate all photos from “rejected” to “5 stars”. This is fairly easy with the plus and minus button on the keyboard. In addition to the rating, I also mark all images, which were shot as a panorama “blue” and all photos, which will become HDR “red”.
  4. Photos will fall into separate “smart folders” automatically according to their rating. I do not process 1-3 stars, delete rejected photos, and process only 4-5 stars shots. However, even though I do not process 1-3 star shots, I usually keep them. I find myself more often going back to these photos and raise their ranking to 4 or even 5 stars. As my processing skills advance, I find new creative ways to make more out of them, as I initially thought.
  5. All of my processing is done within Aperture. I do not use Photoshop – honestly I am probably the only photographer, who does not even own a copy of Photoshop. I find that Aperture, gives me all the tools I need. I usually do slight adjustments on saturation and vibrancy, curve adjustments, hue, chromatic aberrations, cropping, etc. – basically whatever I feel is necessary, to the give the photo the look I want it to have. Some photos do not require any adjustments at all, whereas others where shot in very difficult conditions and require a bit more of processing – but that’s just normal among photographers. What film photographers used to do in the lab with chemicals, we do on the computer.
  6. After the whole processing is done, I export the best shots and upload them to my portfolio here and / or publish them one at a time on Google+ or Flickr.
  7. The finished images, then go into my archive folders and are backed-up again via the Aperture Vault on the external storage device.

I hope I didn’t forget any steps. If so, feel free to let me know and I’ll add them :). Below is a screenshot from my current Aperture Library Layout. I hope it will be helpful to some of you.



aperture library photo workflow

aperture library photo workflow

Galapagos Photography – Isabela Island

The Galapagos Islands are a very special destination. Prior to flying to the enchanted islands, we toured through the Atacama desert in Chile and parts of Peru (Machu Picchu). To get to Galapagos, you have to stay one night in Ecuador. Flights leave either from Guayaquil or Quito. Coming from Lima, we decided to stay one in Guayaquil. The flights were better and usually the Quito plane stops in Guayaquil to collect the remaining passengers before heading on to Balta airport on Galapagos. Safety and fast, reliable connection to the airport was our priority for the hotel in Ecuador and I can highly recommend to stay at the Hampton Inn in Guayaquil. Probably the most comfortable and nicest Hampton Inn I have ever stayed at (and I have seen many). It is very close to a nice boardwalk at the harbor and has fantastic room service.

We left the next morning with the airport shuttle from the hotel. In contrast to Lima airport, Guayaquil is nice, not crowded and easy to get around. Make sure, to get your luggage checked at the Galapagos Inspection Station before lining up for the check-in counter. It is right next to the check-in counter.

To fast-forward to the photo you see above, it was taken on Isabela Island, which is the largest of the Galapagos Islands. We took a speed boat (a very rough ride) from Santa Cruz to Puerto Villamil and stayed at Casa de Marita for three nights. Probably one of the nicer hotels on the island. We were also able to arrange all our tours right there. This shot was taken right outside of our ocean front room. A long exposure just after the sun set behind the volcano in the background.

Mounted camera on tripod and expose for the sky next to the setting sun. Remember the settings from the meter reading and keep them dialed in manual mode. Afterwards attach a filter holder (I use Cokin Z-Pro Filter Holder) and slide in your filters (here GND 3-stop Hitech filter soft and ND 3-stop Hitech filter). Adjust the exposure dial by about 3-5 full stops to expose longer. Your camera might stop at 30 seconds and only show bulb mode. That’s fine, you simply have to calculate the additional time needed, by doubling the time with every additional full-stop. Compose the shot the way you want it to be framed and use a remote or cable release to avoid and movement of the camera.



There’s been a lot of changes

During the month of December I finally found some time to do a much needed update on the website. The previous portfolio online website turned now into a website with more content and direct links to buy my art online.

Here are some of the major improvements:

  • Reorganization of Galleries and the addition of new galleries from recent shootings (Galapagos Wildlife Special, Chile & Atacama Desert, Peru – Machu Picchu and Galapagos Landscpae)
  • Limited Edition Prints – 8 Photographs have been declared as Limited Edition Prints with only 100 prints available.
  • Every image now features the story behind it together with print information, order & delivery.
  • Gallery overview was added
  • Print Information with precise information about paper quality and framing options
  • Giving back – Charitable organizations –> It now shows you exactly how much of each print sale will go towards a charitable organization of your choice (WorldVision, Doctors without borders or UNICEF)
  • and much more behind the scenes

There is more things to do and probably always will be, however, this major improvement gives me the opportunity to hang out more with you at social networking sites such as Flickr, Google+, Twitter or 500px.

Feel free to comment or contact me if you have an questions.

Taking Photos for a friend

A friend of my just recently discovered my website by accident. I was happy to hear that she liked very much what she saw and asked me if I could take a photo for her of this particular region. This shot will be part of a multiple image series from the Bonn, Germany region.

This shot was taken at the blue hour. I only had a window of about 15-20 min, where this shot was possible. In plain photography language I was able to take 2 shots :). Each shot is about a 2-3 min. exposure with the same amount of time for in camera processing. The remaining few minutes are used for to fine tune the composition.

I almost slipped and fell…

Nova Scotia got me. I was out there on a business trip a while ago and decided to stay for the weekend. I drove from Halifax out to Peggy’s Cove and was blown away by this magical place. As soon as you drive into the little village it starts to feel like a mysterious place…maybe simply because I was almost the only one. The usually crowded and packed place was totally empty. While it was mostly cloudy during the day, the spectacular sunset came out later in the day. The clouds broke up and the light came through. An amazing site and one of those moments that got me hocked on photography.

This particular shot was taken at Peggy’s Cove. I do climb down some steep and very slippery rocks to get to the shore. Several signs give you a warning, saying, to be cautious, as people have died out here. The sea is rough and waves crash onto the rocky shoreline. But I just had to go down there and get my shot in. I set up the tripod, manual exposure as always with a remote shutter release and neutral density filters. I didn’t want to freeze motion, nor did I want to show a huge water-flow effect. I am happy that I could manage something in between, which turned out to be amazing and one of my personal favorites. I slipped a few times and held tight to my tripod while taking the shot. Is it just me or do the best shots result from the most risky situations?

More than a Blog

I updated the site today an added “Products and Prints”. Unfortunately, I have not been able to implement my real shop through FineArtAmerica into this site, but hope to give you some valuable information about the various forms of prints you buy. All prints are professional grade museum like quality prints with thousands of options. You’d better read everything yourself in the “Prints and Products” as the information provided is very extensive. I think everyone should focus on what they can do best – for me its photography and not printing and shipping – that’s why I don’t do it – it’ll be better for all of us. But I can promise that the prints will be awesome and can’t get any better. There is also a 100% refund policy, which lets you buy custom prints without risk. Feel free to shot me an email if you have any questions.