Alexandra’s Photography Thoughts

Ideas, memories and thoughts related to photography. A space without, but about photos. :-) 


This winter has been cold so far, so I’ve decided to help the birds in the neighbourhood by putting out a mixture of nuts for them, as food sources can be scarce otherwise. I cut the nuts in manageable small pieces to suit their small beaks. Talk about service… 

My offer was gladly accepted by a variety of smaller and bigger birds. A female blackbird -funny term, because  female blackbirds are actually brown- has the habit of twittering a happy tune and flapping her wings before eating. This and a white spot on her back inspired me to name her Happy Snowflake. 

Happy was so satisfied with the menu, that she used to dig out earthworms, eat one half of the poor creature and bring me the other still moving half as a gift. Although I was naturally flattered by such an obvious sign of appreciation, I was very relieved when the earth froze and that behaviour stopped. 

Gradually, the number of different birds coming to enjoy the fine selection of walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts and cashews has multiplied by at least ten, which made me worry a bit about not being able to feed everybody at some point. 

Fast forward to yesterday, when I made the big mistake to think that a bag of “bird food with vitamins and herbs, iodine and minerals”, as well as a different (bigger) bag of “natural menu with complete protein sources for wild birds” bought from the store could possibly replace the nuts they had been receiving so far. 

Most birds just took a short look at the new food and flew away in dismay. But not Happy. Happy has made it perfectly clear to me that she will only twitter her happy tune and flap her wings for the royal nut selection (200 g, Nutri-Score A) that costs 2,89 € and is meant for humans and not for the 500 g Nutri-Scoreless bird food that costs 2,45 € and also not for the 1 kg complete protein bird food that costs 3,39 €. 
She took one glance at the new food, came to the glass door, looked me straight in the eye and expressed her dissatisfaction quite loudly: “What were you thinking? Are you completely out of your mind? No more earthworms for you, lady!” Or something along those lines, I guess. Then she flew away in dismay. The bird has expensive tastes. Who can blame her? Nuts make her happy and she knows what she wants. 

Likewise, photography makes me happy. Other things that probably should, don’t. And that’s fine. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll sing a happy song and dance a happy dance. Then I’ll go take a picture. 

Left-Handed Cameras

During my first year at school, everybody in my class wrote with their right hand. My instinctive use of the left was regarded as being annoyingly different and I was told so. What was different had to stop being different immediately, for fear of all hell breaking loose. Therefore, under close scrutiny, I learned to write again, with the “other” hand, while keeping my left hand behind my back, until it hurt. 

Afterwards, I preferred to employ my left hand for just about everything else, apart from writing, which was really the only concession that I was willing to make in this respect. Little did I suspect that at some point in my life, I would be obliged to make a second bothersome concession in order to photograph. 

It is sad that there aren’t any digital cameras designed for left-handed people. 

Apparently, the small percentage of people who would need such a camera are not a sufficient incentive for makers of photographic equipment. 

I find it unpractical to hold the camera in my right hand and move it towards my left (dominant) eye to look through the viewfinder. Using an adapter would be     possible, but it would look even stranger and more importantly, it would add some extra unnecessary weight to the equipment. So wouldn’t it be great to have the choice of using a right- or a left-handed camera? This is a rhetorical question, the answer to which being “yes, yes it would be great”. 

On the bright side, however, I am very grateful for not being born during the Middle Ages. To be considered a witch (like it’s a bad thing) and to be burned at the stake for my left-handedness would admittedly be somewhat bigger problems than the lack of a left-handed camera. 

The Photo that I Never Took

I remember that morning as if it were yesterday, even though it happened many years ago: A cool and sunny winter morning. 
Still half-asleep (despite the coffee, I am not much of a morning person), I went out of the student dorm and headed for the bus station, when a parked red Mini      oldtimer caught my eye. It was partly covered with snow and shining in the sunlight. The remaining snow created a very pretty pattern on the hood. All the trees in the background looked frozen and everything was white, except for the contrasting bright red of the car. 

The image was so beautiful, that I recall wondering whether I should return home and get my camera to take a picture. But that would have meant missing the bus and thus skipping the first university course of the day. I stopped in my tracks and hesitated for a short while. Staring at the landscape, I tried to engrave every single detail in my memory, including the mood that it inspired. Then the bus came and I hopped in.

The funny thing is that I cannot even remember what course I attended that morning. But if I close my eyes, I can still see the photo very clearly in my mind: The photo that I never took...

A Matter of Perspective

Do you know that feeling of bliss when you get something you've always wanted? Happiness is only temporary. Just a short moment of satisfaction between the thing you got and the next thing you crave just as badly. 

It's what they call "human nature", I suppose.

When I was ten, I was overly excited about my first camera. It was a gift from my parents and I jumped around for joy when I unwrapped it, because I had been  dreaming of that moment for several years.

It was a very simple Kodak film camera. My happiness only lasted until I got the first film developed in one of those special shops and I realized that the birds I had photographed seemed just a little bigger than small black dots.

Needless to say, I had absolutely no idea about photography. I was ten. I had never heard about zoom lenses either. It wasn't exactly the sort of topic ten-year-olds would talk about at the time. Joy turned into sour disappointment and all of a sudden, what I had became unimportant. I wanted a "real" camera. 

One that would allow me to photograph birds as they appeared on the covers of nature magazines: Big, colourful and rich in detail.

About eighteen years later, I bought my first Canon digital camera with zoom lenses. When I did, I remembered the ten-year-old me and I smiled. Now I could take photos of birds and make them appear big, colourful and rich in detail, as they did on the covers of nature magazines. I could, if I wanted to. But I didn't.


What would it be like to experience the world as a synesthete? For instance to automatically hear sounds when seeing colours. I wonder whether two synesthetes would hear the same melody while admiring a landscape from the same angle.

Autumn should be a delight to listen to on a bright sunny day. The various yellow to brown shades of fallen leaves would inspire an explosion of pleasant different sounds. A grey winter landscape on the other hand should be somewhat monotonous: Just one or two long musical notes in endless repetition. 

Unfortunately, I am not a synesthete, but I can at least try to make an imagination exercise. For some reason, I associate light with high-pitched notes. White would therefore sound like a boiling teapot and black like a gong. 

Bright red would be  similar to breaking glass and blue would resemble the wind blowing through tree branches in winter. Yellow sounds to me like children laughing and green like raindrops falling on a roof. 

Anyway, if a synesthete wrote a colours-to-sounds dictionary for all the other people out there, I would really appreciate it. :-)

Five Random Life Situations and a Photographer’s  Reaction to Them

Situation 1 – Handling Physical Pain

Photographer slips and falls down a hill in knee-deep snow, possibly breaking a bone or two, but still holding the camera up high: “Phew! I saved my camera and it didn’t even get wet!”


Situation 2 – Reaching the Next Level in an Important Relationship

“I can easily imagine spending my life with you. So now that we got this far, I think you are ready to meet my camera.” 


Situation 3 - Talking About Life and Death

 “If I die before you do, please bury my camera with me. And don’t forget the flash unit, it’s pitch-dark down there.”


Situation 4 - Settling Small Arguments

“Don’t you dare call my camera an object. It is an extension of my being, like a cochlear implant, an exoskeleton, or a superhero’s superpowers!”


Situation 5 - Dealing with Potentially Dangerous Circumstances

Photographer returns home in the night, always ready to start running and fearing each unusual sound: “I hope no one attacks me and I can get home safely”. 

Photographer returns home in the night, holding the camera and feeling strong: “Well, I have nothing of value with me, except for my camera. And if anyone tries to take it, I will fight to the death”.

Creative Fine-Art Photography from Regensburg (Germany)


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