Travel photos 2020? Do they even exist? Yes: Despite what is probably the worst travel year in decades, Michael from Erkunde-die-welt.de is calling for his well-known photo parade again. And of course we will participate, although we could not even begin to take the pictures that we had planned.
Travel photos 2020: A little change
To see it positively: 2020 at least made sure that I couldn’t go on completely the same as before. So what did the pandemic year 2020 do with my photos?
Choice of subjects
The long photo pause created a certain feeling of lack. When I finally went outside after the lockdown, I suddenly liked motifs that I would otherwise have ignored. For example, the construction site three blocks away, or landscapes accessible by racing bike. So far, these have not been typical photo opportunities for me, at least none for which I would have explicitly set out with the camera in my luggage. But necessity is the mother of invention. If there is no travel, what is achievable must serve.
In 2020 my image style became partly “marmalady”, as Pavel Kaplun calls it. If I preferred desaturated colors in the past few years, it now sometimes became colorful, warm, jammy. Maybe I needed an escape from the dreary existence of lockdown, maybe a counterbalance to the gray-on-gray of the daily news world. Maybe I just wanted to change something, in a world over which the individual felt no more control, if only it was their own image style.
Less external motivation
Will it stay that way? No idea. Due to the corona, I had to reduce my media consumption significantly. The constant negativity was unbearable for me. As a side effect, the external influence also decreased.
“So are the pictures right, that’s how you have to do it”?
Perhaps, but for now I’ll do it the way I want to do it, and that there is no right or wrong in photography is a truism anyway.
Mood instead of technology
As an engineer, I know what a histogram is, how to create a technically correct image, and I know every feature of my camera. But that’s by far not the only aspect of photography. In 2020 I tried harder to capture moods, or to construct a mood. Technically, it is allowed to violate the textbook opinion, shadows are allowed to drown and the white balance is not necessarily set “correctly”, but sometimes rather more atmospheric. What matters is what the picture does to the viewer.
The beginning of 2020 – when the world was still in order
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
The year started with a trip to the Vienna Coffee Festival. As the world was still in order. It should be our last trip before Corona. The picture below is not one of the best pictures of the year, but somehow it belongs to a picture collection 2020 – because there was no longer such a collection of people to photograph afterwards.
A year in pieces
However, this was followed by many weeks at home. At the beginning of the year we didn’t have any “travel stress” because we had actually planned big things for 2020. Our jobs were terminated, and starting April we wanted to travel across Europe for several months. So instead of being on the road, we were busy planning and preparing.
Even while the last activities in the job were being handed over to successors and colleagues, the situation in the world came to a head and we felt a little queasy.
And because anything that can go wrong goes wrong, my last day at work was also the last day before the lockdown began.
Well, instead of adventures on the road, our life became monotony between the living room, kitchen and the occasional visit to the supermarket. The time was used to start our YouTube channel, so cameras were primarily used on tripods for filming, and hardly any photos were taken.
After all, the initially chaotic Corona rules were cleared up at some point, and outdoor sports were suddenly allowed. So I got on the bike and captured the world out there. The hardly used roads were a new experience and definitely pleasant on the racing bike.
It was a strange experience to hang around in cities with a camera during this time. First, strictly speaking, only outdoor sports were allowed. Whether it was also allowed to cruise around on a bike, stop and take pictures – I don’t know. In any case, it was not dangerous, there was almost no one on the streets, and certainly not near me.
Graz is the second largest city in Austria (surprising for many, when it comes to glamor, tourists usually rank Salzburg and Innsbruck first), population approaching 300 000. The main square was still deserted.
Food stalls were (like the rest of gastronomy) closed.
Lockdown over – let’s go!
Finally the lockdown was over and we carefully began travelling with the camper van again. First of all, we stayed in the immediate vicinity. At first it was not clear how long the relaxed regulations would last. And so we got to know the environment around us. We were genuinely amazed at how much there was to discover within a 100 km radius.
Our first tour took us to the highest peak in Burgenland, to the Bucklige Welt, biking to St. Corona (yes, it really is called that, and in terms of name it was absolutely appropriate for the first trip after the lockdown) and to various alpine pastures.
Campsites and stopover pitches were still closed for a long time, so we were exclusively self-sufficient. Since we didn’t misbehave with the camper, it was completely feasible.
It was also new that we had bought a drone. Incidentally, also shortly before the lockdown. So I was just about allowed to pay for the drone insurance, but I couldn’t fly it for a long time.
Even if there was a little lack of practice at the beginning, the results came in over time.
Mountains, hiking, biking
In the spring it was still a little cool high up, there was still snow in many places, and we were happy about our heating in the camper van.
But the many great views repeatedly made up for the cold nights. It definitely paid off getting up early or staying up late.
One of our most beautiful experiences in 2020 is the morning after a severe storm with a view of the highest mountain in Styria, the Dachstein. There was a thick blanket of clouds below us, we enjoyed the first rays of sunshine of the day.
We also made classic sightseeing stops again and again, for example at the Krimml Waterfalls, in Salzburg or at the high mountain water reservoirs in Kaprun .
Although we usually prefer to have our peace and quiet and look for secluded spots, these goals were of course also worthwhile.
Only when it was a matter of taking the bus to high mountain reservoirs or using a gondola did it become clear again that the travel year 2020 is not an ordinary one. Wearing masks and with all kinds of restrictions, the experience was a little different.
Cool camping spots
The mountains always made for a great backdrop, and so our camper van was often in a vibrant setting.
It didn’t happen by chance, because we needed images for the book that will be published soon.
The fact that all of Austria was out and about in the mountains due to Corona didn’t always make it easy to take a picture of the camper without 100 cars all around, but often enough it worked.
Fog, rain, wind
If we needed a headline for our trips this year, it would be “bad weather”. We really had enough fog and rain.
Whether a storm on the Längsee, rain on the Raabklamm, thunderstorms on the Loser Alm or hiking in the fog: In terms of weather, we really did experience everything.
It wasn’t always ideal for al fresco dining, but it was often a photographic asset. Because clouds, fog and reflections contribute a lot to atmospheric pictures.
Admittedly, we wouldn’t have needed the fog that often, sometimes it would have been nice to be able to look down into a valley and not have to freeze.
But so long as the index finger was still more or less movable over the trigger, we took the opportunity before we fled to the camper van for warm tea.
Sport & action
Windsurfers on Lake Neusiedl, motorcyclists on Niederalpl or paragliders on the Hohe Wand: multiple opportunities for sport / action shots.
I can often be found among the windsurfers of Lake Neusiedl myself, but since you can’t windsurf and take photos at the same time, I am unfortunately not in the picture.
The sea of paragliders above the Hohe Wand was a fun spectacle to watch. As the paragliders kept floating close to the cliff edge, you could see them up close.
Motorcyclists annoyed us again and again on the various pass roads because of their noise level *, but this driver was not only sensible, he also offered a great motive.
(* I have been scolded several times for this comment on YouTube, but it is the way it is. We would prefer peace and quiet, and our fellow bikers may learn to deal with the comment)
Even if fog and clouds play a prominent role in this year’s photos: Of course, we often saw the sun.
It was often quickly ousted by the next weather front, but it was enough for a sunburn and a few sun photos.
Whether in the lowlands, in Seewinkel and on Lake Neusiedl, or in the mountains on the Austrian-Italian-Swiss border: the sun was especially good in 2020
It was of course ideal when clouds joined the sun, creating even more mood.
Something else was new in 2020. Photo shoots were hardly possible, you weren’t allowed to be in the same room with people. And so portrait photography was aimed at animals!
I discovered that there are a lot of highland cattle on the outskirts of Austria’s second largest city, and explored many new trails.
I am not a bird watcher, but there are so many birds in Seewinkel that you can hardly avoid taking photos of them. This stork wandered in front of my lens in Frauenkirchen.
Finally, a lama in the Hohe Wand Nature Park looked so snooty that it was worth looking at again.
We’re doing our own lockdown: MTB accident
The fourth trip was unfortunately only half as long as planned. Because I was inattentive and clumsy on a flat gravel road, my left foot slipped off the pedal and, on an unfavourable impulse and vector made close acquaintance with the rock right next to the path. Olya also heard the noise 150 meters away, because when the heel bone breaks, it is pretty loud. What followed was no fun and I don’t recommend imitation. First aid in the Tyrolean mountain village, transporting our camper home, which I could no longer drive. An operation two days later, pain, six weeks of no load on the foot. Then another 6 weeks of slow (and painful) load excercises and progress. Only when this article is published, will it be thinkable to start walking – slowly, carefully, and arduously. We hope that we will be able to take a few more travel photos in 2020 in the last few months of the year, but this summer forced us to have a break.
2021 – It can only get better
We hope you enjoyed our 2020 travel photos. 2021 can only as far as travelling goes. However: One thing has to be said. Due to the radius restriction, the motifs were sometimes more interesting than usual. Because if you can’t cover the long distance to Greece for windsurfing, then you have time to occupy yourself on an alpine pasture with the best perspective. That is also a special thing!
When Gerfried was three years old, he was already enjoying travelling in a camper van with his parents. The “camping fever” never left him.
With over three decades of experience travelling by camper van he writes about camper vans, camping products and more.
With his wife Olya he loves visiting wind surfing spots in the south of Europe as well as to the (relatively) undiscovered places on the balkans. Italy, France and Spain are also some of his favourite places to travel to.