In 2020 alone, a combination of droughts and a raging bark beetle infestation spurred by the climate crisis diminished Germany’s spruce tree population by record numbers. The European nation lost an estimated 4.3 percent of the evergreen species, which tend to grow in both commercial and naturally established forests in the Bavarian Alps and along the southeastern border. Photographer Kilian Schönberger (previously) visited these regions in the early part of 2021 to shed light on the enchanting beauty of the wooded areas that are undergoing substantial transformations.
Endorsement for Spruce Forests captures the species’ ethereal nature as sunlight filters through fog and morning mist, casting a warm candy-colored glow on the landscape. Pink light illuminates the barren branches that splay outward alongside trees covered in needles, while other shots show the rough, labyrinth-like paths that wind through the hilly terrain. Despite their durable material, the spruce take on a delicate, gentle quality in Schönberger’s photos, which are informed by his understanding of the trees’ natural rhythms:
Huge woods were destroyed by the bark beetle within a few weeks. Since the lowlands are not the natural habitat of the spruce the bark beetles just restored the balance of nature… In the Eastern Bavarian mountain ranges with higher precipitation, I was looking for natural spruce forests and found a wood wonderland. That’s the area where almost homogeneous spruce forests will also grow in the next decades.
Schönberger frequently travels from his home in the Bavarian Alps across Europe, and you can follow his adventures on Instagram. Prints of Endorsement for Spruce Forests are also available on his site.
Share this story
In honor of the final season of Games of Thrones, German photographer Kilian Schönberger (previously) has translated his ethereal photography of central Europe’s icy landscapes, mystical castles, and foggy forests into a photographic tribute. Inspired by the frozen fantasy world of George R.R. Martin’s books and by the geography of his native lands, Schönberger’s alternate storyline imagines snow-covered trees as menacing White Walkers, towering mountain ranges as The Wall, and ancient stone structures as home to the highborn families of Westeros.
Schönberger tells Colossal that the photographs published in his online tribute were taken in forests along the German-Czech border, in the rocky canyon landscapes of Saxon Switzerland, Saxony, and East Germany, inside of an ice cave near Germany’s Lake Königssee, and at the foot of the Dolomites this past winter. Using his background in geography studies and his knowledge of meteorology, Schönberger says that his process as a photographer involves a lot of preparation and waiting so that he can capture the “genius loci” (the pervading spirit of a place) at just the right time.
“Since I grew up myself in a remote forest area, my childhood was shaped by the local fairytales and a lot of experiences out in nature,” he said. “And that is what’s still visible in my work today. I try to capture the scenes that inspire people to make up their own stories with my photos as a visual backdrop.” To see the images in context with Schönberger’s narrative, check out the photographer’s Behance portfolio. To see even more of his landscape photography, follow him on Instagram.
Share this story
For his 2014 series New Moon, photographer David Lados captured varying streaks of light slicing through remote areas of Hungarian forests, many specifically staged throughout the Mátra mountain range. To capture the contrast needed for his light trails Lados strictly obeyed lunar cycles, only photographing the illuminated targets during the height of the new moon.
Using this technique Lados was able to create an uncompromised glow from the artificial light source, tracing pathways that extend a few feet to the entire length of a pond. You can purchase select prints from Lados’s series on his Saatchi Art shop, and view day-to-day dispatches from his life and other projects on Instagram. (via Cross Connect)
Share this story
German photographer Kilian Schönberger (previously) is known for capturing otherworldly images of his natural surroundings. His latest series, Winter’s Tale, was shot in the mountain ranges of Germany and central Europe and showcases the desaturated, hushed landscapes of snow-covered forests. Schönberger describes the mystical quality of his Winter’s Tale series: “Winter was the time when tales and legends were told at home, the whole family sitting around the tiled stove. The mystic figures are just waiting in front of the doorstep, snow and frost seem to make trees alive.”
The photographer shares with Colossal that challenging conditions are part of the game when shooting outdoors during the winter. Schönberger treks in with snowshoes or cross country skis, and sometimes waits two hours or more in frigid temperatures for the right shot, while battling shortened battery life and fickle sunlight that is needed to illuminate a scene without melting delicate frost. In addition to his Behance portfolio, you can see more of Schönberger’s work on his website and Instagram.
Share this story
Editor's Picks: History
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.