Hof Grafel

Quality time with my kids and the only vegetarian farm that I know

For the last 3 years I spend at least one vacation with my two children and their grandmother on a farm near Lüneburger Heide called Hof Grafel. The farm at Rotenburg an der Wümme is run by a nice couple their daughter her partner. They repurposed the old pigsties into holiday homes. The farm is not only visited by families with kids. They also offer yoga courses and nutritional advice. 
Wilhelm is responsible for the yoga lessons and the nutritional advice. Furthermore, he is a beekeeper and together with his son in law to be he grows vegetables. His daughter Kathrin is taking care about the numerous animals in the farm. They include donkeys, horses, goats, sheep and others. She offers horse riding lessons almost every day and includes the children in the daily care of the animals. Petra is the former owner of the farm and is now taking care of the visitors. 
The breakfast is served daily in the main building, as well as cake and coffee in the afternoon and an ever-changing lunch in the evening. The special thing about it is, that all is vegetarian. Which is of course not usual on a farm, but a delicious experience, nevertheless. Except for the bees producing honey, all other animals are not being kept for producing food. That means that their farming is without slaughtering animals.

I’m mostly into landscape photography, but this yearly vacation gives me the possibility to try some portrait photography, although when working with kids some of the pictures are only results of snapshots. Most of the time my daughter and my son don’t like to portrait but from time to time I can convince them to do a little photo session with me. Nevertheless, some of my favorite pictures are those that were shot when my kids weren’t aware of the camera. When riding the horse, cuddling the donkey or just jumping on the trampoline. I guess no one would doubt that the most honest pictures are those when the person is feeling unobserved.

When shooting portraits, I’m only using natural light. To be a decent portrait photographer I should probably learn to use artificial flashlight, but that’s the one thing I refuse to learn and use until today.

This year, in April 2019 I witnessed a series of colorful sunsets in the first days of our vacation at Hof Grafel. So, I couldn’t do other than take the chance and head of out for a photo shoot in the evening. My first thought was to capture the direct sundown at the horizon. I knew of an old barn house that was surrounded by nothing but open field and a clear view on the setting sun. I got was I was hoping for but on my way to the location I found something even more promising. I decided to head out again the next evening.

I was lucky enough to get another clear sky with lots of warm orange glow by the setting sun. 
So, I was heading towards the location I discovered the day before. It was a path covered by lines of trees on each side. The path runs in a 90-degree angle to the sun. No car or human being was disturbing the scene. I got beautiful colors, rays of sunlight and an overall ethereal look that I later emphasized with the Orton Effect whilst post processing. I also focus stacked two images to get sharpness through the whole picture. Totally happy with what I got out of this location; I went back to the farm. On my way I came by a line of trees that were the entrance to the local forest. This line was right across the setting sun. The look was breath-taking. The trees were glowing dark red and it looked like the forest was on fire. The glowing tree trunks were surrounded by the deep forest darkness. I got one more shot then I wasn’t looking for. In fact, it turned out to be my favourite landscape shot of that vacation. It was not the obvious shot when heading out for a sundown but after all, the one that was the most stunning one and I learned another lesson: When watching a nice sunset it might be a good idea to turn around, as sometimes the real magic happens behind you.

reflection fairy lake tree
horse sundown
hof grafel, rotenburg an der wümme
path, forest road, light, aerial
sunset, forest light
flying, man of steel, superman
old barn, farm, decay, sunset
horse riding, pony
lonely tree, lake tree
japan, flower, blooming
riding a bike in the forest
hof grafel, rotenburg an der wümme, tent
riding a bike