Photography

Selected Work by Marlene Breitenstein

Photo of a "tunnel" of young grapevines, viewed from underneath, looking down a row. It is autumn and their leaves are yellow, the grass is green and lush, and there is a purple mist in the distance, which the row disappears into.

Vineyard Dream

During an early morning vineyard walk, I took a downhill path and found I was eye-level with this tunnel, created by rows of young grapevines.

Evening photo of an old alley leading into a German village, under a heavily clouded gray sky. On the left is some foliage, then the large red tile roof and facade of a huge stone barn. The peak of the roof is three tall stories high, and it slopes down to the ground floor. The barn, and the moist street, are illuminated by the soft golden glow of a streetlamp.

A Warm Homecoming

After a stormy photography outing, I returned to our village and was greeted by the welcoming glow of this streetlamp.

Photo of the interior of a forest at late dusk, with a soft blue mist coloring everything, except the end of a branch of autumn leaves in the lower right corner.

Nightfall in Blue

The definition of a happy accident, I shot this before realizing I needed to adjust my camera settings for a “correct” exposure.

Photo of a mountain-scape in autumn. In the foreground, orange-leafed trees and pines are producing humid clouds that wisp upwards, while the background is a series of blue mountain ranges.

Autumn Vapors

This view appeared along the trail to Landauer Hütte, during a late afternoon hike.

Photo of two tall pine trees in a soft peach-colored mist, with greenish-gray foliage in the foreground, and a low bank of barely visible trees in back.

Mist Opportunity

On this magical morning, clouds were on the ground for over 2 hours of mist opportunity. (Or not missed.)

Photo of a valley with a pattern of successively smaller, receding green-grassed hills. The upper portions of the slopes are covered in dense evergreen forests. In the valley is a road with a few neatly maintained homesteads.

Rolling Green

These parallel hills in the Black Forest are topped with planted spruce trees, a monoculture threatened by storms due to climate change. In Germany, it is very unusual to see single-family houses standing alone, as they’re almost invariably gathered together in villages.

Photo of a late-autumn vineyard landscape, a copse of trees backlit by a post-sunset bank of orange and purple clouds, and a distant mountaintop rising in the atmospheric haze.

Atmospheric Dream

After an astounding golden hour, an equally beautiful blue hour unfolded. If you look closely you can see a tower in the break of the distant mountain, it’s called Martinsturm (Martin’s tower). 

Impressionistic photo of branches of golden and orange leaves, hovering above thin, straight, almost-black tree trunks. The cooler background colors of violet, blue, and green offset the warm leaves.

Golden Impression

Cool violet, blue, and green offset and surround the warm yellow and orange of these autumn leaves, like color dabs from a paintbrush.

Photo of four bunches of old, violet grapes on gnarly, lichen-covered vines. They are strewn with dewy spiderwebs. The background is a misty green, orange, and purple.

Weinbeeren

In Pfalz, the “Tuscany of Germany,” we get more sunlight than other regions. (Most of Germany is endless gray skies from November to March.) Machinery harvests the many grape varieties grown here, sometimes leaving bunches unpicked at the ends of rows. These are delicious Grauburgunder, related to Pinot Gris. I find these grapes to be especially beautiful, ranging from violet to orange.

Sunrise photo of a hillside, topped by a lone, broad-canopied tree in silhouette. The sky has a dramatic orange glow and blue-gray clouds. The hill is lined by rows of vineyards. In the mid-ground are two tall, slimmer trees, also silhouetted, and in the low foreground are the orange and green leaves of autumn grapevines.

Inferno at Daybreak

On mornings like this, I’m yanked out of the house by a promising sky, hurrying into the vineyards, trying to capture a transient moment of nature’s perfect loveliness.

Photo of a wall of a half-timbered house, painted a salmon color, with five windows (or 7 if you’re picky). Some windows have old-style shutters, and the timber beams are quite uneven, demonstrating that the house is very old.

Gingerbread with Windows

Windows on a funky half-timbered house in Wissembourg, France. (It almost looks enchanted, like it’s the upstairs at the Seven Dwarfs house.)

Photo of a mountain-scape in autumn. In the foreground, orange-leafed trees and pines are producing humid clouds that wisp upwards, while the background is a series of blue mountain ranges.

Coy

While visiting Montemercurio vineyards in Montepulciano, Italy, a friend was greeted by this sassy cat. It wanted to be petted, but didn’t, but did, but didn’t…
(See the second cat?)

Photo of a Tuscan vista. Lower in the foreground are receding rows of vineyards. The center row directly points to the middle ground, a gently undulating hillside topped by a tree-lined villa, its shadows stretching towards the viewer. In the background is another atmospheric hillside, partly forested and hazy blue.

Villa of the Long Shadows

The sublimely colored vista, directly across from the cantina of Montemercurio winery, in Montepulciano, Italy. (Opposite view from the previous photo.)

Horizontal photo that's been inverted, depicting the silhouette of a tree against a golden sunset sky, as seen in a series of receding puddles.

Silhouette in Purple and Gold

These puddles on a path required that I crouch at just the right angle and distance to get this sunset reflection.

Horizontal photo that's been inverted, depicting the silhouette of a tree against a golden sunset sky, as seen in a series of receding puddles.

Yellow Grape Leaves

Horizontal photo that's been inverted, depicting the silhouette of a tree against a golden sunset sky, as seen in a series of receding puddles.

Farm in Red

A visiting friend, there when this photo was taken, remarked that it is reminiscent of Edward Hopper. I think so, too.

Horizontal photo that's been inverted, depicting the silhouette of a tree against a golden sunset sky, as seen in a series of receding puddles.

The Triple Win

Autumn, the sun breaking through storm clouds, and mountains. What more does one need?

Horizontal photo that's been inverted, depicting the silhouette of a tree against a golden sunset sky, as seen in a series of receding puddles.

Silence

Horizontal photo that's been inverted, depicting the silhouette of a tree against a golden sunset sky, as seen in a series of receding puddles.

Dusk

Wrap your mantle
About us both—
I am tired too.
And cold, and full of sleep.
And keep your arm around me—day
Is far away
And night has not yet called us. Let us pull
The mantle closer, Dusk, O beautiful!
(by Mary Carolyn Davies)

A New Year’s Eve sunset, with light spilling from a winemaker’s doorway.

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Where Am I?

Sometimes in the Washington, DC area.
Sometimes I’m traveling elsewhere.

Otherwise I’m near Landau in der Pfalz, in the Südliche Weinstrasse (Southern Wine Route) region of Germany, characterized by endless vineyards, and bordered by mountains covered with fairy-tale forests. France is 25 minutes away.