About Dr. Christian Klepp
Raised in Hamburg, Germany, I very early discovered my love for pristine nature during countless hikes in the Austrian Alps. I made my first steps in photography with my Praktika MTL-5. I began to focus my interest on the complex geology of the Alps and started to dig for minerals and crystals. During my hikes I was stuck in severe weather more than once. Step by step I developed a deep interest for natures cause and effect. Countless questions were waiting for answers. Therefore I decided to study meteorology and geology / paleontology at the University of Hamburg.
In 1993 I had the opportunity to attend in a two month wintertime expedition to the North Pole onboard the German research icebreaker „Polarstern“. Therefore, I bought a Chinon CP-5 and converted it to external power supply due to air temperatures below –40°C. Never again I felt being closer to Nature's breath than in the perpetual ice. The aim to capture such intense moments of coldness, remoteness and beauty was the final trigger for a long carried dream. I needed to learn how to draw with light.
From this moment on, a very friend of mine, Dr. Frank Paul, who was already photographing on our joint hikes through the Alps, spent countless hours on patient knowledge transfer and image composition training. Now, this is the right place to say thank you Frank! His efforts were successful. I learnt that cirrus clouds covering the blue sky do not end the photographic day and how to use scenes backlit by the sun. I learnt that waking up before the crowds results in images beyond believe. I will never ever forget the magic purple skylight of the blue hour with the fading Earth's shade in the icy air before dawn. Ever since I always carry my tripod with me. This is how I tumbled into star photography by just exceeding the blue hour into the night. Soon I began chasing for shooting stars, comets and lunar eclipses. A Purus camera mount for tracking stars added the possibility of deep sky photography.
Embracing the world
After finishing my master- and later PhD thesis I roamed through Nature's beauty in the American National Parks, West Canada, the Canary Islands and New Zealand. But I always returned to my roots – the European Alps. In Norway I learnt, that soaking in dodgy weather accounts for an even rougher beauty of the images. My collection reached a total of six different Pentax SLR cameras.
By the end of 2004 I switched to digital with the Canon 20D using Canon L-lenses after endless inquiries and tests. My first digital expedition started in late winter 2005 onboard the Irish research vessel „Celtic Explorer“ cruising offshore the Lofoten Islands, Norway, chasing for polar lows. I really experienced every weather imaginable including the magic space weather of the Aurora borealis. It was like magic what the Canon 20D was able to capture of the Northern Lights on a rolling ship using handhold 3200 ASA.
Vacation became a new meaning to me since summer 2005. I realized how important it is to concentrate upon the essentials instead of trying to do everything possible. I spent one month in the most remote regions of Utah and Arizona. Strenuous early day hikes and patiently waiting for the right light resulted in images far beyond belief. From now on, my philosophy of photography was investing a lot of time to get the most out of a few preselected locations.
The beginning of 2006 was entirely dominated by preparing for the total solar eclipse near Antalya, Turkey. I added a second Canon 20D and another Canon L-lens to my equipment. The plan was to capture the full coronal structures and the landscape at the same time during the short phase of totality. Intense training of the photographic program and shooting on both cameras instantaneously in total darkness was the prerequisite for getting perfect shots and, at the same time, viewing the eclipse of only four minutes duration. Seeing the corona for the first time – after standing in the rain during the 1999 eclipse in southern Germany – was among, if not the most emotional moment in my life so far.
In 2008 I added the Astrotrac TT320 mount to my technical equipment for combined star-landscape photography. In 2009 I updated my equipment using the Canon 5D Mk II and the Canon L16-35 II lens. In 2011 I added the Rokinon 14 mm lens for astronomy purposes.
This website project entirely links my photographic passion with my profession of climate research. Passionate photography of Nature's beauty opens up the heart and demands for it's protection. The deeper geoscientific understanding for Nature's cause and effect and the ability of admiration leads to the urgent will to preserve the last sanctuaries on Earth. We should indeed leave only footprints, so that the ones coming after us can still see how beautiful our planet is.
The twofold idea of creating this webpage was born in 2002 to document Nature's beauty and, at the same time, to enhance the understanding of geoscience for the public - the way our Earth system perpetually changes through the unimaginable eons of time.
lepp, February 2011