Monday, September 30, 2013

Arcade Fire - "Reflektor" (MusicMonday)

I love the music of Canadian band Arcade Fire just about as much as I love the photography and films of Dutch artist Anton Corbijn, who famously photographed Joy Division and directed the Ian Curtis film Control. So the stark black-and-white video for Arcade Fire's new song "Reflektor" directed by Anton Corbijn is a real present to my eyes and ears.

Arcade Fire 'Reflektor'

Anton Corbijn is one of the biggest influences on my early days of photography. What excites me about his film work is that so many of the shots you could freeze, print and hang up on your wall as a great, often minimalistic, atmospheric, sometimes story-telling piece of art work. This video again is a collection of beautiful, moving photographs.

The fact that it includes a disco ball and a man in a disco ball suit is just a little extra bonus on top.

Oh, and yes I do think the Arcade Fire song is awesome, too. Their new album Reflektor is coming out October 29th.

Arcade Fire - Reflektor

Friday, September 27, 2013

Harvest Moonrise - In A Colorado Minute (Week 178)

Harvest Moonrise - In A Colorado Minute (Week 178) from Luci Westphal on Vimeo.

When I shot this video of the moon rising above Ft. Collins, Colorado, seen from the foothills around the Horsetooth Reservoir, it was already the night after the official full moon. But as you can see the Harvest Moon still shines brightly and very orange until it turns white among the clouds.

Scott and I had seen the magnificent orange Harvest Moon the two evenings before - but it wasn't until the second time when we happened to see it from the foothills that the idea of shooting a timelapse video came up. So the next night we camped out and had one of the most romantic few hours watching the entire moon rise. I can only recommend it! Bring a little patience (just like when watching this video, you might have to watch the stars for a while first). Around this time of year the moon rises 40  minutes later from evening to evening. Two days before it was already up while the sun was still out. This time we knew it wasn't going to appear until it was already dark. Therefore, don't expect it to light up the sky around the same time as the evening before.

For me this was extra special because we had seen the Super Moon and a Blue Moon, respectively, on my previous two times in Colorado this summer - and this one was definitely the best for many reasons. (For a little insider information: check out the song "Harvest Moon" by Neil Young)

The song is an instrumental version of "Take My Sad Away" by Four Dollar Wine (aka Thimo Sander and Scott Solary).

For those interested in technical aspects. I shot this with my Canon 60D as a series of photos (one every 3 seconds) with an auto-exposure on a slightly windy evening on a not-so-great tripod. After I turned the photos into video clips (25 fps), I used smooth cam in FCP to get rid of some of the bounce. It worked on some clips, but made others much worse (apparently it would lock into the movement of a plane or something). The next time-lapse video you'll probably see from me is one featuring just the moving stars of the night sky...

The 2013 Harvest Moon over Fort Collins, Colorado

Monday, September 23, 2013

Mazzy Star - "California" (MusicMonday)

Hope Sandoval's band Mazzy Star is back!!!

The new album entitled Seasons of Your Day is coming out in the US tomorrow 9/24 (in the UK today) and will be their first studio album in 17 years! You can listen to the entire album streaming on NPR.

Their 1993 album So Tonight That I Might See is still one of my favorite albums of all time. From watching the slow, mesmerizing video for "California" and listening to Hope's beautiful, longing, yet calm, floating voice and the stripped-down guitar, I already know I'm going to love the new album.

Now I only wish I had had this song a few weeks ago. It would have been the perfect soundtrack for packing up in Berlin and flying across the Atlantic Ocean and then re-packing in New York and flying across the American Continent - even if I was headed to Colorado, not California.

Sorry, people in Germany, I could only find this video as a vevo release - so unless you use a proxy plug-in, you won't be able to watch this.

Mazzy Star - California

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Flooding of the Poudre River - In A Colorado Minute (Week 177)

Flooding Poudre River - In A Colorado Minute (Week 177) from Luci Westphal on Vimeo.

Most of you probably heard about the record amount of rain coming down on Colorado this past week and all the terrible flooding it caused; destroying homes, bridges, streets and leaving thousands of people stranded without power or running water. There were deaths and still many people are missing.

For me it was the first full week of living in Colorado. As I have been making these weekly 1-minute videos for over three years both as a moving postcard greeting to you (that I hope you also send as a greeting to others) and also as a kind of video journal of what I experience personally, I was faced with the question if I should run out there with my camera and capture the catastrophe. I decided not to. While I think it's important to capture and share news, I don't appreciate sensationalizing a catastrophe. Maybe even more importantly, I didn't want to be a driver on the streets adding to the frustration of gridlock traffic and thus blocking emergency vehicles and people who really needed to get somewhere to help.

Therefore, what week 177 was really like for me had nothing to do with catastrophe and tragedy. On the contrary, I happened to have a lovely week with my husband and my in-laws (visiting from Florida) - mostly hiding from the rain and nesting in a brand new home in Ft. Collins. But who really wants to see a video of that...? I thought so.

But because I did want to capture a little bit what happened this week, once the worst was over, (on September 16th) I shot these images for you of the Cache La Poudre River that runs through Ft. Collins. By this time the flood waters had mostly moved further east, wrecking havoc in Greeley and beyond.

In the video you can still see how much higher the water had been in the days before by the destruction of the banks - but you can also see that it's still higher than normal, flooding my jogging path along the river and destroying the beach we hung out after tubing down the river on the 4th of July. The closer images of the water remind you how fast and powerful running water can be. By the end of filming it began raining again. 

Even though for the last few days the sun has been out most of the time (and we did finally get to take the family out to see some of the beauty of the foothills), the effects of the rain and flooding will be felt for a long time. I'm very grateful to live in a safe place. My family lost our home due to flooding when I was four, so I'm familiar with the devastation it can cause.  My heart goes out to all who have lost loved ones or their homes.

The song you hear through the rushing water is called "Bruce Lee" and was written and recorded by Jason Matherne of Goonygoogoo Productions.

Cache La Poudre River during the 2013 flood in Colorado
"River Access"

Friday, September 13, 2013

Colorado on Instagram - In A Colorado Minute (Week 176)

Colorado on Instagram - In A Colorado Minute (Week 176) from Luci Westphal on Vimeo.

This video shows a collection of photos I've taken over the course of the summer when I was just visiting. All of the pictures I took with my iphone. Most of them I posted publicly on my Instagram account (, some of them were taken with the Hipstamatic app, some I hadn't yet published anywhere.

While I had the intention to shoot a sunrise for my first "I'm officially here for awhile" video (as I have done for Berlin and for Brooklyn), the heavy rains prevented this and instead I decided to spend a few hours looking through the images that proved to me again why I want to live here. It's pretty obvious, isn't it?

The music is an instrumental version of the song "Somebody New" by German-American band Four Dollar Wine. C'mon, spport two awesome artists and buy their record: digital version at and for the in your hands CD, get in touch with me and I'll hook you up.

Estes Park - Roosevelt National Forest - Colorado

Monday, September 9, 2013

Coney Island - In A Brooklyn Minute (Week 175)

Coney Island - In A Brooklyn Minute (Week 175) from Luci Westphal on Vimeo.

Coney Island (which really was an island until the straight was filled with dirt) is one of my favorite places in the world - and I'm not even a big fan of amusement parks.

Taking the subway* or my bike straight to the Atlantic Ocean beach; getting french fries from Nathan's, a beer at Ruby's (maybe a funnel cake from inside Astroland or now renamed Luna Park again - if I can make it fit); watching the families, the cool city kids, the freaks and the Russian neighbors stroll the boardwalk with its funky old and now also new stands; cheering on the Polar Bear Club members as they run into the freezing waves on January 1st or the half-nude mermaids and mermen on Mermaid Parade or the about-to-be-huge indie bands at Village Voice's Siren Music Festival (until 2010); picking out yet another shirt or present at Lola Star and finishing it all off with watching the Friday night fireworks on a warm summer night... I couldn't be happier. Throw in a Cyclones baseball game or a visit to the Aquarium and you have a 1-day vacation package.

I've been coming to Coney Island since moving to Brooklyn on New Year's Even 1998/99 and I've seen so many changes. I was heartbroken when they tore down the other ancient roller coaster (the Cyclone still runs after almost 90 years - but you won't get me on that). I was sad when all the old used furniture stores disappeared.

The free Siren Festival, where I saw bands like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Spoon, Art Brut and many others before they made it really big, ended just as I was moving to Berlin, where the Berlin Festival kept me entertained. I preferred the old Luna Park over that new Luna Park and all its snazzy rides. Ruby's got a facelift and the rocket disappeared. I never participated in "Shoot The Freak" - but it was bizarre enough that it was fun to watch a guy trying to avoid getting shot by paintballs. But you know, some of that old run-down charm still survives and no matter if you're into screaming your head off on new rides or an ancient roller coaster, if you enjoy taking in a baseball game while watching the ocean in the background or just want to bask in the sun - Coney Island is still where it's at and definitely not to be missed on your next trip to New York. And to my New York friends: you don't go often enough!

Coney Island is a place that I will always return to. So as I'm packing my bags for my move out west, I think this is a very fitting last Brooklyn video for a little while. Again I'm leaving a home with a smile and with tears in my eyes (mit einem lachenden und einem weinenden Auge).

Brooklyn, I love you so much!!!

Music by Jason Matherne of Goonygoogoo Productions.

* take a ride with me and my friend Julia Wiedwald from Berlin on the "Subway to Coney Island – In A Brooklyn Minute (Week 106)"

Coney Island, Brooklyn, NY

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Photos from Dowdy Lake - Red Feather Lakes, Colorado

Here are a few photos from the shoot of the 1-minute video 'Dowdy Lake (Red Feather Lakes) – In A Colorado Minute (Week 174)"

To watch the video and read more about Dowdy Lake please click right HERE.

To see larger versions of the photos just click on any of the pictures. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Zola Jesus - "Fall Back" (MusicMonday)

The song "Fall Back" by Zola Jesus (aka Nika Roza Danilova) is the only new song on her album Versions, which otherwise features stripped-down string-heavy versions of previously released songs.

To me the song and video (directed by Allie Avital) are simple, beautiful, powerful and perfect.

Via NPR: "When I wrote 'Fall Back,' I was thinking of those moments in your life when you know exactly what you want, and how it is in that instant of knowing that you commit yourself to the unbending stamina of your own will," Nika writes. "You relinquish control to instincts. The video communicates the stillness of conviction."

Zola Jesus in the video for "Fall Back"