Wide angle living - Part 10: We take a trip to the Rhine's wine making region

An impromptu drive along the Rhine, a short distance from Frankfurt, was a great excuse for another wide angle living post. Join me for a brief tour around the quaint town of 'Rüdesheim am Rhein', part of the UNESCO World Heritage site that is the Rhine Gorge.

A few weeks ago, on an unusually warm Sunday, we decided to go for a drive along the river Rhine. Frankfurt is not far from the Rhine, and you can travel along the river Main that flows into the Rhine at Mainz. This part of the Middle Rhine (or Rhine Gorge) is also known as the Romantic Rhine Valley, extending 65km from Bingen to Koblenz.

When you travel along the Rhine it is easy to see why it is so famous, with its forested hillsides and near-vertical vineyards. It also has many old castles dotted along the route, sometimes perked above the Rhine on cliff edges. Many of these well preserved castles look like they belong in fairy tales. I once did a 100km rowing race along the Rhine from Loreley to Bonn and seeing these amazing castles from the river is quite an amazing site! Side note: if anyone ever asks you to join a boat team and row 100km on the Rhine, turn around and run away - it takes a very long time!

The driving route goes through idyllic German villages with half-timbered houses and Gothic churches.  You can really sense the deep historical and cultural significance of this area, being an important waterway for the Roman Empire. However, the cultural history of the Rhine goes back much further, as way back as 1 BC.

Back to our trip, after a short drive we ended up at Rüdesheim am Rhein, a German winemaking town in the Rhine Gorge, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This wine region is part of the Rheingau (meaning "Rhine district") consisting of 13 designated German wine regions, situated in the state of Hesse. Along this part of the Rhine, the river hosts the boundaries of the states of Hesse and Rhineland-Palatinate.

Less history, more photos!

The Xpan is made for vast panoramic landscapes, although I find that it requires a bit more thought and creativity when shooting landscapes to produce some interesting shots. All photos were shot on Kodak Gold 200, which is a decent consumer grade film. Not only does a special 3-pack cost about the same as some professional single rolls, its low ISO 200 was perfect for the bright sunny conditions. 

A lone hiker enjoying the view down towards Rüdesheim. The Xpan is so wide that even if he turned around he wouldn't think he would be in my frame. 
The start of the quirky cable car, which takes about 10 mins to get to the top of the hill in the distance. 
The cable car takes you directly over the vineyards and consists of 2 person cars, which are quite amusing. This one looks like it is floating in mid air!
Looking down onto the Rhine. This is where Kodak Gold 200 falls down a bit, it has trouble with high dynamic range shots and sometimes produces some funky colours. 
I always get a kick out of shooting shadow shots, especially in wide angle!
A better colour balanced shot looking out across the vineyards.
I quite like how this shot came out, with the dark side walls focusing more attention on the colourful house in the middle of the frame.
Two tractors in one frame? Yes, please!
The fantastic panoramic view once you get to the top of the cable car route.
The magnificent 'Niederwalddenkmal' monument, built in the 1870s to commemorate the Unification of Germany after the end of the Franco-Prussian war. The central figure, 'Germania" is a 10 metre tall figure that is the personification of the German nation. It really is an amazing structure as a whole, and can be seen from quite a long way away as it sits high above the Rhine. 
Despite the bright sun making a mockery of my Kodal Gold film, at least I like the composition of this shot.
Vertical shots are always a challenge with the Xpan camera, however I think this one gives some scale to the size of the monument.
Prosecco and cheesecake, don't mind if I do!
The main square of Rüdesheim am Rhein. 
Enjoying a trip up the cable car. 
One of my favourite shots. You can walk along the vineyard up to the top of the hill, but the cable car is more fun!

Overall observations

This whole region has so much offer, whether through its history, culture, or vast and interesting landscapes. It rolling hills with "vertical vineyards" makes for some really nice landscapes to look at, and to photograph!. Of course, if you are a Rielsing fan, this is the place to be! There are also lots of boat trips you can do along the Rhine, it is a very long river! 

This particular part of the Rhine is really nice and an easy half day trip from Frankfurt, or a longer one day trip taking you along the Rhine up to Koblenz and driving back on the faster Autobahn route. There are many small and interesting towns dotted all along the Rhine, on both sides of the river. 

As for the film, it served its purpose as a decent consumer grade film. In fact, I quite like this film for the simpler snapshot type shots one takes as a tourist. It is easy to find on the high street in Germany and has a great price. However, I think it works better as a single frame 35mm shot, as opposed to two frame 35mm shot on an Xpan camera. 

I hope you enjoyed this short post and that you learned a bit about this beautiful part of Germany. 

I have plenty more posts waiting to be added, so more to come soon!

See you next time,

Neil