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About geoscientist and photographer Christian Klepp and the Lightyears project

Geoscientist and Photographer Dr. Christian Klepp

Meet Dr. Christian Klepp

Have you ever met a deeply passionate landscape photographer and unconventional geoscientist? I am both, plus an avid adventurer from Hamburg, Germany. My 20 years of professional experience in Earth System and Climate Research and my 26 years of dedicated landscape photography merge into an exciting geoscientific journey across our planet. I bring the unique beauty of our home planet vividly and intuitively back into our awareness and show how Earth functions and perpetually changes and evolves through the eons of time. To awaken respect and arouse curiosity for our home planet and to protect the diversity of our planet is nearest and dearest to my heart and defines me and my way of life. I cordially invite you to accompany me on this journey to the most impressive places on earth and to explore with me the fascinating geological formations that have created these awe-inspiring landscapes.


Christian Klepp outdoor with his camera.

Christian Klepp euphoric after a photo shooting and behind his star tracking equipment.

My enthusiasm for our planet already arose early during my childhood hikes with my parents in the Austrian Alps. It was there that I discovered the pristine beauty of glaciated mountains reflected in crystal clear mountain lakes surrounded by lush green forests. Later I began to explore the complex geology of the Alps and collect the astoundingly diverse rocks. I was repeatedly confronted with severe thunderstorms, torrential rain, mudslides and scary rockfalls. Deeply fascinated I wanted to understand the processes that cause these natural phenomena. Endowed with unbridled curiosity and determination, my deep-rooted love for nature led me to study meteorology and geology to learn how our planet functions.

I enthusiastically recall two freezing cold winter months during which I worked on the frozen Arctic Ocean between Greenland and the North Pole on board a research icebreaker. Exploring the icy silence of this sublime landscape and feeling the humility of being surrounded by hungry polar bears were absolutely exhilarating. On top of this came my respect for the incomprehensible age of rocks and their formation. But back then I had no way to share my feelings in these wild places with those not fortunate enough to be there with me. It was right there in the Arctic when it dawned on me that I had to learn how to “write with light”.

Since then it has been my passionate aim to capture and share these intimate moments of nature's beauty. At the same time I want to bring the geological past of the landscapes to life. This provides me with limitless energy to constantly improve my self-taught photographic horizon and to inspire enthusiasm for the uniqueness of our planet through my photographs and stories.

My camera is the extension of my eyes to depict my very personal perception of nature into unique images captured in ways unseen before. Evoking deep emotions in the viewer by sharing a fleeting moment of magical light is truly a wonderful gift. No less fascinating is the disparity in perception of the picture. While the viewer sees a rather romantic perspective, as a photographer I experience the adventure up close. The patience and dedication for many repeat visits to a location until the light is perfect, strenuous hikes with heavy equipment, exposure to rain, wind and cold, the sleep deprivation, feelings of fear and joy as well as overcoming obstacles that get in your way tell a unique story behind every image. It is precisely these adventures and challenges that make capturing these rare magical moments of perfect light so intoxicating, euphoric and rewarding.

Who is not captivated and awestruck by the vastness and beauty of the Milky Way? The sight of a nocturnal landscape under the bright shining arch of the Milky Way enchants me every time anew. My mobile astronomical star tracking device compensates the rotation of the earth and allows me to capture point-shaped stars with very long exposure times and without any notable image noise. With this technology, even very faint stars that are not visible to the naked eye are easily recorded by the camera's sensor to conjure up breathtaking stellar displays.

My award-winning photographs can be seen in galleries of international exhibitions, photo award galleries, book articles, online and print magazines as well as in my book Where Geoscience Meets Art.

Christian Klepp overlooking Harpers Corner geology in Dinosaur National Monument

Artist's Statement

Geoscience blended with photography holds the key to deciphering and sharing the majestic stories written in stone. On a human time span of about a century we occasionally hear about earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides and volcanic eruptions. But when looking at the geological time span of millions of years, which we can no longer grasp, these sporadic events become enormous rock cycles that act both horizontally and vertically in the earth system. They not only move the continents restlessly across the earth’s surface, but also act so that entire ocean basins fall in and out of existence. The heat generated in the earth's interior drives these processes. Remarkably, all these deep-time processes are written in the rocks that lie at our feet and form the diversity of the landscapes we see today. Picking up a rock and reading its eventful geological past can lead to deep respect and awe. That’s why deciphering the geological history of a landscape is one of the most fascinating adventures of our time.
I would like to share these stories with you.

As a climate scientist I work in the field of satellite remote sensing and onboard research vessels on the global oceans. I don't see countries, borders or territories either from space or on the oceans. All I see is a vulnerable planet that is home to us all. I also bear witness to the consequences of the rapid, mainly human-driven, climate change and the ever faster destruction of the remaining ecosystems and landscapes. I really cannot over-emphasize just how urgently we need to develop respect for our planet and contribute to its preservation.

Although it’s literally five minutes to midnight, our chance is to rethink. The key is to develop an appreciation for the beauty and uniqueness of our planet and to evolve interest in how our planet works. Don't we all want to protect what we love?
Let us love our unique planet and protect its beauty and diversity for generations to come!


2021 I Geo Art Competition Award I Switzerland

2021 I Siena Creative Photo Award I Italy

2021 I Trierenberg Super Circuit Award I Austria

2020 I Trierenberg Super Circuit Award I Arctic Gate I Austria

2013 I Global Arctic Award I PSA Nature and FIAP Nature Medals I Russia

2012 I María Luisa Memorial Award I Top-Down Perspective Winner I Portugal

2012 I Glanzlichter Award I Magnificent Wilderness and Mountains of the World I Germany

2011 I María Luisa Memorial Award I Mountain Landscape and Natural Landscape Diploma I Portugal

2011 I Al Thani Award I Masters of Photography Winner I Qatar

2011 I Trierenberg Super Circuit Award I PSA-Gold Medal Best of Show I Austria

2011 I Trierenberg Super Circuit Award I Gold Medal of ExcellenceI Austria

2011 I Trierenberg Super Circuit Award I VÖAV Bronze Medal I Austria

2011 I Glanzlichter Award I Coastlines and Magnificent Wilderness Winner I Germany

2010 I European Geosciences Union Award I Science Photo Contest I Austria


2022 I Solo Photo Exhibition with 20 images I Hamburg, Germany

2020 I Solo Photo Exhibition with 23 images I Hamburg, Germany

2018 I Greenbelt Art Center I USA

2017 I Russian Art Center I Russia

2016 I Russian Art Center I Russia

2013 I Russian Art Center I Russia

2010 I World EXPO 2010 I China


2022 I Discovery Days Speaker | Flims, Switzerland

2021 I Econ Referenten Agentur Speaker | Germany

2020 I Vernissage of the Solo Photo Exhibition with 23 images I Hamburg, Germany

2019 I Seasurfer Concert Support with Landscape Photography Stage Projections I Germany

2019 I Seasurfer Concert Support with Landscape Photography Stage Projections I Portugal

2019 I Seasurfer Concert Support with Landscape Photography Stage Projections I Germany

2018 I Live TV Interview and Lightyears Film at NDR Mein Nachmittag I Germany

2018 I TV Lightyears Film at NDR DAS! I Germany

2018 I TV Interview and OceanRAIN Film at NDR DAS! I Germany


2020 I Band Shooting with Seasurfer for their third album Zombies I Germany

2020 I Interview with the radio and TV station NDR about the photo exhibition I Hamburg, Germany

2020 I Book contribution Quintessence 2000-2020, Trierenberg Super Circuit I Austria

2020 I Album Cover Shooting for the Band Seasurfer I Germany

2018 I Video Footage and Band Shooting with Seasurfer I USA

2018 I Nature Scientific Data Publication on OceanRAIN I United Kingdom

2018 I Lightyears Photography Book I Germany

2017 I World Data Center for Climate OceanRAIN Dataset I Germany

2017 I Welt Newspaper Article I Germany

2017 I Hamburger Abendblatt Newspaper Article I Germany

2017 I Extraordinary Vision Magazine I New Zealand

2017 I Seasurfer Album Cover Artwork I USA

2017 I Extraordinary Vision Magazine Article I New Zealand

2016 I Geonova Geoscience Article I Norway

2014 I Salt Magazine I Netherlands

2014 I National Geographic Book Stunning Photographs I USA

2013 I Junior Magazine I Germany

2013 I Billa Kids Sticker Book I Austria

2013 I Globetrotter Article I Germany

2013 I Photography Week Magazine I USA

2012 I Natur Photo Magazine I Germany

2012 I Fotocommunity Magazine Article I Germany

2011 I Max Planck Institute Strategic Plan I Germany

2011 I Stern View Spotlight Article I Germany

2010 I Max Planck Institute Website Department Images I Germany


2021 I Swiss Alps I Switzerland

2018 I Kellerwald I Germany

2018 I Colorado Plateau I USA

2018 I Rocky Mountains I USA

2017 I Karijini I Australia

2016 I Rocky Mountains I USA

2016 I Nambung, Kalbarri and Shark Bay I Australia

2015 I Swiss Alps I Switzerland

2015 I Colorado Plateau I USA

2014 I Cascade Range and Pacific Coastline I USA

2014 I Alps I Switzerland, Italy, France, Austria and Germany

2014 I Iceland Winter Expedition I Iceland

2013 I South Island of New Zealand I New Zealand

2013 I Winter Rocky Mountains I USA

2011 I Swiss Alps I Switzerland

2011 I French and Swiss Alps I France and Switzerland

2011 I Iceland Winter Expedition I Iceland

2010 I Iceland Midsummer I Iceland

2009 I Canadian and American Rocky Mountains I Canada and USA

2009 I Leonid Meteor Shower I Cypress

2008 I Northwestern America I USA

2007 I Swiss Alps I Switzerland

2006 I Great Barrier Reef I Australia

2006 I Sierra Nevada and Cascade Range I USA

2006 I Total Solar Eclipse I Turkey

2005 I Southwest America I USA

2005 I North Atlantic Winter Expedition I North Atlantic and Norway

2004 I Swiss Alps I Switzerland

2003 I Gran Canaria Canary Islands I Spain

2003 I West Coast of Norway I Norway

2002 I Fuerteventura Canary Islands I Spain

2002 I Swiss Alps I Switzerland

2002 I North and South Island of New Zealand I New Zealand

2001 I Lanzarote Canary Islands I Spain

2001 I Arizona and Utah I USA

2000 I Winter Austrian Alps I Austria

1999 I Tenerife Canary Islands I Spain

1998 I American and Canadian Rocky Mountains I USA and Canada

1998 I Austrian Alps I Austria

1997 I Austrian Alps I Austria

1997 I Comet Hale-Bopp I Germany

1996 I North Cascades I USA

1996 I Comet Hyakutake I Germany

1994 I Austrian Alps I Austria

1993 I Icebreaker Polarstern Winter Expedition to the North Pole I Arctic, Norway, Russia

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