Reflections

As mentioned in a post earlier, one of the assignments for the Academy of Arts was to take pictures of reflections. So one weekend we set off to the Belgian coast (one way or another we always end up in Middelkerke though, maybe since i went there all the time with my parents during my youth?), with the idea to photograph refelections in the water pools formed in the tidal zone of the beach. Add to the that a paper boat beautifully crafted by my wife, and the result is something that symbolises the sea very good i think…
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Picture data : Rolleiflex 3.5F, exposure unrecorded, Kodak TMAX 400

A shot of the typical appartment buildings along the walking dikes of our coast can not be missing of course:
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Picture data : Rolleiflex 3.5F, exposure unrecorded, Kodak TMAX 400

Cadzand in Holland

Almost “forgot” to update this blog again (promised myself to do my utmost best in trying to -at least- once in a week post something)- but here it is: some pictures taken a few weeks back on the nice beaches of Cadzand, Holland. The wooden poles placed to slowdown the effects of the eroding sea formed an interesting pattern, as can be seen in below panoramic images, all taken with a Panoramic Fotoman 617 (yes, on film…):
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Fotoman 617 with Fujinon 90mm lens, exposure unrecorded, Fuji Velvia 100F

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Fotoman 617 with Fujinon 90mm lens, exposure unrecorded, Fuji Velvia 100F

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Fotoman 617 with Fujinon 90mm lens, exposure unrecorded, Fuji Velvia 100F

Although it was quite cold (icy wind blowing as always on the Northsea beaches) the elements gave me the nicest sunset, so one could say i was very lucky. A bit further in Belgium the skies turned gray and it started pouring rain…
 

Long silence

Long silence so lots of news. Finally completed our 3rd move in 6 months (first from Dubai to Malaysia/Singapore, then from Singapore to Aalst in Belgium and finally to Gijzegem (where?) in Belgium…), let’s hope the chaos diminishes now fast… cause chaos it was! Add to that sending 3 kids to new schools (in a for them strange language), and the crazy idea of the undersigned to enroll at the Academy of Arts in Aalst. Or is it that crazy? Not in my view, it was a long outstanding dream of mine to finally enroll in such an art school and to try to give a more defined style to my photography. Abroad these schools were always out of reach budgetwise, in Belgium however things like this are far better organised. Result: since beginning of September i am back on the schoolbenches twice a week (although contrary to my younger years i now actually look forward to my commute to the school). Shocker No. 1 for the younger photographers under us: year 1 & 2 concentrate on black and white photography, and yes – using film only! (I have to say I was happy about this: i still feel film gives (for me) nicer results then the faster paced digital photography so whenever possible i was using my Fotoman 617 panoramic camera anyway (although i purchased a Canon EOS5d II in Singapore)). So back to film (and even Black and White) it is… In order to be able to keep on submitting my school work (which is going to be the larger body of personal work in the coming years) to the stock image libraries I decided to buy a new (?) camera using a larger (then 35mm) format. Finally my eye fell on a second-hand Rolleiflex 3.5F with a fixed 75mm Zeiss Planar lens which exposes film in a 6×6 format, building year somewhere in the 1960’s (!). As usual i am blown away by the results of this medium format camera (in terms of achieved sharpness in the negative, but also by the beautiful bokeh). Shocker No. 2 : we are developing films ourselves and… Shocker No. 3: printing (and i dont mean by inkjet – no, no: using darkrooms and developer, water and fixer baths) ourselves. Again for me this makes the photography process so much more complete – to be able to hold the film, to smell the developer and fixer, and to see the image slowly coming out on the paper. Our individual photography styles are being honed by learning us how to “see” (one would think that is easy…) – this is done through a number of subjects as defined by our teacher Frank Michta. Current subjects to be completed before the Christmas holidays are: “Reflections”, “Rain” and “Viewpoint of a Dog”. I will post some intial results of these (self-developed/printed) photos shortly.

On the cover of “Welcome to Dubai”

Again good news: one of my pics has been used for the cover of the “Welcome to Dubai” magazine, which is produced by the Dubai Tourism Department. The picture is part of one of my most favourite series and has been taken in the desert of Liwa in the Empty Quarter, on top of a majestic sand hill (it took us an hour to climb it, a real race against the clock seen the setting speed of the sun in this part of the world…). At the end of the session I requested the model to keep the headscarf above her head and in the wind, resulting in a nice dreamy effect due to the longer exposure time. The picture was taken a few years ago, with an Canon Eos5 using Velvia slide film, and it was quite an expensive photograph to produce: the fine fine sand which was (due to the wind creating the nice effect) virtually everywhere and ruined one of my lenses. The ballhead of the tripod as well did not survive the climb to the top of the hill….
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Published by Life

Proud to announce that one of my Finnish pictures has been published by Life: shown in “Finland’s Beautiful Winter” is my picture of a Snow Owl resting in the snowy landscapes of Finnish Lapland:
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Photographing the beautiful landscapes and wildlife of Lapland in the midst of winter was not one of my most comfortable experiences: at temperatures of -20 degrees Celcius (at some exposed hilltops it was even as cold as -35 degrees Celcius) everything tends to freeze up (naturally) including hands, fingers (making something as easy as tripping a shutter difficult), tripod ballheads (even cracking a Manfrotto ballhead up in the process) and reducing battery lifetimes signifcantly. The Canon Eos5D however kept performing flawlessly, and the hard work and difficult circumstances eventually paid off: our Lapland trip was one of my most successful commercial projects to date.

Published by National Geographic Traveler

One of my Kyrgyzstan pictures has been published by National Geographic Traveler:
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The picture was taken during our stay with a nomad family in the magnificent Tien Shan mountainrange of Kyrgyzstan, and shows a young boy wearing traditional clothes in front of the yurt where we slept during the freezing nights (yurts were placed at a height of around 2,500m). Below the picture a bit more in detail:
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Disneyland Paris

Couldn’t wait (feeling a bit guilty probably?) to quickly post one of the pictures from Disney Paris: basically a simple portrait of Minnie in a balloon shape – the wind (euh basically… some luck) pushed three identical balloons along a diagonal along the frame helping the picture to become more dynamic. Lens wise opted for the 16-35mm stuck right into the middle of these balloons, more details of the pic besides the frame:
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Canon Eos5DII, 16-35mm f2.8 lens @ 17mm, 1/160sec @ f18, ISO800

More to come soon!

Busy… busy and a New Camera

The last few months have been hectic, to say the least. After some 2 months in beautiful Malaysia, the time had come to commence with the dreaded moving rituals from our home (for the past 10 years) in Dubai to our new home in Singapore. The stuff that had to be moved was not limited to furniture alone (oh no, that would have been simple), but as well included several hundreds of slide boxes (from the good old times), 3 external hard disks (with the back-ups of all my digital pics), PC’s with screens, slide and film scanners, printers, studio lighting systems, etc. and…. 2 cats. Other stuff like cameras and lenses plus a full back-up of my digital pics on DVD were taken in handluggage/checked lugagge. Upon arrival in Singapore housing had to be arranged, schools (for the kids) to be booked and cats to be visited (ah yes, pets require a 1 month quarantaine in Singapore…). And then the arrival of our housing container from Dubai: imagine 170 boxes of goods being unloaded in an appartment, and having to unpack them with 3 kids running around (good the cats were not yet around). Electricity, water, gas, TV, curtains, where some of the other practicalities that had to be arranged. Anyway when all that was completed we thought it was time for… holiday and as such we are now in Belgium. All of the before as an excuse for the long blogging silence… justified? Probably not…
Anyways, just prior our departure (literally 1 day prior) found just the time to upgrade to the Eos5D MarkII: my old Eos5D was too battered to keep using it professionally. First impressions: memory cards are filling up way faster (but this is no surprise seen the upgrade from 12.8Megapixel (old 5D) to the 21 Megapixel (5DII)), and dust seems to be more under control – dust being one of our absolute nightmares when preparing pics for the image banks and their very strict quality checks – when shooting at small apertures (f11 or higher) the smallest spec on the sensor becomes really visible when checking the pics at full size. Let’s hope this will be much more a problem of the past.
Wil try to post something soon from our visits to Brugge, Brussels and Disney Paris (promises, promises). 

More of Malaysia – Melaka, a World Heritage site

Melaka, of which the old quarter was recently added to UNESCO’s World Heritage list, is a top touristic destination in Malaysia : it is a wonderful mix of Portuguese and Dutch architecture with old forts, churches and graveyards and an added bonus of an authentic Chinatown, in other words : a photographer’s dream… although the hordes of tourists make it sometimes difficult to take a decent picture (the heat and (in our case) continuous drizzle-rain didn’t make things any easier). In these circumstances always a dose of luck is required for a good picture, such as the brightly lit trishaw that stopped right in front of the ruins of the Portuguese fortress A’Famosa (originally constructed in 1512) to show its passengers around:
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Picture Data : Canon EOS5D, 16-35mm f2.8 lens at 20mm, 15 sec at f8.0, ISO100 

The picture was taken on the brink of dusk and happened when we were resting on a bench near the fort… The next picture was taken early the next morning (6AM), advantage (the only one i can think of) of this early hour is that the tourist busses are nowhere to be seen yet (altough they commenced arriving as early as 7AM!). The building shown is the Christ Church constructed from pink bricks brought from Zeeland in Holland and faced with local red laterite when constructed in 1753:
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Picture Data : Canon EOS5D, 16-35mm f2.8 lens at 21mm, 5 sec at f8.0, ISO100

More from Melaka to come soon!