Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

The Art of the Brick

Sunday, June 8th, 2014

“Art makes better humans.
Art is necessary in understanding
the world and art makes people happy.
Undeniably, art is not optional.”
- Nathan Sawaya

Who doesn’t know the little Lego-bricks? I think almost everyone will have played with them.
I knew already for some time that there would be an exhibition about Lego nearby, but I had no real details about it. As it was about Lego, my curiosity was triggered and I was looking forward to go this exhibition. Some weeks ago I got the details on the exhibition.

The exhibition would be in The Expo Amsterdam, where I have to exhibitions before. Displayed would be pieces of art made of Lego-bricks created by Nathan Sawaya.

Nathan Sawaya has already been working with Lego since he was a young boy and what was at first a hobby, something to help him relax, he is now an artist working with Lego. He creates 2D and 3D objects with Lego. Some are small, some are big…. and some are huge!!!

I already knew that Marissa and Sanne would be visiting me this weekend, so I asked them if they would like to visit with me this exhibition and both of them were right away very interested. Sanne is always interested in art and Marissa has played with Lego when she was younger (why am I not surprised).

So this morning we travelled by train and metro to the Expo Amsterdam, which is just a little walk away from the railroad station Amsterdam Zuid.

I can only try to imagine how long it must have taken to build the bigger ones. And then we are not even talking about number of Lego-bricks that were used. For the dinosaur around 88.000 bricks were needed.

I was surprised while processing the pictures I made later at home…

At the exhibition the statues had a real 3D feeling, even for me with very limited depth in my sight. But it feels that the 3D effect is almost gone on the pictures. Wonder what is causing that.
Also the shadow of the bricks is having a negative effect I think (and I didn’t use a flash, at least not all the time… even turning the flash to the ceiling didn’t work really. So I stopped using the flash).

And (which is explainable) there has to be some distance to the object or else the details will get lost and the separate bricks get really visible.

Later, when I have more time, I will try if I can reach with some deeper going processing of the pictures a better result.

Anyway, I had a very nice day and it was great fun to visit the exhibition together with Marissa and Sanne. I bought two books: One about the exhibition and the other about the works of Nathan Sawaya. Always nice to have something to remember the nice day.

And it was of course nice to introduce on our way home Marissa to the wonders of Starbucks :-).

Below some more pictures that I made today.

An small experiment…

Sunday, February 16th, 2014

When you have a hobby then mostly you will be looking to get the most out of that hobby. Well, I do have two hobbies. Hmmm, that is not true. I have many hobbies, but I had an idea to do something nice with two of my hobbies, combined that is. These hobbies are plants and photography.

When I was younger (and still living at my parents house), I had a terrarium for carnivorous plants. I placed a lot of effort into that terrarium and managed rather well to grow these fragile plants. But as time passing by things change and interests change.

So some days I was thinking about something nice to make pictures of something special. And there I had suddenly to think about carnivorous plants. But is the wrong period of the year to buy them, as I suddenly realised that you can grow them all year long. So I browsed the Internet and already very quickly I found a web shop selling a package with everything you need to grow this kind of plants, some seeds included.

In this package there is all you need, including pots and compost (special compost for carnivorous plants that is).

There are seeds of to species included. The first one is the famous Venus Fly-Trap (Dionaea muscipula) and the second one is the Pitcher Plant (Sarraceniaceae family). But in these seeds are also my worry. I have no idea how old these seeds are, what their origin is and how they were stored. I should have thought of that before I bought them. We will see what will happen. If these seeds don’t germ, I will get new ones (from a more specialized store).

The idea is of course to grow these plants and from the moment they are visible to make at least one picture every day. So in the end there is time line of pictures that show the complete growth. And of course my macro-lens will be very handy for these pictures.

Well, the stage is set… and now I have to be patient!

The difference of 50 years….

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

Photo’s that were made a long time ago suffer by the time that is passing by. The brightness and contrast fade. The picture most likely will show traces of damage.
Luckily nowadays with our strong computers and applications as Photoshop and The Gimp, we can correct (to some level) these traces that time left behind on photo’s like this one and make it look better again.

The woman on the picture is Dorothea Gertrud Berkers-Pimpertz, my grandmother when she was a younger woman herself. Looking at her complete name, I have to wonder if my Christian name “Dorotheus” is related to her (my complete name is Robertus Dorotheus Maria Berkers). I have a feeling this assumption is correct, but as my parents both have passed away, I will never know for sure.
Sadly I have never known my grandmother. She passed away within a month before I was born (22 March 1963 and I was born on 17 April that year).

So I am really happy that my nephew Ron shared this picture and I will do my best to make the best out of that picture. Of course I will share the end result here.

Anyway, when Marion and I looked at this picture we had a funny conversation. Imagine that my grandmother, who was used to the world of 50 years ago, could see my house and surrounding area as they are now. Things have changed a lot since then. So we wondered, what would be acceptable for her and what would be complete not understandable for her. We came to the conclusion that 90% of my house would look strange to her… 40 Inc LED TV, microwave, digital camera’s, washing machine (as we have them now), electric stoves, computers and so on and on.

It is fun to think about this kind of things and talk about it…

Okay, back to processing the picture!!!

Life is there to… buy a new lens :-)

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

Well, finally I have it: My new Nikkor AF-S 70-300mm zoom lens and so far I like it a lot.

300mm is very nice, but remember that my D300s is a crop camera, which means that you can multiply your focal length with 1.5. So this means that this lens will act as a 105mm-450mm lens. Now, that is pretty cool. If you want to know the how and why of a crop camera, please read this article about the crop factor. This article explains it better than I can do and as many will known, I am dead lazy :-).

Using this lens with my tele converter 2x, it would be it all to 210mm-900mm… but then I think you will need a lot of light and even with the VR (Vibration Control) of this lens, it will be impossible to make pictures without tripod. A nice challenge, maybe even impracticable, but still I will play with it for sure.

As already said, this lens has “Vibrator Control” which makes possible to make pictures on 300mm without tripod. I own a zoom lens alike without VR, it was extremely hard to make sharp pictures on 300mm withpit tripod. Possible, but very hard. I have just a few pictures made this way I consider good (my “famous” lion picture is own of those).

As I was asked by “the ladies” (Sanne, Marissa and Marion) to make some portraits of them, I asked around what be a good lens for this. Of course I can use my Nikkor 105 macro for this. But I was told that the Nikkor 50mm would be very nice for this. This is (just as the 105mm macro) a lens with a fixed focal length (a so called “prime lens”). When I looked at the price of this lens, I was happily surprised. Specially second hand (the 70-300 is bought new) the prices are very acceptable. So this morning I also ordered a second hand Nikkor AF 50mm 1.8.

So what next? Oh, enough to dream about. But first thing I would like to have a “wide angle” lens. A nice lens suggested was the Nikkor 12-24mm. But new bought this is a more expensive lens, but I saw some nice second hand prices. I don’t mind to buy this kind of things second hand. Until now I have very good experiences with that.

(This article is also posted on my photo site Photography is the skill to steal a moment from time… )

Life is there to… watch and read “Obessie”

Saturday, May 4th, 2013

Although my birthday was already 2 weeks ago, finally my birthday from Marion arrived today…

It is a photobook about the Dutch artist Ellen ten Damme called “Obsessie” (which translate from Dutch to “Obsession”). The photo’s are made by Danny Ellinger.

For 2 years Ellen allowed Danny Ellinger to follow her and make photo’s of her… 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. From dressing room to bed room, from car to trapeze. This all resulted in a very special photo book.
To be honest, having someone 24 hours per day around me with everything I do, would drive me crazy. But as I understand, it was not easy for them as well.

The book comes in a special box to store the book in a safe manner. Also a CD is added with 3 songs of Ellen. One of the songs is “Fotograaf” (“Photographer”), which she (partly, if I remembered well) recited at “Spoken” (February this year).

I really like this photo-book and it will fit very nicely to my collection of photo-books. But of course, as birthday present from Marion, and being about an artist that I really admire, will make this book even more special.

Just as with other photo-books I own, I learned things from this book and got new ideas photographs that I might make one day. Only that makes it worth having this book. Being a gift from Marion and the beautiful pictures in it, make it something to be very happy about!

Life is there to… make macro photo’s

Monday, March 25th, 2013

Finally it has arrived! Mijn new macro lens. To be very precise it is the “Nikkor AF-S VR Micro 105mm f/2.8 G IF-ED”, but that is rather a mouth full (and I have no idea if that is a correct English saying at all :P):

For some time I was wondering what kind of lens I would buy first. A wide angle lens? Or a replacement for my old (really old!) 70-300mm zoom lens? A macro lens? Or some other kind of lens?
The solution was simple and came from the side of Marion. With her very straight forward logical she said that out of 10 pictures I make 3 are of people as Sanne of herself, 2 of landscapes and buildings and 5 of plants, flowers, (small) animals and objects. So a macro lens would be most logical.

For which macro lens I listened around. Decided after talking with people once or twice for another lens. And finally I made the decision to go for the Nikkor 105mm.

Some nice features of the lens are “Vibration Reduction” (correction of camera shaking), “Silent Wave Motor” (auto focusing of the lens is very silent), “Nano Crystal Coat” (minimizing ghost and flare effects), “Extra-low dispersion” (reduces chromatic aberration at high magnification)… which sounds all very cool, but basically it all together says that this is very nice lens to have!

This lens gives me a lot to learn and try again. Read up stuff about making macro pictures. Which will be fun and also nice now Marion is away for 3 weeks.
The pictures I am posting with this blog are just simple things I tried with more good luck as knowing. The knowledge will come later.

As said, a very lens to make macro pictures. But wait a minute… someone told me that this lens also very nice to make portraits. Which might be something I will be using this lens also a lot for.

The picture above is taken very closely to a fossil of a fern that I own.

Of course I also bought a protection filter for this lens. Rather damaging by accident the glass of this 30 Euro filter than the glass of this 700+ Euro lens. I simple way to reduce risk I would say. I know that there are also folk who don’t do this, but that is up to them. If I can prevent bad things with 30 Euro then I will.

So what next to buy for my camera? I was thinking of buying a decent flash, but those I see rather often for a very friendly second hand price. So that is something that can wait.
A wide angle lens is something that I would like to have one day, but it will be not something I will be using very much (at least as far I can say now).
I do have a 70-300mm zoom lens, but it is very old one. It has no AF or VR. Although it can focus with the motor in the camera itself, but this is slow. And of course the “glass” of modern lenses is much better than that of my old lens. To that I was happily surprised by the price of a new replacement for my old lens. With in mind that I get some money back from the taxes and that in May there will be holiday money, I think I will go for this. But as they say, nothing so easy to change as the mind of a man :).

Something else that needs to be changed is the bag that I use to carry my camera stuff around. It is simply to small now. I think I will go for one these nice backpacks.

Anyway, I have something to play with while Marion is away :-)

Life is there to… visit the Fortress Island

Sunday, August 26th, 2012

As people may know, I own a Nikon D300s DSLR. And because I want to keep informed about everything that happens around Nikon, I am member of the NCN (“Nikon Club Nederland”). The NCN has every year a club day for its members. This year the club has its 25 year anniversary and for that reason this day was on a special location. They hired the complete Fortress Island…

The Fortress Island (or “Forteiland” as it is called in Dutch) is located in the mouth of the Noordzee Channel and is part of the old Defense Line of Amsterdam. The fortress was built around 1885 and was meant to defend the mount of the Noordzee Channel, which gives access to Amsterdam. During World War II the fortress was part of the “Atlantikwall”, which the explains the newer bunkers on the island.

It was a good organized day. There were interesting lectures.
One lecture was about photography in nature. This lecture was done by Marco de Pauw, who really knows how to entertain his public and yet gives a lot of useful information. His pictures are most beautiful. He gives workshops in “De Biesbos”. I hope to attend one day one of these workshops.
The other lecture was done by Joost van den Broek, a rewarded photographer who show a number of very interesting portraits and told so very good to know thing on how to make those pictures.

There were sessions on “Nikon Creative Lighting System”, which I skipped as it for now not interesting for me yet, but for those who own the right equipment it must have been very informative. But there was also a opportunity to try all kind of lenses, including some very nice and of course very expensive telelenses. Fun to play around with for once.

And there was a competition to make the best pictures that shows the atmosphere of the event. I did not attend, because I mainly wanted to make pictures of this unique location. And photographing people, especially people I don’t know, is not really my thing.

Although some rain and wind,the weather was not too bad. The temperature was nice. So there was not much to complain about that.

But most of all, an location as the Fortress Island is awesome to make very nice pictures! Big strong walls to protect the fortress…

Long tunnels, where I hardly can stand straight, leading all around the fortress…

The Western part of the island is reserved for breeding birds, so visitors are not allowed to go there…

Within the fortress you can find some great wall paintings…

I made many pictures yesterday. The Fortess Island is a great location to make pictures. Of course I will process more of the pictures that I made yesterday. Some I may place on my photo-page and other may end with the screen savers on my computers.

But it has to be said, it is great that the NCN made this wonderful day for us possible.

About photographing objects….

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

Photography is about many exciting things and making pictures of objects is one of them.

I like to make photographs of objects. Doesn’t matter to me if it is inside or outside. And mostly it doesn’t matter what. Many objects can be beautiful enough to make pictures of. And some times it is not beauty what you are after.

But I do like to make these pictures of an object “as it is”. I mean, the pictures I make will be of the object as it was standing or laying there. So no moving of the object around to have a better view on it. No moving or placing things around the object to make it look better. So really “just as it is”…

I know that other people will play around with the object and the things around it so they get what is a good setup. Everyone each own way, but to me that feels a bit as tampering with reality. I do know that there is a lot of faking in photography (specially in these modern times), but for me this is just a little step too much…

So when I waked up this morning and I walked from the bedroom to the living room, in the morning sun entering through the window I saw Marion’s high heels standing there…

Nothing special one would say, it was exactly where she left them yesterday evening. But some how I liked the view of it. So while Marion was shaking her head I grabbed my camera and made some pictures of it.

What I like about the pictures I made of these shoes, is the coincidence how they ended up in this nice position after Marion took them off somewhere last night. More coincidence how one of her stockings must have fallen from the couch and dropped next to the high heels.
All together given an impression of something that didn’t happen in that way. Specially that last I like. It is simple by moving some objects around and setup some decoration to create an image of something that might have happened… But here it is pure coincidence how it ended up like this and that makes the image it creates even stronger…

So worth to be stored as photograph….

To process or not to process…

Saturday, November 5th, 2011

This I like so much. An evening of complete relaxing. The lights in the living room are dimmed. Some candles are lighted. A concerto from Bach fills the rooms. A wonderful mood…
Marion was reading, but by now she is sleeping on the couch. A nice sight. She is fallen into a deep sleep. You can see that. I let her, she was very tired when she got here yesterday.

This weekend I am process of the photo’s taking at the party last week of the company where I am working. Nice work, but something you have to breaks regular from. At least I consider as something that makes you very quick tired, especially your eyes.
But I have now close to 40 photo’s done. Maybe enough for now, the rest might have to wait a bit.

Anyway, this brought me back to a question that has been asked many times: “Does every digital photo needs to processed?”

My answer to that is… depends :)

Personally I consider “cropping” or alike small actions not really as processing. But I do know there are people who think different about this.

Having said that… yes, the photo that doesn’t need any processing exists, but it is rare. In all thousands of photo’s that I made it happened only once or twice to me.

Processing means for me means making the picture of better quality. Not altering the reality. That is when altering the reality is not your specific goal. Look at the wonderful work of Miss Aniela and you will understand directly what I mean with “specific goal to alter reality”. I really love her work…

Anyway, my goal is not to alter reality. As my photo-site says “Photography is the skill to steal a moment from time”. It is for me to capture memories. To get hold of that one special moment. Freeze that one special sight.
Even more… I want to keep the reality as much as possible. Lets say, a picture made of Marion is her house. On the picture is a plant that is a bit in way or taking away too much attention of the real subject of the picture (Marion in this case), I would not (if possible at all) edit the plant away. I know that plant should be there and not seeing the plant would make it fake for me.

And so has everyone his/her way handling this kind of things. There is no good or bad in it… just different :P.

Ah well, I think it is time to softly wake up Marion, else she might not sleep very well tonight…

My newest play thingy…..

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

Although it isn’t a real play thingy… It will be rather useful to me!

Anyway, I always wanted to have a drawing tablet for my computer. Specially after someone showed me how handy such a tablet can be with processing pictures. Oh sure, everything is also possible with a mouse. But with such a tablet things will go easier and faster (for instance you can jump from one side of the screen to the other, while with a mouse you have to drag the cursor to the point where you want it. Now it is just one click with the pen on the wanted position and the cursor is there).
Many functions are very easy to access. But maybe even most important, when making very precise and small adjustments to a picture the tablet will be way more useful as the mouse.

But I admit, it will take some time to get really used to it. But that is okay :).