Saturday, 29 November 2014

Autumn blues

branch in water
Autumn is well on it's way. I get up in the dark now, cycle to work when it's dawning and cycle back home in the dark. It's easy to get depressed in these times.
lamppost with bare branche
What all these pictures have in common is the colour blue, from bright blue to a  faint hint of blue. And that is exactly how I feel: sometimes I am totally ok with the season and I am loving the great colours of nature. That gives me a lot of energy and motivation to get through the evenings.
reflection of a tree in water
But now the temperatures are dropping below zero at night and it gets colder to cycle around, I prefer to stay indoors and do nothing. Maybe reading a book, watching some TV or to shuffle around the house a bit. 
reflection of a house in a car
That is probably quite natural, I mean some animals take a winter sleep and lots of plants and trees withdraw themselves and look like there is not a lot of life in them.
reflection of a house in a car II
I really notice the change in me: lack of light is a big thing. One of the things that helps me is to go outside during the day whenever I have a chance.
seagull on a lamppost
During the weekend or on my day off I take a walk with my camera to enjoy the everyday world around me. I notice it makes me happy to just look around me and to capture what resonates within me.
What do you do to ward off the Autumn blues?

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Drawing: four sunflowers

drawing: four sunflowers
have probably mentioned before that my university is in a big reorganization at the moment. We secretaries were 'reorganized' last year and luckily it meant that my colleagues at the faculty and I could stay. To be honest with you, that was quite a relief, because finding a new job at the moment is not easy. A few courses were introduced for the remaining secretaries and the first course started this Autumn: Power Secretary.
My group started last week with a workshop about recognizing and acknowledging stress given by a very energetic man. After a little stress test he asked us to draw four sunflowers. In the middle of the first sunflower we noted down the word 'Stress'. We were to write down on the petals in single words the area in which we scored the highest rate. Initially I only wrote down traffic (it's becoming crazy lately) and work. Work is relating to the situation above. I later added: reorganization, ending of a relationship, merger, too much work and health.
In the heart of the second sunflower we were to write down: energy givers. On the petals we mentioned all the things in our lives that gave us energy. As you can see that is quite a lot (not in any particular order): yoga, friends, nature, contact, organizing, art, traveling, photography, colour, time spent alone. 
The third sunflower then contains the energy leaks. For me those are: stress, computer work, aggression, have-to's, obligations, traffic, full calendar.
the four sunflowers above my desk
the four sunflowers above my desk
The fourth sunflower is a bit bare and it says the word Action. What am I going to do to change my situation on a short time basis? My plans are to take my days relaxed and not let myself go crazy about all the things I need to do. There is only so much I can process on one day, right?
Furthermore, I plan to release a series of postcards and to find another place to exhibit my photographs. I just called a site today and they told me to send in a couple of photographs. Half January the art committee had their next meeting and then they would take a decision. The lady on the phone didn't give me much hope, she said that everyone takes photos nowadays. That is true, but maybe they can see that contemplative photography is a different cup of tea!
Anyways, I stuck the drawing of the four sunflowers above my desk as a reminder. As a direct colleague of mine is now sick for a longer period, I should guard my stress level and take time to unwind. Furthermore, I shouldn't try to do more work in the same amount of working hours. I am so likely to fall in that trap.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Exhibition: Modern Times

poster Modern Times, Rijksmuseum
poster Modern Times, Rijksmuseum (photo by Jon Gutmann)
The exhibition Modern Times is on at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (the Netherlands) from 1 November 2014 - 11 January 2015. It is the first major exhibition on 20th century photography and it gives an overview of the museum's collection. It shows rare works of famous photographers like Jacques-Henri Lartigue, Lewis Hine, László Moholy-Nagy, Man Ray, Brassaï, Ed van der Elsken, George Hendrik Breitner and William Klein. Below is an impression.
two men in front of portrait wall
Two men in front of a large portrait wall: Dutch heads (2000) by Belgian photographer Stephan Vanfleteren.
Studies of Metal objects
Studies of metal objects in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Paris and Marseille, by Germaine Krull (1897-1985). Photos circa 1927-1928. Krull was struck by a riveting interplay of lines and silhouettes, and iron everywhere. She continually changed her vantage point and took dozens of fascinating photographs of solid metal. She discovered beauty in ugliness.
chart with photographers and dates
chart with photographers and dates
Man in a doorway, Luke Swank
Man in a doorway, Seen from a car, by Luke Swank (1890-1944). Photographer Luke Swank died at a young age. His negatives and prints remained in private ownership and were unseen for years. Consequently, Swank was far less know than contemporaries such as Walker Evans or Dorothea Lange. The cropping of the man in a doorway was apparently unusual in the 1950s, but I simply love this shot.
rippling water, Siegfried Lauterwasser
I very much like this photograph of Siegfried Lauterwasser (1913-2000): Rippling Water from 1967. The crop and theme could very well be contemplative. There is nothing on this picture that should not be there. Lauterwasser was a member of fotoform, founded in 1949 by a group of young German photographers. Above all they wanted to express their personal, subjective vision and sense of design free from the constraints of workaday commercial and documentary photography.
36 plant studies, Karl Blossfeldt
36 Plant Studies from 'Urformen der Kunst', Karl Blossfeldt (1865-1952). Karl Blossfeldt used his detail shots of plants solely for the classes he taught at the Berlin School of Arts and crafts, they were examples. Only with the publication of his book 'Urformen der Kunst' in 1928 did he suddenly gain recognition as an innovative and inspiring photographer. I enjoyed the graphic overview of this wall.
If you are in Amsterdam and you like photography, go see 'Modern Times'. It's on until January 2015. It made me longing back to black & white photography. Who knows, I might buy a roll of film again.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

A walk in the park

yellow and orange leaves
yellow and orange leaves
Yesterday I went for a little walk in the Vondelpark, Amsterdam. The weather was simply gorgeous and since I worked so hard last week I needed some time to energize my own personal batteries.
orange needles on the ground
orange needles on the ground
The sun was out, the temperatures were agreeable, there was no wind and the light was simply gorgeous.
red leaves on a bush
red leaves on a bush
Other people felt this too, because I saw lots of people in the park either local or foreign, they were all enjoying the light, colours and each other's company.
reflected branches
reflected branches
I stood at the waterfront for a while, appreciating the colours and the reflections. When I turned around I saw that more people were watching the same scenery and taking photos.
swimming seagull
swimming coot
swimming birds
two girls laughing 
two girls on a bench
How was your Saturday?

Morning glory

I got up this Sunday morning pretty early (I'd like to sleep in on the weekend) and rode by bicycle to meditation class which takes place in the centre of Amsterdam. The hardest bit is to actually get up in the dark and to walk to the shower in the cold corridor of my house. After feeling the warm water on my body and having some food inside my stomach I am ready for the day.
yellow and blue sky
yellow and blue sky
The advantage of this season is that I am able witness the spectacular colours of the sunrise. To me there are just a wonderful gift of Mother Nature. And the reflection in the canal is even more awesome.
reflection of a pink sunrise in a canal
reflection of a pink sunrise in a canal

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Yoga and Art (Yoku): Ready for Winter II

participant working with soft chalk
participant working with soft chalk
Last Thursday I went to another session of Yoku (yoga and art). This time the theme was 'Getting ready for Winter II'. I missed part I because that was in my week off and I was staying with my parents at the time. Apparently they worked on form drawing, something I am not familiar with but which sounded like fun.
chalk on her hands
chalk on her hands
Session II of 'Getting ready for Winter' was about how you guard your limits versus how you open yourself and letting things in. The yoga session was focused on hip openers.
open and closed
open and closed
My drawing on the top in this image is what represents openness for me: no hard boundaries, depth, flexibility, no straight lines but vage curves, I am going somewhere. The drawing on the bottom represents closedness: to me that came as an image of a fence: "stop, no further". When we talked about it afterwards, I realized that all the "have-to's" are enclosed in this drawing and my free endeavors are in the first. Then again, a fence or gate also has its advantages: there can be wild animals behind it and then you are protected by it.
fellow participants drawing
fellow participants drawing
my three drawings together
In the picture above you see my three drawings of the evening together: top right about openness, middle right about closedness and left the two combined. One participant commented that my drawings of openness and closedness could also be switched around, because there is a lot of open space in the latter. Rationally I could see her point, but it didn't feel like that for me.
our yoga teacher Vir Kaur 
our creative teacher Rosanne
our lovely teachers Vir and Rosanne
other drawings
As usual we shared our stories with each other and looked at each other's work. I still find that so fascinating and inspiring. One drawing is so different from the other and then all the stories behind them!
my final work
I am quite happy with my final work: I like the graphical look of it and the bright colours. This image came to me bit by bit and not in one vision. There were not a lot of thoughts involved and I can't explain much of it. At one point I saw a sunset in the sea, but that evolved into something else. The green line represents (I think, but this is an afterthought) how your life can lead to a certain point and from there can go a totally different direction than what you ever imaged. Does that make any sense?

Friday, 21 November 2014


highrises at the river Amstel
These pictures are taken this morning at about 09.15 hrs. I was on my way to the beautician by bike and had a wonderful view on the river Amstel when I passed over the bridge.
seagull on a mooring dolphin
The feeble wintery sun was shining but it looked like it had difficulty peeking through the morning mist.
sunrise over the river Amstel
I stopped my bike, got off and enjoyed the view. Then I took my camera out to shoot these photos.
four tracks of drops
These tracks of dewdrops were coming down a rear window of a car, parked in the street of my destination. I was touched by the light coming through the window.
What did you see today?

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Floating leaves

floating orange leaves
Yesterday I wrote about the walk at the botanical garden of the university during my lunchbreak and posted some pictures of leaves in the garden and on the sidewalk. Today's pictures of floating leaves are also taken at the botanical garden last Monday. There is a little bridge over troubled water and from it I had a great view on leaves that were floating by. 
floating orange and green leaf
I like in all of these pictures how the background has a different colour: that has not only to do with the sky and clouds but also with what is above the water. I find it rather bizarre that the colour of the ferns in the picture above is almost completely black & white. I didn't manipulate the picture at all, this is how it was.
floating orange and green leaf II
Two years ago I took this picture from exactly the same bridge.
five floating leaves
Today I went back to the botanical garden, it was completely different day: it was grey & overcast instead of sunny. As a result there was no colour in the water and the ferns looked even more black & white as they did last Monday.
floating orange leaf
floating orange leaf
yellow leaf with b&w ferns
yellow leaf with black & white ferns

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Leaves in the botanical garden

red leaves on sidewalk
Yesterday I took a little walk at lunch time, my first walk since a while. I decided to go to the botanical gardens of the university: it's close by and I felt like seeing and smelling nature.
yellow and brown leaves in a puddle
red and brown leaves
red and brown leaves
The garden was beautiful: full of yellow, red, orange and even green leaves. I am so enjoying this season, it's like I've never experienced it so vividly!
sunlight on leaves
The moment in the photo above was amazing: I saw the sunlight appearing on the sidewalk in the garden, it lit up the orange leaves and made shadows. A few seconds later the magic was gone. 
orange leaf with raindrops
red leaves against blue backdrop
red leaves against a blue backdrop
My head was full of things that I was working on, but the short walk invigorated me, cleared my head and gave me a lot of joy.
red leaf and leaves with raindrops
red leaf and leaves with raindrops
leaf and lots of tiny drops
leaf and lots of tiny drops
Do you love this season, too?
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