Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Waiting at the waterfront

orange dinghy and its reflection
orange dinghy and its reflection
Last Saturday I went out with a friend for dinner. I was a bit early and waited for him on a small bridge over one of the numerous canals of Amsterdam. It was a bit out of the city centre so it was not a very old or quaint environment, but there still was plenty to see.
reflection in water
reflection in water
I let my gaze wonder across the water and the waterfront and all the colours and reflections made me look longer and feel quieter inside or was it the other way around?
yellow marsh-marigold
yellow marsh-marigold
Anyway, I felt my mind resting on what I was seeing, enjoying the moment and appreciating the everyday magic of it all.
yellow reflection in water
yellow reflection in water
During dinner I showed my friend the photos, proof so to speak of what I had seen and he was surprised at what I had noticed. He said that most people would just walk past it and that is exactly what contemplative photography is about: about slowing down, opening my eyes and being available at what is there right in front of me. It's a moment of mindfulness.
flowers on the bridge
colourful flowers on the bridge

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Capturing motion using the flash

Laura shaking her head
1/6, f8, ISO 400
Homework for the last photography class yesterday was taking a creative photo with the flash using a long shutter speed. Up till now I was not very fond of using the flash, especially the built-in ones, but I am quite excited about it now. The possibilities are numerous and the results are very pleasing to my eye. Again, this has nothing to do with contemplative photography, but it is a very agreeable extension of my photography skills.
boxing guy
1/6, f10, ISO100
All these photos were taken in the Tv mode of my camera, so that I could control the shutter speed easily. The top photo is my house mate Laura whom I asked to shake her head so that her hair would flow about her. By using a slow shutter speed I can depict the motion of her hair and face and the flash freezes a moment of the motion.
The second image shows a colleague of mine who actually is a fervent kick boxer in his free time. I asked him to perform some classic moves with an imaginary adversary. The stripes on the wall behind him were formed by sunlight that shone through the blinds.
typing hands
1/10, f8, ISO 100
The image above is a bit more subtle: this is my colleague secretary Mirjam typing away an imaginary email message. Here you can see the movement of her fingers and the motion instability of the camera on the keyboard.
So what do you think? Do you see possibilities using this technique?

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

High and low key

high key: black pair of scissors on white paper
high key: black pair of scissors on white paper (f13, 1/25, ISO 800)
This was homework of our photography class for last week: a high key and low key photograph. A high key photo is where most of the tones are light, a low key photo contains a lot of dark tones. So this is where your grey card becomes in handy or the exposure compensation method. I used exposure compensation to get the shots really white (over exposure) and black (under exposure).
low key: tea boxes on a black background
low key: tea boxes on a black background (f7.1, 1/40, ISO 1600)
Really, I just had no imagination for the low key shot: I just took two black tea boxes of my favorite brands and used a large black sheet of paper as background. The two shots together really look nice, though.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Kado practice: The Path of Flowers

flowers in buckets
Last Friday I helped out preparing the Kado flower arrangements for a Shambhala meditation weekend. As you may recall I took the workshop Kado: The Path of Flowers last month and this was the first occasion to practice my new skill. Suzan of the Shambhala centre Amsterdam showed me around and taught me the ins and outs of preparing the rooms for guests. She told me that by placing flowers the rooms are brought alive.
flowers on the table
The first thing she made me do was to go to the market and buy flowers. That sounds really easy, right? I walked by the various stands and looked at what they had to offer. I had in mind to buy at least two bunches of really long flowers for the large arrangement in the main mediation hall and some bunches of textured and colourful flowers that combined well together. My budget was EUR 30 and at first I thought that wasn't much, but I found out that I could buy more with that than I estimated.
Basic Upright Left Kado arrangement
Suzan and I each made our own Basic Upright Left Kado arrangement, shown above is mine.
large Basic Upright Left Kado arrangement
For the main meditation hall we made a large Basic Upright Left Kado arrangement together. This meant that we literally sat down side by side and placed each flower in agreement. Suzan has had years of experience and she talked about space and relationships between the flowers. I learned a lot from this session. Apart from that it was a relaxed, enjoyable and fruitful day.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Avocado-mango smoothie

avocado-mango smoothie
avocado-mango smoothie
Saturday, market day. I don't always get to make it to the market but when I do I come back with all kinds of goodies, most yummie fruits and vegetables. Today I spotted delicious mangos and decided to make a smoothie with one of them.

  • 2 bananas
  • 1 mango
  • 1 avocado
  • pinch of maca powder
  • bit of chia seeds
  • bit of linseed
  • splash of coconut milk
  • raw chocolate bits
Put all the ingredients in the blender and mix well. Great for a sweet breakfast or desert.

red napkin: Tas-ka
Mason jar: local store for kitchen utensils
table cloth: vintage

Friday, 19 June 2015

Exposure compensation

f13, 1/200
The light meter in your camera will measure the light which bounces via your subject back to the camera and translate it to a middle grey. Is your subject very different from those medium tones, like a snowscape or a night shot then you have a problem: your camera will try to make those pictures grey too and you don't want that.
f13, 1/160
One way of dealing with that is by using a grey card: you hold a grey card in front of your subject, measure the light, lock it with the AE lock (on a Canon DSLR it is the button with *), quickly remove the grey card and push the shutter button completely. 
f13, 1/125
I prefer a different method: exposure compensation. This means that I over expose high key images (an image that mainly consists of light tones like snow) and under expose low key images (an image that mainly consists of dark tones).
f13, 1/100
When you don't know your camera very well yet, you can practice by over or under exposing your image by one stop at the time like I did in this series and see what difference each stop makes. You can see that in the first picture the camera tries to make everything rather grey and by changing the shutter speed stop by stop the vases appear more white. For all these photographs I used a fixed 50 mm lens and put the camera in Av mode.
f13, 1/80 
After you've done this a few times, you can be more accurate when photographing a beautiful black car. You can also use this method next time you go on a sky holiday and then the snow will actually look white and not grey.
f13, 1/60

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Around here

embellished stairs, Bull temple, Bangalore India
embellished stairs, Bull temple, Bangalore India
Am preparing myself for my trip to India next month and starting to get excited.
Handed in my passport and visum application form this week. Fingers crossed.
Discussed with my yoga friend Anita where to go after the yoga and mediation weeks and before we fly home.
Booked a room for us in Mysore in this hotel.
Realizing that I will turn 50 next month in India.
Contemplating how I will celebrate this milestone.
Started the Beginners course in photography at Fotogram, Amsterdam.
Was nominated for the Fotogram Award 2015.
Had my last session in the Shambhala lecture series Basic Goodness II this week.
Introduced my successor in yoga class last week, I decided to stop teaching at the way other end of the city.
Have been pondering on the logos that my friend and graphic designer Karin designed for me. Still have not made up my mind.
Am in desperate need of some alone-time, my calendar is too swamped.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Fotogram nominee

my nominated photo Fotogram Prize 2015
In my last blogpost (see here) I told you that I am following a photography course at Fotogram, Amsterdam. Fotogram also organizes a yearly competition in photography and I was just in time to compete. In one of the classes the teacher asked us to bring 10 of our best photographs. We all showed them in class and she recommended a few of us to send in a particular photo or two. She recommended me to send in the photograph above. She really liked this photo, claiming she had never seen anything like that before. So I sent it in and yesterday I received the news that my photograph was nominated, together with 80 other photos. You can see all the nominations over here. I am so excited!

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Capturing motion II

'catching' wind
'catching' the wind
Another way of capturing motion is to hold the camera still on a tripod or another steady surface and to use a long shutter speed. In this way you'll blur the objects that are moving. This photo is taken with f-stop 25 (I wanted the whole image to be in focus) and 1/5 shutter speed.
The funny thing was that after I showed the photograph above in class the photographer teacher showed us some images of photographer Benoît Vollmer who made a whole series of trees moving in the wind.
'Vent' by Benoît Vollmer
'Vent' by Benoît Vollmer

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Capturing motion

1/125, F9
1/125, F9, ISO 100
I've started taking a photography course at Fotogram. I wanted to follow their Portrait course, but that will not start before October and it is taught at level III. So I thought I would start at the beginning (again) at level I.
1/80, F13
1/80, F13, ISO 100
Information on focal length, depth of field, ISO and such is not at all new to me, but I don't see any harm in repeating some of this knowledge and learning new stuff at the same time. The participants are all photography enthousiasts and their ages vary from very young (17) up to the somewhat older (63).
1/30, F18
1/30, F18, ISO 100
One of the first assignments was to capture movement by following a subject with your camera in a straight line which results in motion blur. The blurrier the background in the photo, the longer the shutter speed was as you can see by these examples. All photos were taken by hand, I didn't use a tripod. With a real slow shutter speed like 1/8, bottom photo, that causes a lot of motion blur.
1/30, F18
1/15, F29, ISO 100

I went to the Vondelpark to photograph cyclists on a sunny day. I quite enjoyed this assignment, because of the effect you can create with this technique. 
You could use this technique capturing all sorts of motion like children, animals, flowers and everything else you can think of.
1/8, F22
1/8, F22, ISO 100
Of course this has nothing to do with contemplative photography: our eyes don't perceive motion like this, but it was fun and educational none the less.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

A picknick in the afternoon

picnic with cousins in 'Vlietland'
Ou yearly Cousin Day (all female cousins on my mother's side) took place yesterday. We cousins take turns in hosting & planning the event and yesterday it was Tine & Corine's turn.
light reflection of a glass
light reflection of a glass

cousin Eva making wraps
cousin Eva making wraps
About 10.30 am we were expected at Tine's home where we had coffee and homebaked apple pie. Next, we prepared the dishes we had planned to make with the ingredients we brought along. This was a lot of fun as not all of us had done groceries and we were strangers in Tine's kitchen. We were all helping each other out in a very relaxed manner, meanwhile chatting away like there was no tomorrow.
two cousins
two cousins
When all the food was ready we packed it unto our bicycles and rode to the nearby recreation area 'Vlietland' for a long picknick. Vlietland has lots of little beaches, meadows and waters and we looked for a quite spot in the sun. After the small heatwave of yesterday temperatures dropped about 15 degrees to a more normal temperature with a chilly wind.
geese at 'Vlietland'
geese at 'Vlietland'

Back at Tine's home Heleen prepared dessert: a very colourful raspberrry trifle. She told us that she had to go to four different shops in the heat yesterday to find a certain ingredient. Thank you Heleen, it was well worth your trouble!
dessert: raspberry trifle
dessert: raspberry trifle

Friday, 5 June 2015

Colour in space

closet with door hanger
I enjoyed shooting colour so much a few weeks ago that I decided to repeat that exercise. What I realized after publishing that post is that the story was more about colour in space as opposed as just colour. Just colour would be filling the image as much as possible while this and last time my perceptions were actually more about colour appearing in a certain space or on a surface. 
yellow and green trashcan
yellow and green trashcan
orange dinghy
orange dinghy
pink bicycle basket
pink bicycle basket

yellow door window
yellow door window

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Publication in artist's monograph

Last week I received a nice surprise: Dutch painter Rein Pol (above on the right) asked me if he could use this image in a monograph about his work. I took the photo just before the academic remembrance of Henk Vroom (see this post) in which the painting was going to be revealed. Of course I obliged. This honour tickles me to bits and I am very pleased with his request.
Pictured on the left is a collegue of mine.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Some pictures of me

wrestling with camera and umbrella
These pictures of me are taken by my friend Natasscha with whom I went photographing in the rain last weekend. It was a wet and cold day, but that didn't keep us from a little walk in the Vondelpark and having the most wonderful everyday perceptions.
sitting in half virasana pose
sitting in half virasana pose
leaning on my right leg
leaning on my right leg
shooting from underneath an umbrella
shooting from underneath an umbrella
Do you appreciate the rain too?
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