Window on black

Just a simple old-time window in an old-time farm shed. Weathered brick, broken glass. The contrast between wall and window is a beginning, then the glass in the window is so dirty that you can hardly see through it. However, the glass is broken so you can see through it—but all you see is the dark inside of the shed, so it's just blackness.

To make it a little more lively, I took this picture with the wall somewhat in perspective. The lines of mortar give a little bit of movement, leading the eye towards the broken window.


Beautiful creature

You don't have to be a cat lover to see that the beauty of this one is obvious. My sister in law bought this one recently, a Ragdoll, which helps to explain why it let me quietly make a couple of portraits--our own cats would have fled after the first flash.
Should I have faded out the background a little more for better effect? Maybe just try this again with a better, more neutral background. The cat won't mind!


A million photos in two years' time

A photographer was given the task to follow one of the many Democratic presidential candidates in the United States. Now, two years later, she has a million pictures of Barack Obama and his route to the White House. That was a line I heard in a TV programme yesterday evening; I did not see the item itself.

Just think of that: a million photos! We sure do take too many photos with these digital cameras, for how few good photos will there be among that million? On the other hand: how can you know in advance what will be the one good photo in a whole series?


Atget, Abbott and the Wonderment of Reality

Dutch TV in the early Sunday evening showed a documentary about two famous photographers of cityscapes: Eugène Atget, working in Paris around 1900-1925 and Berenice Abbott, famous for her pictures of New York in the 1930s. Abbott in fact had two careers, because she also was the one who rescued Atget's legacy of almost two thousand glass negatives. And it was Atget's photos of the disappearing old Paris around 1900 that inspired her to document the changes in New York city. The documentary showed the links, but also the differences between the two photographers: Atget as essentially a 19th century romantic, Abbott as a 20th century photographer who learned photography from surrealist Man Ray but who felt inspired by Atget to document New York's transformation. Some of the surrealist fascination was already visible in Atget's work, too: he made a number of photos of shop windows with reflections like the one copied here, which lookèd quite modern in the 1920s--Man Ray himself made the contact between Abbott and Atget.

Somehow both Atget and Abbott transcended the simple documenting of the old-and-the-new juxtaposed, intermingled or destroying one another. What is it that makes some photos and some photographers do that trick? I found in both of them the same things that inspire my photography (at a rather more amateurish level of course): "The real world, seen with wonderment and surprise" (Abbott writing about Atget), realising that the art of photography is "selecting what is worthwhile" (Abbott commenting on an Atget photo).

Technically, it was interesting to see how both of them worked with large plate camera's: 8"x 10" negatives to get ultimate sharpness, with flexible tilt-and-shift lenses to achieve perpendicular verticals. Digital APC-sensors are not the end of photographic evolution!

Hopefully, the documentary will appear in the Dutch public TV's archive. Give it a try; it's 45 well-spent minutes!


Elementary, my dear Watson: is Photoshop Elements what photographers like me need?

We used to look down on Photoshop Elements: it did not give the tools and controls serious amateur photographers needed. I got an early version with my first digital photo apparatus and uninstalled it as soon as I could, as far as I remember. The choices in the old days were between simple browsing tools which had some editing options if you were lucky, like Irfanview or Picasa, or find a copy of the full-sized Photoshop that had mysteriously lost its hefty price tag. In the meantime, open source solution The Gimp has become an alternative to Photoshop in many respects, though even in version 2.6 (the most recent one I found) it still looks a bit like a collection of loose menus floating all over your desktop and it still cannot handle 16-bit colours, taking away my 'happiness of the smooth histogram'.

All the time, I forgot to look at Photoshop Elements, yet that programme has been extended in versions 6 and 7 to incorporate all kinds of tools that I and many other amateur photographers would look for, without getting as expensive as the big brother—it is available for € 90 or less, while Photoshop CS4 sells for € 600-800 or more (the higher prices are for the translated, Dutch version). Of course I do not hesitate to pay a sum like that for a new camera or a lens, but then I hope to enjoy that thing for many years without hearing about newer versions in a year or two—and to use all its options rather than feel that most of the menu options remain closed books.

Photoshop Elements lets you work with selection 'magic wands', layers and masks in the Full Edit mode, but has simpler ways of working if you just want the automated Quick Fix mode, or if you feel you are a novice (Guided Edit mode). It has a bit of the look & feel of Lightroom; I don't know yet to what extent the two integrate or are duplicating each other. For instance, Elements has its own cataloguing tools, but I do not want to give up my Lightroom catalogue that has been building up over a couple of years. Reviews on the web (just google for 'photoshop elements review') are fairly positive about Elements. The one thing I'd probably never use is online backup: I want to keep control of my own backups; they remain off line, no one else can see or (ab)use them.

Clearly, I need to find out a bit more about Elements to be as certain as a Sherlock Holmes about the choice for or against this package, but I sure would like to investigate if this is what I need. Any help you readers can give, is highly appreciated! Why don't you write a little comment?


Winter in Holland (2)

Travelling by train, I saw beautiful trees against the blue sky; a real photographer would have made a better composition out of it, but I had just the train window to work from. And the only camera I had at the moment was my (for photography) hated mobile phone. Which I had set to small 640x480 photos "for e-mail" some time ago, by accident, making the quality of the picture even worse.

That's frustrating! Not just because of the spoiled picture, but--let's stay in reality--especially since this may be a type of winter we experience only once every umpteen years. (Unlike Romanian Krissa, who has a whole lot of really beautiful winter scenes on her blog!)

Winter in Holland

Winter in Holland, so if I'm not skating (and I have to admit to not being a great skater at all), I ought to be taking pictures of the landscape under its pristine white snowcover or with the white frost on the trees. I did, a little--work and quite simply the comfort of a warm house kept me from doing my photographic duty to more than a minimum degree. Hope you like this one of a some small garden trees with white frost in backlight. Besides, I hope to add some more to this blog and to the camera club's website in the next few days.

Well, just a quick one more: skaters in Friesland. I had previsioned this one as a black-and-white picture, but the cold blue of the ice and the little hint of green in the grass in the background do add to it! It is good to have the flexibility of choosing between black-and-white or colour in the postprocessing!


Camera club website running

Most of my photographic attention went to getting the camera club's website up and running. It's working now and the club's members are being invited to upload their pictures. Please have a look--it's all in Dutch but you'll recognise a photo when you see one (in the Galerie, for instance).


Happy New Year!

Enjoy the fireworks in the neighbourhood (as I did)! I let the shutter open long enough (30 seconds) to see the neighbours make a day out of night--a little bit different from the standard fireworks pics.

End of 2008 -- happy 2009!

At the turn of the year, let me start a new tradition--although everyone in world media does something similar: I nominate my 'Photo of the Year'. In 2008, that was quite easy: it is Louis' photo of an escalator that won the regional photo competition, totally unexpected!

Thank you all (in ever greater numbers!) for passing by on this blog-site in 2008! For the rest, all I want to say now is: Happy new year-- and many nice pictures for/by all of you!