Friday, June 29, 2007

Gare du Nord -.- Paris part 1

After having passed so many times through Gare du Nord train station, finally one time I thought of bringing my camera along. I took the pictures from the Eurostar departure lounge on the 2nd floor of the station.

Ever since first viewing the series of impressionist paintings of Gare Saint-Lazare by Monet, I had noticed the beauty in the cast iron roofs of the Paris stations, a roof made of the Meccano I used to play with.

Instead of steam trains, nowadays a TGV, Thalys or Eurostar would glide into the station, but really little had changed since 1877 when Claude Monet painted his series of 11 paintings of the other station. The contrast of the perpetual twilight under the roof with the blinding sunlight on the outside.


Camera: Pentax MZ-3, lens: Sigma 18-50mm

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Hot Air Ballooning

For his wedding my brother had rented two balloons which took off at early dawn. We helped spread out the balloon material, the envelope, after which the burners were turned on to fill the balloons.


Quickly we got into the wicker baskets and all of a sudden we were airborne. What a different experience from flying in a plane; quietly, no majestically you glide through the early morning sky only to be rudely awakened from the magic by the burners being turned on again with an incredible loud noise and a heat that scorched the top of my head. The trip was magic but unavoidably, in the end, the skipper had to pick a field to land in and down we went for a bumpy landing ending only when the basket slowly tilted over.

Camera: Pentax MZ-3, lens: Sigma 70-200mm - f2.8

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

South of France, 1985

Many years ago, the municipal camping in Orange used to be on top of the hill in which the Romans had dug out the theatre they built. Every year the city of Orange organizes an opera festival, the Chorégies d'Orange. Before the festival started, rehearsals could be enjoyed for free from the top of the hill, a short walk from the camping site; the opera in the dark, hot summer nights was magical. Talk about acoustics!

Orange, very centrally located, was the perfect starting point for day trips. A drive along the Ardèche river is almost compulsory. Unfortunately, the whole area is very touristy and the villages are mostly tourist traps, but the nature is of course very impressive.

While driving around Southern France, you can spot the oker and red colour in the soil. It is the bauxite, an aluminium ore first discovered near Les Baux de Provence. While driving on some back roads, we came across this old bauxite mine with the most beautiful colours.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Stockholm, 1988 - 1993

From May 1988 until summer 1993 I lived in Stockholm working for Philips BCFI. A very enjoyable and informative period. Summers in Stockholm were great with the sun setting late and everybody out on the town. Autumn and winter were different, everybody and everything seemed to turn cold until Lucia (December 13) and Christmas markets came along and brought glögg and company parties. The sunset picture above was taken around 15:00 in the middle of January.

My boss, Åke, was an enthusiastic member of the company orienteering team and it wasn't long before I ran the occasional track. Most fun was to lay a track for the others. With two friends, we designed several tracks and one time we picked a rather unknown area which proved difficult for everybody but the most experienced. It definitely favoured the better orienteerers above the faster runners and, boy, were the latter mad! Neither being a decent orienteerer nor a fast runner, James is still mad that we put a control at a little swamp on top of a rocky hill; his common sense had told him that it had to be at the bottom of the hill and he never thought of going up there to check and he never found it ^_^;;

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Lake District -.- Langdale Pikes, June 2005

While waiting for my wife's visa application to be processed by the IND (so slow...) we could not leave the country and decided on a vacation in the most famous tourist area in England, the Lake District.

The Great Langdale Campsite operated by the National Trust was perfect and is located at the start of many a hiking tour among the Langdale Pikes.
Early in the morning we got ready and we followed the track up to the fell from the parking close to the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel until we reached the tiny lake on the fell. From there we climbed the Pavey Ark and continued up for Harrison Stickle after which we descended back on the fell and from Loft Crag we descended into the valley again bringing us back to the same parking lot we started from.
Thankfully, at the bottom of the hike we knew that the Stickle Barn pub was waiting and we rushed down to get a beer and some chips. Beer never tasted so good.
The whole circular hike was only 8km long and had taken us 4 hours and 17 minutes. It had taken us from 94m in the valley till 738m above sea level at Harrison Stickle and down again. Drop me an email or leave a comment if you want the GPS track in GPX format.


Camera: Pentax *ist DS, lens: Sigma 18-50mm - 1:3.5-5.6 DC

Ganguro; no, not the marsupial

Sexy Japanese kogal in hotpantsI took this picture in 1999 on one of those Sundays when Shinjuku is closed off for traffic and all kinds of people come out to perform or sell their wares until the police show up and make them disappear in a wink. The girls in the photo are 'Ganguro' (ガングロ) which either stems from ganguro (顔黒, blackface) or from the phrase gangankuro (ガンガン黒, exceptionally dark), depending on who you ask. A deep tan, bleached or dyed hair, false eyelashes, dark makeup, platform shoes and brightly-colored outfits complete the ganguro look. However, the Louis Vuitton bags suggest a kogal influence.

The kid in the photo on the left saw me snapping the shot of the ganguro and he objected to me: "They are not Japanese!" He seemed genuinely worried that I thought all Japanese girls look like that. We chatted for a bit after which he kindly allowed me to take his photo. Even though you see ganguro quite often in Shibuya and Shinjuku, the truth is that you seldom see them outside the Tokyo area. Too bad really, Japan could use some more rebellious teenagers in this time of prime minister Abe when Japanese uniformity is stressed again once more. ^_^;;

Friday, June 22, 2007

Kenroku-en, 兼六園

Along with Kairaku-en and Koraku-en, Kenroku-en in Kanazawa is considered one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan. It is famous for its beauty in all seasons and is an old private garden developed from the 1620s to 1840s by the family of Maeda, the rulers of the former province of Kaga.

Every autumn the old pine trees get roped up with poles to help the trees support the weight of the snow in winter, a technique known as 雪つり (yukitsuri).
The two-legged Kotoji-tōrō lantern is one of the most famous sights in the park. Make sure to drink green tea at the tea house and keep an eye out for the kingfisher (川蝉 - kawasemi) who nests in the park.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Mutton Curry

700-800g boneless lamb shoulder in cubes
1 tablespoon of ghee or olive oil
500g of leaf spinach
2 tomatoes
1 cup of tomato juice or replace tomatoes and juice with one can of peeled tomatoes.
1 tablespoon of curry powder
1 teaspoon of masala
2 large onions
4 or 5 green finger chilies
4 or 5 gloves of garlic
Coriander seeds

Cut the onions, peel the garlic, remove seeds from the chilies and peel the tomatoes. Fry onions, garlic and chilies in ghee until they start to colour, cut the heat and put onions, garlic, tomatoes, tomato juice, half of the spinach, chilies and coriander seeds in a blender and puree. Pour the puree in a big pan and add the meat without frying it first. Add curry and masala powder. Cook the meat in the puree until done and the ghee comes to the surface. Stir occasionally. Add the rest of the spinach leafs and let it cook for a little longer. Add salt to taste.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Deutsches Bundesbahn trains

The last of the negatives I recovered from my parents house are from a trip I took with friends who were rather obsessed with trains. René was more into timetables, but the announcement of the train show in Emmerich, just over the German border close to Arnhem was too tempting, and I was asked along to document the trains. As far as I can make out, it must have been in the late 70s while we were still at the VWO in Zutphen.




I remember being impressed with the powerful Class 103.1 locomotives and unsurprisingly they were very popular among the model trains from Märklin at the time. My friends were not really impressed with my photos, I don't remember what was wrong with them, but clearly they didn't resemble the photos published in the magazines they collected. :-)

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Peak District, Easter 2007

Pennine WayLast Easter we had reserved a place at the Upper Booth Farm camping next to the famous Pennine Way close to Jacob's Ladder. Beautiful camping and perfectly located for hiking. After so much time in the canyons and bowels of Greater London, the hills and valleys of the Peak District were a welcome change. The main picture on the right shows the Pennine Way looking towards Jacob's Ladder, while the photo of the bridge over the wee stream, shows the start of Jacob's Ladder which can be seen going up the hill in the background.

Jacob's ladderPeaksPeaks


Cameras: Pentax *ist DS + Pentax Mz-3, lens: Sigma 18-50mm - 1:3.5-5.6 DC and Sigma 28-300mm - 1:3.5-6.3, film: Ilford FP4 Plus 125 ASA

Friday, June 15, 2007

North Sea Jazz Festival, 1981

Monty Alexander Quintet featuring Ernestine AndersonThe next of the old photos I dug up in my parents house bring together photos with my passion for Jazz music. In the early 80s I visited the yearly North Sea Jazz Festivals in The Hague. The pictures I recovered were from the first time I went to the festival and I used a Kodak 400ASA film in my Pentax ME camera with a 70-150mm zoom lens f3.5. As long as you didn't use flash photography to disturb the artists or blocked the view of other guests, taking photographs was allowed. For the first photos I took, from the Monty Alexander Quintet featuring Ernestine Anderson, I just sat down in the public and raised my camera occasionally.
 Archie Shepp Quartet with Johnny Meijer on accordionFor the next session I quickly figured out that it would be much more interesting to take the photo from the side, capturing the profile of the artists with much less distraction in the background. I'm quite happy with the photo of Archie Shepp with his Quartet together with Johnny Meijer on accordion. From what I have read on the Internet, this must have been a bit of a special session as the next year Archie Shepp had "discovered" Johnny Meijer as a Jazz accordionist and they were featured together. The following years I used faster films, the last time I visited I had a 1600ASA colour film. Unfortunately after years of searching my parents house, I must conclude that those negatives have been lost :-(

Camera: Pentax ME, lens: 70-150mm - f3.5, Kodak Gold 400 ASA

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Wapenveld, 1960s

While rummaging through the old family negatives, I came across a batch of black and white negatives taken by my father sometime in the 6os at the farm of my mother's stepfather's family. At the time it must have been a normal collection of farm pictures, but now, about forty years later, the clogs, the horse drawn farm equipment, etc. all add to a feeling of nostalgia.