Monday, December 31, 2007

View over the River IJssel

After days of fog and frost, the sun reveals a dream-like landscape. Since the built-in light-meter is easily fooled, I over-exposed this shot by 1.5 stops.

Camera: Pentax *ist DS, lens: Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 EX DC MACRO

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Back from Holland

I've just returned from my Christmas vacation in the Netherlands and I couldn't wait to put a photo up. Although most of the time the weather was very foggy and cold, we had a couple of excellent days which we managed to use to the fullest and shoot lots of photos. The first week was cold and due to the fog the trees developed a white coat that was amazing the day the sun came out. Everybody with a camera was out and about and having a ball taking the most fantastic photos they have ever taken.

Camera: Pentax *ist DS, lens: Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 EX APO

Monday, December 17, 2007


I'll be on vacation until the 30th. Thanks for all the hits and see you next year. :-)

Camera: Pentax MZ-3, lens: Sigma 28-300mm - 1:3.5-6.3

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Forest Through the Trees

Now that we're getting close to the end of the year, it is the traditional time to reflect and look back at the past year.

I have to conclude that this year's trip to Japan was an enormous success: Not only did we have a truly culinary and gastronomic vacation, but for the first time I am also happy with the photos I brought back, especially the black and white photos. The travel photography course I took earlier this year really paid off, is my conclusion.
The other notable thing photography-wise this year is that now that I have my black and white photos developed via DSCL, the negatives have no fingerprints, scratches or calcium deposits on them and I get them back much quicker than via any other high-street photo shop for the same price.

Camera: Pentax MZ-3, lens: Sigma 28-300mm - 1:3.5-6.3

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Which one do you prefer?

Camera: Pentax MZ-3, lens: Sigma 28-300mm - 1:3.5-6.3

Camera: Pentax *ist DS, lens: Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 EX DC MACRO

The day we visited Shiragawago I was using both my DSLR and my SLR which I had loaded with an Ilford FP4+ B/W film; I usually keep to one camera for a subject but in Shiragawago I could not resist the urge to shoot left and right.
Ponder both images above which were taken from almost exactly the same location and with almost the same focal length. For the life of me, I can't decide which is the better photo. Please use the comments to let me know what you think.

Friday, December 14, 2007


There is a reason why Shiragawago features more and more often on the list of places people want to visit. And sometimes it is better to get there on a rainy day then on a sunny day. :-)

Camera: Pentax MZ-3, lens: Sigma 28-300mm - 1:3.5-6.3

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Gujo-hachiman castle

The original castle was built in 1559 by feudal lord Endo Morikazu; the castle was pulled down during the Meiji Restoration and rebuilt in 1934

Camera: Pentax MZ-3, lens: Sigma 28-300mm - 1:3.5-6.3

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A-dome Hiroshima

The famous Hiroshima Peace Memorial, better known as the A-dome, was the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall at the time of the bomb. It was the building closest to the hypocenter (150 meters/490 feet away) to withstand the explosion

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The mountain

This is one of those shots you shouldn't bother taking or put up on a photo blog but I couldn't resist on both accounts. I put the camera on the side of the bridge and let traffic drive by over the road while the mountain loomed in the background. Why do I like this photo? Because it conveys to me the feeling of the night of the Japanese countryside, not unlike the Ghibli film 'Only Yesterday' by Isao Takahata.

Camera: Pentax MZ-3, lens: Sigma 28-300mm - 1:3.5-6.3

Monday, December 10, 2007

Nakasendo- around Magome

The Nakasendo is a path which connected Kyoto and Edo (today's Tokyo) over an inland route that passed 500 kilometres (310 miles) through the centre of Japan's main island of Honshu. From Kyoto, it passed along Lake Biwa, over the mountains at Sekigahara, across the plains north of present-day Nagoya, close to the southern Japanese Alps, across the plain between Matsumoto and Karuisawa, and down to the Kanto plain which surrounds present-day Tokyo to Tokyo's predecessor, Edo.

During the Tokugawa shogunate these kinds of highways were carefully planned and constructed with stations at regular distances; providing food and lodging for travellers. Magome is the forty-third of the sixty-nine stations of the Nakasendo and you can still follow the old footpath between Magome and Tsumago, an 8 km long stretch through some of the most beautiful area of the Kiso Valley.

Camera: Pentax *ist DS, lens: Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 EX DC MACRO

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Wigeon (Anas penelope)

A couple of Wigeons (Dutch: Smient) on the River IJssel in Zutphen, Netherlands.
My father's hobby was to photograph birds in their natural habitat and I have tried it myself but usually I fail as the birds or animals are always looking away or are scared away the moment they hear the shutter. I've really a lot of respect for people having the patience to get the shot just right.

Camera: Pentax *ist DS, lens: Sigma 28-300mm - 1:3.5-6.3

Saturday, December 08, 2007

All female Taiko drums

For a while now, France has had a special relation with all things Japanese. For example, years before other countries got interested in anime, it was shown daily on French TV and there were many shops where the Japanese manga were sold as translated manga was not yet heard of; instead people would learn Japanese. Where else would they show Yasujiro Ozu films on TV?
The Maison de la Culture du Japon (Japanese Cultural Centre) close to the Eiffel Tower is an excellent example of this relation. But nowhere is the relation felt stronger than in Versailles where yearly exhibitions and other Japan related activities are held. The photo above I took at the Versailles cultural centre at a performance of an all female Taiko drum group.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Views of Mount Fuji

Taken from the shinkansen at full speed. It is not a good photo, I know, as it neither shows the tranquility of the mountain nor the horrible contrast between the very industrial city in front spewing yellow and black smoke against the backdrop of the most well know scenery in Japan.

Due to travel photos like mine, the unsuspecting first-time tourist in Japan probably expects a serene environment where man and nature live in harmony. This is unfortunately besides the truth as the countryside in Japan is polluted and covered with concrete to an extend unparalleled in the rest of the world. ^_^;;
Of course, all the beautiful and pretty areas are no lie and are there, but you'll have to seek them out.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Essence of Japan

I probably have looked at too many ukiyo-e woodblock prints, but the trees silhouetted against a mountain is so recognizably Japanese to me.

Camera: Pentax *ist DS, lens: Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 EX DC MACRO

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Kamikochi scenery

Another black and white shot I took in Kamikochi; I kinda went a little overboard and probably shot way too many photos but it is difficult not to when the scenery is so beautiful and different every corner you turn. If you're planning a trip to Japan and you like landscape photography, include Kamikochi in your trip!

Camera: Pentax MZ-3, lens: Sigma 28-300mm - 1:3.5-6.3

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Kyoto Garden in Holland Park

Built in 1991 by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and Kyoto Chamber of Trade in Japan by Tanaka, a famous Japanese garden designer, to celebrate the Japan Festival in London in 1992; the garden aims to give the feel of Japan in the centre of London.

According to the ancient Chinese book of gardens, there are six different qualities to which a garden can aspire. Grouped in their traditional complementary pairs, they are: spaciousness & seclusion, artifice & antiquity, water-courses & panoramas.

Kenrokuen in Kanazawa, which I visited earlier this year, is blessed with all six qualities but, as you can imagine, it is difficult enough to create a garden with three or four of these qualities. To be fair to Kyoto Garden, I think it has three of these qualities (seclusion, artifice and water-course) but to me it is missing some of the Japanese "feel." Still, definitely worth a visit just to see how different it is from a true Japanese garden.

Camera: Pentax *ist DS, lens: Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 EX DC MACRO

Monday, December 03, 2007

Obese squirrels

Holland Park is a pretty park and obviously lots of people go there to feed the squirrels who are not shy at all and will happily come up to you and take a nut from your fingers. Too many people do this apparently as the squirrels are twice as wide as the squirrels that live in our neighbourhood. My wife suggested to have a 'fat fighters' program for squirrels.

Camera: Pentax *ist DS, lens: Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 EX DC MACRO

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Holland Park Tube station

If you're ever in London and want to take photos of an empty tube station, Holland Park station on the Central Line is a good recommendation. It got enough inexplicable pipes, long corridors, fish-eye mirrors, decaying walls, etc. to spend some time with a camera in it.

Camera: Pentax *ist DS, lens: Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 EX DC MACRO

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Toden Arakawa line (2)

Two more photos I took at the Toden Arakawa tramline line, see also here. The Toden Arakawa line itself and the people on the train reminded me of being inside a Yasujiro Ozu film and therefore I'm glad I only brought my black and white camera that day.

Camera: Pentax MZ-3, lens: Sigma 28-300mm - 1:3.5-6.3