Monday, March 31, 2008

Chelsea Bridge

Panorama of Chelsea Bridge stitched together from 16 photos. Located between the Battersea Power Station and the London Pagoda, it seems to be overlooked by most photographers but it is a rather pretty bridge and it was the hangout for the notorious  Rockers in the 60s.

As always with panoramas, click through to get the larger image.

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

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Spring clouds

The Y(K2) yellow filter at work on my "new" Pentax MZ-S 35mm SLR. I quickly shot a film this week and had it developed just to make sure the new camera is working fine -- which it is as you can see :-)

The yellow filter really helped this shot as the cloud in reality was far less dramatic.

Camera: Pentax MZ-S, lens: Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 EX DG MACRO

Saturday, March 29, 2008


Weathered lantern in Takayama, Japan.

Camera: Pentax MZ-3, lens: Sigma 28-300mm - 1:3.5-6.3 + ILFORD FP4+

Friday, March 28, 2008

Rice, just before harvest

Japonica rice just about to be harvested. The average rice field acreage of a Japanese farmer is small (about 0.8 hectares) and rice production is highly mechanized and from the shinkansen you'll see field after field even though production is said to have been scaled down.

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

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Pentax MZ-S

Pentax MZ-S is a 35mm single-lens reflex camera

I have just obtained a secondhand Pentax MZ-S 35mm single-lens reflex camera in excellent shape. It was the top-of-the-line model of Pentax's MZ/ZX series introduced in 2001 and discontinued in 2006. The camera features an autofocus system based on six linear CCD sensors, on-film data recording and an MTF autoexposure mode which chooses the aperture for maximum sharpness based on information provided by the AF lens.
The on-film data recording imprints the exposure mode, metering method, shutter speed, aperture and exposure compensation on the negative outside the actual photo area and acts as EXIF data and is something that will turn out to be very valuable for me.

Am I mad to spend money on a 35mm camera in this day and digital age? As you know I still am very much committed to black and white on film and I intend to invest more effort in that direction. The only 35mm camera that Pentax currently have in their catalogue is the Pentax *ist (not to be confused with the Pentax *ist D series DSLRs) which is a nice camera but not the high-end 35mm camera the MZ-S is. In my opinion, Pentax will never release another high-end 35mm camera so I figured that the time was now to pick one up.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Figurines in the museum shop of the tate modern museum

Figurines in the museum shop of the Tate Modern museum in London.

Camera: Pentax *ist DS, lens: Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 EX DG MACRO

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Kamikochi -The Yosemite of Japan

Hikers getting ready for a day in the mountains at Kamikochi, Japan

Just to let you all know that I have put my Kamikochi travelblog up on, click through on the image.

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

Monday, March 24, 2008

The crack in the world

Tate Mordern Museum

A symbolic tear in the fabric of society of 167 meters long and made by Colombian artist Doris Salcedo entitled Shibboleth still attracts lots of spectators at the Tate Modern museum in London.
If only the tear in society could be filled as quickly and completely as Shibboleth will be in April...

Camera: Pentax *ist DS, lens: Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 EX DG MACRO

Sunday, March 23, 2008

cre8buzz / photography

I've been member of the buzz for some time now and without me knowing, this weekend my favourite photo of Kamikochi was the number one photo at the buzz for the moment and believe me, there is some steep competition there. Banzai!

Have a look here for my profile at cre8buzz and here for the photo. If you have a blog, sign up for free; you'll need the buzz and the buzz needs you! ^_^

Hanamaki Matsuri - birthday blues

Photo taken about 5 years ago at the Hanamaki Matsuri (festival) where lots of schools from the tiny countryside villages surrounding Hanamaki partake in carrying portable shrines through the streets of this well known onsen town. When I am together with my Japanese wife nobody approaches me, but on this occasion she had popped off for a second and almost immediately I was crowded by these curious kids. All very cute in their matsuri happi- coats and happy to pose for a (terrible) photo.
When we were over in Japan last year I overheard some elderly ladies commenting on me being "kakkoi" (handsome or cool) but the days that students came over to me to ask me to pose for photos with them seem to have disappeared in the sands of time. ^_^;;

Camera: Pentax MZ-3

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Monk from Koyasan temple

A mendicant Zen Buddhist monk from the famous Koyasan temple in Wakayama walks slowly down the main shopping street in Ginza, Tokyo. Most Japanese people seem to ignore him and rush by. Really a nice video opportunity to speed up the playback to have everybody zoom past as if he isn't there.

Only now I'm going back through the photos I took on my last trip to Japan and photos I had previously rejected, turn out to be nice shots after all. I blogged this monk in an other entry where I placed him in a wide but crowded area in an attempt to contrast the crowds with his focused tranquility. That didn't really work so well and I think this tightly cropped attempt works better in that respect. Now I wished I had used an open aperture to separate him from the crowd instead of the f/5.6 I used on this shot (and focused better). Another entry in my list of "missed opportunities," but it is the only way to improve.

As a tourist in Japan you'll come across mendicant Zen Buddhist monks from time to time. So what do you do to make the most of this opportunity, apart from taking his photo? You can make an offering of 100 yen or so in his bowl and he'll ring his prayer bell and make you a blessing. I always find it an uplifting experience.
In case you want to read a little more about Zen Buddhism I would like to recommend An Introduction to Zen Buddhism by D.T. Suzuki.

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

Friday, March 21, 2008

Vin Chaud

Mulled wine, Glühwein, Glögg, Vin Chaud

One of the pleasures of winter is the vin chaud, or mulled wine or Glühwein, that is readily served by cafes everywhere. I took this photo in Ootmarsum, a picturesque village on the border between Germany and Holland. I like the photo with the background in bokeh.

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

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Nyuto Onsen

Nyuto Onsen travel blog entry with map and access information

I published a travel blog entry about Nyuto Onsen including a map and information about how to get there. Nyuto Onsen is one of the best kept secrets of Japan. Just click the photo or the link above to go the entry.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Murano, Venice.

homely scene at Murano, Venice

One of the smaller squares on Murano behind the more busy walks along the canals.

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

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Delicious French cheese

I've always been a big fan of cheese and having lived in France for 12 years certainly has heightened my appreciation for the "smaller" cheeses from the French countryside. :-)

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

Monday, March 17, 2008

Visited Countries Map

I have been adding a couple of my travels to; mostly for myself but a lot of people are using that site and the forums to prepare their travels and we usually prepare our trips carefully. I wish I could make the travels some of the people are current working on...
The image above is the map of the countries I visited and, alas, it is sort of Europe centred and I cheated by putting Canada in because I left the terminal for a tiny walk on a stop-over on a trip from Amsterdam to San Francisco. ^_^;;
For questions related to travels to Japan, I would also recommend the folks at

Sunday, March 16, 2008


Suspension bridge Myojin-bashi in kamikochi, Japan

Apart from Kappabashi, the other suspension bridge in Kamikochi is Myojin-bashi which is much less crowded and allows for wider views over the river landscape.

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

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Kappabashi - The kappa bridge

Kappabashi is a suspension bridge in the centre of the Kamikochi national park in Japan and it is the destination for most of the visitors. Here is where the large hotels are and where you have your photo taken, and with a bit of luck, you spot a couple of monkeys. It is fun to watch the people parade around it whilst eating a curry-pan, but much more beautiful scenery awaits you deeper into Kamikochi, so let's not dwell at Kappabashi for too long :-)

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

Friday, March 14, 2008

The football

Football desrted on a playground

Punctured football forgotten on a fog covered playground

Camera: Pentax MZ-3, lens: Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 EX DG MACRO

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Windswept trees alongside the Pennine Way

Windswept trees along the Pennine Way

Empty landscape with three trees.

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

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

12:59:59 Greenwich Mean Time

Greenwich observatory, the time ball is aboutto drop

People waiting in anticipation for the time ball to drop at the stroke of 13:00 GMT. The time ball allowed the ships on the river to synchronize their clocks that were so important in navigation as you can shoot as many stars as you want with a sextant, without the correct time the tables can't tell you your correct latitude.

Camera: Pentax MZ-3, lens: Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 EX DG MACRO

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Children playing at playground against factory backdrop

Playground in Greenwich with a huge factory in the background.

Camera: Pentax MZ-3, lens: Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 EX DG MACRO

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Tunnel

Greenwich Foot Tunnel


Dramatic music fades in and the scene opens with three mysterious men approaching. The viewer will asks him/herself: Who are they? Where are we? Do I feel threatened?

Camera: Pentax MZ-3, lens: Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 EX DG MACRO

Sunday, March 09, 2008

The Planetarium Cone

Like the Louvre Pyramid, I like it when old and new clash in architecture. Behind the Greenwich observatory, in the same grounds, is the Peter Harrison Planetarium where they have erected a bronze cone with the following characteristics:

  • The north side of the cone is aligned with the point in the sky perpendicular to the Greenwich local horizon (zenith)
  • The sloping southern side points towards the north celestial pole (Pole star). The angle of the slope is 51º28'44", equal to the latitude of the Royal Observatory
  • The top of the cone is sliced at an angle parallel to the celestial equator
  • The planetarium is aligned with the local meridian (north-south line)

I think it is pretty cool too :-)

Camera: Pentax MZ-3, lens: Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 EX DG MACRO

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Greenwich, view of The River Thames

river thames in greenwich  close to the tourist areas like the cutty sark and gipsy moth

Just a few hundreds of meters away from the Cutty Sark, you can find this beautiful view of a different side of Greenwich.

Camera: Pentax MZ-3, lens: Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 EX DG MACRO

Friday, March 07, 2008

Foggy backlit playground

On my way to work I drove past this playground covered in ground mist with the sun just rising over the houses in the background and this time I did have my camera on me. I jumped out of my car and had about 10 minutes before the sun had burned away the fog.

Camera: Pentax MZ-3, lens: Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 EX DG MACRO + ILFORD FP4+

Thursday, March 06, 2008

World Film Photography Day

Canary Wharf Jubilee Tube Station

March 20th will be the first World Film Photography Day and I intend to participate. Although I have a Pentax DSLR, I still use my Pentax SLR as often for black and white photos with an Ilford FP4+ or HP5+ film. I applaud initiatives like the WFPD even though I don't think (or hope!) that film will disappear completely. Surely, the family and vacation snapshot has moved over to digital almost completely but some die-hards using film for black and white and cross-processing will hopefully keep film alive and gradually bring it back when people start to realize the differences between film and digital. A World Film Photography Day is a good start for this.

A drawback of the collapse of film is that it is almost impossible to buy black and white film in the shops or get it developed. I use to develop the films myself, but got lazy and nowadays use DSCL which will get me the negatives back within two days while High street photo shops like Jessops take two weeks and return the negatives with fingerprints and calcium deposits :-(

See also:

Camera: Pentax MZ-3, lens: Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 EX DG MACRO + Ilford FP4+

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

More rowboats

rowboats in the taishoike pond in kamikochi, Japan

The photos of those rowboats in the Taishoike pond in Kamikochi, Japan, are still intriguing to me and I'm happy with the results.

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

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Greenwich Observatory

The Greenwich Royal Observatory was founded by order of King Charles II to study astronomy and to fix longitude

The Greenwich Royal Observatory, just after one o'clock GMT, the time ball had just dropped to allow the boats on the River Thames to synchronize their clocks. The time ball was built as public time signal in 1833, while the observatory dates back from 1675.

Camera: Pentax K100D

Monday, March 03, 2008

Panorama from Greenwich Observatory

Greenwich panorama with the O2 Arena and Canary Warf in the background

Panorama from Greenwich Observatory of the Maritime Museum with with the O2 Arena, formerly known as the Millennium Dome, and Canary Wharf in the background. Stitched together from 5 photos taken with my wife's camera.
As always with these panoramas, please click through to the larger image.

Camera: Pentax K100D + PTGui

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Zutphen, Sint Walburgiskerk (2)

View of medieval Zutphen

View of the jumble of medieval houses on the market in Zutphen behind the Walburgkerk church.

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

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Secret onsen in Mývatn, Iceland

onsen at iceland

In my series about secret onsen, I would like to add an onsen in Iceland. Just outside Mývatn, a thermal spring has been created from exhaust water from the thermal electricity plant which creates a perfect bath. Much smaller than the Blue Lagoon close to Reykjavik, the onsen in Myvatn gives a rustic experience comparable to a visit of Nyutou onsen in Akita, Japan.

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