Valencia: old and new together

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Valencia is one of the bigger cities of Spain. We stayed in Las Arenas Balneario Resort, a hotel along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. A really nice hotel with a beautiful view of the beach and the sea.
The old city (founded 138 BC) is nice to stroll through and to enjoy the food and the view. The cultural influences of the various occupiers on the architecture and the food is visible everywhere. We walked from Porta de Serrans to Estacio del Nord. We really enjoyed Plaça de l’Ajuntament, there are a lot of nice places to eat.

Typical streets of Valencia
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Another interesting part is the dried-up river Turia. Part of it is turned into a public garden with play grounds and cultural centers. Going through it by bike really gives a special sensation, seeing the high walls of the old river going more then ten meters up, and knowing that there used to run a lot of water between these walls.
Near the end of this old river it turns into an Art and Science park with many extraordinary buildings: Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia, Hemisfèric, Museum of Sciences, and Agora. The contrast with the old center is enormous.
Hemesferic and Palace of the Arts, Valencia
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Valencia is of course also famous for its fallas. Visiting them is high on my photography list. Here are my Valencia pictures on Dreamstime and here are some others.
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Putting a picture on canvas: experiencing printed pictures

Beautiful view Yellow Mountain, ChinaIn our digital world most of the pictures taken stay on a smart phone or PC, or appear on the web. They are hardly ever printed. In the digital form it is quite easy to share pictures, at the same time we value paintings in our houses or offices. Pictures are in the same way a form of art which you can hang on your wall.
Printed pictures are something special. Especially in large formats. I first started to print in A4 format with my own HP inkjet printer; now I print in A3 format via Fotofabriek in Groningen, the Netherlands. Holding the pictures in your hands gives quite a different perception compared to viewing them on a screen. Also looking at these printed pictures together with others is a much nicer experience. Maybe in future, if there is enough demand, I will buy an A2 printer to further explore this special experience to view a large picture.
The next step is putting a picture on canvas to hang it on the wall. Below an example of a canvas in our living room. The picture was selected by my daughter.

Beautiful view in the Alps
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos

It really give me the feeling that I am hiking with a backpack in the Alps. The quality of the pictures is more than enough to make a large canvas of perfect quality. I print my canvas at Profotonet near Rotterdam in the Netherlands. Make sure you convert to the color space indicated by the printing company, for example sRGB.
If you feel like making your own canvas or poster you should have a look at my albums. If you find a picture in one of these albums  of your interest, please contact me. For a reasonable price you may obtain a high quality jpg. Enjoy!
See also my post on My own shop @ Werk aan de Muur

250 sales on Dreamstime

Generations of sailors
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Yesterday I reached 250 sales on Dreamstime. Above you see the last picture that was sold to complete the 250. Since 2009 I have been selling a slowly increasing number of pictures, although it is not a lot (especially not in money) compared to some of the other contributors to Dreamstime, I am proud of it.

2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
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I always wonder where my pictures appear. Do they appear in books, magazine, calendars, or on the web? It is impossible to find out because the buyer is known only to Dreamstime and not to me.
Another question is what kind of pictures are sold and which ones sell best. The interest of the buyers is wide spread; the last couple of years of almost all photoshoots I sell at least one picture. The pictures that sell best are cityscape and waterscapes. Also my two models are doing quite well. Furthermore, my Chinese pictures are also popular. The most popular picture is of Budapest in winter.

Donau through Budapest
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Here you will see all the pictures that are sold via Dreamstime.
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Peking Opera: a must

Peking OperaGoing to the Peking Opera when you visit Beijing is a must. The singing is of course very special, with the high-pitched voices. However, in my opinion, the colorful and elaborate clothes are even more special and nice to take pictures of. Also the movements in combination with the elaborate clothes create interesting lines and shapes.
If you are interested in the history, the roles of the performers, and the visual aspects of Peking Opera please have a look at Wikipedia.
Here you will find an album of some of the pictures I took during a performance. I had taken my general-purpose lens (28-300 mm), which is always good for this type of shoots. There was no way I could have used a flash: annoying, distance, light drop-off. I set the Shutter Speed to make sure that the movements were more or less frozen (1/60sec and 1/100sec), I checked the Aperture to see whether I had enough Depth-of-Field, and the ISO did the rest. A nice memory of a special evening.

First snow in winter 2014/2015 in my hometown

Sneeuw in Hengelo januari 2015In January we got our first snow of the winter 2014/2105 in my hometown. Always a pleasure to take pictures, especially if you are the first to walk through the snow.
Taking snow pictures is not easy. The camera tries to turn all the white in the picture into gray. Although our brains try to see it as white (because we know that snow is supposed to be white) it still does not look nice. So, OVEREXPOSE. How much, depends on the scene. So, experiment! If you overexpose too much, you will loose detail.
Below you see two pictures, on the left no exposure compensation and on the right one-stop  over compensation. As you can see, the right picture the snow looks whiter.
Sneeuw in Hengelo januari 2015 Sneeuw in Hengelo januari 2015
Here are some pictures I took this morning in my garden.

Night Shots – Chinese Light Show

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In 2012 there was a wonderful Chinese Light Show in Rotterdam. A perfect opportunity to practice night shots. It is important to try to make areas where there is ambient light as dark as possible. Therefore, preferably work in Manual Mode, and

  • keep the ISO value low (no noise),
  • keep the Shutter Speed low (no ambient light),
  • use an Aperture for the required Depth-of Field (DoF).

These suggestions of course contradict each other, so it is important to find the right balance, to get sufficient light on the sensor. In this case I used my D700 which even for high ISO values produces very little noise. So, this gave me the freedom to set the Shutter Speed to 1/60 sec, enough for not noticing my shaky hands (it was in the middle of winter). I also used my 50mm prime lens, which is very light sensitive. Because most of the objects were far enough so even with an Aperture of 1.8 I had still enough DoF.
Here are some of the pictures I took at the Chinese Light Show in Rotterdam. Maybe you recognize the Temple of Heaven, which I visited in 2013.
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Hike near Oosterbeek and White Balance

Oosterbeek januari 2015
Last Sunday I hiked near Oosterbeek (see map below). It is a really beautiful area, a mix of woods and open areas, just north of the river Nederrijn. This particular morning you could see the frost and the sun was still pretty low with warm colors. Here you can see some of the pictures I took.

This track comes from www.wandeleninoosterbeek.nl
I always shoot RAW, this allows me to change some of the settings, for example, the White Balance. I set White Balance always to Auto White Balance, AWB. When I am back home I set it to an appropriate value.
Changing the White Balance can have a substantial impact on the way the picture looks: if a picture is taken during normal daylight and we set the White Balance to Shade it will start adding red colors (to compensate the bluish colors in the shade), making the picture warmer. The same happens, however, to a lesser extent when setting the White Balance to Cloudy.
Looking at my RAW pictures I noticed that the pictures looked cooler than I remembered and intended, so during processing I set the White Balance to Cloudy, giving the pictures a warmer expression and also making the effect of the backlight of the sun more visible. Setting it to Shade was a bit overdone. It is just a matter of experimenting.
Keep in mind that we do not have to make an identical copy of reality, we want to make a picture that expresses what we felt when we took the picture.

Street photography, quite a challenge

Street
If people know you take a picture of them they pose. Their faces and body language are different than when pictures are taken by surprise. The ultimate goal of portrait photography is to make people look natural, as if they are not aware of the photographer. From my own experience I know this is not always easy.
The idea of street photography is to take pictures of people in there normal habitat, just being themselves. Most of the time these pictures tell a better story than regular portrait photography where everything is arranged.
However, there is one issue about street photography that I like to address: privacy. Is taking pictures of people in a public space without asking for permission an intrusion in their privacy. In a sense it is. At the same time it is regarded as art. Look at the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson or Vivian Maier of very nice black and white pictures taken out on the streets. In my opinion it is essential not to embarrass people with pictures in awkward positions.
Street photography is not always easy with a full frame camera with a long lens. Everybody will see you pointing with your camera. Taking away the unexpected moment. Vivian Maier always used a small compact camera hanging around her neck. Therefore her pictures capture all the emotions in a very natural way. They are really storytelling pictures. And Henri Cartier-Bresson is of course famous for his “The Decisive Moment” with the famous picture of a man just about to step in a puddle of water.
Here are some of my street pictures taken in China.
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Barcelona, a nice place to be


Last summer we spent a couple of weeks in Barcelona. It is a truly internationally oriented, mediterranean city,  where sun, sea, and food play a central role. Everywhere there are nice restaurants.
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We had rented an apartment close to the Diagonal in a very luxurious area of Barcelona. Shops of all major brands were present, all of them having a doorman. Given our budget we just had a look from the outside 🙂
Barcelona is of course also the city of Gaudi: La Sagrada Família, Park Güell, Casa Milà, Parc de la Ciutadella, and many more places worth a visit.
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Here you will find my Barcelona pictures approved by Dreamstime, including many nice pictures of the interior of La Sagrada Família,
and here some pictures of the many nice districts of Barcelona, each having their own character. Enjoy!
Normally, I take my Nikkor 28-300 mm while visiting a city. It is a very convenient lens. However, this time I took my 16-35 mm and 70-200 mm. For example, the pictures of details in La Sagrada Família required a small depth-of-filed (f/2.8), so I used the 70-200 mm lens.

La Sagrada Familia: Jesus Christ
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos

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