Sightseeing Xi'an (2)

If you want to know more about my first day in Xi’an, click here.

Breakfast Crowne Plaza in Xi’an

After a good breakfast, the second day we strolled on the Xi’an City Wall. The original fortification was built in the 14th century. It is one of the oldest city walls in China. As a tourist you have to pay a small fee to get access to the wall, for the inhabitants of Xi’an it is free, once a month. The wall is in excellent condition; it is even possible to take a bike ride on it.
Biking on City Wall Xian
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos

The parks and streets next to the wall are actively used for gymnastic exercises, playing music, and singing. Also, there was a colorful market (as you can see in the album). 
Gym in park next to City Wall Xian
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Just before lunch we visited the Muslim Quarter. The streets are full of shops and tiny restaurants. You can get a wide variety of  delicious small snacks. It is a colorful and lively quarter. Next time I need to spend more time in this quarter to visit the mosque as well.
Beiyuanmen Muslim Market in Xian, China
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos

After lunch at the famous Hai Di Lao Hot Pot Restaurant, I went off to the airport to fly to Beijing to visit Tsinghua University. Xi’an is defintely worth paying a visit.
Here are the pictures of Xian that have been accepted by Dreamstime. I used my general-purpose Nikkor lens: 28-300mm.
And here the street photography pictures I took in the Muslim Quarter in Xi’an.
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Sightseeing Xi’an (1)

During my recent visit to China I visited four universities. One of them was NPU, where NPU and the University of Twente signed an agreement about student exchange. Below the official ceremony.

Signing Ceremony NPU

After this ceremony I was lucky to do some sightseeing in Xi’an in the Shaanxi Province with two Chinese friends. During the Zhou dynasty it was the capital of China. First, we visited the Terracotta Army, some 50 km outside the city. It is incredible to imagine that these terracotta soldiers date back to roughly 200 BC, and were only discovered as recent as 1974. These soldiers and animals were buried with the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, to protect him. The Terracotta army is a kind of funerary art.

Terracotta Army in Xian
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Later on in the afternoon we visited the Buddhist Da Ci’en Temple and the Big Wild Goose Pagoda. The Buddhist temple is popular; quite a few people burn incense sticks.

 

Buddhist Da Ci’en Temple
Burning incense

 

 
 
 
 

My youngest friend persuaded me to climb the seven story high pagoda. Well, I made it, and took some nice pictures of Xi’an. The first version of the pagoda was built in 652.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

At night it is very nicely lit and close by every evening there is a nice fountain performance with music. The squares in the neighbourhood are crowded with groups performing dances.

Xi’an at night
Dancing in Xi’an

This concludes the first day of my visit to Xi’an. After a good diner at Xi Bei You Mian Cun Restaurant with my friends I went back to my hotel.

Xi Bei You Mian Cun

Look here if you are interested in my second day visiting Xi’an.
Here are the pictures of Xian that have been accepted by Dreamstime. I used my general-purpose Nikkor lens: 28-300mm.
And here are my album of the pictures I took of the Terracotta Army.

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Enjoying The Hague

Political center the Netherlands
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Normally I visit The Hague for business reasons, for example to visit the ministeries. This time it was a short holiday with the family. We stayed in a very nice, spacious apartment of Stayci near the Grote Markt. Every morning we had a luxurious breakfast with Anne&Max near the Saint Jacob Church. It was a real treat. 
It just happened that we walked by an Escher exhibition in the former Winter Palace of Queen Mother Emma in The Hague. M.C. Escher is a famous Dutch graphic artist. Besides his earlier work on sketches of buildings, towns, and landscape when he was in Spain and Italy, he is most famous for his “impossible figures”, like the one below. 

Belvedere

One evening we had a wonderful diner in Restaurant La Passione (Italian cuisine). The food was really exquisite. We will definitely visit this restaurant again. Below you will see the owner preparing my dorade with sea salt crust.

Restaurant La Passione

One museum that is always worthwhile a visit is the Mauritshuis (see bottom, yellow building). They have paintings of, among others, the famous Dutch painters Johannes Vermeer, Rembrandt, Frans Hals, and Jan Steen. One of their pearls is of course the Girl with a pearl earring of Johannes Vermeer.

Girl with a pearl earring

Strolling through The Hague was really enjoyable. The variety in  architecture gave us the feeling that we were abroad. However, the main reason for going was to show our youngest son the political center of the Netherlands: het Binnenhof, with het Torentje (office of the prime minister; see below), and de Ridderzaal (Hall of Knights, see top).

Political center the Netherlands
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Here are the pictures of The Hague that have been accepted by Dreamstime. I used two Nikkor lenses: 28-300mm and 16-35mm.
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Posts generate traffic to my albums

Homepage Dreamstime
Homepage Dreamstime

The posts on Peter Apers Photoblog have two purposes: on the one hand, I like to share my knowledge and experience of photography and, on the other hand, I like to share the beauty of my pictures. To do so, I always include a link to a relevant album in my post. I have been doing this now for more than a year.
Via Google Analytics I have noticed that, besides supporting family members, only every now and then somebody looks at my posts and albums. To increase the traffic to both of them I started a Facebook page Peter Apers Photography and started to write posts on the blog of Dreamstime.
As it turns out both are quite popular. My latest post at Dreamstime about Machu Picchu ended up on the homepage of Dreamstime for more than a week (see picture above). More than 870 people looked at it, genetaring a lot of traffic to my albums on my NAS. Also, the posts on Facebook are doing quite well. The last one on my visit to Yellow Mountain reached more than 160 people.
My albums on my NAS are produced using jAlbum. From such an album I can directly generate a post on Facebook. To also create a link to the relevant post on my photoblog, I include a few lines and a link to the post on the front page of the album. To attract people to my collection at Werk aan de Muur I also make posts on Facebook based on the pictures I have there.
The result is that my albums are viewed by a handful of people on a daily basis. The blogs on my Photoblog still attract only a few people. All in all, the sales have not gone up substantially yet, despite the increase of traffic to my collections at Dreamstime and at Werk aan de Muur. I guess I have to invest more time in this.
Here you find my pictures at Dreamstime and here at Werk aan de Muur. Enjoy!

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is an icon of the Inca culture. It was built around 1450 for one of the Inca emperors and abandoned a century later during the Spanish Conquest. Hiram Bingham rediscovered it in 1911. The place was so secluded that only local people knew about it. And now it is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
In 1982 it was the first time I visited Machu Picchu. Since then I have been there 4 or 5 times. Last time was the summer of 2015. It is a remarkable site that is worth visiting over and over again. Walking around, is like walking through a village where different sections have different functions. 
Taking pictures is not easy. First of all, there are quite a few tourists visiting the site the whole day through. So, taking pictures without tourists is next to impossible. Also, you have to be lucky with the weather. Friends of mine were unlucky: fog and quite a bit of rain. As you can see I was pretty lucky: blue sky and partly cloudy, the same as the first time I was there.
The site is really impressive: the way it was built (look at the bricks), the irrigation system to water the terraces, the storage of the food, the calendar, and the housing. The site itself is at roughly 2400 meters. As you can see it is surrounded by high mountains. So, it is not surprising it took quite a while before it was discovered again. Now it is a world famous tourist attraction, definitely worth visiting.
Here you can see my album of pictures on Machu Picchu.
Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos

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Sunset at Domburg

Domburg is a tiny village along the coast in the province Zeeland in the Netherlands. I had been there when I was young. My family decided to pay this touristic village a visit again. It was very nice weather. So, we had ample opportunity to have long hikes on the beach. 
To make sure that the sand of the beach does not disappear they have built breakers.  These are two rows of wooden poles from the coast into the sea, covering the area between high and low tide. These are fascinating objects to take pictures of, because of the water curling around the poles and the seagulls taking a rest.

Breakers at Domburg
Breakers at Domburg
Breakers at Domburg
Breakers at Domburg

Around 7 pm it was high tide; around the same time we also enjoyed a beautiful sunset. The interaction between the remaining light of the sun, its reflection on the water,  and the incoming waves of the upcoming tide were really magnificent.

Sunset at Domburg
Sunset at Domburg

 I had taken my regular lens: Nikkor 28 – 300mm lens. To make sure that I had full control over the exposure I shot in manual mode: shutter speed 1/320th of a second (to avoid a tripod and fix the waves) and aperture f/9. The under-exposure was compensated by an automatic increase of the ISO. Looking back now an aperture of f/11 would have been better (larger depth of field).
Here are some more pictures of the beautiful sunset in Domburg. Enjoy!
 

Picturesque Ootmarsum

Saint Simon and Judas Church, Ootmarsum
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Ootmarsum is a picturesque village in the Netherlands near the German border. Besides being a nice village that preserves its history that goes back to 770 quite well, it is also famous for its art/history-related organisations: galeries, museums, and shops. 
My family had friends coming over from abroad. So, we decided to pay a visit to Ootmarsum. We started with the Educatorium; it is a schoolmuseum. It gives a wonderful insight in how classes, teachers,  learning material, books looked like in the early 1900s. On the one hand, quite a lot of things changed, on the other hand, quite a few things are still the same. 
After that we visited the art gallery of Annemiek Punt. She puts layers of coloured pieces of glass on top each other, which in the oven melt, producing a nice colourful composition. She is one of our favourite artists.
From there, we walked to the Gallery of Ton Schulten, a famous Bocage painter. He has produced many colourful pictures of the shapes of the woods and meadows sceneries in Twente. We actually met him with his dog enjoying coffee in a nearby coffee house. 
In the centre of the village there is the Simon and Judas Church, with its nice front gable (see top). At the bottom there is a nice picture of the tower. Here are some more pictures of lovely Ootmarsum. Our friends really enjoyed it.

Saint Simon and Judas Church, Ootmarsum
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos

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Doorwerth Castle

Doorwerth Castle
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Last week my family and I had a hike in the Estate Duno nearby the Doorwerth Castle. So, we decided to pay a visit to the castle. The origin of the castle goes back to 1260. The last restoration —to restore the 18th century state—lasted until 1983.
As most of the time I was carrying my general-purpose lens Nikkor 28-300mm. It was a partly cloudy day with the sun going down. There was already some warmth in the light as you can see in the two pictures. To make sure that most of the relevant parts of the castle were sharp I decided to us an aperture of f/11 and a shutter speed of 1/80th of a second. To get sufficient light my D800 decided to use an ISO of 110 for the picture at the bottom and 160 for the one at the top. Resulting in excellent pictures.
Both pictures were accepted by Dreamstime. Here you can see some more pictures I took on the real estate of the castle.
Doorwerth Castle
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos

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Madonna del Sasso, Locarno

Madonna del Sasso and Locarno
Madonna del Sasso and Locarno

Madonna del Sasso is a sanctuary above Locarno. To go there, you need to take a very old, however, well maintained funicular from the city center to the pilgrimage site of Madonna del Sasso. In a short while it takes you a little less than 200 meters higher. From there it is an easy walk to the church.
The church Madonna del Sasso was founded in 1502 on the site where brother Bartolomeo d’Ivrea had a vision of the Virgin Mary in 1480. Because of that it is regarded a pilgrimage site. The church is a nice and quite place to visit. It has some nice spaces at different levels. Also the view of Locarno and of Lago Maggiore is magnificent.

View of Locarno
View of Locarno

I had taken only my general-purpose Nikkor 28-300 mm lens. It gives me the flexibility I need in unexpected situations. Most of the time if I go somewhere where I haven’t been before, and I want to travel light, and I also know there is enough light, I take this lens. Maybe it is not the best lens, however, in combination with my D800 it never let me down. For example, the picture in the church was taken with ISO 5600 and it still looks good.
Here are some of the pictures I have taken. Some of them are also on Dreamstime. Hope you enjoy.
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A total of 500 uploads at Dreamstime

Madonna del Sasso, Locarno
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos

This week I reached a total of 500 uploads at Dreamstime. I am extremely proud of that. As an amateur photographer it is very rewarding to meet the high quality criteria of a professional organization like Dreamstime. It is rewarding to get your pictures accepted and even more rewarding to sell them.
By reading and practicing a lot, by participating in the Dreamstime community, and by trying to match my own ambitions and the preferences of the buyers, I have learned a lot.
In the first year my acceptance rate was 47% and this year it is 100%.
Year 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 Sept 2016
Acceptance 47% 51% 71% 70% 87% 91% 100%

And in the same period the sales, in terms of numbers, have almost quadrupled.

Year 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 Sept 2016
Sales 22 35 41 33 49 66 85 52

Here you can see all my pictures at Dreamstime: in chronological order, categorized, and the ones that are sold.
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