A wide-angle view of Paris

Cathedral Notre-Dame in Paris
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos

This week I was in Paris with my family. We went to the obvious places. It was nice to see them after so many years. It is also good to see that France is maintaining its cultural heritage quite well. Some of the buildings looked much better than before.
The places we visited were: L’église de la Madeleine (near our hotel), Place de la Concorde with the Obélisque de Louxor, Av des Champs-Élysées, Jardin des Tuileries, area around the Louvre Museum, Cathédrale Notre-Dame, Panthéon, Jardin de Luxembourg, Tour Eiffel, Montmartre with the Sacré Cœur, and of course Château de Versailles and its gardens.
I decided to limit myself to my 16-35mm zoom lens. It has the “advantage” that everything fits which is nice with all these large buildings.  At the same that it is quite a challenge to keep the pictures interesting. Wide-angle lenses tend to put everything far away to make it fit, so:

    • try to get closer,
    • try to get an interesting object close-by,
    • try to include clouds (they get more dramatic with a wide-angle lens),
    • try to include a bit of the surroundings to get a storytelling picture, etc.

Please experiment a bit with it.
Here are some of my pictures of Paris, and here the ones that are accepted by Dreamstime.

Roombeek: rebuilt after fireworks explosion

Houses in rebuilt RoombeekOn Saturday May 13, 2000 we saw from our garden very dark smoke coming from the direction of Enschede. Later it turned out to be caused by an enormous fireworks explosion, turning the Roombeek district of Enschede in total chaos and ruins.
Recently my research group had a guided tour through Roombeek. It is now completely rebuilt. Many new houses mixed with some of the old buildings. Quite a variety of architectural designs giving a dynamic and modern character to the district. At the same time the map of the streets remained the same, giving the district the same structure, and a feeling of familiarity.
Roombeek is now the lively home of the creative industry with several museums and many smaller exposition spaces for architects and artists. It is a pleasure to be there. Below you see the restaurant bij Rozendaal and the museum TwentseWelle.

Museum and restaurant in rebuilt Roombeek
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Here are some more pictures I took of Roombeek.
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Rotterdam: harbor and architecture

Although I have been to Rotterdam on several occaisons I never had the time to stroll around the center. There is a two-hour tour “Rondje Rotterdam” that takes you along many new buildings with exotic architecture and parts of the old harbor.
Rotterdam is of course famous for its large harbor. You can still find reminiscences of the old port in the center. However, Rotterdam is also famous for its architecture and art. During World War II Rotterdam was bombed heavily leaving many open spaces. This gave the city the opportunity to experiment with the architecture of new buildings.

Central Station Rotterdam
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos

The Central Station is an example of that. The hall is very spaceous and gives a feeling of freedom which connects very well with being a traveller. Also, the Market Hall, a place for international food, combines shops and restaurants in a tunnel-shaped appartement building with colorful decorations on the inside of the tunnel.
Food Market Hall Rotterdam
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos

At the same time there are many old houses and buildings which nicely contrast the modern high-rise executive offices. Quite a few like to neglect gravity by shifting the upper part of the building, thereby getting rid of the static nature of regular buildings.
Rotterdam has many bridges, the most famous one is of course the Erasmus Bridge with its one-leg construction. A beauty to take pictures of.
Erasmus Bridge Rotterdam
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Here you will find a selection of the pictures I took during my stroll. I used my 16-35mm lens to create some drama.
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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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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.

Forbidden City, Beijing: feeling like an emperor

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The Forbidden City is a special place to visit. It used to be a place where only a limited number of people were allowed to be and now you are surrounded by hundreds of tourists.
Hearing the stories how the women of the emperor were transported in a carpet to the emperor himself for their nightly encounter gives a feeling of a cultural gap. The place is really beautiful to visit and it gives a good impression of how it used to be in those days.
It is difficult to imagine where all the marble comes from. You find it everywhere. The incense burners representing the 18 provinces of China in the Qing Dynasty are enormous. The symbolic value is obvious. Furthermore, looking at pictures of the Forbidden City it looks like it is equivalent to roofs. One can see these yellow roofs everywhere each with your own sequence of animals on it to show the importance of the building.
Here you will find my pictures of the Forbidden City accepted by Dreamstime. Some of them are Editorial because recognizable persons are on the pictures, others required a lot of processing (removing logos, announcements, and other stuff) to fulfill the requirements for a Royalty Free license.
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Summer Palace, Beijing: warm sunset colors

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Last year was my first visit to China. My program was packed with business and touristic activities. The day we arrived we hurried to see the Summer Palace of the emperor in Beijing. It was just before closing time and we had a long discussion whether they would take us by boat to the palace.  As it turned out this delay turned into a golden opportunity: perfect sunset colors shining on the various buildings of the Summer Palace and on another boat accompanying us in a city where there is fog almost every day.
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Another advantage was that the touristic market at the Summer Palace was completely desolate giving the opportunity to see the buildings and the boats. This was the first day of a sequence of days I will never forget.
During this trip I used my D700 and general-purpose lens: Nikkor 28-300mm. Here are my pictures of the Summer Palace accepted by Dreamstime. The one with the boat has been sold four times.
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My photoblog, a passion for photography

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This mo20130224_6294nth I started with my photoblog. Taking pictures and processing them has become a passion. Every now and then I want to share albums with you; just telling the story behind taking and processing the pictures. Hope you will enjoy them.
This is my last blog this year. I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. These pictures, taken in my garden a couple of years ago, are just to remind you that sometimes we have a White Christmas in the Netherlands. Now it is 12 degrees Celsius during the day and pretty stormy 🙁
Taking pictures of snow is not easy. The camera wants to turn the white snow into gray, and your eyes (or should I say brains) translate snow into white (because we know it should be white) although it is (dark) gray. So, overexpose!
Wishing you all health and happiness in 2015! And an excellent photography year.

Street photography, quite a challenge

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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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