Admiring Sevilla

Plaza de España in Sevilla

Our next stop during our trip through Andalusia is Sevilla. While arriving there we could immediately feel the respectability of an important city, a center of government, a center of power. Also, the taxi driver, showing his proudness for his city, showed us the pavilions of the various South America countries participating in the World Exhibition of 1929. During our stay we visited the pavilion of Peru which is now a Museum of Science. Here are some unprocessed (iPhone) pictures of the city.

Plaza de España
The Plaza de España was also built for the World Exhibition of 1929. With its large, half circle architecture with the two towers at both ends, the canal with rowing tourists, with the colourful bridges, and the enormous square with the fountain in the middle, it is a very attractive place to be, both during the day and in the evening. We visited it several times to take pictures with different lighting and also in the evening when the buildings are nicely lit. Here are some (iPhone) pictures of Plaza de España.

Plaza de España, Sevilla

Alcazar
The Royal Alcazar is a palace. It was built by Christians on the location of a Muslim fortress and is a nice example of Mudéjar architecture, influenced by Moorish taste and workmanship. It is really beautiful. And the gardens are really overwhelming. Here are some (iPhone) pictures of Alcazar.

Patio Royal Alcazar of Sevilla

Cathedral and La Giralda
The Sevilla Cathedral is one of the largest churches in Europe. It is a very impressive Gothic church. I took a lot of pictures of the ceiling. Next to the cathedral is the bell tower, La Giralda. The amazing thing is that it has no stairs. The idea was that you could climb the tower by horse! However,when we were there, there was no horse. Here are some (iPhone) pictures of the Cathedral.

La Geralda in Sevilla

Besides the three attractions mentioned above we went to a flamenco performance in the Flamenco Museum (very nice), we strolled through the Park of Maria Luisa, and we visited the Museum of Popular Arts and Traditions (very interesting). The days in Sevilla were really enjoyable.

Museum of Popular Arts and Traditions, Sevilla

We really admired Sevilla because of its beautiful attractions. However, although it was late September, the temperature was around 37 degrees Celsius. So, we frequently used the swimming pool of the hotel. Sevilla is definitely a city we will visit again.

Photographic tips:

  • for daytime I use my camera and the general-purpose lens (28-300mm)
  • in the evening I add to this my tripod (Plaza de España)
  • indoors I use my camera and the wide-angle lens (16-35mm)
  • for street photography, panoramic and live pictures, and when I travel light, I use my iPhone X, the pictures are of amazing quality, even when it is dark
  • in the evening at Plaza de España I tried to use Arsenal, however, I could only use it after first performing a firmware update over 3G; so, back in the bag again.

Here you can see the pictures of Sevilla accepted by Dreamstime.

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Malaga: more than Costa del Sol

Malaga: Alcazaba, Cathedral, and Museum of Malaga

Before reading about the region in preparation for our trip to Andalusia, I thought that Malaga was mainly known for its beaches (Costa del Sol). I realize now that Malaga has to offer quite a bit more than that, like the Cathedral, Alcazaba, and Gibralfaro. Also, just wandering through the streets of Malaga is a real treat. Around every corner there is a church, a square, a park, an alley that needs exploring. Here some pictures of parks and plants. In the area around the Alcazaba Roman, Arabic, and Renaissance architecture meet each other. Very inspirational. Furthermore, the early darkness of the warm evenings invites for late dining outside. The food is excellent.

Roman Theatre
Discovered only in 1951 the Roman Theatre is now one of the important tourist attractions of Malaga. It was built in the 1st century and is still used for special types of shows. On the square in front of the Roman Theatre there is always live music attracting a lot of people. Very nice atmosphere.

Roman Theatre by night

Alcazaba
The Alcazaba fortress palace was built in the 11th century by the Moors, partly with material from the Roman Theatre right next to it. It is situated against the Gibralfaro mountain and was later surrounded by the defence walls of Gibralfaro Castle.

Alcazaba and Roman Theatre

Gibralfaro Castle
The Gibralfaro Castle is named after the mountain it is built on. It dates back as far as the 14th century. From the walls you have spectacular views over the city, the harbour, and the sea. It was quite a climb to take this picture.

Malaga from Gibralfaro

Here some pictures of the Roman Theatre, Alcazaba, and Gibralfaro.

Cathedral of Malaga
The Malaga Cathedral was built in Renaissance style within the limits of old Moorish walls. It was suppose to have two towers. However, after the first tower was finished there was no money left to build the second tower. Here some pictures of the cathedral on the outside accepted by Dreamstime.

 

Here some pictures of other churches as well.

We really enjoyed Malaga. Of course we went to one of the beaches (El Palo) to take a swim. However, most of the time we spent on exploring the city beyond the obvious tourist attractions. What struck us most, was that around every corner there is a church and that every hour of the day somebody gets married. Malaga is definitely more than just Costa del Sol.

Photographic tips:

  • for daytime I use my camera and the general-purpose lens (28-300mm)
  • in the evening I normally add to this my tripod (for Roman Theatre, however, I used ISO 64000 and hand held, good quality, already sold at Dreamstime)
  • indoors I use my camera and the wide-angle lens (16-35mm)
  • for street photography, panoramic and live pictures, and when I travel light, I use my iPhone X.

Here you can see all the pictures of Malaga accepted by Dreamstime.

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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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My photo book project: The Story

Rio Paria in Huaraz
Rio Paria in Huaraz

This blog brings all the pieces that were discussed in previous blogs on this topic together. First, I discussed the photo book platform Blurb, followed by a discussion about the role of (Graphical) Design and Storytelling with pictures. Now, I show you how I implemented these ideas in Blurb using Lightroom.
Based on what I learned about telling a story with pictures I decided to have another look at the pictures I took. Just looking at the ones that were accepted by Dreamstime would lead to a boring story. I decided to focus on a stroll my family made along Rio Paria in Huaraz in Peru. The pictures I took during this walk were of the type Street Photography. They show the river and the people around it doing their regular activities, telling the story of daily rural life in Peru.
The story with pictures takes you along various activities nearby the river. They are representative for many rural areas. These activities consist of:

  • Transport Peru is an enormous country with few airports and railway station because  of the Andes, so most transportation is done by bus or truck.
  • Construction Most buildings are continuously under construction. So, everywhere you find places where they make clay bricks.
  • Playing Children play everywhere, both in playgrounds and on dirt roads.
  • Gardening Peruvians are very fond of flowers and green grass, even though in the desert climate along the coast this requires a lot of effort.
  • Washing clothes Clothes need to be washed even if you don’t have running water at home.

In the two PDFs at the bottom you see the resulting Blurb photo book: the first one is the cover (front and rear) and the second one is the content of the photo book. As you can see, I chose a simple graphical design: white background, all pictures white framed, few pictures per page. Hope you enjoy it. Please let me know whether you enjoyed My photo book project. 
For me this is just a first step to create a photo book of my last trip to Peru. The walk along Rio Paria will be just a  section in the chapter Huaraz, which will also include my Dreamstime pictures.
Rio-Paria-Cover

Rio-Paria

After finishing this blog, I will continue working on my photo book of Peru. Here you may find the latest version.

London through a wide-angle lens

Hatchhards Bookstore
Hatchhards Bookstore

A couple of months ago I visited London for business reasons. I had to go to the Academy of Engineering. Walking through Regent Street I realized I had not been to London since ages. So, my family decided it was time to visit London for a long weekend. I had taken only one lens: my wide-angle lens (16-35mm).
The first day we spent in Westminster: London Eye, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, House of Parliament, and via St Jam’s Park to Buckingham Palace. Here are the pictures of the first day.
The second day we past the area of the Horse Guards Parade on to Travalgar Square. From there via Regent Street to Piccadilly Circus. There we visited many nice shops, among which Hatchards Bookstore. This was a real treat. Although I am a man of digital gadgets it was really nice to visit a real bookstore.  After that we had high tea in Fortnum & Mason. In the evening we strolled along the Thames. Here are the pictures of the second day.
The third day started at the Tower of London. We crossed the Tower Bridge and went through the area where the old warehouses for tea for example are renovated into apartments. From there we walked along the Thames all the way to Tate Modern. After paying it a visit we ended at St Paul’s Cathedral. Here are the pictures of the third day.
The whole weekend we had perfect weather. Actually, the last day was a bit warm so we visited Hyde Park.
I submitted seven pictures to Dreamstime, all were accepted.
High Tea at Fortnum & Mason
High Tea at Fortnum & Mason

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Berlin: from Reichstag to Museumsinsel

Dom Church
Dom Church

Last week I spent with my family a weekend in Berlin. The first time I went there was somewhere around 1985. In those days West Berlin was still an enclave in East Germany. Of course, nowadays East and West Germany are united, as is Berlin. Although you can still see the remains of the Wall.
I have taken some pictures along our walk with the only lens I had taken: Nikon 16-35mm. Please open them in a separate window, so you can read the blog and see the pictures at the same time.
We started our walk near the Reichstag, the German Parliament (2). From there, you can also see where the Bundeskanzler resides (1). A nice modern building. Right next to the Reichstag is the Memorial to the Sinti and Roma (3).
From there on we went to the Brandenburger Tor (4-6), a well-known landmark in Germany. It is meant to be a sign of peace. It was situated right next to the Wall, and was prominently visible while the wall was teared down.
The next stop was the Memorial to the Jews murdered in Europe (7-9). The site is covered with 2711 concrete slabs of varying height.
On the way to Potsdamer Platz we saw this interesting building (10). Potsdamer Platz is nowadays a very modern center (11-12). To contrast this there are still remains of the original Wall (13).
On the way to Checkpoint Charlie (17-18; the former pass through between East and West Berlin) we passed the indoor and outdoor exhibition called the Topography of Terror (14-16).
Then we went on to the Gendarmenmarkt with two almost identical churches and the Concert Hall in the middle (19-22).
Via Unter den Linden we walked to the Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral) with the Lustgarten in front of it (23-26). After a walk around the Museumsinsel we ended up at the Alte Nationalgalerie (27-30).
Berlin is certainly worthwhile a visit.
Here are the six pictures I submitted to Dreamstime and that were accepted.
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Henri Cartier-Bresson: The decisive moment

© Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation
© Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation

Henri Cartier-Bresson is a famous French street photographer and photojournalist. After recovering from black water fever he gave up painting and took up photography.
He used a small Leica camera with a 50mm lens which he covered with black tape to make it nearly invisible. He enjoyed submerging in a crowd and at the same time being ready to take a shot without being noticed by the people being photographed. He mainly took black and white pictures, and, surprise, surprise, he took no interest at all in printing his own pictures.
About his style he once said: “To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organization of forms which give that event its proper expression.” (The Decisive Moment). He was continuously looking for the combination of a visual and dramatic highlight (see picture on top).
The Decisive Moment
The Decisive Moment

He traveled all over the world and participated in many historically important events where he took memorable pictures. For example, he took pictures of Mahatma Gandhi on his deathbed, after being shot during a protest against violence between Hindus and Muslims.
Death of Mahatma Gandhi
Death of Mahatma Gandhi

Although The Decisive Moment suggests that he always immediately  took the right picture. This is not true. Henri Cartier-Bresson took a lot of pictures before capturing the highlights he had in mind.
Besides reading The Decisive Moment, I also enjoyed the two blogs of Eric Kim about Henri Cartier-Brenson:

Street photography in Barranco

Peru 2015
Barranco

During my trip to Peru we stayed some time in Lima, to be more precise in Miraflores. However, Barranco, a neighboring district, is my favorite. It is famous for its romantic and Bohemian character. A lot of artists live in this district. Both during the day and in the evening it is nice to stroll around. We mainly walked around in the area between the two churches (Iglesia La Santísima Cruz and Iglesia La Ermita) and the Pacific Ocean.
Here you can see my pictures that were taken during daytime. All of them were taken in Aperture priority mode. There was more than sufficient light to choose the Aperture I wanted  and still have a fast Shutter speed. As you can see the dominate colors are red and yellow ochre. You can also see that enjoying live has a high priority.
In the evening, as you can see here, the place is even more crowded, and on every square you will find live street music. All pictures were taken in Manual mode. I choose the Aperture and Shutter speed I needed and the rest was handled by the automatic increase of the ISO. Although all of them ended up at ISO 6400 the pictures still look very good. During post-processing it is important to keep the dark areas dark. For daytime pictures it is nice to open up the shadows to show more detail. You should avoid doing that for night pictures. Keep the dark areas close to black by increasing the Blacks.

Iglesia La Santísima Cruz

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.
Street_Girl