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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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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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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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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Chinchero

Market at Chinchero, sacred valley of the Incas
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Almost 34 years ago I visited the tiny village Chinchero, near Cuzco in Peru. I remember that we had a quick visit to the village and that we were surrounded by small children. The indians in the village were wearing black clothes and that we gave ball pens to the children.
Last summer we had a lot more time to visit the village and the old market square. I spent a lot of time to walk around to look at the white buildings from various angles. The picture on top is one of my favorite ones:

  • the white buildings with the horizontal and vertical shapes,
  • the blue sky and the white clouds,
  • the two diagonal lines of grass to shape the market square.

All this together challenges our eyes to wonder around. I am about to buy a large canvas for my office. Here you see more pictures of Chinchero accepted by Dreamstime.
The Chinchero site is now much bigger than 34 years ago. As you can see here. There are:

  • markets professionally run by a consortium of families,
  • recently revealed Inca terraces,
  • Inca walls, like in Sacsayhuamán,
  • children being taught to be proud of the Inca culture.

A place worth a visit.
Below you see another thing Peru is famous for: potatoes.

Women drying and sorting potatoes
Women drying and sorting potatoes

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Architectural photography

My enthusiasm for sharing pictures started when I submitted my pictures of Maastricht, a city along the Meuse river, to Dreamstime. They were the first two. Both still have a top ranking as far as sales is concerned.

Maastricht at night
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos
Maastricht along the river
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Whenever I visit a city I always want to take pictures of both the old and the new buildings. I enjoy the tension between them. Architectural photography has become my thing. For that reason I love to go to Barcelona (see this blog) and Valencia (see this blog) and take pictures. In Valencia they did something spectacular. In a dry river they built some manificent, artistic buildings (Hemesferic and Agora, see below).

Hemesferic and Agora, Valencia
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Also Rotterdam is famous for its new architecture. For me Rotterdam Central Station and the Food Market Hall are the winners. Buyers particularly like the train station. It has already been sold nine times.
Central Station Rotterdam
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos

The Dom Tower in Utrecht is popular at Werk aan de Muur.
Dom Tower Utrecht
Dom Tower Utrecht

Roombeek in Enschede is the rebuilt quarter after the fireworks explosion of May 2000. Here are my two favorite pictures.

Museum and restaurant in rebuilt Roombeek
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos
Symbol of fireworks explosion Roombeek
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Enjoy the architectural pictures of the various cities I visited and if possible visit the places yourself!
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Monastery hike and Komoot

Near my home town there is a small village called Zenderen. It has a rich history of monasteries and churches. So, I decided to take the Monastery hike. Without actually noticing, I took the 9 km hike instead of the 13 km one.
On occasions like this I take my GPS with me for two reasons:

  • to know where I took my pictures
  • to create a gpx file, so I can share it with others

I normally take my Garmin GPSmap 60CSx, a very versatile and accurate gps, and download the track to my iMac using Garmin BaseCamp. Then I make some corrections (I often forget to switch it off when getting back to my car), and export a gpx-file. This can easily be imported in Photo Mechanics to assign the GPS-coordinates to the individual pictures.
Recently, I discovered Komoot, an iPhone app (also available for Android). It is mainly intended to plan routes for hiking or biking, and share it with others. However, it also allows me to record a hike, to store it in the cloud, to share it with the Komoot community, and to export a gpx-file. It has many nice features, among which giving directions on my Apple Watch. So, there is no need to take my iPhone out of my pocket to find out where I should go. Check it out, I am really impressed.
To come back to my Monastery hike, here are my pictures. The hike took me along De Zwanenhof, Karmelietenklooster, Carmelitessenklooster, Het Seminar, and the Mariakapel. Nice buildings to see. Enjoy hiking and shooting pictures.