Ancient sites, act quickly

One day my family and I made a day-long trip through the Sacred Valley of the Incas starting from and ending in Cuzco. We visited many nice places: Chinchero, Ollantaytambo, and Pisac. All three have impressive archeological sites of the Inca culture. The last decades Peru has put a lot of effort in making these sites available for the broad public. Making Peru even more attractive to visit.
As amateur photographer traveling with a familiy and other tourists means that there is little time to extensively explore the locations we visit. This means that I had to act quickly and that I had little time to listen to the guides explaining interesting details about the various sites. Luckily there is Wikipedia nowadays.
The various scenes I had to deal with are (with some examples with the camera settings):

  • Distant landscape, everything at more or less the same distant (sufficient light).
    This means Wide angle; Aperture-priority, with moderate Aperture, gives sufficient depth-of-field.
    Laguna Querococha
    © Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos
    40mm, Aperture-priority, Aperture f/5.6, Shutter Speed 1/160sec, ISO 100
  • Distant landscapes with interesting stuff in the foreground (sufficient light).
    This means Wide angle; Aperture-priority, with a higher f-number to get sufficient depth-of-field to get the foreground in focus as well; you have to keep the Shutter Speed in mind because it might become too slow in which you need a tripod.
    Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu
    © Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos
    32mm, A-priority, Aperture f/13, Shutter Speed 1/60sec, ISO 100
  • Distant specific topic (sufficient light)
    This means Telephoto; Aperture-priority with a lower f-number highlights the specific topic. As an exception, in the picture below I took a higher f-number to get more depth-of-field because of the houses behind the main building.
    La Compania and Cathedral at Plaza de Armas in Cuzco
    © Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos
    170mm, A-priority, Aperture f/9.0, Shutter Speed 1/200sec, ISO 125
  • Slightly insufficient light
    Change to Manual, and set Aperture and Shutter speed manually. Keep in mind that the Shutter Speed should be faster than 1/focal length to get sharp pictures. As long as the ISO is above 100 there is no problem of overexposure.
    La Compania at Plaza de Armas, Cuzco
    © Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos
    44mm, Manual, Aperture f/6.3, Shutter Speed 1/60sec, ISO 125

These type of scenes appeared at all locations we visited in a very short time span. So, although I was at ancient sites, which will be there forever, I had to act quickly to fit in the time schedule of the driver or the guide.
Here are the ones that are already accepted by Dreamstime. Enjoy!
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Sacsayhuamán puzzles me

Sacsayhuaman, archeological Inca site
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Despite the advice to take a rest when arriving at Cuzco by airplane because of the altitude (3400 meter), we immediatly went to Sacsayhuamán. It is an impressive archeological Inca site, a little bit above Cuzco. Although I have been there several times, the big carved stone walls remain a puzzle. How were these stones transported, how were they carved (they have many dimensions and there is no space to stick something between them), and how did they survive earthquakes?
While being puzzled I was thinking about taking pictures of a site that has been photographed so often. Here are some of the challenges. At this altitude the sun is really burning also in winter. Wearing a hat to keep your head cool is essential. Also take a lot of water. Walking around on these sites with heavy equipment in a burning sun takes a lot of energy. Furthermore, taking pictures during a tour with family and friends surrounded by other tourists limits the opportunities to extensively explore the sites. And, finally, at 18:00 hours the light goes out rather abruptly. At the same time, all these limitations stimulate creativity.
I was happy I had taken my 28-300mm zoomlens. Without changing lenses (I do not like to change lenses because of the dust in Peru), I could easily change from wide-angle to telezoom. During most of the time there was more than enough light to have a large depth of field without sacrificing the ISO.
Back home, while processing the pictures, I realized that the burning sun made the pictures look a bit bleak. With Lightroom I had to bring the colors I remembered back by adding some contrast,  vibrance, and saturation. Here are the results.

Walking through the streets of Zwolle

Several boats in city canal in Zwolle
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos

My interest in taking pictures of cities is growing. Architecture of various cities, of various buildings is fascinating. Zwolle has medieval roots and some of the buildings go back a long time. The centre is surrounded by a kind of city canal and the larger Zwolle area is surrounded by four rivers. So, this gives a nice setting with old buildings, water, and boats. Some of the characteristic buildings like the Sassenpoort (one of the old city gates) and the church tower Pepperbox (Peperbus) are charateristic for the skyline of Zwolle.
For this occassion I took my general-purpose lens, 28-300mm, which is very convenient for architectural shots. Only for the Pepperbox I needed my wide-angle zoon lens. To make sure I would see everything, I downloaded a city tour which took me along all the old buildings.
Although Zwolle may not be on the list of most tourists it is really worthwhile a visit. Even more if you enjoy excellent food. De Librije, a restaurant with 3 Michelin stars, is definitely worthwhile a visit. During my tour I took a picture of the former location of this famous restaurant (Broerenkerk). Keep in mind that you have to make reservations far ahead.
Here you will find some of my pictures of Zwolle. I submitted almost all of them to Dreamstime, one has already been accepted (editorials have priority), the others are still pending.

Maastricht by night with a monopod

Some years ago I visited Maastricht with my family. It is the most southern city of the Netherlands. It is a wonderful city along the river the Maas (Meuse), which goes back all the way to the period that the Romans occupied the southern part of the Netherlands. In the basement of quite a few buildings you can see the remains of Roman buildings.
The houses along the river are very nicely lit when it is dark. The picture above was taken with a Shutter Speed of 5sec, Aperture of 9, and an ISO of 200. So, this is way too long for a handheld shot.
Although I am not a great fan of carrying a tripod with me, for this occasion I had put my monopod in my car. It is a Manfrotto Self Standing Monopod. It is small, however, not leight, and you have to keep in mind that it is not very stable if it is windy. Keeping this in mind it does a good job.
That evening I took of course several pictures, experimenting with the Aperture and the Shutter Speed. When the Shutter Speed is getting long you have to take moving objects into account. Although persons are far away on the other side of the river, I had to take into account boats passing by. Despite, it was late in the evening quite a few boats were passing by.
Here you will find my Dreamstime pictures of Maastricht. These are my first four pictures of Dreamstime, of which for the first two licenses have been sold.
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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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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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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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