May 28, 2010

High Dynamic Heaven

A surprise encounter during last Sunday’s Shooting Day in and around Antwerp’s old harbor area with Belgiumdigital! At one point in time we ignored the metal fences around an old warehouse building (granted: the one meter wide opening was quite inviting) and stepped inside for a quick visit to a soon-to-be-gone site.

The ‘
Montevideo warehouses’ consist of twenty-two brick stone sheds dating from 1895 and covering a total area of 12,000 m². The name refers to the ships once traveling the Rio de la Plata.

The buildings have the typical saw tooth shed roofs originally introduced with the first English mechanical weaving mills. They served as a storage space for the British Army until 1950, and have been filled with butter, cheese, cigarettes, ham, coffee and tea. The site is a protected historic monument since 2001.

The restoration of the warehouses will start in August of this year. They will become part of a new complex centered around an indoor multicultural market with a number of fixed stalls. The original metal skeleton will be preserved: the elements will be dismounted, treated and reassembled on a new concrete floor.
The project should be completed by end 2012 and is part of the broader redevelopment of the old harbor area - ‘t Eilandje – together with the new MAS (Museum Aan de Stroom/Museum on the River) and the Red Star Line buildings.

An abandoned industrial site and great light: what more do you need for a dose of HDR frenzy? The above shots showcase a lot of alternative post-processing techniques: extreme development of a RAW file in Lightroom, fusing multiple exposures and even tone mapping from a single RAW file in Photomatix Pro. Even more surprising: all of the above shots (and many more) were made in a time span of just ten minutes! But I better not mention the time spent in front of the computer following that…

Gear notes: D700, 24-70/2.8

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May 22, 2010


I have not yet figured out whether or how my recently acquired iPhone will play a meaningful role in my photographic endeavors. Sure, it looks like an intriguing device to capture pixels. But is it also a camera, and if so, one that some day I will come home to?


A business trip last week offered some opportunities to make random shots, and the few from the Bruxelles Midi train station shown here are just that. The limited quality of the images (taken in the low evening light) led me towards a more impressionistic interpretation. And where did the idea to crop square come from?


So once again I find myself with the puzzling urge to explore seeing and showing the world in a different way. Not entirely comfortable, but eager to find out where this journey will lead to.

Gear notes: iPhone 3GS

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May 17, 2010

Fast food

Not long ago I was asked to shoot some party-style portraits at a nearby event. I packed light and made sure to arrive well in time. That’s when the manager of the event site called me apart and asked for a favor: could I ‘quickly’ make a picture of that day’s appetizer, for the website and for perhaps a future flyer?

Anyone that has ‘tasted’ food photography will know that it is a complex and delicate matter. Composition and control of light are key, and so are proper preparation and a good dose of patience.
And there I was with just a 50mm lens, no tripod, and one single hotshoe flash (luckily with stand and umbrella). Ten minutes to go before the people would start moving in.

Don’t you love these instant challenges?

I will not claim the above picture to be the best I can do, but all things considered I am pretty pleased with the outcome. SB-800 at 1/4 power through an umbrella high up from behind, slightly to the right, as the main light. A large piece of white corrugated board (a flattened old shipping carton, to be precise) folded into a V-shape and held below and left from the camera by a willing hand, to add some fill. Shot handheld at 1/160s, f/6.3, ISO200.
I did not even take the time to change the flash power setting.

It’s so much fun when a simple setup turns out to work just fine.

Gear notes: D700, 50/1.8

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May 15, 2010

Sacred light

The Our-Lady-of-the-Sablon church is one of the most beautiful and intimate gothic churches in Brussels. It is well known for its brightly colored stained-glass windows. That makes it a pleasure to go and experiment with multiple-exposure shooting techniques.

_DS73597_04DEw  _DS73570_78EBw
Also worth seeing is the private chapel of the family Von Thurn und Taxis, who elaborated the European postal services in Europe during the Habsburg empire. This baroque masterpiece is richly decorated with funeral symbols in white marble.


Gear notes: D700, 17-35/2.8D, 24-70/2.8G

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May 8, 2010


Like so many others, I too have fallen for Apple's must-want iPhone. And so at from time to time I intend to blog while on the road. With pictures, of course, I must remain truthful to the mission of this blog.

This message is just a trial, sent from my iPhone but while sitting at my computer desk. I do not know whether I will even keep it on-line after testing...

Posted from iPhone using BlogPress

May 6, 2010

Business class

All along the Belgian coast, you will find people enjoying the sun in a lazy beach chair. These are offered for rent at the more popular stretches, just like cabins that become yours for the day.

I hadn’t been anywhere near our national beach on sunny season days for quite a while (I strongly prefer walks along the empty shoreline on cooler, windy days) so the 21st century version of common ‘beach furniture’ took me by surprise…

Who would expect these sofas and armchairs on the sand, and coffee tables complete with a selection of (no doubt gossip) magazines near plastic palm trees? Did we become so spoiled on luxury that we are perfectly happy to get a sunburn as long as we can do it in style?

Fortunately, there’s still some of us that easily get by with the bare minimum…

Gear notes: D700, 24-70/2.8G, 180/2.8D

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May 2, 2010

Goin’ for the fish

Going out to the coast for an afternoon of shooting with photo-buddies: can you think of a better destination to throw a fisheye lens into your camera bag?

I like – from time to time – to experiment with the special look at the world through a fisheye lens. When handled with care, these lenses may open unexpected pockets of creativity. But you have to keep trying for new angles, rather than just blowing things up. Let’s have a go at a few examples.

_DS77228_30wThis interior shot of the Saint Rochus church in Blankenberge comes from a 3-shot HDR sequence, partially de-fished (using PTLens as a Lightroom plug-in).

_DS77252wAn unconventional image from an otherwise bland and boring billboard. How to add diagonals to your image if there aren’t any…

_DS77256wA quiet corner in an equally quiet street. And just next to it, an artist’s work place for the day:


P.S. Yes, I know: there are no images from the sea or coastline here. I guess I got my taste of fish before I reached the water…

Gear notes: D700, 16/2.8D

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