Jul 26, 2011

100X100 – episode 9

Calling the X100 an ideal camera for architectural photography would be more than exaggerated. That doesn’t mean though that it won’t capture the grand views – exterior and interior – of ‘big’ buildings (churches and others) while traveling.

Some samples from the recent Cologne city trip to illustrate the X100’s capabilities.

DSCF0501wCleaning the famous Kölner Dom

DSCF0500wLooking up inside the Dom

DSCF0529wHotel Maritim: the glass covered hall

DSCF0603wGreat Saint Martin Church

DSCF0607wGreat Saint Martin Church

Note how well Lightroom 3 corrects for lens geometry flaws automatically (using a built-in lens profile). Add some manual perspective correction and – where needed – extracting the max out of the RAW data (no HDR this time), and there’s your picture postcards!

Gear notes: Fujifilm X100

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Jul 22, 2011

Covering the base (part 2)

We continue out tour of the ground level at the Val-Duchesse castle (see earlier posts).

Our next stop is the Flemish Room. Typical for this dining room are the oak paneling extending into bookshelves and the fireplace with screw-shaped marble column, Delft ceramic tiles and a bas-relief on top. The stained glass windows here carry scenes from Lafontaine’s fables. Also note the intricate ceiling and the checkered floor.



The Flemish Room leads on to the majestic Gothic Hall, topped by an arched ceiling. A wooden winding staircase leads up to the first floor. The floor tiles feature a labyrinth pattern. The many decorations – sculptures, carvings, paintings, stained glass windows - feature scenes from the history of the priory.





Gear notes: D700, 13-35/2.8, 24-70/2.8, 16/2.8

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Jul 18, 2011

100X100 – episode 8

More from the recent family trip to Cologne. The city’s historical buildings and the grim weather conditions begged for selecting black&white shots, including some rather pushed post-processing courtesy of Silver Efex Pro.






No surprise: the X100 does very well in these varying light conditions, and there’s absolutely no need to be reluctant to push ISO settings all the way to 1600.

Gear notes: Fujifilm X100

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Jul 16, 2011

Covering the base (part 1)

Back with some more images from the Val-Duchesse castle shoot. We’ll start our indoors discovery tour at the ground floor.

The first room to explore is the Golden Room, a Louis XVI style salon, loaded with fine moldings, and featuring an impressive mirror over the marble fireplace. Above the glass doors, you find the monograms of Charles-Henri Dietrich (a Brussels banker and businessman who acquired the castle in 1903) and of Edmond de Vigne (the architect overseeing the restoration work in 1904-07).




Next comes the Dutch Room, decorated with typical blue rosette and chocolate-brown speckled tiles in Delft porcelain. The five stained glass windows flooding this room with daylight illustrate adages by Jacob Cats, a 16th century Dutch poet, humorist, jurist and politician. Also remarkable is the black marble fireplace with white marble geometric motives.




All the above overview images are the result of my (by now) proven exposure blending technique, combining 5 to 9 shots in post processing for a still natural looking HDR rendering.

More beautiful places to discover in follow-up posts!

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

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Jul 13, 2011

100X100 – episode 7

The X100 came along on a short city trip to Cologne, Germany. No Photokina action this time, but a visit with the family to the many exquisite museums (and some of the shopping areas…) that city offers.

We had poorly timed our passage: weather conditions included gray, wet and windy. Also, the Altstadt was gearing up for the festivities surrounding Cologne Pride 2011, with the CSD Parade taking place on Sunday (after we left): many of the cozy squares and picturesque house fronts were hidden by beer tents, sausage stands and the likes (most still ‘under construction’).

Still, the X100 was keen to capture these fugitive scenes from Köln’s daily street life.






Gear notes: Fujifilm X100

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Jul 8, 2011

The Duchess’ castle

On more than one occasion, I was offered the opportunity to shoot in exclusive locations that normally remain inaccessible to mere mortals: a good friend of mine has a very special gift for opening doors to such exquisite sites. This time, he brought us to the Castle of Val-Duchesse (Kasteel van Hertoginnedal), at the outskirts of Brussels, a famous site in recent Belgian and European political history.

DSCF0274wBehind the gates…

_DS74170wThe 18th century castle

The history of Val-Duchesse started in 1262, when Adelaide (Aleydis)of Burgundy, Duchess of Brabant, widow of Henry III, Duke of Brabant founded a priory for women (hence the “Valley of the Duchess” name). It was the first such  priory in the Low
Countries that followed the rule of Saint Dominic; Saint Thomas of Aquin is said to have been a guest there. The priory further flourished and gained considerable wealth thanks to the generous gifts of numerous royal persons and noble families. In 1650 a wall was erected to protect the diverse edifices of the priory.

The present-day castle in Louis XVI style was added as a residence for the prioress in 1780, under the rule of Archduchess Maria Theresa of Austria. Today the castle is owned by the Belgian Royal Trust, and operated by the federal department of Foreign Affairs.

_DS74199wThe priory’s front side

_DS74174wBack side of the priory, towards the castle

Val-Duchesse has played an important role as a venue for major negotiations in Belgian and European politics after World War II. The castle was the setting for one of the great moments in European history, when in the autumn of 1956 six heads of state (from France, Germany, Italy and the Benelux) met to draft the text of the Treaty of Rome, leading to the foundation of the European Economic Community in 1958.

Also, over the years, countless ‘historical’ decisions have been taken by Belgian leaders meeting in the Val-Duchesse castle. These include the language legislation of 1962-63 (establishing four language areas in Belgium) and the federal government coalition talks in 2007.

_DS73976_82wThe stately entrance hall

Upcoming blog posts will take us through some of the magnificent rooms of the Val-Duchesse castle.

Gear notes: D700, 24-70/2.8, 17-35/2.8 - Fuji X100

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