Monday, August 31, 2009

Bird's-eye view

It's been a while since my last blogpost... still busy preparing an exciting trip early September. The full story at the end of this post!
Before we go any further, the earlier problems with leaving a comment at the bottom of the blog have been solved. Your comments are very much appreciated!

Aerials
Most of you probably know that aviation has been my number one passion since a very young age. Aerial photography offers a great combination with my second passion, "Photography".
Aerials
Since mankind first flew, it created a complete different view on the world below. It was the French photographer Gaspard-Felix, also known as Nadar, who practiced Aerial Photography for the first time in 1858 over Paris.
Aerials
Having been in and around aircraft for 35 years (first airplane ride when I was 4...) I'm still fascinated by what is visible from a "Flying machine", be it a modern 300 passenger airliner or a little single-engine sports aircraft. It's not without reason some people call our workspace "the office with the best view in the world" !

Lets look at a few more examples of my Aerial Photography:
Aerials
Interesting patterns on agricultural fields in Arizona, USA, make for a nice photo subject.


Aerials
As well as the parallel lines of the railway station in Kortrijk, Belgium

Aerials
Sometimes aerial photography reveals things that are barely visible from the ground, like this mixing of 2 water types a few miles offshore of the French Riviera, Nice.

Aerials
Another interesting one, is this cloud shadow close to Entebbe, Uganda.

Aerials
Sometimes including part of the aircraft structure, like on this shot of Monument Valley Arizona, gives an extra dimension. I kind of like the reflection on the wing on the shooting platform, a Cessna C172SP.


Getting back to the trip planning of the beginning of the blogpost... September 4th, I'm off to the USA with my wife for another exciting mix of aviation and photography. We will be renting a single engine Cessna 172SP out of Livermore (East of San Francisco) and fly ourselves up North along the beautiful Oregon coast to Seattle, WA. If all goes as planned we will be flying back to the San Francisco area, inland along beautiful volcanos Mount Rainier, Mt St Helen, Mount Adams and Mount Hood... Since my wife Djamila, will be doing most of the flying, there should be plenty of aerial photo opportunities.
Aerials
The second half of the trip will be ground transport based. Planning to rent an RV camper we intend to visit Ansel Adams' Yosemite, Mono Lake, Bodie, Lake Tahoe and the famous Reno Air Races. The last one is the Worlds' Mecca of Air Racing. A unique annual event held every September in Reno, Nevada, where different classes of aircraft race each other around pylons in the desert.


Needless to say that somewhere after our return date of September 23rd, the above should provide plenty of material for quite a few blogposts. Due to our busy travel schedule I unfortunately won't be able to blog from the US. Those of you following me on Facebook, will be able to receive some updates of our travels.


The impatient ones can have a look here at our previous Flying holidays out of Phoenix Arizona and New Zealand.




Fly safe and happy shooting,


Bjorn




Monday, August 17, 2009

Tyne Cot Cemetery - Passendale - Belgium

As a third and last one in my current Belgian Architecture blog-series, we visit today the, largest Commonwealth Cemetery of World War I and II.

Tyne Cot Cemetery
About 9 kilometers north east of Ieper (Ypres), just outside the small village of Passendale, we find the Tyne Cot cemetery. A resting place of nearly 12000 British, Australian, Canadian, New-Zealand, South-African and French, World War I soldiers and strangely enough also 4 German soldiers.
Tyne Cot Cemetery
Historians do not really agree about the origin of the name "Tyne Cot". The most probably one seems to be that on the site of the present cemetery, a cottage used to stand. The British soldiers abbreviated the word cottage to 'Cot' and coupled it with the name of the river Tyne in Northern-England.
Tyne Cot Cemetery
In the Ypres area there are numerous war cemeteries from different nations, a large part being British. This is not only the largest one, it is also the most impressive one.
Tyne Cot Cemetery
One doesn't immediately think about Architecture when visiting a cemetery, but the layout is very well thought off and surely worth a look at if you are in the neighborhood. A new modern visitors center was opened by Queen Elisabeth on July 12th 2007.


Happy shooting,

Bjorn





Sunday, August 9, 2009

Begijnhof Kortrijk - Belgium

Close to where home used to be in Kortrijk (Belgium), I photographed the Beguinage which belongs to the Unesco World Heritage Site since 1998.

Begijnhof Kortrijk
For those of you who don't know, the Beguines were a religious movement of women founded in the 13th century in the Low countries (Belgium, Netherlands). Their success was attributed due to a surplus of women after their men died in local wars. Great number of women had no option but to unite and collectively secure aid of rich benefactors. A common misconception is that beguines are nuns', which is not true.
Begijnhof Kortrijk
The "Begijnhof Kortrijk" was started in 1238 by Johanna van Constantinopel but was destroyed in 1302, 1382 and in 1684. It is a collection of 40+ white cottages closely grouped together around a landscaped courtyard. The present Baroque houses and chapel date from the 17th century and are possibly one of the most attractive Beguinages in Belgium.

Begijnhof Kortrijk
The double step gable facade house used to be the place where the Head Beguine lived and had a museum which today is unfortunately closed for renovation.
Begijnhof Kortrijk
Marcella, the very last Belgian Beguine left the Beguinage a few years ago and all houses are now rented on a residential basis offering an oasis of tranquility.

Begijnhof Kortrijk

Even though I visited this place before, I did enjoy photographing it again.



Happy shooting,


Bjorn


Friday, August 7, 2009

Coastal Architecture - Belgium

Todays blog is written on a plane between Paris and Dubai at the end of a 11 day summer break in Belgium. Yes, I'm flying as a passenger, so please no panic.


As most of the time, I did travel with part of my photography gear, my thrusty Nikon D700 camera body, Nikkor 14-24mm 2.8 wide-angle and 24-70mm 2.8 lenses & the Canon G9 Compact camera.


During our stay in the land of beer and chocolate, we visited part of Beaufort 03, an open-air art exhibition consisting of contemporary installations along the 66 km Belgian coastline.

Coastal Architecture

Personally I found the windsock installation of Daniel Buren, "Le Vent souffle ou il veut" on the beach of De Haan, one of the more interesting ones.


I'm not a big fan of the Architectural potpourri at the Belgian seaside, but managed to get some reasonable shots.

Coastal Architecture
This Belle Époque house in Westende stands majestically overlooking the North Sea.


Just a few hundred meters further to the West, we found this 1955 lookout on one of the highest dunes in the area, The "Spioenkop".

Coastal Architecture
Even though the Pavilion dates back to 1902, it was rebuilt twice, after both World Wars (1922 & 1955).


Before heading inland again, we stopped for a drink at the Fort Napoleon, Oostende, one of the last remaining Forts from Napoleonic times (1811-1815). The restoration took five years (1995-2000).

Coastal Architecture
Beside a museum the Fort offers an excellent restaurant with a beautiful terrace.

Coastal Architecture
This newly built piece attached to the old fort makes an interesting Architectural combination.


I'll be back with a few more Belgian Architectural blogposts in the coming days...


Happy Shooting,


Bjorn