Thursday, April 25, 2013

Pic(k) of the week 17: The Photographers' gallery - London

As most of you know, I rarely leave the house and definitively not the country, without taking a camera with me. Since earlier this year, this has been mostly my FujiFilm Sexy-1, officially called the X-E1...

Last Sunday, I spend the afternoon, looking for photo opportunities  around Soho in Central London. 
Even though the capital of the United Kingdom has developed a bad reputation for being "photography unfriendly", it still remains an interesting place for classic "Street Photography"! 

I briefly visited "The Photographers' Gallery", just of Oxford street which always gets the creativity juices flowing!

2013 Pic(k) of the week 17: The Photographers' gallery - London

It was at this gallery, that I made the Black and White image above. The gentleman on the left is clearly more interested in the view outside, while his friend on the right is listening to one of the exhibition presentations. By the way, the view from the higher floors of this gallery is indeed interesting...

Image details:
FujiFilm Sexy 1 (X-E1) with the 18-55 Fujinon lens
ISO 400, f5.6, 69mm (35mm equivalent), 1/80s
RAW development in Lightroom 4.4
Nik SilverEfex for Black and White conversion

More images of the afternoon "Street shoot" can be found in a new gallery called: "Shooting the Streets of London".

Remember, "When people ask me what equipment I use, I tell them my eyes"


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Alentejo, the forgotten part of Portugal

End of March, I spend a week in Portugal; 2 days of shooting in Lisbon followed by a 1000 km photography trek around Alentejo.

Winding roads of Alentejo

Probably one of the least known areas of Portugal, Alentejo is largely an agricultural area.

Cork trees near Nossa Senhora

Since about 50% of the worlds cork production is harvested in Portugal, the area is literally dominated by thousands of cork oaks. 

Cork trees near Nossa Senhora

These trees which live up to 200 years, need to be minimum 25 to 30 years before they can be harvested for the first time. Subsequent harvests  then happen only every 9 to 12 years. The more reddish trunks are the ones that have been harvested more recent. To keep track, the year of the last cutting of the cork, is painted on the trunk; e.g. 8 for 2008, etc... 

Olive trees at Montemor-o-Novo

Beside the cork production, the area also has vast numbers of olive trees. Some of these are hundreds of years old with one particular one near Lisbon, being classified as being 2850 years!

Lonely street at Estremoz

Even though Alentejo covers a third of the countries total area, it only holds 7% of the population. I guess the image above tells it all!

Aqueduto da Amoreira - Elvas

Close to the Spanish border, we visited the city of Elvas, where I photographed the Amoreira Aqueduct. This architectural wonder, with towers rising more than 30 meters, was started in 1498 and was finally finished 124 years later.

Aqueduto da Amoreira - Elvas

There are plenty of photographic opportunities along this 8 km long structure, which rightly has become a National monument.

 Stork building nest, at Comporta

Part of Alentejo is also a huge breeding ground for thousands of White Storks. While most of these birds used to be migrating to West Africa for the winter, some of them are now staying in Portugal all year round.

Landing stork, Alentejo, Portugal

Over the years, there has been a huge effort by the electricity companies to make electricity pylons safer for Stork nests.

Black pig, Setubal district
A culinary delight is the "Black Pork", a speciality of the region...  

Wild coast at Porto Covo

Towards the end of the trip, we paid a visit to the wild coastline of Alentejo. Porto Covo, 170 km South of Lisbon, proved perfect for some long exposure photography. 

Lonely tree in ALentejo, Portugal

When I first started planning the trip, I had visions of wide open colourful spaces with a single tree. Pretty much like the image above.

Even though the weather did not fully cooperate, the weeklong trip to Alentejo and Lisbon was another interesting travel photography adventure.

Remember; " The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist only sees what he has come to see" - G.K Chesterton


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Pic(k) of the week 16: Controlling the skies

As some of the readers might know, I've been brought up amongst aircraft and spend a large time of my teenager years at the small grass airfield of Moorsele, Belgium. 

A recent interview about my 25 years of flying, can be found here. Sorry, it's only in Dutch. 

Whenever I'm visiting my home country Belgium, I always try to pay a quick visit to my aviation roots and that's exactly what I did earlier this month.

2013 Pic(k) of the week 16: Controlling the skies

The image above is of the Moorsele Air Traffic Control tower, which hasn't been used in years. I'm not really sure when this steel structure was build, but I do clearly remember I was playing with my airport friends in the late seventies in and around the building! Out of fear that at some stage this rusty structure will be broken down, I keep on making new images. I guess I'm scared to loose an old friend...

Image details:
FujiFilm Sexy-1 (X-E1) with Fujinon XF 18-55  lens
ISO 200, 35mm, f4, 1/550s
RAW conversion with Lightroom 4.4
Desaturated the image on purpose to give it a bit of a vintage look

Some years ago, the guys at the Belgian aviation blog Apron 6, have released the following video about Moorsele airfield. 

Lastly, " Nothing is ever really been lost, as long as you remember it" - L.M> Montgomery


Friday, April 12, 2013

Pic(k) of the week 15: Headless Stork taking-off?

First of all apologies for the somewhat late Pic(k) of the week... I normally try to do my weekly post on Wednesday but unfortunately have been too busy at work lately... 

As explained in my previous post, I did spend some time in Portugal end of last month. An  overview of the touring around Alentejo, is scheduled for the end of next week.

2013 Pic(k) of the week 15: Headless Storch taking-off

It was in Alentjeo, that I photographed this Stork taking-off from its nest, on top of an old lighting pole. Because of the lack of wind, the 2 meter wingspan White Stork, had to dive to the ground in order to generate enough lift to stay airborne. In this process, its head was almost completely hidden behind the enormous wings.

Image details:
Nikon D800, 70-200 2.8 VR2
ISO 800, 200mm, f3.5, 1/8000s
RAW development in Lightroom 4.4
Tonal contrast optimisation with Nik ColorEfex 4

One of the advantages of using the ultra high resolution Nikon D800 (36million px), one can easily crop the image and still get a good resolution image. That is exactly what I've done in the one above.

Remember,"Flying is learning how to throw you at the ground and miss" - Douglas Adams.

Wherever you are, have a great weekend!


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Pic(k) of the week 14: Vasco da Gama bridge at the blue hour

End of March, I spend a week in Portugal on a mixed holiday/photography trip. The first few days, I revisited the capital, Lisboa (Lisbon) and was pleasantly surprised how the most Western European large city has changed since the World Expo in 1998.

One of the most remarkable architectural achievements, is the new "Vasco da Gama bridge" which opened March 28th 1998, just in time for the World Expo '98. With a total length of 17km, the bridge is Europe's largest one. It was built to relief its older brother;  "the 25th April bridge".

I was particularly interested in photographing this architectural beauty in pre-sunrise light. Online research brought me to the "Parque Tejo"; a park at the western site of the bridge, ideal for a sunrise shoot. Because I planned to arrive at the site well before sunrise, the scouting the day before proved very valuable.

Not totally unexpected, the taxi-driver called me a "crazy man" when he picked me up from my hotel at 0515am in pouring rain.

2013 Pic(k) of the week 14: Vasco da Gama bridge at the blue hour

Fortunately the rain eventually stopped and just before sunrise the dramatic sky turned a beautiful blue/magenta. 

Image details:
Nikon D800 with 14-24 2.8 Nikkor lens
Gitzo carbon fiber tripod with Markins ballhead
ISO 100, 14mm, f4.5, 10s
RAW development in Lightroom 4.4RC
Nik ColorEfex detail enhancer

Over the next few days, more images will be uploaded to my "Lisbon"gallery.

The second part of the trip consisted of a 1000 km drive around the Alentejo area, East and South of Lisbon. More the coming weeks...

Remember, "The person attempting to travel two roads at once, will get nowhere"- Xun Zi