Jan 30, 2010

Life on the beach

_DS75673w It’s hard to ignore the many signs of life – or what is left behind of it – all around you when you take a walk on the beach. These few images were made during a number of frugal strolls in the beginning of the year.

With every low tide, the sand is left covered with all kinds of shells. A real treat for the busy birds…

_DS75911w-2Of course, you won’t find much of a meal if you look in the wrong places! Or is this one just out for the fun, like me?

_DS75758w-2Always a pleasure to observe: the members of a small colony of seals that loves to hang around near a breakwater, close to our friends’ beach apartment.

Gear notes: D700, 24/2.8, 180/2.8D, 28-200G, 70-300VR

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Jan 24, 2010

Squarely in the middle

Few things can work more inspiring than a little discipline and some self-imposed restriction. For that reason, I recently started to take along my camera and just one or two primes whenever I am going off to a potentially interesting location. That and the firm determination to come back with a good batch of pictures.

_DS76020w This time, a meeting appointment brought me to downtown Antwerp, near the main railway station. Antwerpen-Centraal
- known by the locals as the “Middenstatie” - was constructed between 1895 and 1905 to replace the original terminus of the Brussels-Mechelen-Antwerp railway. The main building features a vast dome and 8 smaller towers. The colorful interior is lavishly decorated with more than 20 different kinds of marble and stone.

_DS75954wBehind the spectacular waiting room hall: a huge iron and glass vaulted ceiling (185 meters long and 44 meters high) covering the platforms and tracks, originally all on one level.

_DS75963wIn 1998 large-scale reconstruction work began to convert the station from a terminus to a through station. A new north-south tunnel and platforms on two additional underground levels allow fast domestic InterCity trains and the high-speed Amsterdam-Brussels connection to travel through Antwerp Central without the need to turn around. The major restoration and expansion works were completed by early 2009. Today, the station has 4 levels and a total of 14 tracks.

_DS75969All of the above images were shot handheld using a single 24mm prime lens. One is a 4-frame HDR, another a pseudo-HDR built from a single RAW file (challenge: can you find out which ones?). Just for the fun of it, I decided to go for pure square crops, an option that frequently pops into my mind. Perhaps I am missing my 6x6 film days…

Gear notes: D700, 24/2.8

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Jan 19, 2010

Still sturdy after all these years

Halfway through the 19th century it was decided to build a ring of fortresses around Antwerp, to resist a potential attack from France. The fort circle would consist of eight Brialmont forts (named after their architect) in a 18 km long circle from Wijnegem to Hoboken. These forts were built in the period 1859-1864.

Fort 8, located in Hoboken, just below southwest Antwerp, is one of the most beautiful of these fortifications. More than three years ago already, the company I then worked for held an event on that location. As part of the organizing team, I was able to sneak in early and spend a few hours capturing the desolate splendor of the site.

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Some parts of the brick fort are quite well preserved, other areas clearly show the relentless impact of time. But all together they make for a true feast for the patient photographer!

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I am determined to find out whether my former contact is still involved with Fort 8. I definitely would love to go back there, with better gear but most importantly more developed technique!

More pictures in this gallery.

Gear notes: D200, 17-55/2.8

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Jan 16, 2010

Up high

When I learned that an upcoming business meeting was to take place on the 20th floor of the Antwerp Tower business center (the third highest building in the city), I could not resist to take along my camera bag and make sure I arrived well before the agreed upon time…

_DS75920w Not a great day to shoot panoramic views, though. The city was covered by a dense smog, partly perhaps because of the unusual snowy weather. The sun doesn’t move high this time of the year, and in addition turned out to come from the ‘wrong’ side of our meeting room. And although the meeting facilities itself were impeccable, the least you could say is that the windows are up for a good outside cleaning job…

The view on downtown Antwerp was rather spectacular anyway, more so than the above images suggest. Amazing what a chaotic patchwork results from the myriad of rooftops. And how you can find pretty abstract compositions in the middle of that maze.
Can you see what I was looking at?

Gear notes: D700, 24/2.8, 180/2.8D

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Jan 11, 2010

A fresh start

We couldn’t have wished a better beginning of 2010! Close friends are renting out a small apartment at the Belgian coast, and when it suddenly became available for a few days they invited us to come and stay to celebrate the New Year with them.

_DS75619wAs we arrived on the evening of January 1, we were welcomed by magnificent fireworks right in our ‘front yard’. I should have known better than to stay out for half an hour on the freezing balcony!


_DS75663wThe next morning greeted us with a thin coat of fresh snow on the sand. Just what I needed to get out again for a healthy long walk on the beach with a small camera bag (and hat and gloves).

_DS75710wPlenty of people out by mid day, enjoying the chilly but refreshing breeze. Funny to see how an area that normally thrives on baking sunshine takes on a very different atmosphere in colder weather.

Thanks, Lut and Hugo, for a great New Year’s present!

Gear notes: D700, 50/1.8, 16/2.8D, 24/2.8, 180/2.8D

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