Feb 25, 2010

Birds behind bars

A few simple pictures from a recent shooting day with the friends at Belgiumdigital. This time, we met at a small but well populated zoo in Balen-Olmen, in the north of Belgium. Our visit clearly came too early in the year to enjoy friendly weather conditions, so many of the animals were wisely held inside. Still, we just ignored the chill and went on for a couple of hours trotting through an almost deserted park.

These grey crowned cranes were quite approachable and did not seem to mind posing for the many shooters all around them.



We had a lot more work trying to shoot some birds of prey, struggling with adverse lighting conditions and fighting the mesh enclosures of their cages with long focal lengths and wide apertures… But who ever said we didn’t like a good challenge?


A place for sure to visit again when warmer air and sunny skies bring more of the residents out in the open!

Gear notes: D700, 70-200VR

Click on the image(s) to see a larger version

Feb 18, 2010

Walk on the white side

When I am working out of my home office, I may sometimes feel the need to take a short break and reload my batteries. It only takes a moment to grab a camera and go out for a stroll just outside my neighborhood: I am lucky to live near a small area of farming land (albeit fully enclosed by streets and houses…).

We still had snow all around on one of my recent treks.

_DS76364w-2 No visitors beyond this point

_DS76405w Waiting for better times to come

_DS76409wAs always, well connected…?

Gear notes: D700, 17-35/2.8, 180/2.8D

Click on the image(s) to see a larger version

Feb 12, 2010

In concert

My father-in-law, Ton de Leeuw, was one of the leading Dutch composers of the 20th century. Since he sadly passed away in 1996 his music publisher, Muziekcentrum Nederland, and the family have continued their efforts to keep his rich legacy alive.

Earlier this year, all attention went to his Complete Piano Solo Works, a total of 21 compositions. A new critical edition of the music score and a superb 2-CD recording were presented during a full-day of concerts at De Doelen in Rotterdam. I had the opportunity to attend and document the whole event.

_DS76043wSetting up for the concert and video registration

_DS76038wPianist René Eckhardt in full concentration during warm-up

_DS76039w Looking at a problem with the page turner…

_DS76040w… apparently with success!

_DS76123wA warm applause, after a job well done!

Gear notes: D700, 17-35/2.8, 70-200VR, 24-70/2.8

Click on the image(s) to see a larger version

Feb 7, 2010

Dream glass

Once in a while, you can put your hand on a beautiful lens, one that pleasantly surprises you beyond all expectations. That happened to me a few weeks ago, when a good friend passed me a nice copy of Nikon’s AF180mm f/2.8ED tele.

_DS75461w My very first shot with the lens – even before I paid for it…

I have always been a fan of narrow depth-of-field pictures, and especially so for shooting close candids of people. But if on top you also get a crack sharp image, excellent micro-contrast and soft creamy blurs, the party really gets on!

_DS75678w A chilly January morning at the Belgian coast.

I have no doubt that you will get to see more pictures from this lens on blog posts to come…

_DS76000w Outside Antwerp’s central railway station.

Gear notes: D700, 180/2.8D

Click on the image(s) to see a larger version

Feb 3, 2010

On the Frisco trails

One more post from the archives, as life for the moment is very busy (and the weather rather unpleasant). That’s when memories and good souvenirs come handy, don’t they?

During an extended business trip in late summer 2004, I managed to carve out a full Saturday (!) to go on a day-long shooting hike, together with a colleague/friend/fellow photographer.

DSC_0916wWe woke up that morning with a splendid view on Telegraph Hill and Coit Tower, from the hotel room window.

DSC_0967wBy the time  we made it to the base of the tower, the fog just started to lift over the Bay. As it turned out that day, it would not completely disappear at all.

DSC_1079wMuch later in the day: an unusual view on Alcatraz, from one of the bars around Pier 39. I cannot imagine what made us end up there… Maybe an overdose of pixel dust?

DSC_1101wA true festival of color (and taste!): the fruit and vegetable stalls at the beginning of the Pier.

It so happens that all of the above pictures were shot with a Nikon 28-200G zoom, the first lens I added after starting digital photography ‘for real’ with a D70 and 18-70DX combo. It’s a compact, lightweight travel lens that gave me more ‘reach’, and also comes with excellent close-up capabilities. I have always liked to use this lens when going on the road. But as I collected more and better glass, it kinda moved into the back of the shelf.

The very same 28-200 now gets a second active life on my D700: originating from the 35mm film days, it covers full-frame FX and serves as a great walk-around lens that easily adds into any bag.

Gear notes: D70, 28-200G

Click on the image(s) to see a larger version