August 17, 2020
It’s less than a year ago, but this picture seems to come from another lifetime. I could travel freely, hop on a plane for a short hiking trip. I still had my cameras, the one I took this picture with and the one he’s holding in his hands. We could sit side by side, unknowingly of any social distancing concept. We were still connected. A sort of togetherness that in time vaporized with the rest of it.

“Have you tried dwelling on it forever?”

(Picture a woman in tears, on the phone with her bored friend, from a cartoon series mocking our modern times, shallow and self-absorbed, using the visual language of graphic novels from the fifties or sixties.)

I think of this line every now and then. It makes me smile. Not that I haven’t. Tried.

Bergen, Norway, 2019. Picture taken with the Nikon D750


July 09, 2020

I like the word voorzieningen, which means something like ‘facilities’. It’s a generic word, meaningless almost. It could be anything. But it’s also very specific, in a given context. In this particular one, it’s about entertainment. A well defined, pre-established concept that leaves little room for surprises. I’m always drawn to these areas, knowing exactly what to expect, and yet curious about details, execution and interpretation.

Vacation park in Exloo, Drenthe, The Netherlands. Pictures taken with the Nikon Z6

Of paths and greens

June 14, 2020

Going into the woods, in the middle of summer, with a digital camera, is a recipe for disappointment. Photographing woods is always so much more difficult than I think it is (especially Dutch woods I’m sorry to say), the middle of summer is problematic pretty much wherever one goes, and a digital camera is just not a good match with either of the two. That being said, I’m not unhappy with these. Thanks, obviously, to the even light and calm skies. And I know I’ve been belittleling the Dutch landscape on more than one occassion, but I really enjoyed the scenery in this area, and how blissfully quiet it was. The recurrent, classic/cliché perspective of a road disappearing into the distance is a bit lame perhaps, but I like paths, and I allowed myself to use them as a compositional crutch. I even appreciate it as a repetitive element throughout this little series.

Veluwe, The Netherlands. A forest-rich area of appr. 1000 km2 in the province of Gelderland, the Veluwe features many different landscapes, including woodland, heath, some small lakes and Europe's largest sand drifts.

Garden village

May 12, 2020

I might want to follow up on this. This, being a small garden village, a neighborhood really, in the South of Rotterdam. Built in 1949 to address the most immediate post war need for homes. The small, one storey houses were designed for a lifespan of some 25 years, but they are still standing today, be it worn out and facing demolition. Part of it is gone already, leaving a gap in the middle of the neighborhood, a wasteland with only a few lampposts left. Part is still inhabited, part is deserted, sealed off, their small gardens overgrown. Painted curtains in the windows to make it look less grim. On the internet, I read that there has been a dispute going on for years now on how to rebuild the neighborhood. How to preserve the original lay out, or not. How to ensure that the current population will be able to return if the housing prices go up. Who has a say in what. Not much seems to be happening now. I’d like to return in a few months time, to see what hasn’t happend and what has. And again in another few months. If only to see the seasons change.

Garden village Wielewaal, Charlois, Rotterdam.

Making a photograph

May 03, 2020

Do photographers look or see? Do we take a picture, or make a picture? I find these (recurring) debates on the internet rather self-indulgent to be honest. And yet, yesterday’s editing session felt exactly like that: making photographs. The raw material being badly taken, uninteresting pictures of a gym. I can hardly blame myself for their less than acceptable quality (but I do anyway): I took them during one of those annual social events from work, two years ago in Amsterdam, which included a visit to two former school buildings by architect Ingwersen, both transformed into a sort of creative hubs. There were several workshops, and I was supposed to spend some time in the gym. And I considered myself lucky, not because I fancied a work out with collegues, but I like gyms, as interiors, and based on the design of the bulding, I had expectations. So I rushed into this space before anyone else did, to take some pictures. If I look at them now, I can see how there wasn’t much time to absorb the place and really ‘see’ it. Not enough to decide what I wanted from it. I liked the windows, but the light situation was difficult, I liked the objects, but their arrangement was awkward, I liked the colours, the structure of the partly painted brick walls and the lines on the floor. Too much to like, too little time. (Which pretty much sums up what photography is for me, mostly, but then, the opposite is also true). It’s enormously satisfying, magical even, seeing a failed picture transform into something that I like, into a completely different image, not by endlessly tweaking and fine-tuning, but by a few simple, well chosen editing operations.

J.B. Ingwersen. Former LTS, Jan van Breemenstraat, Amsterdam, built in 1967. Now: De School: club, bar, restaurant, gym, workshops. The colour picture has some 60% of an M2 colour profile, and the black and white is based on a BW 8 profile. Both cropped to squares (obviously).