Everyday is an opportunity to have a blissful moment. An encounter with someone who sticks in your mind or is a start of something meaningful, being a witness of something beautiful or just having something ‘click’.
Last week I added a new lens to my camera gear. It’s the Voigtlander 35mm 1,4 MC lens. It’s a tiny almost pancake-like lens and has a classic, vintage lens and aperture blade design. It’s a match made in heaven with my now vintage Leica M8.
I often use the pont across the Amsterdam IJ, to sit across the water with a cup of coffee, a book and my thoughts. On the photo you can see the buildings on the left side of the futuristic Eye Theater which is on the right. That’s my place of stillness.
It was last week when I spotted this man, looking across the water as we waited on the pont to start the little trip to the other side of the water. I decided to grab my camera and take this shot.
Due to the ancient metering system of the M8 this shot was under exposed. Correcting in post production it brings out the wonderful ‘grain’ of the Kodak CCD sensor. Combined with the nice bokeh of the lens, it produces a wonderful film-like look.
When I was shooting for a storytelling project I am conducting these days for the city of Amsterdam, my path crossed that of Sjuul. Sjuul is, besides an awesome guy, a personal trainer and movement/mobility/Capoeira specialist. We had a chat and decided to have an impromptu photo shoot which turned out quite well. Jules knows every bit about your body’s alignement but the title of this blog has an other meaning. When things are aligned and well, beautiful things can happen, even if they are not planned like the photo shoot with Sjuul.
Although I wrote in my former blog post about being in need for a break after doing so much portraits, I am still doing at least one a week and enjoy it to the fullest. This time I focus on the many small local businesses in my Amsterdam neighbourhood . They play a significant role in our neighbourhood, as they have many residents as customers. Take Amy for example, she runs Westdogs Hondenuitlaatservice, where she walks the dogs of fellow residents who are to busy to do it themselves. She had brought her 3-year old son with her. Sure enough, besides being a very sweet little guy, he started to run away and decided to play peekaboo among the many places where you can hide in the park.
I recently started a photography project in the Bos & Lommer district in Amsterdam, the city where I live. I offer my neighbours a free portrait session. As I moved to Amsterdam just a year ago, this gives me the opportunity to get to know my neighbours better and to hone my photography skills, especially portraits. The reactions have been great so far; people are genuinely grateful to have some nice pictures taken and furthermore, every foto shoot is a moment of connection between strangers too and that remains something really special. Take for example Vladimir with his dog Timo. Meeting Vladimir was wonderful and meeting Timo meant seeing a dog just happy to be alive. Dogs just give, that’s all they do. Timo leaving his footprint on my jeans did connect me with the following quote I read this morning:
Start today – give, give, give – time, energy, assistance, care, co-operation. On how many levels do you see the opportunity to give? It’s good to be a ‘just do it’ person. Even better to be a ‘just give it’ person. And the paradox will make itself known – when you give you will realise you already have everything you need.
Swiftly he manoeuvred his bike to the right as he approached me. I was totally in the moment, in a meditative state as I always am shooting with my Leica’s. I could not be bothered less. It rained slightly that evening in Amsterdam. Tourists moved from the Central Station towards the city centre. I decided to shoot with the old M8 again, paired with the magnificent Zeiss 28 mm. Furthermore I had set the camera in Jpeg and black and white, inspired by the photo contest (see this post). Reviewing the picture later, it showed a fair amount of under exposure, due to the headlight of the bike pointing directly into the simple centre weighted metering of the Leica. It results in a noisy image, but having the awesome Kodak sensor it yields a nice grain like look-I think.
Shuffling through the night
Assimilating with the shadows and lights
Moving between what is to be seen and only to be felt.
Endlessly he practised his tricks on the skateboard while chatting to his friend. I just had to snap it!
Going against gravity
Using what seems to be opposite to you
To get better in what you already are
Knowing that someone who is caring
is watching you.
Shot at the Amsterdam Central Station with my Olympus OM2-n with Porta 400 film, converted to black and white.
Surrender. That’s the first word that comes to mind when I look at this picture. What I’ve learned throughout the years, is that letting go of the need for making pictures results in the most valuable pictures. So, to surrender to the moment and space you are in, means you tap into your subconscious mind and great opportunities appear in front of you. That surely is the case with photography. This time I was taking a stroll through my Amsterdam neighbourhood, feeling a bit out of sync. As I was sitting on a bench staring at the water, I noticed the pattern in the water and decided to make a picture through the fence between the bench and the water. Post processing it in monochrome did the trick. Not an unique picture at all, but I like the ink-like look of the water and the diagonal line within the framing.
I am fortunate to live just a couple of minutes away of the famous Van Gogh Museum. For a lot of tourists, this museum is a must-see when visiting Amsterdam. For a good reason; both the collection as the building are impressive. The only downside of this museum is that it is packed with visitors all-of-the-time.
I like strolling through the city at night and took this picture from outside the Van Gogh Museum. Although in monochrome, it resonates well with one of Van Gogh’s famous quotes:
I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day.
-Vincent Van Gogh