Saturday Activities

A Saturday of discovery!

As I sit here watching a bit of Premier League football after breakfast, a quick post to provide an idea for a Saturday if you happen to be in the Netherlands…

Institute of Sound+Vision

The Institute of Sound & Vision in Hilversum is an architecturally stunning building, both on the outside and the inside, as captured in this image. Striking colors and angles make this a sight to behold!

Additionally, the exhibits are always thought, ear and eye provoking making this a wonderful visit.

A Stop by Kinderdijk – pt. 2

A closer look at these behemoths of power! Don’t tilt at them!

In yesterday’s Kinderdijk post I shared the variety of weather conditions that we experienced at Kinderdijk; during the 90 or so minutes that we were there, the only season we missed was Winter!

The classic Dutch windmill is an engineering marvel that can withstand centuries of whatever Mother Nature throws at it…

Rearview of the Cap

Starting at the top, we have the cap of the windmill; its head, so to speak. This section can be rotated around its vertical axis, as it sits on wheels inside the cap. This enables the miller to turn the windmill into the wind, so that it can generate its power.

Capstan Wheel

This rotation is achieved using the capstan wheel, which is on the tail of the windmill. Chains are attached to anchor points in the ground, and then the wheel is turned to rotate the cap in the direction of the anchor point. Note the gentleman in the wood shoes; he’s the miller responsible for this windmill, the Nederwaard No. 2, which houses the Windmill Museum.

Brake Handle

Of course, you need a braking mechanism to slow down rotation of the sails; the brake handle sticks out from the cap; this on his painted in the colors of the Dutch flag, red, white and blue.

Canvas and the Sail

When the miller wants to operate the windmill, one of the interesting jobs is to unroll the canvas to cover the sail; this involves climbing up the lattice and tying the canvas to the sail. Not that it can be reefed, just like a sailboat, to adjust for the strength of the wind. Imagine climbing up in wooden shoes when the breeze is picking up; I think this could be a harrowing bit of work.

A View through the Capstan Wheel

As we’re getting ready to wrap up, I took one more look back through capstan wheel to soak in this majestic view!

I felt lucky to get this turnaround in the weather, because with this sun and clear air, the scenery of Kinderdijk is simply glorious!

A Stop by Kinderdijk – pt. 1

Does it get any more Dutch than this?

A big part of our Rhine river cruise was the opportunity to visit a lot of wonderful places, including some in the country that I was born and raised in: the Netherlands. As the windmills of Kinderdijk were one of the options, my wife and I decided to do that tour…

Rain and Sunshine

As we arrived at Kinderdijk, the sky looked threatening, so luckily I had put the rain gear on my camera, as it started pouring while the sun was bright across parts of this scene. It made for a great dramatic shot that captures 5 of the 19 windmills.

Nederwaard Windmill Nr. 1

Within minutes was dry again and some of the sky started clearing. This is windmill number 1 on the Nederwaard side; this windmill is of the type ‘Grondzeiler’, which translates literally to ‘Groundsailor’. The name makes sense, as the blades or sails come close to the ground when they turn.

When there is rain and sun…

Of course, one of the benefits of these weather conditions is that rainbows will appear and they were stunning!

And then the sun came out!

And then the sun came out in its fullest glory! Even though the light was strong, I couldn’t resist capturing this shot. Let me know how many windmills you count in this shot!

Our guide for this tour was really knowledgeable and made the whole presentation very interesting; it helps that she was born and raised in Kinderdijk! During a break, we chatted in Dutch and she wasn’t surprised to find out that growing up in the Netherlands, I had never visited Kinderdijk; it’s not uncommon, as there are 1,200 historic windmills in the entire country, so you’re never very far from one. As matter of fact, in the house where we lived when I was just finishing elementary school and going to high school, I had British friends who lived in a windmill.

Tomorrow’s Kinderdijk post, I’ll chat about some of the details of these iconic symbols of Dutch culture, and we’ll talk about their operation.

Before we board ship…

A quick canal tour around Amsterdam

Last September, Kris, my wife, and I took a river cruise from Amsterdam to Basel on the amazing Viking Mani; this was our first ever cruise experience, and I can tell you that Viking will raise the bar for any future vacation plans that you might have.

After arriving a day prior to our boarding date, we checked in early into our hotel, the Victoria, which is just across from the Centraal Station; after our flight from Boston, we were both happy to hop into a shower and get a short nap before exploring the city. First stop was to get some food, which for me means that I wanted to get a Dutch specialty: a beef croquette sandwich (Dutch: kroket).

Next up we decided to take a canal tour, which is the best way to see Amsterdam. I’ll highlight a couple of views from our hour-long boat trip.

The Stopera Building

In the image above, the Stopera is where the Dutch National Opera & Ballet companies have performance space, and where Amsterdam’s city hall is located. The name came from a shortening of the protest slogan against the building’s construction: “Stop the Opera”. The design approval for the building literally took decades, as the original commission started in 1955 and took until 1964 years to finally reject all proposals; a new competition was held in 1967 for a new design, which was won by the Viennese architect Wilhelm Holzbauer.

Unfortunately, budget constraints delayed the project once more. In 1979, a new approach was proposed, which would combine the opera space and city hall into a single complex; a design by Wilhelm Holzbauer and Cees Dam was approved. Under much controversy and protest, construction started in 1982 and was completed in 1986.

Jewish Resistance Monument

At the intersection of the Zwanenburgwal and the Amstel river, stands a powerful reminder of the people who once lived in the neighborhood where the Stopera stands today; Vlooienburg was an island that was built in Amsterdam to add space around 1593. This island was part of Amsterdam’s Jewish Quarter, which was established during the Dutch republic, as many Sephardic Jews moved from Portugal and Spain to the more accepting environment in Amsterdam. The black monument commemorates the efforts by the Jewish population in their resistance against the Nazi occupiers during World War II; on the side of the monument is a text of the prophet Jeremiah, which laments:

“Were my eyes fountains of tears then would I weep day and night for the fallen fighters of my beloved people.”

Het IJ

Another key river of Amsterdam is the IJ, which likely is a remnant of the northern arm of the Rhine delta. Nowadays, the IJ has a seafaring shipping connection through the North Sea Canal, which stretches from Amsterdam to Ijmuiden.

From here our canal tour turned back to its mooring point, close to the main train station, and a bit later we’d go here…

The Viking Mani

There she is, our Viking longship, the Mani; named after the Norse Moon God, Mani, who flies through the night sky in his horse-drawn chariot, chased by an evil wolf looking to devour the moon. Our cabin is in view, albeit barely; it is the last visible window near the end on the upper deck. As the restaurant is at the front of the ship, we had a more than 100 m walk each way, getting our exercise, even on board!

C.P. #4: Seeing and Framing

The walking photographer

First things first: I’ll be using the abbreviation C.P. to shorten ‘Creative Process’; titles of posts were just getting a bit long!

In today’s post, I want to share a bit about how I shoot when I’m just walking around and some of the thoughts that I put into my snapshots. Even though my photography brain isn’t constantly scanning for the next ‘amazing’ shot, there is a level of awareness of how the world around me might look through the view of a lens. Here’s an example of this…

Prins Hendrikkade

As my wife and I were walking around during our afternoon of free time before our ship’s departure, I became aware of the view ahead of us. The combination of architecture, modes of transport, sidewalk, signage, traffic light and bicycles outnumbering car, it all screams something that is very Dutch in our minds.

After that initial assessment, the creative process part of the brain kicks in, as I looked on how to capture this scene and produce the right guidance for our eyes to allow our mind to process parts of this image step by step.

The first decision was to ask my wife to stop walking for a moment, so that I could have the less-lighted space create a set of leading lines into the main parts of the image. You’ll notice that by default our eyes will start in the lower right hand part of the image and then quickly move more toward the center of the image (for an experiment, try starting your eyes in a different part of the image and notice what they do).

As I composed this shot with my iPhone, I moved to the left and right to see how the lines would lead toward the Basilica of Saint Nicholas in the background. You’ll notice that I settled more toward the left side of the sidewalk, as that enabled me to use the shadows of the building to my left to frame the image and not have the eye go all the way left in the image. Similarly, but less pronounced, the tree on the right helps frame that side.

Taking the couple of seconds to make these decisions, allowed the bicyclist coming towards me to be in the shade, and not be the subject of the shot; it helped that the traffic lights for bicyclists and pedestrians had just turned green!

Of course, I did shoot this image with a bit of safety, as you can see from the original…

iPhone original for above image

You’ll notice that there is quite a bit of extra margin, so that the crop can create a suitable image. I chose to use the iPhone’s 4:3 aspect ratio for the final image, as it felt pretty natural for this scene.

I hope that this quick overview of some of what goes on in my photography brain when I walk around. Please feel free to comment, share your process or ask questions.

Starting Anew!

A view of what is to come!

As we start of the new year, many of us make resolutions and grand plans of what we would like to achieve. And yes, I do the same, as there are always a couple of things that I’d like to do better.

One of these is to spend more time catching up with my photography; as there are literally thousands of photos that I have taken and not done a single review or edit on, the goal is to put a significant dent into that backlog. I still have to figure out how I will measure this, as it will be hard to recognize progress without a decent metric.

So here’s a taste from the project that I’m cleaning up right now (and over the next week or two)…

Brouwerijgracht in Amsterdam

Yes, this is one of those typical Amsterdam shots from a canal tour boat, as we just came out of the Keizersgracht (Emperors Canal) and got a view down the Brouwerijgracht (Brewery Canal). As Kris, my wife, and I arrived in Amsterdam a day ahead of time before our Rhine cruise (great way to get over jet lag), we spent part of our afternoon touring the center of Amsterdam; there’s no better way to do that than on a canal tour.

A simple shot with my iPhone 13 Pro Max with a little touch up, as it was indeed a gorgeous day in Amsterdam.

Lots more coming from the Rhine cruise in the coming weeks!

Tuesday Photo Challenge – Travel

Virtual trip around the world?

Welcome to week 207 of the Tuesday Photo Challenge!

In deciding on a theme for this week, there was something that led me to the choice of Travel. As most of use are not traveling at the moment, it might be nice to travel virtually through our various blogs and share some of those enjoyed moments with each other. So, let’s share some of those wonderful places that we have visited in this week’s challenge!

Very much looking forward to seeing all those great places!

Here’s a place that is dear to my heart…

Centraal Station, Rotterdam

The Centraal Station in Rotterdam is a magnificent transportation hub that is a great connector of all modes of transportation and filled with traffic during good times!

The full rules of this challenge are in TPC Guidelines, but here’s the tl;dr:

  • Write a post with an image for this week’s topic
  • Please tag your post with fpj-photo-challenge (if you’re not sure about how tags work, please check out this WordPress article about tagging posts)
  • Create a pingback link to this post, so that I can create a post showing all of the submissions over the week (note: pingbacks may not appear immediately, as my site is set up to require approval for linking to it; helps against previous bad experiences with spamming)
  • Have fun creating something new (or sharing something old)!!

Please be safe, communicate with one another and bring hope to all!

Tuesday Photo Challenge – Round Up 200

Pretty boats in a row…

Welcome to the 200th round up of the Tuesday Photo Challenge!

Thank you for a stunning set of responses to this week’s theme of Numbers! It is not surprising that numerology suited you very well, as the volume of creative out was very numerous! There were some really cool surprises among your responses and some that I could very much relate to. I hope that you enjoy reading this set of posts, as much as I did!

Have fun catching up on your reading!

Here are some numbers for the fish…

Volendam by the Numbers

This image goes back to a visit to the lovely fishing village of Volendam in 2015; these boats were lined up perfectly for me creating a colorful display.

Please enjoy the following blog posts:

  1. This week’s challenge responses are kicked off in theOnlyD800intheHameau, where the numbers are aplenty and get us out of the dumps… Wonderful, tongue-in-cheek response!
  2. That is just a wonderful sundial that we get to see in Geriatri’X’ Fotogallery, and a great positioning of the numbers!
  3. Diane reminisces of her exploits as a number cruncher in a great post in her blog pensivity101. Plus there are a some great locks to go through as well!
  4. Ann-Christine brings out an interesting number in her post in To see a world in a grain of sand…, and a large number of statues!
  5. Maria counts us up in her post in Kamerapromenader, as we go one, two, three with some wonderful photos!
  6. TiongHan shares photos of an amazing Jaguar C-type in his post in TiongHan’s Blog; number 468 is a stunning example of this car and in great shape!
  7. Jackie shares some cool numbers in her post in JunkBoat Travels, ranging from lucky 7’s to area codes and banks!
  8. Ken is playing a rather moody number in his post in Pictures without Film, as he channels the blues! Awesome post!
  9. I very much like the numbers in the post in the Jesh Studio, as it means I’m almost old enough to get a discount (it helps to read Dutch!)
  10. Nandini shares some amazing haikus in her post in queennandini; also, there are some awesome photos!
  11. In another great post in Don’t Hold Your Breath we travel to Nanjing by train; not just any train, but the Gao train, which goes 247 kilometers per hour!
  12. Tatiana features a wonderfully creative photograph in her post in GiftSmart, where numbers intersect with urban art!
  13. Na’ama highlights a much coveted locale in her post in Na’ama Yehuda; number 10 is the place to be!
  14. Kammie finds a great way to feature the number three in her post in Nut House Central; there’s a bit of the trinity there!
  15. Sarah hits the grocery store in numbers in a great photo in By Sarah, as there’s plenty on the shelves!
  16. Julie takes us along for a walk with the Gods in her post in Eat, Play, Live; amazing hike that is done by the numbers!
  17. David enables us to follow the progress of number 59 in wonderful photos in his post in David M’s Photoblog; 24 hours at Le Mans must be an epic event!
  18. Viveka certainly stayed at a lot of hotel rooms photos in myguiltypleasures; love the collection of room numbers!
  19. There’s something to be said for a nice warm day, but the numbers of the thermometer in the photo in Land of Images are well beyond that level!
  20. Michelle captured an array of numbers in her photo in Take a walk and discover…; makes me wonder what services are being offered!
  21. With a wonderful set of photos in A Day in the Life, we get to see some great numbers; I’m sticking with number 54!
  22. The wonderful post in My Camera and I… asks the question ‘which address is yours?’; might be difficult to figure out…
  23. Elizabatz takes us on a tour of numbers with a Spanish twist in Albatz Travel Adventures; one might might have had a hand in a goal…
  24. It’s clear from Eric’s post in Up North! that he runs things by the numbers! That was a great run!
  25. Sandy use natural numbers in her post in Out of my Write Mind; there’s something natural in that progression filled with beauty…
  26. I really enjoy Deb’s photograph in her post in Twenty Four; I’m curious to learn how many of you know what is in this photo…
  27. Bren might have been running late in her post in Bren & Ashley Ryan Photography, but that’s not for lack of watching the clock!
  28. Cee showcases a wonderful set of numbers in her post in Cee’s Photo Challenges; awesome photos!
  29. Woolly brings us some great numbers in his photos in WoollyMuses, keeping the best for last, as we can all agree that does are great to have!
  30. Brian has got the numbers around town all lined up in his post in Bushboy’s World; for good measure, there’s even an awesome listen!
  31. Irene captured a wonderful image in Heaven’s Sunshine, as fireboat 58 is the pride of the water!
  32. Radhika brings us some really cool photos in her post in radhikasreflection! I will take some of that Belgian chocolate!
  33. Debbie features a rather impressive number in her post in Travel with Intent, as that is a long time to stay underground!
  34. Alice features a street number that is not going to be changed anytime soon in her photo in the59Club; very impressive address!
  35. Rupali showcases probably one of the best known clocks in mazeepuran, which many of you might recognize!
  36. Teressa really does things by the numbers in her post in Another LQQk…; that ruler looks extremely useful!
  37. Joanne finds various useful numbers for her post in Joanne’s Crafts and Adventures; great name for a coffee shop!
  38. I really enjoy the retrospective and the prices in the 1970s in another wonderful post in the blog, One Letter Up – diary 2.0; Crosby, Stills & Nash were a great choice!

Please let all these wonderful authors know how much you enjoy their blog posts!

Vacation Retrospective

Confessions of a traveler!

As I selected Retrospective for this week’s TPC theme, I thought it would be nice to look back at countries visited during the 2010s! So here it goes!


Love atop the Stephanskirche!

Looking down from the shorter tower of the Stephanskirche provides an incredible view across all of Vienna!


Walking among the treetops!

In Vancouver, BC, I got to walk among the treetops, high up above the canyon floor (below…)


Skye is simply stunning!

On the Isle of Skye, I got to see some of the most incredible landscapes, such as here, where I’m a ways up in the Quiraing range. I could sit here forever and watch the clouds change the landscape!


Apollonia National Park

I got some time in Israel to explore the Apollonia National Park in Herzliya; this amazing Roman settlement was a wonder to behold!


Looking across Massa Maritima

Our Italian trip was filled with amazing towns (idea for some posts…), such as Massa Maritima; the hill towns in Tuscany are just stunning! And the food was awesome too!


Centraal Station, Rotterdam

As can be expected, there have been numerous trips to the Netherlands, and Rotterdam is still among my favorite cities in this world!


The Herring Era

Iceland is filled with amazing vistas, and I spent way too little time there (4 days) to scratch the surface. One of my discoveries was the Herring Era museum in Siglufjördur! It brought one back to a different time!

Czech Republic

Looking up in Prague!

Sometimes, travel doesn’t go as planned, and you get to spend an additional 24 hours in a location. This happened in Prague, which is not a bad place to find yourself in!


A view in Kharkiv

My visit to Ukraine was fantastic, as the hospitality was amazing and I got to see some of the sights, such as the view here!


Albert Docks at Night

Liverpool, England, was an impromptu visit that gave me the opportunity to see my favorite Premier League team play at Anfield, their home ground! A fantastic city too!

In less than 2 weeks, I will be in India, so the adventure continues!!

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