Thursday, December 31, 2009

Best wishes for 2010

To all readers of this blog, best wishes for the coming year. Let's make it a good one.

Champagne de Castellane

What vintage poster is better suited for today than one depicting French champagne? Falcucci designed this beautiful art deco poster, I guess around 1930. Cheers!

Vintage Posters


What would be more appropriate to close out the year for the category of Flickr favourites than one of many yet unposted faves from the stream of my Flickr friend aftab. This is such a brilliant minimalist shot. The idea in reverse (a bit of black on a vast field of white) is not new (I have done a few myself), but in this variation I had not seen it before. Pure art.

All rights retained by the photographer.


Keeper Dozen 2009

Inspired by a Flickr group started in 2008 by my Flickr friend word artist: Keeper Dozen. Ansel Adams said: "Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop." What are your dozen keepers? The best of your best. Your masterpieces.

Here are my choices for 2009. In 2008, I had about 9 clear candidates and picked another 3 to make up the dozen. This year, 24 would not have been enough to collect all the shots I am really happy with. Trimming it down to 12 was a nightmare, but here they are, ranked from 12 to 1 (see the numbers in the mosaic above):

12. Fantastic
Sometimes you know the moment you take a shot: this will be one of the more popular ones you have taken. That happened to me last April when in the tourist trap that is Shanghai's Old Town I saw this stand selling fans. The combination of the shapes, colours and textures made this an obvious hit

11. Don't yank my chain
Spotted whilst walking a street in Shanghai - even from the other side, the chain's shadow immediately jumped out at me,

10. Seeing red
A shopping window display in Antwerp, Belgium. Shot throgh the glass, but the end result is still satisfying. Very Magritte.

9. Come into the light
When I visited my wife in Shanghai in April, there were occasions where we attended a business dinner, and I sneaked out with my camera whilst she was talking to colleagues. This is one of the results, a corridor of the restaurant. Almost matrix-like in its atmosphere - the main challenge being to handle the low light intensity with a handheld camera.....

8. Black is beautiful
Another souvenir of a day trip to Antwerp. This was a display inside a high end fashion shop. Whilst my wife was looking at the clothes, I was peeking behind one of the interior walls to stumble upon this perfect scene. The vignetting, a rare feature in my pictures, was done to get rid of a too white spot in the top right corner.

7. Abstracted architecture
Back to Shanghai, zooming in on one of many fascinating modern architecture construction. I love the abstract feeling of this architectural detail and the combination of lines and curves - as well as the optical illusion effects they cause.

6. Silhouette du soir 2
A second shot taken within a few minutes in the French city of Blois (Loire) as evening fell - the first one is still coming. Although the two are rather similar, they are sufficiently different to treasure them both.

5. Luxembourg legs
Another souvenir from France - taking advantage of someone else's model shoot in the Jardins des Luxembourg. Of all 12 shots, this is one that really grew on me.

4. Silhouette du soir
The first of two shots taken within a few minutes in the French city of Blois (Loire) as evening fell - the second one is at number 6. Quite some postprocessing to get to this intense black and white feel.

3. Modern art museum
Shot in the fascinating Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris, a (for my stream) rare example of using the frame-within-a-frame composition technique.

2. Through the ice
A typical Dutch windmill, reflected in ice and turned upaside down to give the feeling of being under the ice and looking up/ By all rights, it should not even exist. It is part of the last set of shots that I uploaded to my desktop before it crashed. The crash came too soon to have them back-upped. And normally I delete the shots from the camera once I check that they are on the computer. For some reason, I forgot that last part and this shot was still in the camera.....

1. Cutting edge
I was a bit surprised that in the end this one came out as my shot of the year, all things considered. I have used this building, which is five minutes walking from our home, before as a subject a few times, but this is the one I like best so far. The extreme angle (realized by rotating it in post-processing), combined with the black and white conversion, turns the building into an almost abstract shot, with a fake reflection that is uncanny.

It is interesting to note by the way that in the course of 2009 I had 41 pictures in Explore, and that of my 12 final pic(k)s of the year only 5 received that honour......

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

We huddled closer as the chill closed in

As the year draws to a close, and winter is really setting in in the Netherlands, a very appropriate picture. Another one of those fantastic abstract images of my Flickr friend kate mellersh, complete with highly imaginative title. Even better when viewed on a completely black background.

All rights retained by the photographer.


Tsunami remembrance

Ever since I saw this image on Tv earlier this week, I have been looking for it on the various news sites, and I inally found it today. People launching floating paper lanterns into the sky over the Andaman Sea in remembrance of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami victims, in Khao Lak (Thailand). The linked site gives a great series of shots on this theme, including a number of clickable scenes that compare then and now. Very impressive.

All rights retained by the photographer.

web site

Norwegian landscape

It has already been over a year since I featured this artist for the first time in my blog: expressionist grandmaster Karl Schmidt-Rottluff (1884-1976). As with the previous post, I have seen the original of the painting I selected for this post in the impressive Buchheim Museum for Expressionism in Germany. This one dates back to 1911. More on Schmidt-Rottluff in the wikipedia article linked to below.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Throughout the year I have posted a lot of examples of my own photography, be it because they ended up in Flickr Explore, or because I really liked them myselves (and occasionally both). In hindsight, this is one I should have posted before as well, if only because of the art angle. I have blogged before about our September visit to the exhibition of Yan Pei Ming (born 1960) in the royal castle of Blois at the Loire. This is a shot I took at the exhibition itself, with my wife and her hat blending into the displayed art.

Camera: Canon PowerShot Pro1 8 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.05 sec (1/20)
Aperture: f/2.4
Focal Length: 7.2 mm
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0



This is such a beautiful abstract, a very poetic impressionist image with its soft tones and soft focus (or to quote the photographer: soft focus, which is a euphemism for out of focus). A masterpiece by my dear Flickr friend jenny downing.

All rights retained by the photographer.


Monday, December 28, 2009


A painting dating back about two years, showing the usual theme of expressionist style oriental women in qipao dresses - times two.

The Art of Lu Schaper

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A season of hope

Chances are that you have not heard of Claudette Lali yet - but she has become a sensation in her native France over the past few weeks courtecy of her success in the TV talent show Presence. The parallels with Britain's Susan Boyle are obvious - Mademoiselle Lali is not exactly an attractive appearance but she does have a marvellous voice. The record companies have tried to cash in as quickly as possible by releasing her first album last week just 4 days after starting the recordings. There is of course a reason for this rush, as they have controversially opted for a christmas album as debut. Sixteen traditionals, surprisingly all sung in English, whereas one would have expected that cashing in on her fame in France with a French album would have made more business sense. The album itself is OK, but nothing special, and I honestly can't see this make any impact on the international market. One can only hope that Claudette Lali will be given a second chance with less traditional material.

The idea of this little game is to create an album cover for an imaginary artist/group, as well as an imaginary review, following these instructions:

[1] The artist/group: go to the wiki random page generator. The first random Wikipedia article obtained this way is the name of the band or performer. In this case, I ended up with Claudette Lali.
[2] The title: go to the random quotations site. The last four words of the very last quote of the page is the title of the album. The random quote that came up was by Robert Veninga: Human pain does not let go of its grip at one point in time. Rather, it works its way out of our consciousness over time. There is a season of sadness. A season of anger. A season of tranquility. A season of hope.
[3] The illustration: pick a suitable one from my Flickr collection. My picture, Blitzen, can be found here on Flickr. The on-line editing was done with the programme On-line image editor, the font settings selected were Sophie MF 80 Silver and Brush Scipt MT Italic 80 Red, respectively.

Note: this is a variation on the "Debut album game" that has been making its rounds around bulletin boards and blogs for some time now - the original version called for a random Flickr Explore photograph to be used as the cover. I have been trying to find out who had the original idea, but so far no success.


It's been five years since the devastating tsunami in Asia killed over 200,000 people. Of all the pictures released on this occasion, this one moved me most. A Red Cross volunteer sits between open umbrellas printed with portraits of smiling children representing children orphaned in the tsunami. It reminds us that the effect goes way beyond the already immense death toll.

All rights retained by the photographer.

web site

Reverse reflection by Simon Schubert

Most life-like sculptures do not interest me at all, but when it comes with a twist like German sculptor Simon Schubert does, the result is fascinating. Magritte in 3D.

All rights retained by the artist.

web site

Saturday, December 26, 2009


A recent favourite - one of many - from the stream of my Flickr friend aftab. I find the warm cosy mood very fitting for the Christmas season. Composition, colours, creativity, all top notch as usual.

All rights retained by the photographer.


Fairytale of New York

Not only one of my all-time favourite Christmas songs, but this 1987 hit single came with a simple but beautiful cover design as well. A once-off collaboration between the Pogues and Kirsty MacColl, it was frequently voted to be the best Christmas song of all time in the UK and Ireland. More about the Pogues (and this song) on the linked wikipedia page.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas everybody!

A word from our christmas sponsors

For christmas, a special piece of photoshop brilliance taken from the advanced photoshop contest section of Worth1000. Here is a shot created by their member castiza for the Weird Holiday Traditions 3 contest. The scary part is of course that within a few years this may become reality....

All rights retained by the creator.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

This is a love song

This may well be the most amazing macro I have ever seen, and its warmth and subject is well suited for Christmas Eve. The mother of all close-ups of a candle flame, creating a gorgeous abstract feeling. Who else than my Flickr friend aftab would have the imagination to see this and the technique to pull it off?

All rights retained by the photographer.



Speaking of Terry Pratchett's Hogfather... I have always thought that making a movie of his fantastic novels would be impossible, but director Vadim Jean pulled it off with his brilliant 2006 version of that novel, which I recently enjoyed seeing twice (yes, I checked it out twice) on the science fiction channel. The atmosphere of the Discworld in general, and Ankh Morpork in particular, comes off magnificently, and most characters live up to the mental images formed from reading the book. None more so than Susan, Death's granddaughter, as portrayed by Michelle Dockery.

The Grinch

In general, I do not like Christmas movies, and I never bothered to see this one. I do like the poster though, the design is excellent, and the use of the christmas song lyric "You better watch out!" in this threatening way works fine (although that was done first by Terry Pratchett in his novel Hogfather).

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sleepy and Snory's winter holiday

This is one of my rare shots that is just for fun, and as such more suited for my Potpourri blog. However, to my utter amazament it became my 46th shot to reach Flickr Explore, and as I posted the preceding 45 in this blog, I thought following suit would be best - so here it is in Art for Art's sake. These are two figurines from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, given away for free at the local supermarket. I got Sleepy in duplicate, so I christened the second one Snory. And after taking some "serious" photographs last Saturday using the snow covered garden table as prop, I snuck in this one.

Camera: Canon PowerShot Pro1 8 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.001 sec (1/1000)
Aperture: f/4.0
Focal Length: 20.9 mm
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0


Earth mounds

A young girl plays on Earth Mounds, an installation by the artist Charles Jencks, at Jupiter Artland, a sculpture park on the outskirts of Edinburgh, Scotland.

All rights retained by the photographer.

web site

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Clouds over the Calatrava tower

The Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava is one of my favourites in the genre - here is a lesser known masterpiece by him. This is a shot of the Torre Telefonica, rising high above the 1992 Barcelona Olympic site, by my Flickr friend tom.wright.

All rights retained by the photographer.


Realisation staircase

A staircase that is a fascinating design, and in spite of its fragile looks apparently is sufficiently strong as well to be practical. The lack of handrails is a clear minus point from a safety point of view, but to have this in your house would be quite a conversation piece.

web site

Monday, December 21, 2009

Diadermine anti-aging skin care

Such a simple result, and yet so creative. What better way to illustrate the effect of anti-aging skin care than this set of photographs? I took this gem from a site that regular contributor Jenny Downing sent me the link of.

Creative Ads


Sometimes you come across really great images on the web, but without information attached to them. I decided to start a new subject for these, titled A is for anonymous. I will include the link where I found the shot, and anybody who can provide more information on these pictures, please leave a comment or mail me. The stress of the daily commute has been captured really very well in this extraordinary piece of photoshopping.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

White Center

Sometimes a single post sets a chain in motion, because Ambreen's beautiful photographic abstract immediately reminded me of this 1950 masterpiece by Latvian/American artist Mark Rothko (1903-1970). It is typical of his abstract expressionist style, which relies on fields of colour to great effect. More on Rothko in the wikipedia article linked to below.