Sunday, September 28, 2014

Links [48]

Once more an overview of interesting links on topics related to the blog, that I encountered recently, but that will probably not make the blog as separate entries. The picture above is by myself.

The Sublime Beauty of 19th Century China.
The 40 Best Space Movies.
Abstract Art Timeline: Colour and Shape.
Oxford Photography Festival.
The Best Actresses from Hollywood’s Golden Age.
Photography and Architecture.

Thursday, September 25, 2014


Once more one of my attempts at digital art based on my own photographs, created with the free software SuperPhoto that came with my new laptop. The Valk (Falcon) windmill of Zalk, part of the municipality of Kampen, is a classic example of the iconic Dutch windmill. I converted my shot to digital art by the lithprint module of the mentioned software. The link leads to the original photograph.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Abstracting reality part 4: wear and tear

Of the recurring topics in my photography, abstract images tend to stand out. This has inspired me to write a series of blog posts on the subject, as seen through my lay-man's eyes (I never received any formal training on photography). In these posts, I will tackle the following six (not mutually exclusive) themes: distorted reflections, architectural abstracts, wear and tear, zooming in, abstracted art, and miscellaneous situations. A general introduction was posted here; the first contribution (on distorted reflections) was posted here, the second contribution (on architectural abstracts) was posted here.

Wear and tear (the third of the themes), the effect of time on materials like stone, wood and metal, can create beautiful abstract images, often resembling abstract paintings. Like with most of these themes, it is essential to keep an eye open for suitable subjects. As an example, every time I come into an old European church, I look at the pillars and the walls, for possible abstracts. Another example one frequently encounters is rust, especially when it occurs in combination with painted metal around it. Although there may be shapes and line play at work here, more often than not, the abstract effect comes from combining different colours, so black and white conversion is almost never a good idea for this theme. On the other hand, pushing the natural colours to extreme levels often lead to excellent results. Please click here to see 12 selected examples from my Flickr photostream with some background information.


Sunday, September 21, 2014


This poster for the 2013 movie by Lars von Trier is as minimal as they come, and manages to be subtle and unsubtle at the same time. Apparently it was judged too risky by some, as other versions have been made in which the symbol is only used small in the title (instead of the letter o).

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Bored at the museum

The premise of the site Bored at the museum is interesting, even if the site's lay-out is cumbersome. It contains hundreds of photographs of museum visitors imitating the art behind them. The problem is that all of them are visible on the first page in excerpts of a few pixels, which you need to click to see the pictures. That said, it is still fun (and you get to see a lot of art as well).

web site

Friday, September 19, 2014

Into a full and clear light

Chances are that you are really not interested in new age music - apart from a select group of lovers of this genre, a lot of people can't stand it. Chances are that you are really not interested in Christian pop music - apart from a select group of lovers of this genre, a lot of people can't stand it. Well, enter The Missionary from Double Springs, Alabama. This new band combines the two genres in a unique way: soothing string sounds, supported by the occasional flute and harp, are used in combination with singing Christian lyrics in a style that may be best described as Enya on Ritalin. Not my cup of tea.

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 The Missionary.
[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 (from 2014 onward: any part of a random quotation will do). The random quote that came up was by Isaac Newton: I keep the subject of my inquiry constantly before me, and wait till the first dawning opens gradually, by little and little, into a full and clear light.
[3] The illustration: pick a suitable one from my Flickr collection. My picture, Artificial moon, can be found here on Flickr. The on-line editing was done with the programme On-line image editor, the font settings selected were Algerian 80 yellow and Arabolical 55 light gray, 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.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Born under punches

Thirty years ago today, I got my Ph.D. in Chemical Technology from the Delft University of Technology. My thesis had a quote on the inner front page: Don't you miss it! Don't you miss it! Not your usual fare, where most candidates picked a religious or philosophical quote. Mine came from Born under punches, a track from the brilliant Talking Heads album Remain in light. And it produced a bottle of wine, courtesy of a bet with my colleague and friend Paul. Art Rock score: 8/10 (great song, I'd put it on my MP3 player).


Tuesday, September 16, 2014


The 2014 album Familiars by the Antlers from New York (their fourth) has a really outstanding cover design - it inspired me to check out their music, and I am glad I did. The photograph is by  Louise Lemercier, and the absence of any text only strengthens the image.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Ladies from Shanghai

This post is based on a few things happening last week. I was reading Lisa See's novel Shanghai girls (to be followed by the sequel Dreams of joy). I can heartily recommend everything she has written so far, by the way - she really brings China to life (from the 17th century to the current age). Since there are several paintings by my wife in our living room with the same theme (Shanghai girls), I got the inspiration to photograph the book covers with two of these paintings. My wife liked the result, and asked me to elaborate on the difference in these two paintings as well. This was actually triggered by a critique in a Dutch newspaper last week on the current exhibition of the paintings of Marlene Dumas, widely regarded as one of the most important contemporary Dutch painters, The critic complained that the bodies in her paintings are not depicted in an anatomically correct way... well, in the same article he claimed that for that reason Isaac Israels was a better painter than his contemporary compatriot Vincent van Gogh. It makes you wonder why people get paid to spew nonsense like this to the public. Anyway, it reminded us of the criticism that my wife gets once in a while, because she tends to paint the figures in her work without a face (like the two Shanghai ladies on the left). No, this is not because she does not know how to paint a face, as the painting on the right proves. That one was painted ten years earlier, with the express purpose to demonstrate her ability to paint the details - but it is a once-off in her oeuvre. As an artist, she has selected to omit these details from most of her work, giving the viewer the chance to fill in the facial contours in his/her mind.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Der Ring der Nibelungen by Anna Russell

Wagner's masterpiece, the opera cycle Der Ring der Nibelungen, takes about 15 hours spread over four consecutive evenings. I try to listen to it at least once a year. The linked video is a hilarious summary of the story and the music by English–Canadian singer and comedian Anna Russell from a famous 1953 sketch, taking just under 22 minutes. I love it.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Morning mood

It did not reach Flickr Explore, but it must have been a close miss: based on reactions and faves, this is one of my most popular shots of recent months. It is the bridge over de IJssel near our home, taken on a foggy morning walk with the dog.

Camera: Canon IXUS 115 HS, 12 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.0031 sec (1/320)
Aperture: f/13
Focal Length: 128 mm
ISO Speed: 160
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0


Friday, September 05, 2014


A good photographer with a keen eye for composition can turn a relatively simple scene into a thing of beauty. That certainly holds for one of the latest uploads of my Flickr friend Rick (word artist). As usual, all rights retained by the creator.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014


This shot of a millstone became a bit of a milestone: my 70th photograph to appear in Flickr Explore, the 500 most interesting shots of the day. I took this at the windmill in the little village of Zalk, part of the municipality of Kampen. The close-up approach and the side point of view turns a fairly common object into something more special.

Camera: Canon IXUS 115 HS, 12 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.0125 sec (1/80)
Aperture: f/2.8
Focal Length: 5.0 mm
ISO Speed: 100
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0


Tuesday, September 02, 2014


A joyful poster created for the 1929 Bert Glennon movie about entertainment in the jazz age. It is interesting to note that top billing went to the band Fred Waring and his Pennsylvanians, rather than the leading actors. A sign of the times probably.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Olive garden at Mallorca

A painter who has not featured yet in the blog: Dutchman Leo Gestel (1881-1941). He is regarded as one of the leading artists of Dutch modernism, having been influenced by cubism, expressionism, futurism and postimpressionism. This painting depicting an olive garden at the Spanish island Mallorca is from 1914. More on Gestel in the Wikipedia article linked to below.