Monday, May 31, 2010

Morning glory

Most of the times, my wife and I agree about how good her work is, but this is one where we disagree a bit. She does not think highly of this painting, whereas I appreciate it for its inherent serenity and colour combination.

The Art of Lu Schaper

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Four candles

Another great shot by my Flickr friend and regular blog contributor jenny downing. I love how she can take regular day to day subjects, like this fork, and turn out artistic masterpieces. The almost floating fork, the shadow complementing it in the composition, and that beautiful blurred Rothko-esque background. A fabulous shot.

All rights retained by the photographer.


Take this job and shovel it

I am very glad that my Flickr friend andy_57 embarked on another series of shots with a gorgeous model, in this case Kalienani, a breathtaking mixture of Hawaiian, Chinese, and Irish genes. It is well worth going to his stream to look at all the shots of this shooting, but this is my favourite. I love the expression and the contrasting setting - and a great title as well.

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Hide n' Seek

One of many many faves in the stream of my Flickr friend aftab. Fascinating interaction of the person with the geometries on the street - and that enhanced red of the umbrella is gorgeous.

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Rays Spectacular!!

Once more, Flickr favourites Sunday: four very different images I faved recently. My British Flickr friend Adrian (adrians_art) keeps posting fascinating shots with amazing clouds and light effects. In his own words: "Another of my sunsets along the river Thames at Erith, it was such a fabulous and beautiful evening . Just a short time from home. It is all a bit of a hit and miss affair when you are taking shots like this because you are not to sure how the rays are going to come out!" Well, this one came out brilliantly.

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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Batman begins

Batman begins, a movie released in 2005, is not the type of movie that will get me into the theatre, but the poster design is terrific. Very subtle and atmospheric.

More on this movie in the IMDB article linked to below.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Almere architecture abstraction

This building in the city centre of Almere, where we live, has been the subject of a number of shots in my stream, but this is one of my best. I especially like the composition in this one.

Camera: Canon EOS 400D Digital 10 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.003 sec (1/320)
Aperture: f/13.0
Focal Length: 31 mm
ISO speed 200
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

To abstract the moment

My Flickr friend word artist has featured twice recently with eagle shots - here is a different side of his impressive photographic art. A brilliant minimalistic study, with stunning composition. Sensual even in its effect. This is probably my favourite shot in his stream altogether.

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High time to feature my Flickr friend jenny downing with her beautiful photography in my blog once more. An exquisite still life, with beautiful shapes and blue tones.

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The tulip

I think this is the second time that my Flickr friend appears in my blog. I rarely fave flower shots, but this one is so exquisite and painting-like that I can look at it again and again. Beautiful background.

All rights retained by the photographer.



Time for a mid-week edition of Flickr favourites, as there has been a good harvest recently. Here is a shot by my Flickr friend aftab from his Namibia holiday, the famous red dunes that have featured before in his stream and my blog. I love how this one swings to and fro in my mind between nature shot and abstract. That touch of blue in the corner is pure genius.

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Bruckner's symphonies

Between 1986 and 1999 I built up a considerable collection of classical music CD's (exceeding 2000 CD's in total). For various reasons I have played them a lot less in the past decade, but I am embarking on a rediscovery tour that I intend to share in this blog. In the first instalment, I re-examine the symphonies of Austrian composer Anton Bruckner (1824-1896). I am skipping his two unnumbered early symphonies ("0" and "00"), simply because I do not have them.

My version: Berliner Philharmoniker/von Karajan (DG, 1982, 50 min)
Many first symphonies are of lower quality than the later ones, and Bruckner is no exception to the rule - even though he was already over 40 when he wrote it. A good work, but nothing stands out here, and for me this is one of the least important works in his symphonic oeuvre.

My version: Saarbruecken Radio Symphony Orchestra/Wakasugi (Arte Nova, 1992, 61 min)
I was pleasantly surprised hearing this one again. The heavy-handedness that characterizes so much of Bruckner's work is much less dominant here, yet there is sufficient typical Bruckner in the score that no-one could mistake it for a work by anyone else. I especially like the 17 min Andante, which never outstays its welcome and creates an almost pastoral atmosphere.

My version: Radio Symphony Orchestra Berlin/Chailly (Decca, 1985, 55 min)
The Wagner symphony, dedicated to the grandmaster of opera. The first symphony by Bruckner where lyrical passages foreshadow Mahler to my taste. The symphony as a whole leaves me in two minds: there are many wonderful parts, but there are also too many repetitive heavy brass-rich passages that serve little purpose, and the first movement is definitely too long for its content at almost 21 minutes.

My version: Berliner Philharmoniker/von Karajan (EMI, 1971, 70 min)
Known as the "Romantic", there is a reason why this is one of his most loved symphonies - as well as the first one to be really successful at its premiere. The somewhat excessive Bruckneriana are still there, but with strong melodic overtones over the fanfares. The first and last movements last over 20 minutes each, and manage to keep the listener spellbound throughout. The scherzo is traditionally a weaker point in a Bruckner symphony, but this one rocks. My second favourite Bruckner symphony.

My version: Berliner Philharmoniker/von Karajan (DG, 1977, 81 min)
This symphony has its moments, without reaching real greatness. A case in point is the Adagio, which would stand out in the symphonies of many of his contemporaries as a great movement, but which suffers in comparison to similar movements in his most successful symphonies. In the end, worthwhile, but falling behind the others in the 4-9 bracket.

My version: Berliner Philharmoniker/von Karajan (DG, 1980, 57 min)
Of the later symphonies, the sixth probably gets the least exposure, it has even been called the ugly duckling of the lot. I beg to differ. Upon hearing it again, I like it very much, right from the characteristic first notes. It is highly melodic and has perhaps a wider variety of styles than most of his work, with passages that could also have been composed by Brahms. Yet the total is still very much Bruckner.

Symphony 7 in E major (1883)
My version: Radio Symphony Orchestra Berlin/Chailly (Decca, 1985, 69 min)
One of his four most popular symphonies, and one of the best received in the composer's life time. The opening movement of 23 minutes is spellbinding and beautiful, and the following 23 minutes adagio offers some of the greatest melodic lines Bruckner ever composed. It is ironic that, had the composer been unable to finish the symphony after these two movements, I would probably have ranked it as one of the best ever, on par with Schubert's two movement unfinished 8th. As is, the scherzo is not bad, but still a bit of a let down after those marvellous first two movements, and the same holds for the finale.

Symphony 8 in C minor (1887/1890)
My version: Berliner Philharmoniker/Jochum (DG, 1964, 74 min)
Although not a success in Bruckner's lifetime, his 8th has steadily grown in appreciation, and in a recent thread at the Talk Classical forum, it even turned out to be the most popular of his oeuvre. I don't quite agree, although it is definitely one of the highlights in his oeuvre. The opening movement relies too much on the typical Bruckner brass dominated fanfares to my taste, lacking originality. On the other hand, for the first time, the composer switched the usual sequence of scherzo and adagio, which has a refreshing effect. The adagio itself is surely one of the most beautiful movements ever composed, over 25 minutes of sheer bliss. The finale is genuine Bruckner, with fanfares creating an almost Wagnerian apocalyptic vision.

Symphony 9 in D minor (1896)
My version: Concertgebouw Orchestra/Haitink (DG, 1981, 63 min)
Bruckner's final and unfinished symphony, and before this exercise, a clear choice for me to list as one of my 3 favourite symphonies of all time (the others being Schubert's Unfinished 8th, and Mahler's 4th). Did it stand my test of time? Well, the first movement blows everything he had composed before straight out of the water. Over 25 minutes of pure magic, beautiful melodic, different and yet echt Bruckner. As in the 8th, he puts the scherzo second. Personally, I think scherzo's were not his forte, but this one is easily the best in his repertoire. The Bruckner fanfares appear more to the point here than usual, and it includes intriguingly subdued moments as well. Keeping it at 10 minutes, less than half the length of the other movements, helps. The final Adagio is heartbreakingly beautiful, right from the first two notes until its whispered coda 26 minutes later. After this glimpse of heaven, the originally planned choral fourth movement would probably have been an anti-climax: the symphony is perfect as it is, in its three movements.

Summarizing recommendation, based on my own taste:

Hors concours: 9
Essential: 4,8
Important: 6,7
Good to have: 2,3,5
Not required: 1

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Follow your heart

And of course, a shot by my Flickr friend aftab. Spotting the hanging legs display as a photographic opportunity is one thing (I would have as well), but to catch it with that arm in the shot is pure magic.

All rights retained by the photographer.



My Flickr friend word artist recently embarked on a superior series of shots of birds of prey. I have already posted a shot from this series (Expectancy), but this new one is so good, I had to fave it as well. I also would love this with just the bird's head on a completely black background.

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Fiery dawn over Sheerness

Flickr favourites Sunday: three recently faved, and widely different, shots. My British Flickr friend Adrian (adrians_art) shares one of his magnificent skies with us, in a shot that is as perfect as they come. Love the silhouetted posts on the beach, and this is probably the most beautiful dawn shot I have ever seen.

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

As day follows night

One of my main musical discoveries of the year so far: Australian singer Sarah Blasko. Her third album, released last year, offers great listening, with a style bordering on Feist, Emiliana Torrini and Anna Ternheim. And a very beautiful cover, combining her good girl-next-door looks in an artistic setting.

All Music

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Spellbinding silhouette shots

An interesting coincidence - one day after posting a recent silhouette shot of mine, I came across this great site, listing 100 fascinating photographs on this theme. Well, 99 and one by me (Silhouette du soir, posted before here).....


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The cross of Paris

I always like this type of silhouette shots, whether it is by someone else or as in this case by me. I shot this one in Paris near the Place des Vosges. Apart from the usual post-processing with Picasa, I used Photoshop to clean up a couple of irregularities caused by dust or small droplets on the lens.

Camera: Canon EOS 400D Digital 10 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.001 sec (1/800)
Aperture: f/16.0
Focal Length: 78 mm
ISO speed 800
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0/Photoshop 7.0


Monday, May 17, 2010

Love is all

Another great musician has passed - R.I.P. Ronnie James Dio of Rainbow, Black Sabbath and Dio fame. I first heard him as the lead singer in this 1974 hit attributed to Roger Glover. Brilliant video as well.


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Time freezes..and your heart melts

One of my most recent Flickr friends, Rhombendodekaeder, features for the second time in the blog. An excellent piece of fish-eye photography, enhanced by skilled post-processing to create a real piece of art.

All rights retained by the photographer.


On a lazy afternoon

My Flickr friend knips2007(Rainer) specializes in flower shots and zoo photography. In the latter category, this bundle of pot-bellied pigs is probably my favourite of his stream. Absolutely delightful.

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Don't die of disappointment

One of those subtle masterpieces that my Flickr friend kate mellersh pulls off time and time again. Wonderful combination of shadows and refraction, strong composition, and perfect black and white rendition.

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Sunset watchers at Whitstable

Flickr favourites Sunday is here again. My British Flickr friend Adrian (adrians_art) always gets the most astonishing skyscapes in front of his lens, and with these silhouetted figures thrown in, this is a really beautiful shot.

All rights retained by the photographer.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Our future is apathy

Rampside Gas terminal are a new band from the UK who play Post rock in a style that makes Godspeed you! Black emperor sound like shiny happy music. This is fascinatingly bleak music, with an ultimate detachment that is far beyond mere despair. Five songs only (soundscapes is probably a better word for it), and it takes quite some determination to take it all in in one sitting. But once I had gone through it the first time, I found myself hitting the play button again. Such is the ultimate power of Our future is apathy. A modern classic, and one that will be recognized as such in decades to come.

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 Rampside Gas Terminal .
[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 Jane Goodall : The greatest danger to our future is apathy.
[3] The illustration: pick a suitable one from my Flickr collection. My picture, Transferring, can be found here on Flickr. The on-line editing was done with the programme On-line image editor, the font settings selected were Apple Juiced 85 White and TeamSpirit 70 Gold, 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.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Girls on a bridge

During our recent Paris trip, we visited the Edvard Munch exhibition at the Pinacotheque. Unfortunately, his most famous works were not included, such as my personal favourite, the 1900 creation Girls on a bridge. On the other hand, it was fascinating to see so many unknown masterpieces by this early expressionist. More on Munch in the wikipedia article linked to below.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Stormy weather - RIP Lena Horne

Yesterday the world lost one of the last remaining jazz legends of the golden age: Ms. Lena Horne (92). In her memory, the fabulous version she recorded of the Harold Arlen classic Stormy weather, from the 1943 movie of the same name. Rest in peace.