I know, the title sounds like an ad for whatever travel company.
Still, I've had an opportunity to pass by Portugal recently, and there was so many things to discover that I decided to come back for a long week end.
Lucky me, it was one of the most rainy week end I've ever encounter in my short life. Worse, while I was discovering the joy of handling an umbrella AND a backpack AND a camera AND soaked shoes AND a falling-in-pieces travel guide, the weather was great in Brussels, allowing its inhabitants to have the last barbecue of the year (grrrr!).
But, believe me or not, even with such a bad weather, Portugal is enjoyable, lovable, a well balanced mix of sea, mountains, great food, culture, and charming people. I brought back only few pictures, mostly taken while not raining, but with the plan to get there again in April or May next year, and complete the album.
All this with my brand new Fuji X-T1 and the 18-55. A great camera, if you're hesitating, give it a try. It's...disturbing for a while, but you get use to its behaviour very quickly. The way it fits in hand makes it forgettable but...always with you.
If you don't know anything about the celebration of the King in Netherlands, you should read this.
It was eventually the first year celebrating a king, after decades of an old grumpy queen (sorry M'am...). For those who didn't read, let's try to put it in a nutshell: The whole country gets out, dress up in orange, and party for a complete day, drinking the beloved local beverage: the Heineken beer. I can see from here some of you making faces thinking of Heneiken, and believe me, I understand.
Still, the day happens to be one of the most sunny days of the year in Netherlands, always moved to be on a Saturday. Plus, even if there are many places where to spend it, Amsterdam is one of the best, based on, well, hm...my opinion. This for two reasons (main reasons, there's probably plenty):
1. Boatz ! Boats everywhere, each and every canal is filled with hundreds of boats, small to big, equipped like discos and overcrowded. Canals are an amazing show on their own.
2. People! More than anywhere else in Netherland, people are smiling, open minded, ready to discuss, just not afraid to talk with a foreigner. This is sooo relaxing.
Anyway, may this sounds convincing or not doesn't really matter any more. I was in Amsterdam for the queen - no king - day, combined with a friend's birthday.We had a great time wandering around, in this buzzing, partying, orange city for a week end. As *almost* usual, I took my old nikon F3 and for its first time out, a second hand Zeiss planar 50mm. The lens is quite surprising with an endless focus ring that can be amazingly sharp...when you have enough time to focus ! There were few situations were I bitterly regretted to not to have a good DSLR with a fast AF. Life's made of choices, but manual focus is not always enough in a fast moving crowd. Even when zone focusing.But enough talking, let me show you, in Black and White, the few of not-that-blurry pictures I brought back from Amsterdam.
First, with the idea to reach the center of the old town,we made our way through the museumsplein, a green field in front of the rijksmuseum. Quite early in the morning (*cough*, around 11 am), there's no wind and all sorts of people are laying on the grass, playing football, sleeping, just enjoying the sun, and somehow, taking pictures...
This is when we had the opportunity to meet the tallest goalkeeper of, at least, the area. The boy was doing his best, but didn't even notice the ball racing toward him that passed just above his head (top right corner of the picture)
Moving forward, we reached the "I Amsterdam" sign. I've been there few times already and I've never ever seen it completely deserted. There's always a couple of guys seated on top of one of the letters. Of course, today was no exception.
Walking toward the city center gives a serious taste of what happens. Crowded streets closed to cars and tramways. Improvised shops for food, drinks, bier taps ready to go, music coming from everywhere, speakers, DJ's, well. a city sized party.
Next is something I mentioned already: Boats !
Some are preparing their trip
Some are already sailing
Some are "sailing" the way they can
And some...won't go anywhere....
The rest of the day is just a mix of events, drinks, more events, more drinks.
Maybe one word about this two kids (parents in the background). While the cowboy was playing old rocky tunes, the first one, dressed up like a...stuffed bear maybe ? was dancing in front of the crowd. The way this kid was dancing was somehow psychedelic and mad eme think of old goa trance free party I had ages ago.
More drinks, bringing to a bit of fuzz sometimes, but the police's never that far in Amsterdam. The humiliation of being "handled" to the station this way, was probably enough.
Also, there are several activities for kids, including the famous toilet-paper-roll-race :)
Maybe few words about two persons I met there. The first one is Dawit. Dawit in Ethiopian, living in Amsterdam since few years now, not a hobo, but close to be. Seeing the massive amount of people in the streets, he borrowed a djembé and started to play in random places trying to get coins. The biggest problem of Dawit is that he is nothing of a djembé player. Nothing at all. Observing him from a table at a café, I saw not less than 3 guys that stopped, sat with him on his bench, and tryed to teach him how to play. I finally went to meet him shortly, hearing the story of his life, his wife still in Ethiopia, the lost tracks of two kids, his daily business in a Dutch speaking country...A funny and great guy badly playing djembé :)
Dawit, wherever you are now, good luck and take care.
Another person to mention, is Greet. Greet is 72. As the city turns into a gigantic flea-market the very same day, she put on the walkway all her belongings she'd get rid of. Greet told me how she is suffering from a way too expensive life with a way to small pension. Still, she's living in a small house in an area of the city that came to be popular, not to say fancy. She was proud to tell how many famous TV stars she was meeting while shopping, though complaining that the prices in the very same shops raised by 50% since then.
At the end of the day, we finally walked back to our hotel, tipsy, you probably know...
If you never visited Amsterdam, you should. If you have, try to come back the king's day :)
I won't add anything to what I've already mentioned here about my feelings when i comes to visit such a place.
Nor to mentioned that I went there with a small bag filled with my old Nikon F3 and a couple of rolls of T-Max 400 only. Here I am, in another "botanic one".
For those who might be interested the "botanic one" is the botanic garden of Meise, near by Brussels. Worth the tour, with kids as well, and there's a nice pavement area with few interesting beers :)
Since a B&W film is not the most convenient tool to shoot thousands shades of...green, I didn't take that many pictures.Still, there's a huge so called "plant palace" that recreates four (or five, can't recall) climates in as much pavilions, stuffed with billions of plants. Funny for an hour or two. Anyway, here are few pictures I took there:
Made new friends here Probably died of an overdose of nature. Just kidding, the kid's fine.
I'm not a "flower" guy. Really not. If I love mountain, nature, trees, green fields, I really don't care about the flowers. Ok, it's here and there, bringing an interesting touch of color, but that's it.
I've never been either a "macro" guy. Simply because it's not the kind of photos I like to take.
So you can imagine my disappointment when I had to visit an "arboretum".
"Being dragged into" is more close from what happened. Anyway. If I had to go, better take a camera with me, which was the x-pro 1 with the 35mm and the 18mm. Traveling light, not really motivated and you probably know what I'm talking about. If you don't like the place where you are, you'll find most of the scenes boring, and you won't even consider pulling your cam out of its bag.
It's with this kind of thoughts that I arrived in a quite nice and neat park, showing a billion of varieties of trees, vegetables, flowers, plants, grass, bonsais, etc, etc.
It's when the first comment about how nice was the [insert a Latin-botanic plant name here] came, that I started to play with the x-pro just to keep my hands away from some innocent leaf. I realized that The macro mode was never switched on before, and that "flowers" would be an interesting motionless subject to give it a try (Did I already mention that I'm really NOT a "macro" guy ?).
First, switching to macro mode will automatically activated the EVF. I'm not that used to the EVF and I've learned at the same time how to cope with the slight lag you can have during movement. Hopefully, the wind was quite low that day and the flowers were barely dancing.
But the EVF gives also the interesting possibility to reduce drastically the size of the AF spot (AF button + wheel). This helps a lot, and is probably something I'll try in other situations.
Second, the minimum focus distance drops down to a low 25cm or so (highly scientific thumb rule result). Knowing that the usual focus distance of the 35 mm without macro mode is more or less 70 cm, the gap is huge and it becomes tempting to use this mode for normal shots. On the other hand, 25cm with a 35mm lens is sometimes to far to get the result you want. The frame becomes to big and it starts to be tricky to avoid shadows, lights, leafs, bees, whatever you'd like to keep out of it. Of course, the gorgeous amount of available pixels allows you to cut the disturbing part, but its so satisfying to have as a final result exactly what you had in your view finder.
Then we arrive to the caviar. The depth of field is simply amazing. There's no need to mention again the quality of Fuji lenses in general, but the creamy of the DoF is just great.
The EVF shows an interesting preview of what you will approximately get at the end. It's not that precise, and the final result will differ slightly , but it's way more convenient than the somehow indicative darkening of your scene of a classic DSLR. It really helps in being creative: playing with the silhouettes in the background, including or excluding the element you want, and being creamycreamycreamy when you want !
It gives a lot of pleasure, maybe too much, up to a point where it's easy to make mistakes: forgetting about the light direction and creating strange outlines, or getting strange pictures where the remaining sharp zone is 5 by 5 pixels...
At the end of the day, I went back home with interesting pictures that you'll find now. All the photos are as out of the camera, not a single pixel is missing. I shot in RAF and converted simply the files with photoshop CS6. No post treatment at all. Exif available.
Further talk or question/remarks/critics/ at 403error.org @ gmail.com
PS: please excuse all the grammar mistakes. As you've probably noticed, I'm not, ho no, really not, a native speaker
Just for fun, an interesting crop (100%)No joke, it's a bonsai.
About DoF, here bellow are 3 interesting examples of what you can get. The first one is ok, when the second shows a strange backlighting mark on the left of the third bulb. And the third one is just a disaster of a way too big aperture for the context (f/2) !
On the occasion of a short week end in the south of Belgium,
we had the opportunity to visit a colleague that loves WWII stuff.
"Stuff" is way not enough to describe the burning passion of a community
that, on some occasion, gather on historical sites an create for a
couple of days a real camp.
Everything's in there: Vehicules,
clothes, music, blue smoke of exhausts, muddy shoes and barbecues. Left
the beer that remains, and always will, belgian....We unfortunatelly
came in the afternoon of the first day, where the camp was still
troubled by the settlement of the toilets, the snack bars, and the
(noisy) arrival of the last participants as well as the first visitors.It
was tricky then to keep the frame free from any "modern disturbance",
trying to render the old times atmosphere... Old times for an old
camera, here are shots done as usual with my Nikon F3 HP and kodak
TMax400. Lens was probably again a 50mm.