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Monthly Archives: June 2013

San Francisco 06.30.13

“This following program is dedicated to the city and people of San Francisco, who may not know, it but they are beautiful,and so is their city.  This is a very personal song, so if the viewer cannot understand it, particularly those of you who are European residents, save up all your bread and fly Trans Love Airways to San Francisco, U.S.A., then maybe you’ll understand the song.  It will be worth it, if not for the sake of this song, but for the sake of your own peace of mind.”

From “San Francisco Nights” by Eric Burden and The Animals

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plants on houseboat

Probably one of the biggest things a houseboat inhabitant misses about living on land is having a garden.  As I wandered around Amsterdam last April, I noticed that almost every boat had at least a little pot of daffodils or herbs growing on deck, and some folks got very creative and even had a few small trees scattered about.

Another thing I noticed is that the decks tended to be very cluttered, which made it a challenge to get a pleasing image of a boat in its entirety.

I guess it’s those two factors that make me enjoy the simplicity of this composition all the more.

bike

I saw some fun patterns when I spotted this bike chained to a basement window grill in Amsterdam.  Two simple patterns that create a more interesting third pattern when they’re overlapped.

rocks

I was walking through the streets of Amsterdam and came upon an area where the street was being dug up.  I saw this little pile of rubble laying on the cobblestones, and liked the way the rocks were “arranged.”  Please note that I didn’t move a single pebble, but shot it just as I found it.

I was struck by the variety of rocks in this grouping, and I liked all the different shapes and textures and colors.  And I loved that it was totally random…and that it most likely wouldn’t be there the following day after the street got “cleaned up.”

It reminded me of the film “American Beauty,” and the footage of the plastic bag swirling in circles in the wind.  The ability to see loveliness in the ordinary:  is it a blessing, or a curse?  I think the former…

bottles 2

I spotted these bottles lined up on the roof of a houseboat in Amsterdam, and was delighted by the variety of shapes, sizes, colors and textures.  How fun to find a ready-made still life just waiting to be shot!

kissing couple

If you happen to be Dutch, please tell me:  is this a beloved icon of your culture, or do you cringe every time you pass dozens of these tchotchkes standing in formation in the window of a shop catering to tourists?

Or…are these one of those things you love to hate?  I’m trying to think of an American souvenir that’s equally overproduced, silly, and yet has sentimental value…Statue of Liberty snow globes?

Or perhaps you hate to admit that you actually love these…the way we secretly love Statue of Liberty snow globes.

Don’t get me wrong, I think Delft-ware is lovely, and I saw many beautiful examples during my time in Amsterdam.  Many that I would love to have in my own home, in fact.

But I’ll pass on the ubiquitous kissing couple…a bit too schmaltzy for my taste, thanks.

man on bike

For some reason this bike strikes me as something out of a Dr. Seuss book.  Can’t you just see one of his characters riding this contraption around, say, Whoville?

I’m sure it’s quite the practical ride.  It appears to be very well-balanced front to back, and capable of carrying pretty heavy loads on its beefy frame…but it just strikes me in a silly way.  I can’t help but imagine The Cat In The Hat pedaling, and Thing One and Thing Two riding in the basket!

Or better yet, wouldn’t that huge basket be perfect for carrying a week’s worth of green eggs and ham…that is, assuming you LIKE green eggs and ham…

woman on bike

During my time in Amsterdam, I noticed that Dutch women (and many of the men) have an amazing ability to look stylish while biking.  I never spotted any sporty spandex, shoes with cleats, and hardly ever saw a helmet.  They all wore clothing that was at once practical for biking, warm (I was there in April, and it was still very cold) and dressy enough for work.

The young lady pictured above is but one example.  Her outfit looks pulled together, comfortable, and…pretty.  Skinny jeans and dress flats are a perfect combination that can go from biking to walking to the office and then shopping for dinner or going out to a restaurant after work.  Even her sunglasses add a bit of bling.

Such a contrast from the “typical” American bike rider.  Vive la difference!

girl in bike tent

On one of my early morning walks around Amsterdam, I found a busy street corner on which to stand and observe the commuters.  It was a great place to play around with panning on the bicyclists, if you didn’t mind an occassional bus, streetcar, truck and/or car coming between you and your subject.

This was one of the more interesting bikes that passed by.  As I stood clutching my camera in the bitter cold, I watched with envy as this young girl got chauffeured along, encased in a plastic cover which blocked the wind, yet allowed her to look around.  She appeared to be quite warm in her down jacket, and she didn’t have to worry about getting her hair windblown.  She could just sit back and watch the scenery and relax.

The pan isolates the girl in her enclosure from the surrounding street scene, emphasizes her cozy cocoon, and shows motion as well.      For a side-shot, I think it’s much more interesting than using a fast shutter speed which would artificially freeze the bike.  I also like having the background blurred out in this type of shot.

Eventually the desire for warmth and coffee won out over the desire for fun images, and the morning light got harsh, but it was fun while it lasted.

baby on bike

How do you carry the baby AND the stroller on a bicycle?  Easy, you put both of them in a box!  Plenty of room left over for the diaper bag too…

The little tyke seemed to be enjoying the sights and sounds of Amsterdam at least as much as I was.  And with a LOT less effort…

I love the idea of a mobile playpen-on-wheels!