Holland

On December 1st it was my dad's 60th birthday. As a surprise for my parents, my brother organized with the family and friends to fly me over to the Netherlands for a week. I had such an amazing time visiting with family and friends and in between I even had some time snapping a few pictures. It was quite cold, but luckily very beautiful out. The images are either taken in Twente, the region where my parents live or in Amsterdam, where my brother and his girlfriend live.

Twente:

Amsterdam:

Port Moody Winter Night Project

Last week BC got hit by a cold snap and here in the Greater Vancouver Area we received a nice dump of snow. Having just gotten back from Holland, I was still nurturing a jetlag and found myself wide awake at 4 in the morning. I decided to grab my camera gear and go out on a little adventure in the snow. The idea was to shoot a few images for a christmas card and at the same time shoot this little project. 

The blanket of snow in combination with the city lights and christmas lights created a very nice winter/christmas scene and I wanted to capture that. For the christmas cards I used a long exposure technique called light painting, where I in essence write in the air with the flashlight on my phone. This same technique I used for the Port Moody Winter Night Project and instead of writing "Merry X-Mas" I simply wrote "Port Moody". 

Enjoy!

 

Coquitlam Crunch Challenge Promo Shoot

Yesterday I volunteered for the Coquitlam Crunch Challenge. This event on September 10, 2016 is organized by the Coquitlam Foundation to raising money for the Community Diversity Fund. The City of Coquitlam was shooting a promotional video and I was asked to shoot some behind the scenes photos for the Foundation's promotional purposes. 

It was a blast! I've never really shot a gig with 'models' before, so it was very new for me and I learned a lot. I was fortunate that the videographer directed the the shoot and all I had to do is stand in the right place and document him shooting and at the same time I got some great shots in of the subjects running and hiking the trail. 

The weather was quite good for photography purposes, it was fairly bright with nice clouds in the sky and no harsh sunlight. This created flattering light, excellent to work with. I love how I was able to capture the movement of the hikers and runners with the stunning backdrop of the Coquitlam Crunch Trail. The trail and power lines were perfect objects to use as leading lines - guiding your eyes towards the subjects. In addition I used foreground elements, other runners/hikers, long grass or the videographer to create interest and frame the pictures.

In the end I was able to get a good mix of behind the scenes shot of the videographer and other photographer hired by the City as well as some great shots of the runners and hikers alone. 

In addition to having a great experience and taking some great shots, I met some awesome people as well!

See below some outtakes:

Parkside Brewery

Last week the 4th craft brewery opened its doors on Port Moody's Brewers Row. After several failed attempts to visit Parkside Brewery - because I'm not a person who loves line-ups - we finally got a chance to try it out. 

I'm gonna keep this short... the atmosphere was great and the beer was cold and tasty, what else do you need? Enjoy the photos!

Black and White

Lately I have been very fascinated by black and white photography. I love the minimalistic feel you get from certain black and white images. In recent years several photographers inspired me in black and white photography. People like the famous Ansel Adams, my fellow Dutchman Joel Tijntjelaar and many others. I think the minimalism, contrast and fine art feel you get from a great black and white image really appeals to me. In addition, turning an image to black and white will give a lot more dept to photos that are shot in harsh or flat light. 

The last days overcast skies and rain prevented the sun to create colour filled skies or any beautiful light for that matter. I still had the itch to take photos, so some black and white images were a perfect alternative. Also, I watched a great video by Serge Ramelli on processing black and white images in Lightroom that got me excited. 

This first image was shot Downtown Vancouver. The light was actually okay, there were some breaks in the clouds which created some nice light spots in the sky and some contrast on the city's buildings. With the processing I wanted to put an emphasis on the tall glass tower which contrasts nice against the sky and the stone wall from the Vancouver Art Gallery. I also accentuated the light part in the sky which gives the impression of projecting extra light on the glass building. With some dodging and burning I 'hid' distracting parts of the image and accentuated more interesting parts such as the stone wall and the light pavement in front of the glass building which acts like a leading line to the subject of the image.

With these last 4 images I used a very long exposure to soften the sky, this creates a more minimalistic feel and gives more emphasis on the subject. Contrast is key in a b&w image and the soft sky is a great contrast against the crisp in focus subject of the image. As you can see very clear in the first 3 images I used the rule of thirds, the subjects (bench, train and rocks) are nicely positioned on the third lines of the image. Even though the orca is centred in the frame, the face on the orca is positioned on a imaginable third line. Besides the subject also the horizons are on the third lines. The first two images there was more interest in the sky than the foreground so two-thirds of the sky is showing and in the third image I found more interest in the foreground so two-thirds of the foreground is in the image. 

When shooting in broad daylight the it is very hard to properly expose your image, this was also the case with these images (except the third). The if you meter your exposure for the foreground, your sky will be over exposed and when you meter for the sky your foreground will be under exposed. That is why I took two shots of each image, one exposure for the sky and one for the foreground, later in Photoshop I brushed in the sky or brushed in details in the foreground. Also with the help of my circular polarizer filter I prevented any over exposed highlights and therefore remained much detail.

I'm quite happy with these images and am excited to continue shooting black and white land/cityscapes in the future and improving my techniques. 

Black & White Long Exposure: Shooting Landscapes in Harsh Mid Day Light

See the video and images below on how to shoot interesting landscapes/cityscapes when you are working with harsh mid-day light.

 

Long Exposure Landscapes by Stacking Multiple Images

The other day I went out and tried a new technique to create a very long exposure by stacking multiple images. See the video and images below. 

 

Riverview Hospital - A bone chilling story

Riverview Hospital was a mental health facility in the Greater Vancouver area. It was build in the early 20th century to treat the mentally insane. In 1956 it had reached over 4000 patients being treated for mostly mental illness. Treatments including shock therapy and lobotomy were horrific. The deteriorating buildings only add to its notorious and terrifying legacy. 

As long as I lived here I knew about the hospital and you can see some of the buildings and the beautiful landscape from the highway, but until about a month ago I did not know the lands were open to public access. Unfortunately, the first time I walked around I only had my cell phone on me, I was determined to come back with some more substantial camera gear. 

A few days ago I finally went out and walked the grounds to capture this intimidating but beautiful piece of history. Walking around these grounds you just imagine what has happened in this place. It seems that looking through the broken windows the paint stripped walls are full of stories.

Here are few images I captured walking around. I went with a desaturated high contrast look to emphasize on the hospital's bone chilling legacy.

New Year's Day Walkabout

Happy 2016!

Port Moody gets these great foggy mornings in the fall and winter, today on New Year's Day we were lucky again. It was especially pleasant because it's finally not raining. In the photography standpoint the fog creates these great moods and also acts like a nice white backdrop. 

Here you can really see how the fog creates a white background and pulls out the foreground. I thought this was a cute scene with this couple birding for some kick-ass water fowl.

Speaking of water fowl, here some cute ducks. Again, I went for a minimalistic scene with the foggy white background which really makes the ducks the stars of the scene.

The fog also calls for high contrast and desaturated colours. Again, lots of cuteness with these two love birds.

I came across a full beach of barely dressed people and thought, well this could be interesting. It was a polar bear swim. Luckily I just arrived in time and snapped a few of these brave folks.

The sun finally burned through the fog and walked into this scene. The blue sky popped nicely with my polarizer filter. This was around noon and the sunlight was pretty hard.

Came across some pretty ice crystals as well. I dialed it down t f/2.8 to blow out the background and in post I desaturated the colours to fit the scene. Who needs colours when you have some sweet ice crystals...

Port Moody City Hall was looking pretty with the winter sunlight and the frost. Again, without my polarizer filter I wouldn't have gotten so much detail in the sky.

Walk To Work V2.0

This time of year the sun rises at the same time as I get into work in the morning. And with the cold clear weather we have been getting it is a perfect opportunity to test out my new circular polarizer filter. It just so happened to be that my wife was working Downtown Vancouver, so after dropping her off I took the seabus over to North Vancouver. For people not familiar with Vancouver's geography, North Vancouver is situated across the Burrard Inlet. Taking the seabus over exposes you to some amazing views of Vancouver's skyline, North Van and the North Shore mountains. 

Taking photos on the seabus is a bit tricky. If you're even able to move around (something with can and sardines) the only way to enjoy the beautiful views is through windows. Reflections and water droplets are making it very hard to get a clean shot. 

After annoying people and tripping over their legs I was able to get one good shot out. By shooting straight into the rising sun and pushing my lens right up to the glass I was able to get rid of the reflections and water droplets. The sun was rising right behind the Vancouver harbour, the cranes and ships created a cool silhouette against the orange sun and sky. 

After arriving on the North Shore it is a 5 to 10 minute walk along the water to my office. One of the nice spots is the pier at Waterfront Park. I took three different shots of this pier. The first was wide open at 17mm using the pier as a leading line to lead your eyes to the Vancouver skyline. The second shot was from the same location, but zoomed in to 50mm making the "house" on the pier the subject and the Vancouver skyline grew in size setting for a nice back drop. In both these images I have placed the pier to the right hand of the frame using the rule of thirds. The last image I shot straight down the pier, centring it. By opening up my aperture to 2.8 I was able to blur the background separating it from the subject. The man on the pier and the seagull on the lamppost are nice details. 

In all three images the rising sun is creating a beautiful golden orange hue on the pier, the city skyline and the sky. With the polarizer filter I was able to bring back the deep blue colour in the sky and it seems like the images have more contrast and punch as well. One of the downsides is that the filter creates a pretty strong vignette when shooting wide open at 17mm, but nothing you can't fix with Lightroom. I will make a more detailed post with comparisons, with and without polarizer filter, later on. 

Chickpea & Peanut Butter Gluten Free Pepernoten

Sinterklaas and his Pieten arrived today in Holland and it made me a bit home sick. So why not bring home... a taste of home. One of the staples Sinterklaas brings from Spain every year are Pepernoten. These delicious little spiced cookies are given out by the Pieten, they actually throw them to the kids and are found in many dutch kids' little shoe. Are you totally confused now? No worries, it is an odd tradition and we haven't even started yet. I won't get into the zwarte pieten (black Petes). Feel free to read up on Pepernoten or Sinterklaas

There are many recipes out there for pepernoten but I wanted to do something different and more healthy. I got inspired by Erin Ireland, a local food blogger here in Vancouver. She had a recipe for cookie dough made out of chickpeas and almond butter. I figured, I can recreate that and just bake it in order to make cookies. To make pepernoten I just had to shrink them down and add the famous spices that belong in pepernoten. 

INGREDIENTS

PEPERNOTEN SPICE (a simplified version)

  • 2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tbsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tbsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tbsp ground ginger

DOUGH

  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1/3 cup gluten free flour
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter, almond butter or regular butter
  • 1/3 cup honey or maple syrup
  • big pinch of salt

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Blend all ingredients (use about half of the spice, and add more to taste) together until smooth. Roll dough in to small balls, about an inch thick. Place on a greased cookie plate and bake for about 30 minutes, until golden brown. 

Beyond the Selfie - Combining Natural Light and a Speed Light for a Dramatic (self) Portrait

Being November and living in the Pacific North-West you get rain, a lot of rain, like cats and dogs... and elephants for that matter. A Torrential downpour doesn't make for great outdoor photography, so I had to find something inside to shoot. 

This week I've been watching a few videos and reading some articles about portraitures/head shots and how to properly light them. I don't have a great amount of experience with using several light sources to shoot portraitures. Usually I stick with outdoor natural light. One of the articles I read was using natural window light in a dark room to create a dramatic contrasty effect. This inspired me to recreate something similar with the tools I have on hand. 

One problem I faced right of the bat is a lack of having a proper 'model' so I had to work with what I had on hand, yours truly. Not the prettiest model around, but it had to do for now. The idea for this portrait is to create a dark scene with a strong soft key light to illuminate one side of my face and a dark/black background with strong contrast and shadows. 

In order to create this scene I darkened the room by closing all blinds except for the window that formed the key light. Placed the subject, me, right next to the window with the light coming in on almost a 90 degree angle, turning the body slightly towards the light so the left shoulder turning more towards the camera. As for the camera it was set up on a straight angle to the wall of the window. 

Due to the dreary weather outside, not a great amount of light came in so I had to dial the camera in at f/2.8 with a shutter speed of 1/13 of a second at iso 200 to get enough light in. I zoomed in at 50mm. Normally I wouldn't advise such a slow shutter speed, but being stable enough on the tripod it worked in this case. 

Soon enough I found that just having the window light (key light) was throwing too much of a shadow on the other side of my face. I had to find a way to fill that side of my face as well. I set up my speed light facing the window at the same hight as my face, about 2,5 meters away from the me, but placed slightly behind so the light came in on an angle. It only needed to fill in the shadows, so I set it at the lowest power.

Here is the result right out of the camera:

In post production I mainly focussed on creating contrast in separating myself from the background, especially my face in order to direct the eye to the main subject of the image. By darkening the background and adding some light to dark parts of the face I was able to creating this separation.

I experimented with changing the fill light by moving around the speed light. Here I moved the light further away and more on a straight angle. This Black and White edit and black background give it a bit of a different feel as well. 

Sean & Katerina Engagement

My good friends Sean & Katerina got engaged earlier this year and asked me to shoot their engagement photos. I was honoured and excited, but also a bit nervous. This would be my first paid gig which is a bit scary, besides I definitely did not want to let my friends down especially because I already felt bad about taking money from them. 

Luckily, I had time to prepare as they were aiming for a fall photo shoot (they asked me in the summer). Hours of roaming the internet for ideas and techniques went by when finally yesterday we went out for the shoot. 

Where I was a bit nervous not to let my friends down and taking their hard earned cash, on the other hand it was a pleasure for both sides doing this as friends, we just had a blast! After the first few shots and laughs everyone was super relaxed and comfortable. Their awesome chemistry helped too. 

What I found during the shoot is that even though I was prepared, I was extremely busy - it is a bit of an organized chaos. Between directing your subjects, finding the right angles, settings and lenses all at the same time without boring your subjects is a challenge.

In the end I got a good amount of good shots, we had a great time and most of all they are super happy with the results!

Here a few of my favourites:

Gastown Grub

Yesterday we went for a little trip to Downtown Vancouver. The Misses was extremely excited as she was getting a brand new designer purse. I was excited too for a couple reasons. 

#1 Getting her a new purse. You might ask me, "Joep why would you be excited about an expensive purse"? Well I'll tell ya! It's not costing me a single dime. As a frugal Dutchie I can certainly appreciate something free. Anyhow, her 'old' purse was falling apart and she was able to exchange it with a brand spanking new one. Happy Wife Happy Life!

#2 Because the wife was so happy, she didn't mind working through the pain by walking in her heels down to Gastown with me. The adrenaline and high she got from her new purchase relieved much of that hardship anyhow. Gastown is the oldest neighbourhood of Vancouver and it has an amazing history (as far as you can find history in this young country) and a very cool and trendy vibe. Perfect to mingle and immerse yourself with your bearded and bunned upper class hipsters (you know those pretentious urbanites that dress in designer clothing made to look as it was from the thrift store - not to be confused with the actual homeless people roaming the streets).

I am still exploring my new lens - Sigma 17-50mm 2.8 - and was very excited to test it out in an urban environment. Testing out both the wide angle capabilities for cityscapes and the fastness (f/2.8) at the semi-telephoto range for some close ups and blowing the background out.

 

Steam Clock, I wasn't the only one wanting a photo-op with Gastown's most famous landmark. So I had to get creative and crop out the sea of people posing in front of this old steamer.

We sat down for a beer and fries at Six Acres. Very neat little place, I was so happy the patio was open. Most places close the patios once September hits, but it was still about 20 degrees out and it was a treat to sit outside in the fresh autumn air.

We had a nice Driftwood Fat Tug IPA, very solid local IPA and for $4.50 I can't complain, especially for this part of town. Then the fries with home-made ketchup and aioli, to die for! One of the best plates of fries I've had, big portion and beautiful presentation (leaf was my input). Other plates that came out of the kitchen looked equally delicious and beautiful.

Hotel Europe

Hotel Europe

Again.... Hotel Europe

Hipster Bike

For all these images I went with a coherent feel. The old brick warehouses, cobblestone streets and fall colours work perfect with a warm desaturated edit. 

I'm pretty satisfied with these images and very happy of the performance of my new lens. Compared to my 50mm 1.8 and my kitlens, it brings the best of both worlds, the sharpness and (almost as fast) aperture of the "Plastic Fantastic" and the versatility and range of the kitlens. It won't replace my trusted 50mill' though.

Now I just have to return one night to shoot some long exposures of the steam clock and Hotel Europe.

Beer Bokeh (Beerkeh)

(a post from the spring)

After weeks of hot weather and drought you get thirsty. What do you do when you get thirsty, you walk to the nearest brewery. 

 

Last year two new breweries opened around the corner here in Port Moody, BC. Moody Ales andYellow Dog Brewing which we visited today. I brought my camera, because I've been inspired by a local photographer whom I am following on Instagram, Dennis The Foodie. Daily he posts incredible photos of even more increadible food and more importantly, Craft Beer!

The walk is always good to the breweries in town and today it was even better; it is blackberry season! Thank mother nature that those damn blackberry bushes are so resistant, even a two month drought isn't going to mess with them. After we picked a few fingerlicking blackberries we arrived at Yellow Dog.

The misses ordered a flight with a IPA, Smoked Porter, India Sessions Belgium Ale and a Saison, I ordered the 20oz of the Saison. I ordered the Saison as neighbour Moody Ales brews a killer Matcha Saison, but unfortunately we werent impressed with Yellow Dog's Abricot Saison. Second round I went with 'just' the Pale Ale. Beautiful beer, that did it for me! Nice smooth and full flavours. 

Dailed my 50mm all the way open to 1.8, blow up that background and match that silky smootheness with the silky smoothness of the beer. In post I added a nice vignette and dailed down on the saturation in the background to emphasize on the star of the day. Here you go:

Pre-Work early morning panorama shoot

Earlier this week I brought my camera with me to work. Sunrise is around 7:30 just around when I get to work and I have been wanting to shoot around this area for a while now. Waterfront Park in North Vancouver is pretty neat and it looks beatiful with the Vancouver skyline in the background. I shot these to pano's around sunrise just after 7am. Both images consist of about a total of 12 vertically shot photos in two rows. As I didn't bring my tripod it was all shot handheld.

There was just enough light to dail my camera in at f8, low ISO 200 or 400 and a shutter speed of 1/60. The shutterspeed is just fast enough for a 50mm lens to be handheld. Ideally a faster shutterspeed is better, but in the end I was able to steady the camera enought to get sharp images without going to hight on the ISO or decrease the dept-of-field.

 

The results:


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