A quest for the ultimate, beautiful, meaningful picture


Wednesday wallpapers: Glass architecture and autumn colours from Japan

Wallpapers on Wednesday means a potpourri of subjects, meant to make your chances better of finding something to your taste. This week it is architecture from the Nagasaki harbour, and a close-up of a shrub in autumn with little orange berries–name unknown to me, sorry!


Wednesday Wallpapers: Kyoto and Himeji

Himeji castle wall-paper

Wallpaper #1 this week is a view from a temple roof of a temple garden in Kyoto. Wallpaper #2 shows a wall (Wallpaper!) and a window (Windows?) with a rough stone staircase at Himeji Castle.

Click on the pictures for the large version, of course!

Paris airport architectural detail in black-and-white

Photography is about a two-dimensional composition. It is made up of lines and areas. Especially in pictures of architectural details, colours can be distracting from the beauty of the lines, the sharp designs. So with a little post-processing, these simple pictures of the Charles de Gaulle airport, made with an iPhone, were transformed into a play of black-and-white.

Besides, taking pictures was a great way to break the boredom of waiting for a connecting flight. The world is our playground; let’s use it!

Stairs and shadows: irrestistible

No comment or explanation needed, as far as I am concerned.

Missed hoped-for chance: Berlin in the rain

Berlin is a great city for photos of modern (and restored neo-classical) architecture. But that needs good weather, or at least dry weather for the buildings to appear at their best. Last week I was there, with some extra time, and even with a special travel guide for architecture fans (on sale in bookshops all around the city). But it was cold and rainy–as I wrote to some of my readers before. Instead of a nice set of photos, almost the only thing that came out was this contrasting view of the TV tower at the Alexander Platz and a church spire: Who comes highest? Is TV more important than religion (maybe that was an intended message in DDR times)? And what does it mean that the TV tower disappears into the clouds?

Amazing building: Atlanta Marriott Marquis hotel

Little to say, but more to see in this amazing hotel I am visiting, the Marriott in Atlanta, Georgia. The atrium, stretching from bottom level to 50 floors up, almost defies taking into a single photo, and yet it is full of architectural motives, with the curves and not-quite-repetitions of positions of concourses and bridges.

It all reminds me of a genteel version of Zion in the movie trilogy The Matrix. Even worse: aren’t those closed doors and uninhabited galleries just like a prison? And another advantage of Zion over the hotel: it did not have such tacky colours in the carpets on the floors 😉

Just some architecture

Only nature, in the last weeks. High time for my other love: architecture. Clear lines, clear light–good old modernism in an airport building. The balance of verticals and horizontals is stressed by the square format of the photo–admittedly, to the left it got boring, so I cropped the picture. A person in the picture (an intrusion of nature?) adds a little movement and interest to the straight lines in almost monotonous grey, but remains a semi-silhouette. The man’s lorry(?) has a few dashes of red, drawing attention to the man, but more than that also making a “warm” statement near the person, counterbalancing the few cold, blue accents in the architecture.

Window on black

Just a simple old-time window in an old-time farm shed. Weathered brick, broken glass. The contrast between wall and window is a beginning, then the glass in the window is so dirty that you can hardly see through it. However, the glass is broken so you can see through it—but all you see is the dark inside of the shed, so it’s just blackness.

To make it a little more lively, I took this picture with the wall somewhat in perspective. The lines of mortar give a little bit of movement, leading the eye towards the broken window.

Atget, Abbott and the Wonderment of Reality

Dutch TV in the early Sunday evening showed a documentary about two famous photographers of cityscapes: Eugène Atget, working in Paris around 1900-1925 and Berenice Abbott, famous for her pictures of New York in the 1930s. Abbott in fact had two careers, because she also was the one who rescued Atget’s legacy of almost two thousand glass negatives. And it was Atget’s photos of the disappearing old Paris around 1900 that inspired her to document the changes in New York city. The documentary showed the links, but also the differences between the two photographers: Atget as essentially a 19th century romantic, Abbott as a 20th century photographer who learned photography from surrealist Man Ray but who felt inspired by Atget to document New York’s transformation. Some of the surrealist fascination was already visible in Atget’s work, too: he made a number of photos of shop windows with reflections like the one copied here, which lookèd quite modern in the 1920s–Man Ray himself made the contact between Abbott and Atget.

Somehow both Atget and Abbott transcended the simple documenting of the old-and-the-new juxtaposed, intermingled or destroying one another. What is it that makes some photos and some photographers do that trick? I found in both of them the same things that inspire my photography (at a rather more amateurish level of course): “The real world, seen with wonderment and surprise” (Abbott writing about Atget), realising that the art of photography is “selecting what is worthwhile” (Abbott commenting on an Atget photo).

Technically, it was interesting to see how both of them worked with large plate camera’s: 8″x 10″ negatives to get ultimate sharpness, with flexible tilt-and-shift lenses to achieve perpendicular verticals. Digital APC-sensors are not the end of photographic evolution!

Hopefully, the documentary will appear in the Dutch public TV’s archive. Give it a try; it’s 45 well-spent minutes!


Stairways again, and cupolas–fascinating elements of architecture. This was taken in Haarlem, two weeks ago. Just too bad that my mobile phone’s camera is so bad. The (too vivid) colours may work nicely here, but that is the only positive thing about this photo, I fear. Must go back with a really good camera + lens–if I ever find the time…