Perhaps, with bit of inspiration from the current Harry Ransom Center exhibit, I created this essay, “Photos at an Exhibition”. Shot today, the day before the current photography exhibit closes. “Look Inside: New Photography Acquisitions” is a mixture of different works that, according to the museum, has or will have significance, photographically. I, not being a student of Photographic History, found some of the justifications hard to swallow. I’ll take the word of the curators but some of these images struck me with a vague feeling of the artist trying too hard at creative justifications. The some kind of feeling I got, when looking at abstract modern art.
Unlike “Arnold Newman: Masterclass” that I saw a few years ago. Few of the works spoke to me with the exception of the Carpooler’s series by Alejandro Cartagena. It maybe the way I think. I tend to like variations on a theme and a consistent structure.
I attend exhibits to broaden my perspective and, just maybe, encouraging me to do something different. With any luck, images in this post might qualify.
There are bicycles everywhere in The Netherlands. That’s my impression, at least, after visiting three Dutch cities last year. In the larger places like Amsterdam and Utrecht, the bike paths are integrated into the plan of the city. It’s quite impressive and a low-tech solution that makes the city more accessible and the people, healthier. I didn’t see a lot of overweight people there, at least the ones that didn’t appear to be tourists.
While I love the cool blue and white trams of Amsterdam, they look so modern and contrast nicely against the architectural details, it’s the bicycles that probably have a greater impact on country’s transportation infrastructure. Most of it positive, but as you will see later, there’s a downside.
The net effect of all these bikes is the comparably fewer cars in the city centers and cleaner air. Other than dodging an occasional speeding bike, walking around the city is pleasurable. From my limited stay, I was quite amazed by the lack of cars and traffic jams, even during rush hour.
And I suppose that makes sense. I you figure that nearly every bike is a car eliminated off the street, there’s going to be a lot fewer cars around. This bike lane cuts right through the Rijksmuseum, a major museum in Amsterdam. An example of pedestrian and bike first urban design.
The bikers are different in the The Netherlands too, compared to the U.S. Here in Austin, most bikers look like they are out to get exercise clad in skin-tight spandex. The Dutch appear to use bicycles as a method of transportation. Their clothing are normal or even stylish. The bikes are simple urban models optimized for utility and not racing. Some are even fitted with milk crates for increased practicality.
Photographically, I experimented shooting with slow shutter speeds to induce motion blur. It gives a sense of movement to the bicycles.
While the occasional bike by the front door can look quaint, especially next to nicely detailed brick in the afternoon light, what happens when you have a lot of bikes?
You begin to realize, in the big city centers, every foot of available space gets taken over.
It’s especially congested by the main train stations, even in a small city like Breda. But Breda’s impressive collection was nothing compared to the central Amsterdam Station. On either side of the path, in front of the ibis hotel, the low slung buildings housed nearly uncountable number of bikes. The building to the right was the premium spot with indoor parking. The multi-tiered structure to the left, as big as car parking lot.
It goes to show that even good things have a downside. That said, imagine how big of parking lot is need to house this many cars? Overall, it’s a good problem to have and undoubtedly the net positives outweigh small negatives. The bike culture is impressive to see and certainly the mild to cool Dutch climate may be more conducive to biking compared to the oppressively hot Austin summers. The bike usage appears to be going up in Austin however, so there is always hope.
Today, the Earth slipped passed the Autumn Equinox and the Summer of 2015 officially ended in the Northern Hemisphere. It went so quickly — I really didn’t do much this summer.
I was browsing through my images from last year, from Hawaii. As it usually happens with photography, the pictures increase in value over time. I was transported back a year ago, reliving happy memories.
I shot all these in the late afternoon, in the golden hour before sunset. Unlike the demure morning light on Waikiki, the afternoons are vibrant. I really need to shoot more during this time. I shot street photography style with my Fuji X100S on Kuhio Beach which is one of the “sub-beaches” that make up the famous Waikiki Beach area.
I thought you might enjoy some warm scenes before the Autumn chill starts to settle in. In Austin, we still have a month or so of comparably warm weather but the subtle change of seasons are around. The highs barely hit 90 and the evening slips into the 60s. Yes, it’s starting get cool in Austin.
As you know, I’m a city person and love the details of urban life. In Amsterdam, beyond the quaint canals and the ubiquitous bikes, I was most impressed with the tram system. The system radiates throughout the compact city, primarily from the central train station.
Amsterdam is about the size of Austin, population wise. The city is entirely different, for many reasons, but the differences with transportation are stark. I’m sure it’s a nightmare to drive and park in Amsterdam but boy is the public transportation wonderful.
The sleek white and blue vehicles are ever-present and are a wonderful counterpoint to the finely detailed architecture. Not to mention, it makes for fun photography. It goes to show you can have an old city with a modern infrastructure.
There are two grand old hotels in Waikiki. The Moana Surfrider which is the oldest built in 1901, and this one, the Royal Hawaiian built in 1927. They are both beautiful but the Royal Hawaiian is more ambitious with generous hallways and spacious porches. Its unique exterior has earned it the nickname “Pink Palace of the Pacific”.
As part of my early morning photo walk, I shot with the Olympus E-PM2 on tripod and created atypical black and whites. I also used the Fujifilm X100S to shoot these handheld images of the Royal Hawaiian in the early morning light. The place was understandably quiet at 6:45am. I had fun documenting the gracious spender, a remnant of a bygone era.
You can tell from the architecture that there is a seamless blending of inside and out. The temperate Hawaiian climate makes this easy and desirable. You don’t see designs like this in Austin. The occasionally chilly but mostly hot weather necessitates a strong defensive barrier from the elements.
This outside-in design is not confined to the Royal Hawaiian. Even the modern towers throughout Waikiki share this trait. But you can imagine that many of the post-war minimalist designs don’t have the same level of character or detailing. And no other building dares to be this bold, color wise. White is the usual color which makes this pink structure unique.
I shot some really nice wide-angle interior HDRs of this place back 4 years ago. I opted this time to do more freeform shooting. Different cameras and focal lengths encourage me to experiment. I find the 35mm equivalent on the X100S easy to work with, and prefer it over the classic 50mm. The extra width gives me more room to tell a story by capturing more of the environment. But unlike a super wide-angle. the 35 still pulls in details without exaggeration.