#1301. A photographic trip to the Netherlands (intro)

By pascaljappy | Travel Photography

Aug 03

Following in the footsteps of Chris Stump’s lovely Nova Scotia trip report, here’s my personal version of the “what I did on my holiday” post 🙂

Civilisation
 

Our (my wife and I) modus operandi for holiday travel may be atypical. We generally pick a location (a cool one, for the summer), a theme (often food, nature or architecture) and set ourselves a couple of “must see” destinations on a purpose-made Google Map. The map and camera gear are my responsibility. My wife deals with reservations, logistics, packing, and other such menial considerations. Fair, and safer for both of us than the other way around (insert silly grin).

On location, we’ll take some form of transport to the area of one of our targets and will walk about, just aiming at any street, garden, mall … that looks nice. Meeting people along the road often adds to the list of our targets. Walking is a big big part of my photographic process, as it helps me encounter more interesting scenes, and stumble upon more yummy cafes. It’s also our favourite way of relaxing, each step shaking off an extra bit of residual stress from work and other worries.

Our summer trip to the Netherlands was no different. Over 7 days, it involved just over 84 miles of walking, plus some biking, and stepping in museums and shops. Apple tarts and exotic wines leave few traces on our guilt, in those conditions, but the walking sure filled up my memory card.

Rotterdam skyline
 

As has now become a steady tradition (in the last post and a comment, at least), let me say that my wife’s family hails from the Netherlands. It’s a country we both enjoy a lot, unassuming, quiet, and often extraordinary to those who venture in.

Multicultural food is stunning. Access to a whole planet of wines is exotic to someone living in a wine-making country legitimally protective of its own produce. Landscapes tend to be dominated by fields and canals, at least in the South, and produce the effect of a salt-free diet: initially bland, then full of sublety and detail. Transport infrastructure is … well, ‘stunning’ is putting it mildly. That such a tiny country has dotted history with names such as Rembrandt, van Gogh, Vermeer, Escher (among many others) tells you a bit about its cultural heritage, but fails to describe how incredibly vibrant the art scene continues to be today. For art lovers, it’s wonderful.

We’d hoped to visit the North of the country, which has exerted a strong pull on me for a long time, but this wasn’t possible this time, so went the opposite direction, instead visiting the rich area around The Hague, all of one hundred miles further South (sic).

 

The central subject of our 2023 visit was architecture. Exploring the variety, and layering of influences, just for visual pleasure and photographic variety. But other opportunities (mainly art and food) also led to worn rubber soles and full DS cards.

This mini series will focus on the 5 areas we briefly visited. Namely the North of Amsterdam (with a quick peek inside the more usual canal area), Haarlem, The Hague and its beach town Scheveningen, Delft, and Rotterdam. If this sounds like a ridiculous amount of destinations for a single week, bear in mind that no tram/rail travel took more than 30 minutes, most requiring a mere 15 🙂 It takes less time to cross the Netherlands than to cross Phoenix, AZ 🙂 Small, beautiful, easy, friendly and densely packed with goodies of all types: such is our experience of NL.

Consider this the intro the mini series. Each subsequent post will explore a different area, and I will try to publish them regularly over the next couple of weeks, as a light summer read. I hope you enjoy them 🙂

 
 
 

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  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    LOL – it must be my empathetic connection to the universe, or my powers of mental telepathy – your email hasn’t been here an hour, and it’s only the second one I’ve opened since I sat here.

    Pascal, I’m sure you’re an expert on time management. But how the hell do you manage to attend to your business, make a living, spend time with your family, travel all over the place, run DS, and contribute articles as well? Do you lie on one of those spiky “fakir” beds to keep you awake, instead of falling asleep on a normal bed, like the rest of us?

    Your first photo is misnamed – “civilisation” is dragging us all inexorably into the global overheating crisis. Here in Australia, one of the most sparsely populated places on the planet, we are being told by health experts that air pollution is currently causing about 5,000 deaths a year – up 50% in the past 5 years. And if you factor in deaths caused by gas pollution from ICE vehicle exhausts, the figure is 2.25 times that rate. The Netherlands is proving there are alternatives, and healthy lifestyles are still possible.

    While you may prefer B&W, I love your colour shots – I hope we’re going to see more of them in future instalments! The Hassy seems to produce natural colours, rather than the more “Kodachrome” coloration some of its competitors do. This is quite a challenge, bearing in mind we all shoot with only 3 colours, which are then reversed to a different set of 3 to produce the final image. And in both phases, this limited band of colour has to reproduce millions of colours and tones found in nature. Which is an extraordinary challenge – anyone doesn’t believe me, try it for yourself, choosing three tubes of oil paint, to “mix & match”! Even without reversing from RGB to CMYK!

    Personally I love it – it’s why I love my D850/Zeiss Otus 55mm F/1.4. Some would say that’s not sufficiently artistic – my own view is that I’m no artist, merely a photographer, and that my photos are chasing reality. But of course others DO use photography as an art form, so it’s not for me to deny them their creative style. Which, of course, IS more creative than mine. But it does explain why I find your photography so attractive.

    Is no. 3 a Delftware museum? Whatever is that peculiar contraption hanging from rafters – it looks like a very bizarre electric fan, designed to drive air down through what appears to be a large heating coil – presumably a rather antique/possibly 19th century convection room heater?

    And the final image – I need a label – I obsess over sculpture, and I’d love to know who & what for the statue of the man standing on the left of the window. It’s grabbing at me, in a way I’ve experienced before with Rodin’s works in various museums, but it doesn’t strike me as being a Rodin piece, which is why I’m intrigued to find out what it is. But unless you took home a catalogue from the museum, I don’t suppose you know the answer. Maybe the name of the museum, and I can try to Google it, to find out.

    • pascaljappy says:

      Ah, I’ll admit life keeps me occupied 😉 But I wouldn’t want it any other way.
      My feeling is that what we are living falls slightly short of civilisation. Way too many arsewipes, sorry, miguided individuals, are making life bad for others for their personal profit. That’s caveman behaviour.

      Your comments about colour and lenses strike a bell. Watch the next post (which will not be about NL) I agree with you. And yes, the X1D has the potential for superb colour rendering.

      Right on both counts. N°3 was shot in the Royal Delft museum, next to a large Rembrandt reproduction, and under a heating spiral that must be in use quite frequently.

      The final image was made in Rotterdam, and I won’t spoil the (extraordinary) location here. All will soon be revealed in the Rotterdam episode 🙂

      Cheers

  • Chris Stump says:

    […internal dialog: ‘add Netherlands to list of next life-goal destinations’…]

    🙂

  • Nancee Rostad says:

    Thanks for sharing your lovely images of the Netherlands, Pascal. They make me want to visit once again! Looking forward to the rest of your trip photos.

  • John Wilson says:

    Bring it on Mr.J. Looking forward to seeing more of this little jewel.

  • Mer says:

    Looking forward to the rest of these. That Rotterdam Skyline image has that ‘3d like looking out a window’ feel that can be so good but also so tricky – for me – to achieve. Very nice.

    Cheers

    • pascaljappy says:

      Thanks Mer. I think the 3D comes from various factors.
      One is the layering. Having objects at various points along the depth axis helps the eye understand the geometry.
      Another is the lens design. Some pop more than others.
      Another is the aprture. Too open, and the background is blurred. Too closed and everything has the same sharpness, robbing the eye of depth cues. That’s a matter of experimentation, to find the best setting. For my 30mm, it’s f/6.3.
      And the post processing counts as well. I awlays find that the lens correction built into Lightroom tends to flatten images, while making them cleaner. So I usually pull the sliders back a bit to get most of the effect without too much of the side effect.
      I hope this helps a bit 🙂

      • Mer says:

        Many thanks.

        I could definitely do a better job of picking out scenes with good depth cues and am in the habit of keeping the aperture a tad wide.
        I’ve never used Lightroom – I’m a Capture One sorta guy, at least the free Sony version. It does a pretty good job, but I should trial the full version and see what I’m missing out on.

        Cheers

  • philberphoto says:

    How to define the word “oxymoron”? By example, such as: “unexciting PJ image”, and all will understand. And your last image is beyond stunning! Keep ’em coming, please, please pretty please…

  • Pascal Ravach says:

    Thanks for these beautiful images… and the memories they awake 🙂
    During my childhood, I spent many Summers in the NL, mostly in a small village, Veere, in the Walcheren area. I remember being surprised by the extreme cleanliness… the outside doors paint was so spotless that you could use them as a mirror :). And of course it was a bicycle heaven.
    Still, in my teenage years, I crashed once in a shop’s window, after a 90 km/h descent in the only sloped street in the whole area 🙂 The shop was the kind selling “things” still forbidden in Belgium at that time, part of NL fame, and gaining me a lot of sarcastic comments from my friends 😀
    I returned there in the 80s, and slept in the “Campverse Toren”, a “romantic hotel” in a 15th century tower; at that time, the breakfast was served with ancient dish ware, you could really believe you were back to Rembrandt’s time!
    I spent around 2 years total in the NL, mostly in Amsterdam (still one of my favourite cities in Europe) and in Rotterdam; I make my Dutch friends laugh when I tell them that I still, 30 years later, miss the famous Rotterdam “poffertjes”… I let you look on the net 🙂
    So, for a great food and architecture trip, I can’t recommend these 2 things (the tower and the dessert) strongly enough 🙂

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