Amsterdam is really an incredible place. Unfortunately it rained a lot this time around so I didn’t get as many shots as I had hoped. I wanted to make up for when I was there last year; my Lomo broke down and I dropped and broke my Nikon digital in Spain so I came home with only one roll of usable film. The sun did come out on the last day when we rode out to the Amsterdamse Bos and visited Museum Plein so not all was lost. The clouds there are something else, like a painting. I have to admit, I am not quite as inspired but the scenery there as I was by the things I saw in Asia, but that’s probably due to how similar in appearance and feeling Amsterdam is to San Francisco. The last shot is of my friend and fellow designer / photographer Jorge Calleja and was taken by my brother Dane. That’s also Jorge’s Eames chair up top.
I am writing this from my hotel room in Prague where it’s a bit overcast but otherwise dry and a lot warmer than I had expected, looking forward to getting some good shots here. I’ll be preparing a post on Sweden as time permits.
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If you ride about an hour outside of Amsterdam you’ll find a very large forest park called the Amsterdamse Bos (Amsterdam Woods). It really is an incredible space; a vast network of open grass fields that seem to extend to the horizon punctuated by strips of densely wooded forest and murky canals. The above panorama was taken in five shots on one of the larger fields at the center of the forest. I’m in the process of going through all the shots from Amsterdam, will be posting more soon.
Thanks to everyone who came out to the workshop last night. I had a great time and it was a pleasure meeting so many people who are so passionate about art and design. Thanks also to Gimlet, SMUG, Grafiskt Forum, and Adobe for having me out and hosting the event. I hope to return soon, it was truly an honor to be able to speak here in Stockholm.
Another city, another cliche aerial shot from the wing. Flew into Stockholm this evening, haven’t seen much of the city yet but it seems like a very interesting place. It’s rather cold for what I am used to, I think it’s nearly freezing outside; about 0°C. This place really drives home the weakness of the US Dollar: I walked by a McDonalds tonight and noticed that a Big Mac will run you 60 SEK, the equivalent of about $10 USD. Yes, $10 Big Macs. Will be posting some shots from Amsterdam soon, they had the most beautiful clouds there.
On our last night in Tokyo we stayed up all night to go to the Tsukiji Fish market:
"The Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market, commonly known as Tsukiji fish market (Japanese: 築地市場, Tsukiji shijō) is the biggest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world and also one of the largest wholesale food markets of any kind." Wikipedia
We got there around around 3:00, well before the actual auctions started at 5:00, so we were able to see a lot of behind the scenes work and preparations. The people there were surprisingly accommodating, they let us pass in and out of any areas we pleased and even helped with directions. Everyone was hustling around working so I was amazed they didn’t just tell us to get lost. The place was like a bee hive, energy everywhere, people zipping around in these small transport carts moving the catch from the docks to the market area. Some of it was downright gruesome, the top picture was of a guy we found way in the back. He was butchering live fish one by one using some strange method involving a spinal rod and a large knife. I seriously can’t believe that much ocean life gets pulled out of the sea every day just in one place, sort of disconcerting to think this is going on everywhere around the world every day, can’t imagine that could go on very much longer.
At any rate, the experience is highly recommended and free. Your best bet is to just stay up all night and go really early to catch the more interesting stuff and beat the 5:00 rush of tourists (which actually wasn’t too bad).
It’s another rainy day in Amsterdam, been hard to get as many pictures as I would like. Tomorrow is supposed to be clear so hopefully I can play some catch-up.
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Patong is an absolutely crazy town in Phuket, Thailand where we had to transfer through from Bangkok to get a boat to Phi Phi island, our final destination. Patong is on the beach and people seem to swim and relax during the day, but the main point appears to be the nightlife. I am not sure what I came here expecting but nothing prepared me for the all out sensory onslaught that awaits after dark. In all my life I don’t think I have ever seen so many people concentrated in such a small area drinking and partying. There was a main strip with all of these open air bars and clubs down the side streets (known as "Sois"). This main drag was packed with droves of people wandering aimlessly absorbing the sights and sounds and basking in their vice of choice. Incredibly, on multiple occasions I saw entire families with their young children wandering through these areas. I say incredibly because many of these bars and clubs existence seemed to be predicated solely upon prostitution as each of them ostensibly consisted of a bartender and a pack of four or five girls just hanging around (although one couldn’t really be sure of the gender a lot of the time). Eventually some middle aged guy would stroll up and after a few drinks he and a girl would leave.
Visually, the Sois were a photographer’s dream, this was one place I really regretted not having a truly pro rig to take the whole thing in. I lugged around my Nikon D80 the whole time snapping endless shots while trying not gape in awe of the insanity all around me. Unfortunately the D80 only goes ISO1600 so it was sometimes difficult to get sharp shots in the lower lighting conditions, but most of the time there was enough ambient light to get away with ISO1000-1200 and avoid the higher noise associated with the 1600 setting. Many times I had to underexpose and then use dynamic lighting to pull the information out of the low end. I used to have VR (vibration reduction) on my 8800, I missed having that around as many of the shots came up really soft.
After dark debauchery aside, the daytime was a decidedly mellow affair, lot’s of strolling around in sandals and swimming. I forgot my circular polarizing filter so a lot of the daylight shots came up pretty washed out, after the second day I sort of gave up on daytime shooting and proceeded to eat constantly. I can’t stress enough how good the food was; virtually everywhere we ate was a new high in culinary achievement. Even the little run down shack restaurants with outdoor kitchens were great (many times they were even better than the more established eateries). If you ever find yourself in Patong the first place I would recommend to eat is a spot right around the middle of the beachfront strip called "Chez Bernard". Get the whole fried fish with Thai chili and the squid fried noodles; you can’t lose. Unless, of course, you’re allergic to fish, squid, or Thai Chili sauce, in which case you could lose, in a big way…Because at least one of those things seem to make their way into pretty much every dish.
The Thai people in general were really mellow and friendly but I know I didn’t get any true sense of Thai culture. We rented motorcycles to ride up the coast one day and found a small town with an outdoor market. There were only Thai people there and it was way out in the country so I think that’s as close as we got to seeing a day in the life of Thai culture but we were still very far from immersion on any level. We spent the last few days on Koh Phi Phi Don island and diving the Nok islands, got some decent pictures there. Phi Phi is a another world altogether, but I’ll save that for another post…this one is already excruciatingly long I am sure. Hope everyone is well, I’ll see a lot of you soon in Stockholm.
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Leaving Bangkok today for Kuala Lumpur then on to Amsterdam. Bangkok was an exciting place to be with all manner of visual stimuli ready and waiting to be soaked in. The food was great and the shopping was unique to say the least. Apparently the Silom district in Bangkok is the knock-off capitol of the world; from fake Rolex’s to fake Versace sunglasses pretty much any type of designer product imaginable can be had. The street vendors are pretty intense, jumping out shouting their sales pitch every time you pass by. The streets are lined with these little carts and booths selling all sorts of random items. The air is pretty bad; the whole city is enveloped in a thick veil of smog and it shows on the grimy walls and sidewalks. The juxtaposition of ultra modern western forms, decaying, dilapidated structures and traditionally ornate Thai shrines and monuments made for a very unique backdrop. We didn’t have as much time to explore the city as I would have liked, but the few days we did get to spend there were packed full of interesting things to see and do.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s installment, lot’s of pics from a place called Patong. Feel free to comment on this post
I’m currently on an island off the coast of Thailand called Koh Phi Phi so won’t be posting a ton as internet access is limited. It’s really beautiful here, the pic above was from the plane flying into Phuket, the closest town to Phi Phi with an airport. Leaving for Amsterdam on Wednesday, will be nice to feel some cold again, the heat here is nothing short of oppressive.