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.
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.
A lot of people have been asking about my photographic process for this trip so I thought I would break it down in a post. As Paul Simon before me, I got a Nikon Camera. A Nikon D80 to be exact. I don’t particularly like it, but unfortunately I didn’t realize that until after the return period had expired. That fact aside, I have been able to coax some pretty satisfactory results out of it with a lot of post work. I am usually shooting at around 800-1000 ISO with Aperture priority fixed at F2.8 for shallow depth of field and quicker exposures for the low light stuff. My main gripe with this camera is the hopelessly inferior auto focus system. It simply DOES NOT WORK. Everyone has been raving about Canons so I think I’ll make the switch in the coming year some time. I have been lusting over the EOS 5D ever since my friend Simon showed me the shots he got with a borrowed one. Really incredible stuff.
I am usually shooting in FINE JPEG as opposed to RAW just to save space. Once in Photoshop I do a lot of color correction using the Shadows, Midrange, and Highlights sections of the color balance dialog. I think that’s the key to really getting the pictures to pop, you have to adjust all the ranges independently. That’s when you start to get some really nice cross processing / Lomo vibes going on. Next I like to use dynamic lighting to bring the range out. The dynamic range of a digital CMOS sensor is nowhere near that of film. Using software effects like Adobe’s Shadow/Highlight or Nikon’s D-Lighting can simulate an expanded dynamic range in a digital image without crossing that thin line into the unnatural looking world of HDR imaging (a technique that intrigues me on a technical level but that can feel overdone and synthetic). Of course, the end result of all this is a rather processed looking image, something some people don’t appreciate but I myself enjoy. People tend to bad mouth digital post processing but this has never made much sense to me. Processing is a huge part of analogue photography but people don’t seem to have much of a problem with that fact. Needless to say, the results I have achieved on this trip have made me a convert to digital photography as an artistic medium. Before I used my digital only for work tasks like product photography and such. Now I feel like I could get away solely with a digital SLR and never look back. I would miss the unpredictable, organic nature of film but I wouldn’t miss the all the extra time and money that goes into analogue photography.
In case you missed the reference in the title, here’s Paul Simon’s Kodachrome, a song that always makes me lament the fact that I was born about 20 years too late.
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.
Been posting so much photography lately thought I’d throw in some design related stuff that was also travel related. This has to be the best airline tag I’ve ever seen. Love the "SR" type on the back side. When I saw cool stuff like this back when I was a kid I would always try to take the whole stack. I ended up with boxes of it by the time I left home for college. I think the majority got tossed out over the years, no big tragedy though, I grew up in California so none of it was anywhere near this good. Image via alistairh on Flickr.
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.
Ulrich Schnauss’s "A Strangely Isolated Place" is one of my favorite albums but my favorite track of his is actually a remix of Sia’s "Breathe Me". Sit back and enjoy, the fireworks begin at around 3:26.