Tuesday, 22 January 2008




These portraits were quite a challenge, a black hat, black b/g, the way I like it, push the boundaries!
Getting all the tonal values correct in a black and white is not always easy (without losing detail) and it is of course open to massive subjectivity and artistic interpretation.
The rule (often, once you know it… to be broken, look at all the good high key images around today!) is A TRUE BLACK, A TRUE WHITE …AND ALL THE GREYS IN BETWEEN, a reflection of life itself?
The Zone System (established by Ansel Adams) assigns numbers from 0 through 10 to different brightness values, with 0 representing black, 5 middle grey, and 10 pure white; these values are known as zones.

The second portrait has more contrast and less grey-tones, no side or back-lighting this time, aach lighting is so important, it is not for nothing that PHOTOGRAPHY means ( photon=light and grafein=to write, to paint) TO PAINT WITH LIGHT!
Sadly I all too often see interesting portraits that are too ‘milky’, because the lack of contrast, check this by putting it on the option black bg in PS.
You CANNOT SEE the dodging and burning, do it carefully! And also please keep your images ‘clean’, take the time to remove some dust or specks; it can ruin a great shot!!! TLC for your photos if you REALLY care about photography.
My long time friend, the Artist.

As a young artist, he transformed a van into a camper-van, drove all through Europe and North-Africa.
When he saw something inspiring, he’d climb on top of his van and paint until it was finished or dark.
In the South of France he encountered a French lady of the aristocracy, she taught him a lot about pigments, making your own paints, painting with your hands and palette knives.
He would tell me about the gorgeous smells of linseed oil, resin, right down to Indian cows urine.'
After a cup of coffee, we were all set for the next session.
He adjusted his French beret called 'un Alpin'...
In the seventies, Ivan had a fantastic gallery in Flanders, set in beautiful countryside, along a canal.
There, you met the locals and farmers, sitting next to the nobility, often in deep discussions
A French camera crew was making a film with the great Jacques Brel in the area; they sent a delegation to ask Ivan if there was the possibility of some food.
Never one to say no to a challenge, he agreed, called his wonderful mum.
The baker provided him with huge loaves of brown bread; from a farmer he bought an enormous cured ham on the bone.
He was struggling in the kitchen, when a man popped in and asked him if he could assist?
Reluctantly Ivan passed him the knives.
The guy started to cut very thin slices, neatly from around the bone.
Ivan, in surprise, watched the precise, meticulous and perfectly executed gestures. He said jokingly; looks like you’ve done this before...
Without stopping or looking up, the man replied; indeed, I’m a surgeon in a Parisian hospital, had my holidays, they needed a doctor, I liked the idea of experiencing how a film is made!
True story.
His father had died, suddenly, on a Sunday morning, sitting in his favourite chair, his fishing gear ready.
That’s how Ivan found him.
He was very serene about it, we talked and he said to me: my father and I had always spoken all the words that were needed, nothing was left unsaid, all was well.
Wise words of a sage that I carry with me.
I can tell you why we have been friends for so long, I respect Ivan, we are both idealists.
He did well in his artistic career, got very good reviews and successful exhibitions, when he was invited by Unicef in Paris, along with other young painters.
They wanted to make special Christmas postage stamps, and thus raise money for their charity.
So, he had to present them with some of his work.
He was very excited and set of for Paris, in his camper van; these were still his travelling days.
He arrived and parked in between all the BMWs, Merc’s, big cars, took his portfolio and walked towards the entrance of the imposing building.
Once in, he looked around and saw all the marble and expensive finery, turned around and strolled out.
They don’t need me here! He said and left…

He never looked back, it was not fame he was after, just to live of his Art and enjoy what he was doing, and he did, on both counts.

This is my son, Michel, with his little girl.
He came into the studio after we finished a shoot, so everything still in place, tjaaahhh, who could resist putting them in front of the camera?
Ever the joker, he had bought his daughter a dummy that said 'Papa is the best'...
Just look at her expression, is she in doubt? She clearly senses something's not right. Puzzlement.

Life goes on, as these portraits show in testimony...
THANX, Magda (*_*)

Wednesday, 9 January 2008




We come back via Dunkirk, a bit closer to Belgium, a new company, we like trying new things! The Border controls are strict, they stop us and ask to open the boot, felt around and asked in French (my second language) if we had ‘une Bombe a bord’???

I smiled gently, not wanting to upset them, “non non, nous sommes photographes, aaahhh, allez”…

Again, we were waiting in our lane and saw our ferry arrive, rows of waiting cars, people hanging around, some impatient, last minute phone calls, to say they are either now leaving or coming closer!

Me I stood, taking everything in, inhaling deeply the sea-air mixed with the tar and diesel, so typical for ports…

The sadness of the good-byes still heavy in my heart and thick around my eyes.

We had a great time, it was wonderful to see everybody, we are taking back some good memories, the road ahead is long, it is around 7 in the evening now, the sun is starting to fall fast.

A ferry glides in elegantly, there’s a hype in the air, people get into their cars, more waiting…

At last we are ready to embark, everywhere personnel were guiding us in, the sun was right in my lens as I tried to take some shots through the car windscreen.

We parked the car and hurried upstairs once more, were we going to miss the sunset?

We rush past ambulating people, through restaurants where hungry people are queuing, the shops, across decks and up more stairs, camera at the ready… alas, just too late, we arrive and see a lovely afterglow, the sun, hiding behind a Payne’s grey band with a slight slither of pink.

Immediately, there is a chill in the air, couples huddle together, any reason a good one, hihi.

The light is still good, we look around and discover this harbour, we arrived in the night, and soon again it will be dark.

Once again the lorries are neatly parked, the crew are waiting around for the signals to do their job, work the ropes, set the ship free.

The ferry has turned in the harbour,
we are once more at sea, the lights of France receding fast, my eyes are moist… can’t see through the lens anymore, must be the wind speed picking up!

The water is sparkling bright, the turbulent wake glistening brightly in the moonlight.

We stay out as long as we can, really till there is nothing left to photograph.

We wander inside, smell the food and realize we could do with some food, there are different places to choose from, pass the pub,
fortunate to end up sitting at a porthole with our meal, looking at the French coastline getting further and further away.

The atmosphere has a holiday feel, people are relaxing and enjoying, although for many that Sunday night is the start of a heavy week, all the truck drivers look refreshed after the w-e, well not all, some never stop, just eat and sleep when they can or have to, often in their ‘mobile home’ which is their vehicle.

I’ve travelled this way, it all brings back good memories… but that’s another story.

As we near the Cliffs of Dover, we decide to go back on deck. We’re almost there, maybe another 15 minutes…

We are standing next to each other when we feel a shuddering vibration underfoot, a grinding, a change and slowing down in the sound of the engine. Everybody runs to the railings on the side, leaning over as far as we can.

Little groups start to form, lively discussions and arm waving conversations develop, most of them are Turkish, Greek, Polish, nobody knows anything, we are truly adrift…

After 5 minutes, a nasal announcement, there’s engine trouble, they are trying to fix it and will keep us informed.

Time goes bye and nothing changes, men looking more and more, and nervously at their watch, time is money… Deliveries have to be made! They HAVE to be in Scotland by tomorrow!

Suddenly, more news:’ They cannot fix it, tugs are on their way to tow us in’, almost an hour has gone bye.

It is quite cold now and many have resignedly gone for another cup of coffee.

I prefer to stay outside for when the action happens.

I have no tripod and the flash laughable under the circumstances, again it is a matter of go for it and see what happens or not take anything and come home empty-handed… my choice is ALWAYS: GO FOR IT!

I take my shots, a man comes up and indicates he’d love to see them, all I can understand is that he is a Turk, he speaks no English, no sorry, no other languages, we hand signal with a lot of laughter, one of his colleagues joins us, he speaks some Italian, MAMA MIA!

Hurray, we are moving, almost into the harbour, a few more shots, frantic activity on board by the crew.

Good-bye and bon voyage to my friends.

We hurry to our car; it was an interesting setback of 2 hours.

We begin the long drive north, into the night, it is fairly quiet on the road, we have good music…

2 hours later we drive under the Thames through the Dartford Tunnel.

We get home safely, tired and content, it’s good to be home, I already miss everybody again…

Thanx, M, (*_*)

Saturday, 5 January 2008



The travel story of getting to and from The Continent… via the Channel, the illustrated experiences of two photographers.


England is our adopted country, especially the biggest county; Yorkshire, where we live... it was a choice we made. We love it here; it is so beautiful and varied!

However going back to the land where you were born, grew up, have so many memories, still a lot of family and your best friends, old and new, is always still a very special moment.

No wonder we go back regularly. To fly is very expensive (no cheap flights to or from Belgium! WHY NOT??? A gross oversight by the tourist-boards on both sides)

The ferries from this area are also outrageously pricey, but that’s no wonder as the ships are now equipped and designed as cruise liners, with restaurants, pubs, cinemas and casinos, well you do fare overnight as it is a 13hr journey at sea.

The cheaper route, especially when it is the both of us, is to drive the 6/7 hours South, around London, a highlight is the Dartford Crossing joins Dartford and Thurrock across the River Thames, to the east of London. It consists of the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge,

used for southbound traffic and of two tunnels under the river, normally used for northbound traffic. It is the furthest-downstream road crossing of the Thames, and effectively forms part of London's orbital M25 motorway on to Dover in Kent.

[The bridge, which was completed on 7 June 1991 and opened on 30 October 1991, is a four-lane cable-stayed bridge, designed by Dr. Ing Hellmut Homberg and Partner and Kvaerner Technology Limited. When it was opened, the bridge was Europe's largest cable-supported bridge. The central span is 450 m (1,476 ft) long and is suspended 65 m (213 ft) above the Thames (to accommodate ocean-going cruise liners). The approach viaducts on the Essex side measure 1,052 m (3,451 ft) and 1,008 m (3,307 ft) on the Kent side, giving a total length of 2,872 m (9,423 ft). It has an expected life span of 120 years.

It is a toll bridge and accommodates four lanes of southbound traffic from the M25. When closed, due to high winds for example, one of the two adjacent tunnels is used instead.

When built, the Queen Elizabeth II bridge was only the second bridge on the River Thames east (downstream) of London Bridge constructed in over a thousand years, and it is currently the only bridge east of Tower Bridge (the Thames Gateway Bridge will be the second, when completed). The historic reason for this is that bridges prohibited tall ships and other large ships from reaching the Pool of London, which has led to the building of numerous tunnels instead. Info wikipedia]

It is quite a journey, lots of traffic obviously and the inevitable traffic jams
; we try to circumvent that by leaving in the later afternoon, arriving at the port of Dover around 22.30/ 23.00 for the midnight ferry to Calais or Dunkirk in France.

Still a huge amount of hustle and bustle, mostly lorries and trailers driving on and off, up ramps and fly-overs. Some waiting in the correct lane, some drivers sleeping, others doing their paperwork, some stretching their legs or chatting to fellow truckers from all over Europe. You see all the nationalities there, there is a special vibe in the air, the seagulls are searing past, nothing but their bellies lit by the sodium floodlights… eerie.

The Channel traffic is non-stop. One of the ferry companies has 25 crossings a day!

In English: The Dover Strait,
French: Pas de Calais,
Dutch: Nauw van Kales.
Flemish: Het Kanaal.
It is the narrowest part of the English Channel. The shortest distance is from Dover in the county of Kent in England to Cap Gris Nez, the Cape near Calais in the d├ępartement du Pas-de-Calais in France, the closest point between those two countries with a distance of only 33 km (20 miles).

While we wait, our ferry comes in, the disembarking starts immediately, from the different decks, it IS roll-on off roll-on!!!

Most people use the crossing to eat or drink or sleep

Once on board we hurry to the upper deck,
to see the last trucks being guided in and parked neatly, everybody on the ready to cast off the moorings.

All the activity, the anticipation, it is a moment we love, suddenly a slight shudder, more steam; we’re off, the land and lights more distant by the minute.

Once outside the safe ‘arms’ of the harbour, the cadence picks up, a foamy white wake broadens, we are at sea!

A few people come to have a look, the romantics standing close, holding each other, the girls cold, and the guys all macho, pretending not to be. It makes me smile, we are also holding, I am warm and snug in my sailor’s jacket (even in the middle of summer, I know the nights on the North Sea are cold!!!)

Crossing during the night has its own charm; the moon glistened on the black water, highlighting the spray and wake. We were standing on the top deck; some seagulls accompanied us gracefully and eerily.
Dotted lights all over the Channel, Ferries still crossing, boats waiting, sloops fishing, some intrepid sailors yachting, yes a very busy place!
The lights of Dover receding, those from France getting closer, a romantic experience, special, well we enjoy those things in life...

The delight and happiness of seeing my sons, family, grandchildren… friends, the favourite places and familiar sights, sounds and fragrance, it all makes my heart beat faster, the ferry steaming along, I can’t wait!

In between we were taking photographs, for fun and freedom.

There is so much to be seen, it is different, the materials, structures, safety equipment.

The water is rushing past along the sides.

In the middle of the Channel, we stand and watch, on the left the lights of England and on the right France!

We decide to go in for a drink, Paul has a latte and like so many weary travelers, stretches out for a cat-nap...

I look after him... and the cameras. I am far too exited to sleep, I enjoy the goings on, 'people watching'.

After a little over an hour, we are invited to return to our car, in no time we are on the mainland of the Continent, passing the waiting vehicles, ready to roll-on, back to England… an alien world, I think of everything we own, eat, wear… I’m sure at some point it MUST have been at sea… AND certainly in a truck, hauled on roads!

With the 1hr time zone difference it is after 2 o’clock in the morning when we reach the autostrade that will take us to where we are staying, it will be almost 4... feeling tired and happy, the end of an 11 hr trek!

THE SECOND PART "THE RETURN", soon, with more stories and images!

Thanx, M, (*_*)

Thursday, 3 January 2008


ET VOILA... Fireworks 2007-2008

This is how it started, I was going to make a special image in photoshop for the New Year...
Since I did not have any more images of real fireworks, because I prefer enjoying them, I don't HAVE to photograph everything, no? I thought creatively...????
I looked at flowers I had photographed and how they reminded me of natural fireworks= flowerworks?
I picked a few and added some grasses and a Christmas decoration (1)

This was after some manipulation...

This was after some more manipulation and another addition...

This is how it ended...
Lolove, M, (*_*)