Westerdok Harbour, Amsterdam in Black and White

Black and white in Amsterdam; copyright jmeyersforeman 2014

Westerdok Harbour, Amsterdam; copyright jmeyersforeman 2014  

We walk past Westerdok Harbour it is a residential harbour, not far from central Amsterdam. Historically it was a major shipping dock, with rail lines, and a large rail yard. It has been redeveloped with mostly residential units and small office buildings, some of the houseboats parked her are for rent! I don’t think they go anywhere, they would be like an apartment on the water!

I have been doing quite a bit of black and white processing, it might be the weather or the short days with very little sunlight. I love the look, the cloudy winter skies show up so much better in black and white, and while we wake every morning hoping for sunshine we are not deterred! The city is charming, art seems to be everywhere, and I am glad we have had a chance to see it, even if I grumble a little about the weather. It is what we do, it is safe common ground to grumble about the weather!

I will just have to plan a return trip to see this lovely city in the spring, when the flowers are blooming and the trees are all leafed out!

Winter in Amsterdam; a little sunshine on the shortest day of the year.

Winter Sun on the Amsterdam Streets; copyright jmeyersforeman 2014

Winter Sun on the Amsterdam Streets; copyright jmeyersforeman 2014 

For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere December 21 is the shortest day of the year, it means everyone is bundled up against the cold and rain, and long shadows when the sun does appear. Winter is not always the most photogenic time of the year to see a new city, but Amsterdam has so much to offer its visitors anytime is a good time to be here!

Amsterdam light festival; Water Fun by Angus Muir

water fun_Angus Muir_Amsterdam light festival; copyright jmeyersforeman 2014

Water Fun_Angus Muir_Amsterdam light festival; copyright jmeyersforeman 2014 

Amsterdam celebrates light during the darkest days of the year, The Bright City is the theme of this year’s festival. The spherical buoys float along the water’s surface and are illuminated in a rainbow of colours, just one of the many exhibits along the waterways and canals of Amsterdam.

We will be visiting more of the exhibits over the next few days.

Amsterdam in the rain

 

Amsterdam Canal on the misty rainy foggy day; copyright jmeyersforeman 2014

Amsterdam Canal on the misty rainy foggy day; copyright jmeyersforeman 2014 

It has been raining for the last two days and when it isn’t raining there is a misty fog that hangs in the air. We expected the weather to be less than ideal, after all it is winter here, so we were prepared with rain coats, hats and umbrellas. Amsterdam is still a beautiful city.

Amsterdam Canal on the misty rainy foggy day; copyright jmeyersforeman 2014

Amsterdam Canal on the misty rainy foggy day; copyright jmeyersforeman 2014 

I have already lost one hat, the wind took it for a ride, and it went sailing down the canal!

We will not be deterred, or cold or wet, I bought new hat, and we continued to explore the city, taking photos along the way.

Amsterdam Canal at night; copyright jmeyersforema 2014

Amsterdam Canal at night; copyright jmeyersforema 2014

 

 

 

 

Frankfurt Germany; Evening stroll along the river

Evening along River Main, Frankfurt Germany; copyright jmeyersforeman 2014

Evening along River Main, Frankfurt Germany; copyright jmeyersforeman 2014

We have left Frankfurt Germany for Amsterdam, but I wanted to show you one last image from our visit.  The architecture along the River Main is a mix of old and new, and with a long exposure the lights reflected so beautifully, like a rainbow across the water.

Admittedly I am not the best person to go with a stroll with, there are times, when the view is this wonderful, or  something interesting catches my eye and it can be more standing around than strolling! Setting up the tripod, and getting the framing just right, taking as many as 5 or 6 different exposures to blend together later. It isn’t really a fast process, and it can take a long time to go just about nowhere! But really isn’t that sort of the purpose for an evening stroll, to meander without destination, to enjoy the fresh air and the view!

Success, don’t you think?

Christmas Lights

Christmas Lights and Decorated Lanterns; copyright jmeyersforeman 2014

Christmas Lights and Decorated Lanterns; copyright jmeyersforeman 2014

For anyone in the Northern Hemisphere we are headed into the shortest day of the year, I take solace in all the pretty lights that decorate the streets and trees, the christmas markets and the homes. It is lovely to walk around the different cities and towns with the twinkling lights. It is much better than the grey cloudy days we have been having, I must say!

Daylights hours total 7 hours and 41 minutes in Amsterdam, and any other place along the 52 parallel, for those reading Calgary, our home town, is on the 51 parallel while Edmonton is on the 53. I am guessing my friends and family back home are enjoying the lovely Christmas lights that decorate their homes and streets.

 

The Christmas Market Diet

The Christmas Market Diet; copyright jmeyersforeman 2014

The Christmas Market Diet; copyright jmeyersforeman 2014  

Bill and I have spent the last month travelling around Germany, visiting several Christmas Markets, and while each is unique in location and presentation, they all seem to have a few things in common. Two things you will find at every market, food and children’s rides.

Bill and I have done our best to test and taste sample as many different varieties of Frankfurt, sausage sandwiches and wine as we can! The Coburg sausage is a 12 inch sausage with a 3 inch bun! I love their little ceramic mugs. It was set in a beautiful square in the center of town. It was raining, but we found a beautiful little spot with log tables where we could stand and savour our lunch.

After a month of Christmas Markets we are off to Amsterdam. I think they have a Christmas Market that we will visit, and there will be more photos of Christmas Markets and the cities we have visited. But it is time for a change both of scenery and of diet.

Christmas Ornaments, hanging on the tree

Christmas ornaments on the tree; copyright jmeyersforeman 2014

Christmas ornaments on the tree; copyright jmeyersforeman 2014 

At the Christmas Market in Bamberg you could buy and hang a christmas ornament on the tree, or you could pay and hang an ornament you brought from home, all the money went to charity, and there wasn’t a branch that wasn’t loaded with ornaments. The tree was sitting in the middle of the main square surrounded by market stalls, and each day more ornaments were added, there they sat, night and day, the tree growing more beautiful every day.

Each day as we walked by I would grab a couple of photos of the different ornaments, one day this little teddy bear caught my eye, he is lovely surrounded by all the bright christmas balls, and lights. I processed the image ussed Kim Klassen’s kk-everyday texture. I have talked about using her textures before. When I look at this image it makes me think of old Christmas Cards. I remember when we use to get Christmas Cards full of writing from our cousins. It was great fun to go to the post office and pick up the mail this time of year.

Kim is offering a still life class, Be Still – 52 class that begins in January, I have been a follower and fan of Kim’s for quite a while, and I have decided to take this course, “it is a year-long community centered course containing once weekly lessons/inspiration/prompts centered around still life photography”. For me 2014 has been a very busy year, travelling to many different cities, we have taken trains, planes, boats, ferries, cars, and buses, and I think it is time to find a little stillness in our lives. After the new year we are going to slow down some, move around a little less often. Kim’s internet based class and community looked like the perfect way to enjoy a little stillness, and learn a little about creating still life images.

Let me know if you like the Christmas Card image, do you send real or electronic Christmas Cards to your family and friends?

After-Before Friday Forum; Christmas Lights of Nuremberg

Nuremberg Christmas Market; copyright jmeyersforeman 2014

Nuremberg Christmas Market; copyright jmeyersforeman 2014

Nuremberg, Bavaria’s 2nd largest city. On jan 2, 1945 the Allied bombers hit the city, hard. over 6000 people were killed and the city was reduced to rubble. Yet today the city, and the main square is impressive, using the original stone, almost all of the city’s main buildings, including the old castle and old churches has been rebuilt returning them to their former glory. It is stunning to walk into the main square and see these wonderful old buildings, built and then rebuilt a testament to the resiliency of the human spirit, and the strength of their will.

It’s Friday and time for the After-Before Forum image; each week Stacy Fischerr hosts a forum of photographers who contribute images, each photographer on their own blog site take time to describe their process to a finish image. Stacy’s blog post is a learning, and sharing forum, one I am happy to contribute to and learning from. Hope on over, to her site and check out what the other photographer are doing this week.
before images; copyright jmeyersforeman 2014

before images; copyright jmeyersforeman 2014

My final image showing above; Nuremberg Christmas Market began with the camera, in the main square.  These are difficult lighting conditions, bright lights in the shops, dark sky and no light on top of the Church. The tripod is a must, finally convinced I can’t do this handheld, and with the Camera on the tripod, I set the exposure at 100 ISO f16 for 30 seconds. I knew with this exposure that the highlights would be blown out, and there would be no detail in the Christmas booths, but the top of the Church should be exposed properly and this seemed as good a place to start as any! After the first exposure I took two more images, one 1 stop under exposed and then next 2 stops underexposed. In the final image the Church steeple is dark, but visible, but more importantly there is good, no great, but good detail in the Christmas Booths.

Back at the computer, in my case the laptop, I imported the photos into Lightroom, select the three photos then taking the photos into Photos shop using the tab at the top of the screen; Photo, edit in merge in photoshop HDR Pro in Photoshop,
Screenshot 2014-12-11 10.17.47
The program will merge the three photos, after Photoshop has worked its’ magic,  I open the Camera RAW Filter. to fixed a few spots, increased contrast. Camera RAW the basic adjustment tab is very similar to Lightroom, so while there I increased blacks and reduced the highlights slightly.
Next I want to fix the Lens Distortion
Screenshot 2014-12-11 10.21.50
Lens Distortion in Camera RAW is much the same as Lens Correction in Lightroom and this step could be done in Lightroom.  While in Photoshop I clone over the light flare that the street light was causing. Saving the HDR image back to Lightroom, I checked for Noise in the image, and using the noise deductions sliders I made the following adjustments.  luminance 32, detail 50 and contrast 6.
Once I am done with an image I like to close the file and leave it sit for a day, nothing changes with the photo while it sits, but I get to look at it with fresh eyes then next day. I think this is a good habit to get into, sometime we look at something for way to long and we are just happy to close the file, say done, when really there is more work to be done, we just can’t see it anymore, it just looks better than it did!
Going back the next day or next week gives us a chance to evaluate our processing choices, and make new choices and adjustments if necessary. In this example, I sent the files off to Stacy for her blog, no time for re-evaluation, the next day I noticed that some of the street light was still noticeable at the top of the frame, and completed the cloning on the sky to remove the flare from the street light.
I am sure there is more than one way to merge three images into one, and make these adjustments, I am learning as I go and if anyone has any suggestions I would be happy to hear them.
Hope on over to Stacy’s blog to see what the other photographers are doing, not only have I learned a lot from them about photography and processing images, I have learned a lot about my own process. Taking notes, being more conscious of what I was doing, and writing it down, thinking it through in a sequential order and more importantly wanting to get it right for the blog has helped give me insight into my work. It is a process I am incorporating into my workflow a little more often these days.

Bamberg Germany

Bamberg Germany; copyright jmeyersforeman 20124

Bamberg Germany; copyright jmeyersforeman 20124

Bill and I have spent a little more than a week in Bamberg, described by Lonely Planet as a disarmingly beautiful masterpiece with an almost complete absence of modern eyesores. The entire Altstadt, or town center is a Unesco World Heritage Site.  The town is bisected by two rivers, and built on seven hills!

We have walked most of the streets, down the park paths along the river, stopped at most of the 10 breweries, and visited the different historic sites. We have made three-day trips, by train to three different cities, all within an hour’s ride, Nuremberg, Wurzberg and Colberg, to visit the different Christmas Markets and see the sights, all beautiful cities deserving on more time. The train system is amazingly efficient, and an economical way to travel in Germany.

We have loved our time in Bamberg and would come back again, tomorrow we are off to Frankfurt.