Monday, June 30, 2008

Fleckenstein-Ulery wedding

As many of you know, I have been back in the US for over a week now. I flew home so that I could attend my best friend from college's wedding, as her maid-of-honor!

Eva Fleckenstein and Bret Ulery were married Saturday evening, June 28, on the fifth anniversary of their first date. The wedding took place at Bolingbrook Golf Club in Bolingbrook, IL. The whole week was filled with wedding fun though, and I drove to Bret's Chicago area family home to help Eva prepare last Tuesday, and spent time shopping with her for various honeymoon needs, as well as getting to know her mom, and Bret's family much better. On Thursday, after checking out the wedding dress as Eva tried it on one last time at the bridal store, I drove home to retrieve my own dress as well as my sister, Lily, who accompanied me to the nuptials. 
Eva looked stunning in the off-white strapless dress she picked out - and I knew I was going to cry at the service, when I had to hold back tears just seeing her in the store! Friday and Saturday were filled with pre-wedding prep like all the bridesmaids (there were 5 besides me) getting manicures and pedicures (I picked dark silver!) and on Saturday getting our makeup and hair done. Lucky for me I remembered to ask for waterproof mascara, so that I didn't have black streaks running down my face during the ceremony!

The actual service, cocktail hour, and party went off without a problem, and everyone had an amazing time. My speech, which was part of my duties as Maid-of-honor came out beautifully, and I got a lot of compliments on it! While I didn't bring my full camera to these events... as I wasn't the wedding photographer, (thank goodness!) I did manage to grab a couple of nice shots with the new Panasonic camera my family gave to the bride and groom so that they can document their life together - wedding, honeymoon, and beyond!
After the party was over, Lily and I got back to our hotel about 12:30 or so, and invited Eva's high school friends to come over and hangout for a while before going to sleep. The next morning we said our goodbyes over brunch... and then packed up before heading over to the Ulery's house once more so that I could fulfill my promise of doing a portrait of the newly wedded couple and their dog, Colby.
After that Lily and I made our way back to Davenport, we were both tired and extremely happy after having a very enjoyable weekend, and this morning Eva and Bret took off for their honeymoon in Mexico!

Mazel Tov Eva and Bret! I love you both so very much!

All my love,


Sunday, June 22, 2008

21st annual Quad-Cities Air Show

Yesterday, I spent the day at the 21st annual QC Air Show with my good friend Jenny, her mother, and her adorable son, Christian, 4. We enjoyed watching a variety of planes, everything from little stunt ones to F16 Fighting Falcons take to the air, as well as a demonstration by the Shockwave, which claims to be the world's fastest truck, with a jet engine attached to the back which shoots out fire. I think this will be my last air show for a long time... my ears, and my skin which was left in a nice lobster shade despite reapplying sunscreen more than twice throughout the day will probably deter me in the future... but I had a lot of fun shooting these photos, and was quite happy with the outcome. Please enjoy!
To see more images from the 2008 Air Show please click here!

On a side note... for those of you interested... I regret to report that unfortunately Holland's Euro 2008 cup hopes came to a sad end yesterday in a 3-1 loss to Russia in overtime. Oh well... I think I will be an Oranjemen fan for the rest of my life.. and have really enjoyed getting to see and know more about non-American football a.k.a. soccer!

Love from Iowa,


Friday, June 20, 2008

Flood photos

The flood as seen from the Centennial Bridge. Here you can see along River Road in Davenport, to the right is the baseball stadium, the glass bridge is our sky bridge, and to the right of that with the blue roof is the entrance to one of the gambling boats.
To see more photos from the Flood of 2008 please click here. Thanks!



Went down to check out some of the flooding in Davenport today and was amazed by what I saw. The water is receding, so these photos are not from the height of the flood... also, as I mentioned in a previous post, the flooding was not as bad here as in many other parts of Iowa and other places along the Mississippi, but I think you can get a pretty good idea of how things look.
I'll be uploading more images of the Flood of 2008 tomorrow and will post a link... I need to sleep now... but wanted to share these quick shots from a very quick edit! More after I've had some sleep - it's been a very long day (see my previous post). Good night all! - T

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Jet lag...

It's 3:45 am here in Davenport which means it's 10:45 am in Amsterdam, so of course I'm wide awake. I guess having a fairly normal sleep schedule in Amsterdam is going to wreak havoc jet lag wise. Oh well... it happens :-).

Anyway, you my dear readers are benefiting, because I'm sitting down to write this overdue post!

On Monday, my friend Silas and I went to check out the Dappermarkt. I'm not sure what I was expecting... but I guess I had high hopes after reading that the market was ranked in the top ten shopping streets (in the world) by National Geographic Traveler. I guess if you are looking for a head scarf, then you have come to the right plac
e to find one in any color imaginable... otherwise I'd say go to Albert Cuyp Market in de Pijp - especially if you are searching for a large selection of food products.
Neither Silas nor I bought anything, before we decided to check out the Tropenmuseum. According to their website, "in the Tropenmuseum you can take a trip through the world and through time. Thousands of stories, splendid works of art and amazing objects bring a wide variety of cultures to life. The Tropenmuseum is one of Europe's leading ethnographic museums, renowned for its collection." The museum is absolutely gorgeous... and massive! We managed to check out only the top floor (we'll go back for the rest another time) where we learned all about various African, Middle Eastern, and Latin-American countries and their people. Please enjoy the view from the top floor... 
Just FYI - those globe looking things on the floor are all chairs, similar to beanbags - but more comfortable! After sitting down on them, both Silas and I declared we each wanted one... I'm not sure how easy it would be to get that home on a bike or the tram though!

Cheers for now... I'm going to attempt to get a few more hours of sleep, but I think it might be difficult with the birds chirping outside!

More later.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Shot of the weekend

Here is my favorite shot of the weekend... kind of weird... kind of fun. Hope you enjoy, and that everyone had a wonderful weekend. Thanks for continuing to check out my blog! For anyone who didn't notice you can now sign up for email updates... check out the form on the left!

Cheers! - T

Father's Day!

It's Father's Day, both in the Netherlands and the US so it is only fitting I dedicate this blog to the three most important fathers in my life.

Top on the list of course is the Grand Poobah himself, my dad, Amir (6th from right). I am lucky enough to be able to consider my dad to be not only an important role model, mentor and parent for me, but also a great friend and confidant!

Next, it is only fair if I mention his father, Raffi (8th from right)... a tremendous man in the eyes of everyone who meets him. I think it's fair to say he has been the father figure to many more individuals than just his offspring, and he's an ideal patriarch for the Arbisser clan.
Finally, we come to a man who is celebrating his first Father's Day ever! A special shout out and congratulations goes to my big bro - Micah (7th from left)! I know one tall redhead who I hope had a wonderful day indulging in play with his gorgeous son Meir. 
Two other father's can be seen in our 2008 Arbisser Family Portrait... 5th from left is my Uncle Aton, and 2nd from right is my Uncle Charlie. Happy Father's Day to them as well!



Saturday, June 14, 2008

Iowa Flooding

Quite a few friends have asked me how my family and friends in Iowa are faring with the recent flooding. Thank you for your concern! I am writing this from Amsterdam, but have been reading the news online, and have talked to some people from home. As far as I know everyone is safe and fine. The worst I've heard is not being able to get home due to Cedar River flooding from a friend from the QC-Times. From what I can tell the worst flooding and evacuations are occurring in Cedar Rapids, which is about an hour and some change of a drive from my home. My parents live on a hill, so thankfully our house rarely incurs flood damage.

I don't have a photo for now so I thought I would link you to my former colleagues' images at the Quad-City Times and the Dispatch/Argus.

To everyone in Iowa, or anywhere else being effected by the Flood of 2008 - stay safe and dry!

Best wishes from Amsterdam,


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Love Revolution...

Just wanted to quickly post my favorite photo of the evening, before I go to sleep. 

Goede nacht! (good night!) - T

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Amsterdam Street Photography

I haven't been feeling extremely creative lately, so I was not extremely optimistic about Amsterdam Street Photography, an event through Meetin is a website where members host events for other members (in English), mostly ex-pats. I've been to about 5 events, and I met Larissa and other friends through the site. Anyway, Amsterdam Street Photography is basically just whoever RSVPs and shows up with a camera to whichever neighborhood has been chosen. This event was specifically supposed to focus on night photography - although when the city doesn't get completely dark until around 10:30 pm, it was more like photography at dusk (we started at 8:30.) Despite not feeling creative I actually was quite happy with the results of the evening. My first offering tonight is a self-portrait, taken in a shop window on a little street I probably never would have ventured down if it wasn't for this event. 
After my initial reluctance of being in a group of people all carrying cameras and looking very touristy (luckily there were only 6, not 20) - I had a pretty enjoyable time. We ended up joining up with another Meetin event - expat night at an Irish Pub called Molly Malones, where they were of course watching another Euro game - Sweden v. Greece (Sweden scored both of the goals during the time we were there.) After the game, I headed back out with the last two people, Martin and Michael, who walked me to Central Station to catch a tram home, and where I took one of my favorite photos of the night...
To see more images from Amsterdam Street Photography click here (link should work now). That's it for this evening... thanks for continuing to read my blog and view my images!


Go Oranjemen!!

Euro 2008 has taken the country by storm - and this year many of the Dutch have extra high hopes following the Netherlands historic win over world champions Italy! The game is football - no not American football but soccer... and for the first time since the 1978 World Cup, the Dutch beat the Italians, with a resounding 3-0 win! Monday night I went out to Amstelveen to watch the game with my friend Larissa, and a variety of her friends. I jumped on the 5 tram from the Prinsengracht to Binnenhof (Amstelveen). As the tram went through the Leidseplein (one of the main tourist areas of A'dam), you could tell there was a rumbling of excitement. Many of the buildings were decorated in orange in anticipation of the game, and there was an obvious increase in police presence, but as usual they seemed pretty relaxed. In the background, covered in soccer balls and orange is The Bulldog - one of the large coffeeshops located on the Leidseplein.
I got to Larissa's to find her place decorated with orange balloons. Most people were wearing orange and I had on my shirt from Queen's Day. After the first goal, the excitement level became almost tangible... I believe Larissa's words were, "I can't believe we are watching Holland!" It was a lot of fun, especially because of the win.
When I got back to Amsterdam, I joined some guys heading to celebrate at a bar. We ended up at a place called Bubbles just off the Leidseplein - the DJ was spinning a mix of Dutch and English and the dancing was plentiful. I'm not sure whether its too early in the year, or if the Dutch just plain don't believe in air-conditioning, but with the humidity, it was hard to stay there for more than an hour. Overall it was a totally enjoyable evening though, and I'm looking forward to Friday's game against France (which I'll be watching from a sure to be packed, but hopefully air conditioned bar on the Leidseplein!) Go Oranjemen... Hup Hup Holland!

Sunday, June 8, 2008


Every once in a while, in between pouring rain, the sun does shine here. I'm quickly learning that when the sun comes out, so too do the people. I'm really enjoying photographing everyone enjoying the sunshine. My first photo offering for the night was taken the other day as I was walking along one of the canals. This couple looked so peaceful, and the sun was hitting this woman's face just perfectly... so I snapped a few images before continuing on my way. 
My second image tonight was shot after visiting my second museum of the day, the Cobra Museum of Modern Art in Amstelveen with my friend Michael. Although I've been to Amstelveen before as Larissa lives there, I didn't have the pleasure of seeing this fountain. As I told you, today was quite beautiful, so there were plenty of extremely happy children running in and around this fountain - I shot what I could with the 35 - 70 mm lens I had on... but the images aren't as clear and cropped as I would like... so I hope to go back with a more appropriate 70-200 lens as the faces on some of those kids are priceless! For now... enjoy this image, and see more images from the last few days by clicking here.
Well... it's way late here... and tomorrow night (actually tonight now) I'm heading to Larissa's for Euro 2008 finals - Netherlands vs. Italy. It's a big game, and I'll be donning my orange to cheer on the Oranjemen! Hup Hup Holland!

Friday, June 6, 2008


A'dam is full of color. Everything from pastels to neon, high saturation to faded and grayed. Sometimes the colors blend together beautifully and then there are scenes like this... 

Good weekend so far... heading to the Jewish Historical Museum for a photo exhibit and the Cobra Museum in Amstelveen tomorrow - so I'm out for tonight. Enjoy the rest of your weekends and try to stay cool!


JK Rowling speaks at Harvard commencement

I apologize for this non-photo related posting, but graduation related items have been on my mind quite a bit recently, and when I came across the 2008 Harvard commencement speech given by JK Rowling (author of the Harry Potter series) I just felt the need to post it. I think it is beautifully written and delivered. I would have been thrilled to hear something like this at my graduation!  Click here to play the mp3 of her commencement speech - it's well worth the listen! OR click here for the video and text of the speech.

I am currently editing a large number of images I shot today... and will hopefully blog again before the night is over - but for now... I'm posting an image I missed on my first edit the other day and really like from the Lensbaby series. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

180 f2.8

Well... regrettably I had to return the Lensbaby to Arnold the other day, but in exchange he let me borrow a sweet lens - a manual 180 f2.8. It's a beautiful, very solid (and heavy) lens. It's a little long for a fixed lens and everyday use... but I'm enjoying the challenge. I'm putting up this quick photo I shot with it, more for the sign than the photo... curious for sure. I'll post something more substantial in a bit... but for now, enjoy this image!  Click here for a possible explanation of the sign - thank you to El for the link!
Love from Amsterdam,


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Congratulations Lily!!

From the beginning of my exploration of photography - over 10 years ago - my sister, Lily, has been one of my favorite subjects and a muse for me. She has been the focal point of some of my most successful portraits over the years. I was looking through some old black and white work that happened to be in the portfolio I brought over to Amsterdam. It was some of my very first images taken during beginning photography at Central High School with Mr. Gill. Unfortunately I do not have a scanner, but I know you'll believe me when I tell you some of the photos of Lily were my very best!

I just wanted to post this blog in honor of Lily today, because as some of you may know... Lily is graduating from Princeton University this afternoon (in the top 10% of her class! - No small feat!) I am SO proud of you Lily... and I look forward to your being the subject of more of my portraits since we will both be in the same city this coming year!! Enjoy this portrait I took of Lily in late December of 2007, and then click here for some more images I've taken of Lily over the years!

Mazel Tov Lily!!

Love, Talya

Sunday, June 1, 2008


I met Larissa at Surinameplein at 8:30 am on Saturday so we could get an early start on our day trip to the island of Texel, Netherlands. Click here for the link to the Wikipedia entry on Texel. First we had to drive an hour to the city of Den Helder. From there we took the ferry over to Texel - which lasted about 20 minutes. Once on Texel we rented bikes... Larissa had warned me that we would be doing this, she said that Texel was the largest of the islands, and she wanted to make sure that I could handle the biking. Unlike most people living in Amsterdam, I don't use a bike on a daily basis, due to a slightly irrational fear brought on by a particularly unpleasant episode from fourth grade that I have my largest scar (on my knee) from. Anyway, I feel much more comfortable biking in the country, away from the rules and complicated traffic patterns of Amsterdam :-). I told Larissa I'd be able to make it... although if I would have known we'd end up cycling almost 35 km (over 20 miles) I might have told her differently! Combine the cycling, with the horseback riding through the woods which we came to Texel to do (my horse's name was Manou - I have no clue what that means) - and my legs and butt were happy when we finally made it back to A'dam!

Left: the view from my bike - Right: the view from my horse
Quaint Texel scene with some of the many sheep on the island, and the church of Den Hoorn.

To see more Texel photos click here.

Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!  Cheers!