Thursday, August 28, 2008


My family and I have been fairly big supporters of Obama since he first announced his running for the presidency before the Iowa caucuses. Actually, I've been a fan since he first ran for senate, and I got to photograph him at a party somewhere in Illinois during my intern days at The Dispatch/Argus in Moline during the summer of 2003. So I was extremely happy when my dad asked me if I wanted to attend a 200 person, invite only, picnic-like event at the Davenport fairgrounds featuring none other than Barack Obama! I readily agreed, although I made sure I could bring my camera along first. This was my fourth time getting to see the man I hope will take the presidency soon, and it did not disappoint! Unfortunately his new running mate, Joe Biden, was not in attendance... but I was happy to get to go anyway!
It took me a while to get through security... I brought along one of my larger camera bags, well stocked with my Nikon D300 and 3 lenses. Also along was a fun little camera, given to me by my friend Olivier in Amsterdam. The Holga is a plastic camera which uses 120 (medium format) film. It can take some very fun shots, especially when you use it for double and triple exposure images. I wasn't sure whether I should take it or not, but I had a specific photo I wanted to try, so I threw it in the bag, along with a huge roll of black gaffers tape (also known as a photographers' best friend!) While the plastic camera is nice and light, it sometimes has trouble with light leak, so Olivier suggested I tape it up when using it. 
This image was taken with the Holga - if you look carefully you can see Obama outlined on the American flag along with a secret service agent (to the left). This photo looked slightly different in my head, but I'm still pretty happy with how it came out! To view the rest of my favorite Obama photos click here!

That's all for today... I'm off to check out some apartments in NYC and hopefully find the perfect one for my time here! Just fyi, my goal is to continue this blog as I go through a year of study at the International Center of Photography - so I hope you will all keep reading. 

Until next time, have a great night!

Culture Shock

So... it has been a while since I've updated... I've been pretty busy! Since leaving AMS on Friday Aug. 15 I've been through Houston, Davenport, and I'm now staying in Fort Lee, NJ with my grandmother overlooking the George Washington Bridge and Manhattan! 

My last few days in Amsterdam were wonderful. My beautiful friend Larissa held a farewell dinner Thursday night through Meetin. 9 people attended and we had some really delicious East African (Ethiopian) food. If you haven't had this kind of food before you should definitely check it out. The place we went was called Azmarino, and was located in De Pijp. Even though it was a school night a variety of my friends were able to make it to say goodbye! The next picture is the group of people who were there - this is the only photo so far on my blog not shot by me. 
Thank you to all of my friends who made it to my dinner, as well as all the wonderful people I met during my time in A'dam. Also a big thank you to my friend Olivier (second from left) without whom I would have never been able to move out of my apartment!

I left Amsterdam on Aug. 15th and headed for three days to visit my grandparents (father's side) in Houston, Texas. What a culture shock! I went from beautiful, old streets, very few cars, and a fairly slow moving pace to a land filled with 8 lane highways, gas stations, and hernia billboards (not sure you can see it clearly, but that's what the sign is advertising!)
It was also a shock in terms of weather. Going from a relatively cool August in Amsterdam to 90 plus degree (fahrenheit) heat, and 100 percent humidity was not a lot of fun. Luckily I didn't need to go outside too much, and I did have an enjoyable time in the air conditioned comfort of my grandparents' apartment. It was quite exciting to finally get to watch some of the Olympics, as I did not have a tv in Amsterdam. Despite the culture shock, being with my grandparents allowed me to relax and catch up on some sleep before heading back home to Iowa. More to come very soon, and I promise to try and stay timely with my future posts. 

Thanks for reading!


Monday, August 18, 2008

Escher and The Hague!!!

Since I first heard about it, there has been one museum I've really wanted to see while in Holland... and during my last week in the country, with my friend Dan also eager to view it, I finally made it to the Escher Museum! Located in The Hague (Den Haag), which is not the official capital of the Netherlands, but is the seat of the government, Escher in Het Paleis was just as I hoped! A quirky collection of the works of Maurits Cornelis Escher, the museum, which is housed in The Lange Voorhout Palace (owned by the Royal Family), delighted my visual senses with a variety of optical illusions! I truly relished wandering the various floors, and viewing some of the incredible pieces I'd seen immortalized in books and posters!
Unfortunately, I realized at the end of my visit that photography sans flash was allowed throughout the museum... as I had stowed my camera as we entered the museum. I did manage to shoot a couple of images of the extremely weird room where the camera was stored, adorned with chairs, benches, and tables hanging from the ceiling. These images can be seen below. 
I would like to go back to this site during a future visit to the Netherlands, as I feel the chandeliers, and rooms, certainly deserves the attention of my lens. It's a place I certainly suggest checking out, as there is nowhere else in the world that you can see such a collection by M.C. Escher.

I would also like to spend more time in Den Haag on my next visit. The city itself is absolutely stunning, and I've heard that I should definitely check out the Mauritshuis an art museum, I did not have the chance to view. I will definitely work to fit this in to my schedule, whenever I may have the chance to return!


Last street photography

On Sunday, August 10, I attended my last Amsterdam Street Photography event through Meetin. Luckily, Michael, who always runs the event, was willing to put it slightly early in the month so that I could still attend! I really enjoy this event, despite the fact that I feel awkward walking down the street with 20+ other people carrying cameras. I always look forward to seeing what everybody comes out with, and perhaps the strength in numbers allows me to be a little more brave in terms of what I shoot? Either way, I was happy that I got to participate once again! Thank you Michael :-).
As usual, one of my very favorite subjects is photographing children. I really enjoy the innocence of youth, and find that my camera and I tend to capture some fun photos of the kids I come across! 

For every street photography event we go some new place in the city. This time we explored the Eastern Docklands (KNSM-eiland and Java-eiland) which is at the North-East of Amsterdam. It was an extremely windy, but beautiful day, really quite perfect for photography with usually elusive blue skies. As usual when it's a nice day, there was no lack of happy kids running around and playing on a variety of jungle gym equipment, and in the streets. The two kids above seemed to be engaging in a little pirate play, and made for wonderful subjects as they shyly dodged in and out of buildings to the delight of all of us with cameras. 
In this day and age, I'm surprised we weren't overtaken by a bunch of angry parents as all of our lenses were pointed towards the children at play. Thankfully though everything was peaceful, and no one seemed to care that we were all shooting their young ones. Most of the children on the playground were able to totally ignore the mob of photographers... and just had a wonderful time!
For a bit of a change, I switched my 80-200 to my 10.5mm fisheye lens. It's a bit of a novelty lens, quite toyish, but I really enjoy pulling it out and distorting everything I see! There was some beautiful metal work on the gates of this complex, and I think it suited the fisheye quite well!

That's it for now... I still have a couple more posts to catch up on, I apologize for overwhelming you all at once... but I'm glad I finally have a chance to sit down and type these out.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Everybody dance!

Woohoo... woohoo! This was the sound coming from a caged in area where people were jumping, dancing and singing along to seeming silence. Such is the Silent Disco, a clubbing concept where participants are all wearing wireless headphones, which are tuned into a DJ spinning a variety of beats. What an absolute rush, and one of the weirdest and craziest things I've experienced in a long time.
My friend Dan came to visit me for most of my last week in Amsterdam - so he got the chance to join me at De Parade (the event where we experienced the Silent Disco.) Despite getting totally soaked by the typical Dutch downpour - we had an amazing time, not only with the 15 minutes we spent with the headphones, but also at a variety of other things such as the crazy merry-go-round like, yo-yo swings which would never be allowed in the US as we came extremely close to kicking other riders multiple times! We also saw a very interesting film based on the life and work of Kurt Godel, a famous mathematician, working loosely with the ideas of reality and tangibility. At least I think that's what it was about... lucky for Dan and me, my friend, and owner of my apartment, Herma was there to translate everything from Dutch to English for us!
The toilet photo... this was the toilet at De Parade. Decked out in toilet seats, and evidently attracting amorous couples, both Dan and I shot multiple photos of this photogenic tent! This turned out to be one of my favorite photos of the evening! 

OK... I have more posts to catch up on... I know I'm behind! That's all for this one based on our August 9th adventure. More about my last week very soon! Cheers!


Tuesday, August 5, 2008


On Saturday, Aug. 2, the canal I live on - the Prinsengracht, became a sea of color and life for the 2008 Gay Pride Parade! Clothed in rainbows and pinks of all shades, people lined the edges of the streets and the bridges at least three rows deep. Plus boats of all sizes, stocked well with alcohol, and most with a maximum load of revelers in various stages of undress clogged the sides of the canal.Down the center of the canal came the floats, above is the Absolut Colors float, and the next image is of a float that had these two women popping out of a wall of white sheets, with pink hatted admirers surrounding them as they danced for joy.  
Pete (who I went to Alkmaar with) had the brilliant idea of hosting a party at his apartment, which is just a couple of blocks from me and looks out over the Leidsegracht. Pete's apartment is conveniently attached to a flat rooftop which can be accessed from the window in his spare bedroom! The next photo was shot with a 200 mm lens while sitting, mojito in hand, on Pete's roof, and it was one of the best parties I've ever attended - with roll your own sushi, fresh mojitos, and 50+ expats who rsvped on Meetin! I believe the I amsterdam float was accompanied by the blasting of "YMCA!"
The party went all day, and I was there for well over 12 hours, as I had helped with some minimal prepping, as well as cleaning up at the end. It was an incredibly colorful and fun day, with a lot of awesome friends, and makes me already start to miss Amsterdam!

To see more images of Alkmaar, the Gay Pride Parade, and more CLICK HERE!

I have to run... I'm finally going to see Dark Knight tonight, and I'd best be getting ready! Ciao for now!

Cheesy Goodness...

Destination: Alkmaar
Date: Friday, August 1, 2008
I haven't blogged in almost a week, and I have so much to talk about. I had a fantastic weekend! On Friday my friend Pete and I decided we would go to Alkmaar, where they have a traditional cheese market. We caught a train from Central Station at around 9 a.m. and quickly watched the graffiti and congestion of the city turn into smaller towns and fields of cows. When you think Holland or the Netherlands, your mind probably turns to windmills, cheese and perhaps those wooden clogs. This town had it ALL... and was unsurprisingly swamped with tourists. Fridays are when the town holds their cheese market, so things were really buzzing. On a friend's suggestion we hopped on one of the canal boats for a tour of the town, and it was well worth it! Both of us snapped quite a number of photos during the hour-long ride! 
We passed quite a few windmills, houseboats, and adorable little houses. The scenery was beautiful and peaceful. 

The cruise dropped us back off at the cheese market, and we worked through the large crowd to shoot some images of the cheese mongers. Everywhere we looked there were large wheels of cheese, and people selling those classic wooden clogs. Cheesy in so many ways, yet so much fun!
Men with hats like the one seen in the previous photo carry these sleighs of cheese, moving at sort of an odd run. Damaging the cheese is completely frowned upon, and while you can't actually buy the cheese shown in the demonstration, there were many booths offering Edam, Gouda, and other locally made cheeses aplenty. 
What a fabulous way to kick off the weekend!

*A fun bit of trivia about Alkmaar... while Pete and I were walking around we went past a Beatles Museum, and I didn't understand why there would be one in this town in Holland. Well... according to Wikipedia... John Lennon's first guitar was made in Alkmaar! :-)

More soon,