Saturday, October 30, 2010

Monochrome Girl

This is not a post-processing edit ... this girl is actually black and white and made up to act like a statue in the centre of Innsbruck, Austria. I liked the contrast between the black and white girl and the colourful flowers in the window boxes in background.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Tri-Wheeler Power in Vietnam

Two wheels are definitely king in Vietnam but three wheelers are not far behind as having some street cred as you can see from these images hot in Ho Chi Minh.

Hot Dog - Batak Style

Riding my motorbike through a remote part of Sumatra near Lake Toba I came through this tiny village where they were busy cooking up a local delicacy. I thought at first this was the famous roast suckling pig which the dominant Christian population eat, but no, it was our favourite 4-legged friend that was on the menu today. What amused me about this picture was the dog way in the background looking on and wondering when his turn was!
In Indonesia, eating dog meat is usually associated with people from the Batak Toba culture, who cook a traditional dish named saksang that is like a dog-meat stew. Batak is a collective term used to identify a number of ethnic groups found in the highlands of North Sumatra, Indonesia. Their heartland lies to the west of Medan centred on Lake Toba. Today the Batak are mostly Christian with a Muslim minority.
Around the shores of Lake Toba you can see numerous villages, many with Christian churches, and sometimes you may come across local villagers preparing a dog to eat. After killing the dog the fur is burnt off in a fire and removed prior to cooking the meat.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Carpet Picture

Believe it or not this is not a painting but a framed silk carpet on display in a museum in Tehran, Iran. On display there were some incredible and intricate pictures all woven in silk.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Belgian Graffiti

As you wander through the streets of the capital of the European Union, Brussels and just when you have almost had enough of beautiful ancient monuments, churches and grand palaces or the classic medieval, gothic style architecture you turn the corner and are brought back to reality with a splurge of graffiti grunge.

One Asia - Celebrating The Images of Asia

Michael Yamashita inspired all the attendees at the One Asia "Images of Asia" Conference at Suntec in Singapore 23rd - 24th October with his wonderful stories of his 30 year career in photography. Michael is a renowned National Geographic photographer who has specialised in many Asian based stories. In two sessions he highlighted many of these stories and material from his books with some wonderful photographs and illuminated the background involved in the picture planning and setup.
Steve McCurry was meant to have also been at the event but unfortunately cancelled at the last moment leaving Michael to take the main headline spot.
Other photographers presenting included James Whitlow Delano, Manuel Librodo, Goh Kim Hui, Lester Ledesma, Gunther Deichmann, Michael Aw, William Tan, Evan Wong, Francis Lee, Yeo Wee han, Diego Garcia, Jeffrey Kong, Ralph Haering, Felix Goh, Nelson John, Andy Yeo and Aaron Wong. The event was organised by Asian Geographic magazine.
James Whitlow Delano

Andy Yeo, Asian Geographic PASSPORT Expeditions

Lunita Mendoza, Asian Geographic Editor

Customised Canon with bling!

Celebrity Photographers

Photo Competition Judging

Photo Competition Exhibition

 Adobe stand with attractive software offers

Canon IPF 8300 demo

 One Asia Registration Desk

Photo Competition Exhibition

Photo Competition Exhibition

 Michael Yamashita in action

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday - Beer O'Clock

It's Friday at Beer O'clock .... so time to relax, chill out and have a little relaxing drink. I'm off to Singapore for the One Asia "Images of Asia" photo event which should be fun - plenty of photographers, equipment, presentations .... and a chance to meet Michael Yamashita, National Geographic photographer for a workshop on Sunday. Unfortunately Steve McCurry cancelled his visit at the last minute so I'm disappointed as I was scheduled for a workshop with him tomorrow.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Office in the Sky

A modern glass office tower in Perth, Western Australia provides an interesting reflection of the bright blue sky and clouds.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Guggenheim Grunge

The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is a museum of modern and contemporary art designed by Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry, built by Ferrovial and located in Bilbao, Basque Country, Spain. It is built alongside the Nervion River, which runs through the city of Bilbao to the Atlantic Coast. The Guggenheim is one of several museums belonging to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. The museum features permanent and visiting exhibits of works by Spanish and international artists.
One of the most admired works of contemporary architecture, the building has been hailed as a "signal moment in the architectural culture" because it represents "one of those rare moments when critics, academics, and the general public were all completely united about something." The museum was the building most frequently named as one of the most important works completed since 1980 in the 2010 World Architecture Survey among architecture experts.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Red Temple

Kiyomizu-dera temple in Kyoto, Japan is a wonderful visit offering panoramic views over the city of Kyoto. I have visited Kyoto twice now and would welcome the opportunity to visit again, particularly around the time of cherry blossom in Spring. 

This single RAW image was produced using the new release of Nik's Software HDR EfexPro package which I have been testing in comparison to my existing HDR software, PhotoMatixPro. Although it appears slower in performance than PhotoMatixPro and has a somewhat different workflow it does have some unique qualities in terms of being able to define specific areas of the image you apply both the HDR effect and other image attributes to. I will be continuing to test this new software and hopefully have a more comprehensive report soon.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Boy in a Bucket

This image was shot at Lake Tonle Sap, close to Siem Reap, Cambodia. It is common to see sights of children or adults like this who have been maimed due to land-mine incidents. In addition to the brutal events during the dark days of the Khmer Rouge one of the current ongoing problems is the continuing effect of land-mines on victims and the healing and rehabilitation of Cambodians who have suffered through land-mine incidents. Cambodia is a country with one of the highest occurrences of death by land-mines.

The Art of Stained Glass Windows

The term stained glass can refer to coloured glass as a material or to works made from it. Throughout its thousand-year history, the term has been applied almost exclusively to the windows of churches and other significant buildings. Although traditionally made in flat panels and used as windows, the creations of modern stained glass artists also include three-dimensional structures and sculpture.
Modern vernacular usage has often extended the term "stained glass" to include domestic leadlight and objects d'art created from lead came and copper foil glasswork exemplified in the famous lamps of Louis Comfort Tiffany.
As a material stained glass is glass that has been coloured by adding metallic salts during its manufacture. The coloured glass is crafted into stained glass windows in which small pieces of glass are arranged to form patterns or pictures, held together (traditionally) by strips of lead and supported by a rigid frame. Painted details and yellow stain are often used to enhance the design. The term stained glass is also applied to windows in which the colours have been painted onto the glass and then fused to the glass in a kiln.
Stained glass, as an art and a craft, requires the artistic skill to conceive an appropriate and workable design, and the engineering skills to assemble the piece. A window must fit snugly into the space for which it is made, must resist wind and rain, and also, especially in the larger windows, must support its own weight. Many large windows have withstood the test of time and remained substantially intact since the late Middle Ages. In Western Europe they constitute the major form of pictorial art to have survived. In this context, the purpose of a stained glass window is not to allow those within a building to see the world outside or even primarily to admit light but rather to control it. For this reason stained glass windows have been described as 'illuminated wall decorations'.
The design of a window may be non-figurative or figurative; may incorporate narratives drawn from the Bible, history, or literature; may represent saints or patrons, or use symbolic motifs, in particular armorial. Windows within a building may be thematic, for example: within a church - episodes from the life of Christ; within a parliament building - shields of the constituencies; within a college hall - figures representing the arts and sciences; or within a home - flora, fauna, or landscape.


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Where Did You Get Those Shoes?

"I stepped up on the platform
The man gave me the news
He said, You must be joking son
Where did you get those shoes? 
Where did you get those shoes?"

Lyrics from Pretzel Logic by Steely Dan, 1974 

Hotel De Tuilerieen

This is the bar at Hotel de Tuilerieen in Brugge, Belgium and was always a welcome relaxing and rehydration spot after a hard day's tourism and prior to evening dinner. The hotel is wonderfully situated in central Brugge right on the canal so it's easy to walk out and see all the sights or take one of the canal cruises. It belongs to the exclusive group of hotels called "Small Luxury Hotels of the World".
I was wondering who the characters were in the paintings but unfortunately the barmaid didn't know. Whoever they were, they didn't exactly look very happy!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Tin Mining Pools

The tin mining industry was once a major contributor to the Malaysian economy. Indeed, Kuala Lumpur has its origin in tin mining. In 1979, Malaysia was producing almost 63,000 tonnes, accounting for 31 percent of world output. It was the world's leading producer and employed more than 41,000 people. By 1994, the country's production had fallen to 6,500 tonnes, with only 3,000 people employed in the industry. Whilst, Malaysia's production fell by 90 percent over the last 15 years, global output fell by only 20 percent. Today, the country hardly exports tin as production is used mostly for the domestic electronic and tinplating industries. The collapse of the tin industry is due to exhaustion of tin deposits, the low tin prices and the high operating costs. But perhaps too much was done to protect it rather than to obselete the industry.
Mining oftens damages lands and creates wastelands. Mining affects the land during mining, large amounts of vegetations are removed to prevent obstacles to tin mining machineries which may hinder work progress. Subsequently, soil erosion occurs and this leads to the formation of large gaping holes in the groung. Rainwater fills up this hole and mining pools are formed. This mining pool contains large amounts of tailings left behind by alluvial mining which have been completely leached of most plant nutrients. These pools are therefore unable to support any forms of living things and areas like this becomes barren. 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Women Power in Bali

This group of women moving earth for construction in hand-made straw baskets was spotted in a padi field in central Bali close to Ubud. One thing I noticed in Indonesia is that the women are generally always busy working, much of it hard manual work. The men seem to take on more of a supervisory role, usually involving sitting, smoking, sometimes drinking and generally minimising exertion. In my next life I want to come back as a male in Bali!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Chocolate Corner

Every street, side street or back lane in Brugge seems to have numerous cafes and of course little chocolate shops with delightful temptations .... ideal for the weary tourist to stop, relax and succumb to temptation.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral

The St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral is a Roman Catholic church at the Treurenberg hill in Brussels, Belgium. In French, it is called Cathédrale Saints-Michel-et-Guduleand in Dutch Sint-Michiels- en Sint-Goedelekathedraal, usually shortened to "Sint-Goedele".
In 1047, Lambert II, Count of Leuven founded a chapter in this church and organized the transportation of the relics of Saint Gudula, housed before then in Saint Gaugericus Church on Saint-Géry Island. The patron saints of the church, archangel St. Michael and the martyr St. Gudula, are also the patron saints of the city of Brussels.
In the thirteenth century, the cathedral was renovated in the Gothic style. The choir was constructed between 1226 and 1276. The façade was completed in the mid-fifteenth century.
It is an archiepiscopal cathedral of the Archbishop of Mechlin-Brussels, the Primate of Belgium, currently Archbishop André-Mutien Léonard. It is located in the national capital and therefore often used for Catholic ceremonies of national interest, such as royal marriages and state funerals.
The south tower contains a 49-bell carillon by the Royal Eijsbouts bell foundry on which Sunday concerts are often given.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Royal Palace, Brussels

The Royal Palace of Brussels (Dutch: Koninklijk Paleis van Brussel, French: Palais Royal de Bruxelles) is the official palace of the King of the Belgians in the centre of the nation's capital Brussels. However it is not used as a royal residence, as the king and his family live in the Royal Castle of Laeken on the outskirts of Brussels. 
The palace is situated in front of Brussels Park. A long square called the Paleizenplein/Place des Palais separates the palace from the park. The middle axis of the park marks both the middle peristyle of the palace and the middle of the facing building on the other side of the park, which is the Palace of the Nation (the Belgian Federal Parliament building). The two facing buildings are said to symbolize Belgium's system of government: a constitutional monarchy.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Markt

The Markt ("Market Square") of Bruges is located in the heart of the city and covers an area of about 1 hectare. Some historical highlights around the square include the 12th-century belfry and the Provincial Court (originally the Waterhall, which in 1787 was demolished and replaced by a classicist building that from 1850 served as provincial court and after a fire in 1878 was rebuilt in a neo-Gothic style in 1887. In the center of the market stands the statue of Jan Breydel and Pieter de Coninck.
In 1995 the market was completely renovated. Parking in the square was removed and the area became mostly traffic-free, thus being more celebration friendly. The renovated market was reopened in 1996 with a concert by Helmut Lotti.
Around the Markt are numerous restaurants, cafes and bars where you can sit and take in the sights of the many historic medieval buildings and sample some of the Belgian food and beer.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Chinese Altar

It always amazes me where you find Chinese altars. This one was spotted in the middle of a palm oil plantation close to Batang Berjuntai in Malaysia. 
Chinese people use altar tables in homes, businesses and temples to give offerings to religious deities or ancestors. People also use these ornate constructions as non-religious decorations.

In Chinese Culture

The Chinese people believe that ancestors live on after death, watch over their descendants and influence their daily lives, according to the British Museum. Family members use altars to give offerings to dead ancestors.

In Taoism

Religious Taoists in China use the altar for ceremonies and for presenting offerings to their deities and immortals.

In Buddhism

Unlike Taoists, Chinese Buddhists do not use the altar table to give offerings to Buddha; they believe he is enlightened and is in no need of symbolic gifts. The offerings are given in remembrance of his teachings and as a symbol of respect.


The rites and rituals that require an altar table often coincide with holidays or particular times of the day. Buddhists often give offerings in the mornings, while veneration of the dead can happen any time or on Chinese holidays.


Believers typically choose incense, fruits, vegetables and other foods as offerings when using the altar table for rituals. Traditionally, after the ceremony is complete, the participants take away the food so they can eat it, leaving the altar table mostly clear until its next use.

Friday, October 08, 2010

St. Bonifacius Bridge

The St. Bonifacius Bridge is one of the many stone bridges over the canals on Brugge, Belgium. This bridge is close to the Gruuthuse and the Arentshof and although it is sometimes said to be the oldest bridge in Brugge that is not the case and was only built in around 1910. Around the bridge old medieval style houses can be seen adding to the atmosphere.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Madonna of Bruges

The Madonna of Bruges is a marble sculpture by Michelangelo, of Mary with the infant Jesus and you can view this in Church of Our Lady in Bruges.
Michelangelo's depiction of the Madonna and Child differs significantly from earlier representations of the same subject, which tended to feature a pious Virgin smiling down on an infant held in her arms. Instead, Jesus stands upright, almost unsupported, only loosely restrained by Mary's left hand, and appears to be about to step away from his mother and into the world. Meanwhile, Mary does not cling to her son or even look at him, but gazes down and away, as if she knows already what is to be her son's fate. It is believed the work was originally intended for an altar piece. If this is so, then it would have been displayed facing slightly to the right and looking down.
Madonna and Child shares certain similarities with Michelangelo's Pietà, which was completed shortly before, mainly, the chiaroscuro pattern and the movement of the drapery. The long, oval face of Mary is also reminiscent of the Pietà.
The work is also notable in that it was the only sculpture by Michelangelo to leave Italy during his lifetime. It was bought by Giovanni and Alessandro Moscheroni (Mouscron), from a family of wealthy cloth merchants in Bruges, then one of the leading commercial cities in Europe. The sculpture was sold for 4,000 florin.
The sculpture was removed twice from Belgium after its initial arrival. The first was in 1794, after French Revolutionaries had conquered the Austrian Netherlands; the citizens of Bruges were ordered to ship it and several other valuable works of art to Paris. It was returned after Napoleon's defeat. The second removal was in 1944 with the retreat of German soldiers, who smuggled the sculpture to Germany enveloped in mattresses in a Red Cross lorry. It was found two years later and again returned. It now sits in the Church of Our Lady in Bruges, Belgium.
After the attack on Michelangelo's Pietà in 1972 the sculpture was placed behind bullet proof glass, and the public can only view it from 15 feet away.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Hotel Metropole, Brussels

The Hotel Metropole, Brussels is a beautifully preserved world of 19th century splendor and opulence, set beneath a sea of glittering chandeliers. Situated in the midst of the city’s historical center, this superbly renovated Brussels luxury hotel captures the imagination with Corinthian columns, sumptuous furnishings, and an extravagantly rich attention to detail. Experience the vibrant “heart of Europe” from the most celebrated Brussels luxury accommodation, and embrace the lavish elegance of days gone by. 
The Hotel Metropole, built in 1895, is the only nineteenth-century hotel in Brussels still in operation today. The hotel has 298 rooms and 15 suites. The hotel was originally built as an afterthought—a brewer's family added a hotel to their Place de Brouckère café in an effort to promote their selection of beers. 
The Hôtel Métropole benefits from a superb location right at the heart of the historical center of the European capital - only a few steps from the famous UNESCO world heritage site of the Grand Place, the Bourse and la Théâtre de la Monnaie, and near the city’s most exciting shopping thoroughfare. Just in front of the hotel are the "De Brouckère" metro and bus stations, with connections to all of Brussels’ major train stations.
The Metropole is famous for having hosted the first Solvay Conference in 1911. The International Solvay Institutes for Physics and Chemistry, located in Brussels, were founded by the Belgian industrialist Ernest Solvay in 1912, following the historic invitation-only 1911 Conseil Solvay, the first world physics conference. Just check out some of the names of the famous physicists in the photograph above which can be found in the lobby of the hotel - Planck, Lorentz, Madame Curie, Rutherford and Einstein!
It is also the birthplace of the Black Russian cocktail, which was created in 1949 by barman Gustave Tops for the United States ambassador to Luxembourg, Perle Mesta.
And of course nothing to beat relaxing for lunch and some nice Belgium beer in the Cafe' Metropole.

Look for Reflections

I am always looking for new angles or views for my photography and one way to do this is to look for reflections. This could be water reflections, mirrors, shiny surfaces or in this case the shiny chrome of a motorcycle headlight and speedometer dial. You can also include yourself as a self portrait using this technique .... in the photo above I was trying to disguise my reflection in the line of the join on the headlight ... but didn't entirely get away with that!

Monday, October 04, 2010

De Halve Maan Brewery

De Halve Maan Brewery in Brugge is a well worth visit offering a tour of the working brewery and some wonderful bar food ..... and of course excellent beer! The museum presents the unique opportunity to discover the old tradional brewing methods in Bruges. Daily guided tours will allow you to visit both the modern brewery as the museum.
Brugse Zot is a goldenblond beer with a rich froth and a fruity flavouring. The beer is brewed with four different kinds of malt and two aromatic varieties of hop which give the beer its unique taste. With an alcochol degrees proof of 6 % Vol it is a well balanced, easy drinking beer with character. Brugse Zot is a natural beer born out of a selection of only the best ingredients. Thanks to the refermentation in the bottle, the beer has a longer natural life.