Weekly Photo Challenge: Winter

The whole city was covered under a thick layer of snow. Luckily they marked where the roads where supposed to be because finding your way in a strange and foreign city without being able to see where you’re going is like walking blindfolded into a maze. Differently than in my own country they didn’t spread salt onto the snow to make it melt, but they deposited some sand and gravel to provide some (poor) grip. This allowed the snow to stay put so it transformed the city into a blank canvas on which the artist had barely bothered to paint some grey buildings but where he had forgotten about the rest: no colours, no streets, no sky (which was as white as the ground), not even any sound.

I like how the snow absorbs sound, making all noises appear dense and far away even though you can only hear those up-close. What I don’t like about the snow is a much longer list: it’s wet, it’s cold, it’s slippery, it doesn’t photograph well (at least in my book) and it deregulates daily life in a very inconvenient way. For example: traffic can’t drive normally, causing big delays and accidents. But people have to go to work or to school. Life goes on but us people can’t follow in our normal pace. Wouldn’t it be much easier to give us all some old school snow free. It would make the experience of snow more fun and therefore more welcome in my life!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Between

The Dutch are well known for their fight against the water. Most of the Netherlands is below sea level and all that is between them and the water are the sand hills, dunes and dykes. The love-hate relationship is demonstrable throughout the centuries. The water has a way of giving and taking. It gives by making the Dutch rich because it enables them to reach out to the rest of the world and it takes by destroying their houses and lands in floods.

Fortunately the sea has kept a low profile since the last World War but with rising sea levels due to climate change things might become tricky again. This picture was taking in the dunes in the south of the Netherlands. I’ve spend many summers of my youth on this beach and it would be sad to see it all disappear. For now the dunes suffice but in time the Dutch might have to think of other ways to protect themselves against the water by building new things between them and the sea.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Self Portrait

Last week I walked down the street. In front of me were two tourists making pictures with their mobile phones. While the man was facing the canal pointing his camera on the water and the houses at the background, the woman was turning her back on the picturesque side and was facing the not so significant wall of a tourist gift shop. She held her camera in a high angle and smiled.

First I wondered why she was taking a picture of a kitschy shop but a split second later I realized she was taking a picture of herself. The only thing that puzzled me was why she was holding the camera so high, making it impossible to capture the photogenic backdrop. Now the only thing surrounding her on her self-portrait would be the street stones…

Going through my archives I realised I had three kind of ‘self-portraits’. The first kind consists out of photo’s in which I artificially tried to capture myself and a friend in front of something interesting. In most of them you can see my arm bended in a weird angle, enabling me to take the picture. But I do not want to bother you with these narcissistic pictures so let’s forget about this category and go on with the next… The second kinds of portrait are those photos on which I had accidentally captured myself in a reflection of a window or as an elongated shadow in the corner of the frame. The third kind of self-portraits were those photos I had taken of my feet standing on some kind of memorable place like the concrete floor of the Eiffel Tower or the dusty ground of some festival that has a close to holy value to me.

So this challenge left me with either an accidental picture or with a picture of my feet accompanied by some street stones that have a meaning to me but to you would say nothing more than the street stones will on the self-portrait of the woman I encountered on the street. Fortunately I have one exception to the three kinds of self-portraits. It’s a picture that was taken intentionally but without an egocentric feeling to it (I guess). I was captured by the textures of the trees I saw gliding away underneath me. Quickly I pointed my camera and was able to capture myself as a part of these textures before the scenery had changed to never to return again.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Waiting

John Mayer sings a song about ‘waiting on the world to change’. He is pleading for some action; let’s not wait on others to make things better but make it happen yourself! An honourable thought which should be encouraged, but waiting isn’t always a bad occupation. I consider waiting a very healthy thing to do. It’s kind of a meditation, a moment to contemplate.

In this crowded and busy life it’s nice to be able to take a step back. So waiting on the bus to come or for the red light to turn green can be a very welcome moment of ‘nothingness’. A tiny little break. A moment to just sit and wait.

This picture was taken while being on my way to the Vatican. It was a little after lunchtime and I really had to pee, but I also really wanted to move on to see the St. Peter’s Basilica. So this waiting moment really made me take a step back and consider the option to have lunch (and a restroom visit) first before rushing up to the Pope’s Residence even though it was just around the corner. It enabled me to relax and take my time: the Vatican wasn’t going anywhere. It would be waiting for me even after a lunch break.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Family

If friends are the family you choose could you consider your family the friends you didn’t choose? Fact is that they are there for you when you need them (at least in most of the cases); they help you; love you; hold your hand to cross the street. But fact is also that they can be the cause of much distress; they yell; they cry; they say bad things. But mostly because they are not afraid to show you their true colours. They know you are family and you’ll stay family no matter what.
I took this photo in Gent, Belgium. The massive sign on the road really caught my eye. Not only because of its size or because of the isolated road they decided to place it on, but because of the sweet scenery; how they dressed the father and his daughter; how it seems to give them an identity. It makes me wonder what their story is…

Weekly Photo Challenge: Breakfast

Whether I am a flexible girl I do not know. I try to be, but I do have my traditions. Traditions (or habits perhaps) that I stick to no matter what. Breakfast is one of these traditions. For as long as I can remember I eat two slices of brown bread with dark chocolate spread and a glass of milk. Though I get bored quite easily this simple meal never bores me. It even seems like a special treat every morning. As a kid I could get very upset if the chocolate spread jar was empty or if my father thought it nice to try some new flavour and had bought white instead of dark chocolate. It would ruin my day (or at least the whole morning till lunch came up).

Since I’m living on my own I’ve become more flexible with my breakfast tradition. I mean, I’m already grateful if there is anything to eat at all. If there is no chocolate spread I’ll eat whatever else that is available, if there is no milk I’ll drink tea…or water. I consider this development a sign of my –ehum- ‘maturity’, of my flexibility. It shows me that I am quite capable of adapting to any situation. It reminds me even a little of being on vacation in my own home.

Cause the only time I was capable of breaking my breakfast tradition in the past was during holidays and vacations. I even considered it my little mission to try as much new –and especially local food as possible. The picture for this weeks challenge was taken during a summer festival. Each morning we would gather in the big tent and eat breakfast together; this would mean something like a bread roll with sweating cheese (for there was no fridge), some chocolate sprinkles or au natural and to go with it a cup of hot tea and the morning paper with all the festival news our little music hearts could wish for.