Weekly Photo Challenge: Fall


I had thought about taking a different interpretation of the word fall for my photo this week, but then I got caught up in work and now it’s Thursday afternoon, so I’m going back and raiding my photo archives of a couple of photos I took in 2009 during the early days of fall/autumn/herfst. I was struck that day by how the orange and yellow of the leaves seemed to stand out more vividly against the grey, rainy sky.

Our weather this week is a bit of a surprise after the incredibly wet summer we had. It’s 26C right now, which is about ten degrees warmer than it ever got this summer. We’re looking at more sunshine and warm temps through the weekend. It took the arrival of fall for us to finally get some summer weather. I’m sure we’ll all enjoy it before it turns from Indian summer to traditional fall.
Autumnal Colors


Ringing In My Ears

All Aboard
The other night, while cooking dinner, I suddenly heard this loud noise that seemed to be getting louder and nearer. The next thing I know, I spot two large horses out the front window, and they were pulling an old-fashioned beer cart. In fact, it looked a lot like this, at least from the quick, half-view that I had.

What struck me was just how loud it was! Between the clomping of the horses and the rattle and weight of the cart, it was surprisingly loud, especially echoing off the walls of our relatively narrow street flanked with tall buildings. We complain about modern noise levels, but if you stop and think about how loud it must have been here in the old city center when horses and carts were standard forms of transport, the modern noise levels seem downright quiet! That scooter that just went past as I was typing was kind of noisy, but it’s also faster, so the noise is quickly gone. Those horses take a bit longer. We could hear them as soon as they turned onto the street, and probably heard them most of the way down the street. Imagine if there were multiple carts, I think we’d have to yell to carry on a conversation in the house!

When you stop and think about the fact that cars, streetcars and horse-drawn carts were all in use at the same time, at least through the mid 1900s, it must have been madness! The past is an interesting place, but I don’t think I’d want to live there.

The Chauffeur’s House That Rietveld Built

Chauffeur's House 65.365
While looking through some photo sets the other day, I remembered that I never did post about the Chauffeur’s House that Gerrit Rietveld built here in Utrecht. I went to see it back in March, but never posted more than a teaser. I think I got sidetracked trying to find more information about the building. It’s well-known enough, but harder to find a lot of details. I still haven’t found out all the information I’d like to know, but I might as well post what I do know and include some of the photos I took. I get quite a few visitors to my blog looking for Rietveld buildings, so might as well give them a bit more to ponder.

Red Door
The house, located at Waldeck Pyrmontkade 20, was built between 1927-1928. I’ve yet to find out who commissioned the structure, and I’m still not clear if the building is related to the house on the next street over. What I do know is that the house was a shift in Rietveld’s building style, in that he began focusing on prefabrication and standardized materials and construction. The building took only three weeks to build, as the main skeleton of the building consists of steel I-rods creating an almost De Stijl gridwork. Attached to the steel framework were pre-cast concrete panels speckled with enamel. All of the building components were standard items, purchased off-the-rack, so to speak. The plans and facade were based on a simple 1 x 1 meter module. Rietveld himself described the building as “an experiment in industrialized building”.


Ground Floor

This idea of standardization is something that appeared throughout much of Rietveld’s work. With his furniture designs, he explored ways to make items better suited for assembly line production. He also used standard materials, but in new ways. During this period, he was also exploring the concept of social housing, a concept that he called “standard dwelling”.

Chauffeur's House

Sun Room

In the end, the Chauffeur’s House developed some structural issues. The house soon became known as “the basket” or “the sieve”. The house as it stands now has been extensively renovated, but with care to maintain the building’s original appearance.

As with the Rietveld-Schröeder House, the Chauffeur’s House sits on an attractive street filled with more traditional structures. In both cases, the structure is somewhat dwarfed by its neighbours, yet stands out in its environment.


Nederlands Film Festival Opening

Gouden Kalf

Nederlands Film Festival
Wednesday saw the opening of the annual Nederlands Film Festival at the Stadsschouwburg. I’ve taken photos of the Gouden Kalf (Golden Calf) in the past, but never gone to one of the big events, despite the proximity. This year, I figured I’d go check out the red-carpet opening. With camera in hand — and supposedly freshly charged batteries — we wandered over to see what was going on.
Red Carpet
I wasn’t sure how crowded it would be. Would there be throngs of screaming fans? Would there be a constant blinding flash of paparazzi flash bulbs? Would there be fancy cars and fancy gowns?

Well, no. Not really. There was one fancy gown, worn by the star of the film that was premiering, though. Sylvia Hoeks showed up in a pretty dusty-pink, tiered-ruffled, full-length gown with a bit of a swooshy tail. She also has the perkiest of pretty noses. If it’s real, she’s incredibly lucky. If it’s a nose-job, she should thank her surgeon daily.
Sylvia Hoeks

The Dress
As you can see, I got pretty close. In fact, I got up right behind the row of press interviewers and photographers. As for the screaming fans, well, there were fans, but they weren’t screaming. In fact, they were quite calm and friendly and very polite and sweet. I wasn’t really there as a fan, since there was only one person there I recognized, but they didn’t know that. Sometimes one of the fans would see me or another fan trying to get a shot and they’d say sorry and move out of the way to help you get a better shot. It was really quite a nice experience!
Almost a Papparazza

As I said, there was only one person whom I actually recognized. Carice van Houten was the one Dutch actress that I knew of, and I thought she might be there that evening, but I wasn’t sure. As I was turned around to talk to G — explaining that I was kind of hoping Carice would show up — I turned back to the red carpet and suddenly there she was, right in front of me. I’m pretty sure I said something like, “Oh! That’s her!” loudly enough for one of the girls in front of me to turn around and give me a smile.
Carice van Houten

Carice van Houten

Besides being the opening of the film festival, which goes through September 30, the event was also the opening of the film De Bende van Oss (The Gang from Oss). The film is about a woman (played by Sylvia Hoeks), who wants to get out of the life of crime she’s living in the 1930s. In looking up the film, I realized that a woman I know of — a fellow Southern expat who now lives in Rotterdam and plays a mean ukulele — was involved with the film, gathering up extras. I remember seeing her post about it a while back, so it’s fun to see it all come full circle in a way.

There were other stars of the film at the premier, of course. I eventually managed to figure out who most of them are.
Daan Schuurmans
Daan Schuurmans

Interview met Benja Bruijning
Benja Bruijning (in profile)

Matthias Schoenaerts
Matthias Schoenaerts

Frank Lammers en Matthias Schoenaerts
Frank Lammers and Matthias Schoenaerts

There were other actors there who weren’t necessarily in the film, but who have films premiering at the festival, so they came along to the opening. Along with Carice, there was Anna Drijver, who is in the film Loft, which looks like a sexy murder thriller.
Anna Drijver

There was also Halina Reijn, who is in the upcoming film Isabelle, about a woman kidnapped and held hostage, perhaps with hints of Stephen King’s Misery.
Halina Reijn

We had a fun time watching the arrivals, even if we didn’t recognize that many people. You could still tell who the “important” ones were by the sudden rush for photos, not to mention the longer interviews. And now I know the names of some more Dutch actors! I even managed to get a lot of photos, despite the fact that my rechargeable batteries weren’t holding the charge. The camera kept shutting down on me after every couple of photos. Frustrating! I know I could have gotten better photos if I’d not had to take them so fast. Maybe I’ll go to the closing event. I keep hoping to see Michiel Huisman (Treme) or Rutger Hauer. A girl can dream!

Here’s the trailer for De Bende van Oss. FYI, there might be one scene that isn’t the best thing to be caught watching at work.

Foto Vrijdag: A Room With a View

Watching the Arrivals
I’ve got the photos of the film festival premier uploaded to Flickr, but I think I’ll wait til tomorrow to post about it all. A night of interrupted sleep means I don’t have much energy to sort through it all, plus, I’m still missing a few names.

Instead, I’ll go ahead and post this photo that I took at the end of the evening as we were walking home. One of the student associations looks out onto the Stadsschouwburg, where the event was taking place. Some of the students seem to have found a fun way to watch the arrivals.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Faces

Carice van Houten en Halina Reijn
When I saw the topic for this week’s photo challenge, I wasn’t sure what to do. I don’t do portraits, unless you count my pets, and people in general are usually more accidental than intention in my photos.

But then I remembered that this week was the beginning of the annual Nederlands Film Festival! The festival opened yesterday with the premier of the film De Bende van Oss at the Stadsschouwburg. Since I live so close, I figured this would be a fun chance to take some pictures of famous Dutch faces. Probably the most famous face there was Carice van Houten (the woman on the left). She’s been in some films such as Valkyrie and Repo Men, and is going to be in the upcoming season of Game of Thrones. The woman on her right is Halina Reijn, an actress starring in the film Isabelle, which is also premiering at the film festival.

It’s not the best photo I took, but I like it for the mix of faces, with so many in different directions, but with the main light being on the faces of Carice and Halina. Appropriate.

Third Tuesday in September

Every year, on the Derde Dinsdag in September (third Tuesday in September), the Queen goes before Parliament to discuss the budgetary goals for the coming year. Today was that day. It’s known as Prinsjesdag, when the Queen drives to Parliament in the Golden Carriage to deliver the speech from the throne.

Den Haag (The Hague) is where the Eerste Kamer en Tweede Kamer (First Room and Second Room, literally, but essentially the Senate and House) meet, although technically Amsterdam is the nation’s capital. It’s all a bit confusing. To add to the confusion, although the Queen presents the budget, the speech is actually written by the cabinet. Her role is purely ceremonial, although the money allotted to the royal family certainly isn’t ceremonial. As the announcement of cuts of 18 billion Euros was made today, it’s hard to see the value of a monarchy.

The speech was given at the Ridderzaal (Knight’s Hall) pictured above. It was built in the 13th century for Floris V, Count of Holland. Eventually, the other buildings that make up Parliament were built up around Ridderzaal, and now the area is known as the Binnenhof (inner court).

To read more about today’s troonrede (royal speech), check out Radio Netherlands Worldwide. They include a nice slideshow of photos from today. If you know Dutch, you can read the actual speech here.

The following are just a few other photos I’ve taken in the Binnenhof of some of the various Parliament buildings that essentially encircle the Ridderzaal.




Foto Vrijdag: Golden Drift

Golden Drift
This was taken a couple of weeks ago after a storm, and I loved the golden light and how it brought out the warm tones of the buildings along the Drift Canal. The reflection of the salmon-pink building (Polman’s Huis Restaurant) in the canal is the perfect finishing touch. Plus, of course, the row of bicycles chained up to just about every free spot along the canal railing.