Weekly Photo Challenge: Windows.2

Still Life With Bike
As I explained in my previous post, my first thought for this week’s theme was to photograph the Dom cathedral’s wonderful Gothic windows. However, as I was walking down Domstraat toward the cathedral, I passed this art gallery that has been a frequent source of inspiration for me. A window installation of the work of one of their featured artists inspired my own artwork that now hangs in our bedroom. The current exhibit by an artist who does wonderful graphic-style images of Utrecht is another favorite. I love seeing the different parts of the city depicted in this format.

As I walked past the gallery Saturday, I was inspired by one of the paintings. The artist has focused on one section of the Stadhuis, including just the windows and the ubiquitous bicycles. I loved the idea of using this painting of windows, seen through a window, with the reflections of other windows layered over it all. Even better, some of the Gothic windows of the cathedral, which is just a few steps away, are reflected in the gallery’s window.

Windows Multiplied
Additionally, I love how the windows in the painting seem to line up so well with the windows of the building reflected in the gallery window. This collection of windows, all in one window, was too good an opportunity to pass up!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Windows.1

Gothic Lancet Window
This week’s photo challenge post will probably be a two-parter, because I got so much inspiration today while walking through town. My first thought was to photograph some of the windows at St. Maarten’s Cathedral, the French-Gothic cathedral in the center of Utrecht. Pictured above is the north transept window, with the classic lancet shape and tracery. I liked this shot, in particularly, because of the beautifully colored tree leaves standing between the cathedral and the Domtoren (bell tower).

As I was standing there taking photos of the windows, I decided to also go inside and get a shot of the interior view of that same window. The stained glass isn’t obvious from the outside, but shows up more clearly on the inside.
Stained Glass

I thought I’d include the opening paragraph of the Dom Church’s Wikipedia page. I recommend clicking through and reading more about the cathedral’s long and storied history.

St. Martin’s Cathedral, Utrecht, or Dom Church (Dutch: Domkerk) was the cathedral of the diocese of Utrecht during the Middle Ages. Once the Netherland’s largest church, dedicated to Saint Martin of Tours, it is one of the country’s two pre-Reformation cathedrals, along with the cathedral in Middleburg, Province of Zeeland. It has been a Protestant church since 1580. The building is the one church in the Netherlands that closely resembles the classic Gothic style as developed in France. All other Gothic churches in the Netherlands belong to one of the many regional variants. Unlike most of its French predecessors, the Dom Church has only one tower, the 112 m (368 ft) high Dom Tower, which is the hallmark of the city.

Finally, here’s a photo of some more of the windows and Gothic decoration around the apse end of the cathedral, including the typical trefoil and quatrefoil tracery of the windows. Gothic architecture was my gateway into falling in love with architecture in general, so I particularly enjoy having a fascinating example of it within easy walking distance.
Gothic Windows

Weekly Photo Challenge: Hidden

Traditional Steps and Shutters
I had various ideas of what to photograph for the theme “Hidden” this week, but after looking through my photos and thinking about what I saw while out on Saturday, I decided to go with the idea of things that are hidden in plain sight. In this case, architectural gems that are easy enough to walk past and miss, unless you look up occasionally. When you consider the height of some of these buildings and the generally narrow streets they stand on, it becomes even harder to notice their beautiful details sometimes.

In both examples for today, I had to take multiple shots and stitch them together to get a full view of the buildings. I was up against the walls and down low, trying to get a whole shot, and realized it just wasn’t going to work.

The first building is one that I couldn’t resist, because it’s such a great example of traditional Dutch architecture, with the stepped rooftop and the wonderfully painted shutters. I’ve taken numerous shots of the individual details over the years, on multiple buildings, but I never tire of spotting them.

The next building really was a bit of a hidden gem, despite being right off the Oudegracht, on Choorstraat, one of the busy shopping streets. It’s so easy to get caught up in all the sights at the street level, that it’s easy to miss the decorative details hiding just out of view on the upper floors. This one is particularly appealing because of the style of fonts used in the text that pops up in various spots.

Art Deco Design

Het huis van Ouds St. Maarten (The house of old St. Martin): Notice the striped brickwork around the window, as well.
Deco Detail

Additional decorative details and dates (1869-1896)
Deco Details
After a cursory search, I haven’t turned up any specific details about the building’s history. Perhaps someone else knows and will share in the comments.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Opportunity


I’ve been battling a cold this week, so not a lot of blogging or photography has taken place. I was hoping to find a more specific image for this week’s theme of opportunity, but I’m going to have to go with my backup plan. You see, when I have my camera with me, I take every opportunity to photograph the Domtoren.

I was lucky a few weeks ago when I happened to catch this view of the Domtoren. The sun was setting and the interior of the tower seemed to be glowing with a rosy light. The Domtoren is lit at night, and often specially lit with beautiful colors as part of the Trajectum Lumen lights. To see this natural light-show was a lucky moment and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to catch this moment, even if I didn’t manage to capture the light as well as I would have liked. Fortunately, I’m sure I’ll have other opportunities.
Rosy Glow

Weekly Photo Challenge: Possibility

I had various ideas going through my head when I saw the topic for this week’s photo challenge, with none really feeling right. Then, on Saturday, in between Occupying Utrecht and drinking lots of lekker bock beer, I stopped in at the main post office at Neude to take some photos and realized I had a perfect topic.

You see, at the end of the month, all of the post offices in the Netherlands seem to be closing for good, including the stunning central post office here in Utrecht. All postal services will be taken care at other shops, such as certain book stores, grocery stores, etc. It’s sad for multiple reasons, not the least of which is the number of people now out of a job. Additionally, seeing the closing of this stunning building, built in the Amsterdam School style between 1917 and 1921, breaks my heart.

Fortunately, they’re not tearing it down; just repurposing it. That’s where the possibility lies. I think they’re going to turn it into some sort of shopping site, although I’m not positive. I think I’ve read various things over the past year. Regardless, I hope that they maintain some of the beautiful architectural and decorative details. It would be a shame to see this stunning interior get lost in the shuffle. The warm golden glazed bricks, the soaring glass ceiling, and the beautiful carved figurines throughout add a sense of wonder and amazement to a building that has been known to take the breath away from first-time visitors.

Tomorrow, I’ll be posting more detail shots of the building, including the carved figures that represent the different continents of the world. Oh, and lots of olifanten (elephants)! No wonder I love this building so much!



Weekly Photo Challenge: Comfort


When I saw the topic of this week’s photo challenge, I figured I’d end up with a shot of one or more of our pets, since they make comfort into an art. But then I woke up Sunday morning and it was clear which pet would win the photo shoot.

Sleeping In

We woke up with Pippo wedged in between us, with his head on our pillows. He didn’t move, even after we got up — and put his blanket over him. He was comfy and he wasn’t going to move until he had to, or until the call of breakfast became too tempting.

Spoiled Rotten

Notice all the legs and paws. Many of them were poking me in the back and are probably the reason I woke up when I did. He wanted to spread out a bit more. Regardless, this is a dog who knows his comfort!

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

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.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Textured

Ramshackle Shack
This week I went back into my archives for a texture-related photo and decided to explore a bit of the texture of architecture, specifically buildings that I came across living in the southern part of the US. I liked revisiting bits of architecture that are a little different from what I see now.

This first building with it’s rough-hewn, splitting wood, and rusted tin roof, surrounded by feathery flora, is a shed/cabin that I passed regularly when I last lived in Greensboro, North Carolina. It was a small building in the middle of fields and woods, just across the street from a few houses. If nothing else, it’s a change from the tightly packed urban city center I live in now.

Green on Green
On the opposite end of the spectrum is this beautiful house in Savannah, Georgia. It’s definitely a city house, but it brings a bit of the country into the city. It’s a riot of texture with the highly decorative iron railings, smooth wooden shutters, and ivy-covered walls. Gone are the smooth walls. They’ve been replaced by the tactile fabric of flora. I always want to run my hand across these living walls.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Path

Illuminated Path
When I saw the subject for this week’s photo challenge, I came up with a number of ideas, but the one that appealed the most was this tunnel that leads from the Ganzenmarkt down to the Oudegracht. It’s one of the many areas that has undergone a light-art transformation as part of the Trajectum Lumen installation around Utrecht. It’s also one of the spots that I’d not yet visited to see lit up. When we went to dinner on the Oudegracht the other night, I figured this was a perfect opportunity to see the lights for myself and to get some photos for this challenge. In the end, I took a number of photos, playing with movement and aperture opening times. I’ll probably post some of the fun ones tomorrow for Wordless Wednesday and leave this post for just the few that best represent the path to enlightenment, so to speak.

Rainbow Bright


Light at the End of the Tunnel

The city of Utrecht initiated Trajectum Lumen as an exploration after dark, following artistically lit locations throughout Utrecht’s historical city center. Launched in the spring of 2010, it will reach its climax in 2013 when Utrecht celebrates the 300th anniversary of the Treaty of Utrecht. The light displays run every evening after dusk, all year long.