Sputnik in Spring

SpoetnikkijkerIt’s been a spectacular weekend weatherwise. Lots of sunshine, warm temps, and general loveliness. Today, we went for a walk around town with plans to stop over at Ledig Erf for drinks in the sun. Of course, I think everyone else had that idea, because free tables outdoors were very hard to come by. We eventually ended up over at the Domplein. Still a pretty good view!

Our walk took us past the Spoetnikkijker, my beloved statue, and I couldn’t resist another photo of him, this time with a field of flowers spread out beneath him. He may not have been taking in the flowers, but he at least had a beautifully clear blue sky to enjoy.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Focus


It’s been a while since I’ve posted any photos of my beloved Spoetnikkijker (Sputnik Watcher), although I continue to take photos of him on a fairly regular basis. One of my recent batches fit this week’s photo challenge of focus so I thought I’d share some of them.

My own personal focus on this statue changes, depending on my mood, available lighting, and happy accidents. Sometimes I “focus” on a detail, other times I alternate between having the sculpture and the surrounding nature in focus. On this particular day, I was taking advantage of the dappled light and the canopy of trees to help draw the focus onto the sculpture itself. In some instances, with the focus on the sculpture, the light and leaves combine to create an organic, abstract background. (Although I wish the sculpture itself was a bit sharper.)

In this photo, because of the side from which I chose to photograph the sculpture, I ended up with a relatively bright image that creates a sense of thoughtfulness. However, by changing sides, with the light now behind me, the same blurred nature background suddenly creates a much more dramatic and eerie atmosphere. Suddenly the daydream quality of the first picture becomes more reminiscent of an Expressionist nightmare.
These many sides of the statue — brought out by a change in focus and season — are one of the many reasons it’s one of my favorite things to photograph anywhere here in Utrecht.


For those who are waiting for my next instalment about the godskameren, appropriately enough, I realized today that I need one more photo, which I’ll go get tomorrow morning. I should have the Agnietenstraat housing post for you by the afternoon. Promise!

The Return of Old Friends

I don’t mean the snow that showed up overnight, although we’re getting to know each other much better this winter. I was up early and restless this morning and decided to go for a walk. I’ve been cooped up indoors working so much that I really needed to get out. Despite the snow that was still falling, I set out with no real destination in mind. I ended up walking down Voorstraat, through Neude, over to the Stadhuis, Winkel van Sinkel, more of the Oudegracht, over to Mariaplaats, along Mariastraat, and then ended up on the western side of the city where the canal that rings the city starts up again. At that point, I decided to simply follow the canal all the way back home to the eastern side of the city. In all, I was gone for around two hours and took 147 photos. I do enjoy a nice, long walk.

As I approached the park near the Sonnenborgh Museum (astronomy and such), I realized today would be a great day to get a photo of my favorite statue, the Spoetnik Kijker! That put a spring in my step! After snapping a few photos, I decided to have a bit of fun and pull Orlando out from his hiding place in my bag. My poor little flamingo goes everywhere with me, but never gets to leave the bag. After a bit of wrangling — it was a cold seat, after all — I got them both in place and snapped this shot. Lovely to see two of my favorites together!

Foto Vrijdag 2.15

Last weekend was National Museum Weekend, in which 500+ museums were open free or highly discounted throughout the country. We (finally) went to the Centraal Museum to see the exhibit about the Italian/Caravaggio influence on the Utrecht school of painting, which in turn influenced much of Dutch painting, including Rembrandt.

We took the route to the museum that goes past Lepelenburg and Sonnenborgh in order for me to stop by my favorite sculpture — De Spoetnikkijker — and get a few photos. The sky was a great mix of dark clouds against a bright blue sky, which lead to some interesting photos (see my Flickr feed). I also got to play around with different angles, made easier by the fact that I didn’t have Pippo with me. I love going on photo walks with him, but I can’t spend quite as much time on the shots when I’ve got an 80-pound dog attached to my arm via leash. He’s gotten quite good at waiting patiently, but I feel bad about getting his hopes up that we’re going to move on, when really I’m just moving a few steps to get a different angle.

Foto Vrijdag 1.4

This is a detail from one of my favorite sculptures here in town. It’s such a quiet, solitary setting and the sculpture fits the environment so perfectly. I saw the man quietly contemplating the trees when I first came upon him, during a walk with Pippo. I thought it was lovely. Then I saw the rest of the sculpture and felt a kinship.

With a bit of searching I found some info about the sculpture. It was made in 1957 and is called De Spoetnikkijker (The Sputnik Watcher). It was moved to this location (near the Sonnenborgh Observatory) in October 2007. Old photos show that the dog used to have its back to the man.