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Bruges: The People

I love photographing people, obviously, or else I wouldn’t be doing photoshoots as often as I do! Even greater still is the candid shot of a person, of a couple, of a group of friends…doing whatever it is they are doing. Yesterday I posted a slideshow focused solely on Bruges: The City…but today I’m showing you the other pictures I took…the pictures of the people.

They may not be people who live there, although some are, but they are just people walking down those medieval streets, gazing in windows, snapping their own photos, taking a break by sitting down in a giant courtyard…whatever. I love those kinds of candid shots, but I have to say…toss in a backdrop like Bruges…and oh my…I could take pictures for days.

What I liked a lot about some of the shots later in the slideshow is that the streets were a lot more empty than what we started, which really allowed you to focus on just a few people, but fill up the rest of the frame with Bruges.

Like I said in my previous post…opening up a portrait photography business in Bruges would be unbelievable.

I hope you enjoy this little glimpse of Bruges and the people who wander her streets.

In Bruges

Something a little bit different for Movie Title Wednesday this week…you don’t get one image, you get a BUNCH of images! Yay!

My portrait photography business has been ramping up here in the last few weeks so my time out shooting brackets has dwindled. Not to mention putting that photobook together has really sucked down my time. So now appears to be the right time to bust out these shots from Bruges, Belgium that I took this past July.

And what better movie title than In Bruges could you possibly use for this? I dare anyone out there to find one! If you haven’t seen the movie, you should rent it…of course, be prepared for a dark comedy with foul language, violence and midgets. This is one of my most favorite films of all time.

When I was there in Bruges back in July, I immediately knew that the big square in the middle of town with the giant church was the same from the film, and it was kind of awesome to stand in the same place that they filmed part of the movie. Maybe because I never thought I’d go to Bruges and suddenly I was standing there.

The thing about Bruges is that you honestly can’t take a bad picture. I could have shot for weeks and probably not gotten all the subtle nuances of this medieval city. Most of the images you see above were all shot with my 50mm 1.4 and I couldn’t love them more. I had been using the 17-35 for most of my time there and decided that for the last few hours, I’d switch to the 50mm and see the city in a new way. It’s amazing how much different everything looked to me through that lens.

The photos above are mostly of “the city”, but I have another slideshow planned for another day of “the people”…random shots of life in Bruges. If I could open up a thriving portraiture photography business anywhere in the world, it would probably be there. In Phoenix, you look for cool locations to do photoshoots…in Bruges, the ENTIRE town is a location. You could shoot people anywhere and it would look amazing.

I hope you enjoy these few photos. We actually printed off at least 5-8 of these from the slideshow and put some of them up in the house.  I know a few of these grouped together would make for some great wall art in YOUR house too *grin*

Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Church of our Lady) in Bruges

There is no doubt that wandering the streets of Bruges, Belgium this past July was inspiring for me. Everywhere I looked, there was something to photograph. I haven’t posted it yet, but I have a slideshow of about 25 of my favorite Bruges photographs, a bunch of which we just printed to put up at the house. I don’t know how to describe it, but for a city guy from Phoenix, AZ, in a state that is barely 100 years old…photographing architecture from medieval times was like a little slice of heaven.

The central structure in this photo above belongs to the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk, or the Church of our Lady. You can read more about it on Wikipedia, but suffice to say, construction it began in the year 1225. Wow.

What is kind of hard to see in this photo is that the entire tower is wrapped in scaffolding and tarps as some major renovations are ongoing. I purposely metered for the sky, clouds and those gorgeous rays, so that the church itself would still look majestic despite the ugly renovations going on. If you click on the photo and look at it larger, you may be able to see a bit more.

Also, there is a bird perched on one of the little spires…I just now noticed him!

I haven’t looked at this photograph in awhile…in fact, I don’t think I really processed it at all other than to MAYBE darken it a bit. But I kind of rediscovered it today and I just love it. The timing and luck to get a sky like that…well, it has to be a once in a lifetime opportunity.

At least for this guy. I’ll likely never be back that way again…and having photographs like this to always remind me of the city of Bruges…well, it’s hard to put into words.

A canal near Damme, Belgium

Just as Bryan was responsible for my photo from yesterday, a goofy GPS in our car we rented in Holland may have been responsible for this photo.

We were headed to Bruges, Belgium and the route was fairly direct, but somehow we found ourselves down a small farm road in the middle of nowhere and had at some point veered off towards the north. The GPS was leading us down some winding road for no apparent reason. Perhaps our driver turned right when he should have gone straight, but regardless, we were pretty happy where we ended up.

As we crossed this bridge over one of the many canals in the region, we just had to pull over. The scene before us was breathtaking. Lining these canals (not just here, but most canals we saw) was an endless line of very, very tall trees all spaced evenly, and perfectly, apart.

The sheer scope of a project that required trees to all be planted at the same time, the same distance apart and then to be trimmed and maintained to look mostly uniform was mind-boggling.  Only in very rare spots did you find a tree missing to break up the continuity.

Not only this, but on each side of the canal, just on the other side of the first line of trees, were pathways, and then MORE trees lining those. I have a shot of one of these sidewalks as well that I’ll post at another time.

This shot was difficult to process for some reason. The sun was overhead and bright, the wind was strong and the sky kind of intense. I’d love to find this spot again someday around dusk or dawn and see what I could do again.

It was was a magnificent place…I could have sat on the railing of that bridge for hours and hours.

(More shots from Holland: My Holland Trip)

The Beguinage Convent in Bruges, Belgium

This is the Beguinage Convent located in the middle of Bruges, Belgium. We saw this place on the little tourist map we grabbed and figured it would be an interesting contrast to the cobblestone streets and alleyways we had seen so far.

The first thing you see before entering is that no commercial photography was allowed and no tripods. Which would mean this photo of mine is not for sale. The convent is actually still functioning, which we kind of discovered when we entered into the old church that was on the grounds here.

The nuns inside were all praying aloud, in a sort of musical unison…it was amazing. It definitely caused me to lower my camera, place it behind my back and just listen to the beautiful melody they were creating.

Upon leaving, I felt so moved by this place…these nuns still serving God, allowing us tourists to visit this place, that I ended up feeling protective about it you might say. There were signs about the photography yes, but also about keeping off the grass. The trees are very old poplars, the grass well maintained…I mean, the whole place has buildings dating back to the 13th century. They wanted to keep it from being trampled to death by people.

So I come out of the church, look up and four tourists, all with gigantic Nikon cameras, are trouncing all over the grass, posing for portraits, shooting up into the trees, etc. Now, I don’t care what language you speak: the sign to stay off the grass was universal. Not to mention, as a photographer, I would rather not have idiots giving us a bad name.

I let out a big “Psssst!” (it was incredibly quiet there), and they looked at me, and I motioned them to get off the grass. They got a guilty look and quickly shuffled out onto the sidewalks. They knew they shouldn’t have been there. Tsk tsk.

My buddies I was with kind of laughed at me, but I felt good about helping these sweet old nuns out. I may return and apply for a job as the Beguinage Convent Bouncer. Pretty sure I saw a sign for that job opening somewhere…

Oh yeah, the photo…some dude on Twitter once said they “abhorred” HDR because it sucks all the life out of shadows. Well…okie dokie.

The sun was starting to get lower in the sky and I absolutely loved the way the shadows played on the grass and the path in front of me. The old buildings in the background give it some nice depth as well. And I kind of dig that you can’t see the tops of these huge trees…it definitely adds some scope and height to the photo.

(More photos from my Holland trip)

The Harley Davidson in Bruges, Belgium

You may find after I eventually post most of my Holland-Belgium photos, that I have a serious love of cool alleyways. Everytime I walked past one on this trip, I was craning my neck and peering down them to see if it was interesting enough to shoot.

I loved this one in particular. Cobblestone, brick walls, the blur doors, the archway at the end…plus a Harley Davidson parked in the foreground and a sports car out in the distance. I actually love the balance the car creates, even if it was part of the “Smart Car” family.

This is a standard 3-bracket HDR shot, but I used one of my favorite plugins, Topaz Adjust, to give it some extra flavor. I normally go for realism in coloring and style when it comes to HDR, but every now and then a photograph cries out for some a little “above and beyond” work. I like the faded, older look this has now and it really fit the town it was shot in. The filter also seems to bring out a little bit more of the color in the doorways and the cobblestones.

Have I mentioned how much I loved Bruges? I can’t even begin to describe all the photo opps in that town…it was endless. Seriously. Endless.

(More photos from Holland-Belgium)

Postcard from Bruges, Belgium

By far…by far the place I loved the most on my trip over to the Netherlands, was the drive we took to see Bruges (or Brugge), Belgium. I had heard about it from the movie “In Bruges”, a fantastic, funny, dark comedy that came out a few years ago…and then had some friends tell me I needed to see it if I went there.

The town is old and has medieval architecture. The canals twist around, little bridges go here and there and old trees, paths and stone can be seen everywhere.

This particular shot was taken around 9pm as we were getting ready to leave. The sunsets in this area of the world tend to drag out a long time, so it was nice to have time to see the city in a lovely dusk color.

I was struck by the reflection of the buildings in the water, the details on the left canal wall, the color of the roofs on the right and the simpleness of the few clouds in the sky. I wasn’t carrying my tripod, so this was propped on the railing of another stone bridge to get. Three bracket HDR.

Definitely one of my favorite shots of the trip…because it will always remind me of Bruges. A quiet, peaceful, ancient and awe-inspiring town.

(More shots from Holland: My Holland Trip)