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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.

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)

An old church on the Gila River Indian reservation

Rarely do I allow random people to pose in any of my HDR landscape photos, but this is my wife, it was on a date night that started off with storm chasing and she looked pretty dang cute sitting in front of a battered looking old church. Sadly I have no idea the name of this place, but it’s located on the Gila River Indian Reservation a few miles south of where we live. There was a bunch of dust headed our way, so we jumped out, took a few pictures and then zoomed back off.

The church itself was interesting…outwardly it didn’t appear like anyone would be using the place, but the two AC units were actually running so who knows?

Storms and Stones

Today’s photo is one I’ve  been waiting to take for awhile, but I had been waiting for some cool skies to show up to add to the composition. I’m a sucker for cool clouds and storms, so if I am ever outdoors taking landscape shots, or random sights such as the one above, getting a sweet sky is a bonus.

This is a graveyard/cemetery at St. Anne’s Mission down on the Gila River Indian Reservation. It’s right off the road on Highway 87. I will be posting a shot of the church itself later this week.

But I love these two graves. My favorite part is the makeshift bench in front of both of them. Someone set that up one day long ago and still it stands. I wonder who first sat there, how they knew the people buried here and what they were thinking?

The graves themselves are adorned with all kinds of stuff…if you click on the photo you can see the higher resolution version and see some of it.

Also in the background are hundreds of other crosses that dominate this cemetery.