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Hotel de Colse Hoeve

When I was in Holland recently for work, we stayed at the Hotel de Colse Hoeve. The rooms were a little sketchy…the hotel is built on old farm land, with farms on either side, so there are numerous bugs around, in the hallways and in the first room I was assigned to. I eventually moved and the next one was perfect. But as a stuck-up, pompous, city dude, fighting the bugs wasn’t my idea of a fun time at a hotel.

However, everything else was awesome. The staff was amazing, the restaurant right out of Top Chef and the location beautiful. The hotel itself was renovated from a very old farm house from 100+ years before (I believe) and was absolutely beautiful. This is a view of the long walk from the parking lot to the lobby entrance.

I’ll definitely never forgot my time in Holland (and Belgium) and still have quite a few photos I haven’t even shown yet on this blog. I plan on more down the road.

A windmill near Buitenkaag, Holland

On my bucket list of things to shoot whilst in Holland was a nice looking windmill. Actually, come to think of it, that was probably the only thing I really wanted to come back with. Ironically, it wasn’t until about 24 hours before I had to get on a plane home that I finally was in position to snap a few photographs of these beautiful structures.

Even more lucky is that we just turned off the freeway to look for a place to eat in a small town and ended up next to a place with about 30 windmills scattered over miles. If we hadn’t of turned, I never would have gotten a shot.

You may ask, “Why didn’t you just make an effort to find some?” I dunno really…sometimes I like things to happen more organically. Like I’ve said before…most of the shots that end up being my favorites are those I don’t plan. They just happen.

This windmill was at the end of a long, skinny road that ran for about 1/4 mile. People still live here and operate the thing.  The skies were great this day, lots of puffy, billowing clouds with rain falling in random places.  You can see the grass blowing from left to right in the photo.

Yet another beautiful place in a very beautiful country.

(See more of my Holland photos: Holland Trip)

The train tracks in Nuenen

The day I took this photo was kind of frustrating for me because I left the hotel without my spare camera batteries and instead of just going out to dinner, we went on a little tour of Nuenen. Of course right then my battery decided to die quickly and so I missed the first windmill I saw in Holland and a few other juicy items.

So when we got back, I ran inside, grabbed my stuff, a fresh battery and basically stormed back out, annoyed at myself and determined to get a shot before the sun went down. I had seen these tracks on the way to the hotel and it was just a quick 1/4 mile walk to get to them.

Trains FLY on these tracks and I was kind of nervous standing out there. In fact, if you look at the large version by clicking on the photo, you can see three little lights way off as the tracks disappear. I moved off the tracks pretty fast after this shot and within 30-40 seconds, that thing flew by going at least 80mph. The wind almost knocked me over *grin*

Just a sampling of the kind of railroads you see over here in the Netherlands.

(More shots from Holland: Holland Trip)

Downtown Eindhoven during the World Cup Finals

I rarely, if ever, have done an HDR shot involving more than one person and usually that’s because they ended up in the picture on accident. It’s just not something I think always looks the best and comes across in a very good way.

But I figured I wanted to try it on this one to see how it worked out, so that people could get more of an idea of the depth in this scene. I shot this last Sunday night when we went to downtown Eindhoven to watch the World Cup Finals with the natives. If you recall it was the Netherlands versus Spain and the town was covered in orange. So much orange. We all wore orange that we brought along or bought there, trying to support the Dutch!

This shows how busy it was in this part of the downtown area, but the squares with the giant hanging TVs were even more insane. However, we skipped ’em because the humidity was super high and the heat generated by a crowd of thousands was almost enough to make us feel like we were drowning.

We watched it at this pub on the left and had a super fun time. Wish they would have won…even more wish they had at least scored so we could have felt the crowd’s energy around us.

Better luck in four years guys!

Insane thunderstorm over Nuenen

So at the facility we’re working at today, I asked this crazy, funny, Dutch guy around noon, “So what, no rain today? Looks pretty nice out!” He responds, “Oh no, bad storm coming, will be here between 5-6pm.” Alright, we’ll see!

Photo above taken at 5:42pm.

Umm, wow, this was probably the coolest looking storm I’ve ever seen. Well, maybe I’m just excited, but as you can see from the photo, there was some serious nastiness headed right for me. The clouds were churning, I saw a small funnel up high in the clouds (probably just a “cold air funnel”, barely anything, but I saw it!), the lightning was all over and then once the storm hit, there was 70mph winds and debris from trees all over the place.

We went out to dinner later and there were some flattened cornfields, a few uprooted trees and broken branches littering the small town of Nuenen.

This shot is a “shakily” held merge of two 3-bracket HDR images. CS5 worked some magic for me here which I may talk about at a later date, but no time for it now.

Suffice to say…it’s hard to believe I was worried about missing the monsoon in Arizona when stuff like this was waiting for me.

I have some more nasty photos I may post later on…but this one took some time and I had to get it out there.

(More Holland photos here: Holland Trip)

Boiling storm over Nuenen

This is another shot of the storm from behind my hotel a few nights ago. You can see some brightness to the right which was a wall of rain coming that I ended up having to outrun since I stood there shooting until it was almost too late.

This is a black and white, HDR photo from three handheld brackets. It’s got a looooot of grain. I kind of like it that way and it’s mainly why I decided to go with the B&W styling, but once I removed the color, I liked the scene even more. Getting rid of the grain proved too hard to do without losing the integrity and anger in the clouds. It just smoothed them out too much. I may look into other ways to do it later on when I refine it, but I also honestly don’t mine it looking this way.

Loved getting to see a seriously nasty cloud all the way here in Holland!