Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Nowhere in particular ...

You know those days where you get on a tram, with Shannon ... which may or may not have been a contributing factor, and then get thrown off halfway into the city?

It happened to us just now but it wasn't so much about Shannon, it more about the serious rioting occurring in the centre city. The trams and buses had stopped running through the city, due to rioters attacking parked cars, buses and trams ... somehow being kicked off the tram turned out to be very good news. If I had any doubts, the multitude of police vans cruising the streets were quite convincing as we were carrying most my camera gear.

So we're home and we're safe after a long journey to nowhere in particular.

an island scene, marmara sea, originally uploaded by - di.

A note from my world ...

I've spent the last couple of days agonising over a request that I submit some samples of my photography for possible inclusion in an art show here in Belgium.

Which photos? is always the problem.
Should I present a theme, a collection ... or simply send in a range?

In the end, I decided to send a range of material (just 15 but across different subjects) while knowing that I will probably go out and shoot a new collection of work specifically... that is, if I am invited to participate.

It couldn't have come at a better time, as I am in my most studious mode these days, reading my way through Alyson B. Stanfield's I'd rather be in the studio.

Creating an artist's statement, just as my wonderful web designer is on a programming mission to finish the new website. Reading this book that sells itself as 'the artist's no-excuse guide to self-promotion'.

The new website means that I have to crank up the volume of production for this soon-to-be newly-relocated blog, sorting some more photographs for the galleries and fine-tuning some of the interviews completed and ready to publish.

I can really see why people hire personal assistants.
We took a lottery ticket for the weekend ...

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Icicles, Antwerpen Zoo

Icicles, Antwerpen Zoo, originally uploaded by - di.

It was THIS cold at the zoo today.

This was a little stream that flowed around one of the enclosures. I was delighted when I noticed these icicles because ... 1. I really was 'that' cold and 2. they were so very very beautiful.

Moi, Antwerpen Zoo

Moi, originally uploaded by - di.

Gert captured the Di creature while at the zoo - a visitor, not an inhabitant. I was so lost in my photography this afternoon that I had no idea he was photographing me. In honour of this rare achievement, I am posting the result.

The hat was made by a neighbour back in my Portobello days on the Otago Peninsula in Dunedin and I feel an unreasonable attachment to it despite the fact that it falls over my eyes repeatedly. The scarf is Istanbul ... the weather, pure freezing cold mid-winter Antwerpen.

He spotted me ...

Tiger, originally uploaded by - di.

I was laughing over a lone duck, sliding and slipping on the iced moat that keeps the tigers from jumping the low wall here in Antwerpen zoo when it occurred to me to wonder if the ice would hold the weight of the tiger because ... the wall would only be a small leap for the stripey residents.

-1 celsius but the elephants were out

Elephant, Antwerpen Zoo, originally uploaded by - di.

Gert and I decided to escape from work and things that needed doing today in favour of a trip to the zoo with our cameras ... despite the desperately cold blue sky day that almost finished us.

We have these inexpensive year-long passes that we don't make the time to use often enough ...

Believe it or not ...

Found, Antwerpen Zoo, originally uploaded by - di.

I found this photograph waiting to happen at Antwerpen Zoo this afternoon. I did very little to it in photoshop and voila, this happened.

The giraffe was licking the steamy glass wall of its indoor enclosure ...

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Wikipedia and a run-down on crimes of moral turpitude

Moral turpitude is a legal concept in the United States that refers to "conduct that is considered contrary to community standards of justice, honesty, or good morals".[1]

It is of great importance for immigration purposes, as only those offenses which are defined as involving moral turpitude are considered bars to immigration into the U.S.

There's a quite list of crimes of moral turpitude over on wikipedia, as per above link.

So, if I want to visit those I really care about in the States, here's the process I would need to go through.

Did you know about the official form needed to enter America? You can view it over here.

If you're a member of parliament here in Belgium and you're thinking of flying into the States on a successful Belgian businessman's private jet ... start applying much earlier, as the terms of entry are even worse than those listed below and you need to appear at the American Embassy in Belgium on the date designated by them or wait for the next available date if matters of importance (as in running a country) demand your attention. No one can appear on your behalf.

I had heard rumours of question (c) but thought a cruel and foolish joke being made about those who designed the form but no, they really do ask 'C) Have you ever been or are you now involved in espionage or sabotage; or in terrorist activities; or genocide; or between 1933 and 1945 were you involved , in any way, in persecutions associated with Nazi Germany or its allies? * Yes No'

My reading began with a simple search on ...Travel to the United States: New Requirements. Posted: 19 December 2008, 12:15 NZDT

The United States has introduced a new electronic visa waiver system that will come into force on 12 January 2009. From this date, all New Zealanders planning to travel to the United States for less than 90 days for business or tourism without a visa will be required to obtain an on-line travel authorisation before they go

Do any of the following apply to you? (Answer Yes or No)
Please select if you need additional help on any of these questions.

A) Do you have a communicable disease; physical or mental disorder; or are you a drug abuser or addict? * Yes No

B) Have you ever been arrested or convicted for an offense or crime involving moral turpitude or a violation related to a controlled substance; or have been arrested or convicted for two or more offenses for which the aggregate sentence to confinement was five years or more; or have been a controlled substance trafficker; or are you seeking entry to engage in criminal or immoral activities? * Yes No

C) Have you ever been or are you now involved in espionage or sabotage; or in terrorist activities; or genocide; or between 1933 and 1945 were you involved , in any way, in persecutions associated with Nazi Germany or its allies? * Yes No

Waiver of Rights: I have read and understand that I hereby waive for the duration of my travel authorization obtained via ESTA any rights to review or appeal of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer's determination as to my admissibility, or to contest, other than on the basis of an application for asylum, any removal action arising from an application for admission under the Visa Waiver Program.

In addition to the above waiver, as a condition of each admission into the United States under the Visa Waiver Program, I agree that the submission of biometric identifiers (including fingerprints and photographs) during processing upon arrival in the United States shall reaffirm my waiver of any rights to review or appeal of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer's determination as to my admissibility, ...

P.S. What is 'moral turpitude? Is it a movable definition based on the personal belief system of each person asking the question or some kind of serious crime over there in the States?

Friday, December 26, 2008

I was spotted by the blue boy in the trees ...

Heron,(trespasser) Antwerpen Zoo., originally uploaded by - di.

Cold but definitely worth going out ...

In all his beauty ...

Tiger, Antwerpen Zoo., originally uploaded by - di.

The background was rather flattering too.

Boxing Day, Antwerpen

Camel, Antwerpen Zoo, originally uploaded by - di.

And I was out wandering with my camera ... quite unable to resist this dude. And 'dude' he has to be, with a hairstyle like this.

It was cold out there, a blue-sky 2 degree celsius kind of day, with a cutting wind. Lovely conditions for photography though ...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Di's Christmas Card, 2009, originally uploaded by - di.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Back in February, I was invited to photograph friends here and was truly touched because ... but there's a story, of course.

Hugo and Maria are friends of Gert's and had accepted me into their world as an extension of Gert, and so it went ...

Married for 46 years, Maria had spent the last 17 years fighting an extraordinarily brave fight against breast cancer, surviving each crisis of health, in recent years actually confounding doctors who didn't see how it was possible for her to return from the places the cancer sometimes took her.

I was in Cairo when she died last week and it was with some sadness I returned for the funeral, feeling it more than any before because her fight strongly reminded me of losing my mother.

That Maria was special was surely seen in the huge numbers of people in church this morning, and further proven by the fact we stayed for the full catholic service in the big old stone cathedral despite a broken heating system on a cold winter day.

The February photo session had been full of grace on her part because she felt she was no longer beautiful. There was something so special about her allowing me attempt to show her the beauty I saw in her.

This morning I discovered this photograph we had created together on the front of the small in memory of card handed out at the service - her absence so visible in that space next to Hugo, the place we are all so used to seeing her.

She was truly stunning when she was young but so many years later, I can still see so much beauty in this woman, briefly captured as she was, in a small space between battles.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Tea Shop, Cairo

Tea Shop, Cairo, originally uploaded by - di.

One of the more delicious dream-like moments I had in Cairo involved this teashop in the back streets of downtown Cairo.

I was there to document a meeting on that 20+ celsius Egyptian day, meanwhile a few million interesting people strolled by and I tried to respect their privacy but by crikey, it took everything I had not to take photographs.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A glimpse

Downtown, Cairo, originally uploaded by - di.

I took this on my second day in Cairo ...

Sitting at an outdoor teahouse somewhere in downtown Cairo, listening to 2 incredibly interesting people do their thing while I took photographs of them and the world around me.

I have a political reception to photograph tonight - they're talking of a 3am ending and here I am, just a wee bit tired for some reason.

Anyway as is said here in Belgie, I hope alles goed in your world.

Tot straks.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Cairo ... a moment on a borrowed computer

Stupendous ... chaotic, crowded, so very different to what I'm used to ... good people, fascinating and challenging cityscape ... incredible artists, an exhibition opening tonight.

No laptop, no photographs downloaded but later, when I return.

I'm traveling with the person who opened this world to me ... I shall quite possibly change my name to Alice (in recognition of the fact that I'm often in wonderland when wandering in this world).

Back soon ...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Cairo Bound ...

Today has been about making my way through a check-list while suffering angst over the amount of equipment I'm taking.

I've always travelled quite lightly but this time it's about having everything on hand ... from batteries for the flash and the camera to enough memory cards to shoot everything with my settings on raw. Multiple chargers are needed for the cellphone, the flash batteries, the camera batteries, the portable hard-drive and the mp3 player. It's about the right lenses, the right-size camera bag, money, passport, e-ticket and the visa card.

I'll change my weather underground widget over to Cairo but a week in the mid-20s (70s for the States) is predicted.

I managed not to open the new book that arrived last week and I'm hoping it gets me through the 1 hour flight over to Zurich and on through the 4 hours it takes to reach Cairo.

The laptop is staying at home this time but I plan on buying a much smaller more portable one for travelling in the very near future. As the money comes in, it has to roll straight back out and purchase equipment but I guess that's how it should be.

I found a cheap little mp3 player and have loaded the best of my music, plus my lessons in Italiano. The embarrassing thing being the fact that I was onto my 5th pair of earphones before realising the mp3 player that was the problem. This 30euro mp3 player seemed like an investment long overdue.

So to pack ... writing this has put off the moment a while but everything other thing is done but for that.

Tot straks and have a lovely week.

Friday, December 12, 2008

But the best news was ...

It has been a really cold 4 celsius here all day and I was looking for clothes for 25+ celsius. It was a difficult leap to make.

I needed 3 extra 4GB memory cards for my camera, as I'll be shooting raw images in Cairo and then there was the portable photo storage drive that slipped into my bag to be rung up as a business purchase. Much as I don't like travelling without my laptop, the idea of carrying it all over Cairo, along with the photography gear, just didn't appeal ... so I will be laptop-less there.

But the best news of the day was the phone call ...
A sumptuous German magazine (actually, Gert looked and said 'Swiss magazine') wants 8 of my photographs from this series for its next edition. I'll let you know when they're published ...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

a winter seat, Antwerpen

a winter seat, Antwerpen, originally uploaded by - di.

I loved this empty seat near the castle on the edge of the river Schelde ...

I rarely work on my photographs in photoshop, as I don't have the skill for it, so this was untouched - the light really was that fabulous.

A glimpse of life on the Schelde River


City view, Antwerpen, originally uploaded by - di.

The light, the light ...

Street Mirror, Antwerpen

Street Mirror, Antwerpen, originally uploaded by - di.

I do believe these mirrors are one of my favourite photographic toys.

Just before Sunset, Antwerpen view

Before Sunset, Antwerpen view, originally uploaded by - di.

Peter will tell me the name of the church - it escapes me for the moment but the moon ...

Hyperthermia was setting in and my hands were going numb but it was worth it just to work with that 10 minutes of light.

I was feeling a bit blah so went wandering ...

The pier, Schelde River, Antwerpen, originally uploaded by - di.

And as I reached the River Schelde, here in the city, the light went wild as the sun went down...

A winter's day in Antwerpen

A winter's day in Antwerpen, originally uploaded by - di.

That's me ... playing with street mirrors as the light disappears at the end of a session with light up on the edge of the River Schelde.

Daydreaming ...

Barcelona eggs, originally uploaded by - di.

I have a lot to do and no will to begin ... partially because of the sun burning down on me through the window next to my desk and partly because there is so much to do, I'm not sure where to begin.

I was working in Brussels yesterday and will be again tomorrow.

The new website is almost ready to launch and I hope to blog for it during my Cairo trip but perhaps that's too soon, as there's so much to load and prepare before launching it. Anyway, fingers crossed, we're almost done.

Eggs ... so very yummily displayed at the famous Mercat Boqueria in Barcelona.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Dining out, blind ...

Can you imagine eating food you can't see ... ?

Simon and Paola tried it out.

A fascinating glimpse into a world of just 4 senses ...

Nagging wife, sausage help man win lottery

I had to blog this one ...

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Lazy Sunday ...

My flight is being booked for 5 days in Cairo mid-December and even writing that bemuses me some ...

I live this life of mine on a shoestring, a fairly ragged one mostly. Most of my 'adventures' occur as a result of my photography, directly or indirectly, helped along by friends and kind strangers on occasion.

It feels like a good life.

This Middle Eastern adventure will culminate in a rather incredible October exhibition in Berlin (not of my work) that I'll write more about in the months ahead.

Tonight is about packaging up cds full of photographs bound for Brussels and London, then there is the series of recorded interviews done with Hunter before leaving New Zealand such a long time ago. Listening to snippets of our conversations, I heard the New Zealand birds doing their thing in his garden ... the bluebirds or tuis and others, chiming their songs as we talked.

Now to the next things on the list ...

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Bahaa Taher, Love in Exile

I'll let someone else write up this book that I emerged from this morning.

You can read more of the author here.

In Love in Exile Bahaa Taher presents multilayered variations on the themes of exile, disillusionment, failed dreams, and the redemptive power of love.

Unwilling to recant his Nasserist beliefs, the narrator is an Egyptian journalist in a self-imposed exile in Europe after conflict with the management of his newspaper and a divorce from his wife.

Absorbed in introspection over his impotent position at the paper and in ill health, he suddenly finds himself faced with two issues he cannot ignore: the escalating tensions in Israeli-occupied Lebanon and, more personally, an unexpected love affair with a much younger Austrian woman, Brigitte.

The narrator's familial exile has left him a long-distance father facing the difficulties of raising children from whom he is rapidly growing distant. His son is drifting into fundamentalism while his daughter falls under the materialistic sway of the west. After struggling mightily to remain part of their lives, he finds himself marginalized and rejected.

Brigitte, also an exile of sorts, encourages him to turn his back on the problems and pressures of the everyday world and cocoon himself in the warmth of their love. However, the horror of events surrounding the occupation of Lebanon in 1982 soon shocks them out of their contentment and safety.

Friday, December 05, 2008

You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.
Mark Twain

Borrowed from Tangobaby.

Patrick Gaspard, an article in the Huffington Post

There's an interesting article about Barack Obama's political director, Patrick Gaspard.

Some Results ...

If curious about Wednesday night's gig in Brussels, you can visit the press release over here.

A few of my photographs appear at the bottom of the news item.

The Thing about Sagrada Familia

Gaudi and Light, Sagrada Familia, originally uploaded by - di.

It began to seem that wondrous things are often happening with the light around Gaudi's Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

I looked up during my afternoon visit and noticed this effect created by smoke floating skywards.

I loved the effect of it ...

Thursday, December 04, 2008

What Mark Did ...

Mark is an old friend, from those days when I was a kid growing up in Green Street through to now, in this European life of mine and last night, I found a package from him in my letter box ...

One of the gifts inside came with instructions that it had to be viewed at 6pm.

Being an obedient creature, I waited until 6pm and pressed play here on the laptop and guess what ... I am viewing New Zealand's 6pm Channel 3 News and it's truly excellent ... ads and everything!

I haven't been home for 4 and a half years so this is a wee slice of heaven. There is more in this package from home.

Grazie, dank u wel, gracias, tesekk├╝r ederim, Mark.

Note: Did I mention, it's so very different to Belgian television.
I miss New Zealand tonight.
I recovered my immense will to live when I realized that the meaning of my life was the one I had chosen for it.
Paolo Coelho

The Song that meant Christmas was coming In New Zealand

Don't ask me why, I've never known the 'why' of it but when we heard this song all over the radios back home in New Zealand, we knew it was Christmas time ...

If you need something beautiful today ...

then my idea is that you might find some of what you need over here.

Nina's blog has become the place where I go when I need something thoughtful and beautiful and peaceful.

Her latest series on her time in Ocracoke is blowing me away. I chose her latest but it's part of a series.

Beautiful beautiful blog.

But wait ...

there's more!

The Dangers of Skype ...

Mark and I are in the midst of the equivalent of dueling banjos ... finding old songs from our pasts to torture each other with, presently using the immediacy of skype to up the ante on our our email battle.

Oh the memories.

I was cackling like a small but very wicked witch as I sent him this.

He replied with this.

However, for the moment, I think I'm ahead with this .

To quote Mark, who said, shuddering via the phone ... That one was a weapon of mass destruction. You got me.

To be continued ...

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Today ...

Just in from a photography gig over in Brussels.

I love that kind of photography ... the documentation of a reception, with speeches. I imagine the feelings I have are akin to those experienced by a passionate big game hunter, although instead of going in for the kill, I'm hunting for that perfect photograph, a capture of something real and beautiful in people who don't even know that they are in my view-finder.

It did my soul good to get out there and I got to meet my first European Commissioner as a result. Rattling back through launches and receptions, I don't think I've met any others so far ...

It was a room full of good people, an excellent day really. One that began with Paola and an afternoon coffee.

Grazie Paola, it was just what I needed.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

For my sister ...

And like all pairs of sisters, with that curious distinction of chosen territories: the mappa mundi boundary drawn between the civilised world of the responsible sister and the 'here be dragons' realm of the sister who wanders off.

Andrea Lee, extract from Lost Hearts in Italy

Monday, December 01, 2008

A Cure for Complicated Dreaming

I had dived into a new book and they were racing through Rome, heading for the coast and had Madness and One Step Beyond playing on the radio of their little Fiat.

Books are my ultimate luxury ... can you tell?
When I have a little extra money, I buy books. Lately I've needed them for traveling and have returned to my habit of buying. Today, while Christmas shopping, I ended up with 3 for me.

Wickedness indeed.

They all look fabulous of course ... to me, with my peculiar taste perhaps.
There is Love in Exile by Bahaa Taher and Jason Goodwin's On Foot to the Golden Horn - A Walk to Istanbul and finally, Lost Hearts in Italy by Andrea Lee.

Viva De Slegte and the excellent bookshop on the corner near the end of Tram 11 here in the city, De Groene Waterman.

I Dream Dreams .... and wake grouchy.

And you will immediately note that I'm not saying 'I have a dream!'no ... this is something else altogether. I dream dreams full of life and intricate details that leave me exhausted, making Gert laugh when I wake grouchy or sad and recount them to him.

This morning, after dreaming of the big old gloomy house where the sad young couple lived with their small daughter who was dying due to an allergic reaction she had to eating melon at a child's birthday party ... I woke deeply depressed, both from the weight of the couples sadness and from the fact that my little sister, the nurse, had detailed the care the young couple had to give their daughter as she slipped away ... peach droplets on her skin but of course. And there was the exhaustion from keeping little Miss 4 quiet as we changed from our swimsuits in a room in their house after swimming in their pool. The sad young man was Colin Firth, as he appeared in Bridget Jone's Diary and the house had the look of the old house next to the place where I used to ride horses as a teenager.

This morning I tried slipping back into bed after breakfast was done but my daughter, the one who has loved sleeping since she was small, came and told me she was running a shower because we were going to the city to shop for Christmas presents.

Anyone who knows my daughter will laugh over the idea of her hustling anyone out of bed in the morning ...

I guess last night's dream was slightly less fraught than the one where the albatross was standing in the ruins of his wings which had dropped off for reasons I didn't get round to dreaming. I remember being devastated that I didn't have my camera to record this mind-blowing scene ... which wasn't as terrible as it sounds because the albatross was fine without his wings, as in he wasn't dying, although he was incredibly annoyed and did end up chasing me around something that looked suspiciously like a small village hall from my New Zealand past.

Liz, Fiona, Jessie and I did attempt to escape by scaling a tall chimney-like cliff nearby by, with me leading but at the top there were these bars. But that was the other night when, I just kept getting horribly terribly lost and further away from wherever it was that I was staying.

And parts of that particular dream, most particularly the 'lost' part, were close enough to recent realities to confuse me on waking.

So you see how it is ... my life is more bizarre once I am sleeping.