Saturday, January 31, 2009

To Be or Not To Be?

early morning, rome, originally uploaded by - di.

Looking up flights to Rome in March, Istanbul in April and Naples before mid-year too.

Hmmmm, is the puppy plan on hold while I go off gallivanting because the Middle East work will most likely fit in amongst it all somewhere too?

The Istanbul gig came up yesterday - photographer required for a rather special guidebook of that city I love so very much.

Then tonight came news of Rome, with an invitation to Naples ... an invitation that promised Pompeii, Hercleum, Vesuvius and pizza, as if I need tempted to return to Italy :)

I can't help wondering if Gert called in some favours or offered some people some very big money to distract me from the dog plot.

Buying dinner tonight and we were talking with the daughter of the owner at our favourite Turkish takeaway restaurant. She and I exchanged phone numbers, planning an English for Turkish conversation exchange. Could be fun, and useful as it will be two weeks working hard in Istanbul.

Flight prices are good just now. 1euro each way to Rome, with 77euro for taxes and another 10euro to book it online. Istanbul is looking like 489euro for two, return. So much cheaper than flying from New Zealand.
Seems do-able.

A bottle of Australian red wine has been opened to celebrate this very excellent moment.

Happy Saturday night to you too! (Sunday morning for the kiwis and Aussies.

I think I'm finally getting that Belgian Labrador puppy

I explained, very ernestly and matter-of-factly, that Gert had 3 choices ...

We could build me a beach with associated water, waves and sand because I miss having beaches in my world.

We could build me a lake because I had become used to spending long hours at lakes and rivers with my dogs through the years.

Or we could simply find me a labrador ... I've always had a dog, since I was 9 years old.

He was wearing that stubborn expression he does so well and said nothing but I think it will be okay.

I might have pushed things a little further and pointed out the obvious annoyance of waves on the balcony, then there's the nuisance-factor of a lake that drains into the lounge every time we walk out onto the balcony and compared them to the simple pleasures of a devoted canine companion.

I'm hoping it won't descend into a simple 'You're not the boss of me!'situation ...

Note: When I read this to him, fact-checking, he pretended to throw his newspaper at me ... but he was smiling. I'm pretty sure it's going to be okay.
Indolence is a virtue. It comes from two Latin words, which mean freedom from anxiety or grief. And that is a wholesome state of mind. There are times and seasons when it is even a pious and blessed state of mind. Not to be in a hurry; not to be ambitious or jealous or resentful; not to feel envious of anybody; not to fret about to-day nor worry about to-morrow,--that is the way we ought all to feel at some time in our lives; and that is the kind of indolence in which our brook faithfully encouraged us.
Exract from Fisherman's Luck by Henry Van Dyke, 1912.

I found this quote and a beautiful post over on Ornamental, the lovely blog belonging to Nina.

Ms Deadly Jelly writes about the New Zealand Male ...

I smiled over Ms DJ's latest post:

An extract: There are certain things you do not do with a Kiwi man, never never, no seriously not even ever. These include describing rugby as ‘only a game’; coming between him and a lamb chop; mispronouncing Kiwi place names; or slapping your elbows whilst licking your chin, and calling it a Haka.

Or calling bacon and egg pie ‘quiche’.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Published ... in Du Magazine!!

Delighted I was, to receive a 1.98kg parcel in the post today.

Inside I discovered two copies of Du Magazine, February 2009 - a Swiss cultural magazine.

Two of my photographs appear on pages 48 and 49 of this beautiful publication ... the article is written in German and titled Die Wiederkehr des Ornaments.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Samsung NC10

The teensy weensy Samsung NC10 arrived today. It's more gear for the Berlin/Middle East gig and I'm writing this on its almost normal keyboard ... fascinated by the compact yumminess of the small machine with its 10.2inch screen.

As my camera gear becomes heavier and I travel to places where I need both the camera equipment and some kind of laptop, this was the best Gert could find for the money I had available to me ... and we're both liking it.

First night with it tonight, more news to follow after it's been put through its paces.

My Home Town

I was bemused to find my home town featured in the local newspaper back home in New Zealand.

I was there until the age of 20 and my early wandering was only limited by the hills that surrounded the plains I grew up on.

I thought the title, Mosgiel's many charms was pushing it a little but that could be from growing up as a native there. One often doesn't know to appreciate what they have until it's gone ...

The air was so very very clean there and as with all childhood memories, the sun almost always shone, we played outside all day except Sundays, when it was often-times grey and overcast.

So welcome to a small snapshot view of Mosgiel ... ;)

Wikipedia has more to say, should curiosity overwhelm you. I was quite surprised to discover that Mosgiel takes its name from Mossgiel in Ayrshire, the farm of poet Robert Burns, the uncle of the co-founder (1848) of the Otago settlement, the Reverend Thomas Burns.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Winter fevers ...

There's flu here in Belgium, and talking with Lisen earlier, I hear it's over in Istanbul too.

Our apartment is full of people, mostly sick people.
Gert slept 17 hours from lunchtime yesterday. Jessie fought a fever over the same time-frame and now has a headache and nausea thing happening. I'm just back from a night search for the right kind of juice-only iceblock in minus 2 celsius degree weather. Our local night shop was closed though ...

And little Miss Four is taking an antibiotic for bronchitis, a powerful antibiotic that makes her feel terrible which results in 'interesting' behaviour. The upside being, I've been telling myself, is that she's on the mend.

I've been working on photographs all day but I've only managed to check through 70, in-between everything else. The apartment is clean, almost everyone is in bed, including Gert's two children, the washing is almost up-to-date and here I am, at my mess of a desk, wondering how tomorrow will be.

I hope things are good in your world.

A little bit of Bob.

When not completely infuriated by the games governments play, I listen to music ...
I do.

I was listening to my mp3 player while working through some photo sessions just completed and came to Bob Seger's Roll Me Away and remembered travelling all over the South Island of New Zealand with this man. He won't recall, possibily because it was more about him playing loud on my car stereo as I drove the 600kms between Dunedin and Blenheim ... or where ever I was going back in those days of driving and immense personal freedom.

I went searching for a youtube of Roll Me Away but only came up with somebody's elses road trip ... Bob's excellent company.

I liked this song of Bob's too, so we'll make-do with the youtube.

Canon EOS 5D MarkII - Second Outing

Contemplative, originally uploaded by - di.

I was working in 'interesting' light conditions, with a flash, using the telephoto lens so people had no idea I was photographing them.

I was delighted with this photograph. I had spent a few hours chatting to and sharing an office space with this guy on Monday. Tuesday and I was the photographer.

Yesterday in Brussels

an old friend, originally uploaded by - di.

I taught some incredible young minds while I was teaching English in Istanbul and some of them have kept up with me since leaving. For the first time an ex-student of mine flew into Brussels and we lunched together in a frozen city centre - minus 2 yesterday.

I had the new Canon EOS and couldn't resist asking permission to photograph him before the cafe filled up with the lunch crowd. He's a lovely guy - fluent in Turkish, French and English, savvy in politics and working towards a career as a musician.

It was good to catch up on him and his world.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Out and About ...

Get to our front door. Open the door. Up the stairs. On no! We forgot to shut the door. Back downstairs. Shut the door. Back upstairs. Into the bedroom. Into bed. Under the covers. We're not going on a bear hunt again.
Extract from, We're Going on a Bear Hunt.

And that kind of sums up the last couple of days ...
I wandered into work in Brussels yesterday, worked on the database, talked to a fireman from England, caught the trams out to Paola and Simon's, had a delicious pasta meal with wine and Italian ice cream and just really enjoyed catching up on their news - talking far too much about me.

I slept at the top of the stairs in their bedroom for guests, woke this morning, a little nervous about all the trams and places I needed to find ... knowing that without geographical landmarks I am constantly lost therefore it follows that the Brussels underground metro completely destroys me however I am proud to write that I found my way back to the city via two trams, met up with one of my ex-Istanbul English students, wandered with him - a cafe for a coffee, a cafe for lunch (it was minus one celsius today).

A goodbye to Ege and back on the metro to Madou to take photographs of a Jewish/Muslim dialogue workshop the NGO was running.

I love photographing the workshops and using the new Canon EOS was purely delicious. It was its first time out with my flash and all went well.
I love it!

Back through the underground, onto the Antwerpen train, reading John Simpson's excellent book A Mad World, My Masters, and emerging, quite surprised, back in the city.

Reading Mr Simpson, there has been the depressing realisation that all wars are the same and often an invented political event. As I read through his tales of attending various wars, I see that the same template has been laid down again and again and again. Same reasons, same excuses, same dead civilians ... to read it on the heels of the Israeli offensive into Gaza makes me see how much we let our leaders get away with. Have a look at his book if you doubt me.

Home via the apotheek for medicine for everyone here at the apartment. Gert's been in bed sick since lunchtime, Jessie has struggled on with the same coughing feverish misery because little Miss Four has developed bronchitis so ... it was pizzas for dinner, checking in with everyone on who needed food, drink and painkillers, downloading today's work and voila, here I am, updating the blog some.

A busy couple of days.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

EOS Canon 5D series II - Day One

this photographer's model, originally uploaded by - di.

How he suffers me but I loved this shot.

EOS Canon 5D series II - Day One

Flamingo, Antwerpen Zoo, originally uploaded by - di.

This was probably my favourite shot of the day. Completely outdoors with natural light. I've down-sized the file hugely to load it here.

EOS Canon 5D series II - Day One

This little guy was being fed by his keeper. Again, it was taken from behind some kind of glass but we were outdoors. I'd like to go back with more time and less wind chill factor ...

EOS Canon 5D series II - Day One

Tiger, Antwerpen Zoo, originally uploaded by - di.

I have to get used to the lens being its actual length - so this was taken with the Canon EF 70-200mm 1:4L. I missed the extra length but have a 75-300mm that I will start using again when visiting the zoo.

EOS Canon 5D series II - Day One

the morning after, Antwerpen Zoo, originally uploaded by - di.

I took this photograph inside, without a flash, through glass then cropped the file to half its size and it's not bad, or so it seems to me.

Cairo ...

Backstreet wall, Cairo, originally uploaded by - di.

I have loaded Cairo onto my new website, the blog posts, a photo gallery and am just waiting for the last of the work to be completed on it.

Tara was curious about my Cairo photography ... here is one taken from the balcony of the most remarkable art gallery.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Elders.

This gave me a little bit of hope, meet The Elders.

The Global Elders or The Elders is a group of public figures noted as elder statesmen, peace activists, and human rights advocates. The goal of the group is to solve global problems, using "almost 1,000 years of collective experience" to work on solutions for seemingly insurmountable problems like climate change, HIV/AIDS, and poverty, and "use their political independence to help resolve some of the world's most intractable conflicts."

You can read more about them over here.
Serious travelling is never comfortable or safe, and is very rarely accompanied by champagne; unless, that is, you have brought your own. Serious travelling is difficult, and the enjoyment is in direct proportion to the degree of difficulty. By which I mean, it only starts to be really enjoyable once it's over.
John Simpson, extract from A Mad World, My Masters.
Change of plans, no playing with the new camera today so here are some old photographs, taken on my beloved Canon EOS 400D while I was in Rome.

ancient angel, italy, originally uploaded by - di.

parked in ancient streets, italy, originally uploaded by - di.

My Canon EOS 5D Mark II

First use, after charging the battery forever ... it's a staggeringly excellent machine.


Some results to be posted tonight after some time spent playing.

The New Baby Arrived Today ...

New equipment for the Middle East/Berlin job began arriving today.

I have to charge the battery for 15 hours before using it but I'm not sure how I will be once the new Canon EOS 5D Mark II is ready to use. Possibly incoherently joyfilled.

As is usual in my life, it's all still a bit surreal but it will pass.

Tot straks from the smiling creature.

Friday, January 23, 2009

New Zealand ...

I had watched this spectacle once before and thought I would post it.

Summer in New Zealand ... sigh.

Monday, January 19, 2009

My favourite cafe, Rome

Favourite cafe, Rome, originally uploaded by - di.

There's my cousin, making notes bottom left and there was this delicious woman looking out of her window top right.

I wonder, does any person looking out from an open-shutter window look delicious to a kiwi who comes from a shutterless land?

The Gardener

Gardening, Travestere, Rome, originally uploaded by - di.

I loooked up and couldn't resist this photograph.

Wandering Minstrel, Rome

Wandering Minstrel, Rome, originally uploaded by - di.

I love sitting and watching the world go by, and if I can get away with using my camera at the same time, then I'm a happy bunny.

I was sitting in Piazza Navona one hot sunny day back in May, I think and this busker passed by. I couldn't resist ...

Forza Genoa!

Genoa, originally uploaded by - di.

I have been a quiet fan of the Genoa football club for a few years now ...

New Zealanders talk in whispers when we talk of our football team. We don't do well in the world and rugby is the game followed by most of the country.

In Turkey, my students were always keen to know which team I supported there. They would list Trabzonspor, Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe, and Beşiktaş and I would always reply ... Genoa.

This reply prevented rioting of the teenage variety and it was true, if I had to support a football team, then Genoa had my loyalty.

This year, Genoa has a great team and the fabulous Diego Milito and as a result they are 4th on the table halfway through the season.

Anyway, the photograph ... I was wandering lost, looking for Boccadasse, having decided to walk from Porta Soprana. I arrived eventually but along the way, I passed Genoa Football flags, out on match day and I couldn't resist a photograph or two.

A Bertolucci Moment, Camogli, Italy

Camogli, Genova, originally uploaded by - di.

I photographed this curtain as it blew in the wind simply because it reminded of a breath-taking moment in Bertolucci's 'Stealing Beauty' movie.

I'm not sure if everyone is captured by the way a net curtain can float on a breeze but Bertolucci did something magical with that simple act in a movie. I didn't come close to his moment but I remembered.

Mangini, early morning light, Genova

Mangini, early morning light, Genova, originally uploaded by - di.

I fell in love with the Italian city of Genova and this cafe was part of the slow seduction I suspect.

Mangini is an old-fashioned cafe, providing service that makes a person feel a little bit royal. If you're ever in Genova, you must visit. The coffee is, of course, heavenly, as are the hot chocolates ... so thick and delicious.

A beautiful cafe in a beautiful city.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Emily Jacir, Artist

I discovered this brave and remarkable Palestinian artist last night.

One of her works is titled Material for a Film.

An extract from the article about her large and exciting body of work, talks about the specific project: Palestinian artists and intellectuals were living dangerous times in the 1970s, in part, perhaps, because their activities were bound up in the political question of Palestine. “Since the June War of 1967, the situation has become more alarming,” says a 1970 memorandum issued by the Beirut-based Institute for Palestine Studies. “Progressive intellectuals have been persecuted [and] the campaign of intimidation and encroaching on personal freedom has increased.” The memorandum goes on to cite the “deplorable” circumstances under which Palestinian men of letters were living. It details the house arrest, imprisonment and deportation of numerous writers and poets, including Mahmoud Darwish, Kamal Nasser and Samih al-Kassem.

In July 1972, the novelist Ghassan Kanafani was assassinated in a car-bomb blast on the streets of Beirut. A few months later, the poet and translator Wael Zuaiter was gunned down inside the entrance to his apartment building in Rome. Within a year, a dozen more Palestinians living in Europe were dead. Most of them were artists and intellectuals. All of them were killed by Israeli agents as part of the “Wrath of God” campaign, which was carried out in response to the Olympic games massacre in Munich but seemed to miss its target (the militants who organised, kidnapped and killed Israeli athletes) by a rather wide margin (cutting down bibliophiles, cafe dwellers and bona fide diplomats who were, to gauge by most criminal and scholarly inquiries since, innocent of all but intellect and charisma).

Young officers who were climbing up the ranks of Palestinian political organisations were killed as well, and some of them were situated quite far from intellectual life. Others, including Kanafani, who was also a spokesman for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, were arguably positioned somewhere in between political and more literary pursuits. “In truth, [the Israelis] were trying to sever [the] heads of a nascent organisation that was beginning to branch out in Europe, and to claim excellent young officers,” explains the Beirut-based curator Rasha Salti. “Wael [Zuaiter] was not an officer, but a promising figure who was winning sympathy among Italian intellectuals.”

“The killings went on for at least two decades,” writes Simon Reeve, the author of One Day in September: The Story of the Munich Olympics Massacre. Though Israel’s intelligence agency, the Mossad, argued that the assassinations were directly linked to Munich, explains Reeve, “the dead were mainly Palestinian intellectuals, politicians and poets. And the consequences of these so-called targeted killings for Israel have been appalling.”

For Palestine, the consequences have been arguably even worse. The persecution of artists and intellectuals is as old as ancient Greece. Throughout modern political history, it was typically used as a tactic of authoritarian regimes intent on stifling internal dissent. But across the volatile fault lines of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, it became a pernicious strategy in a low-grade war to cripple a culture. Bombing power stations, closing borders and cutting off fuel supplies may wreck a population’s body, but killing thinkers is like blasting the synapses of a society’s brain.

“I had always known these stories growing up,” says Jacir. “These stories haunt us. And I had always known I wanted to do a piece on the 13 artists and intellectuals who were killed in Europe between 1972 and 1973.”

You can continue reading here.

Friday, January 16, 2009

On the Turning Away, Pink Floyd

On the Turning Away.
On the turning away
From the pale and downtrodden
And the words they say
Which we wont understand
Dont accept that whats happening
Is just a case of others suffering
Or youll find that youre joining in
The turning away

Its a sin that somehow
Light is changing to shadow
And casting its shroud
Over all we have known
Unaware how the ranks have grown
Driven on by a heart of stone
We could find that were all alone
In the dream of the proud

On the wings of the night
As the daytime is stirring
Where the speechless unite
In a silent accord
Using words you will find are strange
And mesmerized as they light the flame
Feel the new wind of change
On the wings of the night

No more turning away
From the weak and the weary
No more turning away
From the coldness inside
Just a world that we all must share
Its not enough just to stand and stare
Is it only a dream that therell be
No more turning away?

What will you do with your one wild and precious life?
Mary Oliver

Thanks to Frida.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

love, originally uploaded by - di.

To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never, to forget.
— Arundhati Roy

Thanks Carolien.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Loving this book ...

I can be captured by the way that sunlight falls across a wall or I can love an idea or a thought that comes from a mind. It's like that for me.

Today I was reading Annie Leibovitz at Work on the train home from Brussels, after a meeting with an extraordinarily interesting woman and I read something that made me fall a little in love with the way Annie's photographer's mind works ... because of this sentence:

The Tess Gallagher portrait is the beginning of placing my subject in the middle of an idea.

And I spent maybe 30 minutes just thinking about the idea of it, wondering who might let me play with this is idea of placing them in the midst of an idea.

Shanti, so when are you coming over next?

But ... perhaps like me and my random 'light' photographs, it's not an idea that travels out from my head and into the world so well ;)

The wedding photograph

When Gert and I married a couple of years ago, it was all very low key. We had no money and we didn't want a fuss.

I almost gave a boutique owner a heart attack when I confessed that, on the day before the marriage, I was looking for a wedding dress. I was very relaxed, she seemed shaken. She had nothing in stock in my price range and it was okay.

The night before the wedding, I was photographing a friend's reception here in Belgium. She had no idea I was marrying either and might have been a bit cross with me for doing the free gig for her.

One of things that always surprised me about Gert was that this suited-civil-servant guy would find a wandering photographer, an Istanbul-based English-teacher and New Zealander marriageable but he did.

Although I think I tested his resolve when I insisted on wearing my favourite shoes as my wedding slippers ...

This photograph is my favourite wedding photograph. For me, it captures so much.

The dress had travelled with me a while as well. When my first marriage ended, I experienced the humbling slide from middle-class into the category of government beneficiary. I was studying at university at the time and suddenly had to make do with a very small amount of income.

The dress was part of an incentive payment to welfare beneficiaries and was purchased with money given retrospectively, once it was known that I had gone out and found my own part-time job.

The clothing for interviews allowance.

It seemed appropriate to wear this dress from that past - from the months I spent on welfare, studying and working part-time, through into my 2 years in Istanbul, where I dragged it out for the marathon of parent-teacher interviews (I had 160 students) - appropriate to be wearing it as I stepped into this Belgian present.

It's still in my wardrobe. Gert's not sure about it but I call it my Pacific-Island-Princess dress. I love the flowers and anyone who knows me, knows I prefer the illusion of invisibility given to me by wearing mostly black however this dress is exempt.

The shoes passed away about a year later ... mostly because Gert pointed out that the staples holding them together shone quite obviously and I don't think the New Zealand shoe company, The Last Footwear Company ... is making this style anymore.

I now, mostly, put the cds and books back in the shelves in alphabetical order and I mostly use the shoe rack after removing my shoes. Gert doesn't do the dishes immediately after dinner anymore and we're still happy together.

Just so you know ... ;)

P.S: sorry, this isn't the anniversary, it was one of those whimsical posts that came about after showing Shannon this photograph last time she was over here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Iron Harvest II, Flanders Fields

Iron Harvest II, Flanders Fields, originally uploaded by - di.

The Iron Harvest, Flanders Fields

Iron Harvest, Flanders Fields, originally uploaded by - di.

One of the saddest things about wandering across the old Passchendaele battlefield on Saturday, was seeing scenes like this on a farmers property. It created a kind of double vision or experience - there was this awareness of the Palestinian experience unfolding at the same moment and I found myself wondering if, in 100 years, war tours will travel there to try and explain the situation to grandchildren and great grandchildren.

War is never a solution and world war one was meant to be the war to end all wars.

Last year, I photographed actor Paul Gross and his wife as they wandered the same countryside. I was working as a photographer for Canwest and Paul was over for the Canadian commemorations. He returned to Canada and has since released the movie he was working on.

It's called Passchendaele and my Flanders Fields friends who are also WW1 experts, were enthusiastic about it simply because it captures the reality of the horrors of Passchendaele so well ... a battle where 1,190 New Zealand soldiers were killed on a field in a 4 hour period.

And that was only the New Zealand tally in that time-frame on that day. The Canadians were also massively slaughtered during another of those Passchendaele days.

The photograph is a minuscule capture of the massive Iron Harvest that rises to the surface every year on Flanders Fields.

Sometimes the ammunition is still live and unstable, farmers and road workers dig, plant and plough carefully. The annual haul is in excess of 200,000 kilograms.

What a legacy ...

Monday, January 12, 2009

Checking on Jessie's Childhood

When Jessie was growing up ... I sang her various songs, always.

I sang her to sleep, I sang to her when she was sick .

I should confess at this point that I don't sing well and that she has never heard these songs sung properly and so, as I ran through the selection on youtube, and little Ms 4 decided to make up her own words, upping the tempo and singing along in a kind of punk rock variation that disturbed both Jessie and I.

Jessie said, 'I shouldn't have listened to Pantera when I was pregnant.

Who could have imagined ...

Meanwhile Miss Four insists that this is her favourite but we've been audience to her bogeying on down to this and we're quite proud of that actually.


Homegrown is based in Holland and are all about creating home away from home experiences in the Netherlands for expat Australians & New Zealanders and inspiring Europeans with the fresh and unique sounds from Oceania.

I received a reminder about the Don McGlashan gig , on Friday 23rd January. You can read more about it by clicking on the link.

We also have a real ‘home away from home’ treat in store for Waitangi Day (New Zealand day), Fri Feb 6, with 2 NZ bands, hosted by legendary All Black Zinzan Brooke!

Other dates for the agenda

Fri 03/04 - Elemeno P
Fri 27/03 - Eskimo Joe
Sat 25/04 (Anzac Day) - Kora

From May...Shapeshifter, Salmonella Dub, Ladi 6, Katchafire, Fat Freddys Drop, the Bats, Nesian Mystik.

For more info on all of the above visit: Homegrown .

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Alex, from Blog from Italy

Alex has become one of those lovely blog friends I've discovered along the way and recently, while in Genova, we caught up over the phone and it was, of course, as if I'd always known this Englishman in Milan.

I've been reading his blog for a while now, watching, fascinated as it grew, offering more and more to the reader. His work was recently recognised with an offer from the people at Globalpost, who contacted him to ask if he was interested in Blog from Italy becoming one of the world’s top 350 blogs. You can read more about that here.

He was also kind enough to feature one of my Genova photographs in a new series of posts he is starting up on his site. If interested, you can read more and submit your Italy photographs too.

The Winner ...

Ice, Holland, originally uploaded by - di.

Congratulations to Giovanni .

It seems some of my photographs will finally be winging their way back home to New Zealand.

And thank you to everyone who put their name into the hat.

Flight ...

Flight III, Holland, originally uploaded by - di.

This bird and his mate never quite left me alone on the beach and so I repaid the favour and took maybe 30 photographs of them.

It was astoundingly beautiful in flight, the light was fantastic and my new lens (the Canon EF 70-200mm 1:4L lens) was on my EOS 400D.

The Flanders Fields Tour

It really was that cold yesterday ... but such an excellent day.

A Good Day out on Flanders Fields ...

Helen Clark, originally uploaded by - di.

Yesterday was a special day.

I love travelling to Flanders Fields, some of my favourite Belgians live there and so I had been delighted to receive an invitation to the presentation of the Passchendaele: The Belgians have not forgotten Project

It is a project commemorating New Zealand's contribution to the first world war and it will travel from Belgium to Wellington to begin a tour of New Zealand in March 2009.

Gert and I wandered along, cameras in hand as always, expecting some speeches from the guest speakers and a luncheon however ...we got far more than we expected.

After the event we were invited along on the small bus carrying Helen Clark, the just ex-prime minister of New Zealand and her husband, Peter. Tim Barnett, a New Zealand member of parliament and his lovely partner, Ramon and Austin Mitchell, the British member of parliament and author, and his wife, Linda McDougall, journalist and tv producer were the passengers.

Freddy Declerck was our Passchendaele guide. He's both a world war one expert and a lovely man, so he made sure that our freezing cold tour was filled with laughter.

I always prefer to be the invisible photographer, observing without making too much noise but there was no chance of that with this lovely group of people.

Gert and I left smiling and hope to head back to the Fields soon, there were so many stories that came up along the way, they are surely deserving of a hearing ...

From the frozen flat world

Flight, Holland, originally uploaded by - di.

We had the rental car for the weekend, so we filled it with Miss 4 and Jessie and headed off in search of a beach.

Did I mention how much I love my new lens ...

I caught this bird today.
At 100% you can see the feathers in beautiful detail. As always, this is a hugely downsized version of the original image.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Last light, Flanders Fields.

Last light, Flanders Fields., originally uploaded by - di.

Today was a rather extraordinary day, as days go ...

We left the apartment at 9am, returning 12 hours later. But it was so good to get back to West Flanders and to catch up with some of my favourite Flemish menfolk out there.

There are so many stories to tell and some photographs I'm truly delighted with but it turned out to be much more than a luncheon today. Gert and I were invited onboard the small bus to travel and take photographs with the 6 VIPs.

It was a long day ... a good day actually, but now it's time to lie on the couch.

Friday, January 09, 2009

A little of this and a little of that, from Di

Riding the train through the winter wonderland that was the Belgian countryside between Antwerpen and Brussels this morning, I wished for my camera.

The light was astounding!
The trees were coated in white thick frost and snow still lay on the ground ... but most important for this unbounded rhapsody over this winterscape, the train was warm.

It was my first day back at the NGO in a while and it was good to be back.

Annie Leibovitz arrived today ...
You see, I bought Gert a dvd documentary about her for Christmas and we both fell in love with this remarkable photographer.

Tomorrow I'm lunching with the (just) ex-prime minister of New Zealand ;)

Sunday we might risk a drive in this life lived in the minus 12 celsius (tonight) freezer and head off to a beach, just to breathe a little of the salt air that used to be so absolutely necessary to the creature of nature I once was ... back in New Zealand with a golden labrador.

It's cold here, stunningly, finger-snappingly cold.
As I wandered home from the tram on this dark winter's night, I knew, really knew, that if I stopped to tie a shoelace or help a bird frozen to the path, I would lie down in the ice and sleep forever. It was 'that cold'.

The good news is that this year I was finally with money enough to buy a good winter coat. Gert and I have spent the last 3 years struggling, as I cut a path for myself as a photographer creature and he supported us both ... this year, things have finally started to improve and although it's not huge, by crikey, it's enough.

I hope you are warm where ever you are in the northern hemisphere, and as for the southerners ... 40 celsius in Christchurch, cousin of mine ... I'm not sure I want to hear about that right now.

Be safe and have a good weekend.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

John Stewart talks about Australia (at the end)

He made this kiwi laugh ;)

You can watch him, with Rachel Maddow here.

A Thank You Gift

It's the new year and I have been so caught up in the situation in the Middle East ... and you guys have kept coming to read. I just wanted to say thank you.

I noticed that there are more than a few gifts being given at the blogs of friends I enjoy reading and realised that maybe I could say thank you with more than words. I love the idea of the possibility of receiving an art work or book from blogosphere friends and realised I could do something similar with my photography.

So, to say thank you for your support and encouragement throughout 2008 and for not giving up on me when my grief about the killings in the Middle East spilled out onto my blog world, I would like to offer 2 of my photographs, enlarged and printed up to 30x45cms in size and mailed to you, where ever you are in the world.

Just leave a comment saying you would like your name to go into the hat and I'll get Gert to draw someone's name out of my brand new red hat on Sunday 11th. I'll have to rely on some of you checking in to see who won and sending me your postal address ... although I do have my postcard mailing list here for others.

Some of you might have particular images in mind but feel free to look through my flickr selection and let me know which two images you might like. You might remember seeing some that are no longer on flickr, you can describe those too. There will be some I can't send ... mostly the people images but otherwise, the choice is yours.

Thank you again and all the veryvery best in 2009.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

istanbul, originally uploaded by - di.

The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say. ~ Anaïs Nin.

Maybe a photographer gets to use a camera in this way too ... just sometimes.

I borrowed the quote from Tara over at the Paris Parfait blog.

She has been covering stories from the Middle East for quite some time and is one of the places I stop by and read.

Today ... in my world

Found, Antwerpen Zoo, originally uploaded by - di.

I picked up this this photograph printed big today and we all love it here. I'll take it as a sample for the curator of the exhibition in Brussels when I wander over with some of my work tomorrow. It's coming on canvas too - I'm playing over here.

It will cost 6euro to replace the small plastic door catch on our front-loading washing machine however, despite all of mankind's advances, it will take 2 weeks to reach the store from the factory across the city. Perhaps they're ordered and flown in from a small factory on another planet far far away.

I find myself wishing that I hadn't been a bundle of misery day before yesterday and that instead of slamming the front loading machine door ...

I've been invited to lunch with the ex-PM of a small island nation on Saturday. Okay, there will be others there too, probably lots of others but it seems like a nice thing to do with a Saturday in the middle of a very cold Belgian winter.

I've ordered the Canon EOS 5D Series II camera body for this Middle East gig. I am still in a state of disbelief. Canon are struggling to make enough to meet demand but I was lucky enough to arrive in a shop where 4 were arriving sometime soon and I became lucky Ms Number 4 on that order list.

I am in the process of completely revamping my online presences ... new website, revamp of photography website and etc ... A million ideas, just waiting for the go-ahead from my web-designer.

Had a delicious afternoon in the city with little Miss 4 and Gert. It involved errands, a magnificent hot chocolate, waffles and smoutebollen, much laughter and outrageous stories of giants and whales from this gran as we returned home on the tram through winter dark streets.

Brussels tomorrow and Friday.
Tot ziens from the snowy, ice cold flatlands of Belgie.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Something so cute (because it ended happily) from Germany ...

This story was over in Huffington Post, and made everyone here laugh ...

Anna-Leva and Mika thought they had everything they needed to elope to Africa: bathing suits, sunglasses, and Anna-Leva's sister to act as witness. But their dreams came crashing down when the sight of three children--Anna-Leva and Mika are 5 and 6, the sister is 7- alone at a train station aroused police suspicion. (They also had no money or passports.) Police spokesman Holger Jureczko told the AFP news agency that the kids were "very much in love" and had chosen Africa "where it is warm."

The idea for the getaway wedding was born as the children's families celebrated New Year's eve together and Mika regaled the two girls with stories of a recent holiday to Italy.

The following morning, as their parents slept, the intrepid trio walked 1km (0.6 miles) to the local tram station at Langenhagen, where they hopped aboard a tram for Hanover central station.

But the group aroused the suspicion of a guard as they waited for a train to the airport, and police were called in.

Officers persuaded the children they would not get far without tickets and money, but consoled them with a free tour of the police station, where they were shortly picked up by relieved parents.

The Dancer ...

Playing with Borders, originally uploaded by - di.

Does anyone know where I can buy some borders like this ... borders big enough to go around a 30x45cm enlargement?


Sunday, January 04, 2009

She wants to go to a planet away from the earth
Where the paths are crowded with people running to their rooms
And where the beds in the morning are chaos
And the pillows wake up crumpled,
Their cotton stuffing dipping in the middle.
She wants washing lines full and much, much rice to cook for lunch
And a large, large kettle boiling on a fire in the afternoon
And the table for everyone in the evening, its tablecloth dripping with sesame of chatter.
She wants the smell of garlic at noon to gather the absent ones
And is surprised that the mother's stew is weaker than the power of governments and that her pastry in the evening
Dries on a sheet untouched by any hand.
Can the earth contain
The cruelty of a mother making her coffee alone
On a Diaspora morning?
She wants to go to a planet away from the earth
Where all directions lead to the harbour of the bosom,
The gulf of two arms
That receive and know no farewells.
She wants airplanes to come back only.
Airports to be for those returning,
The planes to land and never leave again.

Mourid Barghouti, a poem for his mother from his book 'I Saw Ramallah'

minus 2 celsius, Antwerpen

a photographer creature, originally uploaded by - di.

Shannon wouldn't give permission for me to blog the beautiful photograph I took of her laughing ... laughing because she had realised I had turned my camera on her and she was the subject.

There was something about this one - the background and light, taken at de zwarte panter art gallery, at the door to the same bathroom as my 'about me' blog photograph was taken a few years ago.

Anyway, yesterday was a good day for photography here in the city of Antwerpen.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Tiny Details

Tiny Detail, originally uploaded by - di.

The buildings here in the city of Antwerpen have truly delicious decorations on them sometimes.

This was one we spotted today.

Light III

The sky had this jet-stream thing happening when I wandered into the courtyard of De Zwarte Panter Art Gallery and so I moved around, trying to work out how to get my piece of sunlight and a small slice of this wind-blown vapour trail.

Rapunzel ...

Alleyway Vine, Antwerpen, originally uploaded by - di.

I looked up and couldn't resist taking a quick photograph, smiling over how it reminded me of the childhood story of Rapunzel.

Just playing ...

Taxi, Antwerpen City., originally uploaded by - di.

I was crossing the cobblestones near Groenplaats and loved the way the light made these taxi markings glow.

Light II

City Light, Antwerpen, originally uploaded by - di.

And there was the light behind these bicycles, locked to the railing fence belonging to Carolus Borromeuskerk in Hendrik Conscienceplein.


I don't know if anyone else will see what I see in this image but I have become slightly obsessed by light as I wander these days and the light on this building delighted me.

I was city-wandering with Shannon today, in minus celsius weather. We both had cameras and we were meant to be shopping before and taking photographs after - first day of the sales - however, we completely failed in our mission as women and instead spent hours taking photographs.

Friday, January 02, 2009

A man and his best friend

a man and his best friend, originally uploaded by - di.

I hope they didn't mind me capturing them during a peaceful moment on that bench.

Meneer Boom, Antwerpen

Meneer Boom, Antwerpen, originally uploaded by - di.

Note: for those who don't know ...
Meneer = Mr and
Boom = tree.

I didn't know for a long time, then found the idea that 'tree' became 'boom' giggle-worthy for some more time ... now, it almost seems normal.

Still struggling with bloemkool though.

One Winter's Day out Walking

Beautiful People, originally uploaded by - di.

I spotted this beautiful man ...

New Year's Day with one Flemish Family.

We gathered together at Gert's parents place and began with snacks and champagne, before moving into the routine of courses that rotate on a roster each year.

Gert's brother made a stunning Thai soup that was a little too piquant for me but was clever in the way it kind of exploded inside your mouth. The ingredients were stunningly delicious too ... lemon grass, shrimps, exotic mushrooms (writes the girl from Mosgiel), some herb root he made me taste and half the recommended amount of chilli.

His sister and her husband made this delicate little goat cheese and honey on lightly toasted bread dish, served with a salad and tiny tomatoes stuffed with the smallest of shrimps. Beautiful!

Next came this fish casserole that was loaded with the most delicious of fish and instantly became one of those, 'ohmygoodness, I must have this recipe' experiences. I can see it becoming a favourite comfort food on cold winter days.

Finally we reached the dessert ... by Gert and Di. The big pavlova (a new recipe) with ice cream, profiteroles, covered in Gert's real chocolate sauce and this ice cream cake-thing.

White wine accompanied us throughout the journey, with Sambuca and/or coffee to finish.

We rolled home late in the evening, labouring with a full belly of food and me, once again a victim (a happy victim) of my father-in-law's most generous hand with the alcohol.

It was a good day here in the flatlands.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Blogging as Antwerpen City does Fireworks ...

Happy New Year everyone ... and all the very best in 2009.

We warned Shannon that Antwerpen city is full of people who love fireworks and who all have their own major stash of fireworks.

The city has a 20 minute display going off over at the river and we can see it once it rises over a certain height however developers built a new apartment building after I arrived, with no thought for our view.

We just about have a 360 degree view of the city and there is light and explosions every place we can see...

And the colourful explosions have been going non-stop for 12 minutes now and it's just getting louder and more colourful.

Flares of orange, green and red are shooting up from below and falling on our crunchy ice-covered balcony.

A good way to begin the new year ...

Gelukkig Nieuw Jaar!