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Castlefest 2016! This year was my first visit to Castlefest. We have been to Elf fantasy (Elfia) and other festivals before but never to Castlefest. So we didn’t know what to expect. And we loved it. The weather was good, the crowd was nice and the whole atmosphere was superb. (the only things that annoyed us were the high prices (for just everything)).

I brought my Canon 5D mkII with 70-200 mm and started shooting all the nice costumes. After a bit I felt that I needed to be more in the face and switch to my 50mm f/1.2. But it was already late in the day and we were getting tired, so I have to say that I missed a great deal of good shots. But on the other hand, I was there for some good time with friends and family and not to work the whole day.

At the end there are more than enough nice shots to show for. So please have a look in the gallery below.

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Today I went to the pool with my daughter to shoot some new photos for the water world series. We had great fun while figuring out what the best light would be and the best location. Flash didn’t work as expected due to the amount of light that was available in the pool (bright sunlight through the windows)  but at the end we managed to correct this with a blue filter and during the black and white processing. So it needed a bit more re-work than expected but we like the end result.

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It is always fun to play some tricks with my little girl. Today we went to visit her aunt who lives in the woods and has this lovely house. Nicki insisted that she would wear her new dress made by mom for carnaval. This new Merida (from the Disney movie Brave) dress comes with a bow and arrows and that inspired us to do some fun shots in the setting of William Tell. But now with arrows, but an axe.

Just some innocent fun while we are playing in the forest garden. No special tricks or effects. Just some color enhancements in Lightroom and Photoshop CC, all shot with my Canon G16. Like I said, just playing around and no big tricks, but thrust me, we had double the fun….

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Since a couple of weeks I photograph for a foundation called ‘Make a Memory’,

‘Make a Memory’ is a Dutch foundation that is photographing at the request of parents and with mediation of health professionals, critically or terminally ill and deceased children at the age of 23 weeks (gestation) through seventeen.

With the help of a nationwide network of over 140 professional photographers, photos are made at home or in the hospital. The parents receive shortly afterwards a booklet with five prints and a DVD with all photos in high resolution.

The pictures give parents comfort and a lasting memory and can help significantly in the treatment of their loss. The photographers work selflessly and their work stands out in a positive sense and technical quality of the photos that make hospital staff and parents themselves.

For the parents, there is no costs involved for these photos and booklet of Make a Memory. All expenses are paid by sponsors, donations, gifts and other lawful income. Make a Memory is available day and night and is committed to a daily 24-hour availability of photographers.

In the last couple of weeks I was called three times already. The first time I was not able to make it in time so they asked another photographer. The second and third call I was available, so I drove to the hospital for my first shoot of ‘Make a Memory’. Darn that was though, the 45 minutes drive was very emotional for me because I started to put my own life into perspective. But the moment I arrived at the hospital, I was able to switch to ‘professional’ mode and met some wonderful people in a very sad situation. The same happened the last second time when I was asked to drive to home of the

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Often I get positive reactions when I show my vacation pics. And then I am not talking about the little projects I tend to do while we are on vacation. Of course we, my wife and I, take the standard photos and portraits but with a few little tricks I try to do just this little bit extra and make them a bit more special. It can be something as simple as using a flash on a bright sunny day or picking a different view point. A nice example is a shot of me made by my wife while she was sitting inside the car and I was preparing my gear at the rear of the car. She captured a bit of the landscape and showed me whilst doing what I like doing.

Landscapes and surroundings

Below you will find a few other examples of standard vacation portraits with just a little bit extra. Just by making sure you get a good proportion of the background (landscape) in your picture you can show where you were, what you saw and you have proof that you were there (in my case my wife) (btw: I just realize that in all these shots my wife is holding a some sort of camera, hmmm)

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And of course it isn’t a necessity to show a large view, you can choose to show a part of the surroundings such as a wonderful tree in Kenia. Or you just show a part of a plane so your audience knows that you were at the airport (for this shot I used my flash to make sure that the light inside would match the light on the outside (fill flash)). The shot on the right

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During our trip to Drenthe we drove by an abandoned garage several times. So one time we decided to stop and have a look. There were some possible entry points at the front, but with wife and kid they were not the best way of entering the building (broken glass and rusty nails). So we took a look at the back. There we found a big yard with a small garage still in business. And people who were actually working on cars. So I decided to have a chat. Soon we learned that the old garage was owned by three brothers who were in a quarrel about the last will of their father. And all the time they were discussing the will no one did a thing with the garage nor with the cars that were still inside. So I went straight for the bold question and asked if it would be okay to have a look inside and take some pictures. And without a doubt the guy said ‘yes’. So without further ado here are the shot I took inside of this old garage.

Because I was totally unprepared but still wanted to do HDR I decided to shoot everything without a tripod. All HDRs are three images combined and edited in Photomatix and Lightroom. The full gallery can be found here – Urbex HDR Gallery

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We went to the Amsterdamse Waterleiding Duinen (AWD) to do a shoot of the girls before they are donating their hair to the Children’s Cancer foundation. Because this proved to be the perfect location last time for some nice Bokeh Panoramas or Brenizer shots I decided to try them once more. At first it did not feel good because the whole look and feel of the area was just off. But then I realized that it was just stupid me, Last time I was there, there were almost no leaves on the trees and now it was the opposite. So I missed the wildly growing branches and the nice structures. But nevertheless I decided to continue and after explaining to my wife what needed to be done we started.

If you are not familiar with the concept of bokeh panoramas please read this earlier post on the Brenizer method tutorial. I will give you a clear description on how to create this kind of images. Because my daughter knew what the end result would look like she was enthusiastic from the start and before we knew we had several shots made.

Once at home I tried to combine the images with the new lightroom CC but it failed horribly. My MacBook crashed several times and it was just too much. Lessons learned… you need to downsize your individual shots or the shot should match perfectly so your pc does not have to do too much calculations. To give you an example. A shot out of 32 images worked fine but a similar shot out of 24 images failed due to lack of processor and memory. I tried to use AutoPano Giga 3.0 and that managed to stitch all the images but then I noticed that there were huge gaps. And