What a year it has been!

Our health has been lying under fire for almost the whole of 2020. Covid-19 has become a global pandemic killing almost 2 million people.
Covid-19’s weight on the world economy and health services are indescribable. The job losses are uncountable.

2020 has also been devastating for nature and our environment with those huge fires everywhere, that huge chunk of an iceberg that is now menacing about 10 million-plus penguins and other animals on the South Sandwich Isles and South Georgia.
It has been, at least for Belgium, the warmest year since they started keeping track of the temperatures.

We have been spared from new wars though, and major terroristic attacks.

I can only hope we find courage and hope during these Holidays. It won’t be Christmas as usual though.
Covid-19 has changed the way we interact socially. Rules, justly, are severe. I am not complaining.
I believe 2021 will be a road towards better times.

Take care, my friends, followers, and readers. I wish you health, love, happiness, and hope.

What’s Next?

December 20, 2020.

Travel here in Belgium is discouraged. Europe is one again going red. Some European countries are going to their 3th lock down.
In Great Britain a mutation of the Covid-19 virus was recently discovered, it seems to be 70% more contagious.
Strands have already been found in Belgium.

In some countries rulers make believe Covid-19 is a hoax. Other so called leaders minimize the virus, trying not only to divide their country while desperately clinging on to power.

I’ve been working from home since quite a time now. My workload is limited so I have a lot of down time I can use for my own personal growth.
I know, I am quite fortunate.

My sister, Veronika Pot, is quite a renowned artist in the Flemish-speaking part of Belgium.
The evolution of her art very interesting. From organic setups to analog photography, it has been quite an evolution. Veronika is represented by an art gallery.

Veronika’s work has been based on analog photography and handmade prints. Yet, video to has been creeping in.
Tiny animal robots that she films, adding distorted dialogues sampled from old movies.

I am very proud of my sis.
I could add links to interviews but they are all in Dutch.

But feel free to visit her website and discover her art by clicking this link Veronika Pot

My sis…

My Sister - Copyright Jean-Pierre Stoop
My Sister – Copyright Jean-Pierre Stoop

Averegten, a morning walk – November 23. 2020

A morning walk in the Averegten, Heist-op-den-Berg (B).

Unfortunately, I was too late though to capture the beautiful morning mist lingering in the woods.

I filmed this with my Blackmagic 4k.

This clip’s music is also a creation of mine.

Originally intended only for Instagram and my blog, I decided it merits a place on my Youtube channel.

Creating music

My dad died after a really short illness in June 1972. He was 64.
His death came as a shock to my mother, sister, and myself. In the months after my mother had to catch up with life. Doing money transfers, organizing our life. She didn’t know a thing but was she a fast learner.
The year after we moved from Brussels back to the town where I was born because my mother’s parents lived there.
A logical step.
In the 10 years that followed I would also lose both my grandparents. My grandma went swiftly, my grandfather a battle against dementia.

Albeit my mother doing her best I never really connected. She hadn’t that much to offer except being a mother.
My father had been my mentor, my teacher, my guide. He ignited my interest in science, art, literature, and music.

My mother took more care of my sister and rightfully so as she was 6 years younger.

I had my radio and discovered stuff I forgot except for Tom Waits.

Then, in the mid-seventies, I started going to the movies like 3 times a week. I even got a job in the projection room for free tickets. I was like 16.

I had my radio. On Thursday evenings there was this program on the national Belgian radio, Music From The Cosmos. It mixed philosophical, mostly as I remember, Nietzschean stuff, that I liked, kind of brainfood, with music I had never heard before. Tangerine Dream, Ash Ra Temple, Klaus Schulze, et al.

It was kind of a homecoming. Mainly Klaus Schulze and Tangerine dream became my heroes. Their timeless, ethereal, and mesmerizing electronic music took me, without the help of any forbidden substances, deep into myself.
Their music was a revelation.

At the same time, one evening, I discovered A.F.N. (American Forces Network) based in Germany and Wolfman Jack’s show became something I stayed home for. His voice, and the, more mainstream music, it was a discovery. I know I seems stupid, but I was blown away by A Horse With No Name by America.
The Wolfman made me discover music they weren’t playing on the Belgian Radio. To me this was alternative avant la letter.

Soon after I would leave the official Belgian Radio in favor of the, mostly Dutch, pirate radios like Radio Veronika.

Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, over the years, have been valuable allies. They helped me through difficult times and relaxed me.

Today, 2020, I still am a fan. Klaus Schulze is still releasing records. But 2020 also means that musicmaking is within our reach. Like filmmaking, like writing and self-publishing.

Gone is the extensive hardware whatever Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze used. They remain though masters of their craft.

The music I try to make is a mix of the losses I, and inevitably everyone else, suffers, loved ones, dreams, whatever. Compared to film music is an even harder way to tell a story. But well worth the effort because it demands so much creativity.

Am I any good, do I contribute to the genre? Time will tell.

Some changes to this blog.

I’ve been thinking about kind of upgrading the content of this blog to a more personal one. Mind you, it would still be about photography, film and musicmaking.  Yet I would write about the thoughts, reflections and plans I have.

In the final days of August 2019 my Princess, my girlfriend for the past 8 years, suddenly broke up with me. It was an emotional decision she told me. Mostly because her children never approved our relation let alone wanted to get to know me. They found their mother was cheating on their father who ended his life about 6 months before I met Princess who, at that time, was already divorced from him for over 3 years.

I tried to convince her this could be a mistake but without avail.

We are now 16 months further and I am still single. I find it very hard to connect with somebody new because the separation did not only come as a shock but left me with many unanswered questions.

My youngest daughter, Little A., is 20 and lives with me. She studies in Antwerp. Obviously at this age she isn’t interested even a little bit in the life of me, an old fart aged 61.

I’ve always been a recluse, with only a few close friends. Now I am even more a recluse, like many of us, with this pandemic.

Writing more in depth about my ‘creative’ process, thoughts et al feels like a logic move to a more personal blog. I have in fact nobody to talk to. I know, this sounds a wee little sad, but I don’t mind really. Just the pleasure of writing some of my emotions down is a relief and maybe, just maybe, of some value to somebody else.

These weeks, months of confinement have led me to learn more about my hobbies, gave me the freedom to venture into new things like making music. But taking this last example, why did I suddenly invest in this? There is a story to tell and because nobody is really listening, I thought what the heck, let me write it down.

And maybe it isn’t a stupid idea at all. I’m known on social media as A Fortunate Traveler.  And what is travel about? It is about our trip from birth to death and what we do in between these 2 major goals.

Happy days.
Happy days….

It’s about music

I don’t know the first thing about music. I can’t read notes. The 88 keys of a piano are a complete mystery. Flute, guitar, drums, sorry guys, it is not my dada.

There are a few things I do get. I seem to have a sense of rhythm. I feel the music too. It is kind of an emotional thing. No colors that match notes, just a basic feeling in the gut.

Being in this kind of eternal but necessary lockdown, I became, out of boredom, kind of bold.

So I ordered a few cheap MIDI-keyboards, downloaded Reaper, a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation), and then turned to Youtube for a few necessary tutorials.

I’ve been experimenting for weeks now, sending work to some of my closest friends for evaluation, for useful comments.

This is my first one. My baby, my newborn and it is far from perfect. It may not be your kind of music, that’s ok. But some useful and motivating comment would be more than welcome.

Vivitar (Komine) 400mm f5.6

I am a nature photo/videographer on a budget.
Yes, I am aware that, in most cases, it is better to have very good glass and a decent camera than the other way around.

Six months ago I invested in a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4k. I have some good glass and a handful of vintage lenses. By the way, the Blackmagic is a formidable camera, and its image quality extremely good.

I own a Panasonic 100-300mm F/4.0-5.6 and I’m happy with it. On my BMPCC 4k, this means having a 600mm and, using the HD Windowed crop even a little more.

I want more though. Like a 400mm or a 500mm. Or the Tamron or Sigma 150-600mm.
My daughter’s studies at university are far more important. Besides, she lives with me.
So forking out about 1000$ for a lens, well, not any time soon. Maybe next year.

A few weeks ago, while browsing a well-known second-hand site I came across a vintage Vivitar f5,6 400mm with an Olympus OM-mount. I still use an Olympus OM-1n occasionally, so that’s a bonus.

I checked a few online reviews, a few YouTube clips, and examples on Flicker and wasn’t very convinced but, well, who knows.
I offered 80 bucks for the lens and my bid was accepted and a few days later the lens arrived.

This is really a heavy lens and made for full-frame cameras. It weighs 1277 grams (2.8 pounds). The filter thread is 77mm. The iris is an 8 blade one and it had internal focussing.
The closest focus is about 6 meters.
It has a retractable lens hood and the lens measures 28cm in length.

Fortunately, it has a built-in tripod collar because there is no way you’ll be shooting handheld.
Obviously manual focus, basic lens coating, if coated at all, and it goes all the way to f32.

On my BMPCC 4k, this is a whopping 800mm lens. Best part? I have a 2x Tamron teleconverter for OM mount lying around giving me 1600mm shooting pleasure.
Well, no.
Not really except if you have an extremely sturdy tripod and a smooth head.

I haven’t used it much yet but I tested it out filming ducks on a pond.
At used it without and with the teleconverter. Focus peaking and a decent monitor are a plus. I did not shoot wide open but around f8 to f11 at 400 or 800 ISO.

The results?
Well pretty good actually. Soft, even at f8 or f11 but using some overall sharpening in DaVinci Resolve helped.
I tried adding some USM in Fusion and together with the sharpening in the color tab of Resolve I did get reasonably sharp images.
It is good enough to be viewed on mobile devices.