To Kraków and back – Part 3

Thursday, September 21.

It is cold outside. The sky dark and it rains abundantly.
In a way the ideal circumstances for our destination today.

We get in the car and about 90’ later I’m guided to a parking spot.
We are at Auschwitz (Oświęcim).

HALT! – STOJ! Auschwitz.
Ricoh GR II.

You can do one of three things.

Visit the site Auschwitz on your own. It is free of charge but you need a ticket. This kind of visited is only possible after 16:00.
Make reservations for a visit. Half of the available tickets for a given day are sold that way. The other half are made available in site.
The office were you can get your tickets is situated in a white small cabin on the main parking.
You’ll find screens telling you at what time visits in a certain language are scheduled. Next to them a number in blue telling you how many spots are still available for that tour.

When we arrived the English tour was a 2-hour wait but we could get tickets for the French tour that started 15’ later. I speak fluently French and Sweetheart too understands French so we got two tickets. They are cheap because you only pay for the guide.

The entrance building leads you to the camp itself and is much like airport border control complete with body scan. Your handbag or small photo bag goes through a scanner as well.

The French speaking Polish guide did a good job and gave us an interesting and complete overview. The whole tour, including the free shuttle to Birkenau, 3 kilometers farther, took about 3,5 hours.

Auschwitz II – Birkenau.
Ricoh GR II.

My Mom and her father, my grandfather, were both incarcerated in the Belgian Dossin prison. My mother’s stories of her 3 weeks there still linger in my mind.
They were arrested because they did underground work. They were not shipped to the camps.
My uncle, my mother’s brother, a White Brigade Member, never came back though. He was send to the hell of Bergen-Belsen.

My mother always said “once a German, always a German.” She hated them. As a kind I saw documentaries on TV. Grainy black and white images of soldiers falling on their knees when they liberated the camps. Crying in disbelief. The cruelty. The sheer horror.

My mother telling about the screams she heard. The fear she felt.

So I was not particularly fond of visiting the place. Sweetheart wanted though, so we went.

What stuck me the most during our visit was the methodology and the lies the Nazi’s used to deceive and decimate. Evil power at its best.

I don’t hate. It is a waste of energy. Besides, one cannot hold responsible the son for the acts of his father. That was something my mother never understood. Hate makes no sense. Hate puts you in the same ballgame.

Let’s look at he bright side of today’s Polish history,

Sunday market at Kraków.
Ricoh GR II.

 

 

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To Kraków and back – Part 2

Tuesday, September 19.
It is gray, cold (12°C) and overcast. We leave for Ojców National Park.

It is a national park in Kraków County, Lesser Poland Voivodeship in southern Poland, established in 1956. It takes its name from the village of Ojców, where it also has its headquarters. Chopin visited Ojców in 1829.
It is Poland’s smallest national park, with an original area of 14.40 square kilometers (5.56 sq mi), since expanded to 21.46 km2 (8.29 sq mi). Of this area, 15.28 km2 (5.90 sq mi) is
forested and 2.51 km2 (0.97 sq mi) is strictly protected. The park is approximately 16 kilometers (10 mi) north of Kraków, in the Jurassic Kraków-Częstochowa Upland. (Wikipedia)

We enjoy our walk through rough nature, crystal clear rivers, and a few sources.

I’m filming with my Gopro Hero 4 Black and the gimbal. The gimbal is an electronic stabilizer taking away shaking caused by my steps.
I did not use the gimbal much because of the rain. Sure enough halfway our walk it starts to rain again. It would do so for the remainder of the day.
We don’t mind though. Sweetheart and I are dressed accordingly and we enjoy our quality time way too much to be depressed by the bad weather.

Later that afternoon, almost at our apartment, Sweetheart and I have the same idea. We smile, laugh and joke about it.
Ten minutes later I park the car near a McDonalds.
We are covered with mud and tired and look like hobos. Fortunately the girls behind the counter understand English.
The burgers are yummy.

Then home, shower, movie, bed.

Tatra Mountains, near Zakopane.
iPhone 5s.

Wednesday, September 20.
Gray, cold, rainy.
Sweetheart and I enjoy breakfast. It is a symbolic day. We end our 6th year and start our 7th. With Sweetheart I am so very happy, so much in love. She is a dream come true. Funny, intelligent, loving, caring, and sexy as hell.

Today we are going to visit the Wieliczka Salt Mine. It is a 30 minute drive from our apartment.
We visit magnificent chambers chiselled out in rock salt. Amazing underground saline lakes, majestic timber constructions and unique statues sculpted in salt. Almost 3 kilometres of meandering corridors, 800 steps to climb of which 350 have to be descended to reach the depth of 135 meters underground.
The English-speaking guide is great and funny and we enjoy our visit. I regret I did not take the gimbal with me, it would have improved greatly my footage.

Wieliczka Salt Mine.
iPhone 5s,

In the late afternoon we drive to the Jewish district in Kraków called Kazimierz.

Trendy, creative Kazimierz is Krakow’s historic Jewish quarter, now a jumble of indie galleries, quirky shops, vintage clothing stores and bars that range from hip cocktail dens to shabby-chic spaces. Szeroka Street’s many synagogues include the 16th-century Old Synagogue, while the nearby Remuh Cemetery has a wall of tombstones smashed by Nazis. The Galicia Jewish Museum celebrates local Jewish culture and history. (Wikipedia)

Graffiti & walking man.
Kazimierz, Kraków.
Ricoh GR II.

Nowadays there are not many Jews in Kraków anymore.
We discover a zillion little streets and dine in open air near a fireplace.
Six years already, Sweetheart and I. Hell, I never have been happier. My life is complete. Sweetheart is the One I want to grow old with.

Back at the apartment we shower, watch a movie and go to bed.

Sunday market at Kraków.
Ricoh GR II.

To Kraków and back – Part 1

Saturday, September 16.
Late afternoon.
I’m packing my suitcase and camera bag.
The phone rings. It is Little A. wishing Sweetheart and me a great trip. On the background I hear Ex speaking to our daughter.
Then Little A. repeats what her mother said.
Oh boy.
Then my iPhone pings. A message from Big A. telling me to check my mail as she does not want to get up early and drive us to the airport for nothing.

What the fuck is all this about?
I check the newspaper.
Oh my.
One of the headlines reads “Ryanair to tell 400,000 passengers of cancelled flights after roster ‘mess-up’”

Ryanair promises their customer it will cancel 40 to 50 flights to and/or fro every day until October 31.
Luckily Sweetheart and I are not concerned.

Sunday, September 17.
02:00
Big A. picks us up and we arrive at Charleroi Airport (the so called Brussels-South) around 03:45. To early but hey, better be one hour to early than 5 minutes to late.
At 06:30 the plane takes off and 2 hours later we arrive at Kraków Airport. Not even 30 minutes later I enter the address of the apartment in Here Maps. Traffic is moderate and I steer the rented Toyota Yaris over the Polish roads.
It takes us 20’ to arrive and about 40’ to find the place because the roads ends and continues further in a sort of dead-end group of small roads.

We are way too early to check in the apartment so I drive to the old center of Kraków where I find a parking spot.
There is a small market going on. Mostly elderly people selling old or cheap stuff. I have the impression they are mostly underprivileged people. The road is broken, there is mud and rubbish. There is no happiness, everybody looks sad or indifferent. Like if it is still cold-war Poland. You know, the USSR and stuff.

We head to the old center. Some building are dilapidated, some brand new. It is a mix of a new and an old era. Don’t forget, the Wall fell in Berlin fell only 27 years ago and it took quite some time before the former USSR countries found their new ways.

We had lunch, delicious Polish food and it was very cheap. It was good outside with a discrete sun.

Then we walked further, discovering more of Kraków. Then the first raindrops fell. Shortly after it rained and it did so for the remainder of the late afternoon.
By the time we got back at our car I was soaked to the bone and my clothes, shoes and vest as wet as if I had fallen in water. Sweetheart was wearing a waterproof vest but her shoes and jeans were soaked too.

Back at the apartment we took a shower and I checked the opening hours of Decathlon. They were open so we drove over to the shop. Sweetheart got rubber boots. I a pair of waterproof and very comfortable hiking boots from hunting department. Two pair of waterproof trousers to pull over jeans or whatever and a weatherproof vest completed our purchases.

The apartment itself was simply great and well equipped. We could not have found a better place to say. Modern, cozy, and cheap.

Near a Sunday market at Kraków.
Ricoh GR II

Monday, September 18.
The weather app tells us it is going to be a warm and sunny day.
Great.
We enjoy our breakfast and then we are on our way.
It takes about 2:30 hours to arrive at Zakopane near the Slovakian border.

Zakopane is a resort town in southern Poland, at the base of the Tatras Mountains. It’s a popular departure point for winter sports and summertime mountain climbing and hiking. Kasprowy Wierch and Gubałówka, reachable by cable car and funicular, are nearby ski destinations offering sweeping mountain views. The town is also known for its turn-of-the-20th-century wooden chalets, symbols of Zakopane-style architecture. (Wikipedia)

We find a sort of restaurant, well, more of a canteen and have lunch there. The food is delicious and ridiculously cheap.
Don’t count on your English though. They had their menu translated so it was about pointing at the right items and then she showed me the bill and I wrote down what I was going to pay with the tip added to the amount.

At the Tatra National Park we join a queue and after 45 minutes we get in a cable car. Ten minutes later we get out. We are at 2000 meters. The view is breathtaking. Sweetheart and I enjoy a walk, we climb even higher. I film, take pictures, we laugh and kiss and are so happy.

It is a popular place to have your wedding photos taken as we spot several newlyweds and professional photographers and stylists.

Later we dined at the same canteen and for the four meals + drinks I paid not even 30 Euro.

After the +2 hour drive back we were exhausted. After showering I downloaded my work of the day on the Western Digital Wireless Passport Pro and copied a movie on an USB-stick so we could watch it on the huge flat screen TV.

PS I haven’t worked much on my photos and videos yet so I have little to show.

Trip to Kraków, Poland – What’s in my bag?

Sweetheart and I are traveling to Kraków for 5 days. We’ll be visiting the city and the nearby National Park.

So what’s in my bag?

A Gopro Hero 4 Silver, a Gopro Hero 4 Black, a gimbal, several attachment add-ons for the Gopro and 2 x 64 Gb and 1 32 Gb card.
The H1 Zoom recorder.

Obviously my beloved Ricoh GR II digital and the 21mm wide-angle conversion lens. With it a 10 ND filter for the occasional long exposure.
My Polaris light meter.
A small tripod.
The Western Digital Passport Wireless Pro 1 Tb.
2 High performance power banks.
A 64 Gb iPad Air 2
iPhone 5s
iPod 80 Mb
Kobo Aura One
Tolino e-Reader for Sweetheart

That’s it.

In fact I bought a second-hand Gopro 4 Black only a few days ago. It has no LCD-screen so I’ll be using a iPhone 4s attached to the gimbal. I’ll be filming mainly in 4K at 24 fps or 2,7 K at 48 fps for slo-mo. The Hero 4 Black does 120 fps at 1080p and 240 fps at 720p for super slo-mo.

The Hero 4 Silver will be used as a backup, for photographs or for Sweetheart to have fun with.

But mainly I’ll be shooting in the highest resolution so I can downscale to 1080p at gain in image quality.

Even if it means much more work I’ll be taking photos and making video in Protune meaning I’ll have to do the colour correction on my iMac later on. Using Protune means better quality with more detail in the shadows and almost an RAW-like approach.

Also in my bag 6 packs of each approximatively 8 metres 5mm jute rope. But that is another story altogether.

 

CRL-KRK / FR6728

So this is what is going to happen.

On Sunday, September 17 my eldest daughter. will drop us at Charleroi Airport. Some like to call it Brussels South.
I don’t. Brussels is over 72 klicks away so this can’t count as an extension of our capital. For some of the many stupid and retarded politicians in our country a “Huge” Brussels might be a wet dream.

Gate will close at 06:00 and 30 minutes later Sweetheart and I will be in the air.
Poland here we come.

We’ll arrive at Kraków airport at 08:30. Time to pick up our car and drive to the our quite luxurious apartment we rented trough Airbnb. Check it OUT.

We’ll be visiting the city and the famous salt mines. Auschwitz maybe.
Sweetheart and I like to mix city and outdoors so we’ll visit the Ojców National Park a few times.
Hope to do some paddling too.

Maybe we’ll make a little trip to the Czech Republic. We’ll see. Time will, as always, fly by without us having even grasped a second of it.

I’ll be taking my Gopro Hero 4 Silver and Black with me and the Ricoh GR II but mainly I’ll concentrate on video for this trip.
I bought a Western Digital Passport Pro Wireless 1 Terabyte portable disk. Basically you use it on the road, it reads SD-card and USB devices so I can download my video on the disk. After all 64 GB of SD card gives me about 2 hours of video. The disk is cheaper than buying a zillion SD-cards.

I am not sure the Western Digital Passport Pro is a good product though or a good choice. It has been sitting on my desk for about a month and a half since it arrived. I tested it twice. When I fired it up a few days ago it didn’t work. Unable to connect via WiFi, unable to download files. Almost an DOA. I checked the WD support pages and was able to fix the problem. Hell, used it twice and it already got screwed up… Not sure I’m trusting this device.

I’ll be shooting in 4K with the intention to downsize it to 1080p thus gaining image quality and detail. Maybe I’ll shoot also in 1080p at 120 fps if a subject lends to some slo-mo.

 

I don’t understand her either…

Thoughts – September 4, 2017

I find pleasure in kayaking. It’s about the solitude on the water. It is about sports. Obviously I take my Gopro Hero 4 Silver with me on every trip.

There is one downside. It is not so much the distance to those spots where I can rent a kayak that is an issue. It is the time it takes to get there. Normally it is a 1:30 hour drive but the highways leading to them are vulnerable for accidents. A few weeks ago Sweetheart and I drove little over 3 hour to and 2:30 back. Sure, there are alternative roads but the take time too.

Also after a few hours my legs fall asleep or my upper things starts getting numb. I have these experiences when I’m doing a long drive too.

Then there is the fact I’m only training my upper torso and more specifically my shoulders.

Nevertheless I enjoy being on the water.

I wanted to do a second sport. Autumn is knocking on the door already.
The fitness is not something I want to do. I’m sure I won’t be a regular visitor enough. I don’t like group stuff either.
I’d rather be outside, in the open and do something “adventurous”.

So little over a weeks ago I went to Decathlon and got a Rockrider 520 MTB/off the road bike.  I am not an avid bicyclist but I liked the idea of being somewhere deep in the woods, me and by bicycle.

Since I have been riding on a regular basis, doing about 15 kilometres a day. I have to build my condition.

Yesterday, Sunday 3 September I went bicycling at Blauberg in the Province of Antwerp. I did almost 14km off the road. Had a great time. I mounted the Gopro on my head but the footage is still very shaky at times. Better than mounted on my handlebar grip though.

Back home I couldn’t get enough so I did an additional 10 kilometers, mixed road and off the road. Wow, I made me feel like so good.

Time Lapse with stars and planes

August 16, 2017.

Finally a clear night sky. Where I live is quite some light pollution. I want the have the technique in my fingers though before I go out on location for this kind of shooting.

Shot on my Gopro 4 Silver in Protune with native white balance set. Night lapse settings are a 10” shutter speed at an interval of 15”.
Images go through Lightroom first for color correction, sharpening and noise reduction.

The video is the created in Final Cut Pro X.

I used the music in a previous clip but I like it so much I reused it.

 

Thoughts – August 24, 2017

Yesterday was one of these days I like to describe as memorable. Unforgettable even. One of these days that seem to add something valuable to ones life.
Why?
Because it all felt simple good.
Perfect.
I spend almost the whole day with Sweetheart.
Albeit she is suffering from a sore throat and cystitis, we went paddling on Lake Vere in The Netherlands.
 
Yesterday in the early morning we had breakfast.
Paddling. Nature. Light. Water.
Gopro Hero 4 Silver
We were ready to leave for The Netherlands. For once the weather was great and we wanted to spend it on the water. These past few weeks have been horrendous. Cold, rainy, grey…
Meeting horses.
Gopro Hero 4 Silver
Sweethearts’ doctor phoned. The test results were back and she was resistant to the meds she was taking already.
So we drove to her doctor, got the prescription for new antibiotics, drove to the pharmacy.
I found it important for Sweetheart to start her treatment asap.
 
Sweetheart, Lake Vere’s most beautiful mermaid.
Gopro Hero 4 Silver
Due to traffic jams caused by accidents we did over 3 hours to reach our destination in The Netherlands. It would take me little over 1 hour to get to Lake Vere on a normal day.
 
We started our trip at 13:00 and arrived back at Kanoa, our starting point, at 17:00. We paddled a distance of about 16 km. The surface of the huge lake was as flat as a , no wind. It was so good being there.
 
Paddling. Nature. Light. Water.
Gopro Hero 4 Silver
At Kanoa we enjoyed some French Fries and then we drove back home. Unfortunately the day ended as it had started. Enormous traffic jams again. I countered them by using alternative roads cutting down our travel time to about 2 hours.
French fries the Dutch way. After 4 hours of kayaking they tasted so good…
Gopro Hero 4 Silver
At 20:00 I dropped Sweetheart off at her place. When she closed the door of my car I was already missing her. We had such a great and perfect day.
 
God, I love Sweetheart so much.
Sweetheart savouring the moment.
Gopro Hero 4 Silver

Time Lapse again

I enjoy making a time-lapse. Unfortunately these past nights have been cloudy. Indeed, I would love to make something with moving stars.

This is just a simple test. Some 350 images, 10″ exposure taken with a 15″ interval.

Corrected colours, sharpness, contrast and WB with Lightoom and stitched it all together using Final Cut Pro X.

I know this is rubbish but I’m posting this so I can evaluate my progress.

A man and his cameras