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Tot Ziens, Amsterdam

Robin and I knew that the day we leave Amsterdam and the Netherlands would eventually come. Well, today is that day.

Our time in Amsterdam has been a grand adventure, deeper, richer and more vibrant that either of us ever imagined. We repeated the phrase “We’re still living in Amsterdam” almost weekly because we never wanted to take the experience for granted.

We have so many people to thank:

  • Our neighbors on Reijnier Vinkelskade, who took us in when we first arrived there in 2008. They all went out of their way to make us feel part of their little community;
  • Bernard, our neighbor upstairs at Plantage Muidergracht, who looked after us a number of times when the apartment was not behaving itself;
  • Our friends from around the city, in particular Blaine Hamrick and Peter Waltz, for helping us see and enjoy all the city has to offer;
  • My work colleagues in the Amsterdam, the Hague and Rijswijk offices have always been supportive, passionate and professional. Leading these teams has been a honor and a pleasure;
  • All the family and friends who have visited us. We’ve loved taking you to all the places we’ve discovered here.

We’re not quite sure where life will take us next, but Robin and I both are ready for the adventure.

One Photo – Frosted Leaves

I took this photo about a month ago when Robin and I stepped out of the house one Sunday morning to go for a run. The temperature had dropped significantly over night and the trees and plants around the house had a beautiful rime of frost on them. We returned to the house to grab our cameras and this is one of the first ones I took.

A nice reminder of the time of the year.

Camera: Sony DSC-RX100
Lens: Zeiss 18-100mm f/1.8-4.9
Focal Length: 10.4 mm
Exposure: 1/30 sec at f/9.0
ISO Speed Rating: ISO 320

One Photo – Artisplein

While my main focus for the little photography I did in December in Amsterdam was the Light Festival, I did take a few minutes to shoot one of my favorite places near our current house: the Artisplein. This little square is tucked in at the west end of the Artis Zoo and is especially picturesque at night when the lights strung from tree to tree are lit and the glass veranda of the the Café-Restaurant De Plantage is full of people and light.

I used a GorillaPod tripod  permitting a low ISO, using one of the tables for support.  The biggest challenge was trying to a spot where the various garbage cans did not overwhelm the scene. Processing the photo in Silver Efex Pro gave me the look I saw in my mind when I took the photo.

Oh, and De Plantage is a very nice place for dinner.

Camera: Sony DSC-RX100
Lens: Zeiss 18-100mm f/1.8-4.9
Focal Length: 10.4 mm
Exposure: 1.3 sec at f/5.0
ISO Speed Rating: ISO 125

Amsterdam Light Festival 2016

The 2016-2017 edition on the Amsterdam Light Festival represents the fifth consecutive year the festival has run over the Christmas and New Year period. Robin and I walked the Water Colors circuit on the first Friday of the festival.  This year’s edition once again impressed both of us with the ingenuity of the installations. After Robin left for Canada, I walked around the remaining sculptures that we missed on our Friday night walk, including the one pictured here: NEST by Studio ALBA.

The tight graphic construction of NEST combined with an interesting light pattern design (a full cycle is about 5 minutes in duration) made it stand out from the others for me this year.

Camera: Sony DSC-RX100
Lens: Zeiss 18-100mm f/1.8-4.9
Focal Length: 10.4 mm
Exposure: 1/160 sec at f/1.8
ISO Speed Rating: ISO 200

Here are our previous posts about the Amsterdam Light Festival: 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. We also have a Flickr album with pictures from all five years here.

Revising my Lightroom Workflow

While attending the Adventure Sports Photography Workshop back in September, I realized that I would need to significantly improve my Lightroom workflow if I was really serious of moving my photography from a hobby into a second-career business. I learned much from Dan and Janine Patitucci on how they manage their photography business in this age of social media and ever-growing competition from non-traditional sources.


The first area I needed to work on was keywording.  While my photographs all had basic keywords, being successful in today’s world of stock photography requires a good  strategy for keywording.

I did some searching on the Internet and found the Lightroom Keyword Project List.  I downloaded the list and then exported my own keyword list. Working in my favourite text editor (PSPad), I combined the two and re-imported this combined list into Lightroom.  The design of the keyword structure simply requires me to move from the top to the bottom of list, keywording as I go.  My average number of keywords has jumped up considerably and I’m now at or above mytarget of 15 keywords per master photograph.


In addition, my overall Lightroom workflow needed work. As a hobbyist, having no differentiation among personal, hobby and potential salable photographs was not a big problem. But looking forward, I knew that I needed to have a way to separate these in Lightroom.  I also needed a better way to manage master photographs within portfolios, especially if the master photographs were processed in other software technologies like OnOne and Nik.

Another Internet search led me to Dan Morris’  Complete Lightroom Workflow post, which met almost of my requirements including keeping all photographs within a single Lightroom catalog. I especially liked Dan’s use of Smart Collections to ensure that master photographs are all properly titled, captioned, geolocated, keyworded and copyrighted. My only significant change to Dan’s system was to assign the Purple color for Hobby Photography.

The Results

I took well over a month to go through my entire Lightroom catalog with the new workflow. Looking at the numbers below, you’ll see why it took so long:

  • Total Photographs: 16222
  • Within Total Photographs: Personal Photographs: 5710, Hobby Photographs: 794, Professional Photographs: 9717
  • Within Professional Photographs: Archive Quality: 3653, Hold Quality: 5839, Master Photograph Quality: 169

The numbers show that I need to take about 100 photographs to get one Master Photograph.

One of the joys of going through my entire portfolio was finding photographs that I passed over at the time.  Now with new tools and a more mature vision for my photography, I was able to bring some of these long-lost photos back to life.  The featured image in this post is a good example: it is from 2007 and a road trip we took to New Mexico.  The bright glow of the white sand desert that I saw when I took the photo really did not come out until I used some of the new processing tools (in this case OnOne Perfect Effects 8).

Camera: Nikon D70s
Lens: Nikon AF-S Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G DX
Focal Length: 200 mm
Exposure: 1/80 sec at f/16
ISO Speed Rating: ISO 200

Processed in Adobe Lightroom 6.5 and OnOne Perfect Effects 8

Gear: Photography Equipment

As Dave duChemin said in a recent blog post:

If we spent more time analyzing our photographs as we did analyzing gear, we’d make much better photographs no matter what that gear is.

How true.

That being said, this photography gear page remains one of the most visited pages on Station Studios.

Digital Single-Lens Cameras

My main DSLR body remains a Nikon D7000 (pictured above). There is a lot to like about this camera, in particular the two user-configurable modes.

For lenses, you will  find one of the following on the D7000:

Robin still uses a Nikon D40x from 2007. The D40x is a relatively small camera which Robin likes and the jpegs straight of the D40X remain in my opinion the nicest of the three Nikons we’ve owned.  Robin also uses a Nikon AF-S Nikkor 18-200 mm f/3.5-5.6G DX ED VR II on the D40X.

Flash Equipment

I’ve recently been more and more interested in expanding my photography skills from using only available light to using flash technology. To that end, I purchased a Nikon Speedlight SB-700 flash unit and a set of Pocket Wizard MiniTT1/FlexTT5 wireless trigger systems. I’ll likely add a second flash very soon to complete my Strobist kit.

Bags and straps

To carry all of this equipment all around, I’m using two camera bags for different purposes:

We’ve both replaced the standard Nikon neck strap with Black Rapid straps. There are a great alternative to traditional camera straps.

Point and Shoot Digital Cameras

We’ve owned a number of smaller digital cameras over the years including a number of Canon SD series cameras. In 2013, I bought a serious new point-and-shoot, a Sony DSC RX-100 and it’s been a great camera for cycling and hiking.

Digital Darkroom

I continue to use Adobe’s Lightroom as my main digital photo editing tool; I’m up to version 6.5. I also purchased the ON1 software suite, including Perfect Effects,  for further processing outisde of Lightroom. I also added the Nik suite of photo editing software when Google made it free in March 2016. I’ve also made good use of a number of Jeffrey Friedl‘s Lightroom plugins, including  Geoencoding  Support and PhotoSafe

In 2014, I bought a new computer (a Dell XPS) specifically for my digital darkroom.  For the display, I purchased a Eizo FlexScan SX2262W color-corrected monitor and Eizo’s EasyPIX monitor calibration system. In early 2016, I added a Wacom Intuos Pro Small Digital Tablet for more precise editing.