Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Nature fights back. Quietly.

Nature quietly reclaims the lost terrain near the railway tracks...
The Rolleiflex's square image format forces you to slow down, look, frame and compose. F-r-a-m-e. Well, at least I hope it is obvious from this picture - you be the judge...

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

With the Rolleiflex near the old railway station

Well, I took the Rolleiflex out for a spin near the old railway station. From the train I had spotted the deserted warehouse of a construction company. Their dump really, with all kinds of old building materials and rusted equipment. I found these old windows somehow poetic. They must look even better on a desperate rainy day.

Friday, July 07, 2006

The dying minesweeper

The poor old thing was no longer needed and anchored up the Schelde river. Left to die. The Belgian Navy replaced a number of these old wooden minesweepers by modern boats with 'plastic' hulls. I retraced the history of these wooden minesweepers and found that they were originally bought from the U.S. right after WW II.
M906 is the only boat of its kind left. A couple of years ago a group of enthusiasts started restoration with only limited funds. They claim that if the ship is not taken care of urgently it will deteriorate beyond repair. Due to the daily tides on the river the ship comes to rest with all its weight on the hull and the wooden spine of the boat will eventually break...
This picture is from the first roll of film with my 'new' Rolleiflex 3.5F TLR with Planar lens.

I went back to the site last week, only to discover that M906 is no longer there. From the 'M906 Breydel' website I learned that at this time the ship is being wrecked at a nearby shipyard...

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Late Hour Snackbars for the Lonely

The simple and uninviting snackbars. Those that are open when all the other diners are closed, late at night. One year they are there, the next they are gone. These are the grimy snackbars where the lonely eat late at night after a hard day's work. They meet for a short while and some hang around before returning to their simple homes in the dark and cold streets of Brussels. Some even fall asleep above their unfinished plate...

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Available Light

Some years ago, a friend and I came up with the idea of a joint photo project about the desolate, cold hearted and lonely city. The working title was "De Grootstad" (Flemish for 'the Big City') and the idea was to shoot exclusively with available light, which later became the official title of an exhibition we did with a selection of our best photos. Most of the time we ended up pushing the Tri-X at 1200 or 1600 ASA and we loved the resulting grain, the burnt and blooming highlights and the dirty effect because it suited the atmosphere so well of the city on those wet and dark december days and nights. I still do love that effect. Incidently, the above image pictures my friend Daniel leaning against a wall, composing his next shot. All the pictures shown here were taken in Brussels with my trusty Nikon FM and the Nikkor 24mm/F2.8 lens which I regard as my 'standard' lens.
All pictures by Benny Stevens (c)

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

A cheap Diana...

Diana cameras are not so hard to find but they can be expensive on the internet. I didn't want to pay $50-100 for a plastic toy camera. After all, I had owned one when I was 12 years old and it had only costed about $1 worth of lead pellets for the air gun at the local fair. Okay, that was a long time ago but still... A couple of weeks ago I unexpectedly ran into one of these on the sunday flea market and the seller had no idea that Dianas usually change owners for higher prices than what he wanted for it. On a clear and sunny day I loaded it with a roll of Fuji Acros 100 and headed for Brussels. Needless to say that this crappy plastic camera did not go unnoticed and that I felt slightly uncomfortable by the odd looks from the tourists with their newest digicams and phonecams. Anyway, here is a picture of the Atomium - one of the few monuments left of the Brussels 1958 world fair. The spheres were just being fitted with new aluminum plates.

A streak of sunlight catched my eye...

A streak of sunlight suddenly appeared from over the rooftops on the other side of the narrow street. It lit up one of the clipped buxus plants on this restaurants window sill. A bit of quiet poetry in a busy street leading to the Brussels Grand'Place. I prayed that the ray of light lasted long enough until all the tourists left my frame. Ilford Delta400 in Rodinal 1+7 : grain like pea soup!

Black & White Panoramics with the Xpan

The Hasselblad Xpan is a beautiful camera. It is extremely well built and very good looking and that's important too : you need a tool that you love and like to use in order to get good results from it. Unfortunately, making good pictures with an Xpan turned out to be more difficult than I expected. It took several rolls of film before I more or less came to grips with it. The 'best' results I have achieved with this camera so far were with black & white film, like the one posted here. One has to grow on this camera, instead of the other way around. For a moment I even thought the purchase of it was a mistake, but come to think of it : perhaps it's a good thing that the tool is a bit of a challenge to use. Would you rather be bored with a new camera right away? And in that case, can you expect different or better pictures from it than from your other gear? Learning to master the Xpan is demanding and requires patience, and that is something we all have too little of these days. Lesson learnt.