Monday, December 29, 2008

another bull

another bull
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
We went for a walk in the Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen today. Heard some bulls bellowing. After a quick walk of the well known paths we discovered three bulls bellowing for supremacy over a dozen cows. Impressive sound and sight.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

caught reading

caught reading
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
Or, less than perfect. Noticed his expression, quickly grabbed my camera and was faced with a technical dillema. Either up the iso to 1600 or go for a very marginal shutter speed. I know my colored couch gets noisy easily so I went for iso 800 and 1/30.

It's not quite as sharp as it should have been, both because of the 1/30 and the slight focus error. For me the expression makes up for it.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

fishing contest in B/W

Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
Trying dxo optics on a shot I took this morning. Like it even though the whole series is not exactly getting great reviews.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

quite proud of this one

Kal boeing 747
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
Went planespotting for an hour this afternoon. After almost the complete F70 fleet the KLM owns this big brute came in.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
Went to one of the local farmers for potatoes. Followed the dog, noticed this and just had to take the shot. For me this embodies the Haarlemmermeer. The mixture of agriculture and modern architecture.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Stormy day at the beach

And his wife
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
I decided to go for a late afternoon walk at Zandvoort. Noticed a beginning kitesurfer and this lady a bit further along the beach. Short chat, she was his wife shooting a few pics of her husband in action. (on a day where it wasn't warm to begin with and the windchill made it freezing).
Normally I wouldn't publish a pic of another person. In this case the person isn't recognizable and I really like the composition here.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Visit to fryslan

Frysian cottage2
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
Was visiting friends there. took a walk with the dogs and of course I brought my camera. Took a snap of this little cottage. It's probably at least 50 years old and likely just in use for vacations.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

fallow buck

fallow buck
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
Spotted this one on a walk trough the waterleidingduinen in really rotten weather. Look at it closely and you'll see noise and even some camera shake. look at it in this size and it's a lovely picture.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

rough times for me

romantic bridge
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
New job, pending reorg at the office and now my mother may have a very serious illness.. Sometimes it's all a bit much. The past weekend I've had 2 anxiety attacks which were very scare. I've got a doctor's appointment on friday, last thing I want to do is end up with a burnout.
In the mean time I decided to grab an extended lunch break and go for a walk in Groenendaal park. Had my camera with me and shot this.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Autumn is here!

Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
My favorite season of the year! Leaves falling, chill in the air, peace and quiet in my neighborhood... love it!

Monday, August 25, 2008

new goodies
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
I picked up the 24-85 AF-S today. A shop at the other side of the country was going out of business and had this left in their used section. There's a black rim just outside the front element which has a tiny nick. Otherwise it's in fine condition. Physical aspects of the lens are very nice. There's no motion whatsoever in the front element wether you zoom or focus. "real" af-s is nice too. First results are encouraging but it's a bit early to tell if this will succeed my beloved 28-105.

Below it are 4 vapex batteries. A relatively new brand, supposedly just as good or even better as the famous eneloops but at half the price.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

geotagging my pictures.

Train in motion
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
After reading something about it here: I decided to try it myself. I already own a PDA, an old rx3715 with a bluetooth gps receiver which I use for Tomtom navigation.

I loaded outdoor gps or odgps which I found here: on my pocketpc. Connect to the gps receiver (com6, 38400 baud) and let it get a fix. In the cockpit view it shows the current gps time. It's wise to synchronize your camera's clock as well as you can.

I then ticket the option "CollectData" and went shooting. When I got back I installed geosetter. This program recognizes Nikon's Nef files and the gpx file that odgps created. Then it's a matter of simply merging, saving and continueing with your normal workflow.

Only thing I haven't figured out yet is how to make flickr automatically place my images on a map but that's probably somewhere in the options.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Trying to get the hang of dizzler. Sounds good 3 million free tracks to listen to but for some reason it won't play.

Get Disturbed MP3s at

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Caught in the act!

I caught these two flies having sex in my window. Took the camera, flash in my right hand and fired of a dozen frames before I threw these two out.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Village street

Village street
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
The village street in the Archeon. We visited it again, third time in two years, last firday. Had a lovely time as always.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Renault Kangoo Family Review

I'm writing a review of my 2008 Renault Kangoo Family. I'll try to review the good and bad points of the car. Writing car reviews seems to be an art so let's see if I can do this.

Selection of the car
The company I work for gives people in some functions a company car. These are leased cars I first qualified for that in 2000 and selected an Opel Astra. In 2004 I choose a Peugeot 307 Break. When that was due for replacement this year I started to look around for something with even more space and yet a bit more affordable. I did look at Peugeot briefly but the 308 SW wasn't available yet and the 307 Break was only available in a full options and rather expensive version. So I looked elsewhere. I noticed the Peugeot Partner/Citroen Berlingo and the old Renault Kangoo. Affordable cars with a load of room but also old designs, passenger versions of mid 1990s panel vans with loads of engine noise. Then both Renault and Peugeot/Citroen announced new versions of these cars. Renault was the first to have the car available and that was just in time so I selected that car.

I got the Renault Kangoo Family "expression" with the 1.6 petrol engine and the following extras:
  • Pack Introduction Expression
  • automatic lights and wipers
  • manual airconditioning
  • electric front and rear windows
  • 3 airline type luggage bins above the rear seats
  • electrically controled and heated mirrors in body color

Pack Style (required for Pack introduction)
  • fog lights
  • body colored bumpers
Pack driver
  • Onboard computer
  • radio Renault 4 x 15 W + CD-player (replaced that with my old clarion since an mp3 option was another 500 euros)
  • cruise control and speed limiter (cruise control the reason for choosing this pack
I also got a luggage net. I selected the color "bleu menthe" for the car.

Almost 1600 euros worth of options. Also the first annoyance with Renault, almost all options are sold in "packs".

Allowing for the paperwork to make it's way trough corporate burocracy I think my car got delivered after about 8 weeks. I picked it up at my local dealership just in time for my summer vacation. After a week of getting used to it we drove to the Correze in France, a 1000km drive. The luggage net came in very handy. It allowed me to stack the luggage higher than the rear seats.

First impressions
Room! Loads of room. Clear views all around, big side mirrors. Good view all around. Despite the "only" 110hp engine the car doesn't feel all that slow. Handling is good and direct enough. Since it has a huge sail area it is sensitive to wind. Suspension is rather french, soft and yet you do feel something of what's happening under the car. That soft suspension was very usefull on the horrible back roads in rural France.

It has power steering which is very nice for a car this heavy (1474kg) and big. It's direct enough just like the brakes and accelerator. Don't expect sportscar-like performace, you're not going to get it.

This is were the car shines. The driver and passenger have ample room. There's a parcel shelf above the dashboard which is nice for things like cds.
Above the rear seats I have the optional airplane like bins. Three seperate doors on those but just one big area behind them. So, store something small, take a few corners and you can guess behind which door that small item ended up with.
In back there's 660 liters of space below the shelf. There's a space just behind the rear seats to store the shelf if you're carrying something bigger than that. There's eyes to tie down heavy loads and there's hooks to hang up the luggage net. The booth is lined with some durable looking rubber.
The kids in the back have two airplane like tray tables. The first few times they fold these away the sound may startle the driver. Of course the kids love these tray tables. The sliding doors are also a big hit with my 2 kids but it does take some practice for them to close the doors themselves.

Bad points
Fuel economy. Even after 4000km the onboard computer indicates that I'm running 9.1 liter per 100km. (25,8 mpg) which I do find somewhat disappointing since Renault thinks I should get 7,9 l/100km. On the display I can clearly see that a quick sprint immediately pushes the fuel usage upto 20+ liter/100km. If the dutch government didn't put a 4000 euro extra tax on diesel engines I'd have gotten the 1.5 dci which has excellent fuel economy

Seats. The front seats are designed for someone a lot shorter than I am. They stop at my shoulder blades and don't offer good support for my upper back. Not a problem on short trips but after 2 hours or so my back starts to hurt. I'll have to fnd a pillow or something for that.

Electronics. My Peugeot 307 allowed me to close the powered windows after I had removed the car. If I pressed and held the close button on the remote control it even closed the windows automatically. With the Kangoo if I remove the key the only available power is to fold back the side mirrors if I turn the knob for that.

Vibrations. At 130km/h something in the car starts to resonate. It doesn't affect the handling but it is noisy.

Audio. As was to be expected from a french car in this price range the quality of the factory supplied speakers is dismal. It's not too noticeable if you use the Renault radio but with my Clarion DB348 it's quite clear.

Quality. At 4000km my Astra had already been in the shop for problems with it's LPG system and my Peugeot was developing issues with it's airco. The Kangoo has (knock on wood) not had any issues whatsoever.

Despite these bad points and aside of the occasional nagging feeling of guilt about the fuel economy this is a car that makes me happy. A month after delivery I've always gotten used to a car. I'm used to this car but it still makes me happy. I really look forward to taking it for a drive again. I like it's handling, the view I have from the driver's seat, the color. It's a very likeable car for me. I'm trying to do something about the lousy mileage by coasting whenever possible which is easy because it's such a heavy car.

A nice car, recommended if you want a roomy family car for a decent price. I was a bit surprised to see that it "only" got a 4 star rating at Euro NCAP.
When shopping for a car in this class I would advice you to also check the new Berlingo/Partner and see what they are like. From what I've seen they are a bit more expensive and a comparable trim level.

my new car
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Yoga class

Yoga class
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
Esther was teaching Rhianne some yoga basics. I was really surprised how serious Rhianne approached it.

Friday, June 13, 2008

my new car

my new car
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
Yesterday I picked it up at the dealer. A brand new renault kangoo 1.6 I love it! It's roomy, it's fun to drive and it has ample room for my whole family. And the color makes me smile,

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Sonim XP1=KPN Porto 300.

Typically for KPN they've bought a phone, had the manufacturer stick on a KPN label and they're selling it for a lot more than the standard price.

Only difference I can see is that they are offering Push2Talk with their business subscriptions.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Bas trying a piano

My first piano
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
Bas trying a piano lesson. According to the teacher he just may have some real talent. Made me proud of course.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Sonim XP1 BT review

End user reviews of this phone seem to be scarce or even non-existent so here's my attempt at one.

Recently it was announced here at the office that a bunch of us would get a company SIM and that we could buy a phone for upto 250 euros.

I looked at the current offerings of Nokia, Samsung and Motorola and could find very little there that appealed to me. So I looked elsewhere and found the Sonim Xp1 BT.
Sonim is totally unknown as a maker of handsets, at least here in Europe. Despite that I found that this phone had some very appealing features. It calls, it can be used to send SMS and it's very durable. Since I have a tendency to drop phones the durable appeals to me. Now if you surf around for information and reviews you'll notice that people have tried and failed to break this phone. Sonim itself has links to the various videos on youtube. Have a look and prepare to be amazed.

I work in the IT business so chances that I will drop mine in a cement mixer are slim but I still want a phone that can be dropped and that's loud enough to be heard in a room with 600 servers. (if you've never been in a fair sized server room just imagine an old, noisy pc, add some vacuum cleaner and multiply that mix by 600). I'd pretty much made up my mind to get one so I started looking for a good deal on one. Prices varied from 255 to 329 for the model with bluetooth. Local webshop typhone had the Sonim XP1 with bluetooth (which is what the BT stands for in it's name) for only 255 euros I decided to order one.

The box
A couple of days later it arrived. Neat little box with the phone, battery, charger and a booklet , a very hefty belt clip and nothing else. I did have a problem getting the back lid of the phone which involves unlocking it and inserting your nail firmly in the edge of the lid but after I sorted that out it was happily charging itself. 3 hours later it claimed to be fully charged. That first charge lasted me almost 8 days. Two charges later I'm getting 8 days with BT always on and not too much talking.

But how does it perform?
Reception is absolutely astonishing. I tested this in my mother-in-laws living room which is a notorious black spot. Every phone I've ever used always lost it's signal once I set foot in that room. Not the Sonim! I still got 2 bars reception and a slightly degraded connection to my voicemail.
Call quality is excellent! On default settings it can be a bit too loud but that's easily corrected. Conversations are clear but I do get the impression that high frequencies can sometimes be clipped a bit. When I'm calling from the server room people do think I'm standing very clause to an airco exhaust but I'm still perfectly understandable.
Ringer volume is awesome! Use the factory supplied extremely boring ringtones and even at the lowest settings it's hard to miss a call.

Data transfer
So, as a phone it works well. The trouble starts when you connect it to a PC. Via Bluetooth you see this:

Not very usefull it seems. A comm port to map, dialup networking, and obexpush which seems to be some sort of businesscard exchange. It's not until you happen to google across that it makes sense. That links to where you can download Philips Phone tools. (162mb) This phone seems to be built on the same platform as the Philips 9@9r. When you install that Phonetools thing (looks exactly like Motorola's) you get this in the about screen:

PHILIPS - NEXPERIA SY.SOL 6120 (21/04/2006)

The Philips connection becomes even more clear when you hook it up via usb. (use any old usb-mini usb cable). Then, after a lot of hunting for drivers you'll see this:

Philips DF2000 GSM and some weird Philips USB lun device. No idea what that is but it can be added as a drive. If you do that you'll get a removable disk. Double click it and it tells you to insert media.

Despite all this the only way I could find to get my custom ringtone onto the Sonim was to transfer it via BT to my Motorola V8 and from there via BT to my sonim. No problems.

Of course I tried to contact Sonim about this. Since I couldn't find a local distributor I contacted Sonim directly. No response whatsoever. As an end user I can be safely ignored it seems.

OK, moving on.

User interface and other annoyances.

Since the feature set is so limited it is an easy phone to master. The manual supplied is adequate but you don't often need it. If I don't mention a function here you can assume it's OK.

Keyboard lock. On Nokia it used to be unlock and *. On the Sonim it's press and hold *. You just have to get used to it and then it is OK. Keypad lock can be set to off, 10s, 30s and 60 seconds.

What is incredibly annoying is that even when it's locked you can still make emergency calls. So without knowing it you could have it in your pocket and you could be dialing 911 or 112 or whatever it's in your location. I haven't found a way to disable this!

Ringer volume has three settings, loud, even louder and really loud. Ringing and vibrating at the same time seems to be a challenge. The option is there but somehow it's not saved. There's only a few profiles available and the default profile is the only one that can be renamed, the rest cannot.

Phone book, select it via the right menu button and you have to select "view list" first before you can see the book. Use the big button on the side instead.

There's T9 support and that works fairly well.

If you're looking for a sturdy, loud phone look no further. If you value communication with your PC, a camera or other features look further. Despite it's design annoyances I'm keeping my Sonim. I just hope the company will soon take end users serious enough to provide at least a basic level of support. I've come across some annoyances that seem to be very sloppy user interface design. Any capable engineer can turn out a software update to fix this in a week or so.

Friday, April 11, 2008

What makes people kill children?

And more importantly, what makes me read the news items? I know that when I click one of those links I will be reading a story that breaks my heart.

Take this latest one for example, a mother in the belgian town of Angleur near Liege let's her 21 months old toddler starve to death because she didn't want the child and felt neglected by her partner who was working in another country. She calls emergency services because the child was sitting lifeless in his chair for two hours. Autopsy revealed a 0% fat content in the body. Her three other surviving children have been taken away.

Can anyone imagine the agony and despair that child must have gone trough? I've got two children, I remember that age when they'd sit in their little chairs munching their way trough a bowl of fruit.
It's bad enough that children die in famines but this....

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Trying a vintage lens

Trying a vintage lens
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
Got a Nikon 135 f2.8 Ai lens for next to nothing. Stuck it on my D50 where it's totally manual.
This pic isn't perfect and yet, there's something about this lens I like.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

getting the flash off the camera

Faded rose
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
It's a theme many people will encounter. Get your flash away from your camera. Get several flashes and some radio triggers and create an elaborate lighting setup.

I'm not too sure about the elaborate setups yet but it's fun to play with this.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Protective Filter Craze

I see this so often on the various forums and message boards. People buy a camera with a kit lens and feel the need to stick a UV filter on it.
Now, let's face it, kit lenses are good value for money but they are often not the greatest lenses on the market. Why would you run the risk of lens flaring by adding some glass to the front of the lens? Most lenses are designed as a whole package. From front to rear element they are designed to bring a good image to your sensor (or film).

What are you protecting your lens against? I've used SLR cameras for about 20 years now and I have never had front element damage. Take proper care of your gear. Use a lens hood whenever possible and use your lens caps.

Of course there are circumstances thinkable when you'd want to use a protective filter. If there's stones flying around or if you are in a situation where there's salt water spray or beer flying around for example. So, it can be useful to have a protective filter in the bag. When you do buy one, a skylight or a UV filter don't try to save money there. Get something at least multicoated. The Hong-Kong based firm hvstar has excellent prices on filters and good customer service.

Even with good filters, such as the 62mm Nikon circular polarizer, I own you still need to take care or you will end up with this:

Lens flare

For further reading I suggest reading what Thom Hogan has written on the subject.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

rock, water, earth

rock, water, earth
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
Took my lunch walk today and noticed this puddle on a rock.

Second attempt at adding the very fashionable vignetting. I think in this case it does add something.