Happenings in the Hallerbos

It’s almost that time of year again! It’s almost time for the wonder that is the Hallerbos (Bois de Halle or Halle Forest) in the spring, when the bluebells bloom and the forest floor is transformed into a carpet of gorgeous purple.  But although at this time last year the flowers were all abloom, and a few purple flowers have braved the cooler temperatures of this spring, we are still a week or two away from the big show. My husband and I took a stroll through the forest today to check the status of the flowers and were delighted to witness a sort of pre-show.

Hallerbos Pre-Show

Hallerbos Pre-Show

In the week or two preceding the bluebells, the forest floor is first carpeted with the blooms of the wood anemones. While it doesn’t have quite the same effect, it is still very beautiful. The forest itself is peaceful (usually!) and makes for a great day in the outdoors no matter what time of year you visit it.

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Expanding My Horizons

Graslei Reflections

Graslei Reflections

Stadshal at Night, Ghent

Stadshal at Night, Ghent

This week I showcased my work at the US Embassy in Brussels and I have really enjoyed talking to my peers about photography, travel and Belgium.  Going through my portfolio so many times has brought something to my attention though.  I MIGHT be a little obsessed with Ghent!  It seems that every other picture is of some building, some church, some alley – IN GHENT.

Winter Stroll in Oostende

Winter Stroll in Oostende

So I decided that this summer I will make more of an effort to branch out a little more and spend more time in other parts of Belgium.  There is so much to see that I should have no problem finding great subject matter.  There are war memorials and monuments, beautiful parks and forests, beaches, more churches than my children ever want to see again in their lifetimes, festivals, monasteries (and beer tours!), universities, and more chateaus than you can shake a stick at (stay tuned on Observations of an Okie for pics of Denver shaking a stick at a château…). I look forward to getting out there and really exploring more of this awesome country and I promise that I will be careful if I happen on to some haunted, deteriorating building that just begs me to explore it – ahem.  There is also that suburb of Antwerp, slowly being abandoned that is covered in graffiti/street art. The list is truly endless.

Unknown Soldier at Flanders Field

Unknown Soldier at Flanders Field

But dear Ghent, fear not!  I am unable to abandon you completely.  You are so close and I can pop up for a stroll through your beautiful streets, visit with your lovely citizens and do some great shopping any time I want (I might even bring you new visitors and take yet another picture of St. Nicolaus’ Church).

Twilight!

No, not the teen vampire movie.  The time of day.  One of the coolest times of the day to be taking pictures, and one I can’t for the life of me seem to be in a position to take advantage of very often.  But on a recent trip to Ghent we were actually out after dark with our cameras and I was able to snap off a couple of shots while the sun was falling fast below the horizon.  I love twilight. I love Ghent. And apparently I love St. Nicholas Church.  I can’t seem to get enough of it.

St. Nicolas's Cathedral at Twilight - Ghent, Belgium

St. Nicolas’s Cathedral at Twilight – Ghent, Belgium

Ghent Light Festival 2015

This past weekend was the 3rd installation of the Ghent Light Festival.  A bi-annual event, artists, groups and schools put together various exhibits using light and videography and install them throughout the very walkable city center of Ghent. I am still working on night photography skills, but even so, I was able to catch a few lovely shots of this lovely art form.  Check out these new additions on my Belgium page!

Art installation on Mageleinstraat in Ghent 2015

Art installation on Mageleinstraat in Ghent 2015

What a week!

Last week was chock full and by the end of it, I was tired, but happy!

Wednesday night, a friend and I attended the first meeting of the season for Viewfinders  – Brussels’ club for English-speaking photographers.  It was great to be around so many others in the community that love doing what we do, and in so many different ways.  The first presentation by Trevor Waldron went over a few basic pointers about composition, light and technique – good reminders for those of us who haven’t been to a photo class in a while and have forgotten more than we learned in the first place.  The guest speaker was Bart Ramakers, a local photographer who specializes in telling stories with his photographs.  He shared with us his techniques, his vision, and his thought processes in coming up with his concepts.  Overall it was a very interesting evening and I can’t wait for the next meeting.  I also need to figure out what I am going to do for the December challenge – Music!  What would you photograph?

The highlight of the week was the Brussels American Community Info Fair and Bazaar.  I was invited by our Community Liaison Officers to take part, manning a table to show off some of my work.  I decided to take the opportunity to also promote a mission community photography club.

My Table at the 2014 Info Fair and Bazaar

My Table at the 2014 Info Fair and Bazaar

18 people signed up for the club!  Now I just need to develop a program for us. I am really looking forward to trading tips and exploring the area with my fellow photographers.

And many showed interest in my prints and asked about my willingness to do family portraits.  Time to improve upon those portraiture skills.  My daughter has graciously agreed to be my test model as I play with lighting and try out possible locations.

It’s an exciting new time for me.  It’s scary, but I feel that things are finally starting to move in a more positive direction and at a much great speed – no time for fear to put on the brakes!  Thanks to all for your support and encouragement!