Charlie and the Photography Factory

April 28, 2009

“Hold Your Breath. Make a Wish. Count to Three.”

Filed under: Amsterdam, Holland — Tags: , , , , , , — charlieprator @ 2:51 AM


Last Tuesday I arrived back from one of the best vacations I have ever been on: Amsterdam.  Now we all know what Amsterdam is infamous for (see article link below), but, surprisingly, this college student fell in love with Amsterdam for many other reasons. 

I had the luxury of staying for free in our wonderful friend’s, Falcão, ex-girlfriend’s flat in the university located in Haarlem.  Even though Haarlem lies 25 minutes away from Amsterdam Central, I am grateful for seeing other parts of Holland that other tourists may not have passed through.  First, Haarlem, and the cities/towns that lie around Amsterdam have some of the most beautiful neighborhoods, streets, houses, sidewalks, front-lawns, etc I have ever toured through.  It was like walking through “Pleasantville”.  Everything was perfect!  There were trees in full bloom casting shadows over roads, lawns perfectly trimmed, verdant foliage growing from every crevice of the neighborhood.  At first glance, a perfect place to bring a family.

Now, I thought I had fallen in love with Amsterdam because of its great night-life, its suburbia, its food (can get I shout out for bitterballen and hamkaassouffle?), its canals, and its beach (Zandvoort aan Zee). But, I had not yet stepped foot in the most serene and beautiful place on Earth (That’s my take for now. We’ll see where my future takes me):  The Keukenhof Gardens. 

To put it into perspective, whatever garden your parents made you take photos in as a child, the Keukenhof makes that garden look like a garbage landfill.  This is because Keukenhof  is world renowned for their endless and endless patches of tulips (approximately 7,000,000). You can imagine the beauty, as well as the work involved. 

I had heard about the Keukenhof gardens, so I, being the avid photographer, told Drew and Falcão that I was, “…going to be in the zone!”  They graciously understood, so I put on my iPod and went to work.  I snapped photos left and right taking approximiately 70 individual photos (In reality, think HDR and multiply that by 3). But, this picture was the pinnacle of the Keukenhof experience.

I had my iPod jamming to some Coldplay, and I quaintly tuned it to Amsterdam. I then wandered. Snap, goes the camera…

Next, I  found myself walking on a clean and trimmed asphalt path meandering through small hills covered with tulips in every color of the spectrum.  Smoothly, the path veers to the right where the sun is spreading its light through the forest in front of me.  I squint to see the sun illuminating tall dark forest trees with vivid green moss growing on their trunks.  Strong crepuscular rays  jet through the openings in the trees casting a golden tint to everything green.  In front of me is a placid fountain quietly burbling, as if it were never man-made and apart of the serene environment it’s surrounded in.  An alabaster swan glides over the still water venturing to explore the fountain.  And, sealing this imagery of tranquility are small tid-bits of pollen slowly swaying and descending to the forest floor. They too becoming golden green from the rays crossing their paths. All around, tulips, nourishing the landscape and my visual experience with bright colors.

I stood there amazed.  Taking it in. Breathing–slowly.  It was if I had died, and had gone to heaven.

Then, I was immediately reminded of Willy Wonka’s revealing of his Chocolate Factory to the lucky families.  All of them in a calm shock from an overload of sensory stimuli. If only that Chocolate Factory were real.  Or, if Keukenhof were an edible paradise.   This is what Keukenhof was like.  A paradise here on earth.

In any case, I wanted to closely recreate that paradise for you as best I can.  Thank you HDR!


  • If you’re Dutch and haven’t been to Keukenhof, you should be ashamed of yourself (you know who you are).  I mean c’mon 7,000,000 flowers, and I think it’s around 42 hectares!
  • Apparently, Amsterdam is not the “liberalized drug capital” we all think it is. Portugal takes first place.  For an interesting read on drugs and the question of legalization: Drugs in Portugal: Did Decriminalization Work?.

April 27, 2009

Sunrise in Jönköping

Filed under: Jönköping, Sweden — Tags: , , , , , — charlieprator @ 2:59 AM


To fully enjoy this picture in larger sizes click the image for the Flickr host.


Welcome to Charlie Prator’s first post.  Thank you for visiting! 

I plan to post 1 photo a day, and will try my best to keep up with that requirement.    Although, I am not much of a routine-guy. We will see.  Please post comments, critiques, points of improvement, anything! 

As for this first photo, it should’ve been posted last Friday.  However, in my post-zero-sleep state at 6:00AM I found I couldn’t write more coherent than ex-President Bush could speak his speeches. So, I decided to wait.  But, this photo has a little specialty about it for two reasons.  One, I can freely see this view almost anytime because it happens to be on the cliff literally 50 feet behind our house.  And, it was the first sunrise I had ever seen in Sweden.   

Incidentally, when trying to write this post last Friday morning I was almost forced to post the picture. Let me paint a picture.

It’s 4:00AM in Jönköping.  I, laying in my bed for the last 2 hours, have been trying to get shut eye with zero success. And, wonderful Scandanavia, being located so far North, has the sun rise at 4:00AM nowadays (yea, and it’s only going to get worse).  So, what begins at sunrise? Birds chirping! Loudly, outside my window.  At this point, I felt it was a sign to just quit and get some work done. Cue my sleep-deprived blog post. And, as I am writing it the sun, 93 million miles away, is shining gloriously through the balcony window to the right of me. It slowly warms my right side. Drenching  my desk and face with light and warmth, and I think to my deslusional self, “How crazy that this star being so far away is, still, toasting the skin of my arm?”   To cherry the top, I am jamming to “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” (Shout-out to Kristin!) by Otis Redding, which begins “Sitting in the morning sun…”

At this point, I knew I had to post this as my first picture.  Fits the situation just right, huh?

This photo is an HDR.  And, if you’ve talked to me recently you’ve heard me ramble on about it.  Hope you enjoy it, and, again, thanks for visiting.


P.S. To see more awesome HDR photos, and follow one of my idols in photography (also, a native Texan): – Trey Ratcliff

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