Respectful and peaceful

2009, Photography

Today’s post is certainly different from all previous posts. Yesterday, a package arrived from Paris with a camera I can use for some time. Not a Ricoh camera, but a Sigma DP1 with the VF-11 optical viewfinder and a spare battery. Last year I tried this camera for just one day, but now I will be able to get a much better understanding of this camera.

The camera arrived just five minutes before I had to leave for an appointment in the city of Nijmegen. After the meeting I went to the small town of Groesbeek near the German border.

This area was an important strategic location during the end campaign of the Allied forces in 1944 and 1945 of World War II. It was a drop and landing zone in September 1944 for the eventually failed Operation Market Garden. And from here the Allied started the Battle on the Rhineland on February 8, 1945, the so-called  and took nearly a month before victory was declared.
Canadian War Cemetery by Wouter Brandsma
Just outside the town is a Canadian War Cemetery located on a hill top with a view over the valley to the North and East into Germany. This cemetery was established in February 1945 and officially unveilled in November 1946.
Canadian War Cemetery by Wouter Brandsma
In total 2,617 soldiers are burried here including 2,338 Canadians. These soldiers didn’t die in the Netherlands, but died in nearby Germany during battles in the Rhineland. It is said that all fallen Canadian soldiers were burried outside Germany.
Canadian War Cemetery by Wouter Brandsma
Most of these soldiers were young men in their twenties. Still boys when they left home and became men in just a few day’s. They never saw their loved ones again.
Canadian War Cemetery by Wouter Brandsma
Young men like private soldier R.F. Pringlemeir, age 21, from the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada who died on the 15th of March 1945. A photograph of him and a soldier friend in front of his grave keeps the lost memories alive.
Canadian War Cemetery by Wouter Brandsma
There are more Commonwealth cemeteries in the Netherlands, but no other contains so many Canadian war dead. The location is peaceful and all graves are treated very well.
Canadian War Cemetery by Wouter Brandsma
Beautiful oak trees with with lovely red colored maple leaves as a remembrance of their homeland.
Canadian War Cemetery by Wouter Brandsma

Their name liveth for evermore

Canadian War Cemetery by Wouter Brandsma
Their name liveth for evermore“, a phrase by English writer Rudyard Kipling whose son died in 1915 in World War I. Partly in response to this tragedry he joined Sir Fabian Ware’s Imperial War Graves Commission that we know now as the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. This group is responsible for the war graves were Commonwealth troops lie burried.
Canadian War Cemetery by Wouter Brandsma
All photographs by Wouter Brandsma

For those interested in my impressions of the Sigma DP1 I will continuously make notes and write about my learning process with this camera. Yesterday was a very interesting experience photographing with this camera and using the optical viewfinder. Unlike with my Ricoh camera I didn’t use the LCD screen for framing or judging the exposure. I only used it to set the exposure and that was it. I would suggest Sigma to update the firmware and give the camera a screen view just like with a dSLR, since it is a joy using the viewfinder. I am not going to judge the speed of the camera and the writing times. It felt all very appropriate yesterday for the scene and type of photographing.

And some quick notes with regard to the post processing. I used both Sigma Photo Pro by Sigma and Adobe Lightroom for editing the RAW photographs. And Lightroom just doesn’t handle the photographs in the same way as SPP.  The highlight and shadow recovery is impressive in SPP, and the fill light option can be very intriguing. For the photograph of the maple leaves I could get so many different and beautiful looking photographs with just changing the fill light amount. I think I will use this photograph in a later post to give some examples of this option in SPP.

And many have mentioned the sharpness of the photographs from the DP1. but man, these photographs are so incredibly sharp and I am glad that they added negative sharpness in SPP. I often went as far as minus 1 to desharpen the photographs and they still looked good.

I leave my first thoughts of the DP1 here. Last year I was very much in doubt about this camera and I now really want to dig into this. From last day it felt like a very organic photographing experiece.

22 thoughts on “Respectful and peaceful

  1. Glad it finally arrived!

    This last comment is very true, ‘ a organic photographic experience”. I feel the same, very pure!

    Indeed, SPP does some things that Lightroom cannot, microcontrast and that hard to describe, 3d effect, will only come from SPP. Although it is nice that Lightroom can now handle .x3f files.

    Did you use manual focus?


  2. I look forward to hearing your insights on this camera. The Sigma DP lineup is rather intriguing to me. Great photos and great B&W processing.

  3. I saw blog posts today from a comedian who went on tour to Iraq to entertain the troops. He’s a Leica guy and had lots of pictures. It’s interesting to see a personal, ground level perspective that is not media filtered. Such young men and women fighting in these wars.

    1. Too young to understand the complexity of life or to have a real taste of life, too young to leave their mothers behind, too young to die. Dying in an unknown place thousands of miles away is an incredibly heavy price to pay for the freedom we endure.

  4. A lovely grouping of photos. And an exceptional looking day to be out with the DP1. I look forward to reading more posts concerned with your thoughts about the camera.

  5. Great images Wouter! Congrats on your camera. I think that many of us now see the folly in having “ultrafast” cameras when the tools we really need are more contemplative…we are truly photographers, not snapshooters. I have even slowed down in my approach to street photography so when the DP1 went on a on-day sale on Amazon, I thought long and hard. The DP2 is still on my radar.

    1. The DP1 and DP2 can be incredible tools for documentary photography. I think the DP2 should be on your radar.

      SPP is just so much more tougher for processing the photographs. Yesterday and Tuesday was fine. Now SPP takes more then 4 minutes before I can finally start editing the photographs. And then I get process errors 😦 It gives wonderful results when it works, but it is a piece of sh$@#%t!i. To be honest, I think it is the viewer that really bugs me.

      The camera is great and I personally like the heavier feel in comparison to my GX200.

  6. Hello Wouter,

    as i remember right, in the village not far from the border to the netherlands, where my mother is buried, there are about three graves of british soldiers at the cementary too. Next time when i will visit her, i will have a look with reverence also to them.

    Best wishes,


    1. Upcoming May 4th there will be commemoration of the dead and on May 5th Liberation day in the Netherlands. For so long these days were focussed on the victims and the end of World War II. Nowadays the focus has shifted to freedom in general and we commemorate those who died not only during the War, but also who died during more recent piece missions.

      I should also be going to IJsselstein near Utrecht to visit the German War Graves there.

      All the best,

  7. Good to see you got the camera, you were thinking about it for a while. I am sure it will suit your style and am looking forward to read about your findings.
    The first pictures look good but do resemble your GX200 pictures a lot although the contrast is lower here.

    1. It is a loan camera from a friend Cristi. But it is an amazing camera. I think it works best with the viewfinder and use the LCD only for changing the exposure or settings. As a result of the lens and the larger dynamic range the contrast remains lower then with the GX200 (or any other small sensor camera).

      I think this is what Ricoh should have done with the GRD. Ricoh camera handling and a larger sensor.

  8. Hello,
    I was shocked to see that you photograped my great uncle’s grave. (LEO FRANCIS PRINGLEMEIR)His actual date of death was March 01/1945. My husband and myself visited THE CANADIAN WAR CEMETARY in 2008. We rested the photo of himself and his brother Jack Pringlemeir. The photo was taken before they both left for the war.
    Keep up the good work!

    1. Hello Colleen, I think it is wonderful and special that you have been able to visit the grave of your great uncle in 2008. And certainly unbelievable that the photograph was still there when I took the photograph in April 2009. Their commitment, their sacrifice, will hopefully never been forgotten. Thankfully their is a lot of media attention on the 65th celebrations of the liberation in Canada and many students have been able to visit the Netherlands to keep their efforts and stories alive.

      With sincere regards,
      Wouter Brandsma

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