At noon on 5th May 2005 the very first cross-border meet of EPZ members started. UK participants Ian (digicammad), Roger (ziggy), Suzi (suziblue) and Emma (ejtumman), met Dutch participants John (johnvanbeers) & Tanja, and Conrad (conrad) at Schiphol Amsterdam Airport.
After a quick lunch at one of Schiphol's plane spotter's locations, we were all off to Keukenhof, the well-known bulb flower show gardens. We let the participants loose on the show gardens, where they instantly started capturing the beauty all around them - with Emma going off quickly to see how many uploadable flower shots she could squeeze out of the visit, and the others spreading in all directions. Some of us attracted a lot of attention by doing things like lying on the ground in front of flower beds, making elaborate preparations for shots with tripods, angle finders, etc. - much to the bewilderment of bus loads of tourists who contented themselves with quick snap shots taken with their digital compacts.
At 5.00 PM most participants were "all tuliped out", as Ian put it. Only Roger still wanted to get some shots of the Gerberas he hadnt found yet, so everyone waited patiently while he went off in pursuit of spikey Gerberas and other nice specimens. Fortunately, his was a fruitful trip back into the gardens. When he returned, everyone agreed that it was time for tea. A Chinese/Indonesian restaurant was quickly found in Beverwijk, and an elaborate Indonesian meal found it's way to seven empty stomachs. Chatting together kept us so busy that we forgot to go to the beach. But since there wasnt a decent sunset to be seen anyway, it wasnt a great loss.
We all retired to our accommodation in Wijk aan Zee, a Dutch seaside resort - most of us in a Friends of Nature hostel. Since we had to take part in doing the chores there, we got up the following morning, swept the library, wiped the tables, and swept the dining hall - where Ian was, quite unnecessarily, given sweeping instructions by one of the female guests, an experience which he kept mentioning for several days to come! Our first venue for the day, was the cheese market in Alkmaar. Here we photographed a living statue (he kissed Suzi on the hand when she gave him a big tip!), cheese bearers, cheese farmers, clog makers, the public and the buildings in general. And we found something to eat. It was quite a busy place, but we managed to get a few nice shots.
The next venue offered some more room to move: the Zaanse Schans, a preservation area north of Amsterdam where there used to be over a 1000 windmills, with only a few remaining, in between some very old wooden houses, painted in the traditional local colours. One windmill, De Kat, which used to produce pigments for paints, was in working condition, and most of us went to see it on the inside. Much to the surprise of the many Japanese and other tourists, Ian, Roger and Conrad made some attempts to capture a light shaft that shone intermittently across the millstones, which were working at the time. By the looks on some of the faces we could tell that they had no idea what the heck we were doing! (Crazy photographers!)
After capturing windmills and wooden houses at the Zaanse Schans, we werent through yet. It was the end of the afternoon, and lesser men would probably have gone to find a caf or restaurant, but not our inexhaustable EPZ photographers! We all went to Amsterdam, where we walked along the typical canals, as long as there was good light - John in the lead, with his pipe, accompanied by Tanja.
Then our hunger got the better of us, and we went to find some nourishment. Fortunately, the International Diner offered something to everyones taste and diet. As true photographers we made good use of the time we spent waiting for our food. When Suzi took out her camera and pointed it at her glass and a bottle of wine, we all helped her with suggestions about the arrangement, setting up, and composition. As one may expect, this attracted some attention from people at the next table, but we didnt let it stop us. Eventually we came up with what seemed like the best idea, and put a glass and later a red water bottle in front of the many little lights in the wall behind us. Finally, the food brought us back to reality, and what a delicious reality it was!
The next morning, after dropping off Roger at the airport (whose flight was the first to leave), we went for a quick ride to the seaside, shooting some industrial landscapes on the way. After which we went to the last venue of the meet: Kinderdijk. This unique location features no less than 19 windmills, more or less in a row. Its famous for being featured on postcards, calendars and lots of other tourist items. Up to that point, the weather gods had favoured us more than any weather forecaster had predicted. The weather forecast had initially been quite bad for all three days, but apart from a few scattered rain drops now and then, we had enjoyed amazingly good weather. Until Saturday morning, that is. Which is when the rain and hail came...
As we were walking towards and along the 19 windmills, we suddenly got drenched. We controlled an impulse to run back to the cars, and persevered. Just as well, for in between the showers there was a good sky with interesting clouds. There wasnt much light, but enough to get some nice shots. When it started to rain cats and dogs again, we decided we'd had enough. So we retired to a local lunchroom to get something hot to eat and drink.
The time had come to check the UK members in for their flights, so they were driven to the airport. We said goodbye, hoping for a reunion somewhere, sometime. We'd had a great time.
"Those who didn't come missed a treat." "Great company for days."
"It was a fantastic trip." "What fun we all had."
The idea to have an international meet is definitely worth repeating. So, Europe, brace yourself, here come the EPZ members for more international photo trips!
Article by Conrad, photos 2005 Coenraad Heijdemann (conrad)