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Posts Tagged ‘Grand-Place’

A few colored lights still stretch across some of the streets here in Brussels, but the signs of Christmas have gradually disappeared during my short stay here. The massive Christmas tree has disappeared from the Grand-Place—all that is left to remind us of the impressively beautiful tree is a hole in the ground and several sections of the tree’s trunk.
 
Seasons change and life quickly moves on, no matter how much we want to slow it down to better savor its special moments.

Brussels Christmas tree

Brussels Christmas tree

Brussels Christmas tree

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Every time that I walk through the Grand-Place in Brussels I end up with a sore neck. The ornate architecture of the buildings that surround the square is so amazing that I can’t help but spend an extended period of time with my neck outstretched as I take in the beautiful architectural details. This image shows the view that I had earlier this week as I approached the square from one of the side streets and suddenly was treated to the sight of an overwhelming number of spires and statues on one of the buildings.

Grand-Place

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Under any circumstances it is a challenge to remove the ornaments and lights from a Christmas tree, but when the tree is several stories tall, a simple step ladder is not enough. Yesterday, when I arrived at the Grand-Place in the center of Brussels, workers had already removed the large red and gold ornaments from the tree and were working to take off the lights using a “cherry-picker.” They worked methodically to remove strand after strand of lights, carefully coiling them as they went along.

As I watched them work, I noticed the beautiful reflections of the square on the shiny surfaces of the spherical ornaments that reminded me of the images you would get with a fisheye lens. No matter which way I moved, my figure was always in the frame, so I decided to embrace the opportunity and create a kind of self portrait. The other images in this set feature the efforts of the workers from different angles.

It was a lot of fun trying to frame shots with my little Canon A620 point-and-shoot camera. As a result of its limited zoom range, I was forced to move about a lot, causing me realize that a big zoom lens tends to make me a little lazy in considering options for framing shots.

Brussels Christmas tree

Brussels Christmas tree

Brussels Christmas tree

Brussels Christmas tree

Brussels Christmas tree

Brussels Christmas tree

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I was happy yesterday to see that the big Christmas tree was still up at the Grand-Place, the historic center of Brussels. It lent some light and color to an otherwise cold, wet day.

I am always disappointed when I see Christmas trees cast aside immediately after Christmas. When I was growing up, it was traditional to wait at least until Epiphany, the celebration of the arrival of the Magi, though I seem to recall some of my neighbors keeping their Christmas tree and lights going for an even longer period of time.

The Grand-Place is always so much fun to visit. The buildings on each side of the square are all different and different elements attract my attention each time that I visit. In the first photo below, you can see the tall town hall in the background. The second image shows the building directly opposite the square from the town hall.

Brussels Christmas tree

Brussels Christmas tree

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

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I had some free time today and hoped to spend some time wandering in Brussels, but it rained all day, occasionally changing to freezing rain, so I didn’t take any photos. As I get ready to conclude this brief trip to Brussels, I thought I’d include a few photos of some of the beautiful buildings that I have seen here in the center of the city.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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We finally had a clear night here in Brussels and I had a chance to walk around a bit and capture some shots of the Town Hall in the Grand-Place, the historical central square of the city.

I love the look of nighttime shots, find it a bit of a challenge to take them handheld with a point-and-shoot camera. I braced my camera against a variety of objects and even used my stocking hat as a cushion in trying to gain a more stable shooting position.

Grand-Place

Grand-Place

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The Christmas season is gradually coming to an end in Brussels. Yesterday, for example, I noted that they had removed the large Christmas tree from the central city square, leaving a large hole in the cobblestones and a pile of discarded debris.

Beautiful decorations, however, still remain in a covered shopping arcade and in some of the streets.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I arrived in Brussels early in the morning, when it was still dark. After checking into my hotel, I decided to take a short stroll to the Grand-Place, the wonderful historical square in the center of the city.

The sunlight was just starting to penetrate into one end of the square, which itself is a rarity in the winter, when, judging from my own experience, the skies are normally gray and the sun disappears for days at a time. I love the way that the light made the gold decorations on the buildings simply sparkle.

It was a beautiful way to start this short business trip

Grand-Place

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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While briefly in Brussels on business, I was able to take advantage of a beer festival held at the Grand-Place, the historical central square of the city. Booths were set up in the center of the square and there was an extensive variety of beers to taste. I initially visited the square in the post dawn hours, when workers were cleaning up the area after Saturday night’s festivities and then returned with friends on Sunday afternoon to sample some of the beers.

View of the Grand-Place and some of the booths

View of the Grand-Place and some of the booths

Beer weekend

Beer weekend

“Proud of our beers”

Troll beer

Troll beer

“The Beer of Bravery” Previously  “Beer of Victory,” but sales in France were low.

it's a family affair...

It’s a family affair…

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The skies finally cleared a little and yesterday evening I had a chance to take a walk in the Grand-Place, Brussel’s central square, one of my favorite locations in this city. The cobblestone pavement was still wet, helping to create nice reflections in some of the shots and the crowds were somewhat sparse, so I was able to get relatively unobstructed shots of some of the buildings that surround the square..

As is usually the case when I am traveling for work, I used my old Canon A620 point-and-shoot camera and used a variety of railings, posts, and other objects to steady myself for these nighttime photos.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I am back in the beautiful city Brussels, Belgium for a short work trip and so far my opportunities to take photos have been limited. I am struck by the limited number of daylight hours and it’s been cloudy, windy, and occasionally rainy.

I hope to get some new images, but in the mean time decided to post one from my trip here almost exactly a year ago. It is a night shot of the main tower of the Town Hall, the tallest building in the famous Grand-Place, the central square of Brussels. If you are interested in the history of the Grand-Place, check out this Wikipedia article.

The weather may not improve much—this is what I consider to be typical European winter weather, but I’ll be out and about a bit later today trying to capture some of the sights of Brussels.

Brussels Town Hall

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Although I am here in Brussels for work, I did have some time to play tourist and visit some of the beautiful sights of the city, including the wonderful historical buildings on the Grand-Place, the ancient center of Brussels. Even with my old point-and-shoot camera, the details of the buildings really sparkle.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The city was mostly deserted when I took a walk through the center of Brussels at 5:00 this morning, my last day in Brussels for this trip.  It was a little eerie to visit some of the major tourist sites in the moonlight and to be mostly alone.

Mountains of bulging trash bags and folded cardboard were piled up outside the businesses as I made my way through the cobblestone streets of the pedestrian area. The buildings of the Grand Place were as beautiful as ever, though I didn’t really care for the series of off-and-on lights that illuminated them (and they made it tough to get a proper exposure). I finished up my early morning stroll with a visit to the Mannekin Pis, the little boy who is one of the symbols of Brussels. Occasionally I have seen him in one of his many costumes, but this morning, he was au naturel.

Despite seeing again some of the famous landmarks, my favorite subject this morning was the moon as it lit up the clouds in the sky. I tried to capture some of the feeling in the first photo, where the moon shows itself in between parts of the roofs in a downtown house.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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On my final night in Brussels for this trip, I made one last walk through the city. Despite the frigid cold, there were still a lot of pedestrians stopping in the Grand-Place to take photos or to visit one of the numerous bars and restaurants in the area. Some of the previous times that I was in Brussels, the buildings in the square were illuminated, but the were pretty dark this time.

I balanced my camera on my stocking hat to stabilize it for this first photo, which you can probably guess was a pretty long exposure. I like the way the different lights in the scene turned out differently, with varying strengths and colors.

The second photo is one of Mannekin Pis, a statue of a little boy that is one of the symbols of Brussels. Sure, it’s a touristy thing place to visit and the statue certainly doesn’t rate high in terms of art. However, I usually try to stop by and see him, because sometimes he is wearing one different outfits for different occasions.

Tomorrow I’ll be home and will probably return to posting mostly nature shots in my blog.  It’s been an interesting experience the last few days trying to orient myself to photographing different things in a completely different environment.

night_blogmannekin

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Brussels is still blanketed with a light coating of snow. The outdoor areas of the restaurants on the Grand-Place, the old city square, are deserted, but they continue to be surrounded by flowerboxes full of hardy flowers, like this little pansy. My eyes were drawn to this splash of color in a sea of grayness.

The little point-and-shoot Canon that I have with me has a limited zoom range, but it does have a macro mode that lets me get pretty close to my subject. I have tried to capture simultaneously the colors of the flower and the sense of winter. I did find the ice to be particularly difficult to render in a realistic way, probably because of its reflectiveness.

pansy1pansy2

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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It was almost 60 degrees (15 degrees C) when I left home, but it was well below freezing when I arrived in Brussels this morning. Although I usually try to stay awake when I first arrive, it was so dark and gray that I decided to take a nap first. Eventually the sun came out and I went for a little walk in the city center, though the cold and wind drained the power quickly from the batteries of my point-and-shoot camera and made it a little uncomfortable.

Last fall when I was here, I posted some photos of the main square of the city, the Grand-Place. The light was so beautiful today that I decided to post another shot of one of the buildings on that square, the city hall building. The perspective lines are distorted, but I think you can see how beautiful the building is. I am also including a photo of the bell tower of one of the churches here. It is considerably less ornate than the buildings on the Grand-Place, but I find it equally captivating.

City Hall in Brussels

City Hall in Brussels

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I had a chance to walk around Brussels a little more yesterday and wanted to post a few more photos before I head back to Virginia today. Most of the photos are from the Grand-Place, the central square of the city and I have tried to capture some of the wonderful details of the buildings there. The last two shots are of the Saint Michael and Saint Gudula Cathedral, a really beautiful church that I was able to visit.


© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The light was dropping lower in the sky as I stepped onto the cobblestones of the Grand-Place in Brussels, causing the gold decorations on the buildings to glow and adding interesting shadows. The sky too was beautiful, a brilliant blue with a few puffy clouds. It is a little overwhelming when you’re in the square surrounded by the guild halls and the spires of city hall—everywhere you look there are interesting details (and that’s not even counting the people passing by).

My time is a bit limited this morning for this posting, so I’m including just a few photos that I especially like from last evening. (I may have the chance to post some more photos tonight.)  I also would note that I am using a Canon A620 point-and-shoot camera with relatively modest capabilities, rather than my normal DSLR. There were definitely times when I would have welcomed having the ability to zoom in a bit closer, but some of the results are pretty good and it does force me to move around to try to frame the photo better.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The Grand-Place in Brussels, the central square of the city, is a wonderful location, full of ornate buildings and teeming with people at almost all hours of the day. UNESCO considers it a World Heritage Site and it was voted the most beautiful square in Europe in one survey, according to Wikipedia.

I find the buildings in the Grand-Place, though, to be a little too ornate and overly decorated. As I stood in the center of the square and looked diagonally toward one of the side streets, though, I caught a glimpse of this building. It is simple and elegant and much more to my taste.

Building in Brussels

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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