Dave Mercer - Bizonderimage | Blog

Hi - This is the story of my photography and other things I experience living in the Netherlands

It also describes my progress slowly through a photograph course from the Photography Institute in the UK.



Dried Tomatoes

September 08, 2013  •  Leave a Comment
A different topic to normal in this weeks blog.

On my Daily journal I have posted some pictures of some tomatoes I have been drying and a couple of people have asked about the recipe so I decided to post it here.

It really couldn't be more simple, just get as many tomatoes you want to use, the first time I did this I only used about 2 kgs of tomatoes, the second time I got as many tomatoes as possible onto 3 shelves in the oven as the processes takes just as long for a small amount as for a large amount.

I have used quite big tomatoes as they do shrink in the drying, I guess smaller tomatoes would work just as well and would take less time.

Cut the tomatoes in half and put a generous pinch of salt and sugar in equal proportions onto each half. (i just mix the sugar and salt 50/50 in a small bowl beforehand)  The recipe I started with said to leave the tomatoes cut side down on a wire rack for an hour to drain but not much juice drained out so I now skip this step.

Put the tomatoes cut side up on a baking tray or oven shelf and sprinkle with a chopped up mixture of your your favorite fresh herbs, I use basil, thyme, rosemary and a bay leaf. Season with some fresh black pepper and drizzle generously with olive oil. Put in the oven at about 85 - 90C for 4 hours or so. Normally I start this in the evening and after the 4 hours just turn the oven off and leave the tomatoes in the warm oven overnight. 

In the morning the tomatoes are cool and I gently squeeze them over a bowl to get some of the liquid out of them. (sometimes you have to stab through the cut side with a knife to let the juice squeeze out) to Keep the liquid as you can use it as a base for pasta sauce.

Put the oven back on and continue to dry the tomatoes for another 2 or 3 hours. Just keep going until you reach the stage of dryness you like.

I like them still moist, but you can continue until they are really quite dry.

Pack the tomatoes into a kilner type jar while still warm ( I also warm the jars) and fill the jar with olive oil until the tomatoes are completely covered.

Use in any recipe that uses dried tomatoes or add to any tomato sauce for an intense tomato flavor.

Back on track

August 11, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

It has been some time since I have updated this blog,  I have started writing many times only to stop before I had really finished, it then sits there for a few weeks and then its out of date of course.

Hopefully this is the first of getting back on track with weekly updates, I have continued with my daily photo journal which you can see here.
http://www.blipfoto.com/Bizonderimage or just click here

It has taken me some time to get my motivation back in order after the sudden death of my young colleague in April. 

In the meantime one other of my team members  has also become seriously ill,  
I realize more and more how lucky I am every time I write this blog, or take and upload a photo, or go for a walk or out on my bike, that I have made it this far with no really serious medical issues for myself or my wife or children.

Work has been crazily busy in the last months with a lot of traveling, and does not look to slow down any time soon .
This heavy work schedule left me feeling very tired, but I did not think too much about this, just thought it was part of getting old.

Then in a recent medical at work I found out that sometime during the last year my thyroid has stopped working properly.  This gives similar symptoms to being very tired, and also explains to some extent my low motivation of recent months.   I am now started on hormone replacement drugs which hopefully will get me back to my old self, or even better, in the next few weeks or months.

It also impacts your attention span and short term memory so now I have the perfect explanation for all those things I forget to do. (including keeping this up to date)

The specialist endocrinologist who is working with me through a series of blood test and drug dose adjustments really summed the whole thing up very nicely when she said - " I am sorry that you are ill, but this is not the worst thing to have ! "

All this has made me more thoughtful and conscious of how fragile we all really are, and how much we should make the best of our time.
Sorry if this is a rather downbeat start to the update but I read an article recently on CNN ( credit to Phil Hansen ) which made the point that " within this wired culture, we risk becoming edited versions of ourselves, we may tweet messages like " just got a Pepsi, new bottle design. Sweet ! " but we don't say " I am sad and alone. I had no one to talk to so I went to the store to chat with the clerk while buying a Pepsi" 
You can certainly see this on Facebook, where you see more photos of pets or what people are having for dinner, than any real information about whats going on in their lives. 
In the last months I spent a few days in Northern Ireland, photographing as we walked part of the Causeway Coastal Path including the Giant's Causeway, actually is was more trudging along than walking as my new drugs started their work, the weather was really wet on one of our days, testing our waterproof clothes to the limit ( and beyond in some cases). I was a bit worried when I had to pour the water OUT of my waterproof camera bag, but it seems to have survived OK.

We also visited the Dark Hedges near Ballymoney, this is claimed to be the most photographed natural spot in Northern Ireland.

Now back at work with the memory of our holiday already fading away, although the Netherlands has enjoyed the same heatwave as the UK, so nice to sit outside, and we have put the Barbecue to good use.

I have spent the last day updating my photo website so rather than adding photos in the blog this time, can I invite you to take a look at the website.  You can find it at  www.bizonderimage.com or just click here 




Sad Week

April 08, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

I was on holiday last week but it was far from the relaxing week I anticipated, work was very intrusive with lots of calls and mails which I had to respond to, but far more significant was the call I received early in the week to say that a young colleague in my team had been suddenly taken ill and had died early that morning.

Very hard to understand how something so tragic could happen so suddenly.

This event totally dominated my thinking and behaviour during the week.

In my photojournal post for 2 April I wrote

Today has been a very sad and emotional day. I learned early today that a young colleague in my team had been taken ill and died this morning. Sudden, unexpected and absolutely tragic.

I have spent some time deciding if I should post today and if I did, what could I use that could in any way represent my feelings and immense sadness.

When I got the news I was already out walking so faced the dilemma of whether to turn back or continue. There is no right answer.

Todays image shows a view into the distance, a reminder that none of us knows really whats to come, we think we can see ahead, we plan for the future, but the unexpected is always just around the corner.

I have tears in my eyes as I am writing this and the only thought I can leave with you is to forget the small things and live every day to make today the best day of your life so far.


Despite this sadness life does go on for everyone else, so I spend time walking, photographing and reflecting on life, particularly the balance between work and personal life.
Why would i continue to work when I could spend my time walking and photographing in the landscape

My question is whether what is now a pleasure, at least partly because its different from what I can do most of the time, would become less interesting if I could do it all the time?

In the photograph, taken in the early morning on a cold bright day, you can see just see ice on the surface of the lake, standing on the shore you could see the ice being blown to one end of the lake by the slight breeze, and listen to the crunching noise as it slowly piled up on the shore of the lake.

A fleeting moment, with just an hours more sun most of the ice was gone, the lake surface was rippled by the breeze as the lake and the land around started to warm, a totally different scene.


This second shot, taken on a different day shows a colder view with the broken ice clear in the foreground.

Each morning we were woken by the sound of a bird knocking against the window. Again and again this little bird flew at the glass trying to get inside the building. I think this is a house martin, trying to get inside to build a nest with some shelter from the weather. Day after day this bird tried to get inside.


On returning from the UK To our home in the Netherlands I immediately left again for a few days meeting and team building in the Swiss Alps ski resort at Les Closets, another strange week as today we fly back for the funeral of my young colleague.

Love begins with a smile, grows with a kiss, ends with a tear. When you were born, you were crying and everyone around you was smiling. Live your life so that when you die, you're the one smiling and everyone around you is crying.

Not Quite Spring

March 31, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Its Easter Weekend, the beginning of April, its really cold outside and there are still patches of snow on the ground.

I have spent the weekend in the UK lake district walking and photographing in the hills and lakes around Grasmere.

Today it was sunny and bright but the other days were rather grey and cloudy, which overall I don't find very inspiring to photograph. I prefer to photograph in 'bad' weather, generally i find this provides the most interesting light and sky.

Of course there are always some interesting shots - like the shot below of Alcock Tarn with the tarn completely frozen, and the snow lying on the hills beyond.


This is a shot at ground level on the bank of the tarn showing last years grass stems poking above the snow drift

And this vista which shows the view on the climb from Grasmere up to Alcock Tarn

In a completely different style below I have a couple of iPhone shots, minimalist sky dominating the image with a strip of the landscape at the bottom. I really like this type of shot, but other people who have looked at don't always agree. What do you think ?


How long are your shoelaces ?

March 23, 2013  •  Leave a Comment
How long are your shoelaces

When I put my shoes (trainers) on this morning I noticed that one of the laces was looking a bit thin and ready to break. I was going out shopping so easy to get a new pair, but how long did I need - the ends of the laces were already frayed so I did not want to take the laces out to measure them so of course I asked the internet - thinking I would just get some average lengths or similar - Instead a found a web site which can tell you everything you could ever need to know about laces - and some more as well. you can see it here -  Shoelace website

Not just what length you need but also more ways of lacing your shoes than I knew existed

So after a bit of calculation off I went to the shop -
and typically found they did have any suitable laces anyway !

Yesterday I visited the Hand Made exhibition at the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam
This was a great exhibition with a wide range of objects on display, from hundreds of years ago right up to today.

 These were some of my favorites, on the left a knitted or crocheted pair of people, and on the right a imitation of a under sea coral made from pottery and woven steel wire.    

There is also a live demonstration of crafts which changes each week, yesterday there was a person painting trays and things in what I think of as canal boat style, and a demonstration of taxidermy.  This did not sound too attractive but in fact it looked more like making cuddly toys out of animal skins rather than putting their cleaned bones back together


You can have a look at the museum web site Here

Panorama of the week 

I was on a business trip to Sweden this week and to get back I went on the train from Malmo in Sweden to Copenhagen Airport in Denmark. 

The Öresund Bridge is a double-track railway and dual carriageway bridge-tunnel across the Øresund strait between Scania (southernmost Sweden) and Denmark.

The bridge runs nearly 8 km (5 miles) from the Swedish coast to the artificial island of Peberholm, which lies in the middle of the strait. The remainder of the link is by a 4 km (2.5 mile) tunnel from Peberholm to the Danish island of Amager.

The Øresund Bridge is the longest combined road and rail bridge in Europe, and connects two major metropolitan areas: Copenhagen, the Danish capital city, and the major Swedish city of Malmö. It connects the road and rail networks of Scandinavia with those of Central and Western Europe.

When you are on the bridge you cannot see much but the sea and horizon in the distance and the steel work of the bridge flashing past the window. Using my iPhone to try and take a panorama produced the image below which is a chopped up version of the bridge which gives a modern art or abstract image.

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