Susan and I decided to spend a long weekend in Amsterdam. It is a city that we were both interested in and seemed to offer a wealth of great photography. Indeed, it turned out that the city was a wonderful place, with very friendly people and great food. It had interesting architecture and history and the canals, and the houses along them, made for great image opportunities.
Unfortunately, Amsterdam also has a prodigious amount of rainfall. 200 days a year, so we were told. I firmly believe that most of it fell during the time we were there. We experienced three days of rain, out of the four days we were there. Partially, this was our fault in that we delayed our trip until mid-October, when the weather is less than stellar. Also, I usually enjoy shooting in not-so-sunny days, as there is better color saturation. The problem on this trip is simply that the weather was way too bad to do any serious shooting. The one day we went out of the city to Noord-Holland to shoot windmills and the coastal regions, it was not only raining, but there were gale force winds as well. It was so wet that even with a storm coat on my camera, I could not get any shots. By the time I raised the camera, and could compose and shoot, the lens was covered in droplets. Nice artsy images, but really…
That doesn’t mean that I did not do any photography and while most of what I shot was not anything of a quality that I would care to share, I did get some shots by following a strategy that tends to work well in bad weather. Shoot detail, avoid the sky and include lots of color.
The picture above is a good example. Everyone rides bikes in Amsterdam. I think it is the national mode of transportation. Bikes are parked everywhere, particularly on the bridges over the canals, where the railings make good places to secure the bikes with heavy chains. These two bikes were on one such bridge and were also very brightly colored. I liked the composition (somewhat abstract) and the variations of color.
The canal houses are particularly interesting, but trying to get a picture that properly shows the houses and the canals, without showing a leaden, blown out sky, is really difficult. So aside from a few memory shots, I tried to find interesting detail in a particular house, where I could focus in such a way as to crop out the elements that I didn’t like. The image above was one such house along the Singel canal. I found the contents of the windows to be most interesting. I have no idea what the business was that occupied the building, but it must have been an interesting one. I focused to concentrate on the building I was interested in and then did an additional crop (something I rarely do) in post-process.
So, photographically, the trip, while not a complete bust, was far less than I had hoped. However, the city is wonderful and I hope to return again some day, hopefully when the sun is shining. Oh yeah, the apple pie in Amsterdam is to die for.