Shooting in Amsterdam

I’m on a business trip to Europe and visiting a bunch of cities. Some I’ve been to before, some will be a new experience. first stop is Amsterdam. I’d done some research on what to shoot for my cities project, and I’ve been here before, but it’s actually quite difficult to shoot in the style I want for the project. There isn’t a dramatic skyline or single expressive feature that is present in many cities. when you think of Amsterdam, you think of canals, bicycles, “coffee bars” and, of course, the notorious red light district. None of those were suitable for my project….so I was reduced to wandering around for inspiration. The weather was uncooperative, grey, cold and miserable during most of my trip and the day job took up most of my time, but opportunities did arise and Inspiration finally struck….



I spent a short afternoon wandering around with a colleague, doing some scouting. I did find one spot I liked which has a canal, and bicycles, and even a church reflected in the canal for interest. There was swinging canal bridges that looked starkly industrial revolution, but nothing that really called out. So after getting lost a few times, we gave up and headed for dinner.

The next evening I’m on a mission. This is my last day in Amsterdam and I have to get something for the project. I set of with fire in my eyes and determination in my gets….and realized it’s really cold and damp. I worked my way into the city and not far from the hotel I turn around and saw it. It was going to take some time and effort, plus a bit of risk, but there was my shot. It was looking back towards Leidsplein, where the tram tracks weave a complex path. I could see the tracks in my imagination, the shops and streetlights giving a warm glow with the magenta sunset behind. I could add some subtext about amsterdam with careful cropping…this could be perfect. Pre visualization firing away I continued walking east and stopping on each canal bridge to check to see if it was going to be any better…..I ran out of road and new that my first instinct was right, that was the best place.

It was early, so I needed to find a place that was warm where I could hole up until sunset. My favourite time for shooting is the time after sunset and for the cities after the lights have come on. Close by there was a little bakery….perfect spot to hole up, drink a latte, eat a roll and wait. This is now my favourite spot in Amsterdam.

The sun goes down and I come out to see whats developing. I’m too early, the lights suspended above the tramway are not on yet. This is worrying – what if they don’t come on? Time passed and the magic 5 mins arrived. The lights were on and warming up nicely. The aren’t green sodium lights, thankfully, as that would have killed it. I get the camera mounted on the tripod and all set up to the side of the road. The tricky bit is timing. I have to wait for no tram traffic to get out there and shoot. I have a limited window and I wan’t to try several different compositions. I only got a bell rung at me a couple of times, and I only ruined a couple of shots grabbing the rig and running out of the way before the shutter closed. I chimped as best I could and when I felt like I’d got it in the can, shut up shop, packed up and headed for the warmth of the hotel.

My three best selects are below. I have my favourite, but that’s a matter of taste and aesthetic. If you have an opinion, share it in the comments….



more to come………

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