Saturday, 19 May 2007

Postcards from Amsterdam - Part 1

Watered Down Vodak I just came back from a business trip to The Netherlands. I love Amsterdam. It has great character and history. A'dam is also known as Mokum, which as I understand it, translates into 'town'. I find that hilarious, as St. John's, NL is usually referred to as 'town' and the inhabitants are called 'townies'. Who knew?!

The photos I took are organized in an Amsterdam Set over on my Flick site. You can pop over there and look at them in a slide show. The neat thing about Flickr, is you can also see on a map where I took these shots. As you read this and want to see any of the photos in a larger size, click on it and you will be taken to the Flickr site.

Only my room was ready when we checked in, so we tossed the bags there and walked up the street to a shopping mall, Magna Plaza. It has wonderful lines and lighting inside. plus it's a great place to get in out of the rain.

The Nieuwe Kerk (new church) across the street was built in 1408, 100 years after the Oude Kerke, which makes both of them pretty old in my books. I like the stained glass window of the new church more than the old church for some reason. It must be because of the blues. I didn't see many blues in the glass at the old church.

We walked around for a bit, and remarked that despite how tall the Dutch typically are, their houses are remarkable small, with incredibly steep, narrow stairs. How could you possible navigate stairs like this carrying anything??

Amsterdam is known for its canals, guild houses, red light district, and its bike loving in citizens. Every where we looked, there we lots and lots of bicycles!

A small city, Amsterdam has a lot of little sidewalk shops in the old town, selling everything from fruit to wooden tulips.

Wooden Tulips

Fruit Stand 2

Fruit stand

One merchant had a rack of polarized sunglasses on display, which just begged for a 'solarized' photo treatment -- a bit of photography humor that no doubt only other photographers will get!

Polarized Glass

Back at the hotel, all of our rooms were ready, so we retired for the night. Wide awake from jet lag, I decided to shoot out my hotel window.

I find the latitude of digital shots quite narrow, so I decided to try the "High Dynamic Range" (HDR) technique I've heard about. As you can see, there is a lot more "pop" to the image.

I'm a morning person. I'm usually up at 5:00 to go for a morning run. I also love to wander around a new city, take photos, and chat with whomever is up and on the go at that time. Unlike the hustle and bustle of noon, early morning people seem to appreciate stopping for a chat. Without the crowds, its also a lot easier to take photos of buildings and such. Unfortunately for me, it rained almost our whole trip. Not to be put off, I used the 'ziplock' bag trick to protect my camera and hit the streets. Truth be told, that week I skipped more than a few runs to take photos instead. Like many old European cities, Mokum has lots of cobblestone. Cobblestone really gives a town character, though I can't imagine walking on it in high heels. Of course, I can't imagine walking in high heels anyway. In the rain, it takes on this wonderful texture.

Near the "new church" I came across a locked up bike. Two things caught my eye about this bike. First was the size of the chain used to secure the bike, as compared to what should be a relatively low value of the bike. The second was the black rims. I mean, who has time to paint their bike's rims BLACK???

Across from the bikes was a lovely little deli getting ready to open. Chairs were placed outside, neatly arranged and patiently waiting for their guests to arrive later that day.

Around the corner was a night club and more chairs waiting patiently in the rain, ready to be deployed.

It was getting time to go back to the hotel and get ready for work. We had to go to Bilthoven, which was an hour away by train. I wasn't worried, as I had kept my morning's walk to less than a kilometer radius from the hotel, but on my way back, this empty bottle screamed at me from across the street. It was on top of a wet, metallic table and it begged me to come take its photo. I didn't know bottles could be such drama queens.

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