Sunday, 6 April 2014

Dutch (S)Treat

2013_NLD_F1_0315I really enjoy street photography. Not only is it therapeutic, but it helps me get the feel of a city. A city cannot disguise who she is when you take the time to observe her people, their constructs, their jetsam, and their flotsam. One city I particularly like shooting is Amsterdam; it's like a little life treat when I go walkabout there. Hence the title of this particular post.

Here are a few of the shots I took on my visit last spring. As with all of my blog posts, you can click on any photo to go see it on Flickr as a better, higher resolution image.

It is not a complete trip to Amsterdam if I do not take at least one shot of a bicycle. I am on a life quest for the perfect photo of a Dutch bike. This one caught my eye because of the bright colours of its panniers. It is a nice contrast to the drab brickwork.

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The idea of a splash of colour against brickwork is a recurring theme in my images of Mokum.

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I think the Dutch like their splashes of colour, too, judging by the flowery ornaments I see on many of the doors.

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Even the cafes put a little splash of warm yellows outside, making things a touch more appealing.

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The colour selection of the patio furniture becomes important for times when the tulips are not in season.

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Even the artful arrangement of mushrooms can add a touch of magic.

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Of course there is nothing more colourful than a bunch of Dutch tulips, even if they are the wooden, street vendor variety.

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Just across from Amsterdam Centraal is the largest bike rack I have ever seen; there must be thousands of bikes there.

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Bicycles are to the Dutch what automobiles are to the Americans: part of the national DNA. Even street performers use them to get around...

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... that this person is freakishly dressed, and was stopping to tie balloons for kids, is a whole different topic.

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One of the things I love about Amsterdam is that they seem to have a "sensibly rebellious" way of life. Amsterdam is built on a marsh, so there has to be a high degree of civic co-operation in order to make the city work, but on many of the day-to-day things, Mokumites just seem to enjoy going against the grain. Like this gull heading down the canal while everyone else is going up.

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On second thought, rebellious may be the wrong word; quirkiness might be a better one. Quirky, like this rubber duck safely moored at berth #781.

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Diminutive dwarfs watching out over a busy street has to be thought of as quirky.

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If not those gnarly gnomes, how about a quirky Dutch interpretation of the old "45 rpm single"?

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Even the buildings are quirky. Imagine the inside of this building: on each floor there is enough room for the staircase and maybe a couple of chairs.

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One consequence of the quirkiness I can do without, is the garbage that gets left behind. It's like Mokumites look the other way at littering.

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The canals in the centre of the city are a constant source of frustration for me. I am never able to photograph them in a way that seems to fit. Perhaps it is because I cannot figure out what it is I like about them. For one, there is the way the water can create abstract images at almost every corner.

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For two, there is also the idea of doing "street" shooting on the water.

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For three, there is the way the canals look at night.

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Which brings me back full circle to the concept of the "splash of colour" on dull, grey-brown bricks. I find all kinds of colour splashes while wandering the streets of Amsterdam when it is dark, as I continue to look for my own Edward Hopper moment.

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If you want to see any of the above images in more detail, just click on them.


All the posts from my trip to the Netherlands are here:

House of Oranje
Koninginnedag
Postcards from Kuekenhof
Rijksmuseum
Train Stations
More Museums
Dutch (S)Treat
Up Close


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