I 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.
The idea of a splash of colour against brickwork is a recurring theme in my images of Mokum.
I think the Dutch like their splashes of colour, too, judging by the flowery ornaments I see on many of the doors.
Even the cafes put a little splash of warm yellows outside, making things a touch more appealing.
The colour selection of the patio furniture becomes important for times when the tulips are not in season.
Even the artful arrangement of mushrooms can add a touch of magic.
Of course there is nothing more colourful than a bunch of Dutch tulips, even if they are the wooden, street vendor variety.
Just across from Amsterdam Centraal is the largest bike rack I have ever seen; there must be thousands of bikes there.
Bicycles are to the Dutch what automobiles are to the Americans: part of the national DNA. Even street performers use them to get around...
... that this person is freakishly dressed, and was stopping to tie balloons for kids, is a whole different topic.
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.
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.
Diminutive dwarfs watching out over a busy street has to be thought of as quirky.
If not those gnarly gnomes, how about a quirky Dutch interpretation of the old "45 rpm single"?
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.
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.
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.
For two, there is also the idea of doing "street" shooting on the water.
For three, there is the way the canals look at night.
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.
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
Postcards from Kuekenhof