Amsterdam is a unique and fascinating place. The city contains 100 kilometres of canals and over 1500 bridges all surrounded by some very handsome Dutch architecture. I spent a few days there a few years ago while visiting my sister who lives in the Netherlands. Much of our time in this historic city was spent under steely grey skies and drizzle. This didn’t take away from a thoroughly enjoyable few days exploring the Dutch capital. Amsterdam boasts some of the best art galleries and museums in Europe. Seeing the paintings of Van Gogh up close was a definite highlight. The Foam Photography Museum on the banks of Keizersgracht Canal is also well worth a visit. On the final night, the rain stopped. Taking full advantage of this brief improvement in the weather I headed off to capture a few shots. I knew I’d only have about 20 minutes to capture a few blue hour shots so I had to choose my location carefully. The intersection of Keizersgracht Canal and Leidesgracht canals provided the perfect combination of canals, bridges and traditional architecture that captures the essence of Amsterdam.

Amsterdam Canals at Night

Amsterdam Canals at Night  |  Buy Print

Aperture: f18  |  Shutter Speed: 30 sec  |  ISO: 100  |  Focal Length: 15 mm  | Lens: Sigma 10-20 mm

I used a wide angle lens with a focal length of 15mm for this shot in order to capture as much of the scene as possible. While I was there, various boats and barges whizzed along the water. At one point, two guys chugged past on a giant clog shaped boat. On a completely unrelated note, I ate a delicious brownie at a local café just before the shoot. For this shot, I set a long exposure of 30 seconds which allowed me to capture the light trails of one of a speed boat as it bounced along the Leidesgracht Canal. Even with the ripples from the boat, I was able to record the reflections of the lights along the arches of the bridges. The narrow aperture of f18 also helped create the ‘star’ effect on the lampposts in the scene.

After only 20 minutes, the deep blue tones in the sky had turned to black and I headed back to the hotel. I was pleased to have been able to finally capture a few photos of the city even it was only a handful. I did, however stop at a cosy looking café on the way back. Judging by the sign over the door, it seemed to specialise in some kind of herbal tea. After another delicious brownie, I then spent a pleasant evening contemplating great philosophical questions such as “If I’m sitting here waiting for the waiter, does that makes me the waiter?” Woah!


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