Photographing Amsterdam at Night

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I love cities at night.  I love the lights, the shadows, the reflections, the way life on the street changes.  There is something magical about it for me and Amsterdam did not disappoint.  The canals, the museums, the train station, the Red Light District, everything is lit up and the post sunset blue hour there is simply gorgeous.  My travel companion and I were out every night shooting deep into dusk during our week in Amsterdam, and in this post I’d like to share some of those images with you.

This post is part three of a three part series from my recent trip to Amsterdam:

A quick note:  I have been told that WordPress compression has been affecting the image quality for some people.  If that happens for you please click each image to view it larger.

An even quicker note:  All images in this post were taken with the Fuji X100t, the only camera I brought with me for this trip.

The photo at the top of this post is of the Rijksmuseum, a national museum dedicated to the arts and history of Amsterdam.  Originally founded in 1800, the museum has over 1,000,000 items in its collection (including a large body of work by Rembrandt).   At night it is especially beautiful because of the golden reflections in the pool behind the museum, which is how we chose to photograph it.  In a previous post I discussed how we had “so so” weather throughout our March trip, but this photo highlights that you can still get a beautiful blue hour shot despite the clouds.  Always go out and shoot, you will be surprised what you can capture.

Shooting through blue hour, to capture photos like the one above, became a nightly endeavour for us.  During the day, as we walked the city, we’d see a great spot and make a mental note to return to it for our evening shooting session.  The canals always made for great photo opportunities:  The buildings surrounding them were lit, the canals were lit, and you if you were patient you could even get light trails from the boats passing through the tunnels:

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Here are a few other blue hour shots of the canals and the city streets:

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I rarely shoot past blue hour in the evening because I love that little hint of colour in the sky you get at this time.  Once the sky is dark It is usually time for me to put the camera away and just enjoy the view with my eyes, but I found myself shooting deep into night in Amsterdam often.  There is something romantic about the way Amsterdam looks at night:

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There is a small square in Amsterdam called Rembrandtplein,  named after the famous painter.  The centrepiece of the square is a large sculptural representation of Rembrandt’s famous “The Night Watch” painting, but today the area is more commonly known for it’s clubs, bars, and restaurants.  The square comes alive at night, offering a plethora of photographic opportunities:

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On our stroll back to the hotel each evening we would walk through the Red Light District, specifically to see what new photographic opportunities we could find.   I loved the neon lights, the reflections in the canals, the fabulous people watching opportunities, and quite often the bakeries where I could get desserts far larger than were good for me.  🙂

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The week we were in Amsterdam was also the week that the terrorist attacks happened in Belgium.  The night after the attacks, while returning to our hotel, we walked through Dam Square and were surprised and moved to find the Royal Palace had been lit up in the colours of the Belgium flag:

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It was late at night as we walked through the square, but there were still quite a few people present so I shot this photo as a long exposure to blur out the people and put the focus on the colours of the Belgium flag.  It was a touching tribute.

And finally, a photo taken just down the road from Dam Square at an area known as the Damrak.  This is one of the quintessential views of Amsterdam and is one of my favourite images from the trip:

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I highly recommend a photography trip to Amsterdam.  The city photographs beautifully during early morning and late evening, and during the day you can spend time visiting the museums and places like the Anne Frank House.  You can shoot street photography, mingle with the city’s amazing people, and get off the beaten path where you will find small parks, flea markets, amazing restaurants, etc.  We spent almost six days wandering the city in March, averaging 15 kilometres of walking per day, and never found ourselves lacking for photographic opportunities.

I hope you enjoyed this series from Amsterdam, shot with my beloved Fuji X100t.  Over the next few months I will have a lot of new content on this blog:  A review of the new Fuji X70, a lot of photography from Vancouver, upcoming trips to Seattle and NYC, and two new interviews in The Interview Series.

As always, thank you for visiting and please leave any thoughts you have in the comments section below!

Cheers,

Ian

9 thoughts on “Photographing Amsterdam at Night

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