This is a random shot I made in Amsterdam while walking around in the rain. It got me thinking about some general differences between the European and North American people.
In northern climates there’s no avoiding the rain. What strikes me is the commitment of europeans to using bikes. It’s one thing to ride a bike on a sunny day, but cold and rainy weather is another thing. I’d rather not ride in the rain, in North America its too dangerous and we don’t have many bike lanes.
Not so here in Amsterdam; there are as many bike lanes as roads and people are committed to this as a primary mode of transport, even in the cold and rain.
While I was walking around in near freezing weather I wore mittens and a scarf, yet I saw people riding without gloves and sometimes more than a little skin exposed. So using bikes here is a commitment beyond just fair weather riding. That’s not something that even occurred to me until I saw it for myself.
I suppose that because so many europeans use bikes, riding in the cold is normal. I think we North Americans can learn from that. It’s not so bad when if we just get on board with the idea.
The other thing that struck me was that folks here are in good shape. They’re burning calories not only from riding but by staying warm. Of course our bodies use energy just to maintain body heat when its cold.
Anyway, this is a long winded post about people and bikes. Not sure why I got off on such a tangent. I guess I was impressed by europeans and their preferred mode of transport. From that one little thing you can learn something about a people and their culture. I think we could use a dash of that here in North America. That’s my 2 cents on the subject.
As the waves lap upon the shore and the stars circle the night sky, the Heron dreams. In dreams we inhabit the same landscape, perhaps.
We miss so much when we don’t acknowledge nature. I have recently come to believe that the elemental spirits of nature, those we call animals, are so much more connected with the truth of life than we will ever know.
I am astonished at how much these beings revere us. We take it for granted, we always have. But if we stop and think, better yet, if we connect with them, we may learn something about them. We may even learn something about ourselves.
I am coming to realize that animals have so much to teach us. I think that in our current society we gloss over this to our own detriment. Perhaps it is just a temporary condition and in years to come we will correct this.
Perhaps one way to correct this is to make an attempt to respect and acknowledge the animals around us. They are all around, shouldn’t we take notice? When you look into the eyes of an animal you will see a window to a soul or spirit that is just as viable a life as our own. More often than not see love looking back.
I think that by connecting with our animal friends we will unlock something in ourselves. All we have to do is notice. This is my simple tribute to the elemental life all around us.
The main train station is known as Amsterdam Centraal, and it was one of the first places I walked to when I arrived from Florida. I was here for the opening of the BTP exhibition and this is where I caught the train to Harderwijk the next day. But as I was still on North American time, I was up late into the night walking around the central district with my camera and tripod.
I wasn’t sure what to expect but was pleasantly surprised by how many people were out that night walking around the city, to my foreign eyes it was magical, everything I hoped it would be and more.
Here I stood on a bridge and captured the train station over the still water of the canal. This is a long exposure three image panorama. As I was taking this I had several people come by and comment on the picture showing on the display at the back of my camera.
Actually there were great sights all around me and I was a little like a kid in a candy shop. I’d walk around the canal shooting images in every direction. Finally around two in the morning the long flight started to catchup to me so I headed back. However, even as I walked away rest of Amsterdam showed no signs of slowing down.
I don’t need to tell you because everyone knows Ron is in Toronto. I ran into Ron the other day while wandering around Toronto. It was raining and not too many people were out, but that could have been because it was Sunday morning. In any case, as I said, I was wandering about in the rain and there, right in front of me is Ron. I was a little surprised to see Ron.
I’m a little shy, so I wasn’t sure if I should go right up to Ron or just hang back. I decided to hang back, safer that way. There were a few other people milling about but I’m not sure if they recognized Ron.
I was about to walk up and take a photo but then it happened. As I sat there transfixed I heard an incessant noise, or shout. I looked around and as I looked behind me there was a large group of Chinese tourist shouting for me to get out of the way. I was standing in front of Ron in Toronto and ruining their shot. I can understand that, I hate when that happens. Some people can be oblivious to others trying to get a perfect photo. At that moment the someone was me.
Anyway, just as quickly as they appeared they vanished into the grey morning drizzle of an October day. I was left wondering how so many could disappear so quickly. I must say these tourist are efficient in the extreme.
Finally I had my chance, it was just me and Ron in Toronto. I approached and took a picture. This is Ron, in Toronto.
This is one of my first impressions of Amsterdam. I arrived a couple of days ago for the opening of the Best Top Photographer exhibition. As soon as I got to the hotel I was out walking around the central section of the city. For some reason I had it in my mind that it was cold and not many people would be out. I’m obviously not from around here. There was a light rain but no wind and everyone was out enjoying themselves as though it was a summer evening.
That was awesome to see, so much going on, so many people outside, walking, biking, …whatever. It’s nice to be in a place where people still know how to have fun. Someone told me last night about a saying from Iceland, that there is no bad weather, only bad clothing.
For someone just stepping off a plane from the states and on to the streets of Amsterdam, the one thing I would mention is to stay out of the bike lanes. The bike lanes are highways and if you’re not from around here you could be in for a surprise. Bikes are the main source of transportation and they’re everywhere, no exaggeration, everywhere.
Anyway, after a long flight from Florida, walking around the central district on a Saturday night was just what I needed. About an hour past midnight I made it back to my hotel, but the city kept on buzzing late into the night. It was a good first impression.
I took this a couple of months ago on a mid summer night. I was hanging out by the water watching the clouds roll in. Yeah right, like I have time to do that. Lets just I was standing here and good grief Miss Molly, all hell started to break loose. The clouds got low and thick, menace was in the air, and then suddenly, crack, boom, flash.
Maybe my dramatic writing skills are a little to be desired. I’ll keep my day job, but if you know any comic book publishers that need a ghost writer let me know. I’m pretty sure I could do that. I’m there for you baby.
Where was I? Oh yeah, down by the river watching the clouds roll in. So, if I was of sound mind and judgement I wouldn’t even be here. It’s not safe. You know that saying, it’s about as likely as being struck by lightning. It doesn’t apply to Florida. Chances are, if you’re STUPID, or just an ambitious photographer, you’ll get it. So, at times like this it’s best not to be stupid, or a photographer. Unless you don’t care.
I spent a recent afternoon on some winding roads north of Toronto. The drive is nice any time but this time of year is hard to beat. The days are quickly getting shorter and there are dustings of snow here and there. Coming from Florida this was an exceptional treat, not only the colors but the cooler weather as well.
Whenever I saw something I liked I just pulled over and took a shot out the window. That’s a lazy way to take photos but I couldn’t help it, I was in a lazy mood.
Sometimes laziness works, luck works too. Sometimes getting a good photo of a landscape is a meticulous process of preparation and execution. Other times a simple shot out the window will do. I admire photographers that go to great lengths, it shows in their work. Sometimes, I do that, especially when I have more time. But given a quick afternoon drive and a camera, I’ll go with the flow.
It’s a little like taking photos when you’re on a tour. Your time is not your own, your on a tour, following a schedule. So you do your best and get what you can. Sometimes its like that when I have a short time to go take photos, I just go with the flow and have fun.
One thing is for sure, the worst day of taking photos is still better than the best day at work. And this was not a bad day by any stretch of the imagination.