A’DAM Lookout

This is a three minute exposure of the EYE Filmmuseum and A’DAM Lookout. Below the lookout is a giant sign that says “I amsterdam”. The lookout is one of the few places in the city you can get high enough to see everything. It has a lounge below the observation deck so can view and remain cozy inside. I took this just after arriving from Florida wasn’t used to the cool air. I tend to block out the weather when I’m taking pictures. I stayed out for two or three hours before going back to the hotel. I needed of a hot bath to warmup. After that I was fine.

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A’DAM Lookout
A’DAM Lookout in Amsterdam

This is on a river and there is a constant stream of boats passing this spot. You can see traces of their lights as trails across the frame.

At the time I took this I didn’t know how to get across to the other side. I asked someone and turns out it was easy. Just hop on the ferry. There is no cost and it takes only a few minutes.

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The tower is a tourist attraction. At the top is “Europe’s Highest Swing”. For a fee you can swing out over the edge of the building. Attractions are good if you’re new to an area. They help establish bearings. As I continued to explore the city, I could usually orient myself if I saw the A’DAM Lookout. And then before you know it I was walking around like I knew where I was, and relative to tourist attraction, I kinda did.

Midnight Along the Canals

I took this while walking after midnight along the canals of Amsterdam. There aren’t many places in the world I feel safe walking late at night, but this city is one. Maybe I am naive, but it’s a good sign when you see all manner of people out walking at the same late hour, as though it was a perfectly normal thing to do. As I write this I am returning from a major American city where I spent a few days. To be honest I would not walk alone at night in that city. But Amsterdam is different in many ways.

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Midnight on the Canals
Midnight Along the Canals of Amsterdam

I was discussing this with a friend recently and we were trying to put our finger on the essence of European cities like this. His take was, and this is a generalization, that Europeans tend to be more mature about things. I’m not sure about that but I’m willing to consider it.

Generalization break down as soon as you look at individuals, but at a macro level you notice differences. Maybe it also has to do with countries that are smaller and have a greater sense of altruism on a national level.

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Smarter people than me will have a better explanation, but it’s something I think about. And more than that it’s something I’m grateful for as I visit and am able to walk around at night and take pictures.

Bike Roads

In Amsterdam there are bike roads constructed everywhere. I’m not even sure they should be considered lanes because in many cases they are roads in their own right. The first thing I learned when I came here was that they are not for pedestrians. It only took one time. The same thing happened to me in Vancouver once. It must be a common mistake for foreigners.

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Bike Roads
Bike Roads in Amsterdam

Quite often you’ll see passengers sitting sideways on the rack. The racks on these bikes are sturdy and people carry everything on them. While walking in the morning I saw parents carrying their kids to school. It’s no wonder the bicycle culture is passed from one generation to the next.

Bikes are parked everywhere but the highest concentrations are around train stations. At some stations its the only form of parking. There are tens of thousands parked in massive multi-level lots.

Bike mechanics thrive here, bike shops are more common than cheese shops. However people are resourceful and I saw riders jump off to quickly fix a slipped chain or flat tire. It appears that most people know the basics out of necessity.

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Despite all this I rode no bikes while I was here. I only walked so I could take it all in. But on my next trip that will be different. Riding a bike seems the most natural thing to do in Amsterdam.

A Little Bit of Everything

I walked through central Amsterdam on a Saturday Night and saw a little bit of everything. Having landed only that morning it was my first exposure to things which I’ve only read about. A lot of people were out having fun which in and of itself is not unusual. However the city of Amsterdam is anything but usual.

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A Little Bit of Everything
A little bit of everything can be seen on a Saturday night in Amsterdam

For instance, I’m not used to seeing people smoking weed and hash out in the open. I’m not used to seeing shops where hallucinogenic drugs are sold. I’m not used to seeing brothels in and amongst the shops, restaurants and bars. Perhaps most unexpected of all was that people seemed quite blasé about it all. These things are just taken in stride.

Honestly I don’t know what I expected. I have this feeling that if we did the same thing in the United States it would be havoc, but that’s probably just my own ill-conceived ideas. I did not see junkies strung out on the street corners. There appeared to be very little crime, I felt perfectly safe on the streets even late at night. It’s the kind of town I could easily live in. In fact Amsterdam has a night mayor. It’s a real position that ensures all the night life runs smoothly.

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Anyway, it was early November and they already had Christmas lights up. That, along with all the happy (and possibly high) revelers out having a good time created a fun atmosphere.  If I had to sum it up I would say that  Amsterdam at night is an exceptional party town that could only exist in a European society. At least that was my first impression.

Plenty of Options

From the central station in Amsterdam there are plenty of options as far as transport goes. You could take a train, bus, taxi or ferry. You could also take a bike as tens of thousands are parked here. And if all else fails you can walk.

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Plenty of Options

This side of the station is modern and designed to accommodate these various types of transport. The other side of the station maintains old world classic architecture and is unrecognizable from the front.

On the upper deck to the left is the bus platform which is adjacent to the train platform. Below that is the car lane, then the bike lane and finally the walking lane. On the right the ferry can be boarded, free of charge.

I wasn’t thinking any of this as I took the photo, but Amsterdam Centraal is a monumental feat of engineering, architecture and design. This is where everything and everyone comes together.

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My short visit was spent mostly around this section of the city. I missed much and so I plan to come back and explore more. Having time to process what I did see and then go back will make the next trip even better.

And when I do go back I’ll have plenty of options for transport.

Ladies in the A’DAM Lookout

I noticed these ladies in the A’DAM Lookout sitting and looking out over the city. I’m trying to figure out why I like this. I think its because when we see an image of someone or something we subconsciously project ourselves into the scene. In addition, maybe what they’re looking at creates a question. We see hints of the city beyond.

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Ladies Sitting There
Ladies in the A’DAM Lookout

This is a type of street photography, even though it didn’t occur on the street. It happened inside an observation lounge of a tall building. Some photos don’t easily fit into a category, maybe this is one.

Rather than analyze this, perhaps its better left to imagination. There is a story here that is unique to each person. We each see this though the lens of our own minds.

Because the woman’s coat is red she is the focal point. I made it that way on purpose. It’s a technique that, for me, conveys individuality. Images of people are about, well, individual people. At least that’s the point I’m trying to make. You can interpret something else regarding the red coat, it’s entirely up to you.


At this point I guess I’ve answered my own rhetorical question. Perhaps now I can move on to something more concrete. Or not.

EYE Filmmuseum

I hung around here for bit looking at EYE Filmmuseum. It’s a museum dedicated to the visual arts and so while I was here there were a couple of student crews working on video productions. In such a setting, a photographer taking images of odd angles around the outside was perfectly normal. Not that I’d mind if it wasn’t.

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EYE Filmmuseum
EYE Filmmuseum in Amsterdam

Amsterdam places a high value on the exploration, creation and display of art. I believe that goes hand in hand with the tolerance and diversity of its residents. It is true that arts and diversity make a city vibrant.

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Amsterdam seems to be thriving, there is a lot of construction, in fact a new building was going up just behind me as I took this. I had to be careful to mind the tractors and cranes as I walked around looking for compositions. When I’m in the zone my focus gets narrowed and even a tractor might not register. No one seemed to mind, in fact I blended right in here.

First Impressions

This smokestack was one of my first impressions of Amsterdam as I took a cab to the hotel. I shared the ride with another traveller who asked our driver about it. Slightly annoyed, the driver replied that it was obviously a power plant. Perhaps a lot of people ask the same question upon first arrival.

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First Impression
First Impression of Amsterdam

A few days later I spied the same stack from atop the A’DAM Lookout and thought it and the clouds made for an interesting image. With this images I’m not trying to make a statement about fossil fuels, pollution or any such thing. Just the spectacle of a cylinder venting warm vapor into the cool November air. It’s something I could see myself staring at if I was a child. But I’m not, yet I stared just the same.

I recently posted a stack like this that we have back in Florida. Again, the spectacle of it against the sky is an odd attraction for me. It defines the horizon and connects the earth to the sky in a strangely fascinating way.

urban exploration images from the gallery

This abstract image is nothing more than a spectacle. It may be a first impression or it may be something for a child to stare and wonder. Or, …it may be nothing more than the musings of my wandering mind.

Night Along the Canals

Well, I’ve not been to Venice yet, but I can’t help but think that the canals of Amsterdam are the next best thing. They form a network through the city and are home to thousands of folks that live in house boats along the sides. And where there are canals there are bridges, everywhere and at every turn. I took this from a corner between two bridges in the central city one night. This is an area not too far from the train station, maybe a ten-minute walk.

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Night Along the Canals
Night Along the Canals of Amsterdam

Late at night the lights of the houses reflect on the still waters, it’s a favorite time for me to take photos. On this evening I had my tripod, on another evening I left the hotel without it and stabilized my camera on the bikes parked along the canals.

I’m sure you know that brothels are legal and regulated here. From a photographic perspective, the red lights cast a nice reflection on the glassy waters of the canals. This is about as close as I got to that. This was my first night in Amsterdam and I wasn’t really sure why the lights were red on this house. It didn’t take too long to figure it out and this wasn’t even the red light district.

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If Amsterdam is nothing else it’s a haven of tolerance for all things. It is unique in that way and perhaps a magnet for free spirits and people with open minds. I found that very refreshing.


This is the Posthoornkerk Church not far from the hotel I stayed at Amsterdam. In fact I took this out the window of the room. It was a cloudy day, perfect for photography, and just as I returned to my room I noticed the light streaming down along the horizon. However the way the hotel was designed there were two walls of glass between me and the outside. Nevertheless the image turned out without any reflections.

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Posthoornkerk Church in Amsterdam

When I wasn’t out walking around I’d stand by the window and watch the people ride bikes past on the street below. They’d ride at all hours of day and night. When I first arrived I was on eastern time and so was up quite late. Even at two and three in the morning people were riding bikes to get around.

This church is just a five minute walk. I didn’t manage to get in, each time I tried it was it booked for some event. The last time I tried it was a film crew setting up for a production. The time before that I think there was a wedding. Its a busy place, at least when I was here.

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Next to the church I sat in a little cafe in the morning with a cappuccino as I watched the activity on the street. I then walked next door to the chocolate shop to get gifts to bring home. Across the street was a cheese shop and then meats across from that.

My impression of the neighborhood is of a little village within a big city. I think that’s true for many sections of the city.