One of the most fascinating things about living in Amsterdam is that one gets numerous opportunities to test his skills as a photographer, explore new concepts and generally have a whole lot of fun making photographs from different perspectives. Living in Amsterdam, I have had the privilege to experience the beauty and heritage of this city, steeped in history. I have found that getting out of the house without my camera, is criminal!
The city of Amsterdam celebrates a very unique day – Open Tower Day. It is a day when the city opens its many towers to the public. People can climb different towers and buildings (historic, cultural, and corporate) and gain a different perspective of the city. I have been participating and climbing different towers for the past three years. A higher vantage point gives me a perfect opportunity to make some previously unseen photographs capturing the beauty of Amsterdam.
Atop The Silver Tower (Zilver Toren)
The first image above is the typical view from the top of Silver Tower Amsterdam. One can see the Koepelkerk on the left and Westerkerk on the right with the beautiful Singel canal flowing through the middle of my composition. The Silver Tower offers different views from different sides of the building.
The second photograph shows one of the lifelines of Amsterdam – a huge multi-level bike park. Unfortunately, this photograph had to be taken through a glass window as the window was not open. I had to use a polarizer filter to minimise the reflection of lights that can be seen on the inside of the glass. The result came out pretty good.
The third photograph is probably one of my favourites. It captures all of Amsterdam’s modes of commuting, right from the central station and the NS train (Yellow Train on the bottom left) to the trams that connect the city, rows of bicycles parked outside the station and the canal with ferries and boats.
The Views from the Beurs van Berlage
The first two photographs above have been taken on Open Towers Day two years apart. It was raining in the first shot taken in 2015, while it was bright and sunny this year in 2017. The difference can be clearly seen. The same view is seen on a sunny morning and you can see some new buildings in the background
It is always a challenge to shoot in the rain and ensure that your camera is safe, but I often use a simple hack – use a plastic cover through which I can shoot, instead of buying expensive rain proof cameras or covers.
The third photograph of the central station atop the Beurs van Berlage in Amsterdam is a bit different. I left the Centraal Station out of focus intentionally. I chose to emphasise on the sign pointing towards the station on the top of the tower, which makes the photo more meaningful for me.
The wonders of the Westerkerk rooftop
The top of the Westerkerk – the highest church tower in Amsterdam – offers the best panoramic views of the city. My images from atop the Westerkerk aim at showing completely different perspectives. The first is a panoramic view of the Prinsengracht canal, and tall houses lining the canal. This is a panorama made from stitching multiple images together, a trick I often use to depict vastness through a scene. Taking multiple images instead of cropping also helps me retain a good resolution in the final image.
I chose this opportunity to also capture the tall buildings alongside the canals as seen from the Westerkerk. It is interesting to know that in the past, houses would get taxed on the basis of their width. That is why one will find very tall and narrow buildings lining the canals. The third photograph above (in portrait orientation) shows a boat passing through the Prinsengracht canal. Having a good telephoto zoom lens helps you to capture such tight compositions.
The HavenGebouw was designated a municipal monument in 2007. It was the tallest building in Amsterdam when it was built in 1960 and offers a breath-taking view. The two photographs above shows the IJ River, the EYE film museum and the ADAM tower across it.
The third one is another from atop the HavenGebouw. This photograph shows a train leaving the Amsterdam Central Station. Here one can see the Ibis Hotel on the right where a few train platforms pass right underneath this hotel. When printed large, I can stare at a photograph like this for ages, often discovering interesting little pieces of details which I have not noticed before.
The Movenpick Hotel Rooftop
The view from the top of the Movenpick Hotel, where one can see many ferries across the IJ and the Amsterdam Central Station. Beyond the station, a number of tall buildings can be seen dotting the skyline.
My Open Tower Day collection keeps growing year on year as I get new to make photographs from newer vantage points. Till next time then…