Walking Around Amsterdam, Day 2

Today’s Post by Ken MacAdams

Living in the sunny Southwest, I’m spoiled by day after day of gorgeous sunshine!   ] I awoke on the second day of my stay in Amsterdam to the sound of rain pelting on my motel window and was less than excited for the day’s prospects. I had the foresight to pack a lightweight slicker, so when I hit the streets, I was covered. My Tenba camera bag is made of repellent material, including a rain cover, so no weather was going to find its way into my kit either.

Panasonic advertises the Lumix G85 as a weather resistant camera, so today it would get its feet wet! Yesterday, I’d walked nine miles, so carrying a camera that was half the weight of a DSLR, was noticeable! All non-essentials were removed from my camera bag. I left the hood attached to the 12-60mm G Vario Power O.I.S. lens, to help prevent raindrops reaching the glass. In my kit was a microfiber cloth, useful for cleaning the lens. As I shot all day the weather sealing of the body, lens connection to the body, and lens barrel were never a problem.

The previous day, when it had been mostly sunny, I left the white balance setting on AWB. Today, I set my white balance to the “cloudy” setting, my ISO to 800, and shot in Aperture Priority. Shooting under the clouds is like having the sun behind a gigantic diffuser. There’d be no shadows or hot spots to deal with today.

During one exuberant period of rainfall, I ducked into a museum. For indoors shooting, I switched to AWB, Auto ISO, and switched to Program mode. Many museums don’t allow the use of tripods, so be sure to ask upon entry. Shooting in low light situations like inside a museum, one appreciates the anti-shake capabilities built into the camera/lens!  

The locals seemed a lot less concerned by the liquid sunshine than I! Today there were less bicycles and scooters buzzing by but life went on as usual. I’d caved, and purchased an umbrella. Now with each hand full, I pressed deeper into the heart of this historic city. With the rainfall, the grass seemed greener, the flowers more vibrant, and the bicycles lining the bridges more colorful!

The floating houses lining the canals were intriguing. Some were barges, weathered and old; others converted merchant vessels, chipper and freshly painted. On the wider canals, they were moored stem to stern, from one bridge to the next. A few sailboats, with masts pointing proudly skyward, were interspersed with their brethren. Occasionally as I walked by, I’d see human activity inside, evidence that people really live aboard!  

Towards late afternoon, the rain clouds began to dissipate, and canal traffic increased. Locals and tourists could be seen plying the waters in their vessels, often with a spread of wine and cheese tabled by the wheelhouse. As the dinner hour approached, cafe traffic picked up, and outdoor seating was in high demand! As I passed a Italian cafe, the fragrance of fresh lasagna assaulted me, and my forward progress shifted to a shaded street-side table, where I could casually watch both people and boats as they drifting by.

Because of its northern latitude, approximately that of Nova Scotia. twilight lingers for a long time before darkness settles. Dinner finished, I set off again in pursuit of a quaintly lit canal bridge. As I set up my tripod, I could hear the chiming of the ancient bells in the clock tower of the nearby Westerkerk. As it tolled, I couldn’t help but think I was hearing the same sound that comforted Anne Frank, many years ago. Then the bridge lights came on; I pressed the shutter – my quest had come to an end.