Amsterdam: Street Photography From a Boat

DECEMBER 6, 2013

This past July, my wife and I and our 5 month old son took a canal cruise in Amsterdam. Armed with a Fuji X-Pro 1, 18-55mm lens, and a couple shoulders worth of baby and associated paraphernalia, we found our dock, waited in the shade, and boarded a large, flat, and disrespectfully orange canal cruiser.

Passing the friendly yet dispirited looking skipper, I noticed how crowded the boat was. The only available seats were under glass. Damn! The glass which protects tourists from the notoriously unpredictable weather of Amsterdam was stubbornly blocking any breeze that was desperately needed on that muggy July day. It was also doubling as a seriously neglected 1" thick Chinese knock-off Tiffenesque quality lens filter. We sat down.

Annoying thoughts began to surface... Maybe the glass will add a trendy patina to the photos?... Man it is hot... We paid to sit in a floating greenhouse... I turned around. Look at those lucky people in the back with their hair flowing in sync with the cool Netherlandic breeze... Good thing this is a Hop on Hop off boat...

Thankfully after 15 sweaty minutes, our boat stopped at the main dock and most people disembarked, leaving us and a few other eager folks first dibs on the good seats in the back. We sat down. I raised my nose in the air like a dog sniffing in the breeze on a Sunday joyride. This was much better! I watched the poor saps sitting down in the hot house up front. With a guilty smile, I put my nose back down.

As we pulled away from the dock and started along the narrower canals, I noticed so many people turned towards the canal doing what people do... eating, talking, smoking, poking their phone. Scenes started to play out right in front of me. The more this happened, the more I started to look ahead for interesting people and moments to photograph. I am not particularly hesitant about taking photos of random people, but being in a moving boat eliminated the possibility of any hesitation. As it is on foot, almost no one notices me photographing them during the split second of life I want to capture. Generally though, I wouldn't walk in front of two strangers smoking a joint and photograph that moment in time...that's when being on a moving boat has it's advantages. The image below is my favorite from our 5 days in Amsterdam.

All photos were taken with the Fuji X-Pro1 and the 18-55 lens. This tends to be my go to camera/lens combo when I'm out with my family during the daytime. The photos were processed in Lightroom using VSCO Film 04 film pack. I used Agfa Scala 200 and Astia 100F as a base for all edits. I welcome feedback.

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