Adventures in Amsterdam

Coat of arms of the Dutch municipality of Amst...
Coat of arms of the Dutch municipality of Amsterdam. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hallo!!! Is Amsterdam runner friendly? Yes and No! It’s flat, fast, and furious. I ran exclusively in Vondel park. Not only was the scenery and weather lovely, but I also felt fantastic because my body, which is used to running up hills at altitude, was delighted to run on even ground at sea level. Getting to the park was, however, somewhat hazardous. On foot, I had to dash from brash motorists, tipsy cyclists, and charging trams. Escaping bone shattering collisions on my way to the grounds only revved me up. I flew across the park. As I sprinted over the bridges and footpaths, some people did stare at my paper thin running sandals and tattooed legs, but no one said anything; people were intrigued, not disdainful–Amsterdam is, after all, not known for its intolerance.

When I wasn’t running in Vondel park or touring museums, I wandered through the city in barefoot shoes with an international group of brilliant film photographers. I am blown away by the shots that the other pinhole photographers made. I can hardly believe that the photographs were taken with nothing more than a tiny hole in a  light-tight box. The photographs they created are a feast of color, contrast, movement, and composition. Gazing at the images inspires me to learn more about the obscure and magical art of pinhole photography. Please visit the group’s pinhole gallery and check out the stunning pinhole photos.

My pinhole photo for World Pinhole Photography Day.
My pinhole photo for World Pinhole Photography Day.

To the left is my pinhole photo submission for World Pinhole Photography 2014. Here’s its story. As we winded our way through the canals and aftermath of King’s Day, we came across a gallery that featured the work of a digital photographer. He created images of cities in Africa. His process was to shoot a photo of a deserted cityscape, then he took pictures of people going about their daily tasks. After collecting enough images, he combined them to create extraordinary composite images. I enjoyed his subtly anachronistic compositions very much. Because the gallery was large and because pinhole cameras are usually good at capturing depth, I decided to take a shot. In my mind’s eye, the image was supposed to depict space. Everyone else used light meters or a cell phone app to set their exposure time; I didn’t use a light meter or a cell phone app., I used an uneducated guess. Before taking the gallery shot, I used my wife’s phone to meter a shot: it was for 3 seconds. Inside the gallery my wife’s phone was in my wife’s pocket, so I reckoned that 5 seconds would do the trick. Why? Because both 3 and 5 are odd numbers. At the time, it made perfect logical sense. Of course, my exposure was way off, but it turned out to a happy accident. Instead of capturing depth, I got this dramatic contrast, which resulted in the weird voyeuristic image above. I was absolutely shocked to discover that the bright room I was sitting in had become completely dark. Thank you pinhole gods for sparing my photo, thank you Monica for developing the negative, and thank you fantastic pinhole photographers for making our time in Amsterdam absolutely magical. I am already looking forward to next year’s World Wide Pinhole Day.

Valen Longfeather’s stepbrother uploads his pinhole photos. 

Tot ziens!





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