City Guide - Amsterdam

A ‘unique perspectives’ city guide

As part of Canon’s continuing ‘Come and See’ campaign, we’ve introduced this series of city guides designed to inspire you to take a fresh look at the world.

Cities are packed full of fascinating stories, breath-taking scenes and hidden gems. You just need to know where to look to find them. To inspire you to look deeper, we’ve teamed up with local photographers to create these exclusive city guides. By uncovering hidden locations from unexpected angles, you’ll be able to capture Madrid, Milan, Paris, London, Amsterdam and Berlin in a whole new light.

Meet Andres and Joyce – your guides to Amsterdam

Professional photographers Andres and Joyce de Lange, run Amsterdam-based imaging company and blog, On a Hazy Morning. They work together to capture a moment from two different perspectives at the very same time, allowing them to tell stories with their imagery and capture events as they unfold naturally and spontaneously.

Amsterdam through Andres and Joyce’s eyes

Andres and Joyce are no strangers to Amsterdam. Here they take us to six unique locations and explain their approach to finding a fresh perspective on the city. We also give you some handy tips to help you take better shots and a downloadable PDF which includes a map to help you easily get from one location to the next.

Kraanspoor 14-24, 1033SE

First stop is Kraanspoor. Built on a former shipyard, this standout office building mirrors the surrounding waterscape of the lJ harbor beautifully. The glass façade blends sea, sky and cloud, injecting life into the industrial space all around.

Andres says, “The mixture of surface textures – glass, concrete and steel - makes this building very interesting to photograph. Its surrounding environment is plain and sparse which only intensifies the beauty of the building’s architecture.”

This stop is a great place to shoot abstract images. To help you create impactful compositions a good tip is to apply the concepts of perspective and depth of field between the surrounding building and lake.

De Fietsflat Stationsplein 49, 1012 AB

Amsterdam is often referred to as the ‘cycling city’ and 
is one of the most bike-friendly capital cities in the world. If you want to photograph bikes, there’s nowhere better than De Fietsflat, which houses 2,500 bicycles across three floors and is a permanent, innovative and much loved local landmark.

“This location offers a great vantage point of the city,” says Joyce. “We like to get creative and crouch down to capture images through the spokes of the bicycles!”

This strikes us as the ideal spot to create a composition of multiple equal shapes. Try combining several hues next to each other to create a more dynamic image. Our tip would be to try filling your frame with the pattern of the bicycles’ handle bars – use zoom to focus in on the detail to create an image with real impact.

Grand Hotel Amrâth,
 Prins Hendrikkade 108, 1011 AK

From the station we head for the Grand hotel Amrâth. Built at the start of the 20th century, it’s one of the most compelling examples of Dutch architectural Art Nouveau. The abundance of detail the building offers, tells a story of sea voyage and maritime myths.

Andres and Joyce agree, “For us, the beautiful cast iron and wooden framework of the building, coupled with its stunning glass roof gives us so much photographic potential.”

A good tip here is to get creative with different angles and use depth of field to accentuate striking details. Experiment with the HDR setting on your camera, to capture the flags
 on the outside of the building or the beautiful windows.

Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ, Piet Heinkade 1, 1019 BR

Next stop is the Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ concert hall for contemporary classical and international jazz music, situated on the banks of the river IJ. Named a “concert hall for the 21st century” the concrete and steel masterpiece features a striking glass wrap around façade boasting spectacular views across the river. It’s a fine example of Dutch contemporary architecture.

Joyce says, “We love to play
 with reflections when it comes to photography so the glass windows and lights that bounce off the river give us so much creative inspiration.”

Reflective surfaces, such as that 
of the Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ, are great for capturing a moment in its full glory. They bring colour, motion and the ability to transform an ordinary scene into something special. Our top tip? Calm conditions and the morning’s first rays will make for standout reflective photography.

Hortus Botanicus, Plantage Middenlaan 2a, 1018 DD

We next go in search of what is often described as an intimate jewel in the centre of the city. Hortus Botanicus is one of the world’s oldest botanical gardens, housing an awe-inspiring collection of oversized plants, which merge wonderfully with its rich 17th Century architecture.

Andres and Joyce are frequent visitors. They say, “This spot is so special as it’s one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world. An oasis of green escapism hidden away in the depths of busy Amsterdam.”

Our tip for this location applies whenever photographing plants or flowers. That is, use a macro setting to really help capture the textures and veins of a leaf, for example. Also, choose an angle where the light sweeps across the surface of the plant to capture the essence of water droplets on delicate petals.

Bijlmer, Heesterveld,
 1102 Amsterdam Zuidoost

From the lush greens of the botanical gardens to the muti-coloured buildings of Bijlmer, a suburb of Amsterdam. In 2010, Bijlmer, was transformed from a run down neighbourhood into a creative living and working space. The reinvention was pioneered by artists and features a development of multi-coloured facades to inspire the local community on a daily basis.

“This never fails to lift our spirits and put a smile on our faces. A cultural hotspot that fuses art, fashion, food and music – every corner you turn is brimming with photo opportunities and offers you the chance to let your inner creativity run wild,” says Andres smiling.

Geometric shapes and patterns photograph beautifully. Our final tip is to help create contrast between bold shapes and colours, add in natural focus like a tree or clouds to allow the naked eye to appreciate the scene in its entirety.

You can find all of Andres and Joyce's locations talked about in this article on the map in the downloadable PDF below. As you go from one to the next, remember to keep your eyes open and look around; like all cities, Amsterdam is full of great photo opportunities.