As I promised in my previous post on Amsterdam, I would talk about a challenge to photograph a scene in the city using a bunch of tulips.
Tulips are everywhere in Amsterdam and the photo challenge made us look closely at Amsterdam with new eyes: what subject would make a compelling photograph?
Our idea was to photograph something that is uniquely “Amsterdam.” Along a main street we happened upon a cheese store with cheese rounds displayed out front. Cheese is an important product for Holland. Plus, the round orange shapes were the perfect backdrop for the purple/yellow tulips we chose. Many curious bystanders watched us set up and photograph our display. Then, they took a turn to make their own photograph with our tulips.
In the above photo, I used a Nikon camera with a 24-70mm lens set at 40mm (1/100sec, f/4.5). The 24-70mm lens is perfect for street photography because it can handle most of the situations one would need to photograph in a city: wide-angle scenes, close-ups or scenes at relatively short distance. No tripod because I could hand-hold the camera and get good quality images. I used an f-stop of 4.5 because I wanted a shallow depth of field in the above photograph.
I love to photograph color. With my photographer friend, Sylvie Lamarque, we located an alleyway with colorful graffiti and bicycles. We placed the tulips on the rear bumper photographed the bike against the graffiti.
In the photograph below (by fellow photographer, Alexander Ho), we had to get low to photograph the bike (with tulips) against a colorful graffiti wall.
My image is below. It happened to be one of the winning photographs chosen by our group of photographers.
The above photograph was taken at 52mm, f/8.0, 1/30 sec, ISO 400. F/8.0 is a good setting when you don’t have to worry about depth of field. It’s usually the best setting for any lens because there is less chance of distortion.
Other folks couldn’t resist copying our idea. They even followed us into the alleyway to photograph with a similar set up. Pretty flattering when others photograph and/or copy our set-up.
Below is Alexander Ho, a member of our group, who was caught photographing us in the alleyway.
The above 2 photographs were taken with the 24-70mm lens set at 70mm, f/5.6, 1/60sec and ISO 64.
Synopsis: It’s not a bad idea to have an “assignment” when photographing a new city. It gives you focus so that you concentrate on being creative and not just taking ordinary ho-hum photos. Also, we were successful creating some excitement from other street photographers with our set-up. This made the day much more interesting. Producing a winning photograph was the cherry on the top.