City Walking

By the time the shutter closed for the second time, a broad-shouldered officer from the Dutch military police stood squarely in front of my camera. “Good morning sir, what are you photographing?” He didn’t surprise me. I was actually a bit surprised I managed to take two shots before he got out of his vehicle.

I finally managed to withstand the cold, and get out of bed at 5 AM for some night photography. I packed up my camera bag and, for once, prepped my camera before leaving the house. For someone who does quit a lot of low light photography, my camera is nearly never set up for those conditions, which means I’m also getting quit proficient in fumbling in the dark.
I checked my phone and saw it was a chilly -3°C, so I pulled my thermal undies from the pile of stuff collected for the Switzerland trip, and set out into the cold.

First stop on my walk was Central Station. The city has been remodelling it for years, and it is finally done (or at least 99%) so I figured it would be nice to get a picture of the new main hall, made entirely out of glass panels. It expected the streets to be deserted, but I was far from the only one outside. And for some reason everyone walks in front of your camera. Not that it matters, with exposure time as long as 30 seconds, you won’t see most people in the shot anyway.

you feel like a ghost

There is this thing about making photo’s in public places. You feel a bit like a nerd who takes his hobby too serious. The thing is though, other people don’t know if it’s your hobby or not, and perhaps it will make someone realise some shots take more than a little point and click. But for the most part, you feel like a ghost. Even if they noticed you, they’re not going to look at you for long.

After Central Station, I backtracked a bit to take some pictures of the Royal Library (seen in the feature image), and the A12 freeway, which runs underneath the city for the last kilometer or so. Not unlike a tunnel with the roof (neatly) ripped off, creating a prime spot for some nice light trail photos.
The day before, I got an email that the sleeping bag I ordered was ready for collection at the store, so when I had my fill with the A12, I thought about heading into the city a bit more. I reckoned I could easily fill another two and a half hours taking various pictures, then pick up the sleeping bag and safe myself an extra trip to the city.

a bit ridiculous

Satisfied with my efficiency I walked to the Parliament buildings, then circled back towards the station. From there I walked past the new Ministry of Justice and Safety. In front of the gate was a jeep from the military police, tasked with securing government buildings, to enable the normal police to get back to their own jobs.
A little side hobby of mine is photographing vehicles, be it emergency, lorries, trains, helicopters or whatever you can think of. I thought about snapping a shot of the 4×4 but decided this is not the time or place. So I pointed my camera up and walked around a bit to get my composition the way I wanted it.
Like I wrote before, I managed two shots before he got to me. He was nice about it, but stern. I showed him the two pictures I took and told him I was just admiring the architecture. He nodded and wished me a good day, so I did the same. Thankfully I was “adulting” for a minute and didn’t make any jokes, those guys and girls aren’t known for their sense of humour. I thought it was a bit ridiculous at the time, but I guess he has a serious job to do, and at least he does it diligently. It took me a few minutes to shake the feeling it had anything to do with my beard, yet it still made me miss being in Perth a little extra.

After my encounter I figured I try my luck at city hall, but couldn’t get a nice composition. Besides, by now the sun had come up and I was out of the long exposure realm, meaning I couldn’t blur out all the people. So instead I put away the camera and headed for the store. It was just past 9 AM so I figured I made it. Only to discover they wouldn’t open for another hour! So I roamed around the city center, where I used to work for a few years too. A lot of new buildings, but still the same stores.

makes you feel like a hobo

This however didn’t kill much of the hour I needed to waste, and as unprepared as I tend to set out on some trips, I didn’t bring my wallet either. After milling around in the freezing wind for a few minutes I remembered a camera shop not far away, so I went there and spend the remainder of my wait in there. Which turned my “not bringing my wallet” strategy into a blessing, because they had some nice stuff there.

At 10 o’clock I headed back to the shop, picked up the sleeping bag, and headed home. Since I’d been walking all morning anyway, I decided to walk home too. I quickly got over my reservations about photographing in a public place that morning. But walking the streets with a sleeping bag dangling from your backpack makes you feel like a hobo, no matter how you look at it.

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