A Netherlands Sampler; The Lowlands In Spring Page 2

Besides Kinderdijk and Zaanse Schans, windmills are found throughout Holland. Indeed, some have counted over 1100 windmills in operation, and about 4000 others in various stages of disrepair. Fortunately, windmills are easy to spot on chessboard-flat Holland, so it pays to do some exploring to find your own favorite windmill.

(Top): Burgundy tulips, Keukenhof Gardens, near Lisse, Netherlands. I like using a narrow depth of field—say f/4 or so—when photographing flowers, focusing on my main subject and letting the rest of the image go out of focus. This simple technique leads the eye to your main subject, while providing a complimentary wash of color to your background. (Bottom): Sun and windmills on canal, Kinderdijk (UNESCO World Heritage Site), Netherlands. Don’t be afraid to photograph into the sun. Because of the cloud cover I was able to photograph these iconic windmills as striking silhouettes against the mustard-yellow sky

Amsterdam
No trip to Holland would be complete without a visit to Amsterdam, the country’s political and cultural capital. Although I would not use Amsterdam as a base of operations to photograph Holland in the spring, photographically speaking it offers a variety of subjects, including canals and boats, flower markets, traditional Dutch architecture, and Zaanse Schans a few miles away. And if you have not had your fill of tulips when you visit the city, consider paying a visit to the Amsterdam Tulip Museum, where you will learn about “tulipmania.”

Zuiderkerk (church) reflected on canal, Amsterdam, Netherlands. Church spires make for very strong, graphic compositional elements, especially when they are nicely framed by trees or other objects. To complete the symmetry, the spire’s reflection is framed by canal boats.

If You Go
1. When to go: The Keukenhof Gardens are generally open mid-March through mid-May. For more information about the gardens, including transportation, nearby lodging, and special events, visit www.keukenhof.nl/.

2. How to get there: From the US you will fly to Amsterdam Airport Schipol (AMS), located about 20 minutes southwest of Amsterdam. The airport’s official website is www.schiphol.nl.

3. Getting around: Although Holland has a superb public transportation system, it is not convenient for the photographer who needs to be at a particular place at the right time, so I suggest renting a car if possible. You can pick up your car at the airport in Amsterdam or, if uneasy about driving in big city traffic, in your home base city of operations (I suggest Haarlem or Leiden, where you will be close to the Keukenhof Gardens and commercial fields, plus each city offers photo opportunities of their own).

4. Language: The official language in The Netherlands is Dutch, but most Dutch people speak excellent English.

5. Money: The currency of The Netherlands is the euro. There are ATMs and banks available throughout Holland, and major credit cards are accepted almost everywhere. For the latest currency exchange information, visit www.oanda.com.

6. Helpful websites:
• Official Holland website: http://us.holland.com/
• Keukenhof Gardens: www.keukenhof.nl/index/
• Kinderdijk Windmills: www.kinderdijk.com/
• Zaanse Schans Museum: www.zaanseschans.nl/
• Information about other windmills in Holland: www.windmillworld.com/europe/netherlands.htm
• Amsterdam Tulip Museum: www.amsterdamtulipmuseum.com/

Efraín M. Padró is a professional photographer specializing in nature and travel subjects. Born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Padró has photographed in such diverse locations as Peru, Argentina, Chile, Morocco, Mexico’s Baja California Sur, and Puerto Rico. His work has appeared in Geographic Expeditions catalogs, “Frommer’s Budget Travel,” and other publications. Padró is the author of “The Photographer’s Guide to New Mexico.” He currently lives with his wife Cathy in Santa Fe, New Mexico. To see more of Padró’s work, visit his website at: www.padroimages.com.

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