Happy New Year. Did you have a good time? I hope it is what you needed and not what society expected. We spent a few days post Christmas and pre-New Year in Amsterdam followed by New Year in The Hague. It has been interesting and quite different to our previous trip up here.
In 2015 my wife and I visited Amsterdam. It was glorious. We spent many hours sitting by the canals with a beer watching the boats go by. It was our first trip away with the Apple Watch and having a discrete device on you directing you to places so you never got lost was awesome. This trip it seems like buggy iOS 13 has meant I’ve done map reading on every little walk. So often the GPS spot would show us about 50 metres parallel to where we were or it would say beam over to another point on the map and start walking from there instead of directing us from where we currently where. It’s a shame to have lost that simple joy of technology.
When we last visited I had almost no photography anxiety. I simply had fun. It helped that almost every 10 minutes something bonkers would happen (NSFW). Last time I took the Fuji X100s with a 35mm fixed lens and got loads of photos I was happy with. I loved it. This time I had 2 Leica’s with me. A 28mm fixed lens Leica Q and an interchangeable lens camera the Leica M240 with a 35 f2.5, 40 f1.4 and 50mm f2. I had them on each shoulder and spent hours taking photos with each and not enjoying it. The Leica Q is stunning but at times I felt it was just a bit too wide. The M240 is very hard work because it’s all manual. I use my cameras in full manual mode for everything apart from focusing so I’m used to all that. Focusing on a rangefinder is hard and I found the screen to be fairly useless for confirming whether a photo was in focus or not. So I was fighting between two worlds and not getting photos. It didn’t help that almost nothing happened while we were there. It was very different to last time.
Of course I was putting pressure on myself to make the best of the time we had there which was made harder by a sprained foot and flu. But I wanted to get better photos than last time. I had better cameras after all and I had 4 years more experience than 2015 Pete. So surely I should have got better photos? I wasn’t getting them and debated selling the Leica M240. I asked on forums for advice and didn’t find a lot of help. The main thing really seemed to be to put the Q away and just concentrate on using the M240. So what I did was to just use the M240 during the day and then the Q at night.
I felt better for having just 1 camera around my neck. One camera. One focal length. I enjoy the simplicity of that. Unfortunately the weather hasn’t been amazing and the streets are quiet. So I took less photos but I felt a little happier. For now I’ll continue working this way. Take both cameras but only use one at a time.
We stayed on a house boat this time in Amsterdam. Lovely experience for a couple of days. I imagine I would grow tired of the cramped space after a while. It wasn’t built for 6’5’’ people. Still it was cosy.
It’s a fascinating society. There are hardly any curtains. Which is really odd when you think about the way the average house is designed. Very flat. There’s just a few bricks separating you from the outside world. Everyone’s home feels like the front of a cafe. You can see right in to people enjoying a coffee and TV. It’s surreal. Plus everyone has immaculate homes.
I started to wonder about privacy in a place where private spaces are publicly viewable. It feels more like the shift to privacy is moved to the public not the home owner. The home owner is free to walk around in underwear because the public know better than to peek in. I guess if you peek in and don’t like what you see then it’s your own fault. There’s also a love of natural light here. The UK seems afraid of it. I’d really love to have a ground floor apartment with my computer setup near a window to edit and watch the world go by.
New Year’s Eve is bonkers. It’s one of the two occasions where you can use fireworks in The Netherlands. The other is King’s Day. In the UK we only see fireworks on display around bonfire night and New Years. But the difference in culture is interesting. The UK is about the spectacle. The Netherlands is about the bang. There are some people setting off normal fireworks but for the most part we’ve been hearing a lot of singular bangs. Cherry bombs and the like. After New Year we saw a wheelie bin, a bike and part of a lamppost blown up. It was totally surreal seeing kids throwing cherry bombs and firecrackers out their bedroom windows. We saw a guy drag a large box into the middle of a main road. The tram system was offline but it was still open for cyclists and cars. He lit the box and we got a 5 minute display. Cars drove past it. Bonkers.
I feared for those with autism, anxiety issues or pets. It was a constant week of explosions all over Amsterdam and The Hague. I assume everywhere else too. All day there were random bangs in the distance but come night time on New Years and it kicked off. Luckily for me I was just about ok with it but felt a bit anxious when sat in the Airbnb and people were doing firecrackers on the other side of the front window.
I stopped taking a laptop on trips a few years ago. I’ve got a 256gb iPhone and iPad. I can backup photos to it easily enough so there’s no need for a bulky laptop and hard drive.
In iOS 13 you can directly import to Lightroom via a SD card reader. In the past you’d have to import to Photos.app and then import them to Lightroom. It always left me juggling space. It is so much easier now. The great thing is that I can import from either device into the same collection. I can then edit on either device while on a train or having a coffee.
There are a few issues I’ve encountered. One is giving up control over directory structure. Everything from a file system level is simply dated folders without job names. So you have to reorganise it when you get back. Harder to find things outside the Lightroom ecosystem.
Of course when it breaks there’s no information. I spent 2 days waiting for it to do something. I wanted to sync images between devices but it just wouldn’t progress from 1 of 80. Eventually I found setting one device to “download full images” not just smart previews seemed to help. I guess because the images were on the iPhone and there were no Smart Previews to download. Still, it’s not intuitive and there’s no information when something like this happens. You just trust the cloud knows what to do.
At the end of the day though I enjoy having this setup.