Dutch Light

Piercing the Clouds
I know I’ve posted other photos here of these fantastic skies of both brilliant sunshine and dark clouds. We get it a lot here — more than I remember seeing it up and down the East Coast of the US — and it always takes my breath away. If I see light like this, I can’t help but reach for my camera so that I can go back and enjoy it any time I want. It’s almost thrilling, as you wonder what direction the weather will take. Fierce storms or lazy sunny days?

Recently, while visiting the Mauritshuis museum in Den Haag, I was thrilled by one of the Vermeer paintings they had on display. It wasn’t the Girl With A Pearl Earring that gave me a frisson of pleasure and recognition; it was his View of Delft.

As soon as I saw those dark clouds hovering over the lighter cityscape, I understood exactly what he was depicting. I’ve seen it so often since moving here! Despite having yet to visit Delft, I still recognized this image so perfectly. The photos don’t do justice to the actual painting and the glow it seems to emit in person.

If you’re visiting the Netherlands, Den Haag is worth a visit, as is the Mauritshuis Museum. Even if you’re not overly interested in art, it’s a small enough collection to be easily manageable. I spent a lot of time looking at individual pieces and going back to certain ones, but even I managed to make my way through the whole museum in just a couple of hours. The current exhibit of Jan Steen’s work is highly enjoyable, and they have restoration experts there in the museum working on a painting during some of the hours of opening, so you can see the work in person. And see for yourself the beauty of Vermeer’s View of Delft. You may well recognize that magnificent glow, as well.

ETA: I was just checking my blog’s stats and noticed that someone got here by looking up the term “wild and woolly weather”. I realized that I have a post by that very name, and sure enough, it’s one of the posts where I discuss just this kind of light!

Utrecht Daily Photo

Having completed Project 365, I think my new photo project for this year will be a daily photo of Utrecht. The catch is that I mean I will post a photo of the city here on my blog every day, not that I will take a photo of the city every day. I know just from last year that that’s just not realistic. However, I do tend to take a lot of photos at a time when I specifically head out to photograph the city, so the extras should carry me over on the days I’m not inclined to head outdoors for whatever reason. Of course, I figure this is also a good excuse to head out to areas I haven’t visited as often.

Today’s photo was taken today, and carries over from yesterday’s Domtoren shot. The fog from yesterday disappeared — perhaps burnt off by all the fireworks last night — and we’ve had a day of sunshine and blue skies contrasted against sunshine and dark clouds. It’s one of those classic Dutch skies where there’s a bit of everything all at once. I’ve photographed them before and couldn’t resist some of the shots today. I went with this shot, since I figured it was good to start the year off — and a new project — with the Domtoren in some form. After all, this is a series of photos of Utrecht, and the Domtoren is Utrecht’s most recognizable symbol.

Gelukkig Nieuwjaar! Happy New Year!

Rainy Day Come My Way

Storm Cloud
This is the kind of weather we’ve been having. Hints of sunshine overwhelmed by dark storm clouds. It has its pros and cons.

On the con side, going out is a bit chancy, since you’re liable to get rained on at some point. If you bother with an umbrella, that’s just one more thing to carry. Forget taking photos. You have to juggle the camera and the umbrella and that just gets silly after a while. I know; I’ve tried it often! There’s also the matter of getting around town when it’s raining. You can walk and get rained on (even with an umbrella), or you can bike and get rained on (even with an umbrella, and I’ve seen many people bike while holding an umbrella). Many people just don’t bother with the umbrella, either wearing rain gear or just toughing it out. Yesterday I was reading about some mothers who were complaining about the “mother and child” spots being taken at their local grocery store (in the UK). So much whining! At least they have a car and somewhere to park at all! They should try it the Dutch way, in which (pregnant) women — often with another child or two in tow — do all their errands and shopping on a bike! In the rain!
(The blue bundle in front of the woman is a child bundled up.)
In All Weather

On the pro side of all this rain, we do get some wonderful light. Sometimes there’s an ethereal glow that settles over everything. Other times there’s a wonderful underwater ripple and stillness that produces lovely soft lights and shadows. The light can stop you mid-sentence with its beauty. I only wish I could capture it properly.
Storm Lighting [Day 214/365]
Even when all the color seems to disappear on a rainy day, there are still moments of quiet beauty and interest. The monochromatic effect makes you look at shapes, rather than get distracted by all the colors.

We do get a lot of rainy days, and sometimes it’s hard to find the beauty when there are a lot of them in a row, but it does help to try and look for the positives when you start to get a bit restless from cabin fever.

Foto Vrijdag 2.4

After posting about the futuristic house earlier in the week, I figured I’d post a return to the more traditional style of Dutch architecture today. Plus, the early evening light (another springtime picture) is so warm and golden and appealing on a cold, grey day like today, where we’re getting rain and may get some snow.

Not Again

Early Morning Madness
I believe the words that escaped my lips were, “You have got to be kidding me.”

The reason for this? It was dark, I was awake, and the clock said 4:18 a.m. Second day in a row. This time I was awakened by someone outside on the street below yelling some sort of nonsense. This was soon followed by a couple having a discussion directly beneath our open window. Even Pippo woke up.

I tried desperately to go back to sleep, but as the sky got lighter and lighter, I could feel sleep running away from me faster and faster. Eventually I gave in and got up. I figured I’d continue to document the bright light and early hour, but rather than take a picture of the same clock tower (and too tired to get dressed and head out in search of the Dom Toren), I decided just to make use of my own little bedside clock, so I headed out to our terrace. The first photo I took was at exactly 5 a.m., as the bells of the clock tower chimed the hour. Then I decided to have some fun with it and set the clock in the pot with the gladiolas I planted this year. The photo above is the result. Not the sharpest photo, but you can see just how much light was shining down onto the face of the clock, washing it out, rather than hiding it in shadow.

We’d actually spent the last part of the evening there on the terrace last night, eventually going inside around 10:30. The light then was much the same as it was this morning at 5 a.m. Maybe I’m only meant to sleep during actual hours of darkness. This could be a long summer.

In the A.M.

I’m up early again today, although this time it wasn’t the light that woke me. I actually managed to beat the light by about half an hour. I woke up shortly after 4 a.m. and it was still fairly dark, although there was a hint that things would be getting brighter soon. The birds started singing soon after and by 4:30, things were getting quite light. I gave up trying to get back to sleep around 4:45 and was outside taking photos (why not?) by 4:50.

As you can see here, this one was taking at about 4:52 a.m. Pretty bright out, isn’t it! The street lamps were still on, but were superfluous by that point. I wasn’t the only person up and about, though. As I was taking a few more pictures, I was passed by a lone biker, as well as a group of three women cycling past and chatting amongst themselves.

Considering how warm it’s been and how warm it’s expected to be all week, I might not fight these early mornings. They seem like the perfect time to get up and out for a nice walk before it gets too warm. Too bad I’ll have to go on my own, since Pippo is still asleep — in my spot, no less!

Grumpy Van Grumperson

The infamous Dutch light. Although in this case, I’m not talking about the quality of the light, rather the timing. It gets light very early here. I woke up this morning and looked at the clock and thought the battery must be going, because it said it was 5:40 or so. Surely, that couldn’t be right. It was much too bright! Then I grabbed my watch to double check, and sure enough, that was the correct time.

I tried to get back to sleep, but it’s warm and humid, as well as bright, so by a few minutes after 6, I gave up and got up. Luna was pretty insistent anyway. Even she was up early!

So now I’m downstairs, where it’s cooler and darker, but still humid. You’d think I’d never left Florida!