First Light (2017)

At the end of the night, when the sun just started to rise, the center of Amsterdam is calm. Streets that are usually busy with bikers and tourists are now strangely desolate. The city belongs to the birds and photographers. With First Light, I try to capture this feeling of morning calmness in two series: the main edition (8 pictures) and the spring edition (3 pictures).

Please click on the pictures below to preview both series.

How it became

It was the beautiful architecture of Amsterdam that initially inspired me to work on this series. I wanted to capture these old buildings but quickly found out that every corner had already been photographed from every angle. My first idea was to improve on these existing pictures by searching for the most beautiful skies and use my flexibility and residency to my advantage.

In search of these beautiful skies I kept a frequent eye on the weather forecast and whenever it was possible, I got on my bike to take pictures, often during sunrise. But the skies weren't as colorful as I had hoped and the pictures didn't came out as unique as I imagined. But it was a great feeling to have the city all to yourself in this soft morning light. There was something special about this time of day. Except for the gulls and pigeons, the city was strangely empty and there was an absence of wind which gave the city a sense of calmness. The absence of wind also manifests very visually in the canals of Amsterdam which then reflect the old buildings beautifully. This is where the idea for this technique was born.

As you probably have figured out, the pictures from my series are reflections in the water turned upside down. The movement in the water distorts the image and gives it an abstract, impressionistic quality. I immediately loved this technique when I started experimenting with it, obviously because of the esthetic reasons, but also because, to me, it visualized perfectly the dreaminess of Amsterdam at dawn. This is where I changed the goal of my project and I aimed to capture this feeling of morning calmness during First Light.

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