18 April 2010

IJburg Night Safari

Night photography was one of the topics of the photography course (see here, here and here). A friend of mine told me Boekhandel van Pampus organized a Night Safari to take photos in a new area of Amsterdam: IJburg. I decided to take part in the night safari. (Nice to know: I used a photo of the bridge connecting IJburg to the main land as a banner for my blog. Click here and here)

The night safari was organized to introduce a new book on IJburg. Louis Stiller and Jabik de Vries wrote “Wachtland - de nachtwaker, de fotograaf en het wordende land”. During the evening and late at night Jabik photographed various locations and wrote about the thoughts he had while waiting for the shutter to close. Jabik visited the island in the first three years of its construction. At that time Louis Stiller wrote about building projects in the Netherlands. They found each other and started this project.

The night safari started at a part in IJburg which is still under construction.

Grotere kaart weergeven

Jabik told us of his experiences while taking the photos. Most of the time you are all alone in the dark. Taking photos in the dark is entirely different from taking photos during daytime. It is quiet, almost no people present, and you cannot always see what will be registered. Also, the camera sees the scene very different than the human eye. Exposure times vary between seconds to several minutes. Camera settings are actually rather simple. The focusing distance is close to infinity. Jabik used aperture settings of about f/5. White balance can be set to Auto. I used the daylight setting to review the photo on screen, and saved the photos in RAW format to make the final decision for white balance later behind the computer. The Canon TC-80N3 Timer Remote Controller proved very useful to set exposure times longer than 30 seconds.

Jabik suggested to to take a photo which included the finished part of the residential area and the part being built. It shows a nice contrast:

Residential Area IJBurg
Residential Area IJburg
Canon 50D | 17-55mm @ 50mm | 35 secs @ f/5.6 | ISO 100

When I was framing the photo I could only see the street lights and the right hand part of the building. The following day I noticed the red traffic post in the lower left corner of the photo. That is the beauty of evening / night photography: you discover a lot of details in your photo later behind your computer.

Car Trails
Car Trails
Canon 50 D | 17-55mm @ 43mm | 148 secs @ f/8 | ISO 100
In the last 20 seconds of the exposure a car passed by and nicely lighted up the lower part of the photo for me.

Jabik suggested to make a photo of the stars in the sky. As there were no planes flying that night (volcano ash, click on this [link]) all the dots and stripes you see in the sky are real stars!

Star Trails
Star Trails
Canon 50D | 17-55mm @ 17mm | 90 secs @ f/4.5 | ISO 200

Of course some passages were read from the book Wachtland.

Reading from the Book Wachtland
Canon 50D | 17-55mm @ 17mm | 2 secs @ f/2.8 | ISO 1600

Some more photos:

Self Portrait
Self Portrait
Canon 50D | 17-55mm @ 17mm | 60 secs @ f/5.0 | ISO 100
Notice the two shadows because I was lighted by two different lamp posts.

Looking into the distance
Looking into the distance
Canon 50D | 17-55mm @ 17mm | 149 secs @ f/4.5 | ISO 200
At this spot it was pitch dark. I only framed for the horizon and I could just see in the distance that another person was setting up his tripod.
The yellow lights in the lower part of the photos are greenhouses. The white part next to the greenhouses is made by the city of Almere.

A slide show of all the photos:


  1. wow, nice pics marc!
    especially the one with the car trail!

  2. real stars! a rare opportunity