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Empty Amsterdam Canals Creating Perfect Mirrors

I had not been to the city center in a while, even though I only live a 5 minute bike-ride away. Yesterday evening close to sunset I decided to take a look. I love photographing in the city. Normally there is a crazy amount of tourists so I try to avoid the hot spots. Yesterday, it was obviously not like this. It was super calm and it was interesting to see locals doing their things. You don’t really see that normally, as the tourists take all your attention.

I decided to take a walk along the Amstel river. There was not much wind and I noticed the water of the Amstel river was very still. I had really never seen it like that. The Netherlands is not on full lockdown, meaning we can still go out for a walk, responsibly. However, all the shops, restaurants, bars etc are closed. The canals in the city are closed for boat traffic as well. And this is exactly what caused the Amstel river to be so still (combined with almost no wind). In my whole life living in this country, I have never seen this. Normally this river is super crowded with lots of boats going through, even at night. The Amstel being so still offered some unique photo opportunities. I have photographed the canals of Amsterdam countless of times, but I never had the opportunity to photograph the Amstel river with the reflecting canal houses in the water.

I documented this moment in this small photo series. I took all of the images yesterday during sunset to when it got dark.

A beautiful sunset with a bird swimming in the middle of the Amstel river, enjoying the super calm water. It was surreal walking there without any loud noises, hearing only the sounds of the birds.

Pink and blue hues took control over the sky with the canal houses reflecting in the Amstel river like a mirror.

Normally the water gets warmer when the sun is down, but yesterday there was very few wind. Even before sunset the water was already very calm.

The ‘Magere Brug’ or in English ‘skinny bridge’ crosses the Amstel river. It’s a famous spot for tourists to take selfies. I even saw a couple propose some here some weeks ago. Today, there was absolutely no one.

I love photographing the bridges. They form a good centre point in the composition. They’re also beautiful at night, when their lights turn on.

The skinny bridge as seen from afar, reflecting gin the still waters of the Amstel River. I don’t think I have ever seen the skinny bridge reflect in these waters.

No, this is not the same bridge. The Amstel river has many bridges on its side. This is the Walter Suskind bridge.

When the sun is down and the light turns on, a city really comes alive for a photographer. With the beautiful light of the bridges, the canal houses and the Carre theater this scene is a feast for the eye. And again, I have never seen all this reflect in the Amstel.

The other side of the Amstel. Notice the houseboats on the edge of the river. It must be such a quiet time for them as well.

The Skinny bridge from up close. While normally there are dozen of people here, even in evenings, this evening I was completely alone. Notice the water is not completely still anymore here, as a police boat was passing by.

The canal houses on the left side of the Amstel river, mirroring in the still waters.

A little dock area on the Amstel river. At this time it already got darker. You can see some stars in the sky. Somehow, light pollution greatly decreased as well.

We are living in ‘sad’ times but there is also a lot of uniqueness to it. I guess we are lucky that we’re still allowed to go outside and do things like this, as many countries are in complete lockdown and are not allowed to go outside of the house. Being able to document these unique times with photo series like in this article, will be something to remember forever.

Bonus images:

Tulips on a completely empty bridge on the Amstel River. Every year we have the tulip festival in the city, with lots of tulips in popular areas. Normally they’re flooded with people, but again: this evening there was absolutely no one.

The beautiful concertgebouw on a very early morning with the setting moon. While the world stops, nature goes on. The city looks more beautiful than ever with its tulips and cherry blossoms everywhere.

Thanks for looking, stay safe & healthy.



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