Amstel by Night in Amsterdam

During the day canal Amstel is a busy area, with lots of bots in the canal. I guess all canal tours go through here, because it connects some of the interesting areas of Amsterdam. In the far distance you can see the Nationale Opera and Ballet of the Netherlands. On the right there is the Hotel Amstelzicht, which I have stayed at a couple of times.--Jacob Surland Licensed creative commons non-commercial v4.0. No derivative Work. Protected by

Amstel canal in Amsterdam. On the right-hand side is a small typical Amsterdam Hotel called Hotel Amstelzicht. I have stayed there a couple of times, and the view is amazing.

During the day, Amstel canal is a busy area, with lots of bots in the canal. I guess all canal tours go through here because it connects some of the interesting areas of Amsterdam. In the far distance, you can see the Nationale Opera and Ballet of the Netherlands. On the right, you the Hotel Amstelzicht, which I have stayed at a couple of times.

At Hotel Amstelzicht you can get rooms, with canal view, and it is just amazing to sit and watch through the window and see the locals go around in their small boats. A small family in one, and a bunch of students having a party in another, and then the occasional canal tour boats. You pay a little extra to get the canal view, but it’s worth every penny.

Understanding HDR part IV – HDR and Tone mapping

Amsterdam Maritime History Museum looks beautiful in the early morning. The building reflects in almost perfectly smooth water. Behind me, the city is beginning to come alive. Photo by: Jacob Surland,

This is the fourth article in my series of articles on getting a better and deeper understanding of HDR photography.

If you haven’t read the previous articles, you might find them interesting too before reading this one.

High Dynamic Range and Tone Mapping

Is HDR the same as tone mapping and vice versa? No, it is not. However, it is two terms that people often confuse with each other, and it is quite important to get a grasp on which is which, if you ask me.

In Part II about the Dynamic Range I said that a High Dynamic Range photo, is a photo that is merged from several different exposures into one final photo. This way you extend the cameras natural dynamic range and get more detail.

People with some knowledge of photography, will often recognize an HDR photo, as being an HDR photo. But what they recognize is really something different, than the fact it is an HDR photo, if by HDR, we stick to, that it is several photos merged into one.

Continue reading

How to get started on HDR?

Amsterdam Maritime Museum and the old 3 mast sail ship seen just in the sunrise. Shot from a low point of view to capture the beauty of the calm water. More photos by Jacob Surland on Here you can find tutorials too.

There are many tools and ways to make High Dynamic Range photos. Some are more advanced than others and some give better results than others. I have tried to line out a place to start and what software to get, to make HDR photos. You can start out for free and use the free versions of the software, to see if you like it. And if you do like it, the essential software is not that expensive, and I can give you a 15% discount, if you use my coupon code.

I have made a list of the essential software you need, and why you need it that you can find here.

About this photo above. It is from Amsterdam Maritime History Museum located on the water front of Amsterdam. If you ever get to Amsterdam it is highly recommended to visit, alone to see the building. Make sure to visit the toilets in the cellar…

This is a 7 shot HDR processed first in Photomatix Pro and then afterwards optimized using Photoshop CS6.

Rembrandt Plein

Rembrandt PleinI went to Amsterdam on a business trip in september. One day I got up at 3.30 and walked all the way in from a hotel near by the airport to the center of Amsterdam. I hit the harbor when the sun rose – I have shown one shot from the Amsterdam Maritime History Museum. I took around 1000 shots for HDR that morning. In the beginning it was pitch dark and I had the camera on ISO 400. When the light grew brighter I changed the ISO to 100. I have had a hard time getting satisfied with many of the shots, but I have found that it has to do with getting the right mood in the processing and not as much the photos. This particular one is from ‘the way back’

How did I make this photo?

The photo is shot with a wide angle lens close to the ground. A wide angle lens is great, because it is sharp from very close up and all the way out to the horizon. When I came home and looked at this photo, the great sunlight at the end of the tunnel of trees didn’t come out so well. I have had the photo lying around for half a year, trying a few things, but not managing to achieve the mood from that morning. Finally I figured out, that a soft yellow light at the end of the tunnel of trees had been present, and that it had almost disappeared in the shots. So I emphasized it and that really brought the photo together.

Shoe Boat

Shoe Boat

I guess it’s no surprise that Amsterdam has all these lovely canals. You find house boats, construction boats and just small boats for cruising around in the canals. The yellow shoe shaped boat is one of the more spectacular ones I found.

About the processing

It’s a 5 shot HDR, that I processed with Photomatix. Nothing unusual there. Then I blended layers in Photoshop, to remove a little ghosting in the trees, not much there though. The photo still didn’t really pop the way that I had hoped. I had managed to get a not very pretty handle of bicycle in the lower part of the photo. In the end I decided on this cinematic format, cutting away the handle. The other thing I did like, was the hanging bowl of flowers, so I decided not to emphasize that too much.  I focused on the small Shoe shaped boat and the sun rays in the far end. Those I processed to be emphasized. The boat was a bit dark, I made it more light and the sun rays I emphasized using burn and dodge tools.

Amsterdam Maritime History Museum at Dawn

Amsterdam Maritime History Museum at Dawn

After walking through Amsterdam taking nightscapes I finally arrived to the harbor, to see the sun rise behind the Amsterdam Maritime History Museum. A beautiful place, that I returned to in the evening, to attend to a cocktail party. That I didn’t know, when I took this photo.

About the processing
The photo is a 5 shot HDR. I did the tone mapping with HDR Efex Pro 2. Not a bad tone mapping tool, though I find it more detailed in Photomatix. Afterwards I did a little blending layers. Primarily to remove ghosting in the water, on the masts of the ship.

Cathedral in Amsterdam

Amsterdam ChurchOn a day as hot as a summer, during one of the first days of september I caught this in a Cathedral in Amsterdam. A nice american lady said, that it looked like a nice camera I had there, but that she would precious her pictures just as much I would mine, even though her camera was much smaller.
I had been in the church many years before and knew it was beautiful, so I wanted to go back and get this shot.
The photo is 7 photo HDR. I did the tonemapping in Photomatix, and then took all 7 exposures + tonemapped into photoshop as layers and masked through. I tuned the colors a little and did some final sharpening.

Amsterdam Maritime History Museum after Hours

I attended a conference in September in Amsterdam. I brought my camera and ended up taking a lot of photos one morning. I walked all the way from my hotel, which was close to Shiphol Airport, down to the center of the city and ended up by the harbour when the sun rose. I took pictures of a gorgeous building with an old ship in front. Little did I know what I was photographing at the time. But later same day, I attended the formal cocktail party, which was held in best ‘Las Vegas’ style with Frank Sinatre like music accompanied by casino tables, in this fantastic building with a glass roof. It happened to be the same building I had been shooting in the morning and it was the Amsterdam Maritime Museum.