A Long Exposure of Utrecht’s Oudegracht

When I go about making photos, my preference has always been using my camera hand-held. I’ve never been a fan of using a tripod because I feel it encumbers my movement. As a result, I have little experience with long-exposure shots – in fact I don’t believe I’ve shared any on this blog thus far.

A few weeks ago I attended a Meetup group event based in Utrecht. The topic for that evening was long-exposure photography, and after spending some time getting to know each other and fiddling with our cameras’ settings to prepare them for night photography we set off for the city centre.

The organiser found a nice spot along the Oudegracht and this was our first stop for practising long-exposure shots. We later went to another location close to the Domtoren, and I made three long-exposure photographs that evening.

I only liked one of them, however, and here it is below. What I like about this image is that there was the Winkel van Sinkel standing still in the background, but these pedal boat thingies all blurry in the foreground as they moved with the flow of water.

Long exposure Utrecht Oudegracht in the evening, with pedal boats in the foreground and the Winkel van Sinkel building in the background.

I wasn’t such a big fan of the starburst pattern (or lack thereof) that came out of my lens. I’ve tried with smaller apertures but I’ve never been able to get a decent starburst pattern. In the daytime this is never a problem, but at night I find that this characteristic of the lens hurts an image’s aesthetics a little. No matter – this was still a very good lens I used and I’m happy with it.

This part of the Oudegracht that we did our long-exposure photography in is actually quite meaningful to me. Back in 2014, on the first day of September, I landed in the Netherlands for the first time. I remember that it was a warm and very sunny day and I explored the city centre a little while waiting for the other international students to gather at the central station, so that the university representatives could show us how to make our way to our campus accommodation.

One of my first impressions of the city of Utrecht was at this portion of the Oudegracht. I can clearly remember looking down at the canal and seeing people on those pedal boats inching across the water. Sometimes I can scarcely believe that this was more than four years ago!

Now that I’ve tried long-exposure shots, I know I’m able to make more of these in future. All that remains is for me to make sure I bring along my GorillaPod when I head out with my camera in the evening.

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