Tony McLean's East Yorkshire Wildlife Diary

Wildlife photography in East Yorkshire

Amsterdam – my travels with a compact


A few weeks ago, I had arranged to meet up with my fellow photographers from our Squiver trip to Turkey earlier this year. We had agreed to meet in Amsterdam as I was the only non-Dutch national in the party. I resolved there and then that I would not be taking my heavy DSLR camera with me. Instead, I planned to use my Canon PowerShot S95 for all of my photographs. I must admit, I was a little concerned that I may miss those ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ shots that would perhaps, be impossible with a compact camera. Nevertheless, I was going to trade pixels for portability and that was going to be interesting.


I had two main worries regarding my ability to make good images with this camera. Funnily enough, despite its small sensor size (7.49×5.52mm) it wasn’t its resolution. What I dreaded was ‘shutter-lag’. That is the time between pressing the shutter and the camera doings its magic. I had been very disappointed with earlier compact cameras for this reason and was delighted to find that the delay was manageable and I could record those fleeting moments, such as the pictures immediately above and below.


The silver Porche parked by the side of a canal was interesting enough. However, what I wanted was another element in the photograph. As the cyclist approached I got ready and pressed the shutter just as he gave the classic car an admiring glance. The next photograph is of a father and his three sons watching a game of outdoor chess near the Hard Rock Cafe near the Leidseplein. The animated expressions on the faces of the family group were perfect. The audience prevented me from getting as close as I wanted but I was pleased with my effort anyway.

Thankfully, I was blessed with bright blue skies on both Sunday and Monday morning, so I could use a low ISO. I had the S95 set to record Raw files and I used the exposure compensation dial to underexpose the images and prevent any highlights from ‘blowing-out’. The contrast range was very high but with the help of a little tweaking in Photoshop, the resulting images were very good indeed. This image of the sun setting behind a street light, with a church spire in the background, held some glorious detail throughout. I was impressed.


My second worry was that the camera has no optical view finder. To compose an image, I have to stand with my arms outstretched to view the LCD screen and then try to press the shutter as gently as possible. I find this technique to be a real chore and was sure that it would advertise to everyone that I was about to take a picture. Still, after a while I realised that the general public took a whole lot less notice of me than when I had used my rather large DSLR camera.


I really did enjoy the freedom of wandering around with a camera that could be slipped into my pocket. I looked and behaved like a typical middle-aged tourist and just melted into my surroundings. The S95 has a 28-105 mm lens that was at times, a little too short for me. There were bright blue skies and with strong primary colours and interesting people everywhere, I was in heaven. Here’s a couple of bold images with a touch of humour to cheer everyone up!



Doggy in the Window

When I saw the small dog in a canal house window, I hoped he wouldn’t disappear before I grabbed a picture or two. Well, in the end I managed one but I just love the expression on his face. Shop-windows and manikins are a constant source of inspiration to me. I passed by this shop earlier in the day when the figures were being undressed and partially disassembled. When I returned a few hours later I quickly took a couple of photos and did the B&W conversion in Photoshop.


Finally, if I have bored you with my holiday snaps then I apologise. Hopefully you will be inspired enough to go out and make your own pictures without worrying about the size and price of your equipment. Your holiday photographs can be improved beyond all recognition if you slow down and study your surroundings.


Oh! Please don’t worry. I will return to nature next week and will be back with more wildlife photos.

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2 thoughts on “Amsterdam – my travels with a compact

  1. Tony please take more classic car pictures, you have captured the real style and class of that car, please do a a series including the seasons …..Well done Jason

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