Countdown: the ten best photos of 2019

Here we are again: the top 10 of the best photos of the year 2019. Or well, let me put that in perspective: these are the ten best photos I took this year, in my own humble opinion. Also, it’s a kind of snapshot; tomorrow I may think very differently. But anyway, at least they are ten special pictures.

The long list

Like in previous years, I had a huge collection to choose from. I took around five thousand photos in 2019, from which I compiled a long list with almost two hundred nominees.

Longlist with 190 photos for the selection of the ten best photographs, according to the photographer
The longlist

10 – Cloudburst in Roermond

On July 12 this year, heavy rain and thunder storms tortured the Netherlands. But for a long time, the southern city of Roermond, where travel companion A. and I were on a one-day city trip, seemed to be spared. So we had plenty of time to walk through the beautiful town center and even to briefly visit the outlet center.

At a certain moment the sky became more threatening and the first drops began to fall. A dilemma arose at the Stone Bridge across the river Roer: how long do you keep waiting obediently for a pedestrian traffic light to turn green when those drops become more and more numerous and there are inviting covered terraces across the street?

In this photo, taken a few minutes later, the water seems to come from all directions. And in fact it did: soon our shelter turned out not to be able to withstand the flood. Unfortunately, real safety, inside the adjoining café, could only be reached by facing that flood over a distance of a few meters. However, we had no choice.

The cloudburst lasted only one beer; then the weather recovered very quickly and we spent the rest of the day pleasantly in and around the town.

Cloudburst seen from the terrace of a cafe near the Stone Bridge in Roermond, The Netherlands
Severe weather

9 – Shipyard in the blue hour

Also this year I often went into the city at sunset with my camera. The result is a wealth of photos of Rotterdam in the blue hours. For this hitparade I choose a picture of the historic shipyard at the Old Harbour. If only because that yard, the King’s Gate, is threatened in its existence.

After a signature campaign, this picturesque part of Rotterdam seems to have been saved for now. But the future remains uncertain, so with the choice of this photo I want to express my support for all attempts to keep the yard in business. Although the jury is also pleased with the autumnal trees and the mirror-smooth water, as well as details such as the modern residential tower on the left and the light trails on the right.

De Koningswerf (Kings Wharf) historic shipyard at the Old Harbour in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, on a windless autumn evening in the blue hour
Save the King’s Gate shipyard!

8 – Tinseltown in the rain

In ways rather different from Rotterdam, the town of Leiden is also very photogenic. I took this photo en route to a dinner party with friends, on a rainy evening in January. We see the corner of the Nieuwstraat and the Beschuitsteeg (let’s translate that as New Street and Biscuit Alley)

It is always a challenge in this type of weather to keep water drops from the lens. But a good thing about that rain is that it makes the pavement, and especially these cobblestones, shine beautifully.

Junction of two narrow, cobble-paved, in the old town of Leyden, The Netherlands, during the blue hour on a rainy night
Cobbles in Biscuit Alley

7 – Witch hazel

All winter long I look forward to the photographic spring, which usually starts in early April, when all the trees get leaves and blossoms very rapidly. But there are also a few trees and shrubs that make the waiting somewhat easier by flowering in winter. My favorite is the hamamelis, known in English as witch hazel. Also the Dutch name is taken straight from a fairy tale: magic hazel.

The flowers are often yellow but sometimes red or orange. Below is a close-up of a specimen with yellow flowers and an orange variant in the background. This photo was taken on January 19 and tell me honestly: you don’t expect that much color in the middle of winter, do you?

Close-up of the yellow flowers of a hamamelis, or withch hazel, in bloom in january
Magic Hazel

6 – Feathered friend

I’m not really a birdwatcher; I only like nature when I can take a picture of it. And that doesn’t work without the 800 mm lenses which some birders carry along. My 300 mm lens is not sufficient to capture a full screen image of a kingfisher at a hundred meters distance.

Fortunately, this robin was kind enough to sit on a branch at a relatively short distance and to stay there for a while. Look how beautiful, those feathers and those curved legs. The cuteness is put in perspective by the somewhat surly look in the eyes.

Close-up of a robin on a branch against a blue sky
Cock Robin

5 – Draught

Park Quay in Rotterdam is a great location for rust spotters. For some reason, there are often ships with some overdue maintenance, which leads to colorful, almost abstract artworks of corrosion, dirt and peeling paint. This ship’s hull is extremely psychedelic, with main shades of pink and blue as well as brown and red rust spots and here and there a hint of orange and purple. And as a bonus, the “off-white” on the draught mark’s relief.

Details of a ship hull with peeling paint, rust stains and stripes and embossed numbers of the draught mark
Rust never sleeps

4 – Film set

Walking through my town of birth Schiedam, I came across this picturesque scene. Here we look across the Long Harbour to a little square called the Fish Market, surrounded by historic buildings. In the background we see museum mill De Walvisch (The Whale), one of the tallest stone mills in the world.

But the old black Peugeot on the right makes the picture really like a set for a film about the Second World War. Only the garbage can disturbs that illusion, but I may photoshop that one out sometime.

Picture like from a film set with the Long Harbour and the Fish Market in Schiedam, the Netherlands, windmill de Walvisch mill and an old black Peugeot
The Whale and the Peugeot

3 – Pilgrims

The photo below was made on King’s Day though there is nothing to indicate that. That day I withdrew from the Orange festivities to accompany travel companion A. (not to be confused with travel companion A. from number 10) on a leg of her Pilgrim’s Path to Santiago de Compostela. The route from Groot-Ammers to Hardinxveld-Giessendam, to be more precise. Straight through the Alblasserwaard polder, where rapeseed flourished.

As true pilgrims, we were not put off by the strong wind and the threatening cloudy skies. And at least here, on the way to a coffee break in the hamlet of De Donk, our determination was rewarded. The sky broke open, heavy showers passed on the left and right, but we remained dry for the time being.

Hiker on the Pilgrim long distance trail on a levee with grass, reeds and rapeseed along a canal in alblasserwaard polder, The Netherlands, near hamlet De Donk, on a day in springtime with heavy showers
Santiago, here we come!

2 – North coast

Sunsets in a cloudless sky are often a bit dull. But in this photo the aforementioned sun shines very beautifully on the fin-de-siecle buildings on the northern quay of the Noordereiland in Rotterdam. Even the rows of parked cars, that I usually prefer not to include in photographs, are pretty decorative here.

For once, the Erasmus Bridge does not play a leading but a supporting role in this shot. Although the city’s icon still towers over everything. From this angle it is also clear that The Harp is actually a much better nickname than The Swan.

Other interesting details are the seagull on the lamppost and the harbor cranes, vaguely visible behind the strings of the harp.

The northern quay of Noordereiland (North Island) in Rotterdam, with erasmus bridge in the background, captured by the light of the setting sun.
Fin de siècle

1 – Happy accident

Some photos require careful planning, but sometimes a spontaneous experiment can work out surprisingly well. On a sunny day I passed the building site of a residential tower at Wijnhaven, which was first called Bright and now, for completely unclear reasons, has been renamed OurDomain.

I saw a pile of reinforcement nets for concrete columns through one of the meshes in the surrounding fence. We look at the construction site through one of those nets. Rust spots on the steel and construction equipment in the background give some color to the abstract image.

Abstract photograph of reinforcement nets on a buildings site in Rotterdam on a sunny day
Bright, OurDomain, Whatever

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2 Responses

  1. Artemis Westenberg says:

    Nice image of Plymouth levels at the ship’s side (no 5)

  2. Frans Blok says:

    I assume you mean Plimsoll levels, at least that’s what I find in Wikipedia. Anyway, though purely functional, they indeed have aesthetic value as well!

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