Monday, September 15, 2008

Copenhagen Bicycles

Since I had been to Copenhagen before, I new I wanted to capture a few camera images on cycling in this city. Cycling is a way of life in Copenhagen and the city planners have done a great job of integrating the bicycles within the urban and vehicle structure of the city.

On the wider streets there are separate lanes at the edge of the road that is separated by a curb that is for exclusive use of the bicycle and the few motorcycles (less than 30km/hr). This means that the traffic doesn’t mix and should there be an obstacle on the road, a car will not suddenly swerve over to go around and accidentally hit a cyclist. Also, the traffic lights provide a few seconds of advanced green for pedestrians and cyclists.

The first thing that impressed me besides the vast number of cyclists is that most bikes were the basic black with only 3 speeds (internal hubs). Bikes were everywhere, not just on the road and in the downtown area they were lined against the building walls. Many had simple locks for the rear wheel only and most were not locked to any immoveable objects.

Trying to photograph bicycles in an urban setting is not an easy task if you want some drama or punch in the image as there is way too much clutter on the street that just distracts from the main subject.

I had to rely on other items in scene providing interesting colour or backdrop to simplify the image. In the image above the bus right behind the bicyclists provides such a backdrop. There were a fair number of these 3 wheel bicycles with the 2 wheels and carriage upfront. These include a canvas cover for the many times it rains in Copenhagen.

On sunny days these carriages are exposed for all of us to view its contents.

These special bikes become chariots when one is driving his well dressed lady friend out for a fine dinner on a warm summer evening.

Occasionally, as you wander about you will find opportunities with simple scenes where you can use colour to harmonize the image.

And if you are really lucky, the city will provide better photographic images that have stronger elements.

I decided to make this a center-focus image because the orange bike was playing off the orange garbage container with the man sitting in the middle. The bright colours on the background help to anchor the vividness of the orange. The bike lying down creates a bit of a story as the bike does not seem to be connected to the person except for its proximity.

In the downtown core, there are several large parking lots, sections of streets that are reserved just for bicycles. It’s hard to capture the true size of these areas. In the image below, the bikes go all the way back to the red object.

There were only a few of the wilder styles, but as with most bikes only locked, if at all, to themselves.

Every now and then you would run across an old bike, a veteran from the days when there were work horses at the local grocery stores.

Keeping your camera permanently glued to your body allows you to stumble onto images that are just a little different than the rest.

Or come upon a fellow tourist, who has rented a local bike and then he is out photographing as well.

I found the image below interesting only for the fact that the red was all tied together with the hydrant, spokes, “runes” letters on stones and writing on window.

It’s not easy trying to collect very good images of bicycles over a 2 day period as the great ones really depends on being at the right place at the right time. I am sure that if I lived there that over a period of time I would be able to get a few great images. But it was worth the effort to see what I could capture and a few of them I do like.

Niels Henriksen

Photographers Showcase.

The following site Cycle Chic - Copenhagen Girls on Bikes provides a good photography of bicycling in Copenhagen with a focus on girl power. It has been described a social documentary on high heels.

This site Copenhagen Magazine provides videos and photographs of cycling within and around Copenhagen Denmark.


Andreas said...

Now, what can I say? I like them, of course I do :)

Lynda Lehmann said...

Excellent and interesting post and photos, Niels! You DID get some really good bike shots!

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