Expository is a place where all the details that were found during the year are explained. A photograph may look quite abstract at first sight, but upon closer look it displays a huge amount of information. But in order to gain access to this information, it is necessary to find a way to read these images so maximum pleasure can be extracted from it. Here you can find an overview of the most important elements that are present on the photographs, including weather conditions, river traffic etc. Here you can read about these elements, how to recognize them and how they can be distinguished from each other.


Cruise ship

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Ship designed to transport people from one seaport to another along regular long-distance maritime routes according to a schedule. Because of the schedule appearance of the sea liner is easy to trace.

The first sea liners appeared on the photographs in April and in the course of April there were only few of them. Situation has changed in towards the summer. Sometimes there can be several liners on the same day. Usually they appear in the early morning. Spot where camera takes the photographs is also the turning spot the sea liners, after that ships or stay for a few days in the passenger terminal of continuing their voyage. This type of ships can’t be confused with anything else, they fill all the space on the image forming big white spots which immediately hit the eye if looking on the full photograph. Sometimes sea liners are pulled by so called tugboats, small but powerful vessels. They look like patrol boats with or without characteristic black/yellow/red colours of the port. These boats stick to the sea liners like a clingfishes. Together sea liner and tugboats remind an image of a huge shark and small fishes following it underwater.


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A patrol boat is a small vessel generally designed for coastal defence duties and patrolling of the situation on the water. Patrol boats of Amsterdam have characteristic colouring. They have yellow, red and black colours with logotype op the city on the side. Usually these can be seen as forerunners for some activities which are going to come on the water. For example appearance of patrol ship can mean that cruise ship is going to make a turn, or that where is going to be a police training.

Patrol boat is the first vessel which appears in the morning. It checks the situation on the water and than disappears again. The Port has a fleet totalling 5 patrol vessels. Their names are quite poetic Castor, Triton, Athena, Pollux, all of them are taken from greek mythology, and one less poetic V63, which is the oldest one from 1987. Probably at that time name policy for patrol vessels ideologically was different.


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Boats or other vessels that are used by police agencies to patrol the situation on the water. Water police provides assistance in the event of accidents and investigate collisions, other types of accident and environmental offenses. By appearance of police boats, in the same way as a patrol boats, it is possible to predict coming change on the water. Difference that if patrol vessel appears there might be a situation when nothing is happened but in case with police there is definitely something abnormal is going on.

Police watercraft has blue frame with white upper part and orange-blue stripes on the side. These stripes are the part of the design for Dutch police. Style was developer in the 90’s and was calls one of the best designs in the last 100 years. There are different types of boats and vessels in police fleet and all of them can be related to each other by their colouring. For fast appearances and speed operations they use inflatable boats or water scooters. In this case it is possible that there will be a lot of them at once. If there is something happened that first to come will be police scooter, than bigger police vessel and patrol boat from the port.


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Sailing vessel with two or more masts. Probably the most spectacular objects on the photographs. Due to their construction and reference to the past, they look the same as 300 years ago, these vessels evoke emotions and associations. Sails put up can tell us something about the weather, presence or absence of the wind and its direction. These ships look like they came from a far journey, which happens in different time. In XVII-XVIII century schooners were the most used vessels by pirates of Caribbean Sea.

Weekends and clear weather conditions guarantee an appearance at least one schooner a day. Sometimes there are flags and standards present which represent certain country or company. In case of special occasions or gatherings these vessels can be seen in higher concentration these deviations in the regularity of the appearance makes it difficult to establish a pattern but surely in the case with these ships regularity is not the most interesting element to discover, only finding one on the photograph is already enough to become pleased.


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Sail boat with a single mast. Imagine a sailboat, one that children draw if you ask them to, this is how sloop looks like. White sail is remarkable detail that helps to distinguish it from the rest. Appearance of this boat accompanied by melancholy, childhood and summer holidays. Probably combination of certain elements: white sail, clear triangle shape that cant’t be confused with anything else, blue sky, horizon and water create this iconic image of a boat that we all know and share.

Sloops are used in recreational purposes and are the most common in this group. The most typical type of sloop called bermuda. Maybe it is related to the shape of the sail and bermuda triangle, region in the western part of North Atlantic Ocean where a number of aircraft and ships are said to have disappeared under mysterious circumstances.


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Recreational boat or ship. Yachts can be recognised by their white colour and small shape. A typical yacht has black windows and a white deck. Sometimes the wooden structure of the deck is visible. Most of the yachts can be seen on Fridays and during weekends, especially on sunny days. Yachts normally appear after noon. Their peak of their appearance falls between 15:00 and 17:00 in the afternoon. This can be related to the lifestyle and social status of the yacht owners.

The word yacht originates from Dutch jacht ‘hunt’. It was originally defined as a light, fast sailing vessel used by the Dutch navy to pursue pirates and other transgressors in and around the shallow waters of the Low Countries. Today they are mostly used for leisure purposes and are associated with luxury, or recreational vessels.

Pleasure boat

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Vessels used for recreation, river tours and partying. There are various types of this kind. Canal cruises can be spotted through the week during the whole year. Party boats begin to appear when it becomes warmer. It is important to mention that activity on the river can be divided on functional and recreational. Pleasure boats represent recreational side of the traffic and most of the time depends on the weather conditions. During long and warm summer nights it is possible to see green, yellow, red lights of the party boats on the photographs. During winter time when there is almost no possibility to see those.

Canal cruise boats are less dependent on the weather conditions but mostly on tourists. There is not really a low season in Amsterdam, it attracts tourists during the whole year. So even if it is raining or snowing there still would be canal cruises. The first tourist who used canal cruise was Elizabeth Stuart, Queen of Bohemia. In 1621 she was the first who accomplished canal tour since than things have changed and there are around 3 million passengers have been catered every year.

Pancake boat

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Floating restaurant where you can eat as much pancakes as you wish. Yellow boat which has a peculiar shape. It has two levels and text on its side, saying De Pannenkoekenboat. Because of the purpose its appearance differs during the week.

On Mondays and Tuesdays I guess there are no cruises there is almost no chance to see it than and there is extra activity through the weekend and and when it is sunny. There are more of these in the evening hours, during the lunch which can be explained by the function of the boat.

First pancakes were made with wheat flour, olive oil, honey and curdled milk, and were served for breakfast in Ancient Greece. First references are found in the works of 5th century BC poets. Pancake is present in most cultures due to its simple recipe that uses basic ingredients. Because of the long history of it there has been made a lot of myths around the pancake. In Eastern tradition round shape of a pancake symbolise sun and presence of sun means land fertility so pancake has been seen as sacramental object to attract good weather.

River cruise

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Passenger ship used for pleasure voyages. They finish second by frequency of appearance during the day, right after cargo ships. The can be seen everyday of the week. Due to its construction, covered roof, the presence of these vessels doesn’t depend on weather conditions whatsoever. There is slightly higher activity around the weekend. River cruise ships start to appear early in the morning, and can be spotted all day long. It is also possible to see some of them at night. During dark hours they can be distinguished by particular lights pattern, resembling their long shape. River cruise ships are white, long shaped, and have two decks with characteristic, small windows. The upper deck is open and in the lower deck cabins and restaurants are situated.

Boats are one of the oldest means of transportation and because of this fact they are present in myths and legends in every culture. For example, the ancient Egyptians believed that Ra, the God of sun, traveled every day along the river caring the sun with him. The nights he used to spend in the underworld and would bring the sun back to people in the morning.


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Small boat powered by an engine. Usually, the main feature of a motorboat is movement traces left on the water behind it. Motorboats can be recognised by their small size and mostly black colour. Police and patrol forces also use motorboats in order to reach their target fast. The police boats have special colouring showing the colours of the authorities. Except for special situations, such as police trainings or civil gatherings, motorboats mostly appear on Sundays, but can be also seen throughout the week with certain regularity. Motorboats can be used for various purposes, so it makes it difficult to find regularity or make a portrait of their owners.

Fishing boat

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Boat used to catch fish.

It is a small vessel, meant to fit only a few people. These can be recognised by their unchangeable drifting position upon water surface. Appearance of the fishing boats on the photographs can be clearly related to weather conditions and air temperature. The warmer it becomes the more fishing boats occur. Highest activity accrues or early in the morning or later in the evening. Probably because of the less active ship traffic on the river.

Figures inside of the fishing boat are usually visible because of their movement less position. These slowly drift on the water taking the direction of the wind. Mostly they go fishing in still and clear weather when river is not only free from traffic but also quite and has favourable condition for a better catch.

Cargo ship

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Any sort of vessel that carries cargo, goods, and materials from one port to another. There are lots of different types of cargo ships can be traced, they differ by their purpose. These vessels are usually designed according to their function. Usually long shaped vessels on the photographs are cargo ships. The longest cargo ship ever existed was Seawise Giant and its length was about 460 meters. Later it was rebuild and renamed into a Happy Giant which seemed doesn’t save it from the deconstruction because of his thin, only 3.5 cm, frame. This ship was build to carry oil, sometimes if the conditions are right it is possible to see on the photographs what kind of cargo do they carry. Often it is building materials, bulk or liquid containers. If liquid container has bright colouring means that there are dangerous contents. There are a lot of empty ships coming by too.

Cargo vessels are the first to appear on the image, they start early and can be seen all day. On the weekends thou there is less activity but even than there are plenty on them every day. Sometimes there is a car on the ship, parked right on top of it, to make it possible for the driver to leave his vessel elsewhere and drive home by land.

Maintenance ship

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Vessels or boats used to provide technical support on the water. These ships have different shape and designed according to their function. Because of fact that they would appear only in case of such necessity their movement is irregular and unpredictable.

They can be recognised by peculiar shape with different extensions or cranes. Most of the time they have green or orange, it is quite bright, so it helps to distinguish this type of ships. In special occasions these ships can carry out different assignments installing something in the middle of the river or creating an obstacle for traffic etc. Most common type of maintenance ships is floating crane.


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Ship used to carry primarily passengers across a water. Ferries have characteristic white-blue colouring and special triangle-like shape. They normally cruise on the background so their shape is almost all the time blurred and it can be recognised only by its colour. On the other side of the river or their stop or a place where they spend a night. Every morning you can see them departure.

The profession of the ferryman is embodied in Greek mythology, the boatman who transported souls across the River Styx to the Underworld.



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These have bright colouring with red, violet and purple tints. Skyline characterises with inner glow, illuminating light from the line of horizon. In case of cloudless sky red rays of the sun can be recognised on the image. In case of rain or foggy weather photographs appear to be blurry and have dirtier colouring, line of the horizon looks smother, water and sky have less clear separation.

In the morning hours usually no big transport traffic is present. If there is a movement than it is most of the time lonely cargo ship, early cruise liner turn or passing river cruise ship. During the week, especially on mondays, first vessel which appears on the photograph is patrol ship of the Amsterdam port.


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Collection of liquid water droplets or ice crystals suspended in the air.

On the photographs absence of the horizon can point on foggy weather conditions. Smooth colour transition from the water to a sky means it is foggy. Colours than soft and have pastel tints. Usually fog is only in the mornings in other case it will stay all day. Fog generates humidity in the air.

Amsterdam by the way considered to be the most humid city in Europe. Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish or it is raining or it is only a fog, air is filled with little drops unveiling you so you becoming filled with humid air. Fog has direct influence on visibility so it is not for nothing fog is often used as a metaphor for confusion and disorientation.


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Liquid water in the form of droplets that have condensed from atmospheric water vapor and than if become heavy enough fall under gravity.

Rainy days on the photographs are grey and greenish. Most of the times there is a low contrast and little change in the colour pallet during the day. Continuous rain considered boring and depressing. There is a physical explanation to the feeling of sadness while raining. There is an opinion that serotonin, the so-called happiness hormone, is responsible for a depressed feeling, when there is no sun outside. In case it is like that, it is good to know that bananas, milk, nuts, pasta, rice and Swiss cheese can raise the level of serotonin and increase our happiness.


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Visible movement on the water surface I consider as waves.
So here what is interesting that waves are visual marks of wind. Wind is invisible stream of air that circulates and causing movement of the objects and surfaces it meets on the way. On the photographs it can be recognised by difference in colour in the water surface. Darker stripes that doesn’t look chaotic and their direction is predictable can be caused by a boat that passes by and disturbing the surface. Waves caused by wind are less systematic and consistent so it is clear that it appeared naturally without external stimulus.

Sometimes there is a connection can be traced between amount of wind and clarity of the weather. If the weather is changeable than it caused by wind that moves clouds and frees the Sun.

Invisibility of wind makes it very interesting to think about, its presence can only be traced by its cause. Moving from one place to another it carries traces and mixing all together. In different cultures wind was seen as a symbol for fertility, force that can cause life in unexpected places. Carrying seeds, throwing it and leaving again. That is why I think in every language there is an expression windy person that refers to instability, simultaneity and temporality.


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The star at the center of the Solar System. The biggest sign of sun’s presence on the images is a presence of day and night hours. During the year amount of black area on the image varies 21 of June is the longest day of the year and 22 of December is the shortest. Of course everything that we see around is only possible to see because of the presence of the light that comes the Sun but let’s even not start there. Lets make a convention that here we would talk about sun in the meaning of sunny vs cloudy.

Sunny days on the photographs can be recognised by the colour of water and sky. Deep and bright blue colour points of the sunny weather with clear sky. During the morning or evening hours, sunset and sunrise is coloured with saturated violet, possibly green and red, tints. On sunny days there much more recreational vessels like schooners, fishing boats and yachts. It is quite amazing to see how flexible people are in their decisions to spend a day on the water if it is sunny. In the periods with not very nice weather and sudden sunny day, surface of the water is filled with small boats.


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Can be recognised by darker colours and presence of violet, claret red and purple tints. According to the weather condition these hours can last longer or shorter period. In case of clear sky and sunny weather bright rich colour representing these hours. In case of rainy weather dusk lasts much shorter and has rather dirty green colouring.

Traffic in dusk hours is quite and mostly consist of cargo ships on the workdays and pleasure boats on the weekends. Sometimes in case of the good and windless weather conditions lonesome fishing boats are floating on the water surface.


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This category concerns various subjects or aspects of a DAY that can’t be put in another group. There is nothing that connects these occurrences, the only thing is that they are very rare, if not singular. They can be a boat at night, but it also can be an important event that took place on the river. Fireworks, birds, window cleaners and other rather curious happenings can be found here.