Flatland

By: Louk Vreeswijk

Aug 10 2014

Tags: , ,

Category: Europe, Netherlands

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Aperture:f/8
Focal Length:58.1mm
Shutter:1/0 sec

Maybe it’s thanks to my Dutch origins that I still remember with delight the little book Flatland, in which Edwin Abbott gives full rein to his mathematical imagination in his description of a two-dimensional world. Although the Dutch landscape – especially its immense, flat polders reclaimed from the sea – does come rather close to Abbott’s imagination, it’s exactly in the way it distinguishes itself from Flatland that this landscape is so outstanding. A farmhouse, a grazing cow, a grove, a distant church tower, ….. there are always a thing or two sticking out above the ground level, which accentuates the overall impression of a flatland in three dimensions.

I took, of course, the photo above primarily because of the windmills in this typically Dutch landscape. Like a pair of clogs or a bed of tulips, an old windmill is another clichéd symbol of this country below sea level. For centuries, thousands of windmills have pumped the water out of the reclaimed polders. From the historical windmill in the photo we can thus gather that we are probably looking here at an old polder, dating back to the time before steamdriven pumping stations took over from the windmills.

Since the end of the 20th century, tall new windmills next to the old ones have started to invade the landscape; windmills not to pump out water, but to generate electricity. The photo shows us an image of change in centuries-old Dutch flatland.

Photo of the week: Netherlands 2008

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