Fall, the quick version

I seem to be writing one blog post per season lately. This one won’t be any different :p. Lots of shots again though :). Fall 2013 was rather short and spread out throughout a few months instead of a clear climax in colors. A bit dull unfortunately. Luckily we did have some exceptions that made it worth while to go and shoot. See below for the results. Been quite busy with learning some new techniques (photography related ;) ) and networking. A network is just as important for a nature photographer as reliable gear as it will open up new opportunities. One of these opportunities already gave me (better) access to a large National Park so I could get to places I would normally never go. I will learn new things and contribute to studying the area and its diversity. I am sure I will capture this diversity in all its beauty as time progresses.

Anyways, here it goes:

forest abstract
You either love this one or hate it. It needs some fine tuning but I already like it quite a bit!

A very Mystical morning :)
forest fog

forest fog

forest fog

forest fog

King fisher

Until next time! (should be mid-end Winter ;) ).

Summer of ’13

It seems that for the past three years I’ve always taken the wrong decision on when to have my Summer holidays. This year I had the better part of June off from work and, as always, I started to take the best photographs when I had to go back to work again. Same is true for the weather. The minute I had to go back to work it started to clear up and get nice and sunny… oh well, enough about that. Time to see what I’ve been up to for the past few months (yes, it has been that long since my previous post, sorry ’bout that :p).

I don’t really have any special stuff to share other than that I’ve been preparing for a very interesting, yet quite difficult and challenging, project that will probably take me around 2 years or so to complete. I’m not going to specify exactly what it is since I don’t even know yet if I can get it to work like it has been working in my mind. I’ve had to make some serious investments in both time and money but if it’s going to work, oh boy, will you be amazed!

Here is my Summer of ’13 (so far..):
(all are clickable and will link to my website)

Running hare
Great fun that was! Came running straight towards me, then stopped within the minimum focussing distance of my lens and decided to turn around when it noticed something weird was lying on the path (I wasn’t even wearing any camo clothes).

King fishers
Yes! 2 King fishers :). Taken at F14 or so to try and get both of them sharp.

Roe deer mother and fawn
ISO 4000 :p

butterfly
Actually found a small weed plantation near where I took this shot :p (I’m not kidding!)

Haw Finch
Not a very common garden guest. Shot full frame at 4fps of a D800 :). Wall sized prints anyone?

wild fox
A real wild fox! Not one of those fake, tame ones ;). It actually took me five early mornings to get this one. Luckily I got the fox before the local army of hunters did..

King fisher
An evening light King Fisher. They never seem to bore me. Such characters they have!

evening light

Until next time!

Spring 2013: part II

As promised, light rays :-). I found a spot in the forest that’s about 10x as large as the previous place where I took most of my light ray shots. One large open space with big, old trees. I wonder how that’ll look in the Fall ;).

Anyways, here’s a good selection:

Light rays
Light rays
Light rays

The projects for my upcoming summer holidays include: Roe Deer (fawns I hope), King Fisher (as always), Beaver, Blue Throat (colorful bird), perhaps wild boar, badgers (.. will be difficult), and the occasional macro stuff. Hope to be able to show you something soon.

Until next time!

Spring 2013: Part I

I just can’t seem to find the time to regularly post something on my blog and that is why you’re getting only one or two posts every few months or so. Next to actually writing the stuff, and desperately trying to think up some funny sentences here and there, I also have to update my website, upload the images shown on this blog to tinypic, and go through the html story by actually making the pictures visible and correctly link to my website. I’m sure there are easier ways to do this but I’m rather conservative in that way. If it works, don’t mess with it :p. So here it goes, hope you like what you see (the downside to posting every few months or so is that you have to show so many photo’s per post, so please scroll down a bit :-P).

painting flowers
Straight out of the camera. Got to like that D800 :)

Tawnly owl
While running after an Osprey I caught this sleepy beauty.

Rapeseed field
Rapeseed field

Spring leaf

Pheasant
This crazy fella often falls asleep in my garden giving me an opportunity to carefully position myself within 10 meters or so. He will suddenly wake up, raise himself up, and shout out to call for females. Then he takes a nap again, only to wake up 5 minutes later and do it all over again. I have many good action shots of those moments but all are in the shadows with an annoying background so not really worth sharing. This was the only acceptable one I think.

macro

bird flowers

On another note, the more I get to know the work of other photographers (I’ve started to follow several on Facebook), the more I’m starting to wonder if I’ll ever break through that solid brick wall that’s keeping so many photographers in the shadows, in some dark place where their pictures are hardly seen or admired, let alone make some money out of it. There are so many nature photographers out there, all with professional gear and time to spare that it is almost impossible to stand out (especially if you’re short like me and have a full time job :-P). The only way to burst through that wall is by winning (major) nature photography contests that are mainly dominated by professional photographers, or perhaps by doing something out of the ordinary in a business where ‘out of the ordinary’ opportunities are quickly diminishing. Luckily I’m only 26 years old and (like to) believe that I’m still on a steep learning curve so who knows what the future will bring. Up until then, I’ll just continue to do my best in the shadows… where it’s nice and quiet. Maybe my light ray project for the Fall of 2013 can shine some light through the bricks.

Until next time (very soon, I have a lot of sun ray shots to show you!)

New season, new adventures

Goodbye Winter! We’ve had some good (mostly cold) times, see you again next year. To say goodbye, here are some of the last winter shots.

starling
blue jay
Finch
cranes
This was quite fun! Almost 2500 Crane’s that spend the night at National Park the Meinweg and I was there when they woke up and took to the skies :).

And since Spring is upon us:
snowdrop

While looking back, I can’t help but wonder what the next seasons will bring me. Most of the times, opportunities find you instead of the other way around. While exploring new grounds, I often stumble upon something to turn into a new project. I also wonder what new opportunities (and challenges..) my new, yet to be bought :p, camera will bring me. 36MP is a lot of fun but it has its drawbacks of course.. I’ll hate the small AF area coverage (compared to DX) and the massive file sizes, but I’ll love the additional cropping, detail, better noise handling, dynamic range, and AF performance…. O well, nothing is perfect in life.

And now, time to go after that Pheasant that just walked into my garden. Good to know he survived the killing spree of the local hunters.

Until next time!

Hen Harriers – revisited

This will be the first of two winter posts. This first one will cover my latest Hen Harrier adventures whereas the second post will show some other more common birds in a winter setting. For the first time in many years I haven’t had the feeling of spending the winter in hibernation. I actually went out into the blistering cold and got great results! I focussed all my efforts on capturing birds in the snow that I didn’t have any time to go out and shoot some landscape shots. Yes, the winter of 2012/2013 was great but I’m glad that it’s over and I’m ready for Spring now. I already have a few small colorful projects in mind but more on that in a few weeks. I will also be buying a new camera as I’ve set April 1st as a deadline to buy one. I’m afraid Nikon won’t release a D400 any time soon so I’ll be buying a D800 and 24-70mm lens (full frame instead of APS-C (crop)). I will still be using my D300 for when I need the additional reach and speed but the D800 will be great for more controllable projects such as macro, light rays, and king fishers. I’m a bit worried though about storage space on my computer so I’m going to have to increase that as well. Luckily my 2008 Mac Pro seems to handle large D800 RAW files very well. Anyways.. enough blabla and time for the pictures:

Hen Harrier
Hen Harrier
Hen Harrier
Hen Harrier

I do wonder what adventures 2013 will bring. Where do the kingfishers decide to nest? Will we see any new rare birds? How about the beaver? And will I see Roe Deer fawns again? I can’t wait!

Until next time!

On graceful wings..

It’s 6am when the radio alarm clock tries to wake me up but fails. In anticipation of this failure, the evening before I set another alarm clock to go off right next to my head at 6.05am. Unfortunately I forgot to turn down the volume a bit causing me to wake quite abruptly… mission successful though, I’m awake. Next step is putting on 2 thermal underwear sets, a shirt, 2 fleece sweaters, 2 pair of thick socks, and 1 pair of glasses. I go down for breakfast, trying not to fall off the stairs with 20+ kg of camera gear (and a lot of other stuff necessary for my project of the day). I have breakfast, load everything into the car, program the satellite navigation, and set off for a 30 minute drive into the cold morning. There’s no traffic on the road this early causing me to regularly break the speed limit. I make it to my destination in just under 25 minutes, a record :p. I unload everything from my car, put on snow boots, and start to hike up the side of a hill. There’s a stiff and cold wind blowing with very little light present, causing me to almost tip over a few times due to bad weight distribution of my gear (heavy tripod swinging off the side of my backpack). The slippery slope isn’t helping much either. After a 15 minute hike I finally reach the top and make it over to the spot where I’m going to spend over 5 hours waiting for a few birds to occasionally fly by. 10 minutes later, I’m fully camouflaged, sweating like a mad man from the hike, and ready to go. After witnessing the sunrise I’m starting to cool off a bit and after 1-2 hours my toes seemed to have lost the connection to the rest of my warm body. Meanwhile, I’m just scouting the horizon for the typical shape of a hunting Hen Harrier (in Dutch: Blauwe Kiekendief). There’s no time for checking email or reading stuff since the moment can be over in 5 seconds… so just as my camera I need to stay sharp and focussed :p. Anyways, copy the above into 4 cold mornings and this is what you’ll get:

Hen Harrier female
Hen Harrier male
Hen Harrier
Hen Harrier

Amazing, graceful hunters. The Harrier jet actually got its name from these nimble and acrobatic hunters.

The next photo was taken in my garden where large amounts of birds come to dine when there’s little to be found because of the snow covered ground. The same is true for bird of prey that have difficulties with finding food. What an intense moment that was… incredible.
Sparrow hawk and prey

The last one was taken while waiting for the Hen Harriers. They must be quite skilled air traffic controllers these pigeons ;)
Pigeons

Until next time!