The rise and fall of Fall..

Time for my yearly Fall post! I have seven images to show you that basically represent what I’ve been up to in the past 2 months. Due to bad weather, shortening days, and travels I haven’t been able to do what I initially planned to do. This colorful season went by too quickly for me this year. No reason to complain though as I’m still very satisfied with the images below. I’ve come up with an awesome new idea that, if successful, should take my work to the proverbial ‘next level’. I won’t give out any details as I don’t want anyone else to try it before I do and I need to wait either for Spring or Fall 2013… and I need a new camera for that as well but more on that at the end of this post.
Anyways, enough blabla and time for the latest photo’s.

This was a magical morning. Dense fog and clear skies above..
sun rays
sun rays
sun rays
I have to start finding new locations for these sun ray shots as most of the ones taken thus far have been in the usual spot.

Time for the Fall shots:
mushroom
Fall color
Forest colors
Forest lane

Furthermore, I’m thinking about buying a new camera. If Nikon won’t announce a D400 before April 2013, I will switch to either a D800 or a D4. This means going FX and losing the crop factor which I still find essential for wildlife and small birds. I would however gain unsurpassed speed, low light capabilities, and dynamic range etc…. we’ll see what 2013 brings us. My D300 has a 5 year old sensor and AF system which, I believe, are starting to limit my ‘development’ as a photographer.

Until next time!

Trading hours for seconds…

Time for another post! It has been some time since my last post but I’ve definitely spent that time usefully. Fall is setting in which means relatively cold nights, dampened forest floors and… light rays, if you’re lucky and know what to look for. I’ve been quite successful in matching last years light ray shots. The best ones from last year were at the peak of the autumn but unfortunately I have to travel to the US for work in the week that I expect Fall to reach its climax over here. Have to see if I’ll be able to go into the woods before and after my US visit. Next to the light ray shots I’ve also been busy with a family of Roe Deer that are currently residing in the corn fields near from where I live. A family of three, mom and her two calfs. Very nice to see them come out of hiding when the sun is setting and interact which each other.
Anyways.. this is not the only place on which I upload my photo’s as I also make use of the Flickr photo community website. The concept is that everyone can get a free account and upload up to 200 photo’s and then share it with everyone else. You can comment on each others work, join communities, look for inspiring work of other great photographers around the world, and if you’re lucky you get your shots on Flickr Explore. This is basically a large billboard for the entire community which showcases the best uploads of a particular day. On an average day millions of photo’s get uploaded and only 500 are selected to be shown on Explore. The white dove below got to spot #1 on Flickr Explore and one of my light ray shots got to #4. This meant that I got over 5000 views between those two shots. This also lead to a lot of comments and favorites and to over 300 emails which I had/chose to respond to :p. But, enough blabla and time for some of my latest work now.

First up, magical light:
sun rays
Note the heart carved into the tree on the right.

A slightly different point of view:
sun rays
More can be found on my website. I’ve created a new gallery especially for these sun ray shots (see link at the bottom of this post).

Next up is the dove photo I was talking about earlier:
white dove

And last but not least, the Roe Deer family, a sunset, and a Kingfisher I hadn’t uploaded yet.
Roe Deer family
sunset
King fisher

So all in all, these kind of shots don’t come easy. You really have to trade hours for seconds. But boy, are those seconds worth it!

Until next time!

P.S. I’ve also updated my website with my latest work, including a lot of photo’s I haven’t uploaded on Flickr or this blog. I’m planning to modernize it a bit more this winter but haven’t thought of how I’m going to do this or what I’m going to change. I have to learn that programming stuff all over again as I’m getting a bit rusty in using HTML…

It’s good to be the King!

As already mentioned in my previous post, I still have some new deer fawn photo’s to share with you. Again such an amazing moment! I went back to the usual location and already saw two young deer fawns playing along the creek bed. I slowly moved closer, playing red light – green light with them (freeze when they looked, walk when they didn’t). I came within 40 meters or so when I positioned myself behind some long grass and underneath a bush. After a while one of the fawns started running towards me trying to find a gap in the fence through which to enter the field with the high grass. It was completely focussed on finding that opening and didn’t seem to notice the guy making these clicking noises. Even though the light was pretty bad, I was able to get some nice action shots. I was very much wondering how close the fawn was going to come near me. After a few attempts to enter the meadow it kept searching for a decent opening, which happened to be around 10 meters from where I was standing. So basically that’s where the fawn went! She (I guess it’s a she because of her good looks and all) stopped no more than 10 meters from me, stared at me for 30 seconds or so (in the meantime I was shooting away, anxiously wondering for how long she was going to stand there). After nicely posing for me she disappeared through the opening and started playing in the tall grass, leaving me shaking with adrenaline and 50 good shots in the pocket.

Here she is:
Roe deer fawn
Roe deer fawn

Later that morning I went back to my Kingfisher spot where I was greeted by a Kingfisher cleaning session within a few minutes of waiting. Was able to take some action shots and left a good 3 hours later. All in all, some pretty decent weekends lately. Now I’m waiting for the grass to grow higher again as the farmers just mowed it all down down causing the deer to leave for the corn fields much earlier in the morning when there is hardly any light. Lets hope the deer fawns don’t loose their playful behavior in the next few weeks.

Kingfisher
Kingfisher

Until next time!

The Deer Whisperer

I’ve figured it all out and I’m not going to share my secrets with you ;-). I found the right location, right time, and the best way to photograph Roe deer fawns. It all started two weeks ago when I entered a specific area that seemed to meet all the requirements for a Roe Deer meet. I slowly walked towards a meadow with tall grass and suddenly saw two Roe deer fawns jumping up from the ground, startled by my presence. Both looked at me and apparently saw no danger as they both just kept standing at the place where they landed after their jump. One of them just kept staring at me. I immediately brought up my camera and started shooting away, trying not to make any sudden movements, and anxiously wondering how long this moment was going to last. What happened next was awesome… both fawns accepted my presence and started to eat, groom, run, and play. I was able to closely follow them for about half an hour. Unfortunately the tall grass prevented me from taking any clear shots and also made the focusing quite difficult, especially when you have to hand hold a 500mm and manually focus at the same time. But that’s when those 50 daily push-ups come in handy! What an amazing moment that was. Little did I know that this was going to repeat itself 2 weeks later. More about that encounter in my next blog. Here are the shots:

Roe deer fawn
Wonderful moment!

Mom:
Roe deer
Just look at how graceful these creatures are. I’m sure I’ll go ballistic if I ever saw a hunter kill one. If you ever read in the newspaper that a nature photographer attacked a hunter, it’ll most likely be me :p. Please come and bail me out then by the way ;).

Next up is a Common Sandpiper. These birds are not very common in the Netherlands and it’s not at all common that one lands on your Kingfisher branch. Amazing moment once again.
Common Sandpiper

Next up are some macro’s I took in the meadow where the deer were playing.
grass macro

grasshopper
I could have sworn it was saluting me!

Last one for this post. This young Buzzard flew over my head while I was taking shots of the 2 Roe deer fawns. Had to act quickly to change exposure settings and fire away.
Buzzard in flight

Next post will probably be sometime later this week to describe my adventures of this weekend. As said before, I met the roe deer fawns again and one got close, really close :D.

Until next time!

The Kingfisher diaries

Time for my yearly Kingfisher post! I seem to be getting better at photographing these birds every year. You need to find the nests (the hard part), find some nice looking branches, put them into the river bed, think about where the sun is going to be relative to the stick, and get out of bed early for nice and warm morning sunlight. At least, that’s what I thought until it started to rain a lot in these past weeks. After some time I realized that rain can also add some drama to the pictures and it pretty much worked out ok I’d say. The first picture of this blog must be one of my best Kingfisher shots so far. Gorgeous pose, action shot, an ice catch, all that’s missing is full frontal warm sunlight. Still, I’m very satisfied:

Kingfisher action shot

Next up is the rain shot:
Kingfisher in the rain
Really adds something special to the shot I think.

Another action shot:
Kingfisher action shot

Besides the Kingfishers, I’ve also spend a lot of my time on beavers. I was successful on quite some occasions but was never fully satisfied with the results. I have some new ideas for the coming few weeks when (or maybe I should say ‘if’) the weather clears up a bit. I want to get close, really close… but beavers seem to have quite a good sense of smell so I have to pay more attention to the direction the wind is facing. During one of my agonizingly long sessions of lying down on a hard and wet river bed (for the beaver), I was able to take a few shots of these cute little explorers who happened to be investigating their new and interesting world while I was lying flat on the ground (camouflaged of course). They must have been only a few days old! The kept biting on everything they could find to see if it was edible.
ducklings
Moments after this shot, the mother duck decided to head off in the opposite direction after hearing my loud shutter noises. I really need a new camera. Nikon, where’s my D400 with silent shutter, 16-24MP, 8fps, 1080p video at 60fps.. etc.??

Last but not least: A great spotted woodpecker. Three of these bold birds are now living in my garden and they regularly visit my bird feeding station. This one posed very nicely in the warm evening light:

woodpecker

That’s it for this post. Hope to have some nice beaver shots soon.

Until next time!

Feeding time

It’s feeding time! The new families that were formed this Spring are now all coming to my bird feeding setup to feed their young newborns. Very nice to see this all happening not more than 4 meters away from me. We finally have some Great Spotted Woodpeckers in our garden, but unfortunately only with one little one. It still makes for a nice seen though, especially after a long exhausting day of being fed by the parents:
woodpecker
I’ve taken over 100 photo’s of these gorgeous birds.

And now for the Blue Tit fur balls. I attached a metal ball to a white cord hanging from one of the bird feeding branches to try and prevent the Magpies from flying off with the bird food. The little Blue Tits use this cord to hang from and to wait until their parents come by with a peanut. Just look at how cute these little fur balls are:
Blue tits

Next up is a Honey Buzzard. These are gorgeous birds of prey with beautiful markings underneath their wings:
honey buzzard

And finally a colorful one:
colorful

That’s it for this post. Next projects are the beaver (again), and Little Owls.

Until next time!

4 in 1, and where did my mojo go?

Four weeks crammed into one blog post. So it’ll be a long one. I basically had the larger part of 4 weeks to spend on nature photography since this was, or as I’m writing this, still is my spring/summer holiday. I wanted to make the most of it so I threw myself out into the field every day looking for stuff to photograph. The weather was not really super, but manageable. I needed clear skies in the morning and clear skies in the evening. Once these requirements have been met, all you need to do is look for the correct location. So, the first three weeks all went pretty bad. No beaver, no kingfisher, no bee eaters, no buzzards, no wild boar or roe deer. The Buzzards (buizerd) were my largest project. I knew a nice location where these birds of prey have a nest each year and thought I should give them a hand in raising their young by laying out some bait (roadkill) for them. In the meantime, I’d be there waiting in my tent with my camera. I picked the perfect spots with the rising sun behind me so if it would work, I could capture these amazing birds in the warm morning light. Unfortunately these birds are quite watchful which meant that I had to go into my tent in the middle of the night when it was still dark! This meant getting up at 4 am in the morning, cramming food down my throat, cycling 10 minutes to the location, arriving without lights, without making a sound, putting the bait on the ground in the dark, securing it with hooks so they don’t fly off with it, and try not to fall asleep while waiting. Thus, there I was at 4.30 in the morning awaiting an attack on my bait. No such luck :(. After 3 long mornings I gave up. The third time they clearly saw the bait, circled 2m over it, and flew off again. Now, 3 days later, the bait is still there, untouched. I could have sat there for over 3 days and nothing would have happened. Lesson learned I’d say. I guess this only works well in winter time when there is snow and it is much more difficult for them to find prey. After 2 weeks of bad luck I started to doubt myself, and realized that I might had lost my ‘photography mojo’ (watch an Austin Powers movie in case you don’t understand the word ‘mojo’, if you do understand it, watch them anyways as they are kind of fun). So this is when I resorted back to macro photography in an effort to find my mojo again as this is the more easier part of nature photography. Your subjects don’t run away and you don’t have to get up while its dark outside. A good place to start to get my mojo back again. The results can be found directly below. I’m quite happy with the dragonfly shots:

Tulips

Tulips

After some time, I realized that most of the time you don’t have to go look for photo opportunities but they’ll find you eventually. Just by going for a bike ride or taking a stroll along the riverside. That’s when I saw this cutie:
roe deer fawn
It must have been a few days old! I hit the brakes (I was cycling), immediately started unpacking my lens + camera and was able to take just a few shots before it ran of. Good to see that their fear of humans is a genetic thing.

Next day, I got a call from my king fisher ‘connection’ that he had found a nesting site which I could use to finally take some king fisher shots. And so I did:
king fisher
I’ll go back there in my last holiday days (this actually means crossing a fast flowing river in wading boots with 15kg of (rather expensive) camera gear on your back. One slip and things get pricey ;-).

The next shots were taken somewhere in the first 3 weeks or so. I had hoped for more and better but you can’t have it all, right?! We’ll see what the rest of summer will bring us. At least it seems that I have found my mojo again (or still had it all this time).
KungFu Goose
rays of light
phaesant on the move
I’ll end this post with a small bang. Our neighbors have a Little Owl (Steenuil) nesting box in their orchard and each year the young owls are ringed for study purposes (see how many there are and where they go after they leave their parents territory). Now, I usually don’t post photo’s of captive birds but as these are actual wild ones and it’s so darn cute I’ll show it anyway. Hope to get some really ‘wild’ shots of these ladies later this summer. Just look at the newborn! Melts your heart right?
Little Owl / Steenuil

Until next time!