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!

The diary of a nature photographer (part I of II)

Last Wednesday I was sitting behind my desk at work when I heard the weather forecast on the radio. After a long spell of dark and cloudy weather we were finally going to get some clear skies and warm Spring days. I decided to take the next two days off from work and spent it in the great outdoors with my camera. Below is my report from day 1. Day 2 will follow tomorrow. Days 3 and 4 (the weekend) were going to be cloudy and would therefor be spent on selecting and processing over 500 photo’s.

Day 1

My day started at 5.45am when I was wakened by the radio alarm, with Sectrets, by One Republic. I decided to get out of bed at 6.15am (I’m not a morning person, one of my biggest achievements of that day was actually getting up that early..). So, I put on 3 layers of cold clothes, which I kept outside overnight to loose their freshly washed scent, and started to fix breakfast (toast, fruit drink). I watched some cartoons on tv while eating and set off to a forest nearby. It was a 20-minute bike ride (mostly uphill) with 20kg’s of camera gear on my back and a portable hide hanging from my neck. Oh, and did I mention it was freezing? Pretty darn cold if only half an hour ago, you were lying underneath warm, cuddly bed sheets. Anyhow, there was a dense layer of fog hanging over the meadows and the birds were already singing their hearts out. I came close to my final destination, which was a big open forest with old trees and a great diversity of wild life. It was my intent to try and find that wild life before it would find me (and would run off in the opposite direction). Unfortunately I have to walk for about 5 minutes through the forest to get to the spot where I usually set up my hide. These 5 minutes are always quit nerve-racking, as I have to be sneaky and extremely watchful at the same time. The forest is inhabited by wild boar and around this time the females are giving birth to these cute little rascals. If I would, lets say, walk into a group of resting wild boar and come between the those little rascals and their mommies, these mommies would likely attack me. As I’m not a very big guy and those mommies outweigh me by a lot, it could get more interesting than I would have initially hoped for, especially with the before mentioned weight on my back and around my neck. So, after the 5 minute walk I ended up at my spot and set up my tent. I was greeted by an orchestra of singing birds, which were getting themselves ready for Spring. It was 6.45am by now and I was sweating profusely from carrying all that stuff around, making my scentless approach pretty useless. Anyhow, I installed my gear, got comfortable (for as far that’s possible in a tiny hide) and peeked through the openings in the tent to see if there was something worth taking pictures off. Nothing there yet, no deer, no wild boar, no squirrels. I decided to check my e-mails on my phone and have another go at Angry Birds level 2-15. Every now and then I took another peek through the hide openings to see what was happening in the world outside my tent. After looking around to the left and right, I suddenly heard the sound of cracking leaves and hoped it was a deer or wild boar. After a good look I saw two squirrels going up a tree and racing each other up and down. The one in the lead must have been the female since, also in the animal kingdom, the male has to race after the female to get some….. uh…. romance. Love was clearly in the air as the birds were doing the same thing with the males trying to impress the females with their loud singing. All these sights and noises made me realize that I too was looking forward to the upcoming Spring season. I always feel more alive during Spring and Summer, more energetic and positive. Anyways, so after the squirrels left my view, I suddenly saw a deer in the distance, walking closer and closer towards my hide, every now and then sniffing and licking at stuff. I was able to take some good pictures, even though the light was bad and I had to increase the ISO to get a reasonable shutter speed. My heart was pumping as the deer came closer and closer and I was wondering how close it would come before it started to notice my smell or the sound of the camera shutter.

Roe Deer

Unfortunately it started to walk a bit away from me and laid itself down behind some branches, 50 meters from my hide. I was still able to see her (the deer was female) and she kept moving her ears around, like little radars that continuously scanned the area around her for suspicious noises. After a while I saw here eyelids falling shut and guess she was ready for a nap. At the same time the sun rose above the pine trees, thereby lighting the fog that was slowly moving through the forest. The sunrays shining through were amazing! It really felt like I was in a fairytale. The deer was clearly fighting the sleep as the eyelids kept falling shut and slowly opened up again.

Roe Deer

After an hour or so, the deer stood up and walked away into the bushes. I could have sworn she yawned a bit before getting up though.
In the next 2 hours nothing interesting happened. Unfortunately, no wild boar today so I headed home, had lunch, and inspected the garden for some Spring flowers (crocus and snowdrops). I took some nice shots of the crocus flowers (most of which had already lost their full glory) but found the snowdrops to be a somewhat more difficult subject so I left them for day 2.

crocus macro

Day 1 ended with listening to Little Owls singing to each other under the night sky.

Until next time (so tomorrow with day 2)!

Blending in, Part I

This is the first part of two posts. The last two days have been quite successful for me because I took some shots which I regard as my best ‘animal’ work yet (see Part II later on). As I mentioned in my previous posts, I recently bought a special suit. I prefer a suit over a hide/tent because you are flexibel, you don’t have to set up (just get dressed in 1 minute), lay down on the ground, stand, and you can sneek around. With a tent you can do none of this. As long as you are not moving when there are animals around, everything is ok. When you move, they get suspicious and don’t know what to make of it.
I chose to write it all in 2 parts because I have so many pics to show.

First up is my encounter with a bunny and a very very very young deer (I call him/her Bambi but it’s not a white-tailed deer but a Roe deer). The rabbit was eating away at a bush on the way to my ‘hotspot’.
rabbit / bunny
The young deer is a different story. I just put on my suit and was walking through the long grass. I suddenly saw this young deer laying on the ground. I couldn’t believe me eyes! I almost stepped on it. I took a few quick shots and got out of there, not to scare away its mother. Important not to touch the animals since they might get rejected by their mother. Amazing and rare moment:
young deer

anyways.. my ballhead has been send to the manufacturer in Germany and based on the photo’s I showed them they said they’ll probably do a direct exchange of the head. Lets hope they do! Soon!

No real Nikon news to report this time. More will be known around July/August I think.

Sneak Preview!.

Until Part II! (Tomorrow)