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!

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…

Do you see what I see?

As promised in my previous post, some more pics of the last few weeks. I really like the one with the damselflies (in Dutch waterjuffer) since it is more than just a photo. It is amusing, funny, and makes you think about what they were looking at. Have a look. My title is: “Do you see what I see?”
damselfly

Up next is a relaxing one with very warm colors. I really like the abstractness in this one.
abstract green yellow

Another one in the same field. I’m experimenting with the red poppy’s (Dutch: klaproos).
abstract green yellow

And here’s the sleeping bird. It was just taking a nap on the middle of a dirt road on the grass.
abstract green yellow

And finally a Kestrel:
kestrel

Happy shootings and until next time!

A swift and exciting encounter in the woods

Yesterday morning, 8.30 am. Walking through the forest looking for deer. Trying to blend in with the surroundings with my suit on. I suddenly saw something big in the distance and I had to look through the lens to see that it was a wild boar! I knew they can be dangerous, especially with young, so I was a little hesitant to go any closer.. strangely enough 1 minute later I was sneaking towards it ;). It then disappeared and I decided to wait behind a big tree. I stood there waiting, a little bit nervous, when all of a sudden two large adults and 5 or 6 young ones came running through the woods. I was really getting nervous now because this took place 15-20 meters from me, and the tree I was standing behind was not very climbable. So if they spotted me, and decided I was a threat, I was seriously screwed. I wanted to walk away but realized they would probably hear/see me then. So I decided to stay put behind the tree and see if I could take some shots. I took quite a few, also realizing that they could hear my clicking (D300 is loud.. a little bit too loud for my taste). There were also some branches and bushes in the way so not all shots were sharp and great. After a few minutes they headed off into some bushes and I could stop shaking :p. But for a first/second encounter I thought it went well. Have a look:
wild boar / wild zwijn

Anyways.. I also took some shots of a deer and Mr. Woodpecker.
woodpecker / specht

roe deer / ree

And this older one of a kingfisher who decided to have a snack at my pond at home. Magnificent little birds.
kingfisher / ijsvogel

My ballhead has been repaired by Markins but is at the moment still in transit. I expect it to arrive tomorrow. Markins service is excellent btw!!
Today I also took part in a nature photography workshop which was part of a nature festival. It was given by Lars Soerink.

No Nikon news.. sorry. Hopefully in my next post (you’re taking your time Nikon.. hurry up!). Next post will also contain little swans, a kestrel, and a cute little bird sleeping on the ground.

Until next time!