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!

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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…

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!

Warming up for Spring

In the last few weeks I have been warming up for Spring, literally since the weather has been quite cold and rainy. Fortunately there were some sunny moments now and then which allowed me to go walkabout and scout new locations. I was hoping for some nice quality time with King Fishers but they apparently had a very tough winter meaning that only 1 pair is busy with building their love shack. This means that I have to find something else to photograph in May (my month off). Lets hope for the best (which would be to see the bee eaters return once more).

Now for some new photo’s!

This is what the Netherlands is famous for! Large tulip fields and cloudy skies:
Tulips

The next one is of an Osprey, a bird quite rare for the Netherlands. What’s even more rare is to see this awesome bird plummeting into the river to catch a fish at just 30 meters away from you. A nice camera with a tele lens attached would also come in handy of course ;). Luckily all those things came together and I positioned myself right in de middle of it. What an awesome sight!
Osprey

Next up are some Swan shots:
Swan

Swan

Swan

That’s it for this post. I hope May proves to have some nice warm weather and I’ll probably go after wild boar, the usual garden birds, and the beaver. But you never know what happens so maybe it’ll be the bee eaters again..

Until next time!

So it begins…

The title points to the start of a new season. A season full of color, sweet scents and (hopefully) good weather. We recently had some very nice and warm spring weather causing all sorts of plants to pop their heads out of the soil and start showing off their gorgeous vivid colors. An excellent time to go out and about with my camera. The following shots have been taken in the past two weeks and I must say I’m quite satisfied with them. I’ve had to endure mud on my clothes, face, and camera, but somehow I also managed to overlook a nice pile of sheep shit when taking photos of little lambs. Luckily only my clothes were harmed in that operation.

Anyways.. here we go:
blossom

Something new, something blue:
blue bokeh

The culprit of my ‘smelly’ clothes:
lamb

On another note: Unfortunately today I had to burry a Tawny Owl (bosuil in Dutch) that had died in my neighbors barn. He called me today that he had found a dead owl in his barn and if I was interested in taking some shots of it and burry it. Very unfortunate death since these birds are absolutely stunning (and very soft/cuddly!) but just as life, death is also a part of nature. Luckily my Little Owls (in Dutch Steenuil) seem to be ok and are hopefully able to give birth to some little fur balls later in June.

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)!

The music of the Forest

And now for my yearly Fall post! I try do different things each year but I’m always drawn back to 1 or 2 sites which have never left me down. I’ve discovered the secret to sun ray photography and boy, is Fall a good season for that! Mushroom shots are still on my to do list but I haven’t had the time for that unfortunately. So what have I been up to?

Fall color
Amazing view this was! There’s a small window of just a few days in which all the trees reach their full color potential. The sun is essential as well of course.

Fall sun rays
One of my favorites! Amazing leaf colors.

sun rays
Looks like a harp right?

sun rise
Gorgeous sunrise. I cropped it to 2×1 for a more panoramic view.

Please have a look at more of my recent shots.

Until next time!