2013

A rare sighting: the Hawk Owl

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A few weeks ago, a forester from Zwolle, The Netherlands post a rare sighting on Twitter. He’d seen a Hawk Owl or Northern Hawk Owl sitting on a lamppost in Zwolle. The news was picked up by the media and the next day bird watchers from all over The Netherlands came to Zwolle to have a look at the little owl and possibly take a picture. Although the Hawk Owl is a unusual visitor, he normally lives in the northern holarctic, he seems to feel right at home, as he’s still there, a few weeks after the first sighting.

Last week, when the weather was good, I headed out to make a short video of the Hawk Owl. I used the Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 with a 1.7 converter and the Nikon V1 camera (for the 2.7 crop factor). The Hawk Owl is constantly surrounded by large numbers of bird paparazzi, but he doesn’t seem to mind all the attention. As long as he can catch a mouse every now and then he’s happy.



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A colorful sunset

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Dramatic sunsets. I love them. Especially in autumn and winter. Last friday, when driving home, I decided to take a little detour. I ended up at the ‘Renderklippen’, an area in the Veluwe nature reserve in The Netherlands with small hills covered in Heather plants. There was some mist coming from the ground, giving the landscape a mysterious atmosphere.

I used a Hitech ND grad filter to make sure the sky and lower parts of the landscape received an even exposure. When using these filters I always use a tripod because you end up with exposure times of around half a second during sunsets like these (iso 100). You could of course choose for a higher iso level, but in my experience mist and high iso levels are no friends.


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Autumn - random Veluwe pictures

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Some random autumn images from October landscapes in the Veluwe nature reserve. Although the leaves are still a bit green, the light has turned softer, which I prefer while doing landscape photography. Above is the Leuvenum Creek during a sunny early morning. I used a ND filter to smoothen the water surface in the creek and a tripod to compensate for the long exposure.

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Hulshorsterzand sunrise

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Path through Beech trees with mist in the Speulder and Sprielder forest.

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Fallen Beech tree in the Speulder and Sprielder forest.

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Beech trees with haze in the Speulder and Sprielder forest.

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Sunset over the plains in the Veluwe nature reserve near Apeldoorn.

Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

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Again Iceland. This time images from the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon a large glacial lake in southeast Iceland, on the borders of Vatnajökull National Park. Icebergs from the glacier are floating and melting in the lagoon until they are small enough to float out to the Atlantic. With the changes of tides the icebergs float either in or out of the lake, with a lot of force. So it’s an ideal place to just take a seat and watch the landscape change in front of your eyes.

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Floating Icebergs from Sjoerd van der Wal on Vimeo.



Jökulsárlón lava beach

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The Jökulsárlón lake in Iceland is a Glacier lagoon filled with icebergs. The lagoon is directly connected to the ocean, so with the tide the icebergs float in and out of the lagoon. Some of the icebergs get washed up on the black lava sand beach near the entrance of the lagoon. As they melt away, the most beautiful abstract works of natural art are sculpted with each wave that hits the icebergs.

For some images of the icebergs in the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon you can check out the Iceland series here.

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Frozen icebird

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Waves during sunrise.

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I call this “Prelude To Wet Feet”.

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Crystal clear ice.

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Haifoss waterfall

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Iceland, land of fire and ice….and waterfalls. A lot of waterfalls. All with their own characteristics. Some of them are easily accessible, like the famous Skogafoss or the Seljandfoss, resulting in numerous toursists walking in front of your lens. So one of the reasons I like the Haifoss is that it is not easy to get to. You can hike to it from below, which is nice a 6 hour walk. Or you can drive to the top by 4x4 on a really bumpy road. But when you get there, the view is simply astonishing. For the above picture I took seven pictures with a ND grad filter, which were later put together in Photoshop as a panorama.

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A Summer's Day

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Last saturday the weather forecast showed an approaching thunder storm in the early afternoon. So I went out to capture the incoming storm over the nearby Flevoland landscape. After two minutes after making the above panorama picture (5 photos stitched together) the sky went black and heavy rain came falling down. So I hurried back to the car and went home.

Although the rest of the afternoon the light outdoors was pretty dull, just before sunset it became interesting again. I made a panorama of my hometown from a spot on the city bridge that I use often. After the sun set and I thought it was time to go home but I decided to take a little detour to see if the lakes at Kampereiland would still be interesting to shoot. That’s where I made the third picture, a panorama of the serene landscape.

Now it was really time to go home and relax. But just after I went to bad a huge thunderstorm broke loose. So I found myself at 02.30 at night standing under a bridge trying to capture some lightning bolts. So there you have it. Four pictures made on the same day (ok, technically the last one was made the next day).

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Zwartendijk

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Sometimes you don’t have to travel far to capture some beauty in nature. These photos were all taken within two kilometers of my house in Kampen, at the Zwartendijk. I used ND grad filters to get a better light balance between the sky and the foreground and of course a tripod to avoid camera shake.

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IJssel sunset

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Finally! A nice colorful sunset to give my new set of ND Grad filters a test drive. Both pictures were taken in the delta of the river IJssel, between the cities of Kampen en Zwolle in The Netherlands. Just before and just after sunset. The pictures are panorama’s consisting of 4-5 different photos, stitched together in Photoshop.


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Leuvenum Creek

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The Leuvenum Creek (Leuvenumse Beek of Hierdense Beek) is a small creek running through the Veluwe forest towards the Lake Veluwe. The creek has been canalized in the past to improve the flow of water for the paper industry, but nowadays the creek is flowing in a more natural way. For these pictures I used a ND filter and a polarizer to achieve long exposures for making the water surface smooth with some traces of motion (floating leaves).

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Bluebell Forest

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Last week I visited the small nature reserve “Wildrijk” in North-Holland to photograph the Wild Hyacinth or Bluebell flowers. Although I do not do a lot of macro photography it is great fun to flat lay on the ground and search for compositions. For these images I used a 60mm macro lens and a 70-200 telelens with an extension tube to be able to come closer to the flowers.


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Fritillary

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Each year in spring, the fields around the river IJssel are covered in beautiful purple and white Fritillary or Snake's Head Fritillary. This year, spring came late, but thet Fritillary are blossoming in great numbers at the moment. The above picture was taken using a wide angle lens at 16mm with a low viewpoint. The other pictures were taken with a 60mm macro lens, shooting directly into the setting sun. Because these flower are rare and fragile I did not enter the field they were in, but stayed on the border and took most photographs from a ditch surrounding the field.

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Schiermonnikoog Lighthouse

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Last February, like almost every year, I visited the island of Schiermonnikoog in the Waddensea region in the north of The Netherlands. Each time I visit the island, I have to take some pictures of the lighthouse. I love its classic design and red color and its location is really pitoresque with two small cottages nearby. This year I went out in the evening to see if I could capture the light of the lighthouse. Although it was freezing cold I took a series of pictures of which the above is an example. I love the way the light beams are pointing in different directions and how you can see the path through the dunes leading to the lighthouse. On the horizon you can see a bit of ‘light pollution’ coming from the island’s village. For this picture I used a tripod and remote shutter to avoid camera shake.

Here’s another picture of the lighthouse I took during summer last year. It’s taken almost from the same position in the dunes.
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Stavoren

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Searching for a nice location to do some long exposure shots, I ended up in town of Stavoren on the on the shore of Lake IJsselmeer in Friesland. The harbor entrance with its red and green light beacons and rocks on the dykes looked like a prefect location, so I set up my camera with a tripod and got my filters out of the bag. Than I had to wait for the sun to set on this warm and calm early March (!) afternoon. When the sun was setting I walked around looking for nice compositions and I ended up taking the above picture. I used a ND and ND grad filter to make the water smooth and the sky dramatic.

A few hours earlier, I took this picture on the dyke between Stavoren and Hindeloopen.

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Old shed

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During a visit to the island of Texel, the weather hadn’t decided yet if it was spring or winter, if it was sunshine or snowing. This resulted in some dramatic landscapes with dark skies combined with sunlight.

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Arctic Wad

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Sheets of ice flakes in the Waddensea at Schiermonnikoog.