2014

The year in four pictures

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The year in four pictures taken in the four seasons of 2014. Above a Startrail over a pine tree in the Veluwe nature reserve at the end of winter. Below, a picture of a foggy morning in the Hallerbos in Belgium. Next, a Kingfisher overlooking a small pond in summer. And last, a group of Red Deer during an early morning walk in the Veluwe nature reserve in Autumn.

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Autumn Cranes

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Migrating Common Cranes or Eurasian Cranes (Grus Grus) during Autumn in Germany. Each year the Cranes migrate from Scandinavia to Spain and Mrocco following the same route more or less. A short video:

Speulder- and Sprielder forest

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One of my favorite locations to visit in the Fall is the Speulder- and Sprielder forest at the Veluwe in the Netherlands. The old Beech trees have such nice shapes that are especially interesting during an early foggy morning. Here are some pics form my most recent visit, when there was some fog, but also some sunlight.

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Early morning Autumn fog

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Driving home last night it was the fields were already covered in a thick layer of fog. So this morning I decided to go out and see if there would still be some fog around during sunrise. I witnessed a foggy sunrise in the Scherenwelle nature reserve near the village of Wilsum on the river IJssel. One of the nice things about fog, besides adding an almost mystical atmosphere, is that it removes unwanted busy backgrounds in your pictures. Here are a few pics from this morning.

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Autumn morning in the Vecht Valley

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Autumn has finally fallen over the valley of the river Vecht in the Dutch Overijssel province. Last week I experienced a beautiful sunrise early in the morning. These pictures were taken near the Vechterweerd (second and third) dam and Rechteren (first and last ones).

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Red Deer

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Summer’s come to and end. Autumn is about to kick off. Time for the rutting season for the Red Deer. The Stags are bellowing, while the hinds are quietly grazing in the Heather fields that are still blossoming.

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Kingfisher

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This little bird has been on my wish list for years now. But I’m not a proper birdwatcher, so I only make pictures like this when the I have the opportunity. These Kingfishers have their nest pretty close to where I live, so I went out and gave it a try.
I set up my gear and only had to wait for about 10 seconds before the first Kingfisher showed itself. After that, every 15-20 one of the two Kingfisher came by with a delivery of fresh fish.

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A short video of the pair of Kingfishers:

Early morning fog in the Hallerbos

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Each year, the grounds in the Hallerbos near Brussels turn blue in spring as thousands of Bluebells are blossoming beneath the Beech trees. We were lucky enough to visit the forest one early morning when a light fog was hanging in between the Beech trees. The result was a mystical atmosphere, almost fairy tale like.

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I’ve also made a short video about the Hallerbos Bluebells:



Seljalandsfoss before and after

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A picture of the Seljalandsfoss waterfall in Iceland. I made this picture using a ND filter so the exposure time went up to 6 seconds. But the photo above is not how it came out of the camera.

This was the original image:
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It was a rainy and stormy day with a haze of fine water droplets in the air. They somehow all choose my ND filter as a landing spot so I ended up with a picture that looked a little bit foggy and dull. My first idea was to delete the image. But I decided to see if the image could be improved by using some filters from the Nik collection. I mainly used the tonal contrast filter in Nik Color Efex Pro 4 to recover some of the detail midtones and shadows. Next up was a little boost of color in the greens and a graduated ND filter to put a little bit of drama in the sky. Overall I’m really impressed with what you can achieve by moving a couple of sliders around and I don’t regret not deleting the original image.

Star Trail, the making of

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A Star Trail shot of the stars rotating around the Pole Star in the North.

After some cloudy nights the sky finally opened up together so I headed out in the evening to try and make a star trail shot. I made one before at Schiermonnikoog, but I didn’t have my full frame camera and ultra wide angle at that time. Now I did, so I came fully prepared for the shot.

The pole star is approximately aligned with the Earth's axis of rotation so it serves as a rotating point for all the other stars when you set your camera to a long exposure. For a nice shot with stars in a circle you need to face North (if you’re above the Equator). Finding a spot that doesn’t suffer from too much light pollution is pretty hard here in The Netherlands, but I had some ideas on where to go.
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The day before I went to this location, a lonely tree on top of a sand dune in the small nature reserve called ‘De Haere’. The area is owned by the nature preservation organization ‘Geldersch Landschap’ and is not accessible after sunset. So after finding a location first thing I did was ask permission to enter the nature reserve in the evening.

Next step was to put some tea in a thermos flask and head out the door for a couple of hours. At the location I first made some high ISO test shots to choose a composition and see what the ambient light was doing. On the horizon you can clearly see the glow of the town of Elburg in the distance, so I decided to pick a shutter time of about ten minutes with an aperture of f/11 at ISO100.
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After setting up the camera with 16mm ultra wide angle lens on a tripod with a remote, I chose the bulb mode option and set up the timer on my phone. After the first press of the shutter release the long wait could start. In total I made 11 shots of 10 minute long exposures. During this time I saw 10.000 airplanes, one shooting star and a really clear meteorite.

At home I edited one of the 11 photos and synchronized the other 10 with the first one in Lightroom. I openend the 11 photos as layers in Photoshop and checked the image for unwanted spots. Unfortunately, the 10.000 airplanes left their trace.
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On each layer there were dots and stripes that were not stars but airplane lights and airplane trails. So I edited these out in each layer and then finally I could blend the images together in one layer using the ‘lighten’ option. After some fine tuning on color and contrast using Nik Color Efex Pro the final images was done.

The final image is for sale as royalty free stockphoto at Getty Images

Sunset at the lake

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A sunset on a monday afternoon in winter. This location is rather close to where I live and is a new nature reserve used by various waterbirds (100s of swans). I can’t wait to get my kayak out again in summer to paddle in between the small islands and lagunes.

I used a 9-stop Neutral Density filter to smoothen the water surface and a graduated ND filter to even out the light from the sky and the foreground. Combined this resulted in a shutter speed of 13 seconds at iso 100 and f/11 at 24mm.

Winter at the Wadden

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Every year I have to visit the Wadden nature reserve and preferably the island of Schiermonnikoog. Usually I’m going during wintertime because it is less crowded and you have nicer light (but also bigger chance of bad weather). Here are some pics from this year’s trip. Above is a sunset above the Westerstrand on the North side of the Island, close to the lighthouse (below).

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Another sunset over the sandflats at the beach on the North Sea side of the island. This panorama consists of three photographs taken right after the sun had set and stitched together in Photoshop.

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A star trail at night above the beacon in the Kobbeduinen. An experiment and first test in star trails. It’s hard to find spots in The Netherlands without light pollution, but this remote part of the island is a good location. I was afraid the lighthouse beam would still be visible, but that proved to be no problem at all.