The day after my first encounter with Milky Way photography I decided to return to the exact same location for some sunset photography, back into my comfort zone. Although, living in the flattest country in the world, photographing around sunset or sunrise in a mountainous environment like Zion NP isn’t actually that much of a comfort zone.

As usual I arrived well before sunset and took my time to explore the location. Unlike the night before, I could now actually see potential subjects. While finding my compositions, the guide that took us on the night photography workshop showed up with someone who was just learning all about landscape photography. While taking a couple of shots I was wondering if we would actually get some interesting light at all or that the cloud cover was just too thick. And then after a while colours started to show and I immediately knew: it’s game on! A quick look at the guide and her student… they left…

I had already made up my mind for my favourite composition here so I positioned my tripod, got the right filters, created the composition and while the colours were quickly intensifying I started exposing. And then all of a sudden it happened: the sky was full of beautiful colours that perfectly blended with the intense colours of the Zion NP rocks. I kept exposing and went for a few different compositions. It just lasted a few minutes and then the moment was gone. Luckily I adhered to one of the first lessons in landscape photography I learned: never leave early. It got me that amazing feeling: Got it!

Early June I was in the US for a conference and was able to stay in the region a few more days. I went to Zion National Park where I had my first encounter with Milky Way photography. It’s amazing how bright the Milky Way appears in dark areas like Zion.
These photos were taken close to the Virgin river. The mountains are subtly lit by the lights from the town of Springdale.
I learned a lot this night and would really like to give it another go one day once I find some dark enough location again.

Begin juni was ik in de VS voor een conferentie. Na afloop ben ik nog enkele dagen naar Zion National Park gegaan om te fotograferen. Daar had ik mijn eerste kennismaking met het fotograferen van de melkweg. Prachtig om de melkweg zo helder te kunnen zien op een donkere locatie zoals Zion.
Deze foto’s zijn dichtbij de Virgin rivier gemaakt. De bergtoppen worden subtiel verlicht door het nabijgelegen dorpje Springdale.
Ik heb een hoop geleerd in deze nacht en ga het zeker vaker proberen. Nu op zoek naar voldoende donkere locaties.

Milky Way - Zion National Park


January 9, 2016

Vrijdag besloot ik, op basis van de weersverwachtingen, om de volgende ochtend mijn eerste landschapsfotografie activiteit van 2016 te ondernemen. De locatie werd Zoutkamp. Toen ik zaterdagochtend wakker werd zagen de voorspellingen er helemaal niet meer zo goed uit, maar toch maar op pad. Eenmaal buiten had ik ook mijn twijfels. Na verloop van tijd worden de eerste kleine beetjes licht zichtbaar en blijkt er in elk geval de nodige tekening in de lucht te zitten. Het schouwspel dat zich uiteindelijk voor mijn ogen voltrok overtrof mijn verwachtingen ruimschoots. Deze foto’s zijn voor mij het bewijs waarom je ook bij twijfel over de omstandigheden, toch gewoon op pad moet gaan!

Golden sunrise - Zoutkamp, NL

Na een kop koffie bij de plaatselijke bakker na afloop was er niets meer wat wees op een mooie ochtend, de wereld was weer grijs….

Yesterday I went for an early morning landscape photography session in Drentsche Aa national park. The day before I visited the area and found some potentially nice locations. The weather forecast looked quite ok; retreating clouds followed by sunshine. 6:00 o’clock sharp I left home and drove towards Oudemolen. The closer I came, the more it became clear I would be facing quite a bit of mist. Nice!

And mist it was. A lot of mist actually and no clouds at all. So much for the weather forecast… I brought two additional tools this morning: my bike and a proper flashlight. And I was happy to have both. The Drentsche Aa region is quite extensive so a bike really helps you out there. And in the dark, in the mist, on a bike a flashlight is a must! When I arrived at the previously spotted location I turned the flashlight off and gave my eyes a bit of time to get used to the darkness. It was still another hour until sunrise so I took the time to explore various compositions and drink a cup of coffee. I love it being out there on such moments, simply enjoying nature in utter silence.

While sunrise came closer I exposed a couple of times but also notices some clouds rolling in from the east. Unfortunately they blocked the sun and eventually it turned out they would keep doing so until around 10 o’clock. It was a nice morning with few ‘ok’ exposures.

For the way back I decided to pick a route along which I would see some more of the region, spotting locations for future photography sessions. For some odd reason, when I was already getting closer to the carpark, I took a wrong path but before I realised I was treated with a special surprise. I quickly parked my bike and got my camera out of the bag. The deer and I kept on looking at each other for a few minutes and it allowed me to shoot it (the only right way!) from different angles.

Ree in heideveld - Drentsche Aa

With a happy feeling I figured out the fastest way back to the car and decided to get back to the Drentsche Aa soon.

September 7, 2015

Due to the mix of rain and sunshine we have frequently seen dramatic skies around sunset lately. Last Thursday all signs indicated it would be another great evening. I decided to capture the sunset in “De Onlanden”, a wet nature area just southwest of the city of Groningen and adjacent to the Leekstermeer.

Door het wisselvallige weer hebben we de afgelopen tijd regelmatig dramatische luchten rond zonsondergang. Zo ook afgelopen donderdag. Ik besloot de zonsondergang vast te leggen in De Onlanden, een nat natuurgebied net ten zuidwesten van de stad Groningen en grenzend aan het Leekstermeer.

August 17, 2015

Technical details:

  • Canon 5D Mark III with Canon EF 16-35 F2.8
  • 16mm, f/16, iso 100, 2.5s
  • Lee 0.9 ND hard grad

It’s Saturday evening, 19:45, when I quickly get into the car for a fifteen minute drive to a location called Harssensbosch. Once I’ve left the city and thus have a clear view on the sky I immediately get excited. It’s that kind of excitement I haven’t experienced for a while: I’m on my for a sunset photography session and conditions look very promising!

After the quick drive I park the car, put on my sturdy walking shoes, put my camera bag on my back and start walking towards that single farm in the open fields: Harssensbosch. With several sheep sheepishly looking at me I quickly walk on; colours are already starting to appear in the sky while serious clouds add a lot of drama to the scene.

As usual, I did quite a bit of preparation so I had a couple of compositions in mind beforehand. There’s no time for coffee, I immediately setup my tripod and camera and start exposing. The light is changing quickly, asking quite a bit of flexibility from me. There’s that short moment the sun sinks below the clouds, just above the horizon. Wow! I expose a couple of times and get a great smile on my face while looking at my camera’s display. Then I quickly move on to the small bridge just a little further along the path. I precisely position the tripod and determine my composition. Then a series of exposures again. There’s great light and great drama going on in the sky!

After a couple of shots I stop for a while and stand straight up. While enjoying the scene I realise how quiet it is around me. Really quiet. And I’m only some 6km (as the crow flies) away from the heart of the city of Groningen. I’m lucky enough to live in and enjoy this fabulous province in The Netherlands. Then a couple of exposures and different compositions again.

Wow, that was very exciting. Let’s relax and enjoy the moment and the feeling of having a couple of promising images on my memory card. Now is the perfect time for a cup of coffee…

Sunset at Harssensbosch II, Groningen, NL

Technical details:

  • Canon 5D Mark III with Canon EF 16-35 F2.8
  • 16mm, f/16, iso 100, 1.3s
  • Lee 0.9 ND hard grad

Harssensbosch is a very small patch of nature managed by Stichting Het Groninger Landschap (Dutch).

In The Netherlands the best period for enjoying autumn colours would typically be the last two weeks of October and the first week of November. So when a fellow photographer suggested to go capture some autumn colours on the first of November, I thought his timing was perfect! Agreements made, photo equipment all packed and alarm clocks set to silly o’clock.

Only then I realised autumn was very early this year. My excitement on the perfect timing declined a bit. Nature just does not exactly follow any calendars. Then again, it is always fun to be out there on early mornings. We found a nice location near “De Slotplaats”, Bakkeveen, Frisia, NL. So we went there and found our way through the dark forest to a small basin.

As always we started looking around and making up our minds on possible compositions, then slowly but surely we setup our equipment and started experimenting and exposing. It was a very clear morning which helped us to pretty quickly being able to see more of our surroundings and its colours. And that first little bit of light got the excitement fully started again. There were still beautiful autumn colours around us….

October 12, 2014

Alarm bells ring at 5:15. Time to get up. Yes, finally had the opportunity to go on a dawn patrol again!
Together with a couple of fellow photographers I visited the heath area around Havelte, located in the Dutch province of Drenthe. More specific, we visited the dolmens built there over 5000 years ago.

While discussing our plan for dawn patrol the day before, we figured it would be great if a little bit of mist would create a nice atmosphere. Not sure what went wrong, but there was not just a little bit of mist, there was a huge amount of mist completely hiding the sun all morning. This encouraged us to get creative to try and make the best of it.

It was great being out there again on an early morning!

Interested in learning a bit more about these unique piles of huge stones we call “hunebedden” in Dutch? Check this website.

Very close to home I witnessed and photographed the blue hour at the Reitdiep Haven. This is a very recent part of the city of Groningen, situated in the North-West. It’s well-known because of the bright-coloured houses.

Siberian conditions in the Netherlands today. While it’s spring already for a couple of days, temperatures are still below zero. Add sturdy winds and you’ll get very cold mornings that feel like -15 degrees.

Still, we can have great sunrises on such days. Check out the link below for some more!

– National Park Lauwersmeer, Frisia, NL

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