Category Archives: New pictures

Summer at its end

After my adventures with the Banded demoiselles, fun was not over yet. We are so blessed over here in the Netherlands with the presence of the Banded darters. Together with the Banded demoiselles these are, in my opinion, the most beautiful dragonflies we have over here. It is a small species with a red colored body of the male and a more brown colored body of the female. Both sexes have a brown band across each wing. It is in particular these brown bands that make these dragonflies so special and recognizable.

I was eager to see the Banded darters again this year, after my first encounter with them last year. But I have to admit, I was surprised by the difficulty to find them in first instance. While I found them in the top of the vegetation last year, this year often they were found more close to the ground. As photogenic they eventually are, setting in the vegetation they can be really inconspicuous. Dewy mornings turned out to be the most successful. With their wings covered with dewdrops they are better traced and found.

On top of my wishing list there were the more atmospheric pictures with back light, with the Banded darter in its natural habitat and lit by the morning sun. This is not as easy as it sounds however. I had to visit the area many times, starting before sunrise of course, to finally witness some warm colored sunrises. I was happy!

And yes, I had to try a shot with dew/rain drops. Seen so many times in other photographs, I wanted to take my own one for once. In this case, a spray bottle added some magical dewdrops as ingredients.

For me as a photographer, the actual moment of sunrise is both magical and stressful. The warm light is overwhelming and seen the fact it only last a few minutes, I have to act really fast. I have to know what I want to shoot. There is no time to doubt, because the magical light might be gone before I know it. In this case I chose to go for a more detailed picture of the beautiful and distinctive wings of the dragonfly. But even knowing this it still is hard working. With the sun as back light I set my focusing on manual and my exposure on aperture priority. Manual focusing because these lightening conditions are often too hard for the macro lens to handle. Aperture priority because the size of the aperture controls the size of the sun in this case.

While somehow the Banded darters invite me to take back light pictures, I also wanted something else. No sun in front, but in the back this time. As I often practice this technique with flowers, I never used it with the Darters. Still, there is a first time for everything. So with the sun behind me and the Banded darter kept carefully in the shadow by using my own shade in combination with an umbrella, I took the next photograph. The background is lit by the sun and the painterly effect is caused by vegetation in front of the lens.

I love to play with sharpness versus unsharpness. It is so much fun to do. Macro at its best when only one tiny detail is sharp and leaves the rest of the picture in a kind of abstract form. I know it is a Banded darter, but in fact it doesn’t matter in this picture.

Now the Banded darters are gone. Also meaning summer has ended. I had so much fun shooting them, can’t wait to see them again next year. I’ll comfort myself with the last one, one of my favorites.


Summer at its best

Seen my latest post with new pictures already dates from some while ago, I feel I owe you something. So I decided to update you with my most recent shots of the Banded Demoiselle together with a little look behind the scenes.

You might know I needed some time to adapt again to the Netherlands and its nature after my holiday to Costa Rica earlier this year. Costa Rica, land of colors and abundance of so many different kind of animals and plants. Photographic challenges everywhere you look. Back here it seemed I had to look so much harder to notice any photographic subjects. Now, a few months later you don’t hear me complaining anymore. We might not have this abundance in nature, but what we have is great!

Think for example about the Banded Demoiselle. Such a beautiful damselfly with colored wings. The male has a dark blue/black band across the central portion of his wings while his body colour is metallic blue/green. The female has iridescent pale green wings and her body is green with a bronze tip. Their flight is butterfly-like and it is specially the flight of the male, for example in an attempt to conquer a female, that fascinates me.

My photographic journey starts in the morning when the damselflies are still resting and sleeping. This is the perfect time to approach them at close distance because they won’t fly away.

When temperature rises the damselflies become more and more active. Depending on the weather they act differently. When it’s sunny and warm they are extremely active with their mating behavior. The males are showing territorial behavior and are constantly on the lookout for females. When it’s cloudy there is much less activity. Photographing this activity is a new challenge for me. Obviously it means I temporarily have to forget about my beloved macro lens and I have to switch to the télé lenses. Also I must be very careful with my equipment when I go into the water to take pictures from just above the water level. Using a float turned out to be very helpful.

This is the part where I have to warn you: Do not try this at home! Meaning: put on your waders before you go into the water! What happened? During a similar action my boyfriend was harassed by larvae of the leaf worm. Apparently they can penetrate into the skin without being noticed ore felt. But when they die the body shows an allergic reaction in the form of severe itching lumps, lasting for more than a week. I suppose I was very lucky not being bitten during this shoot…

Of course now with my waders on… Not looking very feminine, but hey who cares…

And then there are the shoots from the shore. Trying to capture the flight of the beautiful males.

It seems the Banded Demoiselles have now almost all disappeared (at least at my spotting place). I can’t believe how fast they have gone. Reminds me summer is almost over… But no worries, there are lots of other subjects to find… Stay tuned!

A first touch of orchids

Yes, I have photographed orchids before in the past. There have been some accidental encounters. And of course I have had my moments of joy during photo trips after finding some of them during a more ‘planned’ search. But somehow this year these enchanting flowers really touched me deeply for the first time. Can’t explain why. I just felt the urge to make something more of it, while I didn’t really knew what that meant. So I guess I am exploring and I like it! These four pictures are only the beginning and I am really curious what will come next…

Sometimes you just have a little bit of luck. This was the case in the picture below. While making my composition I noticed something black crawling through my main subject, the Man orchid. I thought about changing my focus to another orchid but I didn’t. Then the black beetle showed itself in his way up to the top of the orchid. At that moment it was a matter of fast thinking and handling. I know sometimes an insect crawls to the top of the flower to use it as a take-off into the big big world. While secretly hoping this would happen just now my heart was beating some extra times… Still I had to concentrate while changing my focus to the insect which was constantly moving. Most of the times I use manual focusing, and certainly now this was the right choice. Nevertheless it is so difficult to keep the insect sharp while it is going everywhere. Before I knew it he was on top of the orchid and within seconds it had flown away. Just as I wanted but of course it all happened too fast. I was convinced none of my pictures would be sharp. Certainly not the one where the beetle spread its wings before take-off. Can you image my happiness when I discovered this one?

Although lately I have a slight preference for placing my subject in its environment by taking a little distance and thereby making it a little bit smaller in the entire picture, these orchids invited me to come close. And they are surely worth it. Of course some orchids are famous because of their recognizable human or animal figures, but to see this yourself is  a whole new discovery.

The man orchid is very inconspicuous when walking through the fields. Surely for someone as me who is still relatively inexperienced in the search for orchids. Even when this species was finally noticed by me it didn’t thrill me immediately. This changed while I looked through my viewfinder. Again there was this enchantment when I discovered a human figure in this orchid.

Finally I want to show you a close-up of the Lesser butterfly-orchid. This one I have already seen and photographed in the past. Now it invited me to come close again. While keeping the flower in the shadow the background is lit by the warm sunlight. The white flower turns into a soft blue shade because it’s in the shadow while the background is turning into a warm yellow tone because it’s in the sun. I like playing with these shade versus sunlight situations.

Common Toad

I did not realize that the Common Toad could cause me so much fun. It was only when I was more or less forced photographing them, by lack of the presence of the Moor Frog which was my initial photographic goal, that I discovered their beauty.

Normally I am not so fond of photographing in the middle of the day, with the sun shining bright and giving me no opportunities to get my subject in the shadow. Still, when you’re out there, you’ve got to do something. So I took a chance and crawled on the shore with my viewfinder and telelens, attempting to shoot this Common Toad with the sun behind me. This way there were no disturbing shades on the little amphibian. And then I am always looking for something to fill the foreground. Some reed came in handy!

The Common Toads were not only busy in the water for breeding purposes. Some of them had the job done already and were getting out of the water, to continue their lifes on land again. Ideal situations to take completely other pictures.

And then finally there was this one Toad which posed for me in my favorite evening light. In contrast to earlier that day when his fellow Common Toads were a little bit shy, he just sat there and let me come close. What a joy!


Back into the fields…

In some ways it has been a weird winter for me. Meaning I have been very busy with my photography, but not as you might expect outside in the fields, but mainly indoors behind the pc and attending photo festivals. That’s the other side of the job I guess… How to get your pictures out there. For example I have been working like crazy to get finally this new website online.  Then  ofcourse there was my very first exposition in the Katholische Akademie in Cloppenburg, a magical moment if I may say so. And finally there was my first big national performance during the Macro PiXperience in Amsterdam.

And then… suddenly springtime was there. But more important: Finally I had my head clear to focus on its inviting macro subjects. So… off I went back into the fields again. And there I found myself on an early morning during sunrise between the Haircap moss… Now surely you would think I would be happy as a child and over the moon laying there in the middle of one of my favorite macro subjects. But.. unfortunately this was not the case, at least not in the very first few hours. The thing was, it was cold, so very cold. The only thing I really was thinking about was my very warm bed which now seemed so far away. But… persistence wins, at least in this case. After a while the increasingly warmth of the sun had a positive influence on my body, mind, and therefore also on my pictures. Finally… my macro lens was my friend again and it felt like coming home after a long time of absence.