In this story, I want to show you some of the images I took during the first 2 weeks of lockdown. Making them helped me to reconnect and stay mindful about all that is happening. Hopefully, they will also inspire you and makes you realize that photography is very mindful. The images are simple but I think this is the beauty of it; it is more about the actual experience of being out there. Some of my tips might be helpful to you if you want to create your own little project or adventure. Any questions? Just leave a message.
Location: Almere Pampushout / Flevolandschap, The Netherlands.
Yes, I know, getting up really early is probably not always part of your daily plan. Why would you leave the comforts of your warm bed so early in the morning? Still, deep inside you know it is always rewarding to get up early. I am struggling with this myself, but when I get out early, I feel so much better. Especially during this time of lockdown and COVID-19, with so many worries and daily news overload, getting reconnected with nature is essential for your wellbeing.
During this time of lockdown, a lot of people are rediscovering their local parks or forest. Everybody is taking daily walks and that is a good thing. If you are looking at this from a creative perspective this “close to home” thing can be quite hard. For most of us, the things that are close to us seem not so inspiring. The trick is to look closer and pause for a moment. Doing this, you will start to appreciate more and more. You will start enjoying even the most simple things you encounter in nature.
So how do I start? Well, you want to be out there with first light. Yes, really. No one is out there, the birds are creating a free morning orchestra and the light is making for some magical scenes. Because the light is so low you want to have an idea where the sun is going to rise and where this magical light is going to hit. What are open places, edges of the forest, and amazing lonely trees? Before you set your alarm, the night before, also check the weather forecast. A 100% cloud cover will do no good, but this never stops me, the rain will.
So what happens to you when you are in a place that is familiar? You can feel uninspired and sometimes you are just not in it. For me, it helps just to start. The images you can see in this story are from a forest where if have been at least a 100 times. But I decided to make a little project out of it and shoot every morning at sunrise. Shoot something and you will notice that your creative juices will start flowing. Before you know you are in the zone and you see images everywhere.
“Just start, shoot something. You will notice, it will get your creative juices flowing”
The art of seeing is a photographer’s greatest gift. And for me, seeing is related to pure wonder. Especially when photographing outdoors. So give yourself time to wonder. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to get the ‘perfect’ picture. Bring your binoculars, have a chat with someone, do unexpected things. Take crazy detours and move some rocks. A lot of times I am not taking any images at all. I explore the light during certain periods of the day and try to make an estimate of how the light will be during sunrise or sunset.
1) A good map will help you to discover some unknown places in advance. For The Netherlands, I use Topo GPS. This app comes with official land registry maps and is extremely useful. Even the smallest trails are visible. It is also great to track your routes.
2) To have a global idea where the light will hit I use Sun Locator Pro. If you are photographing in mountainous areas, it will even render a 3d map and shows you where and at what time the light will be present.
3) Shooting in the outdoors I always bring my tripod. It slows you down and that is sometimes a good thing. It makes you more relaxed and precise in your compositions.
“Try to find an area that sparks your interest and investigate it. Work your way around to make something simple but beautiful”
Photography can be seen as a form of therapy. A really mindful one I can say. Especially during the first weeks of COVID-19, it helped me to reconnect with nature and to focus on the present. It was great to document parts of the transition the forest went through. As I write this story the transition into spring is almost complete. The leaves are ready to soak up the sun’s energy. So am I, ready to chase the light, meet some inspiring people, and go out on another adventure.
XF 16mm F/1.4 → Mostly at F/1.4
XF 90mm F/2.0 → Mostly at F/5.6 to get some DOF and nice bokeh.
Mitakon 35mm F/0.95 → Close to wide open because I prefer the bokeh a bit better this way.
XT-3 body → Auto iso with a minimum shutter of 1/125s, single-point autofocus.
Gitzo GT2540 LLVL Tripod with leveling base.