Hilversum, Netherlands

As a retired historian, I have a wide interest in nature photography. Please also note my second gallery on Redbubble: / lightthinker

Doing it my way, or two weeks on RedBubble.

Today I am on RedBubble for two weeks. It is pretty obvious that I am bubbling on happily. To submit 75 shots within such a short time has meant that the new gallery has already won a reasonable size showing the range of my sort of nature and especially landscape photography here in the Netherlands. It will be my pleasure to try to add at least one more shot each day, but I somehow have the feeling that that will be quite a task. I mean, only one per day! I have so much stuff in my collection which I would love to share with you.

Indeed I have got a wonderful response from you. Of course, the number of watcher is as yet nothing like the 650 which I had on my “lightthinker”-gallery before I stopped it this week. But it is growing each day, and a new start is a new start. Giving up “lightthinker” for the time being was quite a decision, but somehow it came quite naturally. I had started on something new here, and it was the new RedBubble world that took up my central attention. One cannot and must not always keep to the same thing!

I shall keep one active deviantArt gallery, i.e. my “jchanders”-gallery over there. It will be my general gallery now, while this one will solely contain Dutch stuff.

Let me restate here: digital photography and the galleries have changed my life in the last years. Never would I have thought before 2005 to get up on my bike while it is still dark outside in order to reach some sunrise spot 10 miles away! I know there seems to be a certain element of madness in it in summer, when I get out on my bike at 4.30 am, but is there really? Any hunter or fisherman gets out that early, why should a nature photographer not do so?

And I am a hunter, a hunter for pictures! This brings me to a couple of remarks about my manner of taking pictures. Several questions have reached me, and I think it is good to answer them here so that everybody who likes to know, can indeed read about it here.

Picture hunting for me means getting out and taking a real big number of shots! To get just the one shot, I take at least 2, often 5 or 10 of a certain scene. And my knees know it: never did so many kneebends in all my life. Actually I hate that the Nikon D80 does not have live view, as I like to hold the cam still lower, but find lying down on my belly just a bit too much of an effort. Actually I did it once: it was on the lovely sand of a beach, and it was the only way of getting a great bird shot. But mushrooms and other little wonders want to be taken from a low position, too …

So when I come home with 200 or 300 shots, I first throw out quite a number. The rest stays in the file, as the computer can take so much. But I am most choosy in what I put on a gallery, no more than perhaps 2, 4 or 5 shots. I always tell myself when I go: if I come back with just one really good shot, the trip is a success. Actually there are a few more generally these days, after I got the feeling of my Nikon D 80 (it took me some weeks, if not months and a lot of experimenting before that was the case, even though I had quite reasonable results from the very first hour of using it) and had found a saturation and white balance position to my liking. I generally do not change these now.

I keep the cam in shoot-clear position when I go out, choosing the right ISO for the sort of light beforehand. That can mean that I use a pretty high ISO for a wood scene, then get out into the open and just forget about it in my enthusiasm. Well, I have learnt it the hard way. After all shooting a sunrise at 1000 ISO is just impossible …

Actually I mostly shoot in shutter mode. I started with the automatic mode, and often get very good results with it, if I do not forget to choose a slightly lower opening, a third or even two thirds of a point, as the camera has a tendency to overexpose. Of course I adapt the shutter speed to circumstances.

That can be quite tricky, especially with the forest shots, as I need a reasonably high F for a good dof. The depth of field was quite a problem with my Nikkor 18-200 mm lense as I was used to have a wonderful dof with my Panasonic FZ 10. It had a much wider dof that the Nikkor lense. Actually I have had a pretty heavy discussion about that on a Nikon club site when people said that that was all nonsense, but I did read it the other day in a photographic journal: the small point-and-shoot cams have a wider dof than the big SLR cams. Do not ask me why. I just had to adapt to the fact that I had no F 2.8 any more as on the Pan FZ 10 and less dof.

I can tell you: I came home with a lot of lane shit in the beginning! Zooming a lane, a speciality of mine, without enough F, just does not work! And less than 1/40 from a handheld position is no good with a Nikon D80 even with its stabilizer.

So the solution would normally be a tripod. But I must admit: I do HATE tripods. They kill my inspiration. A hunter does normally not put his gun on a tripod either, does he? So I have that thing with me in my sidebag my bike when I go out under low light conditions, but hardly ever use it.

I try to find other means, for instance what I call a treepod: I hold the cam firmly against a well-positioned tree to win shutter time. Or I stabilize the cam by resting it on the saddle of my bike (that implies getting of the bike of course and parking it in the good position, and then again some kneebending!).

But sometimes there is no other choice but a tripod. Well in such a case I either use it or just get on the the next scene. Take it or leave it! There is so much beauty, so why bother.

You see, my problem is that my eyes see beauty everywhere. Well, that is somewhat exaggerated. There is a lot of uglyness around, also here in the Netherlands, but since I am digital I just see beautiful shots all around me.

And then the weather and light of course. You can go into the forest 10 times and not get a really good shot due to the fact that really good light is something special. You have to get a feeling for that. The midday hours are generally little good, but sometimes you just want that sort of light. The early morning is better than the evening for softness as the air is still moist in the morning and softens the light, while it is normally dry after the day´s sunshine and just hard in the evening.

Well, I seem to be rambling on and on. If you have any questions please do ask them. One probably will be whether I ever followed a course. No, I never did. I just learnt by doing, by trying again and again. Of course, I do read photographic journals from time to time and did look through the one or other how to do book.

But there is nothing like the experience you build up yourself. Of course you must learn to use your camera properly, but to tell you a secret: there are so many things that I do not yet know about my D 80. I am still learning, which indeed feeds my intellectual curiosity. After all, once we stop learning and growing we will be just dead. I hope that master death will still wait a bit. Whenever he waves at me in my depressions, the light and colour of my photography do fortunately help a bit to keep that ugly fellow away. So much for beautiful nature photography.

Let me stop here. But not without underlining once again that I am enjoying digital photography and my galleries very much indeed. What the “joy of running” is to me a jogger, the “joy of taking and sharing pictures” is to me as a photographer! Thank you ever so much for being able to experience this wonderful feeling! Now also here at RedBubble!!!!!

Good luck and good light,


Journal Comments

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