Bats in habitat

Thursday, 03 October 2013 12:45

Since many years I'm busy photographing bats in all possible ways. Resting, hibernating, but especially flying. The latter obviously using high-speed techniques. 'Simply' documenting different species in flights makes lots of fun to me. But the contents of the image greatly increases when the surroundings are included in the photo. It's quite a challenge finding the right locations to do this as well as getting the setup right. In my opinion the best result is obtained using a wide-angle lens to show as much of the habitat as possible. But these surroundings need to be illuminated, because you're working at night and often even underground. Furthermore, nothing of the equipment may be in the frame. Difficult, but all the more fun.

Now, in autumn, bats are exploring their hiberation sites. They are not asleep yet, but flying back and forth through the underground spaces. This creates excellent opportunities for this kind of photography. Last few weeks I have been in the opportunity to use this setup in a few different locations. These were a limestone quarry, the cellar of a ruin and the unique chance to photograph in the attic of a church.



Monday, 19 August 2013 13:32

For the second year in a row I went fire-fly hunting, encouraged by my colleague Douwe Schut. Truly a magical experience!

From the start. Fire-flies of glow-worms really are beetles. In the Netherlands three species can be found. All of them fairly rare. The most common one only has non-flying females that glow. The rarest one can’t fly either. Only the third species has flying AND glowing males; true fire-flies. They are rare and can only be found at a few spots. Furthermore they are only active for a short time of the year and for a short period after sunset.

Slowly it’s getting dark in the forest. It’s quiet and nothing happens. You wonder whether they are there. Is it a bad day, are they not active? A bit more waiting… and then, all of a sudden a small green light appears, silently without warning. And then another one, and another. Within minutes green lights hover all around me in the forest. I start taking pictures. Now the activity is at it’s peak. The camera clicks and I’m feeling overwhelmed. Wow, a truly magical experience! All this lasts for half an hour, maybe 45 minutes. Than, as silently as the appeared, more and more lights go out. A few of them keeps on flying, but the show is over.

To photograph the fire-flies was quite a challenge. My goal was not to photograph the beetles themselves, but the light trails in the forest. Working after sunset in a forest, means there is hardly any light. I positioned and focussed the camera before dark. After that adjustments are not possible. The light trail are pretty bright to the eye, but takes every available light for the camera. I used my fasted lenses: 1.8 and 2.8 fully open. I took most images at iso 6400 using shutter speeds of 10 to 30 seconds! Thank you modern cameras! This would have been impossible a few years ago.

Often multiple fire-flies flew trough my frame simultaneously, but not always. To get as many of them as possible you can extent you shutter speed. However, this has limitations. The image can get over-exposed and worse, using these high iso values the chance of noise increases dramatically. Therefore, I used a trick star photographers use when shooting star trails. In stead of using one very long exposure, you can take multiple shots using shorter exposure times. Next you stack them in photoshop and the result is amazing.




Week in France

Wednesday, 03 July 2013 15:39

This spring I went to La Brenne, France with some photographer friends. It's a place we visited a number of times before. The place we stayed was an old farm with barns, grasslands and a small lake. Just on this property there is so much to do, we hardy leave it. The advantage of such 'own' place is that you can do what you want and also that you know the situation well.

As anywhere you depend on the elements. In France as in most of western Europe spring was cold and wet this year. Nature was later that usual and the first nights we where there temperatures drops to near freezing. We're talking the end of May! All mornings I got up before sunrise. Some mornings I took a quick look and went back into my sleeping bag. Only two mornings were clear. I took full advantage of that. The first morning I went to a grassland to try and photograph dew covered orchids in morning light. Also I photographed ordinairy grass. Even such a plain subject can become nice in the right light. The second morning I focusses on dragonflies. I tried to create images with a lot of space showing the insect in its surroundings to create a nice atmosphere. I also took some detail shots of them.

On cloudy days I focussed further on orchids trying non-standard shots by working with very little focus. I also worked on wall lizards a bit. They are everywhere, but in all the times I was there I never photographed a single one. Now I took some time for it. We also had rain. After an afternoon shower frogs started to appear. In one of the rain puddles I was able to take nice images of an agile frog. In the Brenne area there are a lot of hides for bird watching. Normally I don't like to go there, because your position is fixed. Usually you are standing too high and the birds are too far away. This time we got lucky and a purple heron approached us. Quite an opportunity.

Most time consuming of all was my muskrat project. On our first day we allready saw them in the lake. Quite unusual, because coypus is much more abundant in France. Muskrats are much smaller and harder to photograph. In the evenings I sat down in the water (literally) for a few hours. Mostly the muskrats came out when the light was gone or stayed too far away. But I took these moments to observe their habits and figure out better places to sit the next time. In all I spend six sessions with them in the water. Only in the very last evening I managed to capture them swimming close enough and in the right light. It was worth it.



Cover bird diary

Saturday, 29 June 2013 08:38

cover vogelbescherming agenda 2014The Dutch National bird protection society (Vogelbescherming Nederland) publishes an anual pocket diary. The new edition of 2014 has just been published. It is full of wonderful bird images. Best thing of this edition is the cover. The image of a flying blue tit is mine! I'm very proud of it.




Nature in Stock

Friday, 14 June 2013 18:07

nature-in-stock banner 120x60 white-colorEalier this month the brand new photo stock agency 'Nature in Stock' went online. This Dutch based agency focusses on nature images in a wide sence: nature and wildlife, people in nature and research. It addresses an international audience, both the images and the photographers are from all over the world. Check out what they got to offer! As for me, part of my work is represented by Nature in Stock: images of amphibians, reptiles and fish. My other work was already represented by Buiten-Beeld.



Nature in Focus

Saturday, 18 May 2013 20:38

bloggerStarting today I have joined the popular Dutch blog on nature photography: 'Natuur in Focus'. I was invited by Han Bouwmeester, one of the founders. Together with Leon Baas, René Visser and Trui Alink he formed the main blogging team. Now new photographers (one being me) have joined them to expand the team. They are all enthousiastic and motivated photographers with lots of stories about nature photography. I will do my best to contribute by writing stories and most of all show new images. Check the blog on a regular basis! You can find 'Natuur in Focus' here (Dutch only).




Marine fish

Sunday, 05 May 2013 09:06

Recently I was able to join a research ship for my work for a long term project on fish monitoring. During this research surveys are done of the fish in Dutch rivers. Some of the sampling locations are near the coast where fresh and salt water meet. This time the location was the 'Nieuwe waterweg' near Rotterdam. Before this I focussed mainly on (Dutch) fresh water species, so fishing in salt water was a welcome change. We caught a lot of marine fish I had never seen before. Inbetween the work I was able to photograph some of them.


New workshop IR light traps

Thursday, 28 February 2013 11:40

High-speed-pimpelmees PVH7-10386On April 20th 2013 Paul van Hoof organises a workshop on infra-red light trap photography.

During this workshop you will learn all about infra-red light traps or infra-red barriers and how to use them, for example in high-speed photography. Using this technique an infra-red light beam is used which has to be crossed by your subject. As a result a photo is taken. Light traps can be used to photograph elusive or nocturnal animals. The most frequently used application is high-speed photography. Here fast movements of subjects are frozen.

The workshop is in Dutch only! It is suited for anyone who want to know more about this type of photography and how to apply it to subject in or outside nature. Some knowledge about general photography is necessary.

Check the flyer for more info (PDF format; Dutch only). For application of question please send me an email.


Montane water vole

Monday, 25 February 2013 12:20

Without a doubt the least known mammal of The Netherlands and probably of entire Europe: the montane water vole (Arvicola scherman). Not surprising, because it lives almost entirely underground. Only since 2005 it is regarded as a seperate species from the common water vole. Before it was regarded as a subspecies (Arvicola terrestris scherman) with a different life style. Where the common water vole is found near water, the montane water vole lives on land burrowing like a mole. The photos were made together with Wesley Overman of the Dutch mammal society. The critter was caught by Johannes Regelink. Thanks to both!


Bayerischer Wald

Saturday, 16 February 2013 20:10

Last week I went to the Bavarian forest with Henk Heijligers. It's a park where European wildlife lives in large enclosures. Our goal was to photograph the animals in a deep snow. And there was snow! At least half a meter. A few of the 'standard' animals like lynx and wolf appeared to be less active than hoped for. No exiting shots here. However, because of the snow, other animals gave away nice opportunities. These were animals like black grouse and capercaillie. We were also lucky with the wild bor. They marched right besides us with their noses covered in snow. Seeing and photographing the animals in these winter conditions was a lot of fun.


Paul on Facebook

Thursday, 14 February 2013 19:19

fbFrom today I can be found on Facebook. I hope to be an active user posting lots of new images and other news. Check my page here and become a friend.






Sleeping bats

Saturday, 02 February 2013 10:55

In winter bats hibernate. They find objects free of frost to live through the foodless winter months. After all, they are insect eaters. Since many years I am involved in counting hibernating bats. Since this is always done in the same way, you can say something about trends in numbers of bats. For some years natterer's bats (Myotis nattereri) and Geoffroy's bats (Myotis emarginatus) seem to increase in numbers. In the small objects I count in the northern part of the Dutch province of Limburg, like cellars and ruins, natterer's bat has become the most abundant species in recent years. However, the greatest numbers of bats in The Netherlands hibernate in underground limestone quarries in southern Limburg. Through a change in the mining act many quarries were closed a few years ago and cannot be visited because of unsafe situations. Luckily some quarries are being inspected again and some bat surveys are allowed again. I was able to join one of these surveys. It had been a long time for me, so I was quite keen on going. Together with other bat-workers we did the survey. Here too the numbers of bats were higher than in previous years. Most abundant was natterer's bat followed by Geoffroy's bat. The latter often hanging together in small groups. There also were a few rare greater mouse-eared bats (Myotis myotis), the largest species in The Netherlands. In total we counted almost 800 bats. Most of them hanging on the ceiling, impossible for nice photos. But some of them were hanging a bit lower. A beautiful thing about this particular quarry is its high humidity, resulting in the bats being covered in dew drops. Highlight of the day was a beautiful soaking wet greater mouse-eared bat!


Atlas of fish

Sunday, 13 January 2013 13:16

Recently the Atlas of freshwater fish in the Dutch province of Gelderland has been published. The atlas is a cooperation between different partners. In the book a lot of knowlegde is combined about freshwater fish in Gelderland. Extensive texts deal with the types of waters in the province, the history of fisheries and of course ecology and identification of the species, almost 60 in all. Of these species maps are included that show the distribution over several periods in time. And surely photographs of all species can be seen. I delivered quite a number of these photos. Besides I contributed to the book by writing some of the texts.


Walking across rope and water

Tuesday, 01 January 2013 11:47

My 'privat' rat is keeping me busy. By now I have been able to photograph it in some different settings. He adapts quite fast to new situations. However, it's not that easy. It's unpredictable if and when it shows up. Some days he doesn't come at all, others he comes very briefly and sometimes a bit longer. He doesn't care about flashes and the camera, but he isn't that relaxed either. He never sits still. He comes from his burrow, checks if the coast is clear, runs for the food, takes it and runs back. This means it's impossible to take images of the rat sitting of feeding, it's always moving. Taking this into account I have been seaching for settings to photograph the rat running or jumping. This seems to work. A rope appeared no challenge for him at all. As a trained tight rope dancer he runs across it. I also wanted to try to take images of the rat on the waterside with reflection. I created a route from bricks, which he used instantly. When I took away one of the bricks he jumped over the gap, in stead of walking around to the other side. Next he found out the water wasn't that deep and he decided to walk though it. After all, you are a waterrat or you're not.