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Solo trip

There's no need to beat around the bush, I'm a loner. Marie-José is the first to agree with this. So when the opportunity arose last month to go out alone with the camper for a few days, I didn't have to think long about it. has a number of beautiful location guides in the webshop. So with the edition for South Netherlands next to me on the passenger seat, I drove towards Loon op Zand, the pleasant village in the middle of North Brabant where I was born and raised.

I had the plan to take a panoramic photo of the sand drift near the Bosch en Duin Estate at sunset. It was Sunday and a beautiful sunny day, so that meant many day trippers in the evening. As is often the case, the solution is to simply walk a bit. The fact that in this case I also left all those footprints in the sand behind me was a bonus.

I looked for a spot a little higher on a dune, so that I had a nice overview. Then it was waiting for what was to come. And I have to say that this first evening I immediately fell in love. To photograph the entire panorama, 7 (partly overlapping) photos in portrait orientation were needed. I also had an exposure bracket set on my camera from -2 to +2 stops. So in total I would have 21 photos available to work with.

When I had combined everything in Lightroom, I immediately discovered that this panorama of 7 photos was much too wide. The beautiful sunset was completely insignificant compared to the rest. I had to make some serious changes to the original, but I am nevertheless happy with the final result.

The next day I went back and took a nice morning walk through the woods. However, it was difficult to find good compositions there. The morning light was still beautifully golden and soft, but the compositions I encountered were often a hodgepodge. That is, no clear subject and/or often a chaotic background.

Once back at the edge of the sand drift where a lot of heather grows, I saw more possibilities. I therefore decided to return in August, when the heather is in bloom. With the purple of flowering heather in the background, the photo below probably looks much better.

The next 'nature destination' in Brabant that you cannot ignore is of course De Biesbosch. This is also a very large area that forces you to make choices. That afternoon I chose the part called Museum Island. Beautiful and varied and I had a great afternoon, but it didn't yield much in terms of photos. Photos of various birds in flight or foraging in the water did not really appeal to me. Finally, just before departure, I took the photo below of a cormorant with a huge cumulus cloud in the background. Do you know why you often see cormorants sitting somewhere with their wings spread out? They apparently have a less effective water-repellent layer of fat than most other water birds. Because of this, every time after hunting fish, they have to let their wings dry by spreading them. A fun fact, right?

I kicked off day three with a visit to Mattemburgh Estate. In a small part of the forest there are beautiful, old beech trees. But no matter how hard I tried, I was once again unable to create a beautiful, peaceful composition. Too bad, then on to the bird watching hut of Markiezaat. After a short walk through the polder I arrived at a beautifully situated hut with a beautiful view. Unfortunately, all the birds were too far away to get anything acceptable in the viewfinder. So here too, after an hour or two with no results, I got back on the bus.

First let's have lunch and look in the guide to see where I will be going that afternoon. My eye falls on the Liesbos between Breda and Etten-Leur. All woodpeckers living in the Netherlands should occur here. That sounds attractive, so off to this relatively small forest along the A58.

I'll be honest, I didn't hear or see a woodpecker that entire afternoon. But what I did come across was exactly what I was looking for first thing that morning. A beautiful, simple composition of some large beech trees with great light.

This is definitely my favorite photo from this trip. The viewer's attention is, as it were, guided to the subject via a 'winding path' between the first two aisles. The front aisles therefore form a beautiful natural framework. In addition, the light not only falls exactly right on the back aisle, but also on the horizontal branches to the left of it. Fresh green leaves as you only find in spring.

For the last morning I had the De Vilt area in mind. This is located near the Maas just south of Cuijk. The plan was to drive that way that same evening, so that I could experience the sunrise there the next day. No sooner said than done.

If you are somewhere for the first time, as in almost all of the above locations, you often have no idea what the best place is for the conditions at that time. Especially when it is dusk like this morning. Due to the high reeds, there were only two places on the edge of this lake with a view over the water, so that made the choice a lot easier. I chose the spot with some yellow irises, which I could then use as a nice foreground. The little bit of mist that hung above the water made it an atmospheric whole. A beautiful morning to end a few wonderful days. In short, mission accomplished!


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