Spring was early this year, and halfway April, the leaves were appearing on the beech trees again. As I wrote in my text for the Photo of the Month March I wanted to spend part of my photographic time this year on the many shapes and forms made by trees. So when I saw the fresh spring leaves appearing, I immediately set out to get a photograph depicting the feeling I got from these fresh leaves. Finding the right setting took some time, but I found what I was looking for in these three leaves. What really amazed me, was that the many insects feeding on the leaves had also appeared already, as shown by the many holes in the leaves. Amazing, what a little rise in temperature and lengthening of the days does to the natural world!
This morning I visited the Dutch nature reserve Deelerwoud to search for a field site for my research. While walking in the forest, I encountered a herd of red deer crossing the road. Deer are not hunted in the Deelerwoud, resulting in a relatively high density, which makes seeing deer during a walk a lot easier compared to some other areas in the surroundings.
Photographers are sometimes more concerned about the material with which a photo is made, instead of looking at the picture as it is. I think this is ridiculous. I don’t care if a picture is made with an Iphone, or with a full frame DSLR. It’s the product that counts. Google on anything, and I bet that some of the pictures that will pop-up are made with a smart-phone, and some of these will be really nice pictures. Therefore, I would argue, that the best camera is the one you carry with you.
I actually noticed this last summer, when I was doing fieldwork for my PhD research. I did have my DSLR and some lenses with me in the car, but carrying around all this equipment while catching rodents is not very handy. Therefore, my camera mostly stayed inside the car, and when walking in the field and presented with beautiful light, I could do nothing more than enjoy the light, without taking any pictures (although I did take some pictures with my phone). When looking back at the pictures, I kept on wondering about what I could do with these pictures, had they been taken in a RAW file format on a camera with a better sensor, so I made the decision to buy a compact camera with the option to shoot in RAW, so I can always carry a decent camera with me.
I don’t have a special fondness for Canon, but I really liked the specs of the Canon Powershot G15, so I bought one. Next time when the light is beautiful, I will be prepared!
Yesterday, while doing fieldwork, I took the picture above, showing the sun shining through the autumn forest.
As I wrote last month, I have been working in the field for my PhD research during the summer, which meant that I did not have a lot of time for photography. By know I have just finished, and the grant result is that we caught 179 rodents in 10 areas. These 179 rodents carried a total of 3966 ticks (both nymphs and larvae), which gives us a mean tick burden of a bit more than 22 ticks per rodent. Luckily, this gives me enough data to spend the next couple of months analysing the dataset and writing my first publication on ticks!
Last week we caught very few rodents, leaving me time to start taking some pictures of the species that I study. I had one picture in mind, a wide-angle view of a rodent (either a wood mouse or a bank vole) in the forest, to show where and how these animals live. This is easier said than done, and after some attempts I got the picture that is shown above. It is still a work in progress, as I would like to have some different elements in the picture which are not there yet (and I would like to have the animal a little bit bigger in the frame), but for now I like this picture a lot, so I selected it to be this months ‘Picture of the Month’.
Last month for me was all about my research. I started a 10 week non-stop field work streak at the end of June, and I will continue it until the last week of August, so I am about half way. The fieldwork is going great, but it leaves me little to no time to take any pictures. So when the end of the month came near, I had to force myself to go out with a camera to take some pictures. Without thinking about it, I started taking pictures in the forest, as that is the habitat I have been working in for the last couple of weeks.
As I am catching rodents at the moment, I have to work around sunrise and sunset, leaving little time to take pictures during the nice golden hours. Instead, I took some pictures in the middle of the day in the hot sun with very large contrasts. This triggered my creative side, as you can’t take ‘normal’ pictures with this light, so I had to improvise to get a picture of a forest in summertime.
Last month was totally dedicated to field work (as will be the next months). It was a very busy period with lots of blanket dragging to catch ticks for my research, and a lot of planning for the field work this summer. Fortunately, I had one day in which I had to select some new plots for a field experiment that we started, and as I wanted to have some pictures of the plots, I took my camera with me. This is a picture of one of the control plots for the experiment.
Spring time fully hit the Netherlands, everything is green again, but the weather has been changing a lot, from full rain to sunshine and back again. On this day, it was rather wet, with a lot of showers, which meant white skies on all of my pictures. In this one, I overexposed a few stops, to make the sky really white, and to show the many colours of green that were visible in the forest on that particular day.
The nice thing about going to the same place again and again to sample for my research, is that I also get to see the changes that are happening in the forests during spring. The picture above is a nice example. I have camera traps (cameras with a heat and motion detector) in 10 different areas in the Netherlands to monitor the mammal fauna in forests. These camera traps take a picture every 12 hours, for me to see if the cameras were working all the time. Four weeks ago (29 April) I placed a camera trap in a forest in the Dunes near IJmuiden, and today (27 May) I collected it. When I arrived in the forest this afternoon, I did not recognize it! The forest had gone through a whole transformation. To visualize this, I took a time lapse picture from the first day, and one from the last day, and blended them together.
The first Photo of the Month on the new website is an image I took during the short period of snow we had in the beginning of December 2012. I didn’t have much time to go out and take pictures, so I took my camera with me during field work and spend 30 minutes during lunch brake taking some pictures. Because I didn’t have a tripod with me, and because of the amount of branches sticking out from the snow, I decided to experiment with unsharp pictures due to camera shake. I really liked this black and white version, which conveyed the mood I was looking for.