Hennie van Heerden's Wildlife Diary

November 12, 2011

The most beautiful fall ever..

Filed under: 2011,November — Hennie van Heerden @ 8:31 pm

After all the excitement of last weekend I needed to unwind so I went to the Veluwezoom. A sure destination to forget everything and just focus on nature. When the sun broke through the light fog I was absolutely stunned by the beauty of the forest. I really think that this year’s fall is the most beautiful ever in Holland! The colors are so rich and deep, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen anything like it. Or maybe I just didn’t see it before in the way I do now.

People often say to photographers ‘you only look through the viewfinder and forget to just enjoy all that is beyond that view”, but I find that ever since I photograph I see a lot more! Not only animals but also scenery, although I’m not much of a landscape photographer. When I got into the more serious photography, I also learned more about animals and nature in general. About the turn of the seasons, about the return of the migrating birds, about animals that go into hibernation and about the light and weather conditions to be expected. And.. and that’s about the most important lesson learned; to be out there at the best time to see animals and nature at its best: early mornings.

Two blogs ago I wrote about the feeling that overpowered me when I walked through the rays of the sun, shining through the fog, on an early morning. This morning I had the same feeling. The views were so magnificent, so beautiful, it was just.. humbling. And yes, I also have heared that word used in the most inappropriate ways, but it’s the best word that comes to my mind when I walk through scenes like the ones I’ve included here.

November 7, 2011

What a fantastic day!

Filed under: 2011,November — Hennie van Heerden @ 3:30 pm

It took nearly a year of preparations with its peak in the last few months, but boy, was it worth it!! Last saturday we held the VNF 25th anniversary jubileum Photo Festival in the “Hanzehof” in Zutphen. It was fantastic!! The quality level of the presentations shown was exceptionally high, which makes me even more proud to be part of the VNF. Super presentations of David Pattyn, Karel Tomeï, Gertjan Straalman and Jari Peltomäki but also suberp presentations of our own VNF members like, Jan Vermeer, Wim Weenink, Jan Huttinga and many others! It was hugely inspiring and although I saw most of the presentations from the side of the stage, the pictures shown were mindblowing. I felt really privileged to be hosting this day.

Picture to the right is a phone photo taken by my sister in law of me, opening the festival.

 Let there be lightThe festival was featured on the TV Gelderland news bulletin and they shot footage at the festival. But they also wanted to show ‘the passionate photographer’ at work :-). So they asked me if they could come the next day and shoot at my place. Well, of course they could but when I rolled out of bed the next morning after all the excitement and adrenaline had worn out, the mirror told me that it was probably not such a good idea 🙂 Anyway, they came and I took them to two places where I took some of my favorite pictures; the roe deer in the forest and a Kingfisher I shot a few weeks ago. It was great fun!! Later also TV Oost took over the feature so the clip was also broadcasted on monday.

I think we can all look back to a fantastic festival and by the sounds of the feedback we received from visitors we can be very proud of ourselves!

October 29, 2011

First Prize Category Birds National Wildlife Federation 2011!

Oh my…
This year, for the first time in my life, I entered two photo contests. Up until then I always had this hesitation to send in one of my shots because I was afraid it would ruin my own pleasure about a picture. I do realize that that sounds kind of weird, but I really can be thrilled with a picture, for varying reasons. Either because of a special moment, or because it was taken at a – to me – special location, or maybe just because it brings a smile to my face. Whatever, but a shot can really make me happy.

Anyway, mid August the first ‘verdict’ came in. A shot of mine of two Dung Beetles fighting over a dung ball which I took in Mala Mala, South Africa last December got to the finals of “Wildlife Photographer of the Year” (I know.. maybe it was kind of far fetched since I’ve only been into the more serious photography for about 4 years now 🙂 but still reaching the finals I considered already a compliment).

But what it did was sort of diminish my expectations for the second, almost equally big contest I entered. The National Wildlife Federation’s Photo Contest. When you’ve ever layed eyes on the quality level of the photographical material in their magazine and on their website, the courage to enter a photo to the annual photo contest sinks right into your big toe.. Must admit that I closed my eyes when my finger hovered over the ‘send’ button.

But last week, an email came in: “Your photo “Braving the Waves” of the Green-backed Heron Fishing has won First place in the Birds category, Pro level, of our 2011 National Wildlife Photo Contest.”……
Wow! I’m really over the moon!

Although the NWF only announces the winners on the 21st of November, I got special permission to publish this, well at least to me, great news in time before the VNF photo festival next week. Thanks NWF!
To the Dutch: I DO see you there, don’t I?? Hurry up in ordering your tickets! Only 5 days left! Order your tickets at: Foto Konijnenberg!

October 13, 2011

VNF jubileum festival 5 november Hanzehof Zutphen

Voor het eerst in mijn blog schrijf ik eens in het Nederlands omdat dit toch vooral een Hollands evenement betreft.

(I’m sorry for writing this blog entry in Dutch, but it’s about a Dutch Photo Festival, which I’m going to present on November 5th, and I guess it’s kind of a Dutch party)

Ik ben al een aantal jaren lid van de Vereniging Natuurfotografen en dan van de afdeling Apeldoorn. En dit jaar hebben we een feestje te vieren!! De club bestaat namelijk 25 jaar en we gaan dit groots vieren op 5 november a.s. in de Hanzehof in Zutphen. En raad eens wie het festival gaat presenteren 🙂 (ben nu al zenuwachtig en val straks vast van het podium af of zoiets..)

Er wordt al bijna een jaar aan de organisatie van dit festival gewerkt en het belooft dan ook een fantastische dag te worden.

Zo komen er internationaal en nationaal bekende gastsprekers waaronder ‘Wild Wonders of Europe” fotograaf Jari Peltomaki, Dutch photographer of the year David Pattyn en zal ons eigen clublid Jan Vermeer, 2x winnaar van Wildlife Photographer of the Year het festival openen met een prachtige presentatie over Africa. Niet de minste namen zou ik zeggen!! Verder zijn er werkelijk supermooie foto-presentaties te bewonderen van o.a. Karel Tomei en zal Gertjan Straalman een presentatie geven over filmen met de spiegelreflex camera. (heb ik zeker nodig want daar bak ik niks van :-)). Verder is er een ontroerend mooi klankbeeld over de Veluwe te zien, samengesteld uit ingezonden leden-beelden. Ongelooflijk hoe mooi dit relatief kleine Nederlandse Natuurgebied in beeld is gebracht!

Voor het volledige programma verwijs ik graag naar de website van het VNF-Apeldoorn en voor kaartverkoop naar de website van Foto Konijnenberg.

Het aantal toegangskaarten is redelijk beperkt dus bestel snel! Het zou ontzettend leuk zijn jullie daar allemaal te zien!

October 2, 2011

The Golden Cathedral

Filed under: 2011,October — Hennie van Heerden @ 12:20 pm

Because of visitors and a custom made workshop I was preparing, going out to photograph was not an option during the last 10 days, except for one morning that I went to the Veluwezoom. There wasn’t much going on as sunrise is already too late in this season; by the time it’s light enough to photograph, around 7.30 AM, the joggers, cyclists and bikers are also around, causing the animals to go into hiding for the day.

By the time I was driving back, the light autumn fog was lifting and the sun was already high in the sky setting the forest on fire with beautiful golden rays. It was as if  was driving through a golden natural cathedral. That really made my day!

September 20, 2011

Proud as a peacock..

Filed under: 2011,September — Hennie van Heerden @ 2:13 pm
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Finally…. The book is out!!

My first really really official book has just been published! I am proud as a peacock! 🙂

Better yet, actually there are two books;

Have a look at the Dutch version or the English version.

I feel like I’ve just given birth 🙂 Without the pain that is..

September 11, 2011

Surprise Party

Yesterday afternoon I was working when I all of a sudden heard a bird calling outside. It sounded all too familiar: Kingfisher! Although we have visiting Kingfishers every now and again it still is a rare guests as we live in a forest area and there are not that many nesting possibilities around. Two years ago, we’ve had a Kingfisher emptying our pond for a week, but since then it still is an exception when I hear or see one.

But this time she had landed on a branch over the pond and started scanning the water for fish. As there are a lot of fish in the pond I knew that it would mean that she was probably going to stay around for a while. The next 10 minutes were frantic. The moment she flew off for a moment I sprinted to the shed, got out my hide, threw it on the terrace that is next to the pond, got a little chair, my tripod, camera. Sprinted off to the neares patch of forest where I knew Hans had been busy cutting off branches. Dragged a huge one to the pond and just hung it just over the water surface. Took a dive in the hide, zipped it up and exhaled again 🙂

It only took a few minutes and there was the familiar sound again. To my great thrill it flew straight at the new branch, right in front of my camera. It took her only a minute before she took a dive into the pond and fished out her first little fish. It was a shame that it was cloudy and already quite late, so the possible shutterspeeds weren’t fast enough to capture her smashing the fish on the branch, but still got some really nice shots.

She kept on fishing and in the first hour she caught herself 5 fish before she landed on a tiny little branch just above the water and started to clean her feathers. By that time I thought I heared the call again but dismissed it as imagination as I didn’t see her call. When I looked back at the pictures I took later on, the surprise was complete when it turned out there were two different ones! Talk about a surprise party!! Both juvenile females. I really hope they’ll return but I haven’t seen them again ever since.

August 13, 2011

Try it with a camera next time…

Filed under: 2011,August — Hennie van Heerden @ 3:58 pm

The other day I received an email with these pictures and the list in it. The result of a simple google search for whatever animal species and ‘hunting’.
I’ve decided to post them here and although the pictures come straight from the internet, no doubt posted there out of pride and vanity by the guys themselves, I’ll post them here unrecognizable.  

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against hunting in itself. I’m not a vegetarian and I know my meat comes from an animal and I’d rather eat meat from an animal that has had a good life, living free, than from one of our modern day bio-industry animals, who have had no life at all.

But what goes on in the minds of these people, who go and shoot endangered animals, animals that other people try to rescue from extinction, just for the thrill of it. Everything in this world is for sale, I know. But seeing this list (readily available on the internet) made me swallow hard. Cheetah? Their numberd have been decreasing rapidly. Millions of dollars are put in their conservation; money that comes from donations from people who care.

Roan, Sable and Tsesebe Antilope? Not many of those left either. Leopard?

 I bet that any animal that possibly could be on your wishlist is possible. It just comes down to the right price.
Polar Bear anyone? Tiger maybe? Or Rhino? Ah well, who cares if there, in the near future, will be none left.

There has been talk that some of these animals were especially bred for hunting camps. But does that make it right?

I would like to suggest something to these guys, who so enjoy the thrill of the hunt. Try hunting with a camera next time. The thrill is the same; the excitement of the hunt, the pleasure of spotting the animal, the gentle squeezing of the ‘trigger’, the aiming and finally, the capture. Oh yes, and not to forget the Trophy for your living room wall! 

Only in this way, both of you walk away unharmed….

August 12, 2011

Workshop Wildlife Photography: Red Deer Rutting Season

Filed under: 2011,August — Hennie van Heerden @ 7:29 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

I have just updated my website with an exciting new Workshop: photographing the beautiful Red Deer in rutting season!

If you are interested in joining me at this wildly fascinating event on either thursday 15 september or friday 16 september, please follow this link for more information. (Dutch only I’m afraid).

August 2, 2011

Full speed ahead, mom!!

Filed under: 2011,August — Hennie van Heerden @ 2:23 pm
Tags: , ,

Those of you that know me a bit longer know that I simply love to spend time on our boat, the Tembo. Especially sailing her to the Biesbosch, a beautiful wetland area in Holland, is really my favorite trip. The boat has a little tender, a green rubber boat with an electro motor, but the motor got broken last year. Since we, so far, haven’t had the chance to take the Tembo out for a trip this year (!), there wasn’t a real need to repair or replace the electro motor of the rubber boat. But last week we received a phone call that the new motor was ready to be picked up.

A couple of days before, I had seen a couple of Grebes with chicks in the channel alongside the road I drive almost every day. I had tried to photograph them but the banks are steep and covered in thick reeds. But I really wanted to get low perspective shots of this cute little family. So when the motor arrived I had a brainwave and pursuaded Hans to bring the rubber boat to the channel. Put it in the water, attached the brandnew electro motor and off I went! (much to the amusement of the many people in cars driving next to the channel. Imagine this woman, big hat, big lens, big green rubber boat…. must have looked like I was about to go crocodile hunting :-))

At first the Grebes didn’t like me very much.. Slowly, ever so slowly I approached and the first couple of times just passed them by, to make them get used to the boat and convince them that I wasn’t a threat. That worked and after a while I could gently overtake them, tie the boat to a reed stem and wait for them to swim up to me and pass. It was really cute; mom and dad both carried the chicks on their backs and every once in a while, the chicks opened their mouths really wide as if to cheer mom on: “Full speed ahead, Ma!!!”

  It was a really fun way to spend a warm summer afternoon!!

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