In this article I want to tell you about some of my favourite moments from 2023. I say moments and not photos, because I always keep saying that the moment is sometimes (and often) more valuable than the picture itself. WIth each photo comes this vivid memory of being there and capturing that moment. Each of these photos give me that special feeling.
Another confirmation when seeing my own photos of this year is something I also often say: The light and conditions are more important than the actual location for a beautiful photograph. But if both are great, you have something special. Capturing a perfect lightning strike above a red tulip field was something on my list for a while, and I’m happy to have that included in my favourites of this year. It has also been the year of the aurora with aurora activity reaching its solar maximum. As a result, we see strong aurora activity more and more in The Netherlands. A spectacular aurora photo from my homecountry was on my list for a while, and I’m happy to have added to my portfolio as well. However, I want to aim higher in 2024.
Some other favourite moments in The Netherlands include capturing the windmills with beautiful conditions: blooming blossoms, and those magic mornings that I can simply never get enough of. And my new series about mushrooms in their natural environment: A different way to capture the beautiful mushrooms we see every autumn in the Netherlands. My shots in The Netherlands in these series prove to me that I am simply never done capturing my homeland.
In my favourite moments are of course a number of photos from other countries: some moments with great friends, and some during my photo tours. A morning in Japan with Majestic Mount Fuji reflecting in the almost still water, with the twilight glow of the very early morning, spending nights on the highest points of La Palma Island in the freezing cold, but with the very best night skies of Europe capturing the Milky Way and the impressive Tajinaste Flowers, Going to Thailand and exploring some new places and capturing the elephants and their mahouts, my yearly Greenland tours where we always find new spectacular icebergs and a week full of rain in Scotland to photograph promotional material for my very own Haukland Parka Pro jacket.
All in all I look back on a decent year of photography. There are many more moments that are not even in these photographs, like my Kyrgyzstan Exhibition at the Xposure Festival in the UAE in Sharjah earlier this year.
But all over the above is completely overshadowed by our little baby Gaia that was born in the middle of this year and is now more than 5 months already! Time flies, and I am grateful for still being able to travel and photograph so much. Of course, I have my wife Bermet to thank for that She allows me to keep doing what I love so much in life: taking photos
I hope you enjoy these series. I wrote a small description below every photo with some background info.
I wanted to take a shot like this for many years. On this evening, everything aligned perfectly. I was photographing thunderstorms over the tulip fields in the Flevoland provence that afternoon. At some point it looked like they all passed, but there was still some flashing and rumbling in the distance. It was getting darker and I decided to reposition myself for the thunderstorm in the distance. Upon checking the weather radars, I saw that this thunderstorm would pass this tulip field from left to right, so i positioned myself and waited. For me, these plans often go wrong and the storms would pass via another angle. But not this time! I took a bunch of shots with lightning strikes and the photo above was the best one for me. When i saw it pop up on the camera screen I was happy as a little kid. After many years of trying, I finally did it!
As mentioned above: This year was also the year to see great auroras in Europe because of the solar maximum. But it's still not that easy to capture, especially because it's often cloudy in the Netherlands. So everything needs to come together, and that's what happened on this evening in February. A beautiful display with vivid reds could be seen with the naked eye filled the night sky. These colours only lasted for about 10 mins. But I was there to capture it!
One of the highlights of the year was visiting the elephants in Thailand. In this particular part of Thailand, Mahuts (caretakers of elephants) spend their lives in harmony with their elephant. It's a tradition that already starts as a kid. Human and elephant are connected. This photo is a single shot without any tricks: A flash behind the tree, lighting the scene for just a fraction of a second while the camera exposes for much longer to capture the milky way above.
This year I spent some weeks in Japan for a photo tour with my friend Daniel Kordan. Before and after the tour I spent some time shooting for myself. This was one of the mornings where I was all alone at one of the lakes around Mount Fuji, capturing the beautiful calm twilight mood. This shot was done with a CPL (Circular Polarizer) to capture the leaves at the bottom of the lake. One of my favourite moments this year! Not only because of the photos, but mainly because of the memory of being there all alone in the morning silence.
You can join me later this year in Japan! I there are still some spots available. Click HERE.
This year I went for a short solo trip to La Palma island for a personal mini-project: capturing the beautiful Tajinaste flowers. These plants can get up to 3 meters tall and are filled with little flowers. This composition was really special to me, capturing it at 14mm super wide, creating this framing composition with the sunset right in the middle. These plants only grow on high altitude, at the top of the island.
In autumn, I created a photo series called 'Mushrooms in their Natural World' , displaying the many mushrooms we have in our forests in a different way. By using a wide angle lens with focus stacking, I show how the mushrooms grow with their environment around them. I really enjoyed creating these series and will continue to do so in the upcoming years.
I can never get enough of photographing foggy mornings in the Netherlands. Especially in combination with windmills. This was one of my favourite foggy windmill shots from this year. The 2 windmills of Uppel in an x-stand (this does not happen often) with a flock of geese flying at the perfect position. Some people might think these geese are photoshopped in, but this is something I never do. During those mornings there are a lot of geese flying on the Dutch countryside. By just patiently waiting, you can capture them exactly where you want!
A perfect calm morning on the beautiful Khao Sok Lake in Thailand. It was so nice to relax and explore there. On this morning me and my friends Jabi Sanz and Daniel Kordan rented a boat and explored some of the beautiful corners of this lake. The sun came up here and the mountains created a beautiful reflection in the water. This is a great example of a photo that instantly brings back that memory and gives me that nice calm feeling when looking at the photo.
This photo was captured during the blossom season. I always love to be creative with framing windmills. This was a shot I already tried years before, but I never really got the great light to make it work. Until this year, when I figured I actually needed a dark stormy sky with light on the foreground to make the flowers pop.
No matter how many years I have photographed tulips, I never get bored of them! This was one of my favourite mornings in the season, with the rising sun casting a golden glow over the thin layer of fog above this red tulip field. There was absolutely no wind so I was able to use focus stacking to get a 3D-feeling to this shot. This morning was very calm, cold and beautiful.
One of my favourite abstract shots this year, taken in Iceland. At this time the last golden light of the day was hitting these wet basalt columns creating this beautiful colours on them. I took this at 400mm. It always reminds me to look at the tiny details of the big beautiful landscapes.
I spent a few weeks in Greenland again this August to guide photo tours for Iceland Photo Tours . I always really enjoy doing these tours. Even though we are always sailing in Disko Bay, it's always different with many different ice bergs. This one was one of the highlights from this year: a giant ice berg with a hole in it. For scale, you see our red sail boat next to it.
For some of you maybe an ordinary forest shot, but for me it's special. I have been trying to get perfect conditions in this forest for years already. It's a small forest and one of the very few forests in the Netherlands that has blue bells. And they only bloom for about 2 weeks. I wanted thick fog here for years, but never managed to get it, until this year! So to get the combination of these interesting trees, lush greens with a floor covered with blue bells, was amazing for me!
La Palma island has some of the clearest night skies of Europe. I planned a short trip here in May to photograph the Tajinaste flowers. During this time I also spent a lot of time at night on the top of the island, high above the clouds. This place has some of the best night skies and you can see the beautiful milky way here with your naked eye. For me, wandering in these places at night all alone in the cold gives me the ultimate feeling of freedom. I took this self portrait by using an interval timer.
I have photographed this tree for quite some times. To me, it's very photogenic. It also has these many branches around it of dead trees that can be used as foreground elements. On this day thunderstorms were predicted and I decided to photograph them at this tree, as the angle seemed decent according to satellite forecasts. Upon getting there, I actually didn't think I was going to get the shot. The storm didn't have many lightning strikes. I simply put the camera on interval and kept shooting hoping to catch some lightning.
At some point, the weather turned really bad with lightning and a lot of rain and I had to run to the car. In the car, I was checking all the shots and found this one that had a perfect strike in it. The lightning actually hit pretty close. There is a tv tower there (framed behind the branch) and the lightning hit that tower. A spectacular shot that is definitely one of my favourites this year. It really brings back that adrenaline experience.
During a photo tour in the Icelandic Highlands we also did quite some droning. The highlands of Icelands are incredible from the sky. Here you see the Ljótipollur crater, that has a very vivid blue colour with red rocks around it. This scenery was on my list to capture for a while, and even though it's quite a simple shot, I really love it!
I spent a week in the Scottish Highlands with the Haukland team this year to do promotional material for my Signature Haukland Parka Pro Jacket . Funny enough, we had crazy rain and wind for the whole week. It literally almost never stopped. But it was great for moody shots and to test out the jacket, which performed great!
This shot proves you can get nice shots with any kind of weather. In fact: I think this particular scene looks best with this very dramatic weather. It's the fairy pools in Scotland. I also think there is not so much water in those pools normally. There were little waterfalls everywhere and I really like this composition of multiple layers of water.