Tulip Season 2023 Roundup
The tulip season of 2023 is slowly ending so here is a little roundup of the shots I took this year. The season started relatively late this year because of an unusual cold start of spring. I normally tell people to come half April to The Netherlands, but this year during only a handful of fields were blossoming during that time. This year, the season peaked at the end of April when temperatures finally went close to 20c degrees. An interesting fact is that even though it was a cold beginning of the season, last year there was even 1 day of snow at the end if March. At that time, there were already tulips out because of the hot weeks before and it allowed me to photograph tulips in the snow. But let’s now talk a bit about this year.
All the tulip photos you see in this article have been shot without walking into the tulips and standing on the side of the field. In most shots, I even know the growers of the field. Every year, they are happily showing me their fields. In return, I show them my photos and occasionally give them a print.
I took my first tulip photo this year at the 20th of April during a storm. And that was kind of the theme in the beginning of the season: Storms. I always love to capture storm clouds in combination with the vibrant colours of the tulip. They make for such a strong contrast. Especially the popping red with the dark clouds works very well. My first stormy tulip shots of the season were just an intro for what was coming shortly after.
The simplest composition when photographing tulips: The lines! But in this case, very effective. I love the pink-red split with the dramatic light of the sky.
My signature style: low angle with focus stacking!
Right before the sun went down, I photographed this tulip that stood up from the rest with the setting sun behind.
On the next evening on April 21st, Thunderstorms were predicted. I am always on high alert when that happens during tulip season. The only time I captured a nice image of a thunderstorm above a tulip field was 2 years ago when I captured a spectacular cloud formation above a little farm with a tulip field.
This year I went to the Flevoland Provence, as I already knew the field there and the directions I would be facing. According to weather apps, the thunderstorms would pass me and if the predictions were correct, I would kind of be in the right position. I say ‘kind of’ because I am not an expert. I rely on simple weather models and I am often slightly wrong. Close to sunset I saw the dark clouds approaching. A spectacular shelf cloud slowly came closer and I heard the rumbling. As a photographer, this is when I get most excited. I positioned myself low and close to the tulips, with a perfect view over the incoming cloud.
A shelf cloud formation was swallowing the landscape and coming right at me.
One of my favourite shots from that day: The cloud was getting very close and I managed to shoot this low angle shot. Its a panorama of 2 images, with the bottom part focus stacked. I had to do this quickly because the clouds were moving in fast. And yes, there was no wind! (yet)
I was satisfied with the shots I got, but I didn’t get any lightning. The lightning occasionally hit, but not in the right position for my shots, and the cloud slowly drifted away.
I checked the weather models and radar. The thunderstorms were not done yet. There was another small one coming in a slightly different position, so I repositioned myself to have a good view over this one. I had to improvise here, and quickly find a red tulip field to line up with this small array of thunderstorms. It was already getting dark so it wasn’t the easiest task. But I managed to find a nice field with a perfect view of the storms, slowly moving from the right to the left of my framing. At this time it was getting dark fast. However, there was almost no wind. So even when shooting long exposures the tulips were perfectly sharp.
Strike! A perfect lightning crawler right in the middle of my frame.
The crazy thing was: The first long exposure I took I immediately hit the jackpot! A perfect crawler filled my frame in the distance. It’s hard to describe the feeling when I see a shot like that pop up on the back of my camera. The feeling of joy combined with an adrenaline rush. I kept shooting and captured a few more strikes. My position was perfect: The storms kept moving from right to left, and I was far enough to not have to worry about any danger. When the storms were done, it was the end of an extremely productive evening of photographing tulips.
Another lightning strike hitting almost in the middle of the lines of tulips.
In the beginning of this years’ tulip season I heard lots of people complaining that this season was ‘one of the worst’ because of the cold weather and no beautiful misty mornings. But I loved all the storms in the beginning! It’s something different and I went out almost every day to try and capture some new images that I did not have in my portfolio yet.
Tulip Towns and Droning
Another theme I wanted to explore this year were the scenes I call ‘tulip towns' : small villages with tulips next to it. The combination of the small old villages with tulip field around it just gives me that fairytale feeling that I like to show so much in my photographs. So I decided to try and capture these scenes mainly with drone photos.
Early in the season I came across a tulip field next to a little town called Aartswoud, situated in the North Holland Provence. Thanks to fellow Dutch photographer Guido Graas who notified me of this field early on. During my first session of this town the light was just beautiful, with some dark clouds and low sunlight hitting the fields and the town. It looked like a Dutch painting
Aartswoud with a colourful tulip field right next to it.
I also explored some other towns in the area with tulip fields around them like De Weere and Twisk:
Sunset at De Weere with the Sint Lambertus church in the middle, surrounded by tulip fields.
A top down view of houses near Twisk. Imagine having a few like this from your garden!
The towns in the North Holland Provence have that fairytale feeling with the tulip fields combined. But there are also lots of fields in the Flevoland Provence, which looks completely different. There is something about how straight and square everything looks there, so this year I also wanted to capture some more shots of this area by drone:
Endless views of perfectly square lines with tulip fields in-between.
Especially the top down views are a work of art.
The Flevoland Provence has the most wind turbines in the country, and they're still building new ones everyday!
Compare the shots from Flevoland and North Holland and you will see a big contrast in terms of landscapes. I really flying the drone in lots of different places this year. Oh, and these shots are all taken with the Mavic Mini 3 Pro! Mostly with the 48 Megapixels mode. It takes some time to get used to it and learn how to properly work with the files. More on that in another article in the future.
Those foggy mornings
And then on the 30th of April it finally happed: A beautiful foggy morning. High humidity and dew drops on the tulip with a thin layer of fog on the ground: This is what every landscape photographer in the Netherlands wakes up for, especially during the tulip season! For this morning I decided to head back to Aartswoud. This year I didn’t capture that much tulips with windmills, simply because I already have a lot of those shots. And I really liked the town of Aartswoud w