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Behind The Lens

This picture was taken in the Belgian Ardennes during a hike along the "Ninglinspo"-river. This very small river (or should I say stream) is a popular destination in Belgium for it is a hike along, through and over a stream with numerous small basins and waterchutes that provide "cool" on hot summer days. The classical trail is to climb "through" the river and than return via the plateau and then back to the start by a foresttrail. This picture is taken on the platteau at the highest point where the forestry is almost exclusive pine.
This picture was taken on a very hot summers dag in 2019 in the late afternoon.
Even though the photo was taken in late afternoon, mid summer this means that the sun is still very high up in the sky and the light is harsh. But because the canopy of the trees is pretty dense, the light reaches the ground in a very filtered way. The contrast between the "light" spots of the sun and the dark shady spots underneath the canopy creates a definite atmosphere. The light also helps to "brighten" up the mossy patches between the trees, which makes it almost "illuminated".
Since it is a hiking trail, I was travelling light that day. I had doubts if I should bring a tripod or not. Knowing that many places in that forest have dense tree-canopy, I knew that available light might cause issues. But taking the tripod might be unhandy on the climb... I ended up taking 2 lenses; a 35mm with f1,8 (for the really dark patches) and a kitlens 18-55mm f3.5, both Nikon as my Body at that time was the Nikon D3200.
For this kind of pictures, I got really inspired by Dutch photograpger Rob Visser which to me masters the creating of enchanting atmosfere in forestry-pictures. When taking pictures in a forest, the art lies in finding the tension between light and dark.
Shooting in RAW, post-processing the picture is a must. For this picture it mainly was for enhancing the colors and contrast. The highlights where augmented a bit to make the sunbeams a bit clearer. And finally I used a bit of a "dreamy" filter to set the atmosphere a bit. Editing was done in Skylum's Luminar 3.
In my camera bag
I always work with my NIKON-body. At the time of this picture it was an old D3200, but since then it was replaced by a newer D5600. I always struggle to pick my lenses. For scouting I like to travel light, so I take 2 Nikkor kitlenses (18-55 & 55-200) which give me a wide range of possibilities. On scouting-trips I do not take a tripod either. When I am on a "photo-mission" I tend to bring all my lenses (so on top of the kitlenses I bring a prime 35mm and kit 10-22) and all of my filters (CPL, macro and a set of neutral-density filters)
Get out and about! Shoot lot's of photo's! The only way to get that shot that makes a difference is to go out and take lots of picture. On this hike, I must have taken 200 pics or so. I am always pleased if I have 10% "decent" material and now and than there is that picture that really sticks out. And funny enough, mostly other people pick other favourites and often pictures that are far from my absolute favourites. That goes to show that appreciating pictures in the end is a very personal thing...

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