Blind for the beauty around me

Concerning landscape and wildlife photography, I always think I live in a boring place. Most of my pictures are taken far away on holiday or I needed to travel some distance at least. I’m a father of 2 young daughters now. Anaïs is 5 and Stina is on her way to her 1st year. Fatherhood, combined with a daytime job and a wife, who I can’t neglect, that wants us-time once in a while; it’s very hard to go out to photograph. Sounds familiar?

Bart Heirweg, a landscape photographer and Nikon ambassador who lives in the same region as me, has quite an impressive portfolio. I noticed most of his pictures are from the Flemish Ardennes. That’s right, my own surroundings where I don’t see any opportunities myself. A couple of his (e-)books are location guides which describe interesting places in Belgium where you can go out and shoot. A lot of scouting and preparation has already been done. Since some of these places are close to my home, it’s a good starting point for me to go out and shoot, without being away for a whole day.

Another fun fact; a lot of his pictures are taken with a telephoto zoom lens; the Nikkor 80-400 F4.5/5.6 VR to be precise. A lens which doesn’t get a lot of attention lately because it's overshadowed by the Nikkor 200-500 F5.6 VR. For landscapes, it has a very workable focal range next to lens like a 24-70. Bart stated in an article in Shoot, a Belgium photo magazine, that a telephoto zoom lens gives you the possibility to focus and to zoom in on the things that matter. If the sky is flat and boring, why keep it in your frame? Just exclude it.

Reading all those things made me realize, I'm blind for the beauty around me. I’ve promised myself to commit myself to take more pictures in my own region! While doing more and more research on Google Maps, Facebook and Flickr, a whole new world is opening up for me.

Last weekend we want for a walk with the family to the Scheldemeersen, one of the locations described in the location guide. An opportunity to scout. Acutally it only lasted 30m before my oldest wanted to eat a pancake in a tavern nearby. But during those 30m I already had an idea for a picture! Yesterday morning, right before work, I visited the Scheldemeersen again. To be honest I was hoping for a foggy morning. Fortunate I have flexible hours and my work is not very far away, so I can return often.

Let this be the first photo of many of the Flemish Ardennes!