Post 7 – Winter woodland scenes at Baraque Michel (Belgium)

As planned on the 11th of December I went for my regular photo walk to the Baraque Michel (Belgium). Only a 40minutes drive from home. According to the weather forecast there would be snow and possibly some fog. Perfect conditions to create some black and white woodland photographs.

At the top of the Baraque Michel it was snowing and there was thick fog. The visibility was on average only 10 meters. Difficult circumstances to get some decent images. I hiked for almost 7 miles and found along the route interesting compositions to photograph. The thick fog did simplify the scenery a lot.

It was really difficult to hike. The trails were packed with wet snow. Sometimes the trails were even not visible. On the Baraque Michel there is a lot of boggy land with little streams that cross the trails. When the trails are packed with snow you can easily step into a little, but deep stream without seeing it. I was prepared for this. I did wear my watertight hiking shoes and pants.

I more or less stayed on the trails. But with some compositions I had to wade trough knee high snow to come even close to some beautiful winter woodland compositions. I had anticipated on these circumstances and had put on my Fujifilm 50mm F2 lens on my XT3. Due to the weather it was not advisable to changes lenses.

Using a one lens setup does make photography more easy. Simply there are no other options available. After a short time your vision is tuned with the focal length you are using. Not one moment I think about another lens. To my experience with one lens setup you are more focused to get the composition right in camera. I use a Benro geared head on my tripod that makes fine tuning the composition even more easy.

Here is a selection of the black and white photographs of this photo walk. I focused on some foggy winter woodland scenes. Baraque Michel is definitely a place to visit and regular to come back to.

Would like to know which of the photographs you like the most. I’am curious to read the comments. Subscribe if you are interested on more posts of my photo walks.

All content and photographs are (C) Copyright Ruud Maas. All Rights Reserved.

Post 6 – Mixed weather conditions in the Hautes Fagnes (Belgium)

It’s the 10 th of Januari of 2022. I’m back from a family holiday of two weeks in Romania. This is a short blog of my photo walk at the Hautes Fagnes in Belgium at the beginning of December of 2021.

Due to the weather forecast (rain/snow and fog) for the 4th of December I decided to do a photo walk at the Baraque Michel in Belgium. The Baraque Michel with its altitude of 674 metres is almost the highest point of Belgium. With the weather forecast in mind and the latest webcam data on the internet, the chances were high that I would encounter some really wintery conditions.

Fist I stopped at the Arboretum of Meffersheid situated near to the Baraque Michel. I wanted to explore this location for some new compositions. It rained so it was soaking wet, but there was no snow or fog at the Arboretum of Meffersheid. There was even some sunshine.

I took the first image next to the road. A birch tree with still a few brown leafs on its branches and a backdrop of green pine trees. Because of the sunlight I like this woodland scene. The light gives some depth to the image.

The second composition is a woodland scene next to a small stream. Somebody had left a kitchen chair next to a birch tree.

After exploring the Arboretum of Meffersheid I decided to go to Baraque Michel. Whilst driving to the Baraque Michel, the weather conditions completely changed. On top of the Baraque Michel it rained and there was a thick fog. It had snowed days before surely due to the higher altitude on top of the Baraque Michel. It had changed the landscape completely into a winter wonderland.

It was freezing cold. While looking for some compositions I stayed on the trails. With those winter conditions it is not save to leave the official trails. The Baraque Michel consist of a lot of boggy land. Because of the rainy and foggy conditions I left the 35mm f2 lens on my Fujifilm XT3. I had my 50mm and 85 mm lenses with me, but I did not want to damage the camera gear.

The snow and the fog gave a monochrome look to the landscape. With those conditions I like to process the images in black and white. The sun tried to burn through the thick fog. It gives a very faint hint of a backlight effect to the processed images.

I have planned to explore some more parts of the Baraque Michel. Hopefully too in winter conditions.

If you like the images please like and leave some comments on this post.

All content and photographs are (C) Copyright Ruud Maas. All Rights Reserved.

Hertogenwald last autumn colours

November the 20th I did a photo walk in the forest called Hertogenwald. The forest is situated near Eupen, which is a little town in Belgium not more then a half hour drive from my home. The forest is a mixture of deciduous trees and planted conifers and pines. The forest is a part of the Belgian Ardennes. Because of the differences in altitude there are a lot of natural formed streams. There are a lot of beautiful trails to hike. They say there are a lot of deer but I never spotted one. I have been to this forest several times this year.

It is a really chaotic forest. It is not easy to find beautiful compositions. Yet, I have not discovered really old trees. The little streams in combination with the surrounding somewhat gnarly deciduous trees do offer some photographic importunities. Scattered all over the forest you can find small intimate forest scenes.

That morning it was calm in the forest and I did not see anyone else. The best circumstance to really connect with the beautiful nature and to focus on finding a pleasing composition. Woodland photography for me is all about exploring and experiencing real nature and if possible creating some beautiful photographs. After a week of office-work it is refreshing for the mind and body.

Officially it is wintertime. Most deciduous trees lost al their leaves and some thin mist lingered in the forest. With some backlight this could result in some beautiful compositions.

After a short hike I found the first composition. A tranquil scene of a little stream surrounded by trees. I really liked, as foreground interest, the roots of the pine that are stretching out. It looks like they are trying to reach the water. Furthermore, the gnarly trees on both sides of the stream at the mid ground do bring some balance in the composition. The stream does lead your eyes into the scene. The clear water makes it possible to see the stones beneath the water. The golden brown leaves on the ground and the spars yellow leaves on the gnarly tree give an autumnal look and finish to the scene.

I shot the second image because of the colour contrast. Behind the cross there are still some autumnal colours. The gnarly tree on the left does help to keep the eyes in the image.

After an hour of hiking and searching I did find a little tree still wearing its yellow leaves. Because of the surrounding trees and shrubs it took some time to set up the composition I wanted. At first glance at the back screen of the camera it did not look very interesting. But as always a view of the image on a big screen and also some post processing can change an image to a really good photograph.

For me, the photograph of the little tree standing in front of a bigger tree with its sweeping branch still wearing its yellow leaves is my favourite and a keeper for my portfolio. I will make a print of it too.

Hertogenwald and Vijlenerbos in the Netherlands are my favourite places for doing woodland photography. Hopefully we can get some snow this winter. I hope to be back soon in those beautiful forests.

All content and photographs are (C) Copyright Ruud Maas. All Rights Reserved.

Post 4 – Bois de la Julienne. A wet wet photo walk

The day before November the 13th I checked the weather forecast. There was only a lot of rain predicted in the whole region. I decided to do a photo walk in a forest nearby home in Belgium.

The forest with the name Bois de la Julienne is situated in Argenteau (Belgium), which is a 10 minutes drive from my home. It is not a big forest. Is has a lot of steep trails. In the weekend a lot of locals do practise their favourite sport in the forest, mainly trail running or mountain biking. I used to run in that forest but now if possible I prefer to take the mountain bike for a spin.

Back to the photo walk. To my surprise there were still a lot of autumnal colours. The storm and rain of the last days did not had a lot of impact. Still a lot of trees did wear their colourful leaves. I decided to take my traditional route trough the most western part of the forest this in search for new compositions.

The first stop was at a little waterfall nearby the parking-lot. All that rain formed a little waterfall coming from the higher parts of the forest. Because I had the 35mm lens on the camera and I did not wanted to change to the 16mm lens due to the heavy rain it was difficult to get a suitable composition. It is a place to go back to when the weather is more favourable.

On my walk to the local stream I discovered a colourful scene on the side of the trail. A fallen tree in the scene had green leaves that really contrasted with the surrounding autumnal colours. I do like the contrasting green colours. Next time I do have to work more on the composition.

Then I went to a favourite place at the stream to try and make a better photograph of a scene I shot already. It is the scene with the stream and a little bridge at the far end. The colourful leaves on the trees do make the scene to busy for my liking. I do have a photograph of the scene during spring. The wild garlic and all that green leaves in spring do make the scene more beautiful. I also took a lot of shots of the wider scene to create in post a panorama.

There was still no end to the rain so I decided to put the camera in my camera-backpack and to explore the rest of the western part of the forest for new compositions.

In spring this tear on the highest part of the forest I shot an image of a beautiful woodland scene full of wild garlic and lush green leaves, but now the forest floor at that place was not interesting enough to take any image. I decided to give it a call and to go back to the car. Sometimes you do not find any interesting subjects or scenes to take an image of. But today it was all about the experience and practice to getting more knowledge of the forest.

For my return to the car I took the trail on the higher part of the forest. There I shot the last image of the photo walk. A view at a lot of trees still wearing their colourful leaves.

This time no candidate image for my portfolio but images of a “wet wet” photo walk in a forest still wearing its autumnal colours. A comment on the post is as always appreciated.

All content and photographs are (C) Copyright Ruud Maas. All Rights Reserved.

Post 3 – More autumnal colours Vijlenerbos

Yes on the 6th of November I went back to the Vijlenerbos to shoot some more woodland images with autumnal colours.

This time, the autumn colours were just past their peak. A lot of leafs already fell on the ground, but still a lot of trees did held on to their beautiful coloured leafs. The weather was fine. Cloudy and almost no wind. Just an occasional light breeze. Every few minutes sun rays penetrated the forest. So for all the compositions it was a waiting game to get the wanted exposures, without blowing out the highlights.

This time I planned to walk a bit longer to explore and get some different looks of this beautiful forest. First, I wanted to make a more intimate image of the forest. Then, I wanted to visit a part of the forest where mainly pines and larches grow to get an image of pines and larches surrounded with that autumnal golden bracken. And finally, I had planned to go to a place at the south-east edge of the forest. I visited that place some years ago and with the light at hand it was possibly an interesting place to shoot a side lit scene of straight pines. But as always you can only record what nature presents you at that moment.

The composition of the gnarly tree with the yellow leafs is more or less backlit. If you really go into the centre of some parts of this forest you have a big chance to shoot intimate images like this. For me this scene was interesting because of autumnal colours, the backlight and the gnarly form of the branches.

I had to shoot the scene of the larches and pines surrounded with green and beautiful brown golden bracken with the tripod at its biggest height. This way after cropping it to 16:9 I could get an image without the distracting bright sky. It was very wet between that green and golden bracken. Next time I do have to wear some gaiters.

The last composition was, as planned, at the edge of the forest. After a long walk I spotted a slender silver birch that still held on to its yellow leafs at the side of the trail. A beautiful side lit scene with a contrasting backdrop of deep dark pines.

It is always difficult to photograph the autumnal colours when only the weekends are an option to go out on a photo walk. Next time, all those beautiful autumnal colours will be gone, because heavy rain and storm is on its way.

I did spotted some new compositions to go back to when the conditions are more suitable (like mist and rain). I almost hiked for 7 miles.

All images are shot with my favourite lens Fujifilm 35mm f2. Which photograph do you like the most? For me it is the scene with the slender silver birch. I will make a print of this image. I’m pleased to hear your comments.

All content and photographs are (C) Copyright Ruud Maas. All Rights Reserved.

Post 2 – Autumn in Vijlenerbos

One week has past since I was in the Vijlenerbos. Vijlenerbos is altitude-wise the highest located forest of The Netherlands. Now October 30th autumnal colours arrived in the Vijlenerbos.

No fog or mist and yes a lot of wind, so not so easy to photograph woodland. It also was completely clouded and it rained a little bit on and of. So, next to my tripod I also needed an umbrella to protect myself and the gear. On arrival I spotted a dear crossing the main road. He spotted me too so I was to late to take an image. Wild photography honestly is also not my thing. I do not have a good long lens for it.

Vijlenerbos is photographically speaking a chaotic forest. A lot of tree-species and shrubs grow in Vijlenerbos. Everything stands close together mainly separated by old trails. Yes, in the Vijlenerbos you also have some parts only populated by big pines.

After all those trips in the past years into this forest I still didn’t find any really old and gnarly trees. But the forest now at Autumn has beautiful colours. So my main goal was to explore and get some pleasing compositions with a lot of autumnal colours. Compositions that could represent Vijlenerbos in Autumn.

During 5 miles of walking and searching for compositions I took about 120 images. Not all of these compositions were different, but I micro-adjusted the same composition a few times. My geared head on the tripod is really made for this way of composing. There was not a lot of light and the wind was a real pain in the …. But with some higher ISO settings and bigger F-stops in combination with waiting for the less windy moments it was possible to get some acceptable sharp images.

I’ve posted three favourites of my trip. I would like to hear in the comments which one is preferred. All compositions shot with my favourite Fuji 35mm F2.

Next weekend I‘ ll come back. Vijlenerbos is to big to explore in one morning. You could wander for days in the Vijlenerbos. And this forest is so beautiful in Autumn. Really worth visiting.

All content and photographs are (C) Copyright Ruud Maas. All Rights Reserved.

First Post – Hike into a misty Vijlenerbos in Vijlen (The Netherlands)

My first post on the internet concerning photography. When I started with my photography journey some years ago I never thought of writing about it or sharing my photographs on the internet.

For me photography is in the first place personal. It is a great means to experience and connect with the world around us and of course preserve memories of those outings.

In particular, this time of age where everything has to be aimed at speed, productivity, being better, faster etc. etc…, the danger is present to loose that connection with nature. When photographing I take my time observing those little pieces of nature. It slows you down and gives the opportunity to realy see and connect with what happens in front of you.

I have created a lot of photographs during all those phototrips and hope to make more in the years to come. I will use this website and posts like a jounal. When I have time I’ll write some more about my phototrips. Let see what this will bring in the future!

There is no harm in sharing the photographs. Perhaps these photographs will inspire somebody to go out and connect with the beautiful world around us. And of course If somebody likes a photograph, he or she can always comment on the post or contact me for prints or other photographic services.

Now let’s go back into time to start with the journal and introduce one of my photowalks.

On October 23rd I planned to get up early to witness a beautiful sunrise at Epen (The Netherlands). However there was no beautiful sunrise. Instead it was a misty and gloomy morning. So I decided to go to the Vijlenerbos ( a beautiful forest nearby) to create some misty forest images.

I do like misty / foggy forests a lot. It gives a lot of atmosphere to the photographs. There was not a lot of mist left when I found this composition, but I always say: Except what nature gives you.

Shot with my favourite lens: Fuji 35mm F2.

All content and photographs are (C) Copyright Ruud Maas. All Rights Reserved.