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Journey of a Photographer / October 28, 2018

Window to a Photo

It’s interesting to note that I write about this moment today. Exactly 5 years ago, I was in Noordwijkerhout, in western Netherlands. That trip gave me a window to a photo I had been wanting to capture for a long time. I was on an official trip to the country for a 4-day training.

An exciting journey full of hope…

This was my first trip to Netherlands. On that Finnair flight from Delhi to Amsterdam, I wondered whether I will get a chance to look around. I had researched about Netherlands, Amsterdam, and Noordwijk before (I will use shorter version of Noordwijkerhout for ease of writing and reading).  During my research I had learnt that Noordwijk is part of the area called as “Dune and Bulb Region”, was about an hour’s drive from Amsterdam. The “Dune and Bulb Region” meant that there was a sea nearby, and I might get the chance to see tulip plantations! This excited me as I would get to witness the beauty of country side, and hopefully, a few good frames.

…made interesting by Nature!

A day before we landed in Amsterdam, there was a massive storm that had hit the British archipelago. London and neighbouring areas were on alert. The Heathrow airport had temporarily shut down the operations. The day we landed, the storm was moving eastwards, and was expected to reach Netherlands soon.

I went out on a bicycle (I will be posting a prequel to this story soon!) to look around the place and identify specific spots which could provide me with nice frames. Landscape photographers often use the slow-shutter technique to blur out the movement in trees, clouds or grass to create a sense of movement and serenity. I had always wanted to capture such a photograph, but never got the opportunity to do so. The news of the storm moving towards western Netherlands (where Noordwijk lies) gave me the hope that I might get an opportunity to take a slow-shutter shot.

A storm brewed …

While I was cycling around the Noordwijk, I found a couple of interesting spots for photographs. But, as the training commenced, I doubted that I would have spare time. I would have a half day to spare on the last day, but we had planned to visit Amsterdam.  First day of the training turned into second day. The weather forecast was that the storm would pass in another 12-14 hours. Lack of the two necessary factors – density of clouds and high-speed winds – could ruin my chances of getting the shot. In addition to this, I was unable to find a slot to capture the photo. My restlessness increased by the minute.

… and I had to simply open my mind!

When I had checked in to my room the previous day, I had happened to look out of my room window. It was an ordinary view – a line of trees right next to the hotel boundary wall, an open field in a farm with tractor, a large dense area filled with trees, and an open sky with a bunch of clouds. During the last few minutes of the session before the lunch time, I had an idea. The dense clouds and high-speed winds in Noordwijk could make an interesting frame!

I rushed back to my room as soon as the session got over. Threw my study material on the bed, opened my camera backpack, and took out my camera, variable ND filter, wired shutter release and gorillapod. Thankfully, there was a window-sill. I attached my camera to the gorillapod, placed the ND filter on the lens, started framing. There was a frame. Not close to the one I had in my mind, but, it seemed to be an interesting one. After a few test shots, a 30 second exposure with ISO 100 and f/20 settings I got this photo.

Window to a Photo

If you think that you have seen better photos, I won’t contend. But, this one is special to me. Not just because it is the first of this kind of landscape photo for me. But because of how I managed to capture it.

This photo left me with a simple learning – irrespective of the situation, there is always a window to make the most of what you have.


Written by Shivendra Lal.

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