I work close to the town of Katwijk, a small peaceful seaside village in the Netherlands. The village and the inlands are protected from the sea by dunes. Not very high dunes but for the flat standards of a Dutch guy they seem like mountains! They make for great views and of course other types of landscape shots than the regular flatlands.
On a morning in February I had the chance to visit them just before work. The sunset was not looking promising but hey I had the opportunity to go and just went with it. Might as well just check out the location in the Northern Dunes and see if I could find a good spot in case the conditions were right someday. Because most of the Dutch shoreline is located west and this being a sunrise getting the sea in my shot was not possible. Of course you can shoot with the light but that kind of light was not happening…
Composing for a shot in a more hillside countryside is a little different as well… my usual go-to technique is to find foreground interest and bam there’s the shot. But when you higher up the middle ground becomes equally important to create depth. Luckily the dune I climbed on top of had a small trail running down and in the valley below there was another small trail visible, I could compose the shot in such a way that the impression was that it was the same trail or show that they were connected.That way the trail in the valley would become my middle ground and I got a nice S shape in my frame.
While I was taking the shots waiting for the light to improve I felt that there was still something missing in the composition, it was to empty. Maybe I had to do with the fact that there was no direct light falling onto the landscape creating depth. So I put my camera on self timer and put myself in the frame. That did the trick, suddenly there was scale, a better foreground element to start from and overall just more ‘interest’ in the image. There’s ore than one shot with me in it in this series but I liked this one the most because of the body language of the ‘model’.
Here’s a iPhone shot of the setup that day.
I was processing the images and then left them alone for a while since my skiing trip was coming up and then I learned that Google’s NIK collection was free! I had always wanted to get my hands on the NIK collection and here it was free to download for everybody! (get yours here https://www.google.com/nikcollection/ ) So I started playing around in it and I watched some tutorials. And here is the result with the image of that day.
Even though I like the shot enough to post it I was disappointed because the light did not happen that day. On my bucket list was still that shot with awesome side lighting of floodlight giving definition to a rolling hills landscape. So I started to look at Google earth and found another spot close by. This time in the Southern Dunes of Katwijk. One of the largest dunes in that area is called Vlaggeduin (flag dune) and on top of it is small turret of a second world war bunker. It is a great vantage point and gives some awesome perspective over the dunes.
I waited for a day with nice clouds and headed out there well before sunset and I set off. When I arrived on top of the dune the light was awesome! It created depth and gave definition to everything. The play of light with the clouds and the landscape gave for warm sidelight and in the distance you could see the water tower. In the Dunes there is a natural reserve of fresh drinking water and the Dutch people harvest that water. In the older days the water facilities built a massive tower for keeping the pressure on the water system and recently the town has been fully renovated. It was a perfect focal point for my dune landscape.
Although I frantically shot several shots I am not quite happy with the composition. I thing I didn’t slow down enough to really get the shot. The light was so good that it was all I cared about…of course there is no substitute for awesome light… Anyway I am still happy with outcome of these shots but will have to go back someday to improve. Maybe in springtime when there is more green or flowers to be seen or something. Walking back to the car I had to climb down the stairs and could not resist and take a shot of the view. I just could not stop shooting but it was time for me to go.
The a couple of days later I decided to head out there to the same dune again for a sunrise shot (shooting land inwards again). This time the shots on top of the dune were not working for me. The awesome side lighting did not happen so I walked a little off the beaten paths and tried to find some foreground. I found a small sandy area enclosed by some mossy stuff. The structure it made looked nice so again with the water tower in the background I composed and shot a couple of frames.
Here’s an iPhone shot of that setup
I tried several shots with me in it as well but here it did not work so good as the first time… Here are some shots I took there.
So with ones your favorite and why? Would love to know!!!
Interested in buying one of these or others made in Katwijk on canvas?