Photographer of the week Daniël Laan
I was born in Den Helder in 1984, where I’m still based today. After working six years for a large company in the metal industry, I left every security that job offered and started a career in design. Today, I’m in my final year of studying Communication & Multimedia Design, which has helped to channel my creative energy.
But nothing channels my creative energy more than photography. Together with hiking to the best places nature has to offer, landscape photography is a means of catharsis for me.
My diverse interests reflect itself in my work, since I capture the world in so many different ways. Black & White, grand sweeping landscapes, intimate (even abstract) work, infrared and especially nightscape photography are actually different aspects of my personality. The latter has a deep fascination of the world we live in and its place in the cosmos.
While photography for me would never be a steady source of income, it does yield me something so much more valuable: To show others a world without borders, a delicate world that both needs protection and to be valued for what it is. To show you the world how I see it.
The wind picks up. It’s about 9.30 PM and the sun’s about to set. Another warm day of summer for the books. But here, on the isle of Texel, things are about to change…
The sun has disappeared, but it did not set just yet. There’s about 15 minutes left. The sky darkens as quickly as we can make for the highest dune in the area. There’s probably not going to be a visual confirmation that the night is about to begin, but it couldn’t hurt to take a look north-west.
As we approach the top of the dune, the wind, now a moderate gale, hits us in the face. Sandblasted, we hastily close our eyes and a coldfront sweeps overhead. Voices seem to whisper in the dunes around us. A haunting sound… Carefully we peer through our eyelashes and are welcomed by a golden glow of the setting sun.
‘Voices’ was captured at Dunes of Texel National Park, near Den Hoorn, the Netherlands with the D600 at 14mm.
Focus stacked, hand blended foreground ( 1/200s | f/4 | ISO2500 ). – and background ( 1/40s | f/8 | ISO100)
‘Break of Dawn’ was captured on day that turned out to be perfect in the dunes near Den Helder, the Netherlands. With the D600 at 14mm.
5s | f/18 | ISO100
I found this location to be perfect for a sunset shot because of the natural leading lines in the picture. But this was in the afternoon, while the sun would not set for another three hours. I marked this location, and left in search for more future locations in the area while being very careful not to destroy the foreground.
When the sun eventually did drop close to the horizon though, it’s another story entirely. Instead of a leisurely stroll along the beach, there are many factors that make up a picture like this. The place I had marked before, didn’t work in this new light, so you’ll lose valuable time recomposing the image. I noticed that the dynamic range was far too high to take all the details in, so I decided to bracket 3 exposures. But the light faded quickly. Soon there was no sunset to capture at all…
Some of the whispy clouds moved in the frame at the very last moment before sunset. They seemed to be aiding the composition by introducing another set of leading lines. All the waiting paid off in the end for this picture. Sometimes it really does all come together.
‘Towards the Essence’ was captured at the edge of the dunes towards the North Sea (near Julianadorp, the Netherlands) with the D600 at 14mm.
f/11 | 3 shot HDR | ISO100
July 2nd, 2015 – The European Storm Forecast Experiment (ESTOFEX for short) issued a level 2 warning for the Benelux, mainly for large hail and possible tornadoes.
All geared up, I leaped at the chance to see a couple of lightning strikes. It had been some time since we’ve had severe weather come our way, but was I a happy photographer to be returning (alive) with this picture.
There was lightning, downbursts and even something that may have been a waterspout off the coast of Den Helder. This image shows an incoming shelfcloud of a multicell-type structure of cumulonimbus (thunderstorm) clouds. Right in it’s path is a so-called outflow, where most of the precipitation plunges from the sky.
It’s a constant internal struggle when you shoot these things – Every fibre of your being tells you to GTFO, when a brightly coloured monster passes overhead. “Just one more shot”, you could hear yourself say. A lightning bolt comes crashing to Earth within three kilometers – You know, because you’ve learned to count the difference between hearing and seeing a strike.
“Just one more.”
‘Outflow’ was captured at the North Sea Coast, Den Helder, the Netherlands with the D600 at 14mm.
Focus stacked, hand blended fore- and background. 1/25s | f/9 | ISO100
For man to be convinced he is the at centre of the universe, is a profoundly shallow view of the part we all play in the grand scheme of things. The living and breathing universe is as much part of us as we are of it.
Sat against the backdrop of the constellation of Orion (left), the Pleiades star cluster (centre) and the Andromeda galaxy (right), I triggered the camera to capture myself pondering the impact of human activity on the landscape that we are so very fond of.
The light pollution and passing ships on the horizon that, together with less than ideal weather conditions, make it very difficult to capture the night sky like this.
Let’s keep the lights off at night, so that we together can enjoy the night sky again.
‘The Anthropocentric Orrery’ was captured under the stars of Den Helder, the Netherlands, with the D600 at 14mm.
f/2.8 | 30s | ISO6400
This is the controversial result of an idea I carried with me for some time now; to capture a timelapse video in one photograph. The picture you see here could be played back as a short video wherein the setting sun cast magenta and copper hues upon the fleeting clouds, but instead, I opened the 156 frames as a stack in Photoshop. I then selected ‘lighten’ as the blend mode for all but one of them and brushed the bush back in to create a static looking element to the scene. Of course it’s controversial in the sense that these works tend to raise discussion about what photography really is. ‘Temporal Rift’ was captured in “de Grafelijkheidsduinen” in de Den Helder, the Netherlands with the D600 at 14mm.
1/6s | f/16 | ISO100
It’s the most compelling thing, being out there, right after a storm passed. And should you be in the lucky position that it coincides with a majestic setting sun, that dips just below the heavy blanket of clouds, then you are just well…. lucky to have a camera with you!
That evening I was just struck with how many different shades of purple the sky was adorned with. There’s magenta and violet, sure. But aside from indigo, I’m running out of names for colours.
I quickly shut off the analytical mind coming up with names for everything and just went for it. Got my feet wet, broke my tripod and remembered how to capture such a scene. And it’s all well worth watching the last wave of that day break as the sun dips below the horizon.
‘When the Last Wave Brokes’ was captured right before the end of the day at the North Sea coast near Huisduinen, the Netherlands with the D600 at 14mm.
Focus stacked, hand blended foreground ( 2s | f/7.1 | ISO100 ) and background ( 1/8s | f/8 | ISO100 )
It’s uncommon to see the sands of the dunes this untouched. The trick is to wait for a rainstorm to pass and rush towards the place you want to photograph. Be aware of your own footsteps when you do…! ‘Where the Dunes are Born Anew’ was captured at de Schoorlse Duinen, the Netherlands with the D600 at 85mm.
1/250s | f/14 | ISO400
‘Autumnal Winds’ was captured after sunset in ‘de Grafelijkheidsduinen’ in Den Helder, the Netherlands with the D600 at 14mm.
30s | f/6.3 | ISO100
You might have seen this tree a couple of times before, but never before have I managed to extract so much detail from the night sky.
In the background on the horizon there’s a good deal of light pollution coming from the outskirts of the town of Den Helder in the northwestern Netherlands, although it isn’t that visible to the naked eye. Nor is the Milky Way for that matter. When you have a good idea of where our galaxy rises out of the horizon, there’s something to work on your composition with. I used ‘short’ 15 second exposures to pinpoint the exact location of where I wanted the tree and the Milky Way in the picture.
The foreground is actually lightpainted by a large lighthouse behind me. While that diminished the contrast in the sky a little, the foreground went from a dark silhouette to a fairly detailed subject in spite of the gale force winds that haunted the plains that night.
This image isn’t stacked in DeepSkyStacker, but is instead raw converted in DxO Optics Pro 8. The premier noise reduction capabillities within this piece of software are, if you pardon the pun, stellar.
‘The Dark Rift’ was captured under the stars of Den Helder, the Netherlands, with the D7100 at 14mm.
f/2.8 | 25s | ISO6400
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