My latest photography exhibition: Horizons Sylvestres

For the second time, I have participated to the Randonnée d’Artistes de Rixensart (could be translated by Artist’s Walk) and it has just ended. I spent two week-ends welcoming visitors attracted by my exhibition.
I must confess that I was quite impressed by the way visitors reacted to my pictures. I did not think that they could have so much success. Lesson learned!

To all of those who visited my exhibition, a big thank you for your comments, discussions, but also useful tips for preparing my future photographic trips in Belgium or abroad.

Horizons Sylvestres - exposition photo

My pictures shown during the Randonnée d’Artistes are now visible in my gallery.

You can also find below the catalogue/price list of the exhibition (in French).

While preparing this catalogue and doing my first steps with the page layout software Scribus (a free open source alternative to InDesign), I thought that it would be a good exercise to rapidly produce another catalogue with the pictures of my previous exhibition, showing mostly pictures from my “Intrigantes” series that I had presented during the Randonnée d’Artistes de Rixensart 2010.

One of my visitors, who is often documenting events in our town, has taken a few pictures during my exhibition. You can see them here. A big thank you to him to have highlighted me on his Rixensart Facebook page.

Many of the visitors who were also photographers wanted to know where I had had my prints done. It was at Authentic. They produced excellent direct prints of my pictures on Dibond. All visitors found the result excellent, giving a kind of smooth grain to the image, probably due to the ink used, and allowing to hang the picture on a wall without further need for a frame.
For photographers that might me interested, I will soon publish a post about my experience with various print types at Authentic.

Now, I need to start working on producing a book with the pictures from the exhibition and many others that could not be shown due to lack of space.

A colourful grey morning

With the very mild rainy and grey weather that has been present for a few weeks here in Belgium, nature is mostly grey these days. Not even some snow or ice to bring some contrast. Not very attractive for landscape photography.
So I went back to my pictures taken at the very end of October to publish this colourful post. All these images were shot during a grey morning in the Solvay Domain, in La Hulpe. The sky was a flat white screen, ideal for details of the landscape without too much contrast. The tree leaves were also still wet from a recent shower and were at their best, especially when I used a polarizing filter to remove the highlights caused by reflections on the wet leaves.
Here is a selection of my images from that colourful grey morning 😉

Colourful trees reflection in one of the ponds of the Solvay Domain in La Hulpe, BelgiumColourful trees reflection in one of the ponds of the Solvay Domain in La Hulpe, BelgiumColourful trees reflection in one of the ponds of the Solvay Domain in La Hulpe, BelgiumColourful trees reflection in one of the ponds of the Solvay Domain in La Hulpe, BelgiumColourful contrast between the almost gone and the ever greenAutumn leaves detailsAutumn leaves detailsA colony of dark mushrooms thrives on the dead leavesColourful mess of shrubs and fernsLast remnant of summer, a wild strawberry seems to be ready to stay red and green for months to come

And I went back a few days later, this time with a little bit of sun and later with a ‘white sky’ that gave a nice even light for photographing in the forest.

With the sun at a low angle, this was the ideal moment to make these pine trees stand out from the backgroundPine trees in the quiet surroundings of a less-travelled path in the Solvay Domain, La Hulpe, BelgiumA magical stand of pine trees along a quiet path of the Solvay Domain, La Hulpe, Belgium

Autumn colours in the Hautes Fagnes

The superb colours of autumn have now almost completely disappeared here in Belgium. Mid-October, I visited one of my favourite places in the Hautes-Fagnes: the Fagne de Malchamp and the Hoëgne Valley, both not far away from Spa.
I arrived in the Fagne de Malchamp just in time for sunrise. As always on this plateau, it was very windy and cold. But the warm light of the rising sun made everything, even the frost, look warmer.

Windy sunrise in the Fagne de Malchamp, near Spa, Hautes Fagnes, BelgiumWindy sunrise in the Fagne de Malchamp, near Spa, Hautes Fagnes, BelgiumWindy sunrise in the Fagne de Malchamp, near Spa, Hautes Fagnes, BelgiumEarly light and trees in the Fagne de Malchamp, near Spa, Hautes Fagnes, BelgiumGrass and tree in the Fagne de Malchamp, near Spa, Hautes Fagnes, Belgium

I have been to this place many times so I only spent about an hour there, trying to make new images, and soon headed to another of my favourites places in the neighbourhood: the Hoëgne Valley. I particularly like the area around the Belheid Bridge, close to Solwaster. There is a sign above the path leaving the parking area that is saying that this is one of the most beautiful valleys of Belgium.
And I cannot say otherwise. You could spend hours there photographing the Hoëgne river and its valley. The river is characteristic for the region, with its very iron-rich waters, it is very dark, almost black with bits of white foam slowly moving on top of it but it can also become red when the sunlight hits it in a particular direction.
I spent several hours there, playing with slow shutter speeds and reflections of the autumn colours in the water. The results are shown in the following images.

Sunlight makes the Hoëgne river turn red, Hoëgne Valley, Pont de Belheid, near Solwaster, BelgiumThe Hoëgne river, Hoëgne Valley, Pont de Belheid, near Solwaster, BelgiumSpiral and moss, Hoëgne Valley, Pont de Belheid, near Solwaster, BelgiumRocks and reflection, Hoëgne Valley, Pont de Belheid, near Solwaster, BelgiumTrees colours reflect in the river, Hoëgne Valley, Pont de Belheid, near Solwaster, BelgiumTrees colours reflect in the river, Hoëgne Valley, Pont de Belheid, near Solwaster, BelgiumThe Hoëgne river, Hoëgne Valley, Pont de Belheid, near Solwaster, BelgiumThe Hoëgne river, Hoëgne Valley, Pont de Belheid, near Solwaster, Belgium

Washington – British Columbia – Alberta teaser

A few weeks ago, I spent two weeks around the state of Washington and visiting the South-West of Canada, British Columbia and Alberta. I am busy with sorting and selecting my pictures taken during this trip. When they will be ready, you will be able to see them in my galleries, of course.
In the meantime, as a teaser, here is a picture taken at sunrise in one of the most iconic places in Banff National Park: Moraine Lake.

Sunrise at Moraine Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Remembering the summer

It has been a very long time since my last post with some of my pictures!
Summer has not inspired me much this year. Before showing some of my more recent pictures (autumn is always more productive for me), I still wanted to share a small set of pictures from this summer.
The first three have been taken during some of my summer hikes here in Belgium, all of them in Brabant.

A field of flowers in HalleAn island of white in the green, HalleOne of my favourite group of plants in the Solvay Domain, La Hulpe

And of course, I could not resist to the creation of some of my Intrigantes (you can find more of them in my galleries. Have a look at these two. As always, there is absolutely no “computer magic” behind these images, only some slow shutter speed and my experience 😉

Summer Intrigantes, in the Solvay Domain, La HulpeSummer Intrigantes, in the Solvay Domain, La Hulpe

The Halle wood – When to visit and how to get there

UPDATE: Upon request from the local police, I have updated the description of the way to the Halle wood. See below.

The Halle wood (Hallerbos) is a very popular place to visit if you like enjoying natural beauty (and perfume) in Belgium. It is really worth a visit during the flowering of the sea of bluebells that is the main characteristic of this wood.

When to visit

To help you time your visit to the Halle wood as best as possible, here is a table with statistics of the bluebells peak flowering period. They are based on my own visits during the last three years.
Of course, if you plan to photograph them, many other parameters will be important, such as how early or late in the day, the absence/presence of clouds, the presence of people where you would rather not see them,…
If you plan your visit to coincide with the beginning of the flowering period, you can be quite sure that the trees will still be clean of any leaves. This means that the bluebells will be bathing in beautiful light, especially at the end of the afternoon. If you visit at the end of the flowering period, the trees will be full of leaves and the flowers will be mostly in shadows, with some areas still in the sunlight only around noon. In any case, do not forget to bring your tripod to get good pictures in these relatively low light conditions.

Year Best time
to visit
My pictures
2009 April 15

May 15
My Halle wood pictures from 2009
2010 April 24

May 15
My Halle wood pictures from 2010
2011 April 9

May 1
My Halle wood pictures from 2011

How to get there

Although the Halle wood is located very close to the E19 highway (Brussels-Paris), getting there is not that easy as there are only very few signs giving directions to reach it.
The best way to avoid trouble by getting stuck in very narrow roads is to access it by following the description found here. From the parking area P8 “Acht dreven”, it will take you 10-15 min walking to reach the site where the highest density of flowers is situated, close to parking area P10 (which is now very difficult to reach by car). You can find a good detailed map of the wood here. You will want to reach the western part of the wood, on both sides of the “Dreef van Eigenbrakel”. This is usually where most of the flowers are located.
Although the wood is quite big, the most beautiful part, where most flowers are located, is relatively small and one or two hours is more than enough to enjoy a walk in magnificent surroundings. If however you plan on some serious photography, you could easily spend half a day exploring the numerous possible viewpoints along the paths. You will also have plenty of opportunities to create some unique images, like I did with my own interpretation of the sea of bluebells.
Please be very careful not to walk into the flowers themselves. And of course, do not pick any !

As always, take only pictures, leave only footprints.

Show Hallerbos on a larger map

Spring 2011 in the Halle wood

Spring is in full swing now and this is also the best time to visit the Halle wood. This year, March and April have been warm and dry months here in Belgium and I have the feeling that flowering of the bluebells (and other flowers) as well as appearance of leaves on trees has taken place earlier than usual.
The following pictures are the results my four visits to the Halle wood over the course of three weeks in April. Landscape photography can be demanding sometimes ! Even if I like my latest pictures, I still think that some of my best ones so far had been taken last year .
The first series of images has been taken on April, 9. As you can see, it was still early spring and leaves were barely appearing on the trees.

April 9, 2011 in the Halle woodApril 9, 2011 in the Halle woodApril 9, 2011 in the Halle wood

The next series has been taken on April, 16 and this was probably around the peak of the flowering.

April 16, 2011 in the Halle woodApril 16, 2011 in the Halle woodApril 16, 2011 in the Halle woodApril 16, 2011 in the Halle wood

Two days later, I went back in the evening hoping for low light on the flowers but, unfortunately, the leaves now fully out were blocking most of the light.

April 18, 2011 in the Halle woodApril 18, 2011 in the Halle woodApril 18, 2011 in the Halle woodApril 18, 2011 in the Halle wood

My last visit was on April, 22. As you can see, colours were already less intense. This was probably due to the combination of the tree leaves cover and the aging of the bluebells.

April 22, 2011 in the Halle wood

Misty sunrise in Ohain and daffodils in La Hulpe

March has been a beautiful month this year in Belgium: dry and sunny. Quite unusual !
Finding the right moment for nice pictures was easier that way. Here are a two pictures that I took a week ago on a misty early morning on a small road between Waterloo and Ohain.

Misty sunrise on a small road between Waterloo and OhainMisty sunrise on a small road between Waterloo and Ohain

I have taken the next ones in one my favorite places, the Solvay Domain in La Hulpe. Daffodils were in full bloom and there was almost no wind. Perfect conditions for photographing these fields of daffodils in the woods.
Two nice moments that I wanted to share with you 🙂

A field of daffodils in the woods of the Solvay Domain, in La HulpeA field of daffodils in the woods of the Solvay Domain, in La Hulpe

Happy New Year !

For all of you who did not receive the paper version of my greetings card, here is the picture that I had chosen to illustrate it.
This was taken on a snowy early October 2009 morning in in the Lava Beds National Monument in Northern California. These mule deers (Odocoileus hemionus) were posing very patiently for me. You may have seen this picture already in my California-Oregon photo trip.

Mule deers (Odocoileus hemionus) on a snowy early October morning in the Lava Beds National Monument, Northern California

Sunrise at the Baraque Michel

After almost a week of very difficult driving due to the continuous snowfall here in Belgium, I managed to reach the Hautes Fagnes in time for the sunrise. It took me almost two hours to get there and I was almost too late to catch the best light. I barely had the time to jump out of my car, run (well… as best as I could) in the deep snow to a few hundred of meters away from the road to take the pictures of the sunrise. I had no snowshoes and it was impossible to get very far from the road without them so I will need to be better prepared next time !

Sunrise at the Baraque MichelSunrise at the Baraque MichelFrost at sunrise - Baraque MichelThe Fischbach chapel - Baraque MichelThe Fischbach chapel - Baraque Michel

Dreaming of a White Christmas

The first 3 weeks of December have been very snowy here in Belgium. Statistics up to two days ago show that this month will probably be an exceptional December. While an average December sees 4.1 days of snow for the whole month, the first 21 days of December this year have already seen 15 days with snowfalls in Brussels ! It has only happened once since 1901 and the first official weather records in Belgium. And snow is continuing to fall… Already more than 70 cm (almost 2.5 ft) of accumulated snow in the Hautes Fagnes, much less (about 20 cm) around Brussels. But even with these 20 cm of snow, it is chaos on the roads 🙂

I have had a little bit of time to enjoy the snow and take some pictures in the park of the La Hulpe Castle (Solvay Domain). Not too difficult to reach for me, even in these weather conditions. Here are a few pictures from two separate visits.

Groups of 3 trees are a recurrent theme in the parkThe castle of La Hulpe in the snowLone pine tree in a white worldBeautiful patterns created by snow and wind on the ice

And 3 days later, after another shower of wet snow, everything looked like covered in icing sugar. I lost track of my bearing while wandering in the Forest of Soignes and even managed to get completely lost in all the white around me !

Early morning at the entrance of the park of the La Hulpe castleI have been thinking of taking this picture for a long time and finally decided it was time to give it a try. A hill just behind me makes it impossible to get back enough for one shot embracing the whole tree. This image is made of 11 pictures stitched together.Snow covering everything converts a familiar wood into a fantastic universeEven the tall beech trees of the Forest of Soignes are transformed by the snow. So much transformed that I got lost in it !

Last landscape colours of the year

A short visit to the park of the Castle of La Hulpe (Solvay Domain), just after the first real freeze of the winter. Suddenly, all the leaves of a big liquidambar that was showing its last colours fell away together, leading to a beautiful sea of red leaves on the still water of the main pond of the park.

Freshly frozen Liquidambar leavesLiquidambar leaves lay motionless on the main pond of the parkA sea of Liquidambar leaves