Probably the number one reason travel to The Netherlands in April are the tulip fields. Depending on the weather and temperatures, the flowering season starts at the beginning of April. If the start of the spring season is warm this would be earlier, while a cold finish of the winter delays the blooming. It is difficult to predict when the tulips will flourish, they bloom however for three weeks. So planning is difficult, but possible. Aim for the period around the third week of April and you should be able to see them.
Luckily for me, we have tulip fields not far from where I live. Only a twenty minute drive gets me there. My goal was to capture the tulip fields during sunset. I check my weather app regularly for the right conditions before I go on a photography trip. I wanted at least 50% cloud coverage and no rain for my shots of the tulip fields. Light turns red during sunset (read why on my page here), but for the red light to be visible clouds are needed to reflect the light.
My weather app predicted over 40% cloud coverage. A 60% coverage would have increased the chances for a dramatic but I liked the odds and I decided to take the chance.
I really wanted to test some new gear I bought, and was pretty excited to head out. It is important for me to take the next steps in photography and deliver better quality images, so I finally bought a Lee filter set that I have been dreaming about for the past three years (the price held me back). I’ll post a review within the next year, but first want to use them long enough to write anything useful about the filters.
Driving through this Dutch country side (in the area near Almere) I realised how structured the fields are. There used to be a sea / lake in this area, but humans turned the water in land by creating “polders”. A polder is a piece of land created by humans by draining a lake or sea. As The Netherlands is a small country, more land was created for the farming industry.
Funny fact is that the structure used to divide land in the Dutch “polders”, was later used to structured Manhattan! As the Dutch say: “How a small country can be big”.
Shooting with my new filter set is great fun. It feels good to balance the amount of light between the sky and surface of the earth and deliver a correctly exposed image. I bought three filters, along with the Lee Foundation Kit and the Badpter (a review will be posted later this year). The filters are two 3 stop (0.9) Graduated Natural Density filters (Hard and Soft), and the Big Stopper (Natural Density filter that blocks 10 stops of light).
Using the Big Stopper, I was able to take a picture with a two minute exposure! As visible in the image above, this results in moving clouds. The graduated filter prevented over exposing the sky.
It was a big expense, but I translate expenses to happiness. And I can certainly say I bought myself some happiness!
What are your experiences with filters?