I live in Nijmegen, in the eastern part of the Netherlands. We are blessed there by large nature areas surrounding the city. One of them is called the Ooijpolder. How do you find photographic inspiration there in the Ooijpolder, near home, when your favourite type of photography is northern lights and Arctic landscapes? At first, I felt quite uninspired with the flatness of the landscapes here, but I decided to give it a try anyway and go out as often as possible. So here are a few photography tips that I learnt from these experiences.
Go out frequently
Don’t wait for the inspiration to come to you. This almost never happens. Go out and look for it. Drive or walk around with your camera, and you will surely be struck by a beautiful pond, gorgeous sun rays, out-of-this-world light. Out of all my photography tips in such a situation where I would actually rather be somewhere else, this is probably the most important. Go out. Explore.
For a few weeks recovering from a serious pneumonia, I went out every single evening. Hadn’t I done that, I would surely have missed this gorgeous and extremely colourful sunset above the Waalbrug bridge of Nijmegen.
I would probably also have missed this sunset, which displayed an enormous sunspot. See how we are back to space weather and northern lights, even in the Ooijpolder, as sunspots eruptions are one of the main causes of northern lights!
Find a vantage point
The dikes that protect Nijmegen and the villages around from the high waters of the Waal river provide excellent vantage points. As a photographer, I often enjoy the view while standing a bit higher up, which gives a new perspective to your landscape photos. No need for a drone here!
Use the (bad) weather
(Rain) clouds often appear as dramatic displays in the sky. Irregular clouds diffract sunlight and give this effect of sun rays in the sky. They also sometimes get the name of crepuscular rays. Watch for them when you are in the field!
Rain showers around sunset time, looking in a direction opposed to the sun, can be particularly colorful too.
Thunderstorms are even better albeit more dangerous (do not attempt this if you do not know what you are doing!).
Wait for AFTER sunset
Another of these photography tips in the Ooijpolder is to be patient and stay in the nature until a short time after sunset. Sunsets are often beautiful but the moments directly after are also gorgeous. On a clear day, the shadow of the earth will emerge just opposite to where the sun set. The dark band just above the horizon is really the shadow of our planet on its own atmosphere.
Watch the wildlife
The Ooijpolder is a conservation area with many year long residents as well as large amounts of migrating birds on their way to or from Africa. There is not a place where you can go and won’t be overwhelmed by the cacophonous singing of countless different species. I do not own a super telephoto lens so unfortunately I am missing on this photographic inspiration in the Ooijpolder as I do not have the opportunity to photograph these birds as often as I would like. However once in a while I rent the magnificent Canon EF 500mm f/4.0L IS II USM. So far I have had nice encounters with several herons as well as a beautiful couple of storks.
Photography tips in the Ooijpolder
All the photos in this article have been taken in the Ooijpolder, just outside the city of Nijmegen in the Netherlands. As you can see, although this is quite a small area, there are countless photo opportunities once you go out and explore. The best times are usually the 2 hours before and after sunrise and sunset.
The Wandelen in de Ooijpolder website gives you all the information you need to find your way. Unfortunately the website is in Dutch, but the maps are easy to understand for anyone.