Mane Silentium by Henk Goossens

Mane Silentium by Henk Goossens
After a successful career as a professional travel photographer, Henk Goossens now enjoys shooting and writing about landscape photography and has a penchant for the Olympus OM camera system. 

Mane Silentium. Latin for morning silence, what does this mean to me? I'll explain.

Fortunately, there are extensive forests in my area. Nature is allowed to run its course here. Various hiking trails have been set out in the area as well as so-called quiet areas.

The area where I mainly visit is 15 km from my house and easy to reach with my bike. To the south of the Brabant cities of Bergen op Zoom and Roosendaal lies the town of Kalmthout. There you will find the beautiful extensive heathland of Kalmthoutse Heide, a border park which is partly in The Netherlands, partly in Belgium. This special nature reserve consists of heathland, fens, sand drifts and pine forest and has a size of almost 6,000 hectares (60 km²). Highly recommended for those who want to walk in a magically beautiful place in Brabant!

The border park is part of the Natura 2000 network that protects Europe's most important natural areas in a sustainable manner. This is essential as the Kalmthoutse Heide is truly a beautiful and special piece of nature. It is also one of the oldest and largest nature reserves in Flanders. If you live in the area - and therefore come there more often - you don't always realize how beautiful it is.

Not only the diversity of the landscape is unique. Rare animals and plants also have their own domains here. What is at least as special is the accessibility of the Kalmthoutse Heide. Because despite the special status of the park, it is still fully accessible to visitors. Those who have no sense of direction can easily get lost.

In the early morning when it is still dark I drive to this area with my photo backpack.

Park my bike sheltered and locked, then start a walk, to a pre-selected place in the park. The landscape is hidden in a veil of morning mist, slowly the morning blue is dispelled. The darkness gives way to the light, the morning mist slowly rises and disappears into thin air. The first birds start their morning song. Geese fly over towards the fens. Furthermore, it is quiet. No cars or industrial noises. Sitting on a fallen tree, I watch the sun also slowly awaken. This is wonderful and soothing to experience. It seems the same ritual every time but is always different.

Clouds float over, the air is fresh and soft. The morning light is more beautiful than the evening light, I find. In the meantime, I prepare my equipment, erect my tripod and place the camera on it, with the filters to hand. I visit the park in all seasons. Most people come, of course, when the heather is in full bloom but also in autumn and winter. When the landscape slowly changes color and tone and the fens slowly freeze over, or a white blanket from the freezing frost covers the landscape, it has a whole new atmosphere.

The good thing is that I don't have to travel too far to enjoy it. Everyone wants to photograph the grand vistas or the iconic places these days. Been there, seen that. The nice thing about this is that it is a challenge to make a more intimate landscape. For macro photography, an unprecedented variety can be discovered here in insects and butterfly species. In autumn, a great diversity of mushrooms can also be found. You can photograph vistas as well as abstract details from the landscape. There is plenty of choices. It is all in the mindset. Challenge and balance yourself with your environment. You can try it yourself by finding an area not far from where you live and works.

Of course, I often use the wide-angle in this area but a telephoto is also useful, as is macro. The photo techniques I use here are mainly focus stacking and exposure bracketing, later processed in Adobe Lightroom.

After years of use, I got rid of the Lee filter system. It was too clumsy to use with many expensive learning moments when the holder again fell off resulting in my having to replace a damaged big stopper or polarizer. Last year, I bought myself Kase magnetic circular system; handy, compact and with no color cast to correct afterwards in Lightroom. I myself go for compactness and lightweight in my camera choices. That is why I chose the Olympus system. I currently own the OMD-EM mark i + ii + iii

The Mark iii is definitely my favorite! Built-in ND filter as well as high-resolution recordings handheld. 50 megapixels and 80 megapixels on a tripod. You can definitely see the difference in dynamic range. Everything in the pro series of this brand is water and dustproof. Even at extremely high and low temperatures, there is nothing wrong with the system, it continues to work flawlessly. It is, of course, everyone's choice which tool they use. For me, this system is manageable both in mountains and flat landscapes. Your back will thank you in the long run.

When it comes to the size of prints, there may be a difference at extreme magnifications, but there are various tests in which the prints are not inferior to prints of full-frames cameras. Even in magazines or other media, you probably won't see the difference. It is a hobby for most of us, but at the same time, you can challenge yourself to do better work. Never be satisfied.

henk goossens