Showreel Victoria Falls

The Victoria Falls, situated on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia, have been well-documented. Named in honor of Queen Victoria of Britain by Scottish Congregationalist David Livingstone, the falls are one of the most famous tourist sites in subsaharan Africa.

As most images are documented in a photojournalism style, I decided to take on “The Smoke that Thunders” as a fine art project. And what better way than to access these Natural Wonders of the World than from the sky?

Duo

Duo

Duo

What's key in having a great photograph in 2017? It's not technical quality; today's iPhones have better specs than digital SLR's from even a few years ago. It's also not about a perfect hustle with your aperture, shutter speed and ISO. "P"-mode on cameras nowadays do an excellent job on auto-pilot. It's also not about getting a series of lucky, machine gun style shots. We're the most content spoiled generation and there's probably too much visual content. Less is - indeed - more.

I'd argue that wildlife photography is about technical excellence and luck. Logistical excellence and research outnumber the odds in favor of the artist. Luck is when timing meets preparation. And when great content, access, perseverance and research morph into one you'll get some visceral imagery. This all crossed my mind when preparing for the big shot in Chobe, situated in northern Botswana.

I wanted the image to emphasize the animals which take center stage in these characterizing wetlands. Yet again I didn't want yet another uninspiring, uncreative and unpersonal application for a "Big 5 checklist" image.

This immediately brings a few challenges. For one, you can't work from a distance. With a 400mm you loose context, control and intimacy. "If your pictures aren't good enough, you aren't close enough", as quoted by Ansel Adams is undoubtedly true.
Second, there's no interesting way to photograph big animals other than from the ground up. You want a low point of view to evoke their massiveness. So working from high up a Land Cruiser is out of the question.

Jochen van Dijk.jpg

With this in mind I made my setup on the river beds, waiting for the perfect light, composition and hoping every crocodile was in line of sight. Eventually the big shot came... Although I wasn't lying flat down this is actually what makes this image work. The headlining tusker is pin sharp, but the appearance of the hippo and grasslands in one still changes the whole dynamic and brings a strong visual context to this image.

Jochen van Dijk
04/08/2017
Chobe, Botswana

Dust

I've been completely off the grid in Namibia's beautiful desert for a few weeks. And though there's magnificent landscape imagery to be found, I was still missing the big shot. So when scouting for that one image on Etosha's dry plains the stakes where high...

The extreme conditions, most notable the dry and scorching heat, are what sets this place apart from any other location. This is actually a good starting point; in the end it's all about plurality. The world doesn't need another picture of a center framed, sideways and high point of view elephant. It has been done excessively and most of the time it is just hackneyed pulp. We all know how these creatures look like. These "proof shots" a nice to show your Big 5 checklist to family and friends back home, but they're not captivating in any other way. After failing over and over again I can safely say I'm better than that. This is not ego talking; it's a continuous drive to excellence.

hen working in these conditions I wanted that characterizing heat and drought to be the main stage of the image with the animals playing a key role. Motivated by preparation and a large amount of sunburn and dust, hours of waiting went by hoping for that single special moment to unfold. This patience paid off in an enchanted moment.

IMG_8014.JPG

hough there's not a single elephant to be seen, it's immediately clear what massive animals are headlining this image. The dust implies heat, drought and - most of all - movement.

Jochen van Dijk
28/07/2017
Etosha, Namibia

Up in the Air

Up in the Air

Some piloting (no pun intended) to master the craft before heading back to Africa in a couple of weeks. Psyched about the possibilities!

 

Is it enough for a new vertical of creativity? Absolutely! With the becoming maturity of drones new perspectives are within reach. I don't know where this will lead yet, but there's absolutely some new and transcending imagery to be found within this new technology! 🚀📷

 

FullSizeRender.jpg

L'eau

L'eau

Science says it: your brain pushes into new neural pathways when going outside your comfort zone. Quite literally, creativity creates more creativity. Though I usually capture wildlife, most of the things I apply to these images come from influences outside of the animal kingdom. Or even photography for that matter. I'm convinced it’s crucial to get perspectives outside your chosen line of work.

For this image, called "L'eau”, I had something different in mind. The goal was to replicate the sense of the so called "golden hour"; a short window of time arising just after sunrise and before sunset. At these few minutes the low rising sun creates soft lightening and beautiful long, stretched shadows. This is often used in outdoor imagery, but I wanted to use this creative thought to replicate it on a female body.

L'eau.jpg

Although it's a staged shoot, it's about as real as it gets. And fundamentally different than waiting hours for that perfect sun flare or a single movement by a predator. With this kind of imagery preparation is key: it's absolutely vital to take a step back and understand the context before going to work. Naturally, the model has to feel perfectly secure. But more importantly: the stakes are high. You can't over promise and under deliver with these kind of images.

Despite the fact the stakes were high I believe this canvas resembles a great combination of personal creative expression and technique. But more importantly: it’s a image that speaks on itself. On first hand it’s evocative. You have to look harder to recognize the alluring female curves and the subtle peak of the lace lining is suggestive, instead of erotic.

Printing an image

Printing an image

People who follow me on Instagram know that I have a simple of rules to judge the quality of an image. It’s rarely the pure technical quality, such as ISO, shutter speed or aperture. More often it is that special feeling when you look at it and - to put that extra criticism into the equation - the answer to one simple question: would I actually hang this on my own wall? When combining all of those aspects nine out of ten images don’t make it to the finish line.

Although I always photograph in color, this rarely holds up in post production. The modern world simply has too much content and visual impulses. Photographers are canvassing the globe with their smartphones and there’re taken millions of images each day; Apple even advertises this in their award winning “Shot on iPhone” campaigns. Due to technology, some of them even come close to “Planet Earth-material”. How cool and beautiful they are: I find them too tense and therefore distracting to serve as interior decoration. Black and white has some kind of timelessness and peacefulness. And combined with my subject of choice, wildlife, these kind of images are clean and hold better in almost any interior.

Jochen van Dijk

When browsing for a company to print these images I came across the Germany based company Saal Digital. They provide a range of products, including fine art prints on baryta paper. It’s undoubtedly my paper of choice for fine art prints. Why? Well, without going in too much technical geekiness: the benefits include greater detail and definition, extended tonal range, some delicate texture and great archival properties. For short: monocolored prints on this material are, especially on a 50 x70 cm format, genuinely legit.

As I don’t want my images altered by other software I ordered using the direct online upload option. Sadly they don’t put this in the spotlight as much as the software they provide, as it is much easier to use. And more important: when not using the software app it supports TIFF-files. This means the possibility to upload (much) larger files with greater detail. The order process was straight, simple and incredibly rapid: within only 3 days I received my order. Nicely, securely packed and carefully rolled with some protective sheets in between the prints. 

These guys come highly recommended for quality and speed!

Tinderbox

Tinderbox

Over the years I've wasted so much time photographing alligators. "Tinderbox" illustrates that time and effort eventually pay off. This image is the result of dedication and lots of trial and error. The world doesn't need another image of an alligator from an airboat or - god forbid - one of those alligator farms. Those images are great to show back at home on your iPhone, but these artificial encounters are mostly hackneyed pulp.

Tinderbox

The sawgrass and proximity of only a few inches to this ancient predator change the whole dynamic. It brings a visceral sence of "Honey, I shrunk the kids"-perspective to the image with actually a selfie of me in her eye. This alone will make it stand the test of time. Only seconds after this image was made, she decided to release her full fiercefullness on - thankfully - my wide-angle lens.

The remote and monopod didn't survive... And I've probably never been more grateful with Nikon’s perfect equipment; I've got the teeth marks to show for it on my lens...

Jochen van Dijk
26/2/2017
Everglades, USA

Morning Commute

Morning Commute

"Morning Commute" illustrates why there’s no beter place in the world to be at 7 AM than Amboseli's dry lake. Amboseli is the best canvas in the world to work on and this composition shows why: an elephant family marching through the dusty plains with Kilimanjaro as a backdrop... It’s rather simple, yet surreal due to the magnificence of these animals.

This is emphatically demonstrated by this image. When this herd crossed the dry lands of Amboseli I knew this was a special moment. The use of space to create a distinct sense of vastness near these magnificent animals is typical for this remote place.Elephants have an amazing memory and they're up to live to 60 to 70 years. They're socially much more connected than even humans are these days. “Morning Commute” illustrates this powerfull unity.

Though the Serengeti and Mara are magnificent, Amboseli consists of just flat and raw terrain without any distracting backdrops. This elemental starkness suits my clean style of photography.

Jochen van Dijk
01/10/2016
Amboseli, Kenya