Zoomland a Decade

Zoomland a decade. 

Zoomland a decade, 10 years at un regular times and season I visited this forest with vast avenues of beech trees. These avenues used to be the access paths to estates in this part of the forest, these days only the avenues and some narrow canals are the only witnesses of that time. The forest consists mainly of remnants of ice age sand drifts. The diversity is very varied with deciduous trees, pine trees, low bushes and open areas of grass where cattle used to graze. Fens and patches of heather can also be found. Rare and common mushrooms are found in autumn. In spring, some wildflower species can also be found including bluebells. On weekends, the forest is the domain of hiking people with their four-legged friends as well as mountain bikers. It is better to avoid weekends as a photographer. During weekdays it is very quiet generally. If you go on a weekday very early in the morning as an example around sunrise it is pleasant to be there, slowly the sun’s rays hit the water and land and warm the surface so that slowly the moisture evaporates and turns into fog. When it is spring and the leaves come back on the branches, the green is so fresh, tender and beautiful in color, the ferns also shoot out of the ground and the leaves of the beech trees turn from reddish brown to orange-brown, that you actually imagine yourself in autumn. There is much to see and photograph, when you are absorbed in photographing you forget the time and your head becomes very calm. The best thing is to let it sink in and use your senses while photographing, you are in a kind of meditative state and let the colors, shapes and also smells take you in. The forest always smells and that is specially those earthy tones. So I will now let the photos that I have taken over time in piece of the forest speak for themselves. Adjacent forests in the area are Landgoed Lievensberg and Zurenhoek as well as Groot Molenbeek also these are worth a visit if you are in the area.  

The gear:

Olympus EM-1 MK, MKII, MKIII camera body’s

OM System OM-1 

MZuiko Pro lenses 60mm macro

12-40mm f/2.8 Pro

7-14mm f/2.8 Pro

40-150mm f/2.8 Pro

300mm f/4 Pro

Leofoto tripod and Olympus photo bag

Kumana National Park, Sri Lanka part 2

Kumana national park, Sri Lanka. part 2

Going on safari in Kumana early in the morning means the same ritual, get up early, have breakfast and then set off again on 14 km of dirt roads full of potholes. 

Like the day before, the driver arrives on time and gets a cup of tea before we leave. Today we drive in one piece to the park entrance. After all kinds of formalities we can enter the park. We soon leave the main road through the park and turn onto narrower roads that cross part of the park. There are very large areas in the park where Safari Jeeps have no access, these are the so-called quiet areas where animals and birds can stay in peace. It amazes me every time how diverse the landscape is, for to many people it all seems the same and very dry. If you look closer you also see different areas where it is more humid and mosses, mushrooms grow and sometimes special small flowers. That also brings food for insects, lizards and frogs, which in turn are eaten by birds. Then that life cycle, too, is complete. 

The spotted deer is really everywhere in the landscape, as are the wild boar and the water buffalo. Animal life goes its own way, until you hear a cry of alarm from the toque macaque or spotted deer. Then it becomes quiet and you listen to the sounds of nature. Is it the leopard trying to catch something, you hear it several times during the safari. Most of the time it is a false alarm. I can tell you that we did indeed see a leopard chase that day. The leopard was rustily hiding on a lower tree trunk with bushes in front of it. Nothing special you say, he spun around a few times on that tree trunk. 

A moment later he slowly rose from his position and began to walk. First there were a few spotted deer nearby, the leopard suddenly accelerated, with such speed that it looked like a Formula 1 car. It is incredibly fast that animal, unfortunately we could not see the rest so we did not know if the hunt was successful. It was an impressive moment… 

Until lunch it remained quiet. After lunch there was probably a phone message for the driver, a leopard had been spotted in another location. So off at full speed to the deserted village of Kumana. Once we arrived at the buildings that are still there, including a small schoolhouse, there is a leopard lying at ease at the top of the window opening, occasionally looking around and wondering who those crazy people in the jeeps are who are constantly making click, click noises. It keeps me off balance. For a year now, a male and female have been visiting this village, it is in their territory. Jeeps crowd each other for the best position for the clicks, after a while I tell the driver to drive on, I find it a bit annoying to bother these animals in their activities. Others probably think otherwise. But after all this was another beautiful day in this park. 

The gear we used:

OM-1 MK1 + EM1 -MKIII cameras

MZuiko 100-400mm f/ 5-6.3 lens

MZuiko 300mm f/4 lens

MZuiko 1.4 MC teleconverter

MZuiko 2.0 MC teleconverter

Kumana National Park, Sri Lanka

Kumana national park, Sri Lanka

One day chosen from our 4 day safari adventure. We visited Kumana for the second time and here are some facts. Kumana was previously known as Yala East National Park, but changed to its current name on September 5, 2006. 

It borders Yala with the Kumbukkan Oya River, which forms the imaginary border between the two parks. Kumana National Park is on the route of the traditional annual foot pilgrimage to the Hindu temple at Kataragama. Both Tamil and Sinhala communities participate in this pilgrimage. The morning starts with a early rise at 4 a.m., we have a small breakfast for ourselves with tea. 

The safari jeep arrives at 4.45 a.m. It takes about an hour to reach Kumana from Panama, the 14 km is along a dirt road full of potholes. The park is open daily from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. You will of course encounter animals and birds along the way, from wild boars to elephants. At sunrise you can also see some birds in the sky and on land and in the water.  After a few stops for taking some photographs, we see a family of jackals with 4 or 5 puppies looking for food. We reach the entrance of the park. We pay the entrance fee which is all together with jeep and driver 1040 rupees.

And many ask or think what are you doing all day in a safari jeep ?  Of course watching and try to capture some beautiful shots from the wildlife.

Many also think that there is an animal or bird to spot within every meter, which is disappointing and of course you drive off-road on unpaved roads full of potholes or swampy off-road stretches. But that should not spoil the fun.

Fortunately, Kumana is very diverse in landscape of open plains, forest areas with trees and low shrubs with shrubs that bear fruit and flowers. Then there are also areas of wetland with salt and fresh water. The main attraction for most is the elusive leopard. To this day we have never found one in the morning, usually after 03.00 p.m. we saw a few. Elephants, spotted deer, monkeys, wild boar, sambar deer and buffalo appear at any time of the day. Jackal, mongooses are also present and if you are lucky, but very rare to see is the black bear. There are always birds from small to large, the sound you hear all day long accompanies you. many remain invisible to the eye and camera, others fly up and still others remain where they are. The bee-eaters are remarkably easy to photograph, which for me are also the most beautiful bird species in shape and color. In Sri Lanka, drivers are required to take an afternoon break of at least one hour for lunch and rest. In the afternoon we continue the search for the various animals and birds, and with success. Visiting nature is a great pleasure, the richness of what you observe, it is a kind of meditation, it brings you peace and makes you happy in a way. You focus on that and what you are trying to capture with your camera, always from the jeep to the most beautiful point of view or composition possible for the situation at that moment. Of course, things sometimes go wrong, your reaction is too slow or  your subject is fast, it’s part of it. All in all the day flies by and it is actually 06.00 p.m. We leave the park back to Panama village. To be continued in part two.

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