Interview with Photographer: Leon Baas

Visions and Nature
Photographers interview
by Kristel Schneider

 ‘…more attracted by the bugs on the beautiful flowers than by the bride. ‘

I have come to know  Leon via Wildpixels, a Dutch nature forum. We were both moderators for the macro section. Leon’s work made me look  at macro photography differently. The first images I saw by him were insects surrounded by spectacular light. Looking at these images I always wondered how he could do that? He politely answered  sorry, I can’t go into much details about my technique otherwise everybody will copy it.  Luckily this has not been the case, Leon created his own style and mastered the techniques so well that  Canon’s office was decorated with his work in 2008. After this, everything moved fast and his images were published in many magazines (such as Focus, Zoom , Cameramagazine etc.) and on websites. I am very pleased to introduce his work to you and hope you will enjoy it -Kristel

Leon Baas at work

I started with photography 12 years ago. It then was nothing as it is now. It didn’t have any line in it and I would shoot everything my eyes saw. By doing this I learned more and more to look for details. My next step was wedding photography, which I did together with my wife. But to be honest my eyes were more attracted by the bugs on the beautiful flowers than by the bride.  Luckily my wife made the wedding shots so we got away with it.

My interest in nature photography grew fast the following years, especially macro photography. I learned to look for the perfect compositions and lighting techniques. I pushed myself to high standards, which I couldn’t reach at the time. I just wanted to create the perfect lighting and exposure. – Leon.

Who is your inspiration?
I  get my inspiration mainly from reading about a lot of old and new nature photography from which I have learned a lot of tricks. I learned a lot about photography by listening to other great photographers.

My toilet has been filled with a lot of photography books because this is the only place in my house I have nothing else to do except waiting for things to come. Your camera manual is the first book that will end up in a drawer. Now you know where you should  put it instead.

What do you like about Nature Photography?
I love the amazing world of insects. It’s a hard world with no rules. Sorry, just one rule…eaten or be eaten. An always different world and that fascinates me every time. Again and again.

Photographs are Copyrighted © 2011, Leon Baas — All Rights Reserved

Are there things you don’t like about Nature Photography?
I prefer to work alone and do not like to be disturbed when I’m doing my work.

Do you have any tips for Visions and Nature readers who like macro photography ?

  1. Try to get as low as possible. For example. spiders will look even more impressive when  you can get even lower that the animal
  2. In the morning the animals are very slow. Just take advantage of that moment and don’t forget your tripod.
  3. Try to approach your subject as slow as possible. Before you know it they will fly or run off. The use of a 100mm lens or longer will help you  get a safe working distance.
  4. To lure insects you can make your garden more attractive to insects. By placing a butterfly box or a real insect hotel you can get some really nice species in your garden. You can make your own insect hotel by drilling many holes in an old tree stump in different diameters like 6, 8, 10 en 12 millimeters. Water is very important and lures a lot of insects to your garden like butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies, even newts, frogs and other water specious.

What are your specialities?i
I have specialised  in making photos of insects in surreal areas. I try to achieve it by applying special exposures with special colored flashes, to make their world more dramatic.  I also focus on habitat macro photography which shows insects in their habitat with an extreme depth of field.

Photographs are Copyrighted © 2011, Leon Baas — All Rights Reserved

Share with us one of your personal favourite photographs?
It is a photo with a take off from a ladybird. A photo with a moment that will never come back. I am really proud of this picture I have to say.

Photographs are Copyrighted © 2011, Leon Baas — All Rights Reserved

Describe how it was taken?
For this photo I used two coloured flashes. One for the background and one for the object.  The background was a coloured canvas.

That day I was photographing mushrooms. I had everything ready when the ladybug climbed against the mushroom.  An exciting time for me to watch. What I hoped for happened. And I’m still happy with the result.

You are now on Visions and Nature Blog, a Nature and Landscape Photography Blog from Kristel Schneider. Do you know her work?
I know Kristel as a serious photographer who does her work very good and thoroughly.I love her enthusiasm and surprising themes.

When you look at her gallery which image pops out for you and why?
The photo ‘’drop on a leaf’’ still appeals to me most.
But her other work is also surprisingly good.

Clermont Ferrand – 4th Annual Worldwide Photo Walk

The Largest Global Social Event for Photographers

‘ Today I was approved as one of the Worldwide Photo Walk leaders  to  organise and lead a Photo Walk in Clermont Ferrand (Auvergne), France.
I am very excited to be part of the largest global Social Event for Photographers. ‘

Annual Worldwide Photo Walk (WWPW)

On Saturday, October 1 and Sunday, October 2, the whole world will be walking again with Scott Kelby, president of the National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP) and #1 bestselling computer and technology book author, in his Fourth Annual Worldwide Photo Walk™ — the world’s largest global social photography event in the history of photography.

This year, the Photo Walk will take place over two days in October giving more photographers from around the world a chance to participate.  In 2010, more than 30,000 photographers walked in over 1,000 locations taking 6 million images in just one day. 

Photo Walk:
Clermont Ferrand | Auvergne | France

1st October 2011

Free and open to anyone who owns a camera.
WWPW  is allowing  50 walkers maximal per walk,  so full is full.

To sign up to participate in the Photo Walk in Clermont Ferrand or for more information click here .

Mushrooms and Autumn Photography Workshop Discount

Mushrooms and Autumn
Photography Workshop Discount
by Kristel Schneider

‘ Nothing planned yet for your autumn holiday?
Join me in the field during on of my Mushrooms and Autumn workshops’

October maybe one of the most beautiful seasons of the year for Photographers.  A season full with colours, atmosphere and lots of macro opportunities. Every day is different.
I give a special Autumn discount for my Blog readers and Facebook Fans. And if you already joined one of my other workshops before or if you bring a friend along you will get another -10% off the workshop price. So don’t hesitate and look for more information on the workshops 2011 page. Click here

The ‘old box’

In the past everybody had these old shoe boxes with loads of paper images or even  original negatives in them. Always fun to sit on the old attic floor and look through the entire stack of old photos. Nowadays you have a hard- disk (s) full of RAW images, less romantic but also fun to look at. Sometimes you find an image that, back then, you were not totally sure about. And now, after not seeing it for years, you think ‘hey this is not a bad image !’.

As for the image I published below, I remember the day when I took it. Then I had loved the different textures and the nice colour pallet. But back home I had been disappointed with the result and it never landed in my ‘to publish box’ till a couple of days ago.

Sometimes it is good to take some distance from your work and let time pass before you actually work on them and decide if this is a keeper or is ready for the trash bin.

Interview with Photographer Jeroen Stel

Visions and Nature
Nature Photographers interviews
by Kristel Schneider

..“do my own thing” and not be bothered with the opinions of others and this works well for me

I attended my first nature photography workshop with Jeroen in the Netherlands, many years ago already. He had a great way of telling us about his passion and this was really inspiring and motivating people, as he did with me. I saw Jeroen’s  first images on,  they were macro images of all kinds of topics.

His work made me want  to read and experiment more about that type of photography. Jeroen’s photography passion is bird photography and although  this is not one of my favourite subjects I love his bird images as they do not look like registration images but show the birds in their natural habitat, surrounded in a great atmosphere, blue light or sunset tints.  I am personally happy to add Jeroen to the list of Series Photographers interviews on Visions and Nature and I hope you will enjoy his work.

Who is your inspiration?
Nature in itself is extremely inspiring and its shapes and movements inspire me the most.

What made him/her inspire you, with what kind of image(s)?
I like the “element of surprise” nature offers me on a daily basis. Be it  rainstorm whilst photographing Kingfishers or the last rays of light during sunset, providing a rim of light around a Roe Deer for instance, can create a big smile on my face.

What do you like about Nature Photography?
Having worked in the fashion industry for many years as a fashion designer I realised I was always working and thinking in boxes which limited my creativity. By working as a full time nature and wildlife photographer I have now limitless possibilities in making creative  images. Moreover  nature is the most beautiful “office” to work in. This does not mean it is easy, but I have always liked a challenge.
Furthermore the freedom and peace of mind nature provides me with is something to be found nowhere else.

Are there things you don’t like about Nature Photography?
When I left the fashion industry I was glad  not to elbow my way in any more and get rid of all that envy and animosity that surrounded me. Unfortunately as time passed by I have noticed that things are not that different in the world of nature photography. That is one of the reasons I decided to “do my own thing” and not be bothered with the opinions of others and this works well for me. Luckily I still get to meet many interesting and friendly people in nature photography and I would not want to swap my “job” for any other.

Something else I do not like is that many nature photographers are fixed on photographing exotic species and tend to forget about the beauty that’s around the corner. I see many interesting photos of lions, bears, elephants or eagles showing up on forums but so few outstanding photographs of a “simple” black-tailed godwit for instance. I am not saying that it is easy to take good pictures of exotic species (just look at the fantastic work of the earlier interviewed Marsel van Oosten and ask him how many hours he spends on his images..) but I am disappointed that many nature photographers just focus on creating full frame “registration images” of our own species instead of creating art.

Do you have any tips for Visions and Nature readers who would like to become   professional nature photographers?
Do not quit your current job…..or at least not until you are certain you can make a living with nature photography as this is very difficult. I have always believed that if there was something you really wanted to do you could do it. It has to be your lifelong dream though and you have to be mentally and physically strong in order to be able to cope with the many disappointments you will face. Besides, the image quality you produce has to be top-notch all the time.

Something I would advise people is to specialise in a certain subject or in photography style as this is the only thing stock agencies will still be interested in. If you have a passion for what you do and strive to be the best then anything is possible.

What are your specialities?
I started out with macro photography as I liked experimenting with all sorts of lenses and equipment to produce extreme macro photographs. Macro is still one of my specialities but I have become pretty much an all rounder as I shoot anything from Landscapes to Mammals and from Insects to Star Trails. In terms of species I’d like to think I am a Kingfisher specialist as I have been working with Kingfishers every year since 2003 and have more than 15.000 Kingfisher images and many HD film clips in my files.

Share with us one of your personal favourite photographs?
It is always hard to mention your favourite photograph as there are many photographs which might not have turned out as prize winning shots but they are my favourite memories in terms of wildlife experiences.

Describe how it was taken?
One of these experiences was the time I was laying in a clover field hiding behind my lens and waiting for a fox which had just been hunting Grey-lag Geese and had caught one. She was on her way back to her den and walked only 2 meters past me. This shot was taken at my minimum focal length at a distance of about 4 or 5 meters, as when she was walking  toward me.

You are now on Visions and Nature Blog, a Nature and Landscape Photography Blog from Kristel Schneider. Do you know her work?
I have known Kristel for several years and have seen her photography style grow in to her own “handwriting”. Whether her name is mentioned or not I can recognize a true “Kristel Schneider” from a mile away and that is a big compliment and a huge achievement on her side.  I like the romantic touch her images have and the way she uses depth of field.

When you look at her gallery which image pops out for you and why?

I do not have a personal favourite as I like many of her images and hope she will continue to make this beautiful work in her own style.

Horsetail plants

Horsetail Plants
by Kristel Schneider

One of my favourite places in  Auvergne is the Massif du Cézallier. An open area with lots of  different landscapes.  There are volcano lakes, little brooks and wetlands. The amount of different wild plants that grow there is enormous.

Driving up to the Cézallier   always means new discovery to me. This can be a plant I have never seen or a certain  light that appears in front of my eyes  because of the fast changing weather conditions.

The last time I was there, the weather was not that great. But along a little lake there were these nice Horsetail plants in bloom.

I decided to spend some time with them  and try to get some different angle and background shots. My eyes were constantly pulled towards the  white blooming bud with the brown little patches on it, so fantastic to look at.

The wind provided me with  the background I wanted, just a little bit of movement to get rid of the static look of the stem. I definitely will go back there to get some more detail shots of the stem and try to get a nice back-light shots, but that is for later.

The images on this page were all taken with a 5DMII Canon body in combination with a 150mm Sigma Macro lens .

Marsh Horsetail
Equisetum palustre

Horsetails (Equisetaceae) are perennial, ornamental plants that grow from creeping rhizomes. They look like miniature bamboos because of their single hollow, jointed stem with bristle-like branches. During prehistoric times, they grew as large trees.

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