The Veluwezoom National Park
The Netherlands might be a flat country but not boring at all for a landscape and nature photographer like me. Once a year around mid-August, few areas across the country get beautifully purple colored due to the blooming of the heath (heide in Dutch). For the first time I visited the Posbank in Rheden, part of the Veluwezoom, a very popular destination for amateur and professional photographers.
Veluwezoom National Park is one of the largest and oldest natural areas of Natural Monuments with 5,100 hectares. Together with other natural areas it forms the largest contiguous dry nature reserve in the Netherlands. Since 1931 this landscape of hills, forests, heaths and sand is a protected area. You can walk freely on the roads and trails and there are plenty of possibilities for horse riding, cycling and mountain biking.
My photography experience
I spent two days in the area, getting up around 5:30 to be on the highest point of the Posbank just a few minutes before sunrise. I thought I would be the only crazy but guess what, I was not! Other photographers joined to capture the beautiful sunrise over the purple hills. After having taken some initial shoots, I walked through the hills finding myself immersed into a new world. Lonely trees popping out the colored hills, purple and green landscapes and endless footpaths going through the scene. Within the area, there are sheep, wild horses and Scottish Highlanders wondering around. I was lucky enough to have a group of 5 horses walking along the same path I was on: a true blessing and unique experience. I really enjoyed this place and I will look forward to next year!
A unique and fantastic location that will make you feel into a hilly purple world.
There are many other “heide” areas in The Netherlands you may want to explore. To mention few:
- Overijssel, Buurserzand Haaksbergen
- Gelderland, Ginkelse Heide, Ede
- North Holland, Texel also has beautiful heathlands not far from the coast
- Limburg, the Maasduinen, Bergen
- Drenthe, the Dwingelderveld Dwingeloo / Ruinen
Tips on heath photography
- Get prepared for a path, you might end up walking several hours up and downhills
- Discover beautiful heath locations by searching them on the web (e.g. Google, Flickr, Pinterest, Natuurmonumenten and Staatsbosbeheer webpages)
- Challenge yourself and change your lens to capture different prospective
- Filters are highly advised in support of the huge challenge for the dynamic range of your camera. Specifically to balance the brightness of the sky to that of the darker foreground. As an alternative, you could consider bracketing for an HDR approach.
- Photograph in RAW or both (JPEG) to get the most out of your digital files during post-processing with software package like Adobe Photoshop and/or Adobe Lightroom
- A tripod is a handy tool especially early morning but think carefully how far you want to walk with that heavyweight tripod. Else consider going late morning or late afternoon to shoot hands-free with forgiving light conditions
- Go several times, explore first day and return the day after. Good shots do not always come easily as they depend on the (variable) weather conditions.
- Enjoy and have fun
Warning: Walking before sunrise and after sunset is not allowed to respect animals’ resting hours.
As nature lover, please keep quiet and do not leave any trash behind. Maintaining nature beautiful and respect wildlife is everyone’s responsibility.