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About the Art: Jan van der Greef

As part of our European Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, we chat to Jan van der Greef about his wildlife photography. 

  • About the Art: Jan van der Greef, 'Mystical Sunset', Jan van der Greef
    'Mystical Sunset', Jan van der Greef

Tell us the story behind your photo 'Mystical Sunset' in this exhibition.

One evening, the sunset nearby our house in the middle of the Netherlands became suddenly very colourful and dynamic due to the sky being filled with clouds and heavy winds.

We drove our car towards a nearby river and while my wife was driving I made an artistic image by using long shutter speeds in order to capture the mystical feeling of that moment.

Photographing from a moving car with longer shutter speeds needs fine-tuning depending on the speed of the car, the movement of the camera, the objective 70-200mm zoom @192mm and the shutter speed (0.5s).

What are the difficulties of wildlife photography you face?

First of all, I typically need quite some time in an area to settle down to feel connected. This is a prerequisite for the artistic (impressionistic, abstract) style of photography.

Furthermore, given my physical challenge, the outcome of having polio at an early age, it is sometimes difficult to find solutions for transport to remote places.

What would you like people to think about when they see your work?

I would like them to stop thinking and start feeling.

How long have you been a photographer and how did you get started in your career?

As a child, I became interested in nature and since my mother was an amateur photographer, she 'infected' me with the photography-virus. It really started off when I got my first camera - a Konica C35 in my teenage years.

What would you advise someone wanting to start taking photos of wildlife in their local environment?

Study the animal's behaviour first. Observe and observe some more. Then decide how you would like to capture the essence of the animal or landscape. The focus more on possibilities and not on probabilities. Let your own interest and passion be your guide, forget about rules.

Focus more on possibilities and not on probabilities. Let your own interest and passion be your guide. Forget about rules.

What have you been up to since the European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2015 competition?

I am currently working on capturing the essence of wildlife in Africa, a multi-year project. I will also continue my hummingbird project in South America hopefully next year.

What are your favourite scenes to photograph?

I love mystical scenes that give the opportunity for everybody to initiate their imagination.

See more of Jan's work on his website and see 'Mystical Sunset' on display at the European Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition until 15 January 2017.