The Making of "Dutch Reflections"

How the winning photo of the "Best of 2020" contest was made

By ropa in Photo Contests on Mar 3, 2021

"Dutch Reflections"

The Idea:

The plan was to take this picture in the North of The Netherlands which is about a 2.5 hours drive (one way) from my house. Planning was therefore a key factor in making this shot. Important weather conditions were: no wind and no clouds. The idea which I had in mind was to take the image during the blue hour and with a perfect reflection in the water. I checked the weather channel to find a day with sun, no clouds and no wind.

The Drive:

The best day was picked and I left at 12 noon towards Groningen. This was on the 5th of December. During half of the ride I saw clouds building up and I got disappointed. But I kept the spirit and kept on driving. I arrived a bit before 3 PM at the place. I surveyed the surroundings to find the best spot for taking this picture. I set up the camera and my composition. But it was still way too early to take the shot. As a photographer I like to set up my camera in advance and then I will not move it anymore using the same position for all shots.

From the drive (taken with an iPhone)

Surveying the surroundings (taken with an iPhone)

My camera was a Pentax 645Z in combination with the 28-45mm [HD PENTAX-DA 645 28-45mm F4.5 ED AW SR]. This is the lens I use the most for my landscape photography. Its water sealed and I can tell you it can rain here.

645Z in action (taken with an iPhone)


I got into photography when I was young so I have more then 40 years’ of experience. I used film cameras for a long time and switched over to a professional DLSR in 1999. In 2016 I bought the 645Z, initially with just one lens. This camera was great for my studio and for my hobby: landscape photography. I then added 9 more lenses for this camera so I can say that I am a true Pentaxian. I am a super fan of this brand and enjoy all the time outside with this camera. At our home we call it “the TANK”; it is built so sturdy and for me is unbeatable.

The Shoot:

Back to the shooting on location. The sun was out. But as this was during December it was cold. This is the time our winter is here. It was so cold that I had to be in motion, walking all the time. The camera has a remote trigger to reduce the vibration and this also meant that I could wear gloves which was quite needed. The remote works for up to 100 meters.

My camera is always in manual mode. I do not like for the camera to think for me. At 3 PM the setup and composition were done. The sun was still out and created sun stripes over the buildings - I did not want to have those in my image. I took around 50 shots, all at ISO 100. The shortest was 1/80 of a second and the longest was 7 minutes. During the shooting I used a 10- stop density filter. The first picture was taken at 3:09 PM the last picture was taken at 5:35 PM.

The final setup (taken with an iPhone)

During this time of the year it gets dark at around 5 PM. So, I had to wait about 2 hours for the blue hour. The sun was gone and lights from the houses came on. Luckily the wind settled, and a flat water presented itself. A perfect moment for this shot. The reflection was insanely beautiful as this water is not very deep. It looked like my perfect shot was going to happen! I could already see on the display that the shots were epic.

It was now 6 PM and because of the Covid restrictions no restaurants where open. So I had to opt for a takeaway from a McDonald’s. I was so happy to get into my car as my fingers where hurting and I could not feel my toes anymore. The car's heating was very welcome and I got warmed up during the 2,5 hours drive back home. I was home at 9 PM so I had spent a total of 9 hours outside to make one picture!

Post Processing:

Next day, although I was anxious to check the results, I took the time to download all the pictures. As i knew already the first shots had the sun trails in the sky. So those I could discard. The final one I choose was shot during the blue hour. No clouds, no wind, just perfect conditions and a super reflection.

The data of th final picture

I had to do some minor color changes as all my pictures are in raw. I bumped up the colors and created an even crop.

The Result:

The final image

Many people think that the reflection is photoshopped, but as we have seen here its not. I find it a perfect balance of composition, reflection and colors. Anyway, that’s my opinion.

Finally I want to thank all the people who voted for my picture!

- ropa (Roger Berk RoPaPhotography)

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