IJssel River, Zalk, Overijssel, The Netherlands by Herman van der Hart

Picture Story

This picture was taken in the floodplains of the IJssel River, near the village of Zalk, located between the Hanseatic cities of Zwolle and Kampen. It was one of my most remarkable photographic experiences. We can't imagine ourselves right now, when we have a couple of winters with hardly any snow or frost, but at the time I made this picture, we had unusual arctic weather conditions. When I woke up that morning beginning of February, it had been very cold that night, around minus 22 degrees Celsius. Looking outside I noticed right away a fantastic Winter Wonderland with all bushes and trees covered in a thick layer of hoar frost. I knew right away where I want to go to, got my car, drove about 1,5 kilometers to the IJssel River.

The landscape of the adjacent floodplains was mystical. In the previous month, due to rising water levels in the river, the floodplains were overflowed. Then came frost, creating a layer of ice, followed by some snowfall. But the element which was making the whole scenery so special, was mist. Because the river wasn't frozen, combined with the extreme low temperatures, mist came out of the river and was blowing into the floodplains. Every five minutes the scenery was changing!

Every once in a while the sun tried to peek through the mist, but a little bit later she was hidden again. I made hundreds of pictures that morning, most of them with a wide angle lens. But at a certain point I focused on a huge Willow tree, which was entirely covered in hoar frost. Actually that tree was the reason why I went to this area in the first place. It was a huge Willow tree, standing all by its lonesome in the floodplain. For this picture I choose to use my 500 mm lens and at the moment I took the picture, the top of the tree was hidden in the mist. The sun made beautiful blue shadows on the land in front of the tree.

This area is worthwhile visiting during Autumn and Winter and early Spring. Particularly when the snow in the Alps is melting, eventually the IJssel River is filled with extra water, overflowing the land. At the end of this story I must say that this picture is now historical; the big Willow, who was really a natural monument, was cut in recent years....

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