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Judith Linders

Column, review, essay

  • Writer's pictureJudith Linders

The landscape of sea and beaches

Not a place I go to very often.

As someone from Nijmegen, in the east of the Netherlands, the sea isn't in my DNA. It is always far from where I live. And my memories of sea and beaches aren't all that fond. What I remember are big masses of bodies. Sand in my eyes and the overwhelming boredom of suntanning. Not my cup of tea at all. So I was never attracted to the landscape of sea and beaches.

Until recently, when I saw a documentary series about the Wadden islands, a group of islands to the north of our mainland. What beauty and variety. I found myself longing to visit these places. So, at the beginning of November, I took a holiday on Schiermonnikoog. And I have to admit: I am hooked!

Schiermonnikoog is a tiny island, with very few cars and only one village. I like that, lots of peace and quiet. My first day I had booked a photography workshop with a local nature photographer, called Folkert Abma. That was very informative because he showed us some very pretty spots and gave me plenty of tips about the best locations and times to shoot. Over the next days I explored the island by myself.

And it was wonderful. The island is beautiful, especially in the autumn. At that time of year there is such variety in the weather. Often you have great skies. And when the sun moves further away from the earth, the light becomes softer.

My second day took me to the dunes and salt marshes of Kobbeduinen. It is a grand and rough area, where you are always in danger of stepping into inches of water. I get such a feeling of freedom from places like this. The air was clear and cool, that made me feel good.

Air, earth and water at Kobbeduinen

The third day was misty and cold. A good time to photograph at the marina. It has plenty of interesting structures. I wanted to use my Big Stopper which is a filter you can screw onto your lens. It enables you to lengten your shutter time. This creates the effect of water becoming very smooth. Photo's shot like that have a still and timeless quality and are often a bit mysterious. These old, weather-beaten poles are a good example of that.

Old poles in the morning fog

By now I had been on Schiermonnikoog for a few days, but I still hadn't visited the sea and beach. Why? Well, as I said, I don't have good memories of them. But, as I was on an island, I could not avoid them any longer. So off I went on my pushbike. And when finally I did my first beach photoshoot I fell in love. Just like that, totally unexpected. I discovered that the sea and beaches are so much more than bodies and boredom. One day the landscape is unreal, almost unearthly with its water pools and greyish tones. A landscape where heaven and earth melt into each other.

A landscape of otherworldly beauty

Next time, with a thundering gale force wind, the sands rage across the beach and the sky wavers between storm and sun. The flood rises, taking me by surprise, making me run to avoid getting my feet wet. The light of the rising sun magics up the most incredible colours.

Enchantment at the Schiermonnikoog beach

And there I am, pushing my tripod deep into the wet sands, so it won't keel over. A tiny human on this wide beach. I let myself be swept up into the beauty of it all, with the wild weather, the wind and the magnificent clouds. I let out a howl of rapture. That is okay, there are no other people in sight. I am all alone.

And I realise that my opinion about the sea and beaches had changed completely. In my new memories the sea and beaches will stand for freedom, strength, energy and pure joy.

Schiermonnikoog, a place I hope to return to often.


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