The Wadden PhotoExperience

Ever since the beginning of my photography career, I dreamed of a photography workshop in the middle of the Wadden Sea. Finally the time had come… Unfortunately, Covid-19 threw a spanner in the works and everything became uncertain, but after shifting the date, splitting the group and ensuring safety on board, we set sail! In this blog I will take you on board the ship Willem-Jacob, a beautiful clipper, and show you how awesome this tour was.

Het zeilschip de Willen-Jacob

Just before low tide, the sailing ship is sailed against the plate. Half an hour later, the water has drained enough to leave the ship without a wet suit.

Sailing to our destination

After a short briefing from the skipper and me, it is time to prepare the ship and sail to the sandbar. There is a strong wind so all hands are needed. Even before we have left the harbor properly, the mainsail and jib are rissen and we hit the water at 11.5 knots. The ship leans to one side, but as soon as everyone is used to it, enjoyment can begin.

As soon as we leave the harbor, the sails go up and we shoot across the water.

During the trip, some participants use Bushnel binoculars, made available by Transcontinenta, to have a look at all the beauty that surrounds us. Photos are already being taken. These are mainly action photos of the sailing itself, because the strong wind the sea is rough. Before we know it, we reach our destination, with conditions like these the sailing trip could have lasted a bit longer, because the sun, the wind and the raging water make it a real pleasure.

When we arrive at the sandbar, we see seals with puppies in the distance. Now the binoculars really come in handy. These animals are brought closer using the Tamron SP 150-600. Before we can disembark, the sails are lowered and everyone packs their belongings. The NiSi filters made available by Foto Sipkes are handed out to the participants. Then the ladder is hung to the side of the ship and we step into the water.

It may feel a little weird to get into the water from the boat, but the reward is huge.

On the sandbar

Once you set foot on the sand, something magical happens. A breathtaking plain lies in front of you. The vastness of this landscape is breathtaking. Despite this vastness, there is much to photograph. You can search for details, for example with the help of the Tamron SP 90 f / 2.8 Macro, or capture the beautiful but very menacing clouds that approach us.

The trick is to let the storm approach as close as possible without getting wet; that did not work!

After a short, but very heavy outburst with rain, hail and gusts of wind, the sky opens up again and we are treated to a colorful spectacle. Thanks to the strong wind (Bft 6) we have fast changing skies; one moment it is cloudy, the next moment almost blue. However, the same wind also makes it a challenge; slow shutter speeds are impossible and the tripod needs to be placed as wide as possible.

By putting the legs of the tripod as wide as possible, you prevent it from blowing over.

As the sun slowly descends behind the horizon, the colors become more and more intense. Everyone is busy and fully enjoying themselves. Clothing is not taken into account and some participants even sit (or lie) on the wet sand for the perfect shot. It is great to see how everyone is in their element.

While the sun slowly sets, everyone is busy taking photos.

Photo review

After the sun has set, and the water starts to rise again, it is time to board. Because of the blistering wind, everyone is quite cold and most participants immediately go into the hold to warm up. When the last participants come in and everyone is provided with a drink, it is time for the photo discussion. This is entirely voluntary but everyone likes to get feedback on his or her images. We continue until late, making the time to sleep much too short; 3 hours to be precise. The next morning the alarm goes off at 4.30. With wind force 7 it is a sleepless night for some participants, but no one has suffered from seasickness (at least not severe).

During sunrise, the tide is high, so the photos are shot from the deck.


The morning session is beautiful. Thick threatening clouds and a turbulent sea. Everyone enjoys it to the fullest, although one of the participants has to lie down because of seasickness. Fortunately, she recovers quickly and she can also enjoy the rest of the beautiful morning. After breakfast, it is time to prepare the ship for the return to the port. The sails are hoisted and in (unfortunately) no time we are back in the harbor of Harlingen. After a small evaluation, the tour is unfortunately over! But everyone is enthusiastic and goes home with a fantastic experience!

After about 40 minutes of sailing, we enter the harbor of Harlingen again.

Thanks for reading

Thank you very much for reading! If you feel like joining us next year? Keep a close eye to this page | my Instagram @harmenpiekema or Facebook page . Very soon, the new date for the 2021 Wadden Photo Experience will be released. I would also like to thank my sponsors Transcontinenta, Tamron, Bushnell, Foto Sipkes & NiSi Benelux for their support. And of course the crew of the Willem-Jacob!

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