Joris van Alphen Photography

Into the Wild

Glow-in-the-Dark Fungus

Posted March 6, 2014. Filed under: Biology, Nature, People, Photography, Research. Leave a comment.

Bioluminescent Filoboletus fungus with mycologist Luis Morgado

Mycologist Luis Morgado studies a bioluminescent Filoboletus fungus in the light of a red torch, allowing his eyes to remain adjusted to the dark. Crocker Range, Borneo. (For National Geographic Magazine NL/BE)

Sometimes the most fascinating natural phenomena lie hidden in plain sight. In 2012 I spent several days in the Crocker Range on Borneo, on an assignment to cover a scientific expedition to the area. Every day I would follow the expedition’s scientists over a slippery trail that wound its way up the mountain slope. Years before, a large tree had fallen across the steepest section of the trail, and numerous small Filoboletus mushrooms now sprouted from its decaying remains.

I made a photo as the expedition’s mycologists took a sample, but paid no further attention to the otherwise dull-looking fungus. Then on our last night in the area we made one more foray into the rainforest. A park ranger had told us fantastical stories about a fungus that glows in the dark. Eager to see this with our own eyes, we struggled up the slippery trail in the pitch-blackness. Sure enough, there was the same fallen tree that we had passed so often, now glowing from the mushrooms that illuminated it like tiny green lanterns. It was a breathtaking sight and we marvelled at it for hours.

The first light of day was already in the sky when we finally made it back to the field station and sleepily crawled into our sleeping bags.

Winter Update

Posted February 27, 2014. Filed under: Nature, News, Photography. Leave a comment.

When temperatures drop, some animals like this robin find shelter in unoccupied houses. Thiérache, France.

When temperatures drop, some animals like this robin find shelter in unoccupied houses. Thiérache, France.

Winter flew by this year. I suppose that is because we didn’t have one. After a prolonged autumn we’re now already having our first days of spring. At any rate, it’s been a busy couple of months.

Mistletoe-covered tree on a misty winter morning in the Oise river valley.

Mist rises in the Oise River Valley one winter morning after days of heavy rain. Thiérache, France.

In November and December I was glad I could make a couple of trips to the Thiérache and spend time on my local conservation project. I did the usual wildlife and landscape work. I also joined local hunters, and photographed the slaughter of two pigs at a small farm, which I will share more about later. Between trips I wrapped up an educational short for Naturalis’ Character Evolution Focus Group. The video explains how insects conquered land thanks to an organ called the Serosa:

After the New Year my schedule really picked up. I spent a few days in Washington, D.C., for the iLCP Fellows meeting. It was a lot of fun getting to know some of the other photographers and staff that make up iLCP. It was especially great to finally meet Clay in person, and see some familiar faces from the NANPA Summit in McAllen, where so much of this began for me. (To think how much has happened in the past three years!)

I came back with barely enough time to pack my bags for an expedition to Senegal. I met up with scientists of Werkgroep Grauwe Kiekendief to work on a new story about their research on Montagu’s harrier migration and the conservation issues in the Sahel. I’m thankful that I could again count on the support of Redged and Canon Netherlands. The first part of this story will be published later this year and the second part is on my agenda to photograph this summer.

Montagu's harrier (Circus pygargus).

A Montagu’s harrier flies over the savannah of Khelcom, Senegal.

Joris at work on top of the four-wheel-drive in Senegal. Photo by Ben Koks.

At work in Senegal. Photo by Ben Koks.

I came back looking dirty and unshaven from three weeks of camping in the Sahel dust. Two days later I found myself wearing a suit to present my Kinabalu–Crocker Range Expedition story at the 7th NVN International Nature Photo Festival. It was quite the transformation, I can assure you. Luckily I was first in the lineup, so that after my talk I could sit back and enjoy the work of the other presenters. And they were wonderful: Vincent Munier, David Tipling, Jonathan and Angela Scott, Sandra Bartocha, Jonathan Lhoir, André Kuipers (who made stunning photos during his time in the International Space Station), and many local friends and colleagues.

Joris van Alphen at NVN International Nature Photo Festival

Speaking at the 7th International Nature Photo Festival in Burgers’ Zoo this month. Photo by Gerard Burgers.

Speakers of the 7th NVN International Nature Photo Festival

Speakers of the 7th NVN International Nature Photo Festival. Photo by Gerard Burgers.

All right, enough blabber about me. I have a couple more announcements to share with you. After that it’ll be back to the regular stories about nature and science.

Speaking at PiXperience 2014

Posted February 27, 2014. Filed under: Nature, News, Photography. Leave a comment.


This Saturday, March 1, I will teach my seminar on white-background field studio technique at PiXperience 2014. This year’s festival is a special macro photography-themed edition.

The festival sold out weeks ago, but a number of tickets has become available because of last-minute cancellations. You can still reserve by contacting the organizers.

I hope to see you there, and as always feel free to say hello!

Praying mantis (Hierodula sp.), Borneo, Malaysia.

Praying mantis (Hierodula sp.). Sabah, Borneo.

Marius van der Sandt Scholarship for Young Nature Photographers

Posted February 27, 2014. Filed under: Nature, News, Photography. Leave a comment.


Young photography enthusiasts from the Netherlands and Belgium, take note: the Marius van der Sandt Foundation introduces a scholarship to support passionate and talented nature photographers aged 29 and under.

In 2014, three scholarship recipients will work together on a year-long photography project. During this time they will receive close guidance from the Dutch professional nature photographers Jan Vermeer, Jasper Doest, Bas Meelker, Theo Bosboom, and Joris van Alphen. The results of their project will be published in one or more photo magazines.

If you are a passionate nature photographer 29 years of age or younger, submit your portfolio and a written motivation by March 31, 2014.

Book Announcement: Oog op de natuur

Posted February 14, 2014. Filed under: Nature, News, Photography. Leave a comment.

Oog op de natuur

Book announcement:

Op 8 februari 2014 is in Burgers Zoo het boek “Oog op de natuur” door André Kuipers gepresenteerd.

Oog op de natuur: over passie in de natuurfotografie

Als kind al voelde Marius van der Sandt (1985-2006) zich aangetrokken tot de natuur, de bergen en de wildernis. Door de fotografie is hij met andere ogen naar deze natuur gaan kijken. Hij schrijft daarover als zestienjarige na een reis alleen door Scandinavie: “Toen ik alleen die trektocht door Lapland maakte heb ik iets heel bijzonders ervaren. Op de een of andere manier ervaar je in dat landschap de ultieme vrijheid door de oneindige ruimte en schoonheid om je heen.”

Met dit boek wil de Marius van der Sandt Stichting, die is opgericht ter nagedachtenis aan Marius, haar boodschap uitdragen en haar plannen presenteren om jonge talentvolle natuurfotografen te stimuleren.

Er is een selectie opgenomen van de mooiste foto’s die Marius in zijn korte leven in verschillende delen van de wereld gemaakt heeft samen met zijn persoonlijke visie op de natuurfotografie. De Nederlandse topfotografen, Joris van Alphen, Theo Bosboom, Jasper Doest, Bas Meelker en Jan Vermeer tonen favoriete foto’s en vertellen welke fotografen hen geïnspireerd hebben en wat hen gedreven heeft om professioneel natuurfotograaf te worden. Frans Lanting en André Kuipers schetsen met hun foto’s en hun visie op de natuur een beeld van de continue ontwikkeling in de natuurfotografie. Zij allen hebben een missie, zij zijn de ogen van onze wereld, zij willen met hun foto’s laten zien hoe mooi en kwetsbaar onze aarde is.

ISBN 978-90-9028047-9
Hardcover, 144 pages
Price € 29.95

Available from:

Book presentation at NVN International Nature Photo Festival. From left to right: Eric Bergmeester, André Kuipers, Jan Vermeer, Betty Kruit, Jasper Doest, Theo Bosboom, Joris van Alphen, Bas Meelker, Jurgen Sloots. Photo by Gerard Burgers.

Book presentation at NVN International Nature Photo Festival. From left to right: Eric Bergmeester, André Kuipers, Jan Vermeer, Betty Kruit, Jasper Doest, Theo Bosboom, Joris van Alphen, Bas Meelker, Jurgen Sloots. Photo by Gerard Burgers.

Speaking at 7th NVN International Nature Photo Festival

Posted November 24, 2013. Filed under: News. Leave a comment.

Banner NVN INF 2014

On the 8th of February I’ll be speaking at the 7th NVN International Nature Photo Festival in the beautiful auditorium of Burgers’ Zoo. I hear tickets are going quickly, so if you want to be sure better get yours now. Update: the lecture program has sold out, but you can still get tickets for one of the seminars.

I hope I’ll see you there!

De Nieuwe Wildernis Hits Half a Million Visitors

Posted November 15, 2013. Filed under: Multimedia, News. Leave a comment.

It seems the good news just keeps on coming this week — our nature film De Nieuwe Wildernis has hit the incredible mark of half a million visitors! This is really everything we could ever have hoped for. It’s very encouraging to see how much affinity people still have with nature.

If you haven’t seen it yet, you can still do so in over 100 theaters in the Netherlands and in the Kinepolis theaters in Belgium.