Michel d’Oultremont is 22 years of age and from the Belgian province of Walloon Brabant.
Since his early childhood he has been interested in nature and the natural world. At the age of 12 he set out to explore the area around his home village with a pair of binoculars, and it did not take long before photography, which he has followed with great passion since 2007, found its place in his life. He became especially interested in the animal life of wetland areas, and so it is no wonder that to him working from a floating hide is the heart and soul of nature photography. His main focus is on his native region, but Michel also travels Europe whenever possible, always looking for unique, wild habitats. But wherever he goes, he is happiest on a floating hide on a quiet lake in the early hours of the morning.
I love working from a floating hide on a quiet lake, and the subjects that attract me most are the black-necked grebes or eared grebes as they are called in America. To me, these water birds with their ruby-red eyes and delicate plumage are truly captivating. And their behaviour is also very interesting. My favourite time for photographing these little birds is well before daybreak or in the evening when the sun sets. Light conditions on the water are fantastic then, which never fails to deeply touch me. It is these kinds of emotions that I want to bring out in my images, and my project is an homage to this wonderful bird, which continues to fascinate me as it did on the first day.
In April black-necked grebes establish their bonds through complex courtship rituals. This morning the male and female look as if they were deeply in love with each other.
On this evening, light conditions were exceptional, almost magical. The grebe is looking for some water snails before retreating into the reeds for the night.
The shadows of the night are fading, and a dense morning fog has put a veil on the lake. After a well-deserved rest, the black-necked grebe appears at its feeding grounds.
In July the shallow littoral zones of the lake are covered by knotweed flowers. A fantastic, almost unreal interplay of different colours ranging from yellow to pink.
When a bird suddenly surfaces behind a lot of vegetation, focussing manually is the only chance for getting a sharp image.
In the dense morning fog this pair of grebes perform their courtship display right in front of my floating hide. I had positioned myself in a backlight setting to be able to capture this very special atmosphere of light.
At twilight the red eyes of the black-necked grebes take on an incredible glow.
A fleeting moment at the end of the day – a black-necked grebe searching for food, framed by reflections of the setting sun.