Sunday, 22 June 2014

The Mystical Blue Forest of Beligum

 The Hallerbos is a public forest in Belgium, mainly situated in the municipality of Halle, in Flemish Brabant. It is situated about 15 kilometers south of Brussels. You’d never imagine how the forest beautiful is? The forest is a lovely place for a stroll at any time of the year, but for limited weeks in spring, it is something really special. Hallerbos, also famous as The Blue Forest, is carpeted with a sea of blue flowers. The Common Bluebell is a spring-flowering bulbous perpetual plant with flowers shaped like tiny bells. They thrive under the beech trees of the Hallerbos in late April. If you’re a photographer then it is a perfect place for amazing photography. But photographing the Hallerbos can be challenging. First, you must get your timing right, and visit too early in the season, the bluebells will be sparse. If you get late, the flowers will be spent and the forest returned to typical woodland. As the season changes every year, depending on the weather, it can take several visits to the Hallerbos before you see the blue carpet it all its glory. 

The other challenge is the genuine fact that everyone wants to visit the Hallerbos at this time of year. Having tourists and other photographers in your photo can detract from the scene. The forest has other riches. In spring season it is full of birds blackcap warblers, wrens and nuthatches are the loudest. There’re red squirrels amongst the pines, buzzards in the clearings and tadpoles in the ponds. Halle's Wood was once part of the Sonian Forest, Europe's largest beech forest, stretching over the southern part of Brussels. In the First World War, the original Hallerbos was destroyed by the occupying forces, though some ancient oak and beech trees lasted the devastation and can still be seen these days. After the world war, in somewhere between the 1930s and 1950s, key replanting efforts took place reintroducing the native beech and oak trees. 

The wild bluebell hyacinths, though, are all natural and have been for centuries. Aside from bluebells, one can spot tiny wood sorrel, with its cup-shaped flowers and clover-like leaves, and the star-shaped white flowers of ramsons or wild garlic, which can be smelled before they can be seen. Therefore; the Hallerbos is a busy park at the best of times. There’re trails not only for walkers, but also for cycling and horseback riding as well. As with all outdoor camerawork, the best light occurs in Hallerbos early and late. With great patience you can accomplish lovely lighting filtering through the leaves of the trees. If you’re searching for macro images of the bluebells, you can take advantage of the fact that Belgium is often overcast for a nice even light. Whether you visit the Hallerbos with your camera or just you’re walking shoes, it is well worth a visit in the springtime to see this magical occasion.

Bluebell Forest - Hallerbos Belgium from Boris Godfroid on Vimeo.