"Even during a meeting I'll sometimes stand up and take a couple of photos"

Working from home during this time of corona crisis is slowly becoming our new normal. We are learning to work with the changing parameters and negotiating our own personal pitfalls, adjusting to the demands of homeworking, and missing the campus and each other like never before. Every day Cursor calls a fellow homeworker to hear how they are doing. Today: dean of IE&IS Ingrid Heynderickx, who likes to photograph the birds in her garden in between online meetings.

photo Ingrid Heynderickx

Ingrid Heynderickx is professor of Applied Visual Perception and Dean of the Department of IE&IS. From her work desk in the lounge of her home in Geldrop she has a good view of her garden, where, as she has discovered, all kinds of birds make an appearance throughout the day. “I normally spend fifty to sixty hours a week at TU/e. So obviously I've been missing plenty of what goes on in my garden. Like the tits that are busy with their nests and courting each other, which sometimes involves some MeToo-like scenes.” There are doves and jays to be seen every day, and some less common visitors as well. “Last week I saw a hawfinch and a blackcap. I have to reach for my bird guide on those occasions because I'm not really a birdwatcher.”

Observation huts

Nature photography is a fairly new hobby for her, says this Flemish native. “I've been doing it for a couple of years now. As a physicist, I quickly mastered the technical side of it, but the esthetics, what makes a good photo, is something I'm still learning. Just across the border in Belgium I know a biologist who has put up observation huts in all kinds of different landscapes. On a couple of occasions I've spent time in them and found it hugely relaxing. I'm now trying to summon that relaxation by reaching for my camera at odd moments between meetings.”

Even before she started working from home out of necessity, she managed to snap a kingfisher in her garden - sitting on a statue. Right here in an residential neighborhood in Geldrop. “But I do live on the edge of the municipality, quite close to the motorway actually, but we have heathland and meadows close by. The garden is full of nooks and secret corners and has a water course running through it; that definitely helps. Lots of birds come and bathe.”

The dean spends days on end in meetings she attends via her laptop, she says, always with her telephoto lens within reach. “Even during a meeting I'll sometimes stand up for a moment and take a couple of photos. If the camera is off and the microphone is on mute, the others in the meeting don't notice anything.”

Online meetings

The countless meetings, many of which Heynderickx chairs in her capacity as Dean, constantly run into one another. “I must admit I find it quite hard going; there's not even that moment of peace when you relocate from one meeting room to another. I am quite concerned about my people, too. First of all they had to convert all their teaching to online within the space of a week, then straight after that they had the exams.” And on top of this, truth be told, students are expecting us to inject a bit of variety in quartile 4 in order to make online education less boring for them. “I am getting more and more signals that my people are under a great deal of pressure, partly because work and private lives are becoming really very intertwined.”

This is something she herself is experiencing. “I'm trying to turn it around a little with the help of my photography. Trying to bring a little bit of my private life into my work. That way, despite everything, I can draw something positive from the current situation.”

Ingrid Heynderickx's nature photos

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