Arctic Sweden

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En route to Stockholm today – taken with Samsung Galaxy S8

Grand Canyon Plateau Point

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A final photograph for 2018, and a final one from my recent trip to Arizona and the Grand Canyon – a day long hike along the Bright Angel Trail led to this panorama of the Colorado River.

Standing on the edge of Plateau Point, nearly one thousand metres below the Grand Canyon South Rim, a drop of 1,300 feet beckons with another step forward…

……

Equipment:
Nikon D7100
Sigma 8-16mm 

Wintry Grand Canyon Sunrise

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Getting up when it’s still dark and – quite frankly – bloody freezing – is never easy. But we photographers know the rewards can be rich for making the effort.

Certainly I was hoping for a grand sunrise over the Grand Canyon when driving down the few miles from my Lodge to Navajo Point – the highest point on the South Rim – a whopping 2.275m above sea level!

The sky was still dark, crystal clear and only the stars shining brightly when I set out at quarter past six. The air chilly, I knew even the thickest of gloves wouldn’t be good enough to protect my hands of turning stiff and numb, when standing exposed to the wind, fiddling with camera settings and tripod.

I found my spot on the edge of a huge stone that extended a metre or so beyond the Canyon Wall of the Rim. I didn’t quite move to the edge… too afraid of stumbling!

It was to be the place for another nearly two hours…. at temperatures around minus 9 degrees initially (kindly dropping to more balmy minus five after sunrise)

As I took my first shots, going as wide as possible – 8mm – the sky looked simply fantastic. Hues of violet, red and orange…. beautiful!

Unfortunately, the “grand sunrise” never materialized. Slowly but steadily, the light got flatter, the colours washed out – it was to be an overcast day!

Well, thankfully I was early there to capture the beautiful scene before the actual sunrise, which resulted in the image accompanying this article. In truth, I couldn’t have asked for a more wonderful sunrise image of the Grand Canyon. It was well worth the early start and the freezing. Those moments, though – the raw nature, the scale of the landscape, the camera and yourself – there is something special about it.

In order to get maximum colour depth from a scene that had different light all over, I shot this is an HDR and used Lightroom in post for the HDR part.

Shot with:
Nikon D7100
Sigma 8-16mm

Photographing Horseshoe Bend

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One of the most “Instagrammed” places of recent times; and I have got that bucketlist item ticked off the list as well!

Ever since having seen photos of the Horseshoe Bend for the first time I wanted to experience this unique landscape with my own eyes – and get one of those “unique” panoramic shots.

Interestingly, it’s only a relatively new phenomenon that the Horseshoe Bend is so popular, which has seen annual visitor numbers rising up to 1.3 million!  Hordes of people armed with selfie stick and mobile phone is a common sight these days; locals tell the story of a a place kept a hidden treasure for most of its existence.

Just a few miles outside of Page, Arizona, a short trail winds its way up to the spectacular edges of the Canyon walls – it’s easy to see why this has become such a popular attraction. Ultimately, this is the reason why I found my way there too!

Thankfully it’s off-season. Yes, this was certainly the most crowded place I’ve been to during my trip through Arizona. But I expected worse. And experienced much, much worse in other parts of the world.

Despite sunset time, the most popular time of the day for the Horseshoe Bend, there was ample opportunity to wander left or right and leave the crowds behind to find a place for oneself, to take in the breathtaking scenery and enjoy the sun slowly fading away.

Nonetheless, the crowds become an issue. At other times, there’s no serenity here, and in order to accommodate the masses changes are coming to the Horseshoe bend: “proper infrastructure” is currently under construction: meaning a new trail, railings  as well as the rumours have it, a $25 entrance fee.

That’ll alter the uniqueness of the experience dramatically, of course. What choice have authorities, though? They’ve got to ensure safety and currently, that has to be said, it’s rather dangerous, given there are no barriers, and beyond the edges it goes 300 metres straight down!

For the photo I had in mind, a straightforward panorama, I brought the Sigma 8-16mm. Finding a place for myself wasn’t an issue…. but one that provided the perspective I had in mind, while having a panoramic images with no people tangling their legs over the edges was the difficulty.

I decided to wander to the left and “hid” behind a tall stone wall, that helped to frame the picture but also hid the people I didn’t want to have in the shot. Eight vertical frames were stitched together in post in Lightroom eventually.

The Mittens of Monument Valley

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Unsure what to expect, I planned only one full day in Monument Valley. Little did I know, indeed!

The overwhelming beauty, grace and magic of this landscape blew my mind – this stretch of planet Earth is something hard to describe in words, and certainly no photograph will ever do it justice. It’s got to be experienced by oneself!

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Snow fell in the Valley the days before I arrived; covering parts of the red desert ground and the Mitten Buttes in deliciously fine white powder. Arctic temperatures… a result of the winter not making an exception for an area that only a few weeks ago was still piping hot as warning signs reminding hikers to take plenty of water on board during their travels.

Depending on what directions one looks, rock formations, size but also light and atmosphere changing dramatically. Snow covered peaks to one side; planet Mars-like landscapes the other way.

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Photography-wise Monument Valley, but particularly The Mittens, present a riches of subjects to explore; so many different scenes want be captured – but nothing compares to the sunrise, when those first precious rays find their way over the massive stone walls, illuminating the valley in warm, golden light.

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There’s this one world famous view everyone will have in some form or another; and if only in a Hollywood movie that gives the place its name: Forrest Gump Point. A particular delicious panoramic view with Route-63 leading right into it…. a place synonymous with selfie sticks these days.

I don’t own a selfie stick and wasn’t after the “money shot”. Rather, the setting sun, provided the perfect backdrop to create a powerful silhouette of the Mittens – the imagine I probably most love of all the ones I got during my time in Monument Valley.

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…….
Equipment:
Nikon D7100
Sigma 8-16mm
Tamron 70-200mm G2

Wild Playa de Cofete

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A wild day at Playa de Cofete on the Canary island of Fuerteventura as waves crash and thick layers of clouds form around the surrounding mountains.

Magical Lough Bray

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Magical panoramic view as far as the eye can see over Lower- and Upper Lough Bray in the Wicklow Mountains.

Nikon D7100,  Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM – ISO 100, f/9, 1/500 sec; 8mm

Lisbon at Night

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Does this bridge look familiar? It certainly did to me the first time I saw the Ponte 25 de Abril… it appears to be strikingly similar to the world famous Golden Gate Bridge!

Well, as it turns out these two bridges have things in common: they are red in colour and belong to the category of the suspension bridges.

However, even though a taxi driver told me a tale of the same architect who constructed both bridges, the truth is Lisbon’s Ponte 25 de Abril has been built by the American Bridge Company – the same company that built the other massive bridge connecting the Bay Area: the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge.

That doesn’t make the Ponte 25 de Abril less imposing. As  the longest suspension bridge in Europe this is quite an enormous construction, connecting Lisbon with Almada on the other side of the Tagus River.

Wicklow Mountains Vastness

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A sunset in the Wicklow Mountains shines the most delightful light on this magnificent landscape. Regardless how often I’ve been here, it never stops to take my breath away. Having this half an hour off my home is a privilege.

10 vertical frames – Nikon D7100 – Tamron 70-200mm G2 – stitched together in LR

Wild Encounter

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Wild encounter with some curious deer in the Wicklow Mountains