Arctic Sweden

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En route to Stockholm today – taken with Samsung Galaxy S8

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

Lisbon Sunset Fantástico!

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Balmy temperatures, stunning architecture and grand views – that all is Lisbon. What Lisbon is also: sore calf muscles!

The one who wants to enjoy the rich beauty of Portugal’s capital has to be prepared to go the extra mile… or two for that matter…. up some brutally steep hills. The reward is even greater, though, for those who make the effort.

My legs were hurting, that’s for sure. Yet, while not inspired photography wise during my few days, (Lisbon offers enough subjects to photograph – I was simply not in “the zone” and had other things on my mind) it still felt great to climb around the city and get surprised about what’s next to be explored beyond the next wall of steep stairs.

The richest of rewards to reap is – of course – a delightful sunset; the golden sunlight glowing above the rooftops of Lisbon’s historical city, illuminating the monumental Lisbon castle

This photo – one of the few I took during the week – was taken atop of the Miradouro da Graça – quite clearly the prime viewpoint of Lisbon. A grand view offering the full scale of the hilly Portuguese capital.

Using the Telezoom Tamron 70-200mm turned out a perfect option opposed to a wide angle. A handful of vertical frames shot at 70mm stitched together in post worked best for me.

Turlough Hill Sunset

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Sometimes you get rewarded late…. so late that all gear was stowed away as I was on the return leg after a fine, yet far from spectacular – at least from a photography point of view – climb up to Turlough Hill in the afternoon.

While a beautiful day it was, the sun shining sky high throughout, the oh so often elusive yellow ball did vanish behind a tick layer of clouds as I prepared for my carefully selected sunset shot. One of those days, it seemed. Nothing you can do about it.

As I set sail before darkness hit, all of a sudden the world around me turns into a vibrant orange, red and purple wonderland. Gone is the layer of clouds, free is the sun, minutes away from dropping behind the back of Turlough Hill.

A sunset photo at last!

Panoramic Hill of Allen View

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After passing the site multiple times in recent weeks (and didn’t find it instantly when actively looking for it either), today there was no stopping getting to the top of the Hill of Allen!

To find the site, even more so to find parking, is an adventure in itself. Don’t expect signs, and don’t expect the small car park that exists in theory to be open either – the site is officially not open for public any more as quarrying takes place at the other side of the hill.

It it still possible to go up, though. A small, muddy way leads all the way to the hill. A shame the county council has effectively abandoned this site of historical importance as it could be a real gem – if protected and cared for.

At the top of the tower has been a glass canopy erected a few years ago. Unfortunately this one has been smashed and glass is scattered as wide as the eye can see.

If you squeeze through the open frames you’ll be rewarded with the most magnificent view over county Kildare, the Curragh all the way up to the Wicklow Mountains in the distance, nonetheless. It’s well worth the effort.

Nevada Sunset

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Golden Gate Bridge’s Golden Sunset

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Nikon D7100, Tamron 70-200mm G2; 70mm, ISO 100, f/22, 30sec

Sky on Fire

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ISO 100, 8s, 17mm, f/11 – Nikon D7100, Sigma 17-50mm

First day in Australia – Adelaide in the south, to be specific. The first port of call for my three weeks long trip through “Aussieland”. A dream its been for a long time. Finally the chance to make it real. Although – and I didn’t quite know what it would mean when I booked the rather lowly priced flight tickets – it’s winter in “Down Under”.

Winter in Australia? Can’t be that bad, can it? Well, turns out it isn’t but then it kind of is – Says I didn’t have unrealistic expectations like roasting on the beach and surfing the waves in the ocean. Just one thing: no rain – PLEASE!

Dublin’s farewell gift on Saturday was a wet storm that soaked you only from sprinting as fast as you can the five meters from the taxi to the entrance of terminal two – desperate stuff!

24 hours later I come to realise the weather-god (Neptune is it, right?) and I we never make friends in this life – he sent the wet storm round the globe all the way down to Adelaide. Thanks mate!

First day in South Australia. 13 degrees, the Air BnB freezing, heaters are overvalued in a city where it’s nearly always hot. Those three or four weeks were it isn’t? Tough luck.

Now, while this type of weather isn’t good for the tan, it certainly is good for producing a stunning sky. That’s exactly what I was hoping for when I went down to Seacliff Beach in the afternoon.

Boy oh boy it didn’t disappoint! The constant play between sun and rain created the most amazing sky. There were those thick layers of dark, rain filled clouds that tried to drown the sun and its warm rays – an epic fight!

To capture the emotions and create maximum drama of the scene my idea was to get some long exposures. The first image at the top is my favourite from today. A final piece of sea grass clinging on to dear life, lying still, all his friends already washed away, while rain and sun fight it out in the background. A fitting tribute to the day it was!

In the end the rain won and the sea captured the beach. The tide is merciless.

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ISO 100, 4s, 17mm, f/11 – Nikon D7100, Sigma 17-50mm

Breda – Pearl of the South

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Breda, this city close to Eindhoven in the south of the Netherlands – I stumbled across by accident. The “pearl of the south” locals keep telling me, so I used the chance to explore this place for myself.

Roughly 170.000 citizens does the city count its own – admittedly it feels smaller. It feels compact, cosy, very much like a place you can walk around and explore in one day easily.

So I did today, on my “free” day. Sadly it was an overcast day, not particularly exciting for photography. A bit chilly too, a cool wind ensuring that there were no spring feelings in the air.

I was already home at half past five in the afternoon, putting the feet up after a day on the go, with a hot coffee in my hands, when suddenly this strange yellow thing squeezed through the thick layers of greyish clouds…. a signal!

So I got my cam and went out again, back to places I saw and shot throughout the day, but when checking the outcome on my laptop I had to admit the photos looked flat and dull, mainly because there was just no light.

In my head I always had this idea of shooting a stereotypical photo of the Netherlands. A canal, boats, cute little houses reflecting in the water…. here I got it, tonight, finally!

Though you can see dark clouds threatening on the right hand side of the sky. I’m happy that It got my arse up and went out again after a full day on the go, to get the one shot I REALLY wanted.