Iceland is one of those countries that must be near the top of most Photographer’s bucket list, it has such a diverse range of incredible landscapes that it’s just a pleasure to go there to shoot. On my first visit about 5 years ago I tried to get around as much of the country as possible, spending a couple of days in the highlands, in the southeast, in the north and in the westfjords. It was a great trip, but Iceland has incredible changeable weather and for large parts of the trip I never saw the sun or had any decent light.
This year Teresa and I decided that we'd like to see more of Portugal so instead of booking an exotic trip to someone far away we've gone on short trips to different parts of Portugal, from Porto in the winter to Alentejo in the spring. For the summer we decided to spend 10 days travelling around some of the islands of the Açores, a place neither of us had ever visited and didn't really know much about. The Açores is an archipelago of nine volcanic islands pretty much in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean midway between Europe and the USA.
The first part was planning which islands to visit. São Miguel is the obvious one, but it's also the most touristed and best known. I spent some time researching the islands and it quickly became apparent that Flores, one of the western most islands, was the one I wanted to photograph most, and next to that is the tiny island of Corvo which also looked stunning. I also wanted to photography Pico, Portugal's highest mountain, which can also be viewed from the neighboring islands of Faial and Sao Jorge. Both of these islands looked lovely, but as there are direct flights to Faial from Lisbon it made sense to spend some time there. So our final plan saw us flying to Faial, picking up a rental car and then catching a ferry for the 30 minute trip to Pico.
I've just returned from 25 days in Indonesia, my first trip with Fuji cameras and my first trip without a large dSLR. We traveled the entire length of Java and Bali overland so it was important to me to have a camera that wouldn't feel heavy and cumbersome to carry around, but also one I could completely rely on to produce excellent image quality.
The experience of traveling with Fuji cameras has been a revelation! Not only in how much lighter, smaller and easier to carry around it all is, but how I've not once missed my old Nikon in terms of image quality or autofocus in any of the many situations I've encountered, from fast moving street scenes to dynamically lit landscapes. They've been brilliant, reliable and a consistent pleasure to use.
We were sad to leave Pemuteran. It had been a relaxing four days, but it was time to move on to our next location, Munduk, high in the central mountains of Bali. It's a tiny village surrounded by clove and coffee plantations with rice terraces cut into the side of the hills. The journey from Pemuteran took a little less than an hour and a half, and after we left the town of Seririt we seemed to be constantly rising in twisting roads. The landscape is so green and there is so much water. It's incredibly fertile land and so much grows here.
After months of research and planning, Teresa and I are finally heading off to Indonesia for a around a month on Monday. It's a trip we've wanted to make for a long time and we'll be taking in a really wide range of places and locations, so it should provide lots of opportunities for photography.
We'll fly to Jakarta, before heading by train to Yogyakarta, the cultural centre, for a couple of days. Then we'll spend a couple of days at the huge Buddhist temple of Borobudur, before heading by train again to Surabaya and then on to Mount Bromo, the iconic volcano in the Tengger Semeru National Park. After that we head over to Bali for a few days diving and snorkelling in Permuteran on the north coast, then up to the mountains and rice fields in Munduk, before relaxing at the end of the trip in Ubud.
I'm proud to announce that my book on Photographing Burma is now available for download at the iBooks store. If you’re wondering which temples in Bagan are the best for sunrise and sunset, if you want to know what’s the best way to shoot sunrise and sunset at Golden Rock, or if you just want to be inspired by beautiful images of Burma then you’ll find plenty in this book to help you plan your trip to Burma.
Alongside over 120 images I’ve tried to pass on as much of what I learned while photographing this breathtaking country as possible with advice on photogenic places to visit and tips on some of the practicalities like when the locations are best photographed and how to get there. With every image I’ve provided a description of where and how and, where possible, why the image was taken and what I was hoping to achieve when photographing the scene.
While by no means a definitive guide to every location in Burma, the book nevertheless is a great starting point for any trip to Burma, and with that in mind I hope that both the images and information here will provide inspiration and some solid advice about visiting and photographing this truly wonderful country.
We've just returned from our trip to Burma. What an amazing place it is!
I've never been to a place which not only lived up to expectations, but consistently exceeded them. A beautiful country with a wonderful people, we had so many fantastic experiences there and the trip left us feeling richer and sad to have to leave.
There will be plenty more blog posts to come as I sort through the images and try to combine them into coherent photo essays that communicate the essence of each place we visited, but first up is Bangkok. If you're flying into Burma from Europe, Bangkok is by far the easiest connecting point, and we decided to spend a night here getting over jet lag from the long flight east before making the small hop to Yangon.
After three days in the Sahara, it was time to head back north to Chefchaouen, a small town in the Rif Mountains, in the north of Morocco. It was going to be a long journey, and we'd decided to break it at the Roman ruins of Volubilis, near the city of Meknes.
Even so, the drive was still a marathon. On our last day in the Sahara we awoke in a berber tent in the middle of the dunes, got up to photograph sunrise, then had the hour long camel ride back to the kasbah we'd used as our base. A quick shower, change and breakfast, then we hit the road back north across the middle Atlas mountains. We'd been so blown away by the changes in scenery on our way down, that we thought it would be a nice idea to film it using the video recorder on the D90. So at various points of the journey, we filmed the passing scenery, towns and people, with the idea that I could edit all the short clips together to make a brief film that shows the changing of the landscape and culture across the length of Morocco. We kept the idea up all the way until the port in Tanger, and at some point when I have time, I'd like to sit down and get to work on cutting it together.
Fes was fantastic, but when the germ of the idea of coming to Morocco first took root in my head, it was to photograph sand dunes in the Sahara. Looking at the map, it seemed perfectly feasible, over to Morocco, a couple of hours down to Fes, and then it was just another 500 or so kilometers to Erg Chebbi, where the Sahara starts. How hard could it be?
<!--more-->As it turned out, it wasn't particularly difficult, but it was long. Driving 500km in Morocco takes a long time. The roads are generally pretty good, there's not that much traffic on them and contrary to my expectations, people on the roads were cautious and completely unaggressive. It was rare to see someone breaking the speed limit.
No, it takes a long time because what little traffic there is on the road, is generally slow moving trucks, and the road up into the middle Atlas, across the plateau at the top, and then down again on the other side at Errachidia, is often relatively winding
Like the Amazon, it's size and age, and the fact that humans are utterly insignificant in the face of it, barely scratching it's surface, leaves a deep impression
Well we're back from Morocco. A few thousand kilometers later, the car has collected all kinds of dust and sand, as well as a strange knocking noise which first appeared when driving across the stone desert near Merzouga, but it got us to where we wanted to go, and it got us back again.
It's been a fantastic trip, one that's really pushed us both physically and mentally. Photographically it's been really challenging and a lot of fun as it demanded so many different approaches. From patient tripod vigils in the dunes, to handheld shooting in the low light and narrow confines of the medinas of Fes and Chefchaouen. Portraiture, landscapes, street shooting, panning, architecture, details etc etc...I can't remember a trip where there's been so much variety.