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Best Photo Locations - South Australia's Fleurieu Peninsula

After a week exploring the sweltering summer heat of South Australia, I have nailed the best spots to set up your camera for some jaw dropping landscape locations. From sunset seascapes to rugged coastline beaches, the unique geology and topography in the Fleurieu Peninsula is worth a visit. Not sure if the extreme heat temperature of 46.6 degrees celcius had anything to do with the surreal sunsets, but every day the skies lit up with different hues. Here is a rough guide to what I think are must see destinations if you have at least three days to spare for a micro adventure.

Port Willunga Sunset  21mm Lens F11 @ 1/60 Shutter Speed on ISO 80.

Port Willunga Sunset

21mm Lens F11 @ 1/60 Shutter Speed on ISO 80.

Port Willunga

This stunning beach is overlooked by cliffs where fishermen once carved out caves to store their boats and nets. Also of historical interest, the town’s jetty was destroyed in 1915. All that remains is a collection of weather-beaten pylons that stand as a reminder to the town’s heady past as a grain port. Locals often meet in the caves for a sunset party. You might even run into a bridal party doing a wedding shoot.

Port Willunga Beach

Port Willunga Beach

Port Willunga Sunset

Port Willunga Sunset

Port Willunga Beach

Port Willunga Beach

Port Willunga Beach

Port Willunga Beach

Second Valley Beach

Only 90 km away from Adelaide, crowds of beachgoers were basking in the Southern sun. Must have been our lucky day but we happened to get the best parking spot. It was a real stinker of a day with temperatures nearing 40 degrees. My drone refused to fly in such hot weather. Much to our surprise the landscape looked more like the Mediterranean than a quintessential Australian beach.

Second Valley Beach

Second Valley Beach

The history of this area dates back to when an English Colonel was sent to South Australia to look for a location to set up the capital city. First stop was next door at Rapid Bay and second stop was this place, Second Valley. Not the most creative way to decide on a name. The geology is a mix of layers of white and coloured dolomitic limestone, gray to black slate, and quartz veins. If you are a rock collector, then you will enjoy this pebbly beach’s little coves and cliffs.

Second Valley Beach

Second Valley Beach

Grey & Black Slate

Grey & Black Slate

Grey & Black Slate

Grey & Black Slate

Dolomitic Limestone

Dolomitic Limestone

Dolomitic Limestone

Dolomitic Limestone

Second Valley Beach

Second Valley Beach

Rapid Bay

Rapid Bay

Second Valley

Second Valley

Petrel Cove Beach

Located just outside Victor Harbor, this is a dangerous place to shoot. Never turn your back on the ocean as this place is notorious for some fatalities. There are sinkholes, blowholes and jagged rocks everywhere you look. There is an Interesting geology of dark and smooth molten granite. It’s an easy hike down and the best set of rocks are just to the right of the beach. Any further along the rocky coast, will require some climbing over rocks in low tide.

Petrel Cove

Petrel Cove

Granite Island, Victor Harbor

Granite Island, also known by the Ramindjeri people as Nulcoowarra, is a small island next to Victor Harbor. It’s about 80 km south of Adelaide. A shore-based bay whaling station operated at Granite Island in the 1830s.

Granite Island natural formation of rocks.

Granite Island natural formation of rocks.

Granite Island places sculptures by artists from South Australia and across the world among the spectacular scenery and coastal views. By integrating sculptures into the landscape it aims to provide visitors to the island with a different experience as they wander the track. The sculptures are leased or commissioned from artists who have previously exhibited in the Sculpture by the Sea exhibitions at Cottesloe Beach in Perth, or on the Bondi to Tamarama coastal walk in Sydney.

Granite Island Sculpture by Lubomir Mikle (Slovakia) titled “Element 0”

Granite Island Sculpture by Lubomir Mikle (Slovakia) titled “Element 0”

Granite Island

Granite Island

Cape Jervis

The only reason we drove to this cape was to see the car ferry arriving from Kangaroo Island. Kangaroo Island itself is another destination worth exploring on another trip. What intrigued me most was this lonely tree on the hill just next to the lighthouse. I guess the birds had no other place to perch and view the ocean.

Lonely Tree at Cape Jarvis

Lonely Tree at Cape Jarvis

Birds at Cape Jarvis

Birds at Cape Jarvis

Birds at Cape Jarvis

Birds at Cape Jarvis

Inman Valley Views

On a sunset drive back to Victor Harbor I stumbled upon a view looking back at Inman Valley. I was flabergasted by the deep purple and magenta tones that seemed to illuminate the sky and landscape from every direction.

Dusk over the Inman Valley

Dusk over the Inman Valley

Dusk over Inman Valley

Dusk over Inman Valley

Sellicks Beach

Sellicks Beach is one of the few beaches where parking is allowed on the sand, and it's as popular with families for its safe swimming as it is with surf fishermen. There are good boat launching facilities and excellent windsurfing conditions when off-shore winds prevail. It is an outer suburb of Adelaide so many day trippers come for a swim. Not much shelter from the sun, so don’t forget to bring your umbrellas and sun protection. Land surfers can also be seen rolling along the very long and flat sandy beach.

Sellicks Beach On Australia Day

Sellicks Beach On Australia Day

Classic FJ Holden on Australia Day

Classic FJ Holden on Australia Day

Photography Kit

Goes without saying a water bottle, small towel to dry lens and non-slip water resistant boots are essential as a seascape photographer.

Camera: Fujifilm XT3 | Lenses: 35mm (F1.4) & 14mm (F2.8) | Tripod: Sirui T024SX | 13 Inch MacBook Pro | Total Weight: 5 Kg.

Philippines Best Photo Locations

Patricia, Charles & Alfonso

Patricia, Charles & Alfonso

Born and raised in Manila till I was 15 years old. It’s a bit of a homecoming each year I come back to the Philippines on one of my photo tours. A fresh look at an old country. Where there is absolute chaos, calm can be found. It’s all about perception and attitude being here in the tropical heat. When you land in Manila you just have to go with the flow. You can’t fight the mayhem that seems to be waiting around every corner. Having a sense of humour will allow you to relax and embrace this beautiful country for all it’s flaws. Join me on this visual roller coaster of gorgeous light. What other places in the Philippines do you think are as equally beautiful?

Slum Photo Tour

Growing up in Manila I spent most of my childhood in a gated community next to this slum area called Malibay. Driven more by ignorance and fear, I never ventured into this neighbourhood. Now as a grown up regularly visiting the Philippines, I am curious to explore and learn what is beyond the walls separating the rich and the poor. As a 13 year old I used to prop up a very tall ladder on my friend’s house back wall over looking this slum. We used to trade our hang ten socks for some sky rockets. Not the safest purchase for home made fireworks that had fuses that burned too fast. On a recent trip, we Visited a nearby primary school in the slum. Making a small donation, we then had the chance to be guided around the community. Here are some highlights from our morning spent in Malibay.

Sister Bernadette at San Juan Nepumuceno Center of Transformative Education

Sister Bernadette at San Juan Nepumuceno Center of Transformative Education

Outdoor bath

Outdoor bath

Outdoor Cooking

Outdoor Cooking

Indian Loan Shark

Indian Loan Shark

Work & Play: The Cycle Driver & Basketball Court.

Work & Play: The Cycle Driver & Basketball Court.

The outdoor bath and kitchen are part of most slums because of a lack of space. The local government owns this land. Despite efforts to relocate them to other more rural areas outside Manila, the lack of work has driven them back here. Dirty water and disease still plague these areas.

San Juan Nepumuceno Center of Transformative Education

San Juan Nepumuceno Center of Transformative Education

Malibay, Pasay

Malibay, Pasay

Malibay, Pasay

Malibay, Pasay

Despite the hardships the poor seem to be richer with humanity. The media often paints a picture of violence on the drug wars that have been happening in the Philippines for the last two years. The locals tell me it's safer to walk the streets at night. These series of photos show the relentless spirit and warmth of a Filipino.

Roosters For Sale

Roosters For Sale

Malibay Slum

Malibay Slum

Makati

As a stark contrast 5 km away is the rich area of Makati. Looking west at the financial district of Makati we sit on a roof top bar at a hotel called the City Garden Grand. Located smack bang in the armpit of Makati’s entertainment area. Here you can easily find good food and nice vibes. If you look closely at the image below you will notice a residential village with over 500 houses. Makati along with other cities within Metro Manila divide the rich and poor very clearly. The private villages can be found dotted all around commercial areas. The traffic down below is not as glamorous as the views up here. Manila’s traffic is a test of patience.

Makati Skyline

Makati Skyline

Intramuros & Old Manila

Intramuros & Old Manila

Intramuros

Located in Old Manila is Intramuros; a Spanish walled city. Most of Manila was destroyed during WWII when the Japanese invaded. Today you can walk the streets to explore areas near the Pasig River like Quiapo. Growing up here as a child I never got to roam these streets in fear of being robbed. Today however with a little common sense and a local guide to walk you around you can really see what life is really like walking the back streets. Some highlights in Intramuros include San Agustin Church and the beautifully preserved area across the road with about a dozen heritage listed buildings. In Quiapo the church, the market and mosque are also worth a stroll.

Quiapo Church

Quiapo Church

San Agustin Church

San Agustin Church

Bohol Island

Finally a new airport has been built on Panglao Island. Floor-to-ceiling glass windows and a wave-shaped ceiling outfitted with solar panels welcome visitors to the country's newest airport. The 13,337-square meter gateway to Bohol province's Chocolate Hills, white sand beaches and tarsier sanctuaries is also a showcase of sustainability. First Stop is White Beach on Panglao Island and the Bohol Bee Farm.

Bohol Bee Farm Dusk

Bohol Bee Farm Dusk

White Beach, Panglao Island

White Beach, Panglao Island

Bohol Bee Farm Sunrise

Bohol Bee Farm Sunrise

Loboc River

About an hour and half drive from Panglao Island you will find the emerald green waters of Loboc River. Acres of nipa palm line all along the river bank. The Loboc river passes through the town center of the Municipality of Loboc, offering a riverside view of the Loboc church across the highway. Various activities on the river, including the river cruise and standup paddle boarding typically feature a scenic trip upriver to Busay falls, or to various points in the river where visitors can enjoy buffets, cultural presentations, firefly watching, birding, and even paddle board yoga at the Fox & Firefly Cottages.

Fox & Firefly Cottages

Fox & Firefly Cottages

Loboc River footbridge

Loboc River footbridge

https://theculturetrip.com/…/chasing-the-dying-light-of-bo…/

Watching golden pteroptyx macdermotti fireflies float in the mangrove forests of Bohol, Philippines is one of nature’s most bewitching spectacles. Yet it may not be long before the lights go out. These image is a composite of ten images each photographed with a minutes long exposure.

Fireflies

Fireflies

Tarsier

About a 30 minute drive from Loboc River we visited the Tarsier Sanctuary just after opening to beat the crowds of tourists. The protected primates are a mere handful size and can only live for 24 years. Called the “world’s smallest monkey” for its physical similarities to that primate, the tarsier, along with the lemur, tree shrew and loris, in fact belong to a more primitive suborder Prosimii or prosimian. All I can think of when I see these peculiarly cute creatures is YODA from star wars.

More info here: http://www.tarsierfoundation.org/the-philippine-tarsier

Tarsier Sanctuary

Tarsier Sanctuary

Tarsier Sanctuary

Tarsier Sanctuary

Chocolate Hills

The nearest town of Carmen is only 15 minutes away. You can stay the night at Villa Del Carmen for some home cooking. A short stroll away is the town of Carmen. We stayed the night to capture a sunset and sunrise but unluckily both days were a bit over cast. Nevertheless it’s still worth a look at these amazing hills. About 50 years ago a National Geographic Photographer visited the hills and thought they looked like Hershey’s Kisses Chocolate. Hence the name has stayed since. There are at least 1,260 hills but there may be as many as 1,776 hills spread over an area of more than 50 square kilometres. They are covered in green grass that turns chocolate brown during the dry season. These conical hills are geomorphological features called cockpit karst, which were created by a combination of the dissolution of limestone by rainfall, surface water, and groundwater, and their subaerial erosion by rivers and streams after they had been uplifted above sea level and fractured by tectonic processes. 

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Siquijor Island

After a 2 hour ferry ride with Ocean Jet from Tagbilaran in Bohol we were eager to explore Siquijor. With about 95,000 inhabitants the permiter of the oval shaped island can be tackled in about 3 hours. Highlights on the island include white sandy beaches, Mangrove swamps, crystal clear water, waterfalls and faith healers. A couple of nights stay is sufficient to relax and go on a full day expedition. I would recommend a driver to take you around. for the whole day to really enjoy all the island has to offer.

San Juan Beach, Siquijor

San Juan Beach, Siquijor

Sunrise & Sunset

At 6am our sunrise began at the sleepy village of Talingtin to capture the mangrove trees along the shoreline. We happen to photograph them at low tide which gave us access to get closer on foot. For sunset we hit two locations both in the area of San Juan. On our first night we kicked some sand at Paliton Beach and on our second night we had some San Miguel Beer at Ocean Bar and Grill on the beach. Both locations also delivered some low tides and calm waters.

Motion Blur Effect - Sunrise at Paliton Beach

Motion Blur Effect - Sunrise at Paliton Beach

Aloha Bar & Grill Sunset of San Juan Beach

Aloha Bar & Grill Sunset of San Juan Beach

Aloha Bar & Grill Sunset of San Juan Beach

Aloha Bar & Grill Sunset of San Juan Beach

Talingtin Sunrise with Mangrove Tree

Talingtin Sunrise with Mangrove Tree

Talingtin Sunrise with Bangka

Talingtin Sunrise with Bangka

Long Exposures with a 6 stop filter - Paliton Beach

Long Exposures with a 6 stop filter - Paliton Beach

Our staff member at Island View Cottages.

Our staff member at Island View Cottages.

Other Highlights on the island include Cambugahay Falls, Salagdoong Beach and a fish spa. The falls require a 220 step hike down so I would suggest you have some bottled water for your trip back up. Once down at the falls you will have a choice of 3 falls to swim or swing. Swinging requires a small payment for any Tarzan or Jane action. The fish spa tickles and causes a few laughs for a 5 minute sitting on your way home.

Salagdoong Beach Cliff Jump

Salagdoong Beach Cliff Jump

Salagdoong Beach

Salagdoong Beach

Cambugahay Falls

Cambugahay Falls

Negros Island

After a 1 hour boat ride to Dumaguete City we drove out of town to stay at the Wuthering Heights Bed & Breakfast. A large concrete building sitting a top a hill overlooking the island of Cebu. The perfect spot for a cup of brewed coffee on the rooftop patio at sunrise. Other points of interest nearby are the Sunday Market in San Jose and Balinsasayao Twin Lakes.The Twin Lakes operated by the government with a strong conservation program to preserve all wildlife and pristine waters. Most people go on a short boat ride across the lake, hike a 10 minute steep path and finally view the adjoining lake from an observation deck. The whole journey will take about 45 minutes to an hour. It’s worth a look simply to breath in the clean mountain air.

Balinsasayao Pond before Twin Lakes .

Balinsasayao Pond before Twin Lakes.

Balinsasayao Pond before Twin Lakes.

Balinsasayao Pond before Twin Lakes.

Balinsasayao Twin Lakes .

Balinsasayao Twin Lakes.

Sunday Market in Poblacion, San Jose if you can time your schedule is a community affair. Many local farmers come into town and fill the basket ball court (Community Center) with fruit, vegetables, meat and fish. After morning mass locals pour out of the church into the market. It s a visual feast of local faces.

Sunday Market in Poblacion, San Jose

Sunday Market in Poblacion, San Jose

Sunday Market in Poblacion, San Jose

Sunday Market in Poblacion, San Jose

Sunday Market in Poblacion, San Jose

Sunday Market in Poblacion, San Jose

Sunday Market in Poblacion, San Jose

Sunday Market in Poblacion, San Jose

Oslob, Cebu Island

At 3am we were woken with a hot cup of coffee for our 1 hour journey to Cebu Island on a car ferry. Also known as a RORO (Roll on Roll Off) we cruised silently in perfectly calm waters. By 5:30am I was lining up for an hour to get some tickets (1,500 PHP) for our Whale Shark Experience. By 8:30am we finally made the front of the line with our life jackets on ready to board the small bangkas (outrigger boat) Swimming with a Whale Shark in Oslob is a controversial experience. Some say it’s not natural behaviour for the fish to be fed and surrounded by hundreds of people. Others say it is much easier than going to Donsol in Leyte to look for them with no guarantee at all of spotting them in the wild let alone swimming with them this close.

Oslob Whale Shark Experience

Oslob Whale Shark Experience

Photography Kit

Camera: Fujifilm XT3 | Lenses: 35mm (F1.4) & 14mm (F2.8) | Tripod: Sirui T024SX | 13 Inch MacBook Pro | Total Weight: 5 Kg.

Shooting Waterfalls & Ancient Trees

In early November I was itching to soak in some waterfalls and stretch my neck up to see some gentle giants. With only 2 nights to spare I crossed my fingers hoping for some gushing streams and lush green trees. My inner Doctor told me the perfect prescription for city stress was to breath in some tall forests, ferny gullies, and magnificent waterfalls. Some health benefits from forests include boosting the immune system, lowering your blood pressure and improving your sleep. Not to mention the cognitive pluses of listening to water flowing and getting off your devices. One blessing in disguise is the lack of mobile phone coverage in these remote forests. If you still have coverage why not switch to flight mode.

Hopetoun Falls

Hopetoun Falls

Weather Dependant

Before you shoot out the door in excitement to make the drive as seen in the Google map below, it would be best to check if it has been raining. No water means no water falls. Too much water or floods also could mean that some tracks have been closed for safety reasons. Below is a rough route covering the 3 main falls to hike in the Otway Ranges. There are many more falls but these are the 3 most accessable and beautiful if you are short on time.

Otways & Ocean Road Trip

Otways & Ocean Road Trip

1. HOPETOUN FALLS

Hopetoun Falls has a viewing platform 20 metres from the carpark which offers spectacular views of the falls as they crash into the Aire River. Or you can take the steeper walk down to the pool at the base of the falls. The walk starts from the carpark located on the Aire Valley Road in Beech Forest.

Distance: 1km return | Time: 30 mins | Difficulty: Moderate

Hopetoun Falls

Hopetoun Falls

2.BEAUCHAMP FALLS

Beauchamp Falls crashes over a ledge into a large pool just outside Beech Forest, this 20-metre waterfall rewards a somewhat strenuous walk. To get to the falls, take the walking path from the picnic area, located off the Aire Valley Road. The three-kilometre path is an hour's walk return, and requires reasonable fitness. The descent to the falls leads to a viewing platform (there is no access to the falls). The path back is steep and has steps that can be slippery when wet. Take care when walking in damp conditions.

Distance: 3km return | Time: 1 hour | Difficulty: Strenuous

Triplet Falls

Triplet Falls

3.TRIPLET FALLS

Triplet Falls is one of the iconic visitor sites in the Great Otway National Park. Nestled amongst the ancient forests of Mountain Ash and Myrtle Beech with large sections of expanded metal boardwalks, you will discover three distinct and impressive cascades flowing through shady rainforests and glades of mossy tree ferns. The walk is quite close to the Otway Fly Treetop Adventures located on  Phillips Track near Beech Forest. The walk begins with some sections of steep steps so while it's not long, it is not suited to people with limited mobility. There are some very large Mountain Ash trees along the track which are estimated to be around 200 years old. Continuing on the loop back to the carpark, you come to the site of Knott's #1 Mill which operated for more than 20 years from 1909. The remains of a steam boiler overgrown by ferns is now the only evidence of one of the largest timber mills that operated in the West Otways region.

Distance: 2km return | Time: 1 hour | Difficulty: Moderate

OTWAYS (1 of 8).jpg

4.THE REDWOODS

At the remarkable Californian Redwoods, let your imagination come to life along this enchanting walk, where fairytales seem to come alive! This remarkable stand of the world's tallest tree species have thrived in Otway soil, far from their native California. Towering on the sheltered river flat at the Aire Valley Plantation, these Sequoia Sempervirens Trees were originally planted in 1936 by Victorian forresters for experimental purposes. While still in their youthful growth phase, the Otway Redwoods may one day claim the title of tallest trees in the world. A walk for the first time between the massive trunks flanking the river creates a special feeling of awe and reverence - not to be missed.

Distance: 500m return | Time: 15 mins | Difficulty: Easy

Redwood Forest

Redwood Forest

Redwood Forest

Redwood Forest

5. Erskine Falls

Are at the end of Erskine Falls Road 10km north west of Lorne. There is a viewing point above the falls and a walking track, steep in places, leads to the base of the falls. The falls cascade over one of the highest drops in the Otways. Overcast days are the best time to photograph falls. Bring a 3 or 6 stop filter if you wish to slow down your shutter when too sunny. 1 -2 second shutter speed should do the trick. Even 1/2 or 1.4 second will works as well if there is enough water flow.

Distance: 1km return | Time: 30 mins | Difficulty: Easy

Erskine Falls

Erskine Falls

6.Point RoadKnight Beach

Bonus Extra Location:

It’s not a waterfall but if you are heading back to Melbourne and want a glimpse of the seascape shots along the coast, here is one worth a look. Before you drive into the town of Anglesea turn right into 8th street to find the car park at the southern end of Point Roadknight Beach. From here you will have to cut across the Lorne Queenscliff Coastal Reserve as seen on the map below. The image taken below at sunrise is not easy to find or walk to. The jagged rocks and high tides might limit how close you can get to make an image. You will find the jagged rocks at the southern most point of Point Roadknight Beach only through the reserve.

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Knight Bridge Pt. (1 of 1).jpg

Photography Kit

Goes without saying a water bottle, small towel to dry lens and non slip water resistant boots are essential in this environment. Do you have any suggestions on the perfect shoe & pants?

Camera: Fujifilm XT3 | Lenses: 35mm (F1.4) & 14mm (F2.8) | Tripod: Sirui T024SX | Total Weight: 5 Kg.

5 Steps to Street Portraits (W/ & W/O Permission)

Humans (10 of 10).jpg

Most people shy away from the idea of even trying a street portrait. Fear is the biggest reason to avoid confrontation and rejection. It took me at least 100 times before I got comfortable with asking strangers or shooting without permission. Here are some tips to get you started and push you out of your comfort zone. Legally speaking most democratic societies allow photos in public but ethically speaking it’s your choice to make a decision if you would like to shoot without permission. Always check the laws in each country. Always avoid confrontation and never argue with anyone you don’t know or wishes to have their photo deleted. It’s not worth the hassle and stress.

Street Portraits w/o PERMISSION


1. Lens choice - Don't use a long zoom lens as you will be noticed and will appear to be a paparazzi. For your own safety best to appear as if you are not focusing on an individual but more of a group of people simply to capture the ambience of the place. If people start to notice you too much then it will be difficult to capture something spontaneous. My favourite lens range is a 28-50mm lens. 28-35mm for a photo journalistic look and 50 mm for a classic portrait look.

Humans (6 of 10).jpg

2. Background - Having a neutral background that draws the eye to your portraits main focus is important to add contrast and interest. Busy backgrounds simply add and distract instead of minus and attract. Photography is the art of subtraction. Less is more. Don’t crop your photos when editing. Look at the edge of your frames for any unwanted elements. Crop the image tightly in your head and have clear intent with pressing the shutter. Bullseye!

Environmental Refugees (1 of 6).jpg

3.  Lighting -  is paramount in this situation so look for nice soft light and a background that has contrast. Shooting with a shallow depth of field and having darker backgrounds always helps. Look at what colour clothing they have and see how that adds to the contrast of the background. Nothing worst than seeing dark shadows under the eyes of your subject. If they are squinting, then the light may be too strong. Even the subtle movement of a head one way or the other can change the direction of light. Watch closely.

Humans (7 of 10).jpg

4. Movement - In most cases people will be moving in a busy place so best to manually control your shutter speed and set to a speed suitable to the effect you are after. You might consider panning with a slow shutter speed equivalent to the speed they are moving. For example 1/30th - 1/60th for a fast paced walk to create a blurry background and a person moving in focus. Alternatively, if you would prefer to keep your background and movement in focus then best to speed up your shutter accordingly to match the pace.

Humans (8 of 10).jpg

5. Editing - When editing consider which two images may flow well together and whether or not to convert to B&W or leave in colour. The colour grading you add on can also add a mood to the series. I often use Lightroom, Photoshop and Nik software in this order. Shooting vertically and horizontally also gives me some choices when editing. If the eyes are not sharp I tend not to use them as a final cut. Emotion is the strongest driving force when choosing the best of the best.

Intramuros, Manila

Intramuros, Manila

Street Portraits w/ PERMISSION


1. Set Up - Before you approach a stranger to ask their permission it would be best to set up your shot both technically and creatively. You need to have a clear vision on your outcomes. Depending on your lighting conditions at the time of shooting you may prefer to keep your subjects away from direct harsh light. Best to do a test shot with a friend or of the background without the subject in front. Take accurate light readings and anticipate the subject will not have any blown out highlights on their face or the rest of their body. A location with the same magnitude of light evenly and softly spread is ideal for a portrait.

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2. Style or Series - Continuity or consistency in the lighting, message and concept can help thread or link together a series of photos to tell a story about a demographic such as the ones shown here. A few words to accompany each series also adds more interest to explore a sub-culture, profession or type of person or style of fashion. Sometime what they are wearing or how they act can teach us something about the people in their environment. Also known as an environmental portrait.

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3. Approach - Pick your subjects properly and make sure your approach is polite, friendly and communicate clearly your intentions to avoid any rejection. If someone is walking very quickly then it is obvious they are in a hurry and will probably be difficult to approach or get permission. Someone waiting for a friend or walking slowly might be more open to a quick portrait.

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4. Body Language - Watch the body language and be quick to snap away on continuos shutter while you are asking questions. Watch how they stand and how much or little you need to move in to shoot a head shot, waist up or full body shot. Sometimes you might want to direct them to standing a certain way if the lighting is not quite right.

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5. Communication - Knowing the local lingo or having a translator on call is a definite plus.  I never touch my subjects or direct them too much. I prefer to act out how I would prefer them to move their posture. Sometimes by moving myself a certain direction they move with me. Best to keep things flowing spontaneously and most importantly the quicker you can get them to trust you and work with you, the easier and more natural their movements will appear.

Siquijor, Philippines

Siquijor, Philippines

Photography Kit

Goes without saying a water bottle, small towel to dry lens and non slip water resistant boots are essential in this environment. Do you have any suggestions on the perfect shoe & pants?

Camera: Fujifilm XT3 | Lenses: 35mm (F1.4) & 14mm (F2.8) | Tripod: Sirui T024SX | Total Weight: 5 Kg.

How To Shoot Bombo Quarry & Cathedral Rocks

Two hours south of Sydney on the NSW South coast are two of the most striking seascape locations in the country. Alfonso Calero shares six handy tips for anyone hoping to capture remarkable images of Bombo Quarry and Cathedral Rocks.

01 GETTING THERE
Bombo is a two-hour drive south of Sydney. The best way to access Bombo Quarry is from Darian Avenue. From your car it's a 15-minute walk to various part of the quarry with numerous vantage points depending on the time of day and the tide. 
If you want to shoot Cathedral Rocks park at Jones Beach car park and walk about 15 minutes along the beach heading south. A moderate level of fitness and flexibility is required to tackle these two locations.

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02 TIMING
Getting up at dawn isn't easy, but it's worth the bleary eyes. Use an app to check the sunrise time and try to get set up 30 or 40 minutes beforehand. Check the tides too and be extra careful when it comes to setting up your tripod and camera. Don't put yourself, or your gear, in harm's way. Once the sun is up it will be too difficult to shoot, even with a proper hard grad filter. If you are thinking of shooting at night, Bombo Quarry rather than Cathedral Rocks is safer and easier.

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03 USEFUL GEAR
A wide-angle lens somewhere between 16 and 24mm (equivalent) is ideal for seascapes. You'll need a sturdy tripod to keep your camera from moving in the sometimes gusty winds and a plastic cover to keep any rain or water spray out. A cable or remote release is handy to stop you bumping the camera when you push the camera, but using the self-timer is a cheap alternative. There are all sorts of filters that can help you get better pictures but the best is the neutral density (ND) filter which helps you cut the light and use a slower shutter speed. Graduated ND filters which are darker at the top and clear on the bottom are great for managing high-contrast sunrise photos.

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04 CAMERA SETTINGS
To get the best quality out of your camera select the lowest sensitivity setting, usually 50 or 100 ISO. For optimal sharpness and depth of field, I use an aperture of f/11. Every lens has an optimal f-stop, at which it is sharpest, usually between f/8 and f/16, so experiment to see what works best. Shooting RAW delivers better quality and more editing options than JPEG.In regard to shutter speed, most of the images in this story were photographed between 1/15s and 30s, depending on what I was trying to achieve. It can be challenging at this location to get plenty of detail in the dark basalt rocks without blowing out the highlights in the sky. 
Read more at http://www.australianphotography.com/news/how-to-shoot-bombo-quarry-and-cathedral-rocks#XV0MGOvO9gf8jBS0.99

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05 COMPOSITION
See if you can choose one element that will be the dominant part of your shot. Look around the frame for distractions and look for ways to eliminate them. Remember, photography is the art of subtraction. Leading lines can be an effective tool to lead viewers' eyes to the main subject. Be aware that brighter areas will attract the most attention so make sure they aren't distracting from the overall composition. Make sure the horizon line is level. 

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06 EDITING
I use three different types of software for editing – Lightroom, Photoshop and Nik Software – and I use them in that order. I do most of my editing in Lightroom, advanced re-touching in photoshop and, finally, I use Nik software to add just a little more Pop. Aside from the basic edits of white balance, tint, contrast, highlight and shadow, my favourite tools to use are the graduated filter and the adjustment brush. 

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5 Reasons to Enjoy Landscapes in Winter

"Winter is Coming" is a famous quote from Jon Snow of the T.V. Show "Game Of Thrones". While many people might go into a G.O.T form of hibernation at this time of year, that doesn't have to happen! Photography can lift your spirits and bring loads of better photo opportunities even in the freakin' cold weather.

So pull out your jacket and gloves and get out and explore the creative possibilities that are waiting. Here are some reasons why you should be out and about shooting some great images at the coldest time of the year. 

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1. Sunrise is not as early
You don't have to wake up at 5 am to catch a dawn shoot or wait till 9 pm to hook a sunset. Winter days are definitely shorter with a sunrise at around 7 am and sunset at 5 pm. Of course as the months pass times will change slightly. Aside from knowing the correct time for a sunrise or a sunset, it is also important to arrive at least 30-45 minutes before a sunrise and stick around just as long after a sunset. The blue hour, as it is known, can produce some magic moments. When shooting for the stars then knowing when you have a full moon or not can also affect your photo opportunities.

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2. The air is cleaner outside
Indoor air quality also becomes a greater concern during the winter because of the amount of time that people stay inside in poor ventilation. Without adequate circulation, carbon dioxide levels can become an issue, leading to headaches and lethargy. Generally, outdoor air quality is better than indoor air, so the best antidote is to get outside regularly.

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3. The stars are clearer
There is less humidity and the best view of the Milky Way is available at this time of year. The atmospheric conditions like light pollution and humidity also affect the view. Clearer skies are more often experienced in winter. Here is a link to an article on astrophotography basics.

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4. Lower light levels
Because of the lower angles of the sun (the same lower angles that make it so bloody cold), your "quality of light" is generally better throughout the day and shadows are longer (sometimes a good element for your photos). If your shooting day presents you with cloudy, overcast weather, you might also consider changing to the “Cloudy” white balance setting to add some warmth to your photos and minimize any blue cast. This means your ND filters or grad hard or soft filters are not being used as much. 

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5. Lower sun
For aerial photography, snowy and frosty conditions perfectly emphasise ridges and features and they can be photographed with a clarity not seen at any other time of the year. The low level to which the sun rises casts much longer shadows, making visibility of above ground features much easier to spot. Heavy brooding skies, the low sun and those stormy seas and frost-coated landscapes.

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Sevilla 5 Best Photo Locations

Seville is the capital of southern Spain’s Andalusia region. It's famous for flamenco dancing. Major landmarks include the ornate Alcázar castle complex, built during the Moorish Almohad dynasty. We based ourselves in an apartment close to the cathedral. Most of Seville can be tackled on foot. Below is a google map route highlighting the best spots for photography for first time visitors. Even though the walk will only take 35 minutes I would encourage you to head down as many back alleys as possible. Getting lost in Seville is a fun adventure. Have your gps on your phone to get you back on track to visit the 5 key locations. Triana across the river is another lovely area if you wish to experience more flamenco culture. 

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1. Plaza De Espana

Built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition world fair in 1929. Famous film location for Lawrence of Arabia & Star Wars attack of the clones. Plaza de España is actually set within the Maria Luisa Park, which originally was part of the gardens of the Alcázar palace. It is a landmark example of the Regionalism Architecture, mixing elements of the Renaissance Revival and Moorish Revival (Neo-Mudéjar) styles of Spanish architecture

Plaza De Espana

Plaza De Espana

Plaza De Espana with two lovely tourists from Valencia.

Plaza De Espana with two lovely tourists from Valencia.

 

2. Royal Alcazar

Landmark Moorish royal palace with fountain-filled gardens, ornate arches & 16th-century tiles. I would strongly suggest you book your tickets online to jump the lines. The whole walk will take you about 2 hours. There is so much detail in the architecture. Coincidentally a convenience store called 711 is when Islam arrived in Spain and stayed till 1492. The baths underneath the main building are worth a look. 

Alcazar Baths

Alcazar Baths

Alcazar

Alcazar

3. The Jewish Quarter

Is a stones throw from the Alcazar and the Cathedral. Through a labyrinth of laneways you can enjoy getting lost in this area. Keep your gps on your mobile if you need to hit a destination but be prepared to explore what this zone has to offer. Riddled with fantastic tapas bars you can't go wrong with a google review search mostly rating 4 stars. Any of the small churches in the area are equally as impressive if not more charming than the cathedral. 

La Juderia Laneways

La Juderia Laneways

4. El Rinconcillo Restaurant

Seville’s most ancient bar, is a place with centuries of history located in the old town. Since 1670 until today, thousands of people have been charmed by this singular place that still preserves the magical taste of the old Seville. Enjoying its popular and delicious tapas in this unique location is like making a time travel that enchants visitors from all over the world every single day. Once you place your drink and food order the waiter will write the prices with a chalk on the table or bar to keep a tab of your bill.

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Codfish with Tomato Sauce.

Codfish with Tomato Sauce.

5. Metropol Parasol

A wooden structure located at La Encarnación square, in the old quarter of Seville, Spain. It was designed by the German architect Jürgen Mayer and completed in April 2011. Best described as waffles in the sky but also known as The wooden structure of mushrooms. Unique in the world, is 150 meters long by 70 meters wide and about 30 high; also it contains 3500 parts joined by nearly 3,000 knots and screws 16M. In total, 3,500 cubic meters of raw wood Finnish pine micro-laminate (KERTO) coated waterproof, breathable and flexible polyurethane. 

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Five Days in the Faroe Islands

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The Faroe Islands are an archipelago between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic, about halfway between Norway and Iceland, 320 kilometres (200 miles) north-northwest of Scotland. The islands are an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark. Their area is about 1,400 square kilometres (541 square miles) with a population of 50,322 in October 2017.

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The Faroes' terrain is rugged, and the islands have a sub-polar oceanic climate: windy, wet, cloudy, and cool. Despite this island group's northerly latitude, temperatures average above freezing throughout the year because of the Gulf Stream.

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Between 1035 and 1814, the Faroes were part of the Hereditary Kingdom of Norway. In 1814, the Treaty of Kiel granted Denmark control over the islands, along with two other Norwegian island possessions: Greenland and Iceland. The Faroe Islands have been a self-governing country within the Kingdom of Denmark since 1948. The Faroese have control of most domestic matters. Areas that remain the responsibility of Denmark include military defence, policing and the justice department, currency, and foreign affairs. 

View down to Funingur photographed at midnight.

View down to Funingur photographed at midnight.

However, as they are not part of the same customs area as Denmark, the Faroe Islands have an independent trade policy and can establish trade agreements with other states. The islands also have representation in the Nordic Council as members of the Danish delegation. The Faroe Islands also have their own national teams competing in certain sports. 

DAY 1 Elduvik

Elduvík is located in the Funningsfjørður-inlet on Eysturoy's northeast side. The village which has a population of 23 is split into two parts by a small river. The church in Elduvík dates from 1952. Visible from Elduvík is the nearby island of Kalsoy. This was our base for two nights to explore the best landscape spots within 30 minutes drive. Our accomodation was in a grass roofed house and built over 200 hundreds years ago. With recent renovations of the property it was very comfortable as seen in the pictures above. Click the image to see a slideshow.

Funningsfjørður is a village located at the end of a fjord of the same name. It was founded in 1812 and has since 2005 been part of the municipality of Runavík. From Elduvik  its a quick 15 minute drive and on the way to other key locations 30 minutes away. 

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Eiði is a village located on the north-west tip of Eysturoy, Faroe Islands. Its name means isthmus in the Faroese language. The town has a population of 669 inhabitants. Eiði was settled by Vikings in the 9th century AD. Just outside the village you can capture some great vantage points for a spectacular sunset. The drive into the valley is equally as spellbinding.

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Gjógv is a village located on the northeast tip of the island of Eysturoy, in the Faroe Islands and 63 km north by road from the capital of Tórshavn. If you are driving to Eidi you might as well have a quick look as it's only a 15 minute detour on the way back to Funingur.

Gjogv at midnight in summer.

Gjogv at midnight in summer.

The drive into Eiði before sunset was surreal with the clouds hanging low over Eiði lake. The sheep were extremely friendly and posed nicely for a sunset shot. 

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Eiði Lake

Day 2 Viðareiði is the northernmost settlement in the Faroe Islands and lies on the Island of Viðoy, which belongs to the Norðoyar Region. From Elduvik it takes about an hour driving through various under ground tunnels that connect the islands. Viðareidis church is a stone church in Viðareiði built in 1892. It is beautifully situated, overlooking the sea and towards Enniberg and Kunoyarnakkur. Despite not being able to see these two points because of cloud and fog cover the atmosphere of the area was eerie and calming. Calming because of the low tide and eerie because of the cloud and fog. The green grass is lush and has deep tones of dark olive. 

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There are more sheep (70K) than people living on the islands. Since most islands are treeless and are elongated in shape, most roads run along the perimeter. You are never more than 5km to the nearest shoreline. It's main industry is Salmon Fish Farms which can be seen dotted everywhere. Lamb is also the main industry and all other food products are flown in daily from Denmark. At the local supermarket you find lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. Another fun fact about the sheep is their clever use as a tourist campaign to join forces with google maps. Attaching cameras to their backs we are now able to get some unique street and mountain views.

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On the way back to Elduvik we passed Hvannasund a village located on the west coast of the island of Viðoy. It faces Norðdepil on Borðoy. The villages are connected to each other by a causeway where the image above was taken.

There are no traffic lights in the tunnels so when crossing over islands you might have one lane. Within the tunnels there are spots you can pull into while a car drives past. The capital of Torshavn has 3 traffic lights as this is where most people live (21K).

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Day 3 Torshavn

Tórshavn, on Streymoy Island, is the capital city of the Faroe Islands. It's known for its old town, Tinganes, crammed with wooden turf-roofed houses on a small peninsula. When the roof meets the ground level sheep are used to mow the lawn. Staying in one of the these houses is a great experience when visiting the Faroes. 

Old Town in Torshavn

Old Town in Torshavn

On the 1st of June we happened to be in town for Cultural Night. All shops open till 11pm and many food stalls line the streets in festive ambience of community. Music is a big part of Faroese culture with many bands and indie artists performing at various venues. We stumbled upon a local talent called Jasmine at the Sirkus Bar. Our accomodation owned by a famous fashion designer called Gudrun & Gudrun was stylish and comfortable with a relaxing view of a small port in front of the cottage. Fog seemed to be engulfing the town for most of our stay as we heard fog horns blowing for most of the early morning. 

The Faroe Islands may not be an independent country, but it still has one of the oldest Parliaments in the world. Tinganes, where parliament first met in the 9th century, is probably one of the oldest parliamentary meeting places in the world that is still in use. It is also a picturesque part of the capital city, Torshavn.

Sheep are clearly a national staple, in fact, the islands’ name comes from the Viking word for sheep, but salmon is equally as important, and delicious. The local company Bakkafrost is the eighth largest salmon farming company in the world. 

Torshavn Port in thick fog.

Torshavn Port in thick fog.

Day 4 Sandavagur

Sandavágur is a city on the south coast of the Faroese island of Vágar, and has been voted the most well-kept village in the Faroes twice. And it's the most famous city in the country, and best voted traveling experience. I stayed here the night and not quite sure if I missed something but it seemed just like any other town. The highlight of the area is photographing what is close by. If you are looking for cascading waterfalls flowing into the ocean from cliff tops, then Gasadalur is only a 30 minute drive away. On the way there you will see the arch shaped mammoth rock and spike tops on the island next to it. Drangarnir is the collective name for two sea stacks between the islet Tindhólmur and the island Vágar in the Faroe Islands. The individual names of the sea stacks are Stóri Drangur and Lítli Drangur.

Drangarnir

Drangarnir

If you wish to get a closer look at Drangarnir an 8 hour return walk is needed to get to the closest cliffs. The village of Bøur is a village in the Sørvágur Municipality of the Faroe Islands, 4 km west of Sørvágur, with a population of 75 is where you can get this view. The ferry pictured below is coming back from the island of Mykines where if you are lucky you can see puffin birds.

Drangarnir & Tindholmur

Drangarnir & Tindholmur

From Bøur to Gandasalur is a 10 minute drive. They have recently marked the cliff top walk to the cascading Mulafossur Waterfall to avoid accidents. If some torrential rain has come and high tide is hitting the coastline you can get some atmospheric shots. We unfortunately had a beautiful clear blue sky day which is very rare.

Mulafossur Waterfall

Mulafossur Waterfall

Mulafossur Waterfall

Mulafossur Waterfall

Day 5: Witches Finger

In the village of Sandavagur you can take short walk along the cliff face. On our final day on the way to the airport we crossed our fingers to hope for a break in the fog that had been covering the witches finger for 24 hours. Low and behold the for a brief moment we saw her for this quick shot.

Witches Finger

Witches Finger

Reality VS Expectation: Unfortunately, the 4th day we attempted the 2 hour return climb to Trælanípan to view Sorvagsvatn Lake we had zero visibility with heavy fog. Despite waiting for an hour at the cliff top view this is all we saw. Have a look at this spot we missed out on from Mads Petersen video. If you wish to join me on a photo tour please send me an email to let me know which month works best for you. If you wish to join my next photo tour, please click this link for more info.

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Copenhagen's 5 Best Photo Locations

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If you have never been to Copenhagen in Denmark, I highly recommend going in summer. All the locals are out enjoying the sun and heat. This 3 hour photo walk is only an introduction to the most common places you must visit. Bicycles are also a great alternative to walking if you wish to cover more area quickly. Canal tours can also give you a very different perspective from the water. Whatever your means of getting around you will enjoy the flatness of most roads and cleanliness in this very neat city.

 

Nyhavn Erhvervsforening

Nyhavn Erhvervsforening

Google Map Route: takes about an hour if you don't stop. I would suggest going off track from time to time if your eye catches something down a side street. If you time it properly a walk from the golden hours would be most suitable. Bring a tripod if you need to get some quality shots along the path.

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1. Fredericks Church & Amalienborg Palace

Being an Australian I wanted to see where Princess Mary lives. She is originally from Hobart, Tasmania in Australia so it seemed like a good spot to start my walk. Unlike Buckingham Palace in London there are no walls or fences. You can freely walk around the facade of all the buildings and take photos of the guards. Fredericks Church popularly known as The Marble Church for its rococo architecture, is an Evangelical Lutheran Church. The awe inspiring Marble Church with the characteristic copper green dome has to be one of the most impressive churches of the city. 

 

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2. Nyhavn

Bright historic canal front filled with historic townhouses and restaurants. This is the tourist hub where you can have the obligatory Danish hotdog at a food stall. Make sure to order all the topings. Facing west along the canal you catch a nice sunset if you are lucky. Voted the ‘Best city for cyclists’ and the ‘World’s most liveable city’. The Danes are well known for their love of cycling and cities all around the world are now looking at ways to copy this phenomenon. It really is biking heaven for the cyclist in Copenhagen with over 390 kilometres of designated bike lanes.

 

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3. Royal Danish Library - Black Diamond

The Black Diamond in Copenhagen was finished in 1999 and is an extension to the Royal Library. The building is shiny, black facets mirror the sea and the sky at the harbour front. The interior from the top floor looking down the escalators looks like a guitar.

A large incision cleaves the building into two formations and gives light to the atrium inside. The atrium connects the city with the sea outside as well as the old and new library buildings. The glass facade is held by iron girders weighing approximately one metric tonne per metre.

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4. Church of Our Saviour - Vor Frelsers Kirke

Baroque edifice with a corkscrew spire, 17th-century place of worship with a carillon & 400 steps around the outside of the spire. On a clear day you can get some spectacular views of the city. Of all the religions in Denmark, the most prominent is Christianity in the form of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark. A stroll along the narrow canals nearby will give you some insight as to how the Danes live on houseboats.

 

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5. Christiansborg Palace

Located on the tiny island of Slotsholmen, contains the Danish Parliament Folketinget, the Supreme Court, and the Ministry of State. Parts of the palace are used by the Royal Family for various functions and events. The Royal Reception Rooms include The Tower Room and The Oval Throne Room where foreign ambassadors to Denmark are received by the Queen. The Throne Room gives access to the balcony where the Danish monarchs are proclaimed.

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On your walk back from here to Copenhagen Train Station you can also stop at the Town Hall & Tivoli Amusement Park. The park opened on 15 August 1843 and is the second-oldest operating amusement park in the world, after Dyrehavsbakken in nearby Klampenborg, also in Denmark. Do you have any other suggestions to add to this photo walk within the city of Copenhagen?

 

The Dragon Statue in front of Town Hall is a popular spot for Chinese Tourists.

The Dragon Statue in front of Town Hall is a popular spot for Chinese Tourists.

8 Lesser Known Locations in Kyoto & Tokyo

Tourism in Japan is growing, and fast. According to JNTO, the estimated number of international travelers to Japan in March 2018 was about 2.6 million (+18.2% from the previous year), making it the biggest March ever. In 2020 the Summer Olympics will be hosted in Tokyo, and the city and country will have to cope with the resulting huge influx of tourists.

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This growth has some Japanese concerned. Comedian Takeshi Kitano once said that Japan had sacrificed its cultural integrity for the sake of money, thus implying that foreign tourism was polluting the Japanese spirit. There's even a new word in the Japanese media being used a lot lately. "Kanko Kougai" which translates to "Tourist Pollution".

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Japan is my second home and have had a love affair with this country for over 30 years. As a long time photo tour operator I always try to capture a beautiful image of this wonderful culture and landscape. However the reality is lately it has becoming increasingly difficult to avoid crowds of people in the most iconic spots.

Despite this, there are still plenty of great locations off the beaten track. Compared to my last article on Kyoto and Tokyo's more popular destinations, here are eight lesser known places. Do you have any other suggestions?

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Kyoto

Otagi Nenbutsu

Otagi Nenbutsu is a quirky temple nestled up in the hills of Arashiyama. After you finish shooting the Bamboo grove a 30 minute walk up the hill will bring you to 1200 stone statues. The whimsical faces filled with moss and bursting with character will leave you laughing all day.

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Haratanien

Haratanien is the perfect spot for Cherry Blossoms in a private garden with over 300 trees. It's just a five minute cab ride from the Golden Temple, however check with locals before you go as the 1500 ¥en fee is a little steep. If your timing is spot on you can enjoy a sake and bento box under a tree with blossoms falling on your head.

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Aquaducts

Hidden behind the Nanzenji Temple are a number of unique Aquaducts still in use. The repitition of arch shaped bricks has become a popular spot for the auspicious kimono models who infest the area. Built during the Meiji Period (1868-1912), the aqueduct is part of a canal system that was constructed to carry water and goods between Kyoto and Lake Biwa in neighbouring Shiga Prefecture. Paths run alongside the canal that lead into the surrounding forest.

Kyoto Station

Transient travellers often pass the massive train station in a hurry but few consider a look at this architectural splendour. The 15-storey, glass-plated grey monolith, which stands out in sharp contrast to the city”s traditional architecture was inaugurated in 1997. Designed by Hiroshi Hara who also designed Osaka's Umeda Sky Garden. Kyoto Station interior feels like being in the skeleton of a grey futuristic megatron.

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Tokyo

Yanaka Ginza

Is located close to the old downtown areas of Ueno and Nippori. One of the few areas of Tokyo that was not destroyed during the war. Lots of old houses still line the streets. Various laneways and hidden alleys can still provide culinary delights and an authentic cultural experience. I would suggest a walk from Ueno station following your google map you will pass Yanaka cemetery.

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Shibamata

When walking out of Shibamata Station, you are greeted by a bronze statue of the films’ hero, better known as Tora-san, who became the symbol of the district after director Yoji Yamada’s series grew into a long-running hit. The area feels likes a mini version of Asakusa. 

The local temple and the traditional houses are worth a quick look before you venture to the local shrine at the end of the main pathway. The Edo river located behind the shrine sometimes offers a row boat ride. The 10 minute ride is soothing and the ambience feels rural and remote from the hustle of busy Tokyo.You can also experience life like a local watching dog walkers, fishermen and baseball players along the wide river bank.

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Tokyo International Forum

A unique building in front of Yurakucho Station, with a vast atrium that provides a stunning venue for the international exchange of culture and information, and makes a perfect spot for street portraits in the afternoon. Beams of light and shade make for a dramatic black and white. The ship like shape is monumental in scale and generous with natural light. Designed by U.S. architect Rafael Vinoly with an intent to be accessible and maintain an ambience of warmth.

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Kawagoe

30 minute train ride from Tokyo you will find lots of merchant store houses, which have now been converted into shops and restaurants. If you are into architectural photography the two storey buildings are well preserved. Kawagoe is also famous for elegant examples of early twentieth century brick, cement and stone architecture inspired by Taisho Romanticism.

If you have been to Japan before please do yourself a favour of choosing somewhere new on your next trip. 

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A Photographic Guide to Hokkaido in Winter

I've recently returned from Hokkaido, Japan, where I spent a week doing research for my 2019 photo tour. The exploration took me to Biei for snowscapes and Tsurui-mura for wildlife. Flying into Asahikawa from Haneda (Tokyo), it was easy to get to Biei and settle for the next 3 nights.

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Biei

Biei is a town located in Kamikawa Subprefecture, in the centre of Hokkaido. In winter it is known for its minimalist snowscapes, however most of these are on farms and most farms are private, making them difficult to access. I found my 100-400mm lens was perfect for shooting over fences and into the fields, and this worked perfectly to get most of the shots I needed. In fact almost all my snowscapes and wildlife shots were done with this lens. 

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The winter light can be soft and luminous on the best of days, but be patient when it's looking flat and dark. The light and dark tones that reveal folds in the snowscapes are key to a successful image. When shooting subjects like this, the challenge is to find at least three points or areas on the landscape, then use them to create a harmonious balance in your frame. Try a great leading line and a dominant focal point to rest your eyes for detail and interest.

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The subtle red fox tracks were a small detail in some shots that really added to the ambience. Atmosphere was also brought about more easily with a little wind to kick up the powder snow. Diamond dust with the morning light was a very special capture if the conditions were perfect.

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The white silence and purity of a clean landscape converts very nicely into black and white.

Tsurui-mura, Lake Kusharo and Rausu

For the second half of the trip I ventured to the South and North east parts of Hokkaido to visit three key areas: Tsurui-mura, Lake Kusharo and Rausu.

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Tsurui-mura was my base for photographing red crowned Cranes and Ural Owls. The crane sanctuary is a great spot to be at 9am and 2pm daily when they feed the birds, and every morning after sunrise they also gather on a river nearby. Be prepared for hundreds of keen photographers to be shoulder to shoulder with you and their tripods. Most will be set with an 800mm lens going trigger happy at 10 frames a second.

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The cranes are in Tsurui-mura all year but most shooters love to combine the birds dancing in the snow during February. Over the next two years however, feeding from the sanctuary will slow down to encourage the birds to be more self sufficient.

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At Kusharo Lake we focused on Whooper Swans and Marsh Teet birds. A wide angle was used for most of the very friendly swans. For the little birds a 400mm lens and a fast tracking focus mode worked wonders. Once again we were very lucky with the weather conditions, and the morning mist and fog created a dreamy atmosphere. The iced lake and snow capped mountains were an added bonus.

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For our last stop we ventured by car two hours north east to the coastal port of Rausu. Here we boarded a small cruise boat to search for sea Eagles to feed on the ice. The Shiretoko Peninsula as seen on the long panorama shot below was stitched from 8 hand-held images.

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Gear

For this trip I carried a minimalist kit - a Canon 5D Mark III, 100-400mm f4-f/5.6, and a Carl Zeiss 18mm Distagon lens. If you decide to travel at this time of year, be aware that extremely cold weather can affect your gear and you, and your feet and hands are the most important parts to protect to avoid frostbite. For my clothing I had 3 layers for every part of my body. I bought rubber high boots with good grippy soles to avoid slipping on icy surfaces. You can also attach spikes to your boots if needed. Heat packs that last 24 hours can be purchased from most convenient stores. They are called Hokkairo not Hokkaido. These are handy to keep your batteries warm if extremely cold. Keep your camera in your bag to keep it warm when you're not shooting.

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Weekend Roadtrip: Shooting Canola Fields & Sugar Pine Forest

Location: five hours from Sydney, five hours from Melbourne
Time: Weekend trip

On Tuesday last week I got a call from a photographer friend @johnnyjam1 to go on a road trip five hours from Sydney. Our goal was to shoot the famous Sugar Pine forest.

The drive to Laurel Hill where the Sugar Pine forest is located is a similar distance from Melbourne, which makes it a perfect half way point between the two cities. Staying close by in the sleepy village of Batlow will give you easy access to the forest which is only 15 minutes away.
 

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We usually get to a location the afternoon before to scout where and how we will shoot a sunrise. The Sugar Pines at Laurel Hill can be found off Kopsens Road, 15 minutes drive from Batlow. We stayed at the Apple Inn which was comfortable and affordable.

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First planted in 1929, the sugar pines are the straightest and tallest pine in the world. Looking up it can be quite disconcerting to see them swaying in the wind ready to snap and fall at least 50 feet. Sugar pine is the largest, in height and diameter, of all pine species. The wood of sugar pine is valued for its workability, dimensional stability, and satiny sheen after milling.

With snow predicted to fall we were excited to capture the snow flakes dropping for the perfect ambient shot. Unfortunately, the weather turned to clear skies. Nevertheless, it was awesome to get out of town and shoot for myself.

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Wounded trees of this species secrete a sugary exudate which gives rise to the common name. Sugar pine's large cones yield large edible seeds.These pine trees can grow to 200 feet tall with a trunk diameter of 5 feet.
Read more at http://www.australianphotography.com/photo-tips/weekend-roadtrip-shooting-laurel-hill-forest-and-the-canola-fields#KxqgfP0UkPutGlrK.99

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On our second day we decided to go to Coottamundra for a change of scenery to shoot the Canola fields. They are only the famous yellow colour for a short period in late winter/spring.
Read more at http://www.australianphotography.com/photo-tips/weekend-roadtrip-shooting-laurel-hill-forest-and-the-canola-fields#KxqgfP0UkPutGlrK.99

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The Canola fields are located on Old Gundagai road, and Rosehill and Jugiong roads near Cottamundra. From germination to seed production, the life cycle of a canola plant takes about 3 ½ months, depending on temperature, moisture, sunlight and soil fertility. I'm not sure how much longer we will see these yellow landscapes with recent changes in the weather, but regardless, make sure you visit in late winter/spring to see them at their best.

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Flying overhead you're likely to see planes spraying the fields. Because the term “crop dusting” automatically brings to mind the image above, today’s pilots generally prefer the term “aerial application” or “ag application.” Regardless, these guys are really well trained and watching them in action from a distance is quite a spectacle. However I suggest you steer clear as the chemicals they drop are quite toxic and should not be breathed in!
 

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My Travel Kit

 

I always try to travel very light and limit myself to two prime lenses. On this trip I decided to bring my Canon 5D Mark III, Carl Zeiss 18mm & Canon 50mm f1.2L lens. I have a Sirui T024X carbon fibre tripod and Nisi Filters (10 stop, PL & 3 stop reverse soft grad). I also bring my 13 inch mac book pro and Lacie Fuel Drive. My Bamboo Wacom tablet also works a charm for editing with LR, PS and Nik. Little extras like a headlamp, small reflectors and Samsung S8 also come in handy for behind the scenes footage. My mate brought along his DJI Mavic to get some drone footage in both locations.
 

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Five Tips for Shooting Black and White Landscapes

The next six months is prime time for shooting black and white landscapes, especially on those gloomy days which can add drama and "wow factor" to your images. I have some compelling reasons why I think you should consider converting from color to black and white.

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1. Bad Weather, Good Pictures

Some people believe they should only shoot landscapes on clear, blue sky days, but overcast days with some low cloud action can produce added drama and interest — especially to black and white images. Better yet, if the winds are strong a long exposure can add movement to the clouds and create an ambience of mystery and produce interesting effects and shapes.

Neutral density filters combined with slow shutter speeds of around 30–60 seconds will usually help you produce amazing and dramatic results. The perfect kind of weather for this is on days with skies full of fast moving low lying clouds. To help you plan ahead there are a multitude of phone apps available that help you find the perfect time and place. Check weather apps for weather patterns, wind direction, and strength, rainfall, and water levels of water ways after storms (particularly useful when shooting waterfalls), and tidal movement for coastal shoots.

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Popular apps include Sun Surveyor for checking angle of sun or moon, BOM (Bureau of Meteorology) to check chance of rain and wind speeds, Willy Weather to check tides, and The Photographer's Ephemeris for satellite imagery of potential locations in relation to light and wind direction, moon phase, tides, etc.

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2. Use the Right Gear

A mirrorless or DSLR camera which allows full manual control of your shutter speed, aperture, and ISO is preferred. A sturdy tripod tall enough for accessing the viewfinder at eye level and not light enough to blow over in the wind is a must. A wide-angle lens in the range of a 16-24mm allows you to capture more of the sky and clouds and anything of interest in the frame's foreground. A cable release, wireless remote, or mobile phone app for remotely triggering the camera's shutter and, in the case of the latter, viewing images. I use a Carl Zeiss 18mm lens and Canon 5D Mark III.

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3. Use Filters

Filters are vitally important for emphasising the required effects in your images. The proper use of neutral density (ND) filters can also take some time to master. ND filters that block up to 10 stops of light and will allow you to shoot long exposures even in the middle of the day. Most of the movement in the clouds and water in the accompanying photos were taken using a 10-stop ND filter. Most of these shots were taken in the middle of the day using 20-30 second exposures. It's best to manually focus your image first before attaching your filters. Every camera works differently when it comes to getting an accurate shutter speed reading. I use NiSi filters and have a 10 stop, a soft graduated 3 stop, and a circular polarizer.

 

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4. Best Camera Settings

You can set most modern digital cameras to shoot black and white images, but you’ll get more control over the tonality of your image if you shoot in color and convert to mono in post using a program like Lightroom, Photoshop, or Silver Efex. In postproduction, try to avoid the simple one-click "Convert to Mono" commands and look for options that let you control the tonal values of each color channel. In Photoshop, adding a Black and White adjustment layer above the main background layer lets you selectively change the tonal values of the Reds, Yellows, Greens, Cyans, Blues, and Magentas individually. Similarly, in Lightroom, you can choose the Black and White sliders in the Develop module to alter the tonality of each color channel.

Shooting in raw is the best option as it allows you more control in editing when you need to change the color temperatures. Having your histogram on while shooting can also help you check if you have a good tonal range of light and dark grays. Make sure you don't blow out the highlights as these may be difficult to fix in post.

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5. Make a Print

This last step I think is usually given the least amount of priority but is probably the most important. I love the fine art archival quality you can get with Hanhnemeule and Canson paper. You can spend money doing your own printing or use a pro lab that specializes in getting the best results. If you decide to print yourself make sure to calibrate your monitor, printer, and match your color profiles with whatever paper you decide to use. Try creating your own black and white landscapes, it can add a whole new creative dimension to your photography.

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Alfonso Calero – Travel Photographer from Sydney specialising in portraits and landscapes. Regular traveller with my small photo workshops/tours in Australia , Japan, The Philippines and Spain.

7 Steps to Stunning Seascapes For Beginners

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I am not an early bird but living in Sydney, Australia on the east coast leaves me no choice but to get up early once in a while for a dawn to sunrise shoot. The coffee and breakfast at a beach cafe make it worth getting up at the sparrow's fart (Australian slang for very early). I've been shooting seascapes for over 10 years and I have always found it to be one of the most rewarding and challenging of photographic subjects. No two seascapes are the same and once you add variable weather and sea conditions to the mix there are endless opportunities for photographers willing to get their feet wet, so to speak! I am still learning everyday how to stay dry and not get washed away.


01 USE A TRIPOD

It sounds obvious, but most beginners don’t bother with tripods; they should. Apart from giving you the freedom to choose a slower shutter speed, a tripod forces you to slow down and think about the image-making process. Where should you position the horizon? Should that rock be in the frame or would it be better left out? Should you use a slow shutter speed to blur the water, or would it look better sharp? Look for a sturdy tripod that can collapse down to provide a low shooting angle. Shooting low can create great drama in your images. I like to use Sirui Carbon Fibre tripods. Make sure to check your load capacity as it is worth spending the extra dollars to have a great tripod that will last for years. Always make sure to wash down your tripod after each shoot with fresh water. I have a friend who likes to shower with his tripod fully expanded. It sounds kinky but it's practical when water shortages are happening in some drought stricken areas of Australia. Even without droughts we still are careful with water usage.
 

02 LOW ISO

Choose your camera’s lowest ISO setting (normally 50, 100 or 200 ISO). This will not only minimize the appearance of noise in your image, but also allow you to use a slower shutter speed, which can be useful if you are trying to achieve the ‘blurry water’ effect you see in many seascapes. My Canon 5d Mark III allows me to go down to ISO 50. 

 

03 SLOW SHUTTER SPEED

If you want to create the 'milky water' effect you'll need to use a slow shutter speed – slower than half a second. With your camera on a tripod, switch your camera to Shutter Priority (S or TV) and choose a shutter speed between 1/2 and 10 seconds. If it is too bright you will get a warning message indicating that the image will be over-exposed at this shutter speed. At this point you have two options. First, wait until it gets darker. Second, and this is my preferred option, place a Neutral Density filter, which looks like a grey piece of glass, in front of the lens to artificially darken the scene. You can buy ND filters of varying densities, from light to dark grey. I use a +10 stop ND NISI filter for most of my seascapes and find it works very well. If there is abundant water movement then you might also be able to get some nice effects at 1/8th or 1/15th of second without the ten stop filter.

04 APERTURE

Even though you’re shooting in Shutter Priority you still need to be conscious of the camera’s aperture setting. Look for an aperture somewhere around f/11. While you'll get more depth of field as the aperture gets smaller (higher f-numbers) keep in mind that most lenses are sharpest at a setting of around f/11. Best to do some research in regard to the sweet spot of your lens as every lens has the perfect f-stop to produce optimally sharp images. I prefer to shoot in full manual mode and control ISO 50, F11 for aperture and then change my shutter speed accordingly depending on the effects I am trying to get. If needed, then I will add on my filter.

 

05 REMOTE

If you’re using long exposures a remote shutter release will help you keep camera shake to a minimum. Failing that, you can use your camera’s self timer to fire the shutter ‘hands free’. The best and cheapest option is to download an app for your smartphone to control from as a remote, but for that your camera will need Bluetooth capabilities.

 

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06 GRADUATED FILTER

To add drama to your skies try using a graduated filter which are dark at the top and clear at the bottom. A graduated filter can be really useful for shooting high contrast landscape scenes where the sky is considerably brighter than the foreground. I use a 3 stop soft grad Nisi filter for sunrises.

 

07 SAFETY

I have been soaked with waves and sudden swells many times. I have even fallen a few times on slippery moss covered sandstone rocks. Be careful when photographing near the coast. Conditions can change quickly and it's easy to get caught out if you're not careful. Don't become so preoccupied with taking photos that you forget what's happening around you. Err on the side of safety – there are worse things in life than missing the shot! I often check my location's low tide the day before. It's best to decide where and how you will be shooting as it may still be dark when you arrive. It is best to stand back for a few minutes and observe the tides. The Great Australian surf has taken many rock fishermen by surprise. I use rock fishing boots with spikes now to give me ultimate grip on these slippery surfaces. A head lamp in the darkness also allows me to be hands free with my backpack. 

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What's your favorite seascape tip? Share it in the comments section below.