First trip to Laos!

Hello all! I am proud to add a collection of photos from Laos to my website! It was been a goal for a while – to complete the French Indochina set. We flew in from Hanoi to Luang Prabang and mostly explored the area of Luang Prabang and the surrounding areas. Unfortunately, we did not make it down to Vientiane on this occasion.

Luang Prabang, Laos. 5D Mark III | 35mm 1.4 Art

Laos. 5D Mark III | 24mm 1.4 Art

The feeding of the Monks. Luang Prabang, Laos 5D Mark III | 85mm 1.2L II | iso 3200

Interesting pig transportation system.. Luang Prabang, Laos. 5D Mark III | 35mm 1.4 Art

Luang Prabang, Laos. 5D Mark III | 35mm 1.4 Art

There is lots to see, and after spending some time in town, we rented a motorbike for a few days and went around exploring. We also rode out to Kuang Si Falls. Its kind of a mini version of Plitvice Lakes in Croatia. Cool place! They need to do more to protect the sight from tourists. But this is typical of developing countries.

Kuang Si Falls, Laos. Canon G7X

Awesome Kuang Si Falls, Laos. Canon G7X

We decided to do an elephant trip, but wanted to go with a good Eco-friendly company. Someone what protected and cared for the animals. Elephant Village fits the bill. They were awesome so check out their site in the link. My ‘operator’ below, was a great guy. If you look closely, you can see my elephant stepped on a landmine years ago.

Our awesome “drivers”, Somewhere on the Mekong River, Laos. Canon G7X

To get back to Vietnam, we took an over night bus through the mountains to Vinh, VN which was interesting! Had a great trip to make sure you check out the full album here!

Full Album

 

Con Dao Island

I haven’t posted anything in a while – very sorry. Has been a very busy end to 2017 and a busy start in 2018. I have also changed jobs in that time which was a little intense. The good news, and also a cause to the lack of posts is that Vanessa and I had a good long trip to Vietnam (again). So there should be plenty of new material coming up. As we are also on the brink of spring, I hope to grab some nice spring shots too soon.

The beach in front of our resort. 5D Mark III and 24mm 1.4 lens.

So I have decided to break down our trip is sections, and this part is about Con Dao. These are remote islands about an hours flight south of Saigon. The islands are known for their prisons during the Vietnam War, which is a bit depressing. However, they are also home to Vietnam’s best beaches, nice wilderness, and six senses resort.

We took a flight from Saigon with Vietnam Air Services Company (VASCO). It was a windy landing and one to remember, but the airline is fine and ATRs are always bumpy. We stayed at a Vietnamese 3 start resort just out of town. Con Dao Resort is walking distance from the main town. But the best way to get around is by motorbike. We rented a bike for a couple of days.

VASCO flies regular flights from Saigon to Con Dao with ATR-72s. 5D Mark III with 35mm 1.4 lens.

The islands are pretty quiet, and the people are surprisingly laid back for the Vietnamese. There are not that many roads, and not that much to see, but the place is very relaxing. We checked out the local temples, beaches and the main town the first day.

Roads are pretty quiet on the island. 5D Mark III with 85mm 1.2L II lens.

Local shrine was very picturesque. 5D Mark III with 24mm 1.4 Art lens

The markets in Con Dao are well worth a visit. 5D Mark III with 85mm 1.2L II lens.

The beach just in front of the airport is also quite nice. Its also a good place to see incoming flights which go right overhead. Taken with a 5D Mark III and 12mm 2.8 fisheye lens.

The second day we looked at a lot of the prisons from the war period. Some were built by the French for political prisoners, and some were later built by the Americans. All offer horrific conditions. It was hard to understand why such measures were needed, but good to see them.

Walking above the cells in the French built prison. An incredible place which asks many questions. 5D Mark III with 24mm 1.4 Art lens.

To prevent the prisoners from climbing up the walls and escaping, the guards would break arms and legs. 5D Mark III with 24mm 1.4 Art lens.

The American prison was obviously made on a tight budget with no concern for human life. The clammy, dark, and cramped interior is just a disgusting place to be. 5D Mark III with 24mm 1.4 lens.

The next day we rode up to the start of the national park. You need a special permit to enter the park, but it’s easy to get at the park office. We then took a hike to the other side of the island. On the way we traveled through dense jungle, and encountered a bit of wild life including monkeys. Finally we made it to a very remote little beach. It was quite rocky, but very nice in general. There are coral reefs just off shore.

One of the locals, Con Dao National Park. 5D Mark III with 100-400mm 4.5-5.6L IS II lens.

Somewhere in the national park. 5D Mark III with 24mm 1.4 lens. Polariser.

An interesting fellow, a couple of kilometers from the water. 5D Mark III with 100-400mm 4.5-5.6L IS II lens.

Nice to be off the beaten track. It did not look like there were many visitors to the park. 5D Mark III with 24mm 1.4 Art lens.

The rest of the time, we just hang around town. There are some nice cafes and restaurants. I would recommend Con Dao to anyone visiting Vietnam. It’s a welcome change from the usual rush. I think it has Vietnam’s best beaches, and easy access to nature. There is still not too many tourists there, and the remote parts are very authentic.

Same old fantastic Vietnamese food. 5D Mark III with 35mm 1.4 Art lens.

Sitting on the sidewalk, waiting for our dinner. 5D Mark III with 35mm 1.4 lens.

The mandatory beach photos! Con Dao. 5D Mark III with 85mm 1.2L II lens.

Location:

Gallery:

Magic of Croatia

Yes, we have been on the road again! We went for some warmer weather in September, and headed to Croatia. Our first trip and certainly not our last. When we were in Slovenia earlier this year we went temptingly close to the boarder with Croatia, and I always wanted to go for the awesome coastline Croatia has. So we took the car and blasted through 4 countries and our first stop was at the Plitvice Lakes National Park. Please check out my post about that part!

Plitvice Lakes National Park, G7X w/ waterproof case.

It rained all the way from Germany, into Austria, and from Austria to Slovenia, and from Slovenia to Croatia, so it was quite a drive, but we found some cosy inexpensive accommodation outside the national park. After a couple days there we headed to the trendy town of Split. A very culture rich city, Split has a lot to offer.

Split, Croatia. 5D Mark III | 14mm 2.8

Finally we took the ferry over to the island of Hvar. A real highlight, Hvar is a great place for a holiday. By this time the weather had also improved substantially! We stayed in a remote kind of nature camp Kamp LILI. Here we could set up our tent right on the edge of the cliff, 20m from the sea, was amazing.

Camp LILI, Hvar Island, Croatia. 5D Mark III | 16-35mm 2.8L II

 

Had a blast, so check out the full image gallery from our trip here!

 

 

Plitvice Lakes National Park – Croatia

Plitvice Lakes National Park was one of the biggest highlights on my recent trip to Croatia. It is simply the most amazing aquatic ecosystem I have ever seen. The scale of the place, and the way that you can traverse this park leaves visitors with a memorable experience.

The park is some 295 square kilometers, and comprises some 16 lakes, all chained together by incredible terraces. There are countless waterfalls, limestone caves, and endless walking tracks. The lakes are all in pristine condition, and the blue green water is amazing.

View down on the amazing network of wooden paths which crisscross the park. Plitvice Lakes National Park, G7X with waterproof case.

The park is located a little inland in northern Croatia, near the border with Bosnia & Herzegovina. It is easy to get to, and there is a lot of parking for all types of vehicles. A day ticket at the park costs 55 – 180 Kuna depending on the season.

Location:

Official Website: http://www.np-plitvicka-jezera.hr/en/

When we were there, it was hard rain. In fact we thought about cancelling our visit, but decided to brave the elements. The rain meant that I had to abandon my 5D Mark III. Luckily I have a waterproof case form my smaller camera, a Canon G7X. It turned out to be a blessing, I could not have taken the images I did if I hadn’t had the waterproof case. The waterfalls were full due to the rain, and also the crowds were light.

Others braving the rain to experience this amazing place. Plitvice Lakes National Park, G7X w/ waterproof case.

One of the many waterfalls in the park, Plitvice Lakes National Park, G7X w/ waterproof case.

Advantage of using a waterproof case, I was able to get a unique partly submerged image from a single exposure. Plitvice Lakes National Park, G7X w/ waterproof case.

We followed one of the standard routes around the park, which included board walks, hiking tracks through forests, a boat ride and finally a bus back to where we started. All in all it took us most of the day. We did stop of lunch at one of the café locations in the park.

National park map. Credit: http://www.croatiatraveller.com

Tips for visiting:

  • The park is open all year round, but the famous colours of the water and forests is in Summer.
  • Allow a full day for visiting. Best to visit on your own, and not in a group as you would likely miss much of the park.
  • Arrive as early as possible to miss most of the crowds and to give yourself as much time as possible.
  • Plan for a lot of walking, bring water and snacks, as the cafes are few and far between.
  • Bring sturdy footwear, and also a raincoat. There is mud, splashes, flooded paths and mist from the waterfalls to contend with.
  • There is plenty of cheap accommodation in the nearby fruit plantations. We had a house for ourselves for 35 Euros per night.
  • It is possible to visit in winter when everything is frozen solid. I would like to try this!

Knocking umbrellas at Plitvice Lakes National Park, G7X w/ waterproof case. Tripod.

Photographing underwater shows the world beneath, Plitvice Lakes National Park, G7X w/ waterproof case.

Tips on photography at Plitvice Lakes National Park:

  • It is easy to capture amazing photos from one of the world’s most beautiful places.
  • Priority should go to protecting your equipment, as it will be exposed to the elements.
  • Bring a few lenses, polarizer, neutral density filters and a tripod.
  • Note that it might be impractical to use a tripod if there is a lot of people. You will block the path, and get shaky images from the vibration of people walking by.
  • If you have a waterproof case for your camera, bring it!
  • Use a polarizer to bring out the colour, and an ND filter to allow longer exposures and create motion.
  • Don’t drop your camera in the water…

 

Gallery

Here are my keepers from the day. Due to the conditions, I had to improvise a little, and use a point and shoot camera. All images taken with a Canon G7X and Canon waterproof housing.

Munich U-Bahn

Every photographer is well aware of the photogenic underground stations in different parts of the world. There are amazing stations in Stockholm, Vienna, Prague and many other place. In Australia we didn’t really have a tube, and I have never really been into architectural photography. However, I recently discovered the Munich U-bahn!

Marienplatz station, Munich. 5D Mark III | 16-35mm 2.8L II | f16 | Tripod

The photo above is of Marienplatz, in the heart of  Munich. The design is really cool, and an architectural photographer’s dream. There are many other stations like this. I am considering doing a U-Bahn project, and going around photographing these cool places. In this photo, I used the 16-35mm 2.8L II wide angle lens and a tripod for a long exposure. Architectural photography is all about symmetry, perfect lines and  perfect composition.. very hard to do well!

So lets see if I can get that project happening!

Happy Shooting!

Paper Island (Papir Øen)

One of the awesome places to visit in Copenhagen is paper island, or Papir Øen. in danish. Copenhagen is a multicultural, super modern metropolis, and paper island is a great example of this. This island is in the middle of Copenhagen harbor, with the famous opera building as a neighbor. The location was used for paper storage for the danish press for decades, hence the name, paper island. The old halls were left decaying, but have now been given a new lease of life. I think its Copenhagen best example of how dynamic and culturally diverse the city is.

Cozy place to hang out! Paper Island Street Food, 5D Mark III | 50mm 1.4 Art

Outdoor Bar, Paper Island style. 5D Mark III | 50mm 1.4 Art

Made mostly out of old containers, the place is alive with creative companies, art, cafes and street-food vendors. The government seems to have done this mostly for fun and to experiment, with the new residence given short term contracts ending in 2017. I think its great to see such an old and run down industrial area turned into something so full of creativity and life. I really hope they keep it. The main attraction is the ‘street food’. There is food there from all over the world, and the quality is really good. Everyone seems to be competing to see who can make the most amazing dish.

Whoever has the most amazing looking dish wins. 5D Mark III | 35mm 1.4 Art

A new-age derivative of the Danish open sandwich.. 5D Mark III | 35mm 1.4 Art.

Another thing there is no shortage of is beer and proper coffee! Paper island has become a trendy place to hang out, even for the locals. There are open fires, cool places to sit or lounge around. Young entrepreneurs are making the most of it, introducing some great food, drinks, art and creativity into an otherwise old city.

A number of good bars offering great beer, Paper Island. 5D Mark III | 35mm 1.4 Art.

1960s caravan made into a cafe. Great coffee. 5D Mark III | 35mm 1.4 Art.

So grab a craft beer and a double organic carrot and beetroot salad while you can!

Find out more: Official Site
Location:

Photography Tips:
  • Photography is allowed unless signed otherwise.
  • You should ask for permission before taking photos.
  • Its a tight space, with low light. Best to use a fast wide angle lens like a 24mm or 35mm 1.4.
  • Don’t forget to also enjoy a beer there!

Gallery:

Ettaler Weidmoss

There are a number of wetlands in the region we live, including Pulvermoos, Murnauer Moos, and Ettaler Weidmoss. There is lots to see, particularly if you like the flora and fauna found in this kind of environment. I went to Ettaler Weidmoss to check it out,as I spotted it coming back from the famous Schloss Linderhof. I went there a couple of hours before sunset. I didn’t really know what to expect, so I brought a few lenses including the 180mm 2.8 Macro and my landscape filters along.

Well I didn’t make it that far, despite the fact that there are lots of walking tracks there. I found lots of very pretty wild flowers, and got a bit carried away. I will have to go back and continue exploring some day soon.

Ettaler Weidmoss, Canon 5D Mark III | 180mm 2.8 Macro | f4.5

Some tips for visiting:
  • Wear a pair of hiking boots or gumboots. Can we quite wet.
  • Go on a quiet day. You need to have no wind in order to get the best shots from a tripod.
  • Its good to go after rain. The rain brings out colour, and cleans everything up.
  • Best to use a tripod and low ISO. If there is no movement by the wind.
  • There is lots to photograph, but a macro lens will bring out a lot of small wonders.

Ettaler Weidmoss, Canon 5D Mark III | 180mm 2.8 Macro | f4.5

I used mostly the 180mm 2.8 Macro as it allows me to selectively focus on the subjects I want, in an artistic way that has a lot of background blur or bokeh. I would not like to shoot these subjects with a lot of depth of field, because all the elements will be distracting to the viewer. A short macro lens will give the detail and close focus, but will not give the subject isolation possible with a longer lens.

Avoid taking these kinds of photos in the middle of the day, because the harsh sun will never allow the same kind of mood as that captured in this series. Here are some of my favorites from the evening!

Ettaler Weidmoss, Canon 5D Mark III | 180mm 2.8 Macro | f5.0 | Tripod.

Ettaler Weidmoss, Canon 5D Mark III | 180mm 2.8 Macro | f2.8.

Ettaler Weidmoss, Canon 5D Mark III | 180mm 2.8 Macro | f2.8 | Tripod.

All in all it was a very nice evening. I did not get any landscape shots in, but plenty of wildflowers which is also nice. I only managed to walk about 400m as I got rather distracted by all the subject matter. I will have to go back and see what else I can find. There are a lot of insects, and anyone interested in macro would enjoy the photo opportunities there.

Location:

Gallery

Below are the keepers from the day. Most are taken with the 180mm 2.8 OS EX Macro lens which really came into its own on this adventure. No other macro lens can obliterate busy backgrounds like this lens.  I have previously made a review of the lens, which you can read about here. I highly recommend the lens, its big and heavy, but it really delivers the goods in the right conditions. Enjoy!