Posted on April 26, 2018
I am going to do some tweaks to my photography kit. Over the coming weeks I will be selling some lenses, and buying a couple of replacements for the wide end of my photography kit.
I will be saying goodbye to the Samyang 14mm 2.8, Canon 16-35mm 2.8L II and Canon 45mm 2.8 TS-E.
Why the change?
Certainly without a doubt the 16-35mm 2.8L II is a great lens, a real workhorse. I have got a lot of great images from it. Its been with me around the world, a few times in fact. It’s typical Canon L, reliable, dependable and well made. I like its metal body, constant length, good image quality, weather sealing and its versatility. The 16-35mm range is great for all wide angle photography.
I have had the lens since I got it new in 2012. I do think it’s time to move on though. We now have a different market, more competition, and some very good unique offerings. The Tamron 15-30mm 2.8 VC, 16-35mm 2.8L III, 16-35mm 4L IS. Sigma 14-24mm 2.8 Art and Sigma 12-24mm f4 Art lenses are strong alternatives, which really show the older lens is getting long in the tooth.
Oddly though, it is the 16-35mm’s versatility that is its undoing for me. I think zoom lenses make you lazy, and I enjoy working with prime lenses. The range of the 16-35mm meant that I was often using it – too much. I also think that nowadays every man and his dog has a 16-35mm lens which just makes it less appealing to me somehow. I like to be different. You are not going to stand out if you do what everybody else does!
I will be selling the Samyang 14mm 2.8 lens which I got a couple of years ago. Fun inexpensive lens on fullframe. It gives you access to 14mm on fullframe for little money, and also has good image quality. But the mechanics are horrible, and it just isn’t nice to use in the field. The all manual lens has no AF confirm chip, which make it difficult to use on the run. The distortion profile is also horrendous! Just unacceptable. It was fun for a bit, but I personally will not be missing this lens.
Finally, the 45mm 2.8 TS-E also must go L. I really like this lens, even with its quirks. I will miss this lens, it’s a lot of fun to use, and unlock creative possibilities that are truly unique to tilt-shift lenses. I need the capital for other lenses, and besides, there is a new 50mm 2.8L TS-E Macro lens announced which will drive down the prices of the 45mm version. The 45mm was released in 1991… and it does show. The mechanics are fantastic, and it’s a pleasure to use. However, the optics are not perfect. It’s sharp at close distance from f2.8-16, but at medium and far distances, it’s not that strong a performer. It also does not focus close which the newly announced 50mm version will fix, increasing its appeal and usefulness.
So what are we getting!?
I am going to boost my wide angle coverage and get the new Sigma 14-24mm 2.8 Art and 18mm 2.8 Zeiss Milvus. These lenses offer excellent mechanics, build quality and optics. Both are sharper than my 16-35mm 2.8L II was and offer less distortion. The Zeiss Milvus 18mm 2.8 lens will be great for landscape and architecture, and offers amazing image quality. There is a certain look to Zeiss images, their colour and rendering are truly unique. The Sigma 14-24mm 2.8 Art is a brand new option, which will back up the 18mm 2.8 while giving easy access to 14mm.
I plan to buy the 50mm 2.8L TS-E Macro some time in 2018, likewise, I might get the 12mm 2.8 Laowa or 11mm f4 Irix lens for some extreme wide-angle fun.
I look forward to playing with the new lenses, and I’m sure they will offer a lot of great pictures! Of course its not about the gear, but more the dedication to photography, experimenting and learning. One belief I have though is that you should invest in the lenses, and buy the best you can. Bodies and sensors come and go.
Posted on April 1, 2018
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.
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.
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.
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!
Posted on March 17, 2018
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Posted on November 12, 2017
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!
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.
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.
Posted on November 11, 2017
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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…
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.
Posted on August 1, 2017
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!
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!
Posted on July 23, 2017
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.
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.
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.
So grab a craft beer and a double organic carrot and beetroot salad while you can!
Find out more: Official Site
- 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!
Posted on July 15, 2017
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
Posted on June 25, 2017
What travel gives – in its purest form.
What is it that travel actually gives us? Just a chance to unwind with a holiday to the beach? Or something deeper, and much more important?
Is there a modern Travel craze? – Perhaps to some.
It seems that a lot of people particularly the 18-35 year old age bracket are really getting out there and doing some traveling. Its like it’s the cool thing to do. Personally I think this is great! Tour groups like Contiki and other have helped younger people feel more at ease with traveling alone. It also seems that there are a lot of people who want to travel to places remote, and different to their countries of origin. I have met tons of Australians in Vietnam and Cambodia, tons of Koreans in Europe and tons of Germans in Shanghai. So that’s the deal?
What do I know about travel?
Well, travel has been a big part of my life, and it will always be. Originally born in Denmark, my family moved to Indonesia when I was 9 years old. We stayed more than 3 years in Indonesia, before returning back to Denmark.
Although we were well settled in Denmark, it only took us 11 months to decide that it wasn’t for us, and when my father got an opportunity to relocate to South Korea, we took it right away. Although we were Danish, and lived in our home country, there was just something that had changed us, and we didn’t have much care of the first world troubles of the typical Danish people.
Unfortunately the Asian financial crisis hit South Korea shortly after our arrival, and we ended up leaving just 12 months after we arrived. From South Korea, we headed to Sydney, Australia. I ended up staying in Australia for some 17 years, living all over the east coast and the northern territory. During my university study where I was based in Brisbane Australia, I did an exchange semester in Norway – for good measure. I was there for 8 months.
An old friend in Germany asked if I would take a job in Bavaria in early 2016. How could I say no? It was a chance to get back in touch with Europe, return to my seemingly ancient roots. I had wondered if I had drifted so far from Europe that I could never return… having spent 2/3 of my life on the other side of the planet. Evidently not.
My wife (Vietnamese, met in Australia) and I are now happily settled in a small village in Bavaria. Its time to enjoy the smaller things in life, rather than large seething masses in big world cities.
There is a difference between going for a 2 week holiday somewhere, and actually living in the place for an extended time. Throughout my life, there have been plenty of travel and plenty of holidays here and there. I have been to probably 20-25 countries at least and I expect this to increase… still much to see!
The gift of travel – As I see it
The gift of travel is very simple in my mind. It challenges your perspective, broadens your mind, opens your eyes, excites the soul, and increases your creativity.
You become more patient, you listen to alternative ideas for longer, you start to think about good and bad in a more holistic way. You do not jump to conclusions, but analyze whether something is good or bad for longer. After some time, this brings you to say: “it depends..”
You will also be better off financially, you will be open minded to see new business ideas, or you might want to bring a clever idea to a new place. You might be able to bring a trusted service or product to a place of chaos or disorder.
Isolation leads to narrow mindedness. Cultural understanding leads to trust and acceptance.
If you never ever go, you never ever know. But many people pretend to know, although actually, they know nothing. Its human nature to fear the unknown, but its today’s norm to never show fear. So instead to we pretend we know everything, and put up a shield to protect us from the unknown. We convince ourselves that what we know is the best way, or the only proper way.
The funny thing is that all that fear and energy spent pretending, soon vanishes when we realize that the person across the hedge, border, or ocean isn’t so bad. Once we understand the person or cultural, we soon realize that tradition, beliefs or upbringing have led to simple differences in culture and conduct. Soon, we start to lose our ignorance, fear, doubt, arrogance, and start to trust and accept and even be intrigued.
We are making quite a mess of the world. Lots of arguing, and we are all just the same.
There is more racial tension today than in a very long time. The war on terrorism has had many side effects, some of which we are only just finding out about. With the Middle East so destabilized, hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced – and where do they go? To the west of course, in search of a better life. This seems to have been a major surprise to a lot of people in the west.
All there is to report in the news today is basically, negativity. Who blew up who, who killed who, who’s territory is threatened, who has the most money, and who stole from who. When you look at it this way, we all just kids in a kindergarten. I thought that being the most intelligent species on earth, we would be a little more grown up.
The silly thing is that as you experience travel, and learn different cultures, you see more and more that despite how different we seem, we are all just the same. We all have aspirations, we all love our families, we all need a place to sleep at night, we all need something to eat, and we all want to find a mate. Our faces may change, and our foods may change, and even what we feel is normal or acceptable changes, but when it boils down to it, we are all just the same.
The world is a book, and those who do not travel, read only a page.
This is really my favorite quote. I think it is very true, and something everyone (who can read) can appreciate. A great, fulfilling book is never just one page. Usually, a great ‘read’ or a great story, or journey is experienced by reading many pages. The world is the same. There are something like 195 pages in this ‘world’ book. I’ve read enough pages to work out what the book is about, how many pages have you read?
One man’s reality is merely one path. One man’s lectures are merely a point of view.
We often get stuck with this. People decide on an idea, or convention, or perhaps they didn’t decide, but were brought up to believe that. Maybe that idea is shared by a whole county, a religion, or region or even a whole country.
This idea, or a way of doing might come naturally, and perhaps you can’t think of a single alternative way which could be acceptable – but remember, that’s your view, and is not necessarily shared by other people. Your way, is just your way, no matter how popular a way it may be.
Through all the experiences we gain in our lives, we may think that our way is best – but that is simply just our point of view.
The essence of what travel does to a person – demonstrated
By far the best ‘thing’ I have seen which really shows how a person is changed, or how a person grows by traveling is the mini-series ‘The Long Way Round’. Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman go on a motorbike ride around the world, riding through 12 counties in 115 days. Ewan and Charlie decided to film their adventure with the help of a cameraman and their own video diaries. It is clear that many basic emotions are felt in this great adventure along the way, as they experience; hardship, pain, fear, loneliness, vulnerability, love, excitement, happiness, discovery, serenity, simplicity, fulfillment and achievement.
While well-educated and open-minded, the two come across as spoiled, arrogant, naive, ignorant and obnoxious in the beginning. These traits are challenged as the journey goes on, and this transformation can really be seen in the films. I think that they have become more rounded people, more patient people, and more giving people as a result of their travel adventures.
Anyone who has a love of travel should ensure they watch this great, down to earth documentary. Highly recommended! The video below is the trailer for the series. The full DVD or book is only 15 bucks on Amazon!
Posted on June 11, 2017
I found that my signs of spring post was fairly popular, so here is a signs of summer! It certainly is becoming summer here in Bavaria. Its been quite warm, and the flowers, grasses, and trees have been exploding. Its now bright green everywhere with lots of life! I once again took my 180mm 2.8 Macro lens out for a walk, and had a look at what I could find.
Macro or close up photography is somehow quite.. therapeutic. Concentrating on the detail, one little part of the world is refreshing. Modern life is complex.