Posted on February 9, 2020
Who would be mad enough to head to Lofoten for New Years Eve? A place where there is twilight for just 2-3 hours per day? MEEE! I thought it would be great fun to see Lofoten in winter, but this is no trip for the faint hearted.
I intended to hire a car and roam around seeing the area, camping in my tent at night. Turned out that perhaps this was an optimistic plan. My journey began in Narvik, flying in from Copenhagen. This is certainly the fastest way to get here, although you can also take the train through Sweden. I hired a car and spent two days in Narvik. A nice little town with much history. Narvik is famous in world war II where it was a major port for Swedish iron ore. It remains so to this day. The German war machine needed this vital supply line, and paid a heavy toll for it. There are many great museums and sights to see from this time.
My mission was to reach the town of A at the western extreme of Lofoten, taking some good photos along the way.
I thought that camping would be fun, but it was a little difficult and they were not great nights. Essentially I had two days of very cold weather, two days of extremely windy weather and two days of constantly pouring rain… The first night I found an area to camp off the beaten track, but turned out that there were moose around – not exactly a relaxing night.
The two nights on the coast were so windy that my Hilleberg 4 season tent bent one of its poles, and sleep was impossible due to the constant noise from the tent shaking about. The next nights had constant and cold rain. I decided to mix it up and get a hotel where I could dry out my gear and get some sleep.
Lofoten is very quiet in winter and few places are open. On top of this, the dark days made it challenging to actually see much – only 2-3 hours each day. Not exactly the makings of a great holiday, but there were some consolations. Lofoten is epic-ly beautiful and rugged. The coastlines are an impossible mix of sharp mountains and beautiful beaches. Small settlements dot the landscape in the typical Norwegian fashion.
At the same time you have that typical Scandinavian comfort. Such a modern and cosy place. The cafes are utterly up-beat and serve some of the best seafood in the world.
I will have to return under some more favourable conditions. A winter trip should be planned in March for more light, and in summer the midnight sun will allow endless light and better conditions for camping. For me I loved the mystical feel of this northern fairyland.
Posted on May 15, 2017
I have always been a WW2 history buff, and especially I’ve always loved tanks. When I got a chance to visit the Deutsches Panzermuseum in Munster on my way up to Denmark, I had to drop by. It is one of the few places where you can see some of the rarest ww2 tanks. Some of which there are only a couple left in the world. I have always been interested in the technology that was developed in ww2. It was a race between nations, a race to be the first and the best at everything. Many advanced technologies were developed in this time such as; TV, radar, the first jet fighter, the assault rifle, the swept wing, first rocket powered aircraft, medical penicillin, helicopters, freeze dried coffee, computers and much else. Many house hold names owe themselves to advances made in WW2. The AK47 assault rifle is a late derivative of the German MP44 assault rifle. The MiG15, the most advanced jet fighter of the 1950s was based on German drawings of a prototype Focke-Wulf Ta 183, and even had a copy BMW 003 jet engine in it.
Germany fielded many different tanks in ww2, they were constantly improving and changing designs. Although numerically very few, many German tanks were extremely deadly. The Tiger and Panther became well known names to allied tank commanders, and became armor to avoid! The German Tiger tank had much greater armor plating than regular tanks, and a much more powerful gun, which could destroy most tanks at more than twice the distance they could. On the eastern front Tiger crews recorded 14:1 kill death ratios. Munster specializes in German tanks from 1917, and has many of these rare beasts.
These heavy tanks were developed as a result of the German experiences in Russia in 1941. The German army enjoyed very fast progress initially, as they had before in the blitzkrieg era, but that all changed when they ran into good Russian tank designs like the KV and T34 tanks. To deal with these threats Germany developed specialized tank hunter tanks like the jagdpanzer and increasingly heavier tank designs.
Germany could never match the mass production of the soviet union and the USA. The US produced 53,000 Sherman tanks in the war years, while German produced 1300 Tigers. The T34 Russian tank was the greatest threat, and while a very formidable tank, many were lost with poor crew training, lack of communications and inexperience. As more and more waves of soviet tanks hit the battlefield, the Germans were finally pushed back. Russia paid a high price for this, and it can be seen on some of the exhibits at Munster. There is a T34/85 there where you can see the rush under which is was made, the welding and general assembly of the turret is very poor.
As well as the main battle tanks, there are also many other interesting vehicles on display at Munster. The car below is a Schwimmwagen, made by VW. This was an amphibious car with 4×4. The tracked vehicle below is a Goliath. A remote controlled mini tank packed with explosives designed to bring down fortifications.
Germany’s history with tanks began a in WW1 where they captured a British tank, one of the first in the world. A German version was soon developed and became the A7V. These early tanks were more mobile bunkers than anything else. They were very slow and had very little mobility. New tactics first visualized by the British, and developed by Germany in the 1930s called for a mechanized army with fast mobile tanks spearheading enemy positions with great shock and confusion. This became known as Blitzkrieg tactics which proved very successful and led to the collapse of Europe.
The final tanks to be made by Nazi Germany were monsters. The Tiger II or King Tiger tank was one of the heaviest tanks ever made. It weighed 70 tons, had 185mm think steel plating and packed a very powerful gun which could destroy tanks at 2000 – 3000m. Some Tigers are known to have had a 14:1 Kill/Death ratio. Equally insane is the Sturmtiger. Weighing 68 tons, this tank fired a 380mm rocket propelled artillery shell which was designed to destroy fortifications and buildings. The shell is shown in the foreground.
Munster Panzer Museum also has more modern tanks including the Leopard I, right up to the present day. Its a great museum, especially if you are interested in WW2 tanks. I would highly recommend a visit to any history buff! Below are a few pictures from the day! Hope you enjoy and please don’t forget to follow my blog.
Official website is here: http://daspanzermuseum.de/
Posted on May 7, 2017
I had seen a lot of cool shots of Hallstatt, and decided that we needed to check it out. Our first stop was Salzburg (click for photos!). We then headed for our overnight halt near Hallstatt. We thought we would use the tent, and do it backpacker style. Sleeping under the stars was really nice, but it was a pretty cold night! That evening we thought we would check out Hallstatt even if there wasn’t much going on, at least we could get dinner and a few long exposures.
Hallstatt is a very cosy village perched on the steep banks of Hallstätter See. It is a very popular spot for tourists, so much so that the Chinese have made a scale replica back in China apparently. I can understand why as the town is really quite charming. Should be mentioned that you can’t actually drive into the town, you need to part a little outside the village.
Next day we came back and took a 50min boat trip which was a good way of seeing the town from the water. I think it was about 10 Euro per person. 35mm seemed to be a good focal length from the boat. There is lots of see the do in the village, and when we were there there was a marathon on.
Like many villages like this, there are walking tracks throughout the town, and it takes a while to learn your way around. We eventually made it to the church which over looks the town. From there you have a look view of the lake and surrounding mountains.
All in all a nice place to see if you are in Austria!
Here are some of my favorite photos from the two days:
Posted on May 7, 2017
Last weekend my wife and I decided to have a short road trip to Salzburg and Hallstatt in Austria. Salzburg is just 2:15 from where we live, and we had not been there before, but heard a lot of good things about it. I ended up with a lot of photos from the two days, so I”ll split the posts – so here is Salzburg!
Salzburg was pretty amazing, but lots of tourists… After a while I get people phobia, so if you are like me, make sure you arrive early! Salzburg has lots of rich history, and its wealth came from salt mines in the region. Salt was used extensively in the past as a food preservative. Today Salzburg is a vibrant city, with cool markets, a lovely river and cosy cafes. The main reason tourists come here however is to get a glimpse of the Salzburg’s glamorous past, which is easy. The city has many wonderful old buildings, small alleyways and imposing courtyards.
You can spend days in Salzburg, but we only had one. We strolled around on the cities many steep paths and eventually made it to the fort, over looking the city. You can take a tram up to the fort, but you should walk up, as you will see a lot on the way. The fort was built to protect the city and its wealth in salt from its enemies. The fort was expanded many times, and never breached.
The city has lots of nice shops to look at. Some are still trading salt today, like to cool and trendy place below. Some good places for coffee too, and if you don’t feel like walking, but can take a horse carriage around the city instead.
Here are some more of my favorite photos from the trip to Salzburg!
Posted on April 17, 2017
A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to have a week in Shanghai for business reasons. I managed to get out and see the city a little bit, and take some photos! Shanghai is now the largest city is the world. I feel very fortunate that I had a little spare time there. I hope to go back and see more of China soon! Here are some of my highlights!
Posted on April 9, 2017
It was my wife’s birthday and we decided to take a long weekend trip somewhere. She, being Asian, and sick of winter naturally wanted to go somewhere warm! We checked out last minute flights, but in the end decided to go to the Cinque Terre region in Italy. It is only a 6 hour drive from Garmisch Partekirchen in Germany. Cinque Terre is somewhere I also wanted to see for ages, its a great place for photography. The region is renowned for it’s rugged terrain, plantations of lemon and other fruits, and of course it’s amazing villages perched on the cliffs. We decided to head for Vernazza, one of the 5 main towns to see, where we got a great little bed and breakfast place.
As you can see from the map above, the five towns are close together, and linked easily by train. Cars are not allowed in most villages, and we parked our car about 1.2km away from Vernazza and had to walk down, but not not a big deal. You can also go between the villages by boat, which is suppose to be a relaxing way of commuting, but in low season these don’t run. Apart from driving which I wouldn’t recommend due to parking and the very narrow roads, the only other way is to hike. We hiked from Vernazza to Monterosso which takes around 2-3 hours. The trip is well worth it for the scenery, and it was very pleasant!
The region is renowned for it’s rugged terrain, plantations of lemon and other fruits, and of course it’s amazing villages perched on the cliffs.
I would recommend going in shoulder season, as I can imagine that there would be a lot of tourists in the middle of August. We already in late March saw tour groups. Having said that, we found that not that many people actually stay in the towns, at least not in Vernazza. It seems most tourists come by the train for just a few hours.
This is really a photographer’s paradise.
This is really a photographer’s paradise. The scenery is great, the villages are colorful and the water is clear. After first seeing some photos from the region, I always wanted to go there. For the most part, it is the landscape photography opportunities which appeal most. Unfortunately, the light wasn’t very special when we were there, but I tried to make the best of it. Each village has several good vantage points for the best photos, but these can initially be a little hard to find, so check them out early or before you have to shoot the sunrise. You may also have a look at the local post office for post cards, and get an idea of the vantage points in advanced.
Usually, these vantage points are on the trail leading in and out of the village, this was certainly the case with Vernazza. Bring a tripod, and if you have filters bring them along. I got the above two images with a combination of neutral density filters, grad filters and polariser. Any scenic coastal environment such as Cinque Terre begs for long exposures and landscape filter use. I used my Canon 5D Mark III along with several lenses; 16-35mm 2.8L II, 14mm 2.8, 24mm 1.4 Art, 50mm 1.4 Art and the 100-400mm 4.5-5.6L IS II. Its really important to have a polariser handy to bring out the colour, refer to my short write up about polariser use here.
Its really important to have a polariser handy to bring out the colour
Most of the shots above are 20-60 second exposures, using Lee neutral density filters. This is a great way to smooth out water and create drama in the picture. The other advantage of using ND filters is that due to the long exposure time, people who walk into your image don’t necessarily appear in the end result (as long as they keep moving!). If you are not into landscape photography, there are good street photography opportunities as well!
Hope you enjoyed reading this post about the Cinque Terre region. Please subscribe to my blog to stay up to date on all posts so you don’t miss a thing! Please comment or contact, I would appreciate the feedback.
Posted on March 5, 2017
Its another cold, sleety Sunday morning in Bavaria. Winter is slowly coming to an end, and its about time, I’ve had enough of 2 degrees and sleet. Starting to look forward to summer, or at least Spring. Actually, I found some un-processed photos from Australia with sun and surf which might have brought about the negativity! So here are a few photos from Brighton Beach in Victoria to help get everyone into the mood for summer!
Brighton Beach is close to Melbourne, and is famous for its many colourful little beach shacks. There are better beaches in the world, but perhaps none so colourful! I used the Breakthrough X4 polariser, 24mm 1.4 Art and Samyang 12mm 2.8 Fish-eye here. Hope you enjoy!!