Lots of Black, Lots of White and some Blue – Iceland in Winter

I have been dreaming of seeing Iceland for many years. However, living in Australia did not make it easy to reach. I was always drawn by the epic landscapes, its northern location and the crazy weather. Today, Iceland is a tourist Mecca, but it wasn’t always so. Iceland used to be very poor, and struggled to develop. Some of that final frontier feel remains, but mostly its just a fantastic place to be.. a real photographers paradise.

3am, -17 and a beautiful sky. Iceland. 5D Mark III | Zeiss 18mm 2.8 Milvus

Living in Germany, I finally had the chance to visit. I decided to visit in winter, and combine my love of photography with my love of nature, and it turned out to be a real battle against the elements. I camped under the stars and northern lights for a week, putting up with the deep cold which drained my phone, froze my camera and nearly gave me frostbite. Being in nature, alone gives time to think, slow down and be more creative. I had a blast.

Having fun in the north :)

I rented a car and drove the ring road circling the island. I took around 1500 photos in all sorts of weather from 5 degrees to -22. I saw many of the famous sights, and to my surprise it was actually quite busy, especially from Reykjavik to Höfn. Most other places it was rather quiet. Iceland has a funny feel. Part hip-Scandinavia, part wild-west. It feels a little Canadian perhaps.

Somewhere in northern Iceland, 5D Mark III | 100-400L IS II

Stokksnes, Iceland. 5D Mark III | 12-24mm f4 Art

Harpa Concert Hall, Reykjavík. 5D Mark III | 12-24mm f4 Art

Jökulsárlón, Iceland. 5D Mark III | Zeiss 18mm 2.8 Milvus

Locals near Stokksnes, Iceland. 5D Mark III | Zeiss 18mm 2.8 Milvus

Ice cave, Skaftafell, Iceland. 5D Mark III | 12-24mm f4 Art

Seljalandsfoss ,Iceland. 5D Mark III | Zeiss 18mm 2.8 Milvus

Photography wise, its hard to beat. The only issues for me was that I usually like colour and in winter its mostly shades of grey. I worked the files a bit harder than usual to get them interesting. The other issue was the cold. It was down to -22 and taking landscapes with filters and liveview was tough. Liveview uses a lot of battery. Any water droplets would instantly freeze to filters and lenses. You really need to be well prepared. By the time you pull out a beer, its frozen before you can drink it. My boots were frozen in the mornings and I had a hard time getting them on, never mind heating them up. And then there was the wind..

I loved it though, and I think the photos are worth a little discomfort. Comfort = Lazy Life.

 

Check out the Full Album Here

Happy Shooting

Bavarian Summer

So far its been a wonderful summer in Bavaria. The best thing is that we are only half way through. Here are some everyday shots to share! Hope you enjoy.

Eibsee, Bavaria

Its finally getting warm and nice here in Bavaria. The grass is green again and the flowers are blooming. Most people who visit here come in Summer, and most people visit the castles, beer gardens, and perhaps see Zugspitze, Germany’s highest mountain. One little place thats very near to Zugspitze is Eibsee, a lake at the foot of the mountain, and about 10mins from Garmisch. I’ve been meaning to check it out, so yesterday I finally did!

Eibsee, Bavaria. 5D Mark III | 16-35mm 2.8L II | B+W Polariser

The lake is about the same size as Alpsee near Schwangau, where you will also find Neuschwanstein. Eibsee has got crystal clear water which appears green in the shallows, and number of very cute islands in the middle and great montane forest surrounding it. The backdrop of the lake on two side is towering mountains.

Eibsee, Bavaria. 5D Mark III | 50mm 1.4 Art | X4 Polariser

Eibsee, Bavaria. 5D Mark III | 180mm 2.8 Macro

We arrived early in the morning when the water was completely flat. It was such a reward! We saw perfect reflections of the mountains above on the lake. The weather was completely clear, and I used a polarising filter to enhance the colour in the sky and in the forest.

Eibsee, Bavaria. 5D Mark III | 16-35mm 2.8L II | B+W Polariser

Eibsee, Bavaria. 5D Mark III | 16-35mm 2.8L II | B+W Polariser

Despite the nice colours, black and white conversions have also worked very nicely. Although it is almost a shame to remove the rich colours in scenes like the one below.

Eibsee, Bavaria. 5D Mark III | 16-35mm 2.8L II | B+W Polariser

Eibsee, Bavaria. 5D Mark III | 180mm 2.8 Macro

I also brought along my 180mm 2.8 Macro lens, which I only do on occasion. Eibsee is a great place to get some close up images. The one above is water droplets stuck in a spider’s web at 1:1 magnification (life size). There are also many nice wild flowers to photograph.

Eibsee, Bavaria. 5D Mark III | 180mm 2.8 Macro

Eibsee, Bavaria. 5D Mark III | 70mm 2.8 Macro

Finally, the surreal scenery is also a good place for portrait photography! The ‘beach’ is kind of small stones, and is a nice stage! Here is one with the 135mm f2L lens.

Eibsee, Bavaria. 5D Mark III | 135mm f2L

If you find yourself in the area, its totally worth a visit. We finished up with lunch at a cafe on the lake, very nice!

Location:

Photography Tips:

  • Bring a few different focal lengths, its a cool place to be creative.
  • You need a polariser!
  • In summer bring your swimmers and a waterproof case!
  • You can hike up to a look out if you want a view of the whole lake.
  • If you want the best images you should bring a tripod.
  • You can hire boats which might be good for photography as well!

Gallery

 

Signs of Spring!

Spring is here!!! 5D Mark III | 180mm 2.8 Macro @ f2.8, Bad Bayersoien, Bavaria

So after a long and some-what disappointing winter I’m ready for Spring. Luckily, there are a few early signs of spring starting to show already! I am looking forward to the wild flowers blooming, and all the wonderful colour in the mountains. I hope to post much more this Spring, but I went for a morning walk the other day with my 180mm macro, and here is what I found! Finally some green on top of all that grey:

A visit to the Bayerischer Wald (Bavarian Forest)

Last week I had my first visit to the Bavarian Forest, in eastern Bavaria, Germany. Its the first of many I think, as it was really a great experience! The area is huge, and we just had two days, so my goals for the trip was to experience the tree top walk, and see some of the animals. There are many things to do there, including tree top walking, zoo, hiking and so on. However getting exact information about it can be a bit tricky, I really didn’t know what to expect. Especially with the semi-wild zoo, this was something of a mystery. Although the weather wasn’t fully on our side, the trip was great.

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The official website in English is here; http://www.nationalpark-bayerischer-wald.de/english/

Some points to consider

  • The area does not have that many accommodation options, and this should be planned in advanced.
  • The area is huge… plan what you want to see before visiting.
  • There is good multi-day parking near the facilities, its 6-12 EUR depending on the length of time.
  • There are a couple of good cafes around the facilities.
  • The tree top walk is well worth it, and is quite high! It cost around 10 EUR, but its awesome.
  • The zoo is free! But the “zoo” isn’t really a zoo. Its a massive area, the animals have enclosures, but they are huge. The enclosures are quite far from each other, all is a naturally wooded area.
  • Except for bathrooms, there are no facilities inside the zoo.
  • There is a lot of walking involved in seeing the animals, if that’s an issue.
  • If you want to see all the animals, you’ll have to be very patient, as the enclosures are so big, and the animals so few.
  • Its very rewarding when you do see the animals however, its a very real feeling.
  • The park sorta continues on into the Czech Republic.

Photography tips

  • First things first.. this place is a wildlife photographer’s dream.
  • I brought my 5D Mark III and a few lenses including 100-400mm 4.5-5.6L IS II and 1.4x teleconverter.
  • You will need at least a 400mm lens on full frame.
  • A fast solution is advised. The 100-400L isn’t that fast, and I was needing ISO 3200 most of the time.
  • Make sure you have some kind of rain/weather protection, as its a long way back to the car..
  • There are lots of macro opportunities along the way as well.
  • Its a fantastic place to get amazing semi-wild photos of majestic creatures with out a lot of other people, and fencing in the way!
  • Although well worth it, there isn’t that much to photograph on the tree top walk.
  • There is an interesting museum to see at the park.

All in all, a great place, and I will be returning in winter again!

Hope you enjoy!

 

Here are some of my keepers from the two days

 

 

Landscape Gallery


Nothing like being in a beautiful part of the world, with nice light and a camera! Getting up early and going out with your gear to watch the sunrise is certainly always rewarding.


 

 

Wilsons Promontory Hiking Trip

Hey Guys!!

Over the Easter break my partner and I went hiking in the famous Wilsons Promontory in Victoria. We went for 4 days, camping along the way. The map below details the route we took.

Wilsons Promontory Hiking route. 4 days.

Wilsons Promontory Hiking route. 4 days.

Of course, I had to bring my DSLR and photograph the beautiful landscapes. But when carrying your home with you on your back though, this isn’t so easy. You really have to limit the gear you take on hikes. We had about 35km to cover, and taking all my photography equipment wasn’t an option.

Weather conditions can also be unpredictable, and you must ensure you take steps to protect your camera equipment. For this trip I wanted to keep it simple. I took along the following gear;

  • Canon 5D Mark III body with grip and L-bracket.
  • Canon 16-35mm 2.8L II lens
  • Hoya UV filter (helps with weather sealing on the 16-35L lens)
  • B+W Kasemann MRC CPL filter
  • Lee 100mm filter holder
  • Lee Little Stopper (6 stop ND filter)
  • Lee Big Stopper (10 stop ND filter)
  • Lee 0.9 Pro stop 3 stop ND filter
  • Lee ND graduated filters
  • Remote for 5D Mark III
  • Slik Pro 713 CF II Carbon Fiber Tripod
  • Giottos MH1301 Ballhead

 

Here are some tips for managing your photography gear on a hiking trip;

  • Take only gear that you really need. Make sure you don’t forget anything!
  • Make sure you have a way of protecting them from the weather, I used a dry sack which could fit my camera with lens attached.
  • Bring a polarizing filter! CPLs help to deepen skys, saturate colour and remove unwanted reflections.
  • Bring a lightweight, but sturdy tripod
  • Make sure your batteries will last the distance, keep them warm in cold climates.
  • Take time to take photos, plan breaks around the best light for photography.

 

Here are some results from the trip!! All taken with 5D Mark III and 16-35mm 2.8L II lens