Polar Nights – A taste of Lofoten

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.

Hamnøy is famous for photography. Here is the wonderful Anita’s Sjømat cafe. Lofoten, Norway. Canon 5D Mark III with Zeiss Milvus 18mm 2.8

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.

Google map of the Lofoten region, hearts represent stops on the route.

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.

A little snow overnight, Evenes, Lofoten. Canon 5D Mark III with 24mm 1.4 Art

A bit of cooking in this lovely hut. Canon 5D Mark III with 12mm 2.8 Fisheye.

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.

Svolvær, Lofoten. 5D Mark III with 135mm f2L

Somewhere in Lofoten, Canon 5D Mark III with 135mm f2L

Lofoten, Norway. Canon 5D Mark III with 24mm 1.4 Art.

Hamnøy, Lofoten. Canon 5D Mark III with 85mm 1.2L II

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.

Delicious seafood burger from Anita’s Sjømat, Lofoten. Canon 5D Mark III with 85mm 1.2L II

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.

Gallery

Pit Stop in Rostock!

On my way driving to Sweden I had the opportunity to stop by Rostock. This time I took the car ferry from Rostock to Trelleborg in Sweden. The ferry is late evening so I had the afternoon to check out Rostock.

I walked around the old town and ended up partying with the rest of Rostock at the Christmas markets. Very nice town, here are a few keepers!

Sankt-Petri-Kirche, Rostock. Canon 5D Mark III with 35mm 1.4 Art

Christmas Duck? Rostock. Canon 5D Mark III with 35mm 1.4 Art

The beer tower, Rostock. Canon 5D Mark III with 35mm 1.4 Art

Rostock Christmas Market. Canon 5D Mark III with 35mm 1.4 Art

Nice cookie. Rostock. Canon 5D Mark III with 35mm 1.4 Art

Costa Rica

Frogs Heaven, Costa Rica. 5D Mark III | 180mm 2.8 Macro

As I write this, it is already late January 2020. This trip I am about to tell you about was already in September 2019.. Quite some lag time there…

At least I have a good excuse. 2019 was a very challenging year for me personally. Just a good month before this trip to Costa Rica my relationship ultimately came to an end. That time was the hardest in my life. As I scrabbled to get my life under control, I thought that I would really benefit from going far away to a place I always dreamed about visiting. Spend some time alone somewhere beautiful.

And so a hastily planned trip to Costa Rica happened. I relished in my two great past times, travel and photography. I think it turned out to be a healthy thing which got me focused on the future.

Enough about that. This trip was mostly about photography and nature for me. I planned this trip by looking at photos from places in Costa Rica, and deciding where to go on the photo merits. This led me to lots of national parks and beautiful coastlines. I hired a car and booked accommodation as I went – the style of travel I find most flexible and rewarding. Driving in Costa Rica is easy, and it’s a very handy way to get around. Below is a map of my locations (little hearts J).

Points of interest on my journey – Google Maps

Favorite sights

  • Frogs Heaven – Up close and personal with frogs and birds.
  • Uvita – Whale watching and great coastline.
  • Manuel Antonio – Great park with wild life and beaches.
  • Santa Teresa Beach – Surfers paradise in Costa Rica
  • Sierpe River – Great mangrove boat trips teeming with wildlife

Whale watching, Uvita Costa Rica. 5D Mark III | 100-400mm 4.5-5.6L IS II

Kokopelli Mangrove Tour, Costa Rica. 5D Mark III | 100-400mm 4.5-5.6L IS II

Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve. Costa Rica. 5D Mark III | 100-400mm 4.5-5.6L IS II

Photography Considerations

  • Wet weather – If traveling in the wet season like I did you need a proper rain solution for your pack and camera. I used a rain cover for my camera and my pack has a built in rain cover which worked OK.
  • Heat & Humidity – Be mindful of condensation when traveling from a cold A/C environment to the hot outdoors. Humidity can damage cameras. Let them acclimatize slowly.
  • Macro Lens – A must in Costa Rica, bring a 100mm or longer.
  • Telephoto Lens – A must in Costa Rica, I brought my 100-400L IS II and 1.4x converter and needed the reach.
  • Ultrawide Lens – Depending on taste, but there are many great confined spaces like close forests that benefit from an ultrawide.

 

Arenal Volcano National Park, Costa Rica. 5D Mark III | 12mm 2.8 Fisheye

Somewhere in Costa Rica. 5D Mark III | 100-400mm 4.5-5.6L IS II | 1.4x

Frogs Heaven, Costa Rica. 5D Mark III | 180mm 2.8 Macro

Travel Tips

  • Don’t plan too much! – Keep your schedule loose in case you love or hate an area. Accommodation is easy to find on Booking.com or similar.
  • Know the locations – You should research the great destinations you really want to see before setting off.
  • Driving / Roads – A car is a great way to get around. I strongly advise a 4×4 and good insurance. Many roads are very bad.

Donate a coffee!

Buy me a coffee! I can only take great photos and produce all this awesome content when I am fueled up on coffee.

€3.00

Full Gallery

For the full album please click here!

Happy Shooting

 

 

Summer dash to London

Having started a new job, I didn’t really want to take too much time off at once – not that I could anyways in my position :(. Anyways, we ended up with two 9 day trips this year, one to the Seychelles (photos coming) and one to the UK. It was great to go to England, felt so familiar somehow to me. I haven’t been there since I was small so it was about time. I can see the influence that UK has had on Australia, there are many similarities. Tourism is certainly on the next level in London. Good sights don’t have a couple hundred reviews on Google, more like 58,000 reviews, some sights have queues a couple of kilometers long… No matter, our fault for going in August!

London by night. 5D Mark III | 12-24mm 4.0 Art

We started with three days in London, and got a hotel in the middle of the city. From there we hit all the “must sees”. It was awesome, nice people, and fantastic sights which really live up to their reputation. England really has the best museums in the world. Some places were super busy however, and I would recommend not coming in high season as we did. We used the Tube to get around.. nice and cheap, but my god its horrible. Its TINY, and full of smoke, dust and vibration. You need ear muffs or your ears will bleed! In a nation which takes health and safety so highly, it is obvious that a blind eye is given to the Tube.

London. 5D Mark III | 12-24mm 4.0 Art

We then hired a car and drove to Oxford, then the Cotswolds, Bath and finally down to Dorset. We spent 4-5 days on this trip before heading back to London. It was fantastic, and I really enjoyed all the old architecture along the way. My favorite place was probably Bath. It is such a dynamic university town, and yet has some amazing old Roman sights. Well worth a visit.

Cotswolds England, 5D Mark III | 24mm 1.4 Art

Roman Baths, England. 5D Mark III | 12-24mm 4.0 Art

I did get so do a little landscape photography which is very popular in the UK. The below image is from Durdle Door in Dorset. Its a great location, and I used the Zeiss 18mm 2.8 Milvus and the LEE Little Stopper to get a nice long exposure.

Durdle Door, Dorset, England. 5D Mark III | 18mm 2.8 Zeiss Milvus

Had a great trip so check out the full album here!

Full Album

Oh Canada!

I had a business event in Vancouver recently and decided to add in a weekend for the trip – why not! So I brought my gear along and took a few photos from Vancouver, Squamish and Whistler. Really a wonderful part of the world! Vancouver is a lovely city, which reminds me a little of Brisbane in Australia. The scenery is much better though!!

I must have walked about 25km around Vancouver and Stanley park, but it was awesome. I was also lucky with the weather.I highly recommend a trip and will certainly need to go back again.

So anyways, these were quick and dirty shots on a business trip, and the light was very harsh, so don’t expect perfection but here are my favorites!

Top of Sea to Sky Gondola. Squamish, Canada. 5D Mark III | Zeiss 18mm 2.8 | Polariser

 

Downtown Vancouver Canada. 5D Mark III | 35mm 1.4 Art

 

Scenic flights. Vancouver, Canada. 5D Mark III | 100-400mm 4.5-5.6L IS II

 

Whistler, Canada. 5D Mark III | 18mm 2.8 Carl Zeiss Milvus.

 

Whistler, Canada. 5D Mark III | 18mm 2.8 Carl Zeiss Milvus.

 

Whistler, Canada. 5D Mark III | 100-400mm 4.5-5.6L IS II

 

Check out the full gallery here:

Full Gallery

 

 

A weekend in Monaco!

Heard a lot about Monaco, so we had to check it out! This tiny little nation has more millionaires and billionaires than anywhere else in the world. Often thought of as snobby and expensive – maybe, but Monaco is really quite charming. There are beautiful gardens and parks on every corner, it is modern, clean and tidy. It reminds me in some ways of Sydney.

Monaco. Canon 5D Mark III | 100-400mm 4.5-5.6L IS II

Monte Carlo Casino, Monaco. Canon 5D Mark III | 18mm 2.8 Zeiss Milvus

We combined our visit with some surrounding areas close of Monaco. Its a very nice part of the world, with great weather and coastline. We had a good time, so check out my photos in the gallery below!

 

SEE FULL ALBUM

 

 

A Guide to Vietnamese Coffee

A little known fact is that Vietnam is a huge coffee producer, ranking second in the world for coffee exports. The Vietnamese have a great coffee culture, if a little different from more conventional coffee fans. This love of coffee was originally introduced by the French, but today is truly unique.

Vietnamese coffee is typically a coarse ground strong and flavourful coffee. If you like strong coffee go to Vietnam, it’s the strongest coffee you will ever have. In the old days, the French colonists could not get normal milk, so condensed milk was used instead. Today you can get a range of coffees in Vietnam, from egg coffee to fruit coffee, weasel coffee to yoghurt coffee.

I took a few photos of how we prepare Vietnamese coffee (Ca Phe Sua). This is how we have learnt it from the locals, and certainly not the only way. You will need the following:

  • Vietnamese coffee, we use Trung Nguyen
  • Vietnamese coffee filter
  • Glass or cup, depending on the type of coffee made
  • Hot water
  • Condensed and sweetened milk (for Ca Phe Sua)
  • Tea spoon!

Step 1

Take out the top filter in the Vietnamese coffee maker. Add 2-3 tea spoons of Vietnamese ground coffee.

Step 2

Use the top filter to compress the coffee a little. You do not need to apply a lot of pressure. Leave the filter press on top of the coffee.

Step 3

Put the coffee maker on top of a glass or cup. Pour in a little hot water, just enough to moisten and swell the coffee. Wait 20 seconds, before filling up the entire filter. This delay is to allow the coffee to expand and prevent the water passing through the coffee too quickly. Failing this step can lead to poor taste.

Step 4

Monitor the progress of the water, and when all the water has filtered through the coffee is ready. If you like a white coffee then add one tea spoon of condensed milk, and stir up. If you like black coffee then drink as is, however black coffees are enjoyed cold in Vietnam. Typically the filtered coffee is poured into a glass filled 50% up with ice cubes.

Step 5

Enjoy!!