A Lithuanian Fairy Tale
The Milky Way above Trakai Island Castle in Lithuania.
The Black Waterfall
A monochrome long exposure of Svartifoss in Skaftafell National Park, southern Iceland.
The night sky above a mountain in Snæfellsnes, Iceland
Aurora Over The Ice Lagoon
The Aurora Borealis over Jökulsárlón ice lagoon in South Iceland.
Mount Merapi in the distance, seen through the stone stupas of Borobudur Temple in Indonesia
Long Exposure sunset over Canary Wharf as seen from Poplar Dock
The Land That Time Forgot
Sunrise over a lava field on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula in West Iceland.
The Lost Plane
The wreck of a United States Navy Dakota which crash landed on the coast of Iceland in 1973
The Lion City
Sunrise blue hour of Marina Bay in Singapore.
Long exposure sunrise behind the Marina Bay Sands hotel in Singapore.
The Waterfall of Light
Yes, I know it's a bit of an arty title, but then again, it's a bit of an arty shot! This is actually a rarely taken scene from a hugely popular location - Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park in Indonesia, containing Mount Bromo, a currently active volcano. Sometimes, where there is a violent volcanic eruption, the ground left can collapse, leaving a massive crater knows as a caldera. In this particular one, the Tengger Caldera, it also left five smaller volcanoes in the middle of it; Mount Bromo being the most popular of these. The land inside the caldera is mostly barren landscape, known as The Sea of Sand, the edges of which can rise up to 600 metres. It was on one of these high edges that I saw this wonderful scene. Everyone was busy snapping away at the sunrise hitting Mount Bromo (and the other volcanoes) in the middle, whereas I had turned my back to see what was happening behind us. The low, rising sun was streaming across this tree-filled plain on the lush ground surrounding the caldera. That, coupled with the low-lying clouds in the basin meant that the beams of light from between the trees became very prominent. At the time when I took this shot, I knew I'd like it, but I wasn't too sure how to process it. I tried black and white first and bingo, that was the one. This is pretty much straight out of camera with just some monochroming, slight denoising, slight selective sharpening and some contrast work. I think this shot is a love it or hate it shot, but I hope you love it as I do!
My first stop on my tour of South East Asia was Malaysia and my first stop in this country was the capital, Kuala Lumpur. After researching lots of shots of this fantastic city, I had decided that I had to get the iconic shot of the Petronas Towers (sometimes called the Twin Towers) during the blue hour. There are very few places to get a good angle and even fewer that are publicly accessible. The best one I managed to find was The Traders Hotel. On the 33rd floor of this is the SkyBar; a fancy, but relaxed bar with a swimming pool right in the middle of it. Even better (for me) than mid-drink swimming was the massive open windows that faced out towards the Petronas Towers. Although you're not allowed tripods here, the windows, when open, actually form a ledge about two feet wide. Using a stabilising platform carefully crafted out of my long trousers (for mosque work) and spare shirt, I was able to have my camera steady enough to get seven night-time brackets of the KL skyline. Technical Stuffs This was an HDR composed of seven exposures, from -3 EV to +3EV. These were processed in Photomatix, then the original exposures were gradually blended through manually in Photoshop. Areas like the sky and ground are probably 90% one exposure (although not the same exposure). This was finished off by a lot of colour correction to make it vibrant, but not to make it look wholly unnatural. Nik Software's Viveza was also used to tweak particular parts of the image to my liking.
Marina Bay Sands
Singapore is a photographer's paradise. It's full of amazing architecture, often has amazing sunsets and sunrises due to being in the tropics and also has cool things like lasers shows. Thankfully one of these laser shows happens twice a night at the Marina Bay Sands and I took this chance to capture it. I was out walking with my good friend of over a decade, Celia. She has been living and working in Singapore for a number of years and was giving me the lowdown. We had reached the marina / bay and she had to take a phone call, so I saw this as an opportunity and nipped down to the water's edge. I set up at my (new, awesome, 3 Legged Thing) tripod and only had to wait about 5 minutes for the lasers to start up. It's not a particularly long show, but I snapped away continuously all the way through it, hoping to capture a nice array of beams. Now onto the slightly more technical information. This photo is actually about five exposures manually blended together. A main shot, one for the building lights along the waterfront, a couple for the lasers from the Marina Bay Sands itself and one for the lasers from the Art Science Museum on the left. These were all blended together using a number of various methods in Photoshop. Let me know what you think of the result!
The Blue Temple
On this tour of South East Asia, I think I was most looking forward to seeing Indonesia. I'm not entirely sure why, I guess it has more of an exotic and mystical feeling to it than Malaysia and certainly Singapore. I wanted the highlight of the trip to be Borobudur. I'd seen this temple in books years ago and had instantly wanted to visit there. Finally I got the chance. This place was pretty darn special. I went during the off-season and I can recommend this to everyone. During the peak season, a guide told me that they sell over 4000 tickets a day and sometimes 1000 people can be in the complex at once. When I got the special sunrise ticket, I was one of about 15 people. When I took this shot, I had bought the sunset ticket. The downside was that because it was rainy season, it was drizzling and cloudy. The upside? I was the only person at the temple and that is pretty priceless. It was getting increasingly dark, but the sky has this amazing blue tone to it. I couldn't see too much, but when you buy your ticket, they give you a flashlight to use (and keep). I was shining this to help me focus and decided that I would look cool to do a bit of light-painting on the bells (and Buddha statues, but that's a different photo). Just as I finished up here, the rain came on heavily, then I got picked up by security. On the back of his moped. He gave me a lift to my hotel door; how nice! Everyone I met here, and indeed the whole country, went out of their way to help you out.
Malacca Straits Mosque
I'm just back from almost three weeks touring around South East Asia. First country on my travels was Malaysia, so I decided to post one of these shots first. I was mainly staying in Kuala Lumpur, but myself and my good friend and photographer Danny Xeero took a day trip down to Malacca / Melaka to catch the sunset. I got some standard shots of this, the Malacca Straits Mosque, then I decided I would experiment with my 10-stop ND filter. I've used this a bit in the past, but I've really like the results, so I wanted to try some colour sunset shots with it. I was standing right by this rock and figured it would make some pretty good foreground interest. This shot is a manually blended image from about 4 exposures. It's mostly one, with others blended in for the water and the bright part of the sky. A final, non-ND shot was used to clean up some noise on the mosque itself. Last night, I had the privilege of joining a Google Hangout with Jimmy McIntyre and HDR One Magazine. As I talked about my HDR workflow, it prompted me to finally get around to writing a tutorial. I'll spend the next week or so working on it and hopefully release it around christmas time.
I said in my last photo that I had my heart set on getting that shot. I had planned to get it, tried to get it and would have been annoyed if I hadn't have got it. This shot was the complete opposite; a spur of the moment, unplanned shot. Turns out, this is one of my favourite photos (of mine) ever! Myself and Greg were explore some quite remote fields around Yangshuo in Guilin, at this point our guide had pointed out a very old bridge across a small stream. As we were crouched down by the water's edge, I glanced up and saw this old man on a bicycle cycling across this stone bridge. I suddenly pictured an image in my mind; this lone man cycling along the path in his traditional hat, towards the setting sun, with the famous karst mountains forming the backdrop and framed by this single tree. I reeling off a huge number of exposures in the hope of capturing anything at all. On reviewing these, picking three for an HDR and a hell of a lot of post-processing to make it just how I'd imagined, this is the result. You know what? It's even better than I had pictured. I'm off to Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia tonight, so I'll catch up with everyone when I'm back!
Sometimes you see a photograph and it compels you to visit a place. When you get there, you know you won't get the same type of photo, but you'll probably try anyway. After seeing a photo of a cormorant fisherman, most likely on the Li River, I decided I wanted to go there and photograph that. Sure enough, that's what I did. I was pretty happy with the result, but it wasn't all fun and games in the attempt to get it. Myself and Greg had been staying with Fun Sam in Yangshuo, Guilin when we mentioned that one of these aforementioned fishermen were on our list of things to photograph. He knew of just the spot, but told us we'd have to get up early. After making him get up and drive us around at 04:00 for couple of days now, he soon realised that this would be no problem for us. We arrived on location around 04:30 and this fisherman arrived out of the darkness from seemingly nowhere. This was just before sunrise in a reasonably remote location, so light was certainly not abundant. I got my camera out and decided to shoot with the 50mm, as it was so dark. I ended up shooting wide open. At about ISO 6400. This is when the problems started. Because of the temperature, my lens was completely misted up. I wiped it clean and it misted up almost immediately. I rolled off a few shots, but it was hopeless. I kept trying to get a few exposures, while also getting my other lenses out and wiping them down. The fisherman was getting ready to head off and this was a race against time! After a few average shots with the 50, I bailed and went for the wide angle. This had started to clear somewhat, partly due to my wiping and partly due to the changing conditions. I ran down to the water's edge, probably getting my trainers soaked in the process and snapped away as he backed off from the shore. This was such a panicked shoot. Probably the one of the most heart-racing ones I've done so far, as I wanted this shot so much. I reviewed the shots later and I was very happy with a lot of the ones I managed to capture. Something that I really like about this shot, apart from the obvious, is the fantastic diagonal line that has been fortuitously formed by the pole held by the fisherman and the slope of the karst mountain behind him. I managed to capture another angle using my phone. It's not as good, but I enjoyed taking a lot of mobile shots on that trip; the benefits being instant results and also being able to keep people back home updated (especially as Facebook and Twitter are blocked in China). If you want to keep track of my mobile shots, feel free to follow me on Instagram. I hope you enjoy this shot; it ended up being a lot of mental and physical effort!
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
This is the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. We had no intention of going to Abu Dhabi. In fact, we'd no real intention of doing to the United Arab Emirates, but here we are. This will probably make much more sense if I start from the very beginning. Myself and Greg thought we'd go to China as part of our continuing plans to travel all around the world and take photos. When investigating flights, I found a great deal from Emirates that allowed a free stop-over in Dubai. I booked this and luckily Greg agreed. So there we were in the UAE, on-route to Beijing. Sitting in the hotel one day, we looked through the guide book and I spotted a photo of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. We have to see that I thought. Then Greg pointed out that it wasn't in Dubai, but rather Abu Dhabi. He then found out that the capital was only a few hours bus ride away from us and didn't cost that much. Ergo, off we set. We were driven to the bus station by the very kind Mr Manly, where we promptly missed the first bus, as it was too full. Ever-learning, we were early for the next bus and claimed our seats. But a few hours later we caught sight of the SZM and I was actually speechless. It is quite possibly one of the most amazing buildings I have ever laid my eyes on and I have seen some awesome buildings around the world. We spend several hours here getting travel photos, candid portraits, architectural shots, you name it! Eventually the face-melting 46 degrees celsius got the better of us and, after our eyes stopped sweating, we headed back to the bus station. Here, we found a dodgy man who gave us a lift back in his car with a brother and sister from the Philippines. They were a lovely couple, if a little strange. I think the girl really liked me, because she giggled, said something to her brother and a few seconds later he leaned forward to me and asked, "Do you think my sister is beautiful?" Now, this put me in quite the predicament. If I go one way and say, "Yes, she's a right tasty piece of chicken", the brother might take offence to me liking his sister and defend her honour. On the other hand, if I exclaim she was a hideous troll and I couldn't stand to look at her, then I'm pretty sure he'd also take exception to that. Whilst thinking about replying with some sort of above average 'quite pretty' comment, which she actually was, the taxi driver interjected with some comment that I couldn't quite make out and the brother and sister laughed. Embarrassment averted. Not entirely sure what Greg made of the whole incident. So, in honour of those siblings, this photo is dedicated to my lovely Filipina friend, fellow photographer and queen of sunsets, Mariá Concepcíon. Prints of this available on SmugMug: http://thefella.smugmug.com/buy/16489458_2ntmff/1955486752_wH7hJVw/
I was recently in Budapest on a stag do and of course, me being me, brought my camera gear along so I could get shots of one of my favourite cities in Europe. As seems to be the way with a lot of my latest photos, I had been up until the small hours of the morning, taken a nap for about an hour and then arisen at 03:30 for sunrise. I grabbed a taxi down to Batthyány tér which, due to my basic Hungarian, I was able to pronounce. The taxi driver asked me which hotel I would like left at. I then told him I just wanted left at Batthyány tér metro station. He replied saying that the metro station was closed and where did I actually want left. After a few minutes of discussion he agreed to leave me outside the station, even though he thought it was a very strange request. Once down there, I set up my Gorillapod on the edge of the Danube and waited for the sun. Sadly there were no clouds until about half an hour after the sun came up. To make up for the incredibly dull sky, I decided I'd try out some texture work; something I never really do. I know it's not for everyone, but let me know what you think. During our long weekend in BP, my friend Kristof, lead singer of the Pannonia Allstars Ska Orchestra, came out with us, showed us around town, organised a bus to his gig (two hours from the city) and dedicated a song to me and Adam, the stag. Although I can't dedicate a song to him in return, I can however dedicate this photograph.
To round off our several weeks of round the world travel, myself and Greg finished up in Hong Kong, one of my favourite cities in the world and one which I hadn't visited for 12 years. It had changed a huge amount, yet was somehow still quite familiar. Although this is the most common shot of Hong Kong, that's no reason not to take it, so we headed up to the peak (Victoria Peak) on the tram nice and early. If you haven't been on the tram, do it. If you have been on it once, never ever do it again; the queues are hideous. At the top, we scouted the best location on the viewing platform and set up our tripods. We spent hours up there watching the light change and also trying to get our cameras in the right position. To get the railing out of the way, you need to extend the tripod neck out, but go too far and there is a huge channel of wind that will probably take your head off, let alone shake your camera a bit. The Hong Kong skyline is fantastic from here. You can see buildings like The Bank of China, the International Finance Centre and the new and huge International Commerce Centre. In fact, the latter was almost next to our hostel. For those of you that know Hong Kong, our hostel was in the magnificent grandeur that is the Chungking Mansions. Yes, we're that fancy. At least it's opposite Tsim Sha Tsui Station (which I had to keep pronouncing for Greg). I want to say a big thank you to my uni friend Bex, who took us out every night we were there, lent us money and showed us a fantastic time. We saw some of the most awful going out streets in the world (Lan Kwai Fong), but also found some amazing places like a little speakeasy we ended up in one evening / morning. My company has an office in HK and it's very tempting to move out there one day for a while...
Clouds rolling down the moutains in the Nærøyfjorden area, a branch of the Sognefjord in Norway.
The Praying Woman
Lone woman praying in Ljubljana Cathedral, Slovenia.
Misty castle at sunrise overlooking Lake Bled in Slovenia.
Darkness and Peace
Night time shot of the Eiffel Tower from within the Wall for Peace.
Tower Bridge Blue Hour
Tower Bridge during the blue hour, looking towards the City of London and catching the very end of the sunset.
Guardian of the Night
A wooden totem pole underneath the Milky Way by Lake Galvė in Trakai, Lithuania.