After a night in the capital of Cambodia I was back on the bus. This time a six / seven hour journey south towards the coast, and the sleepy riverside town of Kampot, (home of the legendary Kampot pepper).I was … Continue reading
After a week in Siem Reap I was ready for a change from photographing temples dawn and dusk, I caught the bus to Battambang a sleepy city on the road between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. Initially I couldn’t see much … Continue reading
On a day exploring the island we were lucky enough to stumble across this Chinese New Year festival, near Lamai Beach. On the south you can find palm fringed, unspoilt beaches like this one, with a relaxed tropical atmosphere. Back … Continue reading
From Bangkok I made the misguided decision to travel to the Island of Ko Samui with Air Asia, this involved an arduous coach and ferry journey because the flight only takes you south, landing on the mainland in Surat Thani … Continue reading
Last December I took a friend down to see the rugged beauty of the Cornish coast. As well the chance to show an American this stunning part of the world it was also an opportunity to see how my new … Continue reading
This is my Cambodian office! For your interest I’m (was) travelling on this 6 week Asian trip with the following equipment:
Nikon D800E (first big trip for this awesome camera, have been astounded by its quality and dynamic range. Upgrading to this has felt like the jump from Nikon D200 to D700) also have a Nikon D700 as spare body,
Nikon 14-24mm F2.8 Wideangle (first big trip with this incredible piece of glass – glad I brought it along),
Nikon 24-70mm F2.8 (this has been the bread and butter lens, its done about 90% of the work I reckon),
Nikon 70-200 F2.8 Telephoto (not used a lot but there have been a few sessions that I couldn’t have done without it),
Nikon 50mm F1.4 (just used for a few portraits – underused),
Nikon TC1.7 Teleconverter,
Nikon SB600 Flashgun
Cable release, Polariser, Neutral Density 3 and 6 stop, and Lee Hard ND Grads 0.6 and 0.9, Cokin 0.6 and 0.9 Soft ND Grads. The vast majority of the trip has been shot handheld, I’ve only got these grads out for a few dawn and dusk shoots in Ko Samui.
Casio Sea Pathfinder Watch (Love this for its in built compass)
Iphone 5 – A great travel tool for its Sat Nav to get me around these Asian cities. Music, to get me through these cramped, endless bus journies and camera to take preview snaps of potential locations which I can look back on later.
Guidebooks – I use Lonely Planet or Rough Guides when I travel, also use Trip Advisor for further info on accommodation and for ideas of what to do in an area.
Macbook Pro Retina 15” 16gb RAM – Dream piece of kit for a photographer on the move, this is my first big trip travelling with it but its hard to imagine life without it. Allows me to review and begin the post production process, keyword and caption work, and generally stay on top of business back home. The display is exceptional for its clarity and viewing angle, I can sit anywhere and still be able to view the photographs on screen. Its also got the required speed to handle the mammoth files that the Nikon D800E produces – 80mb an image!!
1TB Hitachi Portable Hard Drive to back the work up onto.
Not in shot but also with me is a Giottos Carbon Fibre Tripod, courtesy of David Noton.
The Morning Market, Luang Prabang, Laos, its 7:20am and I’m crouching inches from this fish aiming a wideangle lens at its lifeless mouth, if only every day could commence in this fashion! Nikon D800E, Nikon 14-24m Lens at 14mm, 1/100th … Continue reading
You’ve seen the postcards, read the guidebook, seen some nice stuff online and now you imagine you can turn up at this far flung destination and shoot fantastic landscape photographs of it, but its never as easy as that is it?! Finding the locations in the first place is an often under-appreciated part of location photography, you’ve got to give yourself the time in a place to get to know it, and the time to get good light. On a trip I’ll often stay at locations I like for days at a time, its one reason why i don’t like to book my whole trip out in advance – there will be places I want to move on from quickly but others where I find myself staying longer than planned.
I was attracted to Vang Vieng in laos not for the tubing and dismal dining scene but for the beautiful Karst hills in the countryside around this town. Vang Vieng also formed a natural stopping point on our itinerary which began in the capital city of Vientiane and finished in the stunning UNESCO Heritage listed city of Luang Prabang.The Limestone Karst hills are synonymous with Asian landscapes and I’ve shot them previously in Khao Sok National Park, Thailand . However finding a shot to do them justice proved frustrating at first attempts, my natural instinct was to set something up with the river in foreground at the karst hills and sunset colours beyond but none of these shoots yielded what I was hoping for. I had to get to know the area, and to do so took a hot air balloon ride
A boat ride down the river
And whilst the town itself was nothing to write home about, it was a pleasure to ride out and explore the countryside around Vang Vieng, I was doing a mix of shooting commercial stock type images (such as the one above) and more personal landscape work.
During the course of our day trips I met this Buddhist monk and asked if I could take his photograph outside his small monastery. I would have liked to have caught his name but he didn’t speak any English and myself no Laos, but still we tried to communicate for a few minutes after the picture! Another of the wonderful smiles I’l remember this country for. I think it was the first portrait I’d shot in Laos so it was good to get off the mark.
Later that afternoon I was struck by the lighting on this landscape, I could see that the sun was slowly sinking behind the hill, and so by partially obscuring it I would be able to shoot into it without causing too much lens flare. Since getting hold of the Nikon D800E I’ve been amazed by its inherent dynamic range, its now possible to easilly shoot into the brightest light and still recover shadow detail, when I was cutting my teeth on Fuji Velvia 10 years ago this sort of shot was unthinkable and it meant a different way of shooting. This is a single raw file which I’ve exposed for the highlights and subsequently used Adobe lightroom to pull back the shadow areas of the landscape. You’ll see a lot more shots like this from this trip, I think I’m getting a bit obsessed with shooting into the light!
After my extensive explorations i finally got something I was happy with, on the final morning of our stay there, I’d seen these remote farm huts as rode through the countryside and returned before dawn to the area. I’d love to say I’d arrived here previously and used GPS to calculate the suns position the following morning, sunrise time, and been setup with a tripod ready, but that wasn’t the case. This was one of the shoots where I rode out without a specific shot in mind but knew the area was good, saw the sun starting to come up above the horizon and ran into the nearest field, seeing the hut and composing the shot as I moved. It was shot handheld, partly because there wasn’t time to setup but also with these type of shots with the sun moving into a specific part of the frame I usually find it easier handheld. It is always worth heading out early in the morning, even if you don’t know where you’re going or what you’ll shoot, I find it easier when I’m away on a trip because I’ve invested to come to the other side of the world, and when will I be here again? I should get out more when I’m back home in London or Dorset.
Hope you enjoyed seeing what I go up to earlier this month in laos, it s a first for me to be posting work as I travel but I’ll be making an effort to do more of this in the future, let me know what you think (and if you read this far) in the comments below.
PS If you click on the image you should be able to find the shot information..
Nikon D700, 24-70 at 48mm, f10, 1 sec, ISO100, 6 Stop Neutral Density Filter, 0.6 Hard Grad
This was shot on the landscape photography workshop I ran in Iceland last year, Two points to talk about
1 – Landscape photography is not all about wideangle lenses, these days I seem to be reaching for the 17-35mm less and less, I remember when I first got it (2003 probably), I would always turn up at location and put it on by default. As you zoom out looking through the viewfinder you see the whole scene coming into view, anything different from our eyes 50mm perspective seems exciting. When shooting at 20mm you are making to a decision to emphasize foreground and do the opposite to background / distance. If you’ve ever shot on the beach at Durdle Door you might know what I mean.
Shooting at 48mm on this beach in Iceland I didn’t want to seperate the main iceberg from the others in the composition, also I couldn’t do this with the wideangle because I would have got soaked by that incoming tide!
2 – Secondly if I hadn’t been running the workshop (and told the clients the previous evening we were going out) I might well have looked at that sky and stayed in bed, it looks worse than unpromising, but actually the moodiness and foreboding clouds were perfect for this shot, this wouldn’t have worked with a clear bright dawn. Its a good example of how its always worth getting out of bed and getting out there. When you’re abroad and you know you might never be there again its always easier to motivate yourself isn’t it?
Shooting this at 66mm compressed the perspective and allowed me to show the distant cliff face, which the low sidelighting was bringing out.
Landscape photography is all about decision making, when you see successful shots you imagine it was simply a case of turning up and pressing the button but there is always so much more to it. On this evening shoot at Jokulsarlon we had to decide whether to find the best angle for sunset and any potential colours to the west or head in the other direction and hope for strong light breaking through on this north easterly view.
With so many icebergs in that lagoon it was all about finding an interesting shape to anchor the composition. When you first get to an epic location like this there can be a tendency to be a little overwhelmed by the overall beauty of it and to just point the camera at everything, thinking it will turn into a great shot. I’d shot Jokulsarlon the previous year and a lesson learnt from those experiences was to to find the most dynamic icebergs for the shot. A ‘banging sky’ always helps…