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A beautiful day with a view towards the back of the Stromness Wailing Station on South Georgia Island in the Southern Ocean

South Georgia Island is the largest island in the South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands group. A mecca for wildlife photographers, ecologists and documentary makers like Sir David Attenborough a visit to South Georgia Island will likely be one of your greatest travel experiences.

South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands

South Georgia Island is, by far, the largest island in the South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands group, a British Overseas Territory in the southern Atlantic Ocean.

At 165 kilometers (i.e., 103 miles) long and 35 kilometers (i.e., 22 miles) wide South Georgia Island is a formidable landscape displaying a harsh and dramatic beauty.

There are a number of smaller islands just off the coast of South Georgia Island including the following:

  • Bird Island

  • Saddle Island

  • Cooper Island

  • Annenkov Island

  • Grass Island

  • Jomfruene

  • Pickersgill Island

  • Trinity Island

  • Welcome Island

  • Willis Island

Some of these islands are also visited by tour groups.

The even colder and more remote South Sandwich Islands are around 1,000 kilometers further south.

The Population of South Georgia Island

The population on South Georgia is non permanent, varying from around sixteen people during the winter months up to thirty or more during the summer months.

However, with wildlife a major drawcard, several thousand tourists now visit South Georgia Island every year.

Hungry King Penguin chicks awaiting the return of their parents near Sailsbury Plain on South Georgia Island.

Photography Opportunities on South Georgia Island

I've only visited South Georgia Island once, but very much hope to return. The landscapes are dramatic and the quantity and diversity of wildlife is mind blowing.

In addition to the dramatic landscape you’ll be somewhat overcome by significant populations of southern fur seals, elephant seals and King penguins on the island.

Penguins on South Georgia Island

In addition to large colonies of King penguins there are said to be three million breeding pairs of macaroni penguins, that being the largest population in the world.

If you love wildlife South Georgia Island offers a wide range of photographic opportunities. Other wildlife, accessible to group tours on south georgian islands includes the following:

  • Albatross

  • Petrels

  • Prions, Shags and Skuas

  • Gulls and Terns

Whaling and the harvesting of large numbers of seals took place for over one hundred years on South Georgia Island.

The historically important sites at Stromness and Grytviken Whaling stations provide a valuable insight into early human settlement and a warning of how badly human kind have managed natural resources on the otherwise pristine South Georgia Island.

Visiting these sites will be educational and will also add variety to your photography adventures on the island.

 

About To Travel?

Here's What You Need  How To Get To South Georgia Island

All you have to do is find your way to this isolated, barren and largely inhospitable group of islands in the South Atlantic Ocean.

That's almost certainly going to be as part of a tour group. The trick then is to join the right one. For example, the one that I co-ran.

Hopefully I’II get to run another photography tour that includes the magnificent South Georgia Island in the not too distant future.

South Georgia Heritage Trust

It’s said that rats, introduced accidentally onto the island, are responsible for the loss of tens of millions of ground-nesting bird eggs and chicks over the years.

The good news is that a rodent eradication program, the largest of its kind in the world, has now resolved this terrible problem. Great thanks to the South Georgia Heritage Trust for their work in this area.

A spectacular view of a low lying cloud hovering over mountain peaks on South Georgia Island

Hiking on South Georgia Island

Here’s a photo made on a relatively short walk between the atmospheric Salisbury Plain and the Grace Glacier on South Georgia Island.

I love how the low lying cloud seems to hover over the mountain tops.

An abstract image formed, momentarily, on the surface of water off the coast of Prion Island in South Georgia.

Zodiac Landings on South Georgia Island

Our numerous shore excursions were made from zodiacs. This particular landing required me passing through the gauntlet as I made my way through a bunch of feisty seals.

I can remember facing down the harassment to make the short jaunt back to shoreline easier for my customers. But, being the last one to head off back to the zodiacs, I had no such support.

And those pesky seals made the most of it.

Once offshore I was able to make a few last photos of elephant seals and, just meters away, this abstract image made on the fly from the zodiac.

I love the momentary patterns formed on the water by the motion of the zodiac. Immediately after I made the photo those patterns were gone.

The transience associated with experiencing such a moment is powerful. Likewise, to be able to preserve that experience, a moment in time, through photography is at the heart of my own creative journey.

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If you’re thinking about a trip to Antarctica I most certainly recommend you consider an itinerary that includes South Georgia Island.

Despite a history based around whaling and seal hunting South Georgia Island is now a haven for wildlife and, other than a few dozen non-permanent workers and scientists, the only people you’re likely to see there will be folks from your own tour group.

And exploring the spectacular south georgian islands, as part of a tour group full of like-minded photographers, is a great way to spend your day.

I can’t wait till I return. Perhaps we’ll travel there together.

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru    

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Cobbled street in Bruges (i.e., Brugge), Belgium after a summer rain shower.

Truth and reality in photography are favorite topics of mine. One day I may end up writing a book addressing such topics.

Most folks still buy into the myth that a photograph is a factual rendition of reality. It's not. It’s about what you see and how your life experiences effect how you perceive what it is you've seen.

As no two people are exactly the same we must, therefore, all see the world differently. As a consequence the photos we make must also be different to those made by other people.

A photograph is a two dimensional visual representation that, while having to deal with what you see, is really more about how you felt about what you see.

And, please, I don't want you to consider that as a throw away line.

The Democratization Of Photography

Despite the democratization of photography that's occurred over recent years, and the likelihood of your photos being lost within an ever wider sea of images, it's still possible for the concerned photographer to produce art imbued with meaning that celebrates the following:

  • The beauty of the Human Condition.

  • The wisdom of ancient cultures.

  • The power that exists within our natural environment.

Great photographs elicit an emotional response. So why not take an emotional approach to your photography.

I don't think it's a co-incidence that ex-surfers tend to make great surfing photographers, or that mothers tend to make great wedding and baby photographers. They just get it, but why?

  • Their work is less formularized and more intimate.

  • They know what it’s like to be a surfer or a mother.

  • They understand, from their own experiences, the good days and the bad and they can empathize with those they photograph.

  • Because of their similar experiences a certain level of trust is established leading to more personal, character-driven portraits and more uniquely conceived and engaging action photographs.        

 

A highly detailed door, beautifully framed in stone leading into the Conservatorium in Bruges, Belgium.

 How To Structure A Good Photograph

So remember you're not just recording what you see but, more importantly, how you felt about what you see. It's decisions you make that determine the success of your photo and the story, or particular reality, you decide to create. Tools available to you include the following:

  • lens choice (e.g., wide-angle or telephoto)

  • angle of view (e.g., eye level, worms eye or birds eye)

  • what you exclude from the frame as much as what you include

  • subject choice and placement within the frame

  • gesture and movement

  • time (frozen or unfolding)

  • compositional elements such as line, shape, texture, balance, color, shadow, etc

  • time of day and weather

Your Travel Resources

The photo at the top of this post was made after a long and exhilarating night photographing in the old city of Bruges, known as Brugge in the local Flemish language. The image depicts a cobblestone street leading, past shops and restaurants, towards the city square.

It took a few minutes to make this picture. It was late and the streets were pretty much deserted, except for a few groups of kids wandering home after a night out on the town. One group of young guys approached me and offered to pose for a photo. One of the guys even dropped his trousers and, with his back to the camera, proceeded to touch his toes. I patiently explained that, while I was undertaking night photography, I wasn't interested in photographing the moon. You can see how that particular photo would have presented a very different reality, one the local tourist board wouldn't appreciate, compared to the one I've presented above.

sale 3 Hour Private DSLR and Mirrorless Camera Course in Melbourne How This Photo Was Made 

This image is partly a result of high dynamic range (i.e., HDR) techniques and processing. The inherent contrast, or scene brightness range, within this scene is so high that there was simply no way of recording details in the brightest highlights and deepest shadows within a single exposure.

Back in my days as a film-based photographer I may not have taken the photo at all. You might call that the ultimate editing decision, literally yes or no. You learned and understood the conditions under which you'd be able to make a successful photo and, over time, you learned to disregard everything else. Digital photography is far more inclusive and represents, to my way of thinking, a greater level of freedom compared to film based photography.  

How I Made Photos In The Days Of Film

When using print film I commonly chose a film that was relatively low in contrast, to help record details within inherently high contrast scene. Some traditional techniques relating to film photography revolved around the maxim expose for the shadows and develop for the highlights. In the case of the above image I would have overexposed so as to produce more shadow detail and then underdeveloped the film to ensure sufficient highlight detail. So by manipulating the materials, you were able to produce a relatively realistic representation that, at the same time, explored your experience and response to the location depicted.

Artificial light illuminates this brooding walkway at night in the city of Bruges (i.e., Brugge), Belgium.

What Is HDR Photography

HDR is simply an easy to implement, contemporary method for helping photographers deal with the age-old problem of recording details, in deep shadows and bright highlights, in a scene that is inherently higher in contrast than can be recorded by your camera's sensor.

I can only conclude that folks who don't like the idea of such intervention just don't understand that photography has always been about a constructed reality. But it's a reality that you, as artist and creator, are responsible for and, as such, allows you to record, celebrate, alert, educate, influence and, in doing so, be a conduit for change.   

Bruges is a visual delight. Museums, architecture and, just a few blocks away from the tourist crowds, everyday life in a historically rich, UNESCO world heritage centre thrive. Narrow streets and canals abound and, with driving restricted to certain streets and only to local residents, the sense of calm and history is maintained. I loved my time in Bruges and hope to spend a month or more in this lovely part of Belgium at some stage in the future.

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru

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Overview of the Stora-Viti crater near the town of Myvatn in Iceland.

Stora-Viti is a crater in the Krafla volcanic region of northern Iceland. Formed during an eruption in 1724, it's possible to walk around the entire rim of the Stora-Viti crater making great photos along the way.

Looking down into Stora-Viti, also known as Viti crater, you'll see a lake with beautiful turquoise waters at the bottom of the crater.

Viti is a part of a large geothermal area near the town of Myvatn. Surrounded by lava fields and a very colorful landscape it’s a great place to hike and photograph, and there’s a carpark conveniently situated on the lower edge of the crater walk.

When to Visit Viti Crater

I visited Viti crater on a relative bright and warm day in July, right in the middle of the Icelandic summer. Apparently the surface of the lake can freeze over during the winter months which, in itself, would provide interesting photo opportunities.

As with most landscape locations arriving very early in the morning or late afternoon would likely provide the best and, possibly, most dramatic lighting conditions. Unfortunately, with so much to see in the region, I arrived mid morning.

I’d be up most of the night driving and photographing so I was a little unsure about undertaking the hike around Viti crater. But it was an easy, though windy walk and the views were spectacular.

From memory it’s about a one hour walk around the rim, though as I stopped to make photos, it might have taken me a little longer.

One word of warning. You’re quite exposed to the elements, particularly at the higher elevations, while hiking around the rim of Viti crater so it’s advisable to carry a fleece and/or windproof jacket with you.

I also wore good quality hiking boots. While the ground is hard in summer, it’s important to have shoes with good tread on the narrow and steep pathway.

A detailed view of ice at the edge of the water at the centre of the Stora-Viti crater near Myvatn in Iceland.

Safety First For Photographers at Viti Crater

Just be careful to stay on the marked paths as the sides of Viti crater are steep and the surrounding area is still active.

What's more, as the path around the crater is narrow, you might want to avoid making the trek on a very windy day.

Windy days produce the kind of conditions when you’ll want to avoid changing lenses outdoors. To do so would be to risk dust landing on your camera's sensor.

Hundreds of tiny particles of dust are no easy to clean off, particularly if you’ve never done it before and your part way through a major photography journey.

Photographer hiking around the edge of the Stora-Viti crater near the town of Myvatn in Iceland.

People in the Landscape at Viti Crater

Notice the human figure on the far side of the Viti crater. Including a human figure in a landscape is a great way to bring a sense of scale to your photograph.

Despite the fact that this photo features only one side of the crater our human figure gives us a pretty good indication of the size of this significant geographic feature.

In addition to scale, the texture on the side of the Stora-Viti crater and the color contrast between the warm earth and the cool blue color of the sky were my main considerations in making a pleasing composition.

I also waited until the figure moved to a point where he seemed to be standing, as it were, between earth and sky. I Hope you like it.

sale 3 Hour Private DSLR and Mirrorless Camera Course in Melbourne 220.00 330.00 The Value Of A Super Wide Lens

I made the photo of the photographer hiking around the edge of the Stora-Viti crater with a Canon 5D Mark II camera and Canon 24-105 mm f/4 IS lens zoomed in to its maximum focal length of 105 mm.

As the foreground was quite a long way from the camera I easily achieved a large depth of field at the relatively moderate aperture of f/8 which, incidentally, is (or is very close to) the aperture at which most lenses with a maximum aperture of f/4 produce optimal sharpness.

I did manage to squeeze in quite a bit of the Stora-Viti crater in the photo at the very top of this post. It took every bit of the 24 mm focal length on my (then) full frame Canon camera to do so.

Sony 16-35mm Vario-Tessar T FE F4 ZA OSS E-Mount Lens Sony

Nowadays I use a Sony a7RII camera and several lenses, including a Sony/Zeiss 16-35 mm f/4 lens.

As well as being sharper the significantly wider angle of view offered by this Sony lens would have made it far easier to compose that particular image and also allow me to include much more of the crater and the surrounding landscape into the image.

I really love that lens and it's great fun to use.

A small green pool of water and mineral rich soil near the Stora-Viti crater in the Krafla volcanic region of northern Iceland.

How to Photograph Viti Crater

As you can see the colors in the mineral-rich landscape around the Viti crater are highly saturated.

The landscape should photograph well under overcast conditions, though you might want to experiment with different natural light white balance settings (i.e., Sunny/Daylight, Cloudy or Shade) to achieve optimal color.

On a bright, sunny day you might want to employ a polarizing filter to reduce the likelihood of color and texture being reflected off the surfaces of earth, snow and water.

You’ll find the Stora-Viti crater located a short drive out of the tourist town of Mÿvatn in northern Iceland. It’s well worth a visit and the hike around the crater is a lot of fun.

The views offered along the route are really quite spectacular and there’s lots of opportunities for great photos on the hike and also while you explore the landscape near the carpark.

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru

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Bangkok at night is a surreal place. It's hot, it's humidy and it's chaotic. Yet a strange kind of beauty exists, in those moments of stillness between the noise and traffic.

It’s always hot in Bangkok, which places a balmy evening night photography session high on the agenda for the enthusiast photographer. Amidst the noise and the chaos moments of transient beauty exist, between the din of the traffic and the hustle and bustle of this busy and crowded city.

The Best Time To Photograph The City

I love photographing the urban environment, particularly after the sun has set.

The afterglow, when the sun shines from below the horizon and lights up the clouds above, can be wondrous, particularly when some of that light reflects down onto a reflective surface like a wet street or a body of water.

Likewise, twilight is a beautiful time of day in the city. As street lights and interior lighting are turned on any remaining natural light works to fill many of the deep shadows where the artificial light doesn’t reach.

The combination of both natural and artificial light sources work together to both lower the contrast and introduce beautiful, sometimes surreal, mixed lighting situations.

Photographing the Night Sky

Night-time offers great opportunities for photography. Under a stormy sky bright, city light can reflect off low lying clouds helping to balance the illumination within the scene.

Alternative a clear night sky will often photograph very dark, sometimes black due to the much brighter light from the city in the bottom part of your photo.

Sometimes a very dark sky is problematic, as there’s nothing for the viewer to look at. Other times a black sky works as negative space which can work to draw attention to iconic illuminated buildings or shapes in the urban environment below.

When you compose your photos you need to look carefully to determine the relationship between sky and ground, particularly when there’s little to see in the sky.

The terrible high ISO noise performance of the Leica M9 camera is evident in the sky of this night-time photo made, without a tripod, at ISO 1000.

Fill Your Photos With Light

As a general rule I’d say it’s important to fill the frame, as much as possible, with subject matter that is illuminated. With the exception of a deliberate silhouette, there's little or no point photographing a building unless the building's exterior is adequately illuminated.

While it’s possible to add light through the introduction of one or more flash units, or by painting with lighting through the use of portable continuous light sources, such techniques are beyond most folks and are unlikely to work on large and/or distant subjects.

Nonetheless there are relatively easy ways to photograph at night that open up the world of night photography to anyone with a camera, even a mobile phone camera. Let’s explore some of them.

A man casually making his way across a pedestrian crossing at dusk in Bangkok, Thailand.

Make Night Photos At Dusk

Dusk is a great time to make night photos. The sun has gone done and the artificial lights are turned on. It’s not yet night-time but, in your photos, it will feel like it is.

What’s more the remaining ambient light will illuminate many of the darker areas of the frame where the artificial lights don’t reach, lowering the overall dynamic range of the scene and allowing you to record more information in your image.

Light The Subject By Moving Your Camera

The image at the very top of this post was made in downtown Bangkok on a balmy January evening. I wanted to photograph the bridge on the left of the frame so I moved to a position where the bridge was illuminated by light from the shopping centre across the street.

The wide-angle of view created by the fabulous Leica 24 mm Summilux-M f/1.4 lens allowed me to include both the bridge and the shopping centre facade within the frame in a way that emphasized three-dimensional space and depth.

I like the bizarre colors produced by the variety of artificial light sources within the frame. It adds a dynamic to what is, otherwise, a very quiet image. While not an amazing photo that duality between passive and dynamic makes for a more interesting photo.

I made the image at ISO 800 which, with a modern camera, shouldn’t present too many noise-related issues . But the images in this post where made with a Leica M9 camera.

I’ve been a long time fan and user of Leica cameras and, while I loved the color reproduction of the M9 camera, image quality was adversely and, to my mind, unacceptably affected by the camera’s CCD sensor at moderate to high ISO.

“Jet black hides noise.”
— Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru

I went a long way to resolving this problem with the image at the top of this post by pushing the darkest tones, particularly in the sky, into black.

Fortunately the issue has been resolved with more recent Leica M-series cameras. Newer models now provide excellent high ISO performance.

 

Traffic congestion on the streets of Sukhumvit at night in Bangkok, Thailand.

 White Balance For Night Photography

As far as setting your camera's White Balance for night photography you might like to start off by setting your camera to Daylight/Direct Daylight/Sunny (different names for different brand cameras). This will allow you to accurately photograph the colors that are actually there.

Daylight White Balance

It might sound counter intuitive to set your camera to the Daylight white balance setting, or whatever it’s called on your particular camera, for night photography. That is, until you realize what the Daylight white balance setting actual means.

You'll likely be surprised by the result as your brain is doing its best to white balance (i.e., neutralize) the color of the artificial light and, as a result, most folks can't see the actual color of the light under which they're working.

Leaving your camera on the default Auto White Balance will cause the camera to try to neutralize the color of the light it reads. Imagine a wonderful red sunset reduced to a neutral white light. Yuck!

If I was Yoda I’d probably say something along the lines of,

“Not very clever your camera is!”

So as well as a great learning exercise, on the spot in real time, I feel your image making will improve by getting something close to the correct white balance before your camera's shutter is tripped.

And of course you can always change the white balance to achieve a warmer or cooler mood, either in camera or on the desktop. After all, it’s your photo.

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Of course with one dominant artificial light source, such as fluorescent, you may not like the correct white balance produced by setting your camera to the Daylight/Direct Daylight/Sunny white balance.

In this case setting your camera onto the Fluorescent white balance (or to one of several fluorescent settings on many Nikon or Sony cameras) will often produce a more neutral result in camera.

The Advantage of Auto White Balance

If not, particularly when photographing under a range of different colored light sources, try the Auto white balance setting. From my way of thinking, that’s really what it’s for.

White Balance for JPEG

Just remember if you set your camera to JPEG it’s important and, sometimes, essential that you get your white balance right in camera.

While it’s possible to adjust an image with significantly out of whack white balance on the desktop, it's unlikely you'll be able to completely neutralize that color caste if you’re photographing in JPEG.

How to Approach White Balance in RAW  

Of course many folks photographing with their camera set to RAW can easily reset the white balance during image processing on the desktop.

Fine, but what you see on your camera's LCD screen effects how you feel about the images you’ve just made and how you’ll approach the image you’re about to make.

It’s for this reason that I think it’s really important to achieve a white balance that’s either correct or appropriate to your needs, in camera.

The feedback that’s available to us on our camera’s LCD screen and/or, in the case of a mirrorless camera, through the viewfinder is one of the greatest advantages offered by a digital camera.

I say pay attention to that information, let it inform your photography practice by helping you to feel good about the photo you’ve just made and allow you to move onto your next photo with confidence.

About To Travel?

Here's What You Need Color Informs Mood

Color is such a potent agent of mood. Because white balance influences the color of light and, as a consequence, the way subject color is reproduced in your photos I believe it’s essential to develop a good understanding of white balance and how best to apply it, in camera.

That's one of the reasons I like to at least put the camera's white balance in the right ballpark before I walk up to the plate.

For me white balance on the desktop becomes more of a tweak, on the rare occasions that I need to change it, rather than a complete re-working or re-discovery of the original image made in camera.

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru

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Leica M9 camera and Leica 24mm Summilux-M f1.4 ASPH lens. 1/15 second @ f 6.7 ISO 800.

I love photographing the urban environment, particularly after the sun has set. The afterglow, when the sun shines from below the horizon and lights up the clouds above, can be wondrous, particularly when some of that light reflects down onto a body of water below.

Twilight is a beautiful time of day in the city. As the street lights and interiors of buildings are turned on any remaining natural light works to fill many of the deep shadows where the artificial lights do not reach. The combination of both light sources work together to both lower the contrast and introduce beautiful, sometimes surreal, mixed lighting situations.

Nighttime offers great opportunities for photography. Unless a great deal of light is reflected from the city, up towards the sky above, the night sky will photograph very dark. The important thing then is to fill the frame, as much as possible, with subject matter that is illuminated. There's no point photographing a building unless the building's exterior is also lit.

The above image was made, just a few days ago, in downtown Bangkok on a balmy January evening. I wanted to photograph the bridge on the left of the frame so I moved to a position where the bridge was illuminated by light from the shopping centre across the street. The wide-angle of view created by my fabulous Leica 24mm Summilux-M f1.4 lens allowed me to include both the bridge and the shopping centre facade within the frame in a way that emphasised 3-dimensional space and depth. I also like the bizarre colors produced by the variety of artificial light sources within the frame.

As far as setting your camera's White Balance for night photography you might like to start off by setting your camera to Daylight/Direct Daylight/Sunny (different names for different brand cameras). This will allow you to photograph the colors that are actually there. You'll likely be surprised by the result as your brain is doing its best to white balance (neutralise) the color of the artificial light and, as a result, most folks can't see the actual color of the light under which they're working. Putting your camera on auto white balance will cause the camera to try to neutralise the dominant color it reads. Imagine a wonderful red sunset reduced to a neutral white light. Not very clever your Japanese camera is!

So as well as a great learning exercise, on the spot in real time, I feel your image making will improve by getting something close to the right white balance before your camera's shutter is tripped. Of course with one dominant artificial light source, such as fluorescent, you may not like the "correct white balance" produced by setting your camera to Daylight/Direct Daylight/Sunny. In this case setting it to fluorescent (or to one of several fluorescent settings on many Nikon or Sony cameras) will produce a more neutral result in camera.

Just remember if you set your camera to JPEG it is essential that you get your white balance right in camera. While its possible to adjust an image with significantly out of whack white balance on the desktop, it's unlikely you'll be able to completely neutralise that color caste.  

Of course many folks shooting RAW reset the white balance during image processing on the desktop. Fine, but what you see on your camera's LCD screen should affect the next images you make. That's one of the reasons I like to at least put the camera's white balance in the right ballpark before I walk up to the plate. White balance on the desktop becomes more of a tweak, rather than a complete re-working or re-discovery.  

© Copyright All Rights Reserved

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru

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Person standing atop Stora-Viti crater, Iceland in front of an approaching storm

Stora-Viti is a crater in the Krafla volcanic region of northern Iceland. Formed during an eruption in 1724, it's possible to walk around the entire rim of the Stora-Viti crater making great photos along the way.

Looking down into Stora-Vita you'll see a lake with beautiful turquoise waters at the bottom of the crater.

Safety First

Just be careful to stay on the marked paths as the sides of the crater are steep and the surrounding area is still active.

What's more, as the path around the crater is narrow, you might want to avoid making the trek on a very windy day.

Windy days are the kind of day when you’ll want to avoid changing lenses outdoors. To do so would be to risk dust landing on your camera's sensor.

Photographing People in the Landscape

Notice the human figure on the far side of the crater. Including a human figure in a landscape is a great way to bring a sense of scale to your photograph.

Despite the fact that this photo features only one side of the crater our human figure gives us a pretty good indication of the size of this significant geographic feature.

I made the photo with a Canon 5D Mark II camera and Canon 24-105mm f/4 IS lens zoomed in to its maximum focal length of 105 mm.

As the foreground was quite a long way from the camera I easily achieved a large depth of field at the relatively moderate aperture of f/8 which, incidentally, is (or is very close to) the aperture at which most lenses with a maximum aperture of f/4 produce optimal sharpness.

I did manage to (just) squeeze in all of Stora-Viti crater in another image. It took every bit of the 24 mm focal length on my full frame Canon camera to fit it in.

Sony 16-35mm Vario-Tessar T FE F4 ZA OSS E-Mount Lens Sony

Nowadays I use a Sony a7RII camera and several lenses, including a Sony/Zeiss 16-35 mm f/2.8 lens.

As well as being sharper the significantly wider angle of view offered by this Sony lens would have made it far easier to compose that particular image. I really love that lens and it's great fun to use.

sale 3 Hour Private DSLR and Mirrorless Camera Course in Melbourne 220.00 330.00 Back to the Above Photo

In addition to scale, the texture on the side of the Stora-Viti crater and the color contrast between the warm earth and the cool blue of the approaching sky (and its reflection in the distant mountain) where my main considerations in making a pleasing composition.

I also waited until the figure moved to a point where he seemed to be standing in between two landforms. I Hope you like it.

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru

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A spectacular sunset near the town of Beaufort on the Western Highway in Victoria, Australia

Nikon D800e camera and Nikon 24-120mm f4 lens @ 82mm. Seven image composite, 1/60 to 1 second, @ f11 ISO 100

I just love sunsets. So beautiful to behold, yet so difficult to photograph. Here’s a list of the difficulties you’re likely to experience photographing them:

  • Sunsets are fleeting. If you don’t get on with it this daily miracle of nature will be over before you’ve got your camera set and ready to record the event.

  • Low light levels make it difficult to record a sharp image without a tripod or a high ISO.

  • Sunsets tend to be very high contrast where the dynamic range of the scene, from shadow to highlight, is beyond what your camera’s sensor is capable of recording in a single exposure.

The Long Return

The above photo was made a little way outside of the small town of Beaufort on the Western Highway between Adelaide and Melbourne.

These days when I make the long trek back home to see my mum in Hamilton, my hometown in Western Victoria, I take the Western Highway and pass through Beaufort, prior to turning at Ararat and driving onto Glen Thompson and Dunkeld before arriving, finally, in Hamilton.

Despite what I was told, this is a significantly longer trip, both in time and kilometers. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting, albeit considerably drier, alternative to my usual route through Ballarat and a number of small towns including Streatham, Lake Bolac and Wickliffe.

The parched landscape didn’t seem to have had much relief since my last trip after the Australia Day weekend (my birthday) at the end of January.

I did the trip back in heat measuring 45 degrees Celsius. I had the car’s air conditioning on full almost all the way, something I’ve never had to do, even when driving all the way down from Darwin to Melbourne a number of years ago.

sale 3 Hour Private DSLR and Mirrorless Camera Course in Melbourne 220.00 330.00 High Dynamic Range (HDR) to the Rescue

On this second trip I kept my eye out for interesting photo opportunities throughout the trip. Unfortunately the light was dull, flat and very uninspiring.

As sunset approached I started to actively look for opportunities. I could see the sky light up in my car’s rear vision mirror, but couldn’t find a decent composition.

A side road suddenly appeared out of the corner of my eye. I took it and pulled the car over to make the above image.

The contrast (i.e., Scene Brightness Range) was so extreme that I had to make a series of exposures which were later combined into a single, composite image.

Within a few minutes the light was all but gone. Driving back towards the Highway I looked over in the opposite direction and saw a far more interesting scene.

Photographing in this direction would allow me to photograph the landscape bathed in the beautiful warm light of the setting sun.

Alas, by the time I saw it, the light was gone. If only I’d found this place ten minutes earlier.

But all is not lost as I’ve recorded the location and plan to stop there well before sunset while returning from my next trip back home.

It’s just another great reason for heading home again, soon.

“The brighter the light the darker the shadows will photograph.”
— Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru

Never were truer words spoken, if I may be so bold, at least in relation to photography. Please think carefully on these words and let them seep into your consciousness.

Accept the statement as fact and understand how it is the defining factor that determines the success, or otherwise, of many of your photos.

Horizon Placement

I wanted to keep some of the landscape in the image to both suggest the scale of the wondrous site above me and also to help tell the story of the parched landscape.

Forget about the ⅓ to ⅔ division of the frame you may have heard about in photography or, for that matter, painting 101.

Just place the horizon where it needs to be to tell the story you want to tell.

Night Photography in the City of Melbourne Workshop

I only expect to be running one or two more of these workshops before I begin my long winter hibernation. There are still places available on tomorrow night’s workshop. That’s right, Wednesday, March 26. You can check out all the details HERE.

Notification of your online booking and payment will come through to me quickly and I’II be able to send you your Special eBook on Night Photography before the workshop begins. I hope to see you there.

Please feel free to contact me directly with any questions.

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography

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Evening Glow, Jökulsárlón, Iceland

Photography can be considered a metaphor for life. It is full of ups and downs, challenges and rewards and rarely without a dull moment. I'm sure you'll agree with me when I say that with photography, just like in life, you never stop learning.

The Road Forward

I think that once we get to a particular level of technical competence (e.g., camera handling, exposure, focus, composition) we can hit a bit of a rut. Is this all there is?

To keep the ball rolling we can try to inject some more excitement into our photography by embarking on new projects, learning new techniques or buying more gear. But, ultimately, none of that matters if there's not a reason underpinning why we do what we do.

What, Why and How?

I'm convinced that, once we've gained a sense of technical competency, our photographs become less about what we're photographing (i.e., subject matter) and more about why we make the photos we do. The story we want to tell (e.g., growth), the message (e.g., forgiveness) we want to impart, the metaphor (e.g., broken heart) we want to suggest or the concept (e.g., transience) we want to explore becomes the reason why it is that we do what we do.

How we go about achieving these ends (e.g., the techniques, styles and approaches we apply) follows on from and is informed by why, far more than from what, we photograph. And that's as it should be.

An Ongoing and Evolving Process

To help make sense of all this it might be worthwhile crafting a short Artist's Statement exploring the main motivations, intentions and objectives that underpin your work. Now this is not written in stone, and it's completely up to you whether or not your share it with anyone. By it's very nature an Artist's Statement is organic and open to change. It should, therefore, be amended often.

The Nitty Gritty

I constructed mine, a bit at a time, by writing down a series of thoughts and notions. I didn't worry about spelling, grammar or even structure (e.g., paragraphs and sentences). I simply wrote down a series of dot points which I then re-arranged into an order that made sense.

The next thing was to take each point, one at a time, and turn them into sentences. Sentences that seemed to belong together began to form paragraphs. Before I knew it I had the basis of my Artist Statement.

Step Forward the Perfectionist

A little bit of structural finessing with headings, bullet points and the like will bring a sense of design to the piece and enhance the reading experience.

As this is a highly personal work you might want to avoid publishing it for a time. Instead come back to it, regularly, re-reading and amending it so that you're able to say as much as you like within a relatively small space. Economy of words and clarity of thought go together. And reader fatigue should always be considered.

Once you're finished be proud of what you've done. You may even want to matte and frame it and display it on a wall at home, close to where you sort and process your images. An Artist's Statement is ideal as part of a catalogue for an exhibition of your photographs or, as evidenced HERE, as a page on your website.

Putting Words to Work

But for your Artist's Statement to be of value it must both inform and underpin your work. Read it and think about it regularly. Do the words reflect who you are, as a person and as an artist? And, now that you've tapped into your creative self and allowed art to outline your path, are you staying on track and is it helping you navigate your way through life.

Can you see this is not about photography, the vehicle, it's about you and the way you choose to live your life. Digital photography is a means to an end. It allows us to do the following:

  • it acts as a magnifying glass allowing us to observe the world around us in amazing detail

  • as a visual recorder to document that world, not just as it appears to the general public, but as how we respond to it as visual artists

  • to bring attention to all manner of beauty, courage, disadvantage and injustice and, through greater awareness, help change the world, one photo at at time, through the power of the internet

Just as our diet tells the world something about ourselves, as we currently exist, our photographs tell the world whom we are, at our very core. Let's be true to ourselves and, through our photography, recognize our value and begin to realize our true potential.

I hope you've enjoyed this post. You'll find my own Artist's Statement HERE. I do hope you'll consider creating one for yourself and that it will help you on your own journey, via photography, through life.

Please share widely and wildly.

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru

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A tiny snowman under a shelter on Huangshan (i.e., Yellow Mountain), China.

While exploring the spectacularly beautiful Yellow Mountain in China I happened across two snowmen, of the frozen water variety. Yellow Mountain (i.e., Huangshan) is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited and it was fun to veer off the trail, for a few short minutes, to make a few funny snowman pictures.

In each case the snowmen were freshly made and, for want of a better term, displayed quite quirky personalities.

The first snowman, due to its rather diminutive size, seemed more like a snow boy. A kind of Cartman for fans of the American animation comedy, South Park.

It was certainly my favourite from the series of snowman pictures I made on Huangshan.

A tiny snowman at a rest spot on Huangshan (i.e., Yellow Mountain) in eastern China.

Snowman Pictures on Yellow Mountain

You’ll notice that I tried two different approaches to photograph the smaller of the two snowmen I discovered on Yellow Mountain.

Initially I photographed from underneath a lovely stone shelter. Notice how I included some of the shelter’s supporting columns in the picture in addition to elements of the surrounding landscape.

The ideal was to employ composition to frame the little snowman and also to help place it in its environment.

Because the snowman was so small I moved in close for a more detailed view.

Of these two snowman pictures I don’t think the closer image is anywhere near as interesting an image as what I achieved with the wider view, but sometimes the only way to know is to cover your options.

That’s one of the things I love about digital cameras. It doesn’t cost anymore to make extra images. The trick is to vary your approach so that you’ve got more options from which to choose.

A snowman greets visitors on Huangshan (i.e., Yellow Mountain) in Eastern China during the depths of winter.

Funny Snowman Pictures on Yellow Mountain, China

The second and larger snowman seemed to display more of an oriental disposition, with ears a little bit like Yoda's.

Maybe it was the altitude, the cold or all the walking up and down steep mountain trails I’d been doing. Either way it was fun.

But photography doesn’t have to end in the camera.

As you can see I added a pretty strong blue tint to this image. I like the effect and prefer it because it communicates just how cold I felt when I made the image.

Does it add mood to the image and/or make it seem colder than the straightforward black and white version?

If so then it’s probably a good thing. Mood is potent as it elicits an emotive response.

sale 3 Hour Private DSLR and Mirrorless Camera Course in Melbourne 220.00 330.00 Your Camera Photographs Both Ways

Photography provides many ways by which we can both document our world and gain a better understanding of ourselves.

As I like to say, cameras photograph both ways. They speak as much about ourselves, as creative beings, as they do about describing the scenes and subjects we photograph.

With that in mind I’d say these funny snowman pictures say as much about me as they do about the objects I photographed.

 

About To Travel?

Here's What You Need  The Experience of Making Photos

And photography, of course, is all about experience.

It’s the fun of recording an image, a moment in time, and it’s about being able to explore our experiences as we interact with the people, places and events encountered on our journey through life.

That’s what photography is for me. And that’s why I’II continue to travel and to make photos as long as I can.

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru

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While exploring the spectacularly beautiful Huangshan (i.e., Yellow Mountain) in Eastern China I happened across two snowmen, of the frozen water variety.

In each case the snowmen were freshly made and, for want of a better term, displayed quite quirky personalities.

The first snowman, due to its rather diminutive size, seemed more like a snow boy. A kind of Cartman for fans of the American animation comedy, South Park.

You’ll notice that I tried two different approaches to photograph the smaller of the two snowmen.

In the photo at the very top of this post I photographed from within a lovely stone shelter. Notice how I included some of the shelter’s supporting columns in the picture in addition to elements of the surrounding landscape.

The ideal was to employ composition to frame the little snowman and also to help place it in its environment.

The second and larger snowman seemed to display more of an oriental disposition, with ears a little bit like Yoda's.

Maybe it was the altitude, the cold or all the walking up and down steep mountain trails I’d been doing. Either way it was fun photographing these man made representations.

Just for fun here’s the same image with a blue color added for effect.

Does it add mood to the image and/or make it seem colder than the straightforward black and white version?

If so then it’s probably a good thing. Mood is a potent

sale 3 Hour Private DSLR and Mirrorless Camera Course in Melbourne 220.00 330.00 Your Camera Photographs Both Ways

Photography provides many ways by which we can both document our world and gain a better understanding of ourselves.

As I like to say, cameras photograph both ways. They speak as much about ourselves, as creative beings, as they do about describing the scenes and subjects we photograph.

And photography, of course, is all about experience.

It’s the fun of recording an image, a moment in time, and it’s about being able to explore our experiences as we interact with the people, places and events encountered on our journey through life.

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru

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