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Chiang Rai (not to be confused with Chiang Mai) is one of my favourite places in Thailand. It’s found just 60kms south of the Burmese/Thai border, right in the north of Thailand.
It’s a small city surrounded by vast swathes of countryside, imposing mountains and all the trappings of nature. But the landscape isn’t quite what you might imagine when you think of Thailand.
Instead of palm trees, exotic plants and sweltering heat, you’re met with a much more familiar environment, at least for someone more accustomed to Europe like I am. Hedgerows line the roads, the trees and fields look far from tropical and in the mornings you better be sure to have something warm to wear.
The city is great, although it for sure feels smaller and more intimate than other neighbouring cities, it’s the surrounding countryside that makes Chiang Rai so special.
Renting a scooter for a day or two is the best way to get around and see/photograph all the attractions I’m about to tell you about.
Below are 7 of Chiang Rai’s top attractions.
1) Blue Temple – Wat Rong Seua Ten
As we are talking about Thailand, it’s fitting that we start this list off with a temple. As anyone who’s ever been to Thailand will know, there are a lot of them around.
From the inside, the Blue Temple in Chiang Rai is perhaps the most beautiful temple I have ever seen in Thailand. There is a large white sitting Buddha at one end, the walls are painted a vivid blue colour and there are golden figurines and picture frames hanging all over.
I had fun using the blue light which illuminates the sitting Buddha to add a moody and dramatic feel to my images when I was taking photos.
How to get there: Since it’s a few kilometres outside of the city itself, the best way is either by renting a scooter or via taxi/grab.
2) White Temple – Wat Rong Khun
Wat Rong Khun, otherwise known as the White Temple, is probably the most visited Chiang Rai attraction. But not without good reason.
Normally I like to stay away from the more touristy things to do but, in this case, I don’t think that rule applies. The white temple is a masterpiece of abstract design, architecture and traditional Buddhist temple building mixed into one. There are some pretty strange murals and sculptures to be found all over…
It’s a relatively new temple that is actually still under construction. It was first opened to the public in 1997 by Thai artist Chalermchai Kositpipat who designed it and still owns it to this day. The main building is complete but the complex as a whole isn’t scheduled for completion until 2070.
Another smaller temple on the same complex
If you want to make a day trip out of it, I went on this tour that involves visiting the white temple, the golden triangle (the point where Thailand, Laos and Myanmar meet) and a boat trip down the Mekong River where you are served lunch onboard while you cruise past breathtaking scenes. It was a truly amazing day and the crew are some of the friendliest people I met in Thailand!
How to get there: Again, renting a scooter or taking a taxi/grab is the best way since it’s a few kilometres outside the city. I recommend renting a scooter though as you’ll need to use it to get to the next place on this list, and it’s a special one.
3) Khun Korn Forest Park Waterfall
If you visit the White Temple in the morning, Khun Korn waterfall makes a great second stop for the day as it’s more or less along the same route. The waterfall is around 18kms from the White Temple or 30km from the centre of Chiang Rai.
Khun Korn waterfall is inside a national park but, unlike most other national parks in Thailand, it’s free to enter. Once you enter the park you’ll continue driving along the only road for a few more kilometres until you reach a carpark at the end. From there, it’s a short hike of about 30 minutes along a beautiful jungle path to get to the waterfall.
It’s one of Thailand’s tallest waterfalls and is simply stunning. Although its height makes it very hard to photograph, everything within 50 meters gets completely soaked. My camera gear got drenched and I had to drive back to Chiang Rai, along surprisingly chilly mountain roads, soaking wet and on a scooter.
How to get there: The best way is to rent a scooter for the day. The drive there is one of the most beautiful in Thailand and you’ll have the freedom to explore the surrounding area some more. Just remember, the park closes at 5pm so you really want to aim to arrive by 3pm at the very latest.
4) Doi in Cee
As a photographer who loves capturing unique things, visiting Doi in Cee is one of my personal favourite things to do in Chiang Rai. It’s a temple complex that’s sat on top of a large hill overlooking the surrounding countryside.
There are several temples and a number of very large statues of Buddha scattered around. The large Buddhas are huge and extremely impressive, you can’t really get a good idea of their scale until you’re standing right below them.
As well as the temples and statues, there are wild peacocks roaming around everywhere and a viewpoint with benches where you can sit and take in the surrounding views.
Just visiting Doi in Cee makes renting a scooter for the day worth it.
Address: Doi Hang, Mueang Chiang Rai District, Chiang Rai 57000, Thailand
How to get there: You could get a taxi and try to negotiate a fair price, however, I recommend renting a scooter. The Doi in Cee complex itself is quite big so you’ll need a way of getting around. Also, then you’ll have much more freedom on a scooter and you never know what unexpected things you’ll find!
5) Clock Tower Show
In the centre of Chiang Rai, there is a golden clock tower that acts as a roundabout the in middle of a crossroad. Every night at 19:00, 20:00 and 21:00 the clock springs into action and puts on a multimedia show that includes a light show, music and figurines moving around inside.
It’s one of the more popular Chiang Rai attractions and worth going to see at least once. You can get a good view from any side of the road but there is a bar on one side if you want to have a drink while you’re watching it.
How to get there: The clock tower is right in the centre of the city so it’s easily reachable on foot.
6) Night Bazaar
While the Night market in Chiang Rai isn’t on the same scale as the one in Chiang Mai, it still has a wide range of everything from food to souvenirs. It does get shoulder-to-shoulder busy, but that’s what makes it a great place for street photography.
There’s a great food court style eating area in the middle of the market where you can find all kinds of great food from khao soi to piles of shellfish that get dumped on a paper tablecloth in front of you which you eat with nothing but a pair of gloves.
The general market opens at 6pm until 11pm and the food court opens at 7pm until 11pm.
Address: Wiang, Mueang Chiang Rai District, Chiang Rai 57000, Thailand
How to get there: Like most markets in Thailand, Chiang Rai’s night market isn’t found on just one street. It’s spread out over a whole area of the city but a good starting point is the address above.
7) Phu Chi Fa Viewpoint
This last attraction isn’t actually in Chiang Rai itself. But it makes for a great road trip. It is roughly 100km, or 2 hours drive, to the east of Chiang Rai and right on the border with Laos. At the summit, you’ll get an unobstructed view over the tops of the surrounding mountains into Laos.
The best time to visit is at sunrise because there is a very high chance of a cloud inversion like in the photo below. Cloud inversions happen when the cold air in a valley meets the warmer air above that has been heated by the rising sun. It’s a stunning sight to see.
You’ll need to stay in the village overnight to make the 750-meter hike to the summit in the morning to catch the sunrise. It’s a small village with limited options when it comes to accommodation but you can find places if you don’t mind staying in a budget style room for one night.
How to get there: There is a minibus that leaves from Chiang Rai at 1pm every day and returns from Phu Chi Fa at 9am the next morning. As I said, you’ll need to find somewhere to stay for the night but that’s how I suggest you do it.
Alternatively, you can rent a car or motorbike and drive there yourself. Just be aware that the drive up to Phu Chi Fa gets a little precarious the closer you get. You’ll need to be confident in your driving ability, especially if you’re driving in the dark.
Getting to Chiang Rai
Most people get to Chiang Rai by first flying to Chiang Mai (although you can take a bus or train depending on where you’re coming from) and then jumping on a bus for the last leg of the journey to Chiang Rai itself.
There are multiple buses from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai each day which start at 6:45am and run almost every hour until 6pm (Monday-Thursday) or 7pm (Friday-Sunday). The bus company is called Green Bus and they operate from the Arcade Bus Station in Chiang Mai.
You can either buy tickets online or at the Green Bus counter at the Arcade Bus Station. Just bear in mind that it’s a popular route, so book your ticket a day in advance to guarantee your place.
Where to Stay
There are plenty of accommodation options in Chiang Rai. Below are a few places that I personally recommend for all budgets.
When I first visited Chiang Rai as a solo traveller I stayed in Mercy Hostel. If you’re on a tight budget but looking for somewhere in a great location with a lively and fun atmosphere, then you can’t go wrong.
There’s a great common area with a kitchen and pool table as well as an outside terrace where it’s super easy to meet some great people.
Backpacker private room
Tourist Inn is a great option for anyone looking for a comfortable budget private room. It’s no-frills but you would expect that for the price it is. But it’s clean, the staff are friendly and they serve a really great breakfast in the morning.
Last time I was in Chiang Rai, my girlfriend and I stayed in Nak Nakara Hotel. I can’t recommend this place enough!
The rooms are huge and decorated in a very oriental style, the bathrooms are also very spacious with all marble fittings. There is a huge swimming pool if you’re visiting in the summer months (or very brave!) and it has a very warm, welcoming atmosphere. Highly recommended!
I have it on good authority that The Riverie by Katathani is an extremely special place to stay. A close friend of mine stayed there for a couple of nights a few years ago and was blown away.
It’s a beautiful hotel located right on the river bank and has all of the facilities you would expect a 5-star hotel to have.
For a comparable hotel in western countries, you would have to pay 4 or 5 times the price for the same level of comfort and luxury.
So there you have it, my top 7 Chiang Rai attractions! If you’re planning to visit this amazing city, my best advice to you is to rent a scooter and explore the surrounding countryside. There are so many places to discover.
Which attractions on this list are you planning to visit? Or maybe you’ve already been to some of them? Either way, let me know in the comments below.
Likewise, if you want any more information about Chiang Rai then ask me below. I’ll get back to you ASAP!
A Quintessentially Romantic City, Venice is a Magical and Inspiring Place
It exudes a uniquely old world charm, with cars and roads replaced by winding canals and gondolas. Venice should be on the bucket list of any travel photographer.
There are great photo opportunities tucked away around every bend. Whether it’s the city’s many grand marble palaces, the enchanting lagoon, or its iconic canals and charming bridges, you won’t be able to resist the temptation to capture endless photos as you explore its labyrinth of side streets and alleys.
That said, it can be hard to know exactly what to prioritise when visiting and photographing Venice, especially on a shorter trip. It’s easy to just get lost wandering the city, and whilst you’ll definitely get some gorgeous shots this way, you definitely don’t want to miss out on some of the best sites and photo spots in Venice.
Inspired by his recent trip to Venice, photographer Mark Lord has put together the following photography guide for the city. It covers all the places you definitely need to see and photograph on your next trip, along with some stunning shots of the city courtesy of Mark.
Most of Venice’s incredibly iconic buildings are in the San Marco Sestieri. As this area is so incredibly popular with tourists, it’s best to get to this neighbourhood at dawn to photograph some of the most iconic buildings in the city.
That is if you want to avoid having bustling crowds and cramped canal ways in shot.
The architecture in this area is just inherently beautiful, designed often in the Venetian Gothic style it perfectly combines symmetry, proportion and geometry. These buildings have been photographed from every angle, and will look beautiful from every angle.
The trick to creating unique photographs in such a heavily photographed spot is to think about composition, colour and to use the spontaneity of everyday life. Elevate your photos from being a picture of a beautiful subject, to a beautiful image in its own right by upping your composition game. Combine beautiful shots of these buildings with contemporary Venetian life; how are people still living and moving around these stunning historical sites?
6 Must-Shoot Locations Within Walking Distance of Each Other
St Mark’s Square and the Doge’s Palace
Perhaps the hub of Venice tourism, but not without reason. At the eastern end of St Mark’s Square lies the aureate Saint Mark’s Basilica, with gold ground mosaics and Italo-Byzantine architecture.
In the west is the 14th-century wing of the Doge’s Palace. Its intricate traceries and Moorish patterns, typical of the Venetian Gothic style are simply mesmerising. Between the two lies the gold and ultramarine drenched clocktower, the beautiful arches of the Procuratie Vecchie and the striking Campanile bell tower.
Visiting at dawn allows you to catch full shots of these stunning buildings in the delicate morning light.
Bridge of Sighs
A small and incredibly ornate bridge connecting the interrogation rooms of the Doge’s palace with Prigioni Nuove (the new prison.)
The name was given to the bridge by Lord Byron in the 19th century and this compact piece of architecture has had a prominent place in our global imagination since, inspiring similarly named bridges across the world.
Riva degli Schiavoni
This road runs down the northern bank of Canale Di S. Marco and can be reached from St Mark’s Square. This beautiful street connects many of Venice’s notable buildings, making it an ideal spot to let out one’s inner flâneur.
San Giorgio Maggiore
This island is just south of the main island group and is dominated its gorgeous Palladian church, the San Giorgio Maggiore. You can get beautiful shots of this from the Riva degli Schiavoni.
Santa Maria del Salute
This baroque domed basilica is at the tip of the Dorsoduro sestiere, where the Grand Canal meets the Canale Di S. Marco. A votive offering to deliver the city from the Black Death in the 17th century. The art in the church reflects this morbid theme.
The oldest of the four bridges spanning the grand canal, named after the market it connects with on the eastern bank and famous for its iconic arched design and central arched portico.
These spots are so popular that it might be worth setting aside a couple of mornings to photograph each without the crowds.
Mornings might also be the best time to experience riding in a gondola. Late afternoon, and especially in the evening, are the most expensive times to catch a gondola tour, as more tourists mean higher prices.
If you would rather avoid paying the Gondola prices of the Grand Canal and St. Mark’s Square, try the San Polo and Campo San Barnaba areas. The Jewish Ghetto in Cannaregio is also somewhere you’ll find more reasonably priced gondolas.
The fares for gondolas listed on the official site are €80 for 40 minutes, plus €40 for every additional twenty minutes if taken before 7pm. And €100 for 40 minutes, plus €50 for every additional twenty minutes if taken after 7pm. Other blog posts about Venice suggest that these fares are more like ‘guidelines,’ so make sure to set the time and cost of your journey with the gondolier before departure. While definitely pricey, this is a truly magical experience that can’t be experienced anywhere else. So for the experience, I’d say it’s worth it.
If you don’t have the money for a gondola, Vaporettos – water busses – are a great option. These are best in the evening because they’re less crowded when they aren’t being used by commuters. You can schedule journeys here.
But if you just want the experience of being in a gondola, a cheap alternative is the traghetti, undecorated gondolas that ferry people across the grand canal for just €2 (or just 70 cents for regular users.) These two options aren’t nearly as romantic or magical as a gondola trip, but they are much more affordable and can be invaluable in scouting out potential compositions.
As noon comes around, the crowds will begin to gather.
This is the best time to duck down into the winding back streets and give yourself a couple of hours to get well and truly lost.
Venice is not just the city of water, but the city of patina, of palimpsest. Around each corner are rich, textured, stunningly aged walls, doors, and fixtures just calling out for a homage in macro.
The clear light of noon that fades into the golden hour is a perfect time to capture these angles of the city. Not only that, but heading out the more tourist focussed San Marco Sestiere will (hopefully) help you find somewhere a little more local for lunch.
Wander vaguely north as you head through the backstreets of Venice and you’ll get to see the different sestieri of Venice, and emerge in the direction of the ferries that will take you to the beautiful islands surrounding the city.
Two of my favourite islands were Murano and Burano. If you walked directly from the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, you could get to the ferry port that will take you to Murano in half an hour. But, I’d really recommend taking the time to find something fantastically distracting on your journey across the city, even if you have to save the islands for another day.
The small town of Murano
Murano is a fairly small island, famous for being the home of Venetian glass. It’s dotted with studios and shops featuring this unique and colourful glass art. The ferry from the main island takes 25 minutes.
A little further along is Burano, which is a 45 minute ferry ride from the main island, and 35 minutes from Murano. Burano is an impossibly charming fishing island dotted with bright and vibrant houses painted in every colour imaginable. These brightly coloured houses really amplify the surrounding light quality and are especially vivid at dusk.
If you want to visit Murano and Burano islands, book a boat tour ahead of time. That way you’re guaranteed to get a ticket and get it at the best possible price.
My takeaway from the visit? The best way to discover and photograph Venice is to get lost! Whilst some aspects of the trip were definitely planned, Venice is a city of fluid beauty, so be prepared to flow with it.
Some of my best shots of the trip came from spontaneous moments where we let the city move us, so be sure to set aside time to be off the clock and just explore.
Whether you are a professional photographer or a tourist, if you find yourself in the capital and largest city in Germany, you can’t miss the opportunity to shoot street photography in Berlin.
Underground Culture and Street Art
The first thing you have to do in Berlin as a street photographer is walk around and get a feeling of the city. Its streets, its people and its artwork are all begging to be photographed.
Simply grab your camera, your backpack and walk.
Cosmonaut by Victor Ash in the Kreuzberg district of Berlin – Credit: Lorie Shaull
Starting from the S or U-Bahn station Friedrichstrasse, walk along Georgenstrasse until you reach the Museum’s island. Once there, cross the Spree and continue towards Hackescher Markt.
Visit Hackesche Höfe and Haus Schwarzenberg. Use Neue Schönhauserstrasse and Münzstrasse to nicely round-off your journey in Alexanderplatz. This 3km route will take you around several photography hot spots.
You have to be ready to capture everything. From the busy Friedrichstrasse station to the ugly, but lively, Alexanderplatz. You’ll pass by outdoor Tango dancers, coffee-shops, hipster areas and everything in between.
One place, in particular, you cannot miss is the Haus Schwarzenberg Street-Art Alley. You enter the courtyard of this creative space via Rosenthaler Strasse. There you will find a café, an independent cinema, some museums and exhibitions. Peculiar metal sculptures and paintings by El Bocho, Miss Van, Stinkfish and Otto Schade to name just a few, will be waiting for you to capture them with your camera. If this isn’t enough, you’ll find more artwork in the stairwells and shops located inside the Haus Schwarzenberg building itself.
If you are looking for rough urban vistas, start from U-Bahn station Schlesisches Tor. Once there, walk through the Oberbaumbrücke to cross the Spree. Visit the Eastside Gallery if you haven’t done so already and continue walking all the way along Warschauer Strasse until you reach Revaler Strasse.
This 2km walk boasts amazing views from Oberbaumbrücke, awe-inspiring urban ugliness and stunning light at dawn and sunset. The area is always busy, day and night. Be careful though as things can get a little rough the closer you get to Revaler Strasse.
Don’t go alone at night.
Berlin is a big city with many things happening, all of the time. But there’s a particularly special place which oozes vibrant energy every Sunday: Mauerpark.
Its name translates to “Wall Park” and was a part of the Berlin Wall and its Death Strip. Reach U-Bahn Station Eberswalder Strasse and prepare to photograph hipsters, jugglers, musicians, hippies, cyclists, joggers, a flea market and much more.
From 3pm onwards, you will also be able to photograph Mauerpark Karaoke and its singers. You’ll find plenty of improvised sessions in the amphitheater. This home-made karaoke allows Berliners to perform their favourite song in front of around two hundred people. Singers take their performances very seriously, awarding them always huge rounds of applause.
I personally think Mauerpark is one of the best places for street photography in Berlin.
Many cafes and designer shops surround the area, the old Berlin Wall ran directly through the park. Cyclists love it for sightseeing. You cannot miss a Sunday in Mauerark.
The German capital is an extremely artistic city. There’s no shortage of photo studios in Berlin, so if you get bitten by the creativity bug and meet some interesting subjects, book yourself some studio time!
Once you have photographed the soul of Berlin, you may want to dedicate some time to its main landmarks.
To photograph the main landmarks of Berlin, you may need more than your backpack and camera. Equip yourself with a zoom lens, a wide angle lens and a lot of patience.
Visit during the evening hours and you will catch a sky full of dramatic contrast. If you are lucky enough to be there during the first few days of March or October, you will find the sun tracing a path right through the middle of the Brandenburg Gate while sinking into the horizon.
To obtain symmetrical shots, walk away from the Gate through Unter den Linden and use a zoom lens. The further you go, the more parallel the vertical lines will be. Or, to achieve a more imposing presence, do the opposite. Stand close to it and use a wide-angle lens. Avoid using digital zooms of some point-and-shoot cameras and smartphones, as they produce low-quality images.
If you happen to be there during bad weather, don’t despair. Rain and snow will reward you with great reflections from the cobblestones in front of the Brandenburg Gate.
Remember that the Brandenburg Gate is an important landmark in Berlin. Be prepared for the hordes of tourists and the many festivals and conventions held there. They will hinder your ability to capture this neoclassical monument in all its glory. To get rid of people in your shots, you may need to use a tripod, get multiple long exposures and do some editing in Photoshop.
It boasts a modern glass dome which allows a 360-degree view of the surrounding cityscape. The dome is open to visitors for free by prior registration and is certainly the best location to photograph the Berlin skyline.
A large sun shield that tracks the movement of the sun electronically will block direct sunlight for you, this will help you to control dynamic range and not blow out your highlights. Be sure to bring a zoom lens to photograph single buildings and landmarks. And, of course, a wide angle lens to obtain vast panoramas of the skyline.
When you finish photographing the skyline, turn around and amaze yourself, you certainly don’t want to miss the inside of the Reichstag. Its rich composition of curves, reflections and modern architecture will unleash your thirst for abstract photography.
Additionally, great shots from the outside of the Reichstag can be obtained after dark as the building is lit up by artificial light, highlighting its imposing figure in front of the dark background.
You’ll need to shoot long exposures with a tripod at night and if there are still people around, the feeble ghosts they project in your pictures will only add to the building’s imposing presence.
The Reichstag building at night – Credit: Ansgar Koreng
Berlin Holocaust Memorial
Located one block south of the Brandenburg Gate, this architectural masterpiece consists of 2,711 concrete slabs of different heights (0.2 to 4.7 m), covering 19,000 square meters.
Walking towards the centre of the monument, as the ground slopes down, the concrete slabs grow taller. This arrangement will allow you to experiment and create abstract light patterns and perspectives. Remember to be respectful, as this is not a playground but a memorial.
Berlin Holocaust Memorial – Credit: Peter Toporowski
Remnants of the Berlin Wall at the East Side Gallery
No photographer’s guide to Berlin would be complete without mentioning the East Side Gallery. A protected landmark, this is a monument to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the subsequent peaceful negotiation of borders. It is a 1316m long collection of 105 murals painted directly on remnants of the Berlin Wall.
Due to the ideals it represents, the past for which it speaks, its unique beauty and the pleasant walk, it is a hotspot for tourists. The best way to photograph the paintings is to arm yourself with patience, set up a tripod from afar, take many long exposure photographs and stack them later in photo editing software to remove the people.
However, good street photography tells the story of culture and of people. Perhaps it is worth capturing a couple of photos of tourists taking selfies, enjoying the walk and eating ice cream while walking in front of a monument that represents rather different times.
Shooting street photography in Berlin can be whatever you want it to be. You can find many books on street photography dedicating their pages to its streets. So take this article as an invitation to explore the areas, feed your curiosity
and come up with your own ideas. If you are still looking for some inspiration, visit CO/Berlin, the Willy Brandt Haus and “Bildband Berlin” while you are there.
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Producing extremely high-quality glass is what Fujifilm is known for
Anyone who has ever used the Fuji system will tell you that one of its main advantages is the quality of their native lenses. Fuji lenses are true workhorses, they’re built like tanks and produce amazingly crisp images.
In this review, we’ll focus on which is the best Fuji landscape lens.
There is no perfect lens
While that’s very true, we’re not all in a position to own a range of lenses to cover every kind of situation.
Maybe you’re looking to buy your first dedicated landscape photography lens, or perhaps you’re simply looking to step things up a gear and move on from the kit lens but can only afford one new lens at the moment. Either way, you have to start somewhere, so long as you realise that a single lens is never going to meet all of your needs.
Having said that, in my opinion, the lens we are about to talk about is the ultimate Fuji landscape lens and I’ll tell you why.
The Fujinon XF10-24mm f/4 R OIS
The XF10-24mm f/4 has been Fuji’s flagship wide-angle zoom lens for years, and it’s arguably their best ever lens for landscape photography.
Recently Fujifilm released a rival lens, the XF8-16mm f/2.8, but it’s significantly more expensive and has a less versatile zoom range. So, for that reason, I don’t believe it can be called Fujifilm’s ultimate landscape lens. That title still very much belongs to the 10-24mm f/4.
The 10-24mm f/4 is an ultra-wide angle zoom lens. That focal length range makes this lens extremely versatile and is one of the main reasons I think it’s Fuji’s best landscape photography lens.
10-24mm, but since Fujifilm X-Series cameras are all APS-C, the equivalent full-frame focal length would be 15-35mm.
Having a maximum aperture of f/4 might seem like a drawback when you compare this to other lenses, but we are talking in terms of landscape photography. When shooting landscapes, it’s unlikely that you would ever want to go to f/4 let alone wider.
Also, it’s a constant aperture lens which means the max aperture stays at f/4 throughout the entire zoom range.
Minimum aperture is f/22.
7 aperture blades are found inside this lens. If you’re interested in creating sun stars or capturing the best bokeh possible, you might consider this a drawback.
This lens has optical image stabilisation (OIS) built in. That, combined with the fact that it’s an ultra-wide angle, means it will be easy to get sharp shots hand-held at slower shutter speeds.
The 10-24mm f/4 isn’t weather sealed, unfortunately. That might be something to consider when buying a landscape lens.
3.07 x 3.43″ / 78 x 87mm. Compared to some of Fuji’s prime wide-angle lenses, it’s a little on the large side. However, you are getting a wide range of focal lengths in one lens.
14.46oz / 410g. There are other wide-angle zooms that weigh less but, when you consider the image quality this lens produces, I think it’s a compromise worth making.
Minimum focusing distance
The minimum focusing distance is 9.4″ / 239mm.
Filter thread size
Since we are talking about landscape photography, you most likely will be using filters a lot of the time. This lens has a 72mm filter thread.
Sample shot taken with the XF10-24mm f/4 – Credit: Norbert Rupp
Pixel Peeping and Sharpness
Click here for full resolution sample images taken with the XF10-24mm and a variety of different Fujifilm X-Series cameras if you want to zoom in and inspect them for yourself.
At f/4 the centre of the image is very sharp, corners are also sharp, especially considering it’s at 10mm. Slight vignetting.
At f/5.6 it is very sharp in the centre, corners also very sharp.
At f/8 the image is sharp corner-to-corner. With this lens, f/8 is the sweet spot for landscape photography.
At f/16 the image starts to become a little soft.
At f/22 the image is very soft.
At f/4 the centre is very sharp as you would expect, and corner sharpness is also above average for an ultra-wide angle lens. Slight vignetting.
At f/5.6 the centre is very sharp and so are the corners.
At f/8 the image is sharp corner-to-corner. Again, this is the sweet spot for landscapes.
At f/16 the image starts to become a little soft.
At f/22 the image is very soft.
Overall, the sharpness of the XF10-24mm f/4 is extremely good pretty much corner-to-corner below f/16. There is a deterioration in image quality over f/16, but that’s common in most lenses.
It’s the sharpness in the corners wide open at its max aperture of f/4 and at 10mm that blows me away. No other wide-angle zoom lens I’ve used is able to achieve what this lens does.
Build Quality and Ergonomics
Like most Fuji lenses, this lens is built to withstand almost anything you can throw at it. It has an almost all-metal construction and it feels solid in the hand.
The zoom ring is made out of a high-quality rubber (like you would want) but, again, it feels very sturdy when using it. The aperture ring is made out of hard industrial plastic.
The zooming is all done internally so the lens doesn’t extend when you zoom in.
On some of Fuji’s smaller cameras, like the X-T20, it can be a little front heavy but that might not bother you too much when shooting landscapes since most of the time you’ll probably be using a tripod.
If you’re looking for your first dedicated Fuji landscape lens, then you can’t go wrong with the XF10-24mm f/4. Or, if you’re only able to add one new lens to your collection right now, and you are specifically going to shoot landscapes with it, this is what I recommend.
The 10-24 can be your only wide-angle zoom lens, you’ll never have to upgrade it if you don’t want to. It’s a great base to build a set of landscape lenses around. If in the future you wanted to experiment with different wide-angle lenses, then you could add some of Fuji’s top-shelf primes to your kit bag. The XF16mm f/1.4, for example, would make a great companion. It’s around the same price point, extremely sharp and has a monstrous max aperture which would complement the 10-24mm perfectly.
It could be paired up with other Fuji wide-angles, or it could be the only wide-angle you own. In both situations it’s a great lens which is why (along with image quality and price) I think the Fujifilm XF10-24mm f/4 is the ultimate landscape photography lens.
Doi in Cee is a Buddhist temple about 15kms outside of Chiang Rai, Thailand. Most tourists haven’t heard of it, and even less will make the effort to go there and check it out.
But trust me, it’s totally worth it if you do.
Doi in Cee Chiang Rai isn’t your average temple
Like most temples in Thailand, Doi in Cee isn’t a single building. It’s a complex made up of several buildings, stupors, statues and shrines. But for the few people who have heard of this place, it’s the huge statues of Buddha that pique their interest.
There are at least four dotted around the site that I know of, but there could well be more hidden in the forest.
And for the photographers out there, like me, you’ll most likely be interested in one. The one that appears as if it has been abandoned and left for nature to reclaim.
After seeing some shaky mobile phone images of this on the internet, I knew I had to photograph it for myself.
The overgrown serpent staircase that leads up to a giant statue of Buddha and seems as though it’s about to be swallowed by the surrounding landscape is a pretty impressive sight to see. It’s hard to judge the scale of the statue from the photo but, if I had to guess, I’d say it’s about 20 meters tall.
How to get there
You can easily find Doi in Cee on the map. Simply search for it. You’ll need to rent a scooter or motorbike for the day to get there and also to drive around the temple complex since it is actually quite big. It takes about 30 minutes to drive from the centre of Chiang Rai to the temple itself.
We had a hard time finding the overgrown Buddha statue but, after 20 minutes of driving around, eventually found a Monk who pointed us in the right direction.
When you get to Doi in Cee, the last part of the drive is uphill towards the main temple area. To find the overgrown statue pictured above, you have to take a small road that leads off to the right at the bottom of the hill. The road looks like this:
Keep an eye out for this road, use the small green sign and small statue as a reference point.
Follow that road for about 100 meters and you’ll see the big overgrown statue of Buddha, you can’t miss it.
Once you’ve seen it, come back to the point in the photo above and continue straight. You’ll end up at the main temple area where there is a lot more to see.
Other reasons you need to visit Doi in Cee Chiang Rai
Like I said before, there are at least 3 other giant Buddha statues. One of them is of a Buddha sitting with crossed legs in the car park at the top of the hill.
The other reason Doi in Cee should be on your list of alternative things to do in Chiang Rai is the view. Because it is perched on top of a hill, the views of the surrounding area are amazing.
We spent around two hours exploring the area and taking photos. In that time we only saw four other people, and three of them were Monks. Seriously, we only saw one other tourist there the whole time, we couldn’t believe it. We kept asking ourselves how can such a beautiful place that’s only 30 minutes from Chiang Rai be so empty?
Just in case the statues, temples, views and peacefulness aren’t enough reasons for you to go (which they should be!) there was one more surprise waiting for us.
There are wild peacocks roaming around freely everywhere.
Best time to visit
The best time to visit, especially if you want to take photos, is probably first thing in the morning for sunrise since the statues will catch the best light.
We went in the evening and they were backlit pretty heavily, making them difficult to photograph. Also, in the evening the overgrown statue with the snake staircase hardly gets any sunlight because it’s surrounded by such thick forest. Even so, if you don’t feel like a 6am start, you’ll still be able to get some great photos in the evening during the golden hour.
Opening times and entrance fees
If you just want to see the statues and temples from the outside there are no opening hours, just drive in and take a look around! It’s not a popular tourist attraction so there are no gates and no guards, just Monks going about their day-to-day business.
The same goes for entrance fees, there aren’t any, it’s completely free. So if you’re looking for free things to do in Chiang Rai, then this should definitely be on your list.
If you’re looking for alternative things to do in Chiang Rai that will get you away from the crowds then you should go and visit Doi in Cee.
Seriously, just do it.
It’s such a hidden gem and a great way to spend a couple of hours of your day.
I want to start by saying that there isn’t one definitive answer when it comes to how big or small a travel photographer’s salary is.
How much a travel photographer can earn can range from just getting by each month, to running an extremely successful business.
Saying you’re a travel photographer is quite a broad statement.
It’s like saying you’re a consultant, without specifying what you consult on.
A travel photographer can be someone who sells stock photography on sites like Shutterstock, or it can also be someone who works for National Geographic.
The two are obviously very different jobs that provide very different levels of income.
If you’re looking to find out how much money you can potentially earn from travel photography jobs, then stick around because I’m going to try and put a number on every job on the travel photography spectrum, from the individual working for him/herself to the big players at the top of the ladder.
So check them out after you’ve finished reading this article, they are really helpful to people looking to break into the industry.
What is an average travel photographer’s salary?
There are so many different ways for a travel photographer to earn money. It’s why putting an exact number on a travel photographer’s salary is impossible.
For argument’s sake, I’m only going to talk about the average professional travel photographer’s salary. In other words, I’m not going to count making $50 one month from selling stock photos as a salary, for example.
To make following along easier, I’ve come up with an estimate of an average salary for four hypothetical travel photographers.
Lucy, Julian, Joanna and Chris.
I will outline how each of them earns money and how much they make per month on average. That way you will get a better idea of which path to follow (or aim towards) yourself.
Remember, the numbers below are an average. Some people will earn more and some less. These are just hypothetical examples to give you an idea of how much travel photographers can earn.
Lucy ~ An independent travel photographer working for herself earns $2200 per month
As somebody who has no boss and no company employing her, Lucy’s monthly salary can fluctuate quite a lot.
It all depends on how she earns her money as an independent travel photographer and how many hours she has spent working towards her goals that month.
She has a large portfolio of high-quality photos (2000 images) uploaded to both Shutterstock and iStock which provides her with passive income. She adds new photos to her microstock portfolio monthly.
In addition to her earnings from microstock, she sells around 10 photos per month directly to editorial clients such as magazines and tourism boards.
Finally, she has built a good working relationship with a travel brand who pays her a retainer every month in order to get the first pick (and the exclusive image rights) to a selection of her most recent photos, before they are offered for sale elsewhere.
Breakdown of Lucy’s earnings per month:
$550 from microstock
$900 from licensing her photos to editorial publications
Total monthly salary: $2200
At the end of the month, she edits all of her photos taken that month.
She sends previews to the client who pays her a monthly retainer who can pick a number of images for themselves before anyone else sees them.
Then she chooses the best images from what is left over to offer for sale to magazines and tourism boards under an editorial license. She spends a day or two writing pitches and sending out emails.
All of the images that are left over and didn’t go to her retainer client and didn’t sell as editorial, get uploaded to microstock sites.
Julian ~ A photographer with a big social media following earns $5250 per month
You’re probably following somebody like Julian on social media already.
He has over 100,000 followers on Instagram, a similar amount on Twitter and 125,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel.
It’s no surprise that having such a large and engaged following on social media can earn you a very good salary.
Julian has the chance to sell products to people who trust and value his opinion, as well as having advertisers constantly landing in his inbox who are keen to work with him.
Breakdown of Julian’s earnings per month
$1250 in YouTube ad revenue
$2000 from sponsored content where he promotes brands and their products.
$1000 from selling an online photography course he created.
$250 from Patreon where people send him a small amount of money each month to show their appreciation for his content.
Total monthly salary: $5250
You’re probably starting to see a pattern now.
A travel photographer’s salary is made up of many different revenue streams. That way their eggs aren’t all in one basket.
If one source of income dries up for whatever reason, it doesn’t totally cripple their business.
Julian films, edits and uploads 3-4 videos of his life as a travel photographer per week to YouTube. They are a behind-the-scenes look into the life of a travel photographer.
He also posts his most recent photos to Instagram daily and engages with his followers on Twitter every day.
In the caption of every photo and video he posts, he will link to the gear he used to create that piece of content and explain why he uses it. Those links will be affiliate links which he earns commission from if someone clicks them and goes on to buy something.
From time to time he also promotes his own online course to his followers.
Finally, he networks and forms connections with brands relevant to travel and photography. He partners with them and strikes up sponsorship deals by leveraging his ability to put his content in front of lots of eyes.
Joanna ~ A travel photographer who gets sent on assignments by different clients earns $3000 to $4000 per month
Companies have a constant need for fresh and exciting imagery. Especially photos that promote their brand or product.
That’s where Joanna comes in.
She is sent on assignments to photograph products in exciting and exotic locations.
For example, a company that sells backpacks has recently sent her to South America where she spent two weeks travelling around with their bags taking photos of people wearing them in places like the glaciers of Patagonia.
These photos are then used to market their products on social media, their website and through paid advertising.
Breakdown of Joanna’s earnings per month:
$1500 per week per assignment (length of assignments varies)
All expenses (travel, accommodation food etc…) is paid for by the client.
Total monthly salary: $3000 – $4500
Joanna takes on 2 – 3 assignments of different length every month from different clients so her income fluctuates.
But one of the biggest advantages Joanna has is that almost all of her living expenses throughout the month are covered on top of her salary.
She has developed a strong professional relationship with a number of clients who repeatedly hire her a few time per year. She spends time interacting with them and further developing the relationship.
Joanna also spends time updating her portfolio on her website with her latest projects and testimonials from clients. Then she spends time pitching her services directly to potential new clients.
Finally, she is part of an agency who put her in touch with new clients. She talks to new clients who are interested in her services over Skype to understand what they are looking for. They then draw up agreements which will form the basis for new assignments in the future.
Sai ~ A National Geographic photographer earns $10,000 per month
A lot of people would argue that, within the travel photography industry, things don’t get much better than working for National Geographic.
It’s the top rung of the ladder.
So it might surprise you that a Nat Geo photographer’s salary isn’t astronomically high. But the kudos that comes with it is.
But don’t get me wrong, it’s still a good salary. It’s just not quite what most people expect it would be.
Sai, like all Nat Geo photographers, actually works for the organisation on a freelance basis. He goes on about 1 assignment per month for Nat Geo lasting about 2 weeks.
Breakdown of Sai’s earnings per month:
$7000 for a 14 day Nat Geo assignment.
All expenses paid when on a Nat Geo assignment.
$3000 from other photography work such as studio shoots and other commercial projects when not working for Nat Geo.
Total monthly salary: $10,000
As you can see, just from Nat Geo, Sai earns $7000 per month. That’s $84,000 per year. It’s a very good salary, but a lot of people would have guessed it would be higher. Especially after you take things like having to pay for insurance and expensive camera gear into account.
But, since Sai works for National Geographic on a freelance basis for only 2 weeks every month, it leaves him the other half of the month to work on other things.
He is a well-respected and reputable photographer in the industry so finding additional work is easy and he can charge accordingly.
Two weeks out of the month he is on assignment for Nat Geo. It could be anywhere in the world.
The other two weeks he is working from his studio on other projects that his assistant has organised.
Because of his reputation, Sai is in the enviable position of being able to choose what he works on and often has to turn down work.
What is it like to be a travel photographer?
But it’s one of the most amazing jobs in the world.
When I first started out on my journey to become a full-time travel photographer, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy.
But I didn’t quite realise what that meant.
Any self-employed person will tell you that not having a fixed and guaranteed income every month can be stressful. At least in the beginning.
A quote about being self-employed pulled from Reddit.
One month you might earn more than expected, another you might earn nothing. Quite literally $0.
You need to be prepared both financially and mentally for that stress.
As your business grows, those stresses start to become few and far between, thankfully.
You begin to understand how to manage the bad months because they will inevitably come. You begin to feel as though you can sustain your lifestyle doing something you love.
Because travel photography is about more than just making money.
It’s about the freedom of being able to work remotely. The freedom that comes with being your own boss and the opportunity you get to see the world.
Me taking a photo from the top of a cliff in the beautiful Algarve, Portugal.
Being a travel photographer is hard work. You have to work at it like you’ve never worked at anything else before.
You will face a lot of rejection. Most people are going to say thanks, but no thanks, to buying your images.
Building a large and engaged social media following is hard.
But none of it is impossible.
If you want to be able to earn a full-time salary from travel photography, then there is no reason why you can’t.
You just need to know what your strengths are, look for untapped opportunities, be persistent and above all else, work hard.
I was naive.
When I first decided I wanted to travel the world and pay for it as I go using my camera and laptop, I thought it would take a year of..
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So if you do use one, thank you.
In recent years, mobile phone cameras have come a long way…
We all know that as time goes on, innovations and advancements in technology take place. With this, more mobile device users are depending on their smartphones to complete daily tasks. Not only do we rely on a phone’s Maps app for directions to the nearest cafe and use voice assistants like Siri to answer a simple question, but we’re also using our phones to record and film memories.
Since massive improvements have been made to mobile phone cameras, we’ve started to see a decrease in sales of traditional DSLR cameras. As mobile cameras are only expected to get better as technology advances, it’s key that in the meantime, you’re choosing the right phone for your picture-taking needs while traveling. Below you will find the best mobile phones for photography in 2018, as well as upcoming phones to look out for in 2019.
Google Pixel 3
Ever since the Google Pixel 3 came onto the scene, many users have raved about the camera and the quality of its pictures. In terms of hardware, the rear camera is 12.2 megapixels with an f/1.8 aperture. The front-facing camera has two 8-megapixel lenses, one with an f/1.8 aperture and the other with a f/2.2 aperture.
Aside from the powerful cameras, what really sets the Google Pixel 3 apart from its competitors are the extra features included for the camera. One of them is Top Shot, a feature that identifies photos where people have looked away or blinked. However, reviews for the feature have been mixed given that Top Shot photos occasionally appear to lack sharpness.
The two other features offered are the Super Res Zoom and Night Sight. The Super Res Zoom gives you greater detail on zoomed in shots, while Night Sight offers great low-light performance and is able to combine frames in order to pick up more color and detail.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 offers a dual-lens rear camera with both cameras rated at 12 megapixels and having apertures of f/1.5 and f/2.4 respectively. Both lenses work together to create the perfect shot as one camera focuses on sharpness, while the other focuses on light performance.
The Note 9’s camera also offers Scene Optimizer, a feature that can detect what you’re shooting and pick a mode that enhances features of the photos. These modes range from flowers and landscapes, to portraits. The Note 9 also has flaw detection enabled which helps to recognize when a picture is blurry, there’s lens smudge, someone is blinking, and it helps fix backlighting.
The other feature that Samsung offers is Live Focus, a feature that is able to recognize the subject of your photo and blur out the background, bringing more focus and attention to your main subject.
Huawei P20 Pro
Not only did Huawei create the first triple-lens camera, but the P20 Pro has maintained great reviews for picture-taking. The triple lenses add up to create a 68-megapixel rear camera, able to produce vivid and sharp images even in poor lighting.
Huawei also has AI Image Stabilisation incorporated into their night mode which allows you to take excellent, blur-free pictures, even when surrounded by low lighting. Similar to the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, the Huawei P20 Pro is able to enter into different modes and enhance certain features depending on what you’re shooting, ranging from animals to all different facets of a landscape.
As we all know, it’s important to also have a good front-facing camera for self-portraits. The P20 Pro uses 3D portrait lighting that’s flattering to your face shape and gives you the best self-portrait possible.
Credit: Tommy Tong
As 2018 is coming to a close, 2019 will undoubtedly be an exciting year with multiple new smartphones set to hit the market
If you’re looking to start the new year with a new smartphone with excellent picture-taking capabilities for any upcoming trips, here are the top phones to keep an eye on.
Palo Alto startup camera company Light, known for their 16-lens camera, is planning on integrating their technology into smartphones. Similar to Huawei, Light is planning on releasing a smartphone camera with multiple lenses, only this one is planned to have nine rear lenses.
This upcoming release comes on the heels of a massive partnership with German camera manufacturing company, Leica. While there have been no reports of when the smartphone is set to be released, it is rumored that 2019 will be the year that we’ll see this one-of-a-kind phone released.
Google Pixel 3 Lite
Similar to the Google Pixel 3 that has already been released, Google is rumored to be releasing a more budget-friendly version of the Pixel.
It’s rumored that it’ll have a rear 12.2-megapixel camera, the same that’s currently offered in the Google Pixel 3. While nothing has been confirmed, if Google was to release this smartphone in 2019, it could easily serve as one of the best budget-friendly phones while still offering stellar camera technology.
Samsung Galaxy S10
Samsung is set to release three versions of the Samsung Galaxy S10 in the Spring of 2019. The multiple versions will encompass three different sizes; 5.8 inches, 6.1 inches and 6.4 inches. It’s rumored that the rear face will have three cameras and the front will have two, making this five-lens smartphone a sure contender in the space.
What are some of your recommendations for the best mobile cameras?
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There’s nothing quite like Canon glass…
If you’ve landed on this page looking for the definitive answer as to which are the best Canon lenses for travel photography then you’re in luck.
This is the only article you’re going to need.
So you can stop searching through countless posts all over the internet right now.
Listen up, because these are the 10 Canon lenses you are going to learn all about in the next 10 minutes:
Since minimising size and weight is the goal, choosing the best Canon lenses for travel photography can be tricky…
But luckily we’re here to help.
Canon make some truly amazing lenses.
Quality is a theme that runs throughout their whole range. But is it really necessary to carry around a 85mm f/1.4 L lens for portraits as well as a 100mm f/2.8 macro lens when you could save money and weight by getting a 70-200mm f/2.8 L lens and a good quality macro extension tube?
Or perhaps you’re wondering what lenses would give you the best results for a landscape photography trip without weighing you down?
Well, I’m about to share with you my thoughts on the subject from personal experience. What I like, what I don’t like and how I save weight, space and money without compromising on the quality of my photography.
But first, a few things to consider
All of the lenses Canon manufacture can be grouped into four categories: EF, EF-S, EF-M and RF.
EF lenses are designed to be used with BOTH Canon’s full-frame and APS-C DSLR camera bodies without an adapter, and with an adaptor they will also work with full-frame (EOS R) and APS-C (EOS M) mirrorless bodies.
EF-S lenses are for APS-C DSLR bodies, but will also work on APS-C (EOS M) mirrorless bodies with an adaptor.
EF-M lenses ONLY work with Canon’s APS-C (EOS M) mirrorless cameras.
RF lenses ONLY work with Canon’s range of full-frame (EOS R) mirrorless cameras.
Across all of Canon’s lenses there are varying levels of quality, and of course price.
For example, you can pick up an EF 50mm f/1.8 STM for almost a 10th of the price of the same focal length EF 50mm f/1.2 L USM lens.
The difference being a slightly larger max aperture and, of course, that all important letter L.
About Canon L lenses
When you see the letter L in the title of a Canon lens it means it’s part of the exclusive club of L lenses. L lenses are considered to be some of the best currently available not just from Canon, but all manufacturers. You can spot an L lens from the signature red ring that runs around it near the focus ring.
A Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L lens with its distinctive red ring
Canon currently only make L lenses for the EF and RF range but since the EF range can be adapted to work on all Canon cameras, it shouldn’t be a problem for anyone wanting some crispy L lens goodness no matter which body you have.
One of the best prime lenses for travel photography
The Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L USM is a monster of a lens. Being part of the L series you would expect no less.
Everything about this lens is top drawer. Sharpness, build quality, bokeh and of course price.
This top-of-the-range L lens with its 50mm focal length produces some of the best quality street photography images any lens is capable of producing. For professional or serious hobbyist photographers this lens is a must-have.
For me personally I like to travel with only one prime lens, a 50mm. The rest I take with me are zooms. It took me a few years to get around to splashing out and upgrading my 50mm to this f/1.2 L version but I’m glad I did and I’m sure it will be a lens I carry in my gear bag for many years to come.
Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L USM
Even though the 50mm focal length is covered by the zooms I carry, nothing can beat the sharpness of this prime. And thanks to its small form factor and inconspicuous design it’s my go-to lens when walking the street or around a market trying to capture intimate shots of day-to-day life.
This fast lens with a max aperture of f/1.2 produces some incredible bokeh and makes handheld shooting in low light using a low ISO possible when you would otherwise struggle.
When it comes to my own workflow, I’ve found the EF 50mm f/1.2 L USM to be one of the most indispensable and best Canon lenses for travel photography.
Very fast lens with a max aperture of f/1.2
Exceptional sharpness and build quality
AF could be faster, although it is by no means slow. It's just not Canon's top performer
Small amount of barrel distortion at minimum focusing distance
Small form factor and relatively lightweight
Requires an additional filter to be fully weather sealed
If you’d like to see a video review of this lens, click here.
Some important specs
Mount Type: EF (but compatible with all other types of Canon cameras with the right adapter)
Focal Length: 50mm
Maximum Aperture: f/1.2
Number of Aperture Blades: 8
L Lens?: Yes
Image Stabilisation?: No
Weather Resistant?: Yes (filter needed for full sealing)
The first zoom lens on this list is perhaps one of the most versatile lenses Canon make, the EF 24-105mm f/4 L mark II version. Having every focal length from 24mm right through to 105mm covered in a package that weighs only 28oz / 795g is a weight conscious, travel photographer’s dream.
Not only that, but it’s one of the more reasonably priced L lenses. If you consider the fact that a huge range of focal lengths are covered and that you’re getting the quality that comes with an L lens, the price isn’t unreasonable at all. Especially in comparison to other L lenses.
Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM
It doesn’t have the widest max aperture, far from it. But a constant aperture of f/4 is more than enough for me for 3 reasons:
As I said before, I travel with the 50mm f/1.2 so I have the option of shooting with a fast lens if I need to.
A constant aperture is always better than a variable aperture on zoom lenses
If the max aperture was any wider it would add size and weight to the lens which, for me, would be more of a negative than any positive factors you’d gain from the extra stops.
So, that’s the reason why the EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS II USM is the second lens (along with the 50mm f/1.2) I ALWAYS travel with. There is one more lens that I sometimes travel with depending on where I will be going and what I’ll be doing, but we will get onto that in a minute.
One of the more affordable L lenses
Additional filter required for full weather sealing
Max aperture of only f/4 could be seen as a con depending on what you will use the lens for, but for me it's not at all for the reason I mentioned above
10 aperture blades (more than is usually found in most lenses) make for more rounded bokeh at smaller apertures
At 24mm the corners of images are a little soft
Very fast AF thanks to Canon's Ultrasonic Motor (USM)
A full video review with sample pictures can be found here.
Some important specs
Mount Type: EF (but compatible with all other types of Canon cameras with the right adapter)
Focal Length: 24-105mm
Maximum Aperture: f/4
Number of Aperture Blades: 10
L Lens?: Yes
Image Stabilisation?: Yes
Weather Resistant?: Yes (filter needed for full sealing)
Great for sports, wildlife and landscape photography
Now, Canon make a lot of different telephoto lenses to suit all types of photographers and all budgets. So, depending on your personal needs, you might not agree with me on this one.
You can get the 70-200mm lens with a max aperture of f/2.8 if you feel like you need the extra stop of light, but I use this lens mainly for landscapes and hardly ever wide open anyway. So for me it’s not necessary.
Let me explain exactly why I think this lens is Canon’s best telephoto.
I said before that on an average trip I travel with two, sometimes three, lenses. Well, this is the third lens that I sometimes pack. Because I love it for landscapes believe it or not. If I know I’m going somewhere where I’ll be shooting grand vistas I really like to have the ability to drill down and pick out individual scenes as opposed to always going for the wide angle shot.
EF 70–200mm f/4 L IS II USM
There are three main reasons why I think this is the best telephoto lens by Canon:
Weight. I specifically chose the f/4 version of this lens and not the f/2.8 version because the f/2.8 weighs 1440g compared to the f/4 which comes in at only 780g. That’s a huge difference! The f/2.8 is almost double the weight and since I use it for landscape photography (never shooting wide open) and I also travel with it, that’s just obscene in my point of view.
Image stabilisation. Having IS is very important in any telephoto lens if you ever want to be able to shoot it handheld especially at the long end. Most of the time it doesn’t matter when I’m shooting landscapes because it’s on a tripod but I do also use this lens for sports and wildlife occasionally and it’s nice to have the option to handhold it.
Sharpness. This is just simply one of the sharpest pieces of glass Canon makes.
This is one of the most versatile telephoto lenses out there. It can handle everything from portraits to sports to landscapes to wildlife and much more. And coupled with a teleconverter, you have an enormous range of focal lengths to plays with.
Average max aperture of f/4 (that may be an issue for some people)
Great build quality
Mild barrel distortion at 70mm
5 stops of image stabilisation
Very fast AF
An in-depth video review covering more specs with sample images can be found here.
Some important specs
Mount Type: EF (but compatible with all other types of Canon cameras with the right adapter)
This EF-S mount macro lens is only compatible with APS-C DSLR and mirrorless Canon cameras. So if you’re interested in a full-frame macro lens instead then scroll down, you’ll find what you’re looking for next.
Macro lenses aren’t usually associated with travel photography, but since there are no strict rules on what defines travel photography I thought it best to include a couple of great options.
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Have you been dreaming of taking a trip to Iceland and capturing some of that beautiful scenery?
Whether you’re an amateur or a professional, Iceland is the perfect setting for a photographer. It’s a breathtaking, stunning land of rugged scenery, spectacular winter scenes, waterfalls, glaciers and more. But if you’re not sure how to get the most out of your trip and take the best photos, here are my top photography tips for Iceland.
Be prepared to miss out on sleep for the best shots!
You can sleep when you’re back at home – seeing the Aurora and taking amazing photos of it might be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so be prepared to stay up late, get up really early or even skip going to bed at all.
You won’t regret the few hours of sleep you’ll miss but if you don’t, you might regret missing out on the experience of seeing the Aurora Borealis in all its majesty. You can always catch up with a nap later during the day!
Make sure you pack an ND filter
Throw your camera to the ground in Iceland and you’ll likely get a shot of a waterfall. If you’re looking to get a shot that stands out I can’t recommend picking up a ND (or Neutral Density) filter enough. This will help you take more professional looking photos. Using an ND filter acts like you’ve put dark sunglasses on your camera. The amount of light reaching your camera’s sensor is reduced which means that you can take photos with a slower shutter speed creating that silky smooth water effect.
Don’t forget your weather-proof gear – for you and your camera!
The weather in Iceland definitely keeps you on your toes, so you need to be prepared for everything. When it rains, my best advice is to keep your lens hood on – not only does it give your camera a bit more protection from the rain, but it will also prevent your lens suffering from any knocks, bumps or scratches.
It’s also really useful to carry a small cloth to wipe your lens when it’s raining so you can continue to shoot and get great images without them being spoiled by raindrops. Make sure you have good weather-proof gear too so that you can spend your time taking photos and not feeling wet, or cold.
For extra peace of mind consider buying a rain cover like this to give yourself maximum protection from the elements.
Use Panoramas for the best landscape shots
One of the best ways to capture outstanding landscape shots is to shoot panoramas. You’ll need to take several shots which you can stitch together later in Photoshop. When you’re taking panoramas you should always have your camera in a vertical orientation. Use full manual settings and then take several photos one after the other, shifting the frame horizontally each time. You need to use full manual to make sure that the settings don’t change in between shots.
Make sure you leave a maximum of 30% overlap between each photo to make the editing process easier later on in Photoshop. A little tip is to shoot your hand after the panorama shot series – that way (in Lightroom) you’ll know it’s the end of the panorama.
Experiment with Shutter Speeds – especially when capturing moving water
Iceland is a country of waterfalls and glaciers. Experiment with shutter speeds to see the different looks an image has. Using a slow shutter speed can create a completely different photo than if you were using a faster shutter speed.
When I arrive at a location I will generally walk around with my camera in hand and shoot images of my subject at a high shutter speed. If there is an element of the frame that is in motion (clouds, water, tourists) I will experiment with different shutter speeds to see the effect it has on the image.
Take your time and experiment, you’ll always learn something and will likely come away with better images.
Pack a Sturdy Tripod
Other than your camera, a sturdy tripod is the most important piece of equipment to take with you. A good tripod will keep your camera steady, especially in rugged windy conditions. We’ve spoken a lot about slow shutter speeds so far, the only way you can make this possible is with a good tripod. They’re especially useful for landscape photography, waterfall shots and shooting the Aurora.
A tripod is essential for a trip to Iceland. Tripods come in many shapes, weights and sizes. To be honest, they all do the same thing, hold your camera steady in different environments. Some better than others, if you don’t have one then you should absolutely pick one up, just look for the best value for money and make sure it can handle the weight of your camera.
The Manfrotto BeFree travel tripod is a great option for travel photographers since it’s the perfect balance between price, quality, size and weight. It comes in two versions; aluminium and carbon fibre (which is obviously lighter) but both are great travel tripods.
How to photograph the Aurora at its best
There’s no foolproof formula for capturing the Aurora due to the constantly changing nature of the Lights. Having said that, there are some things you’ll need to get right if you want to maximise your chances. Firstly, set the camera to full manual mode. Open your aperture up to the widest it can be (lowest f-number). Try setting your ISO between 800 and 3200 – play around and see what works best.
I’d recommend a shutter speed of between 6-15 seconds. You might need to try a few different combinations of ISO and shutter speed to get the best shot without being too underexposed, or the aurora being too streaky.
Pro tip: Put something in the foreground of the shot to make it a little more interesting. Shoot one shot to expose this, then take a second shot to expose the aurora in the sky and blend them together in Photoshop.
To sum it up:
Plan to stay up that bit later and get up early for the best photos
Pack an ND filter
Be prepared for all weather
Try to capture a few panorama shots
Have a go at experimenting with shutter speeds when photographing waterfalls
Don’t forget your trusty sturdy tripod, the photographer’s best friend
And most of all, enjoy soaking in all the beautiful, unforgettable scenery
So there you have my top Iceland photography tips. If you follow these simple and straightforward steps you’ll be sure to take home some snaps to frame – what better way to capture the magical beauty of Iceland and bring those amazing memories to life. I even managed to find a haunted house in Iceland.
You’ll be able to hone your photography skills by gaining experience taking photos of the stunning scenery with these photography tips for Iceland. If you’ve got any questions, you can get in touch in the social channels below. I’ll answer them as soon as possible.
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