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Morning photography at Stenshuvud

I have for a long time wanted to photograph the seascape landscape at Stenshuvud national park in Skåne in Sweden. There are some beautiful rocks right beneath the famous Stenshuvud mountain.

My previous visits have been during the afternoon and since the ocean faces the east the light has not been very good for sunsets. This time I went there early in the morning to take advantage of the light during sunrise and it did definitely not disappoint.

I arrived there just before 06:00 when it was still dark. Good thing that my head lamp Petzl Pixa was in my backpack. After a 20 minute fast hike (sweating as I brought way too much clothes) I reached the location. It was hard finding the right composition with only the light from my head torch as assistance. Eventually I found an interesting composition with the rocks leading the eye towards the horison

The sun just below the horizon

The sun just below the horizon

As it slowly started to get lighter it was becoming easier to find my way around. I started looking for a place to take a wider photo of the area. I had to work fast as the light was becoming brighter and brighter by the minute. Eventually I decided to make use of some large rocks that would make it possible to take photos from a higher viewpoint. I had to careful not to fall down as the space on top was very limited.

Standing on top of some large rocks made it possible taking a photo from a higher viewpoint.

Standing on top of some large rocks made it possible taking a photo from a higher viewpoint.

You can see on the photo above that the light was starting to create soft light patterns on the rocks. Therefore I decided to make my way down closer to the ocean to try to simplify my composition. My intention was to put more emphasis on the rocks and pink light from the first sun rays. In the end a low perspective was chosen to include as much as possible of the nicely lit rocks on the foreground.

I picked a low angle to incorporate as much of the rocks as possible.

I picked a low angle to incorporate as much of the rocks as possible.

When the light got stronger i decided to explore the rocky landscape a bit further. I have a tendency to only take horizontal images so I decided to try taking my next photo in vertical mode. Still my desire was to use as much of the rocks as foreground, effectively splitting the images into 2/3 with rocks in the foreground and 1/3 of the images should consist of sky. It was a dangerous operation trying to navigate between the sharp rocks with my camera mounted on the tripod. One wrong move and my camera could get smashed, not to mention the risk of breaking a leg or even worse. The things we put at risk in trying to create emotional images. I made sure to use an 0,9 soft grad Lee filter to darken the sky and avoiding overexposure as the sunlight was much stronger now.

Luckily no bones were broken or equipment damaged and I got away with a couple of vertical images that I am very happy with. Next time I'll for sure be more careful, or that's at least what I'm saying now. When you're out there and nature plays in your hands, it's easy to get caught up in the moment and wanting to share your expeirence with the world.

My first vertical photo of the day

My first vertical photo of the day

My second vertical image of the day

My second vertical image of the day

I hope you found this blog post inspiring and got the urge to explore the beautiful nature in your area. Feel free to make a comment below and send me a message if you have any questions. You can also learn more about landscape photography by downloading my free e-book where I share my experience gained during the last 10 years of landscape photography.

Thank you and good luck with your photography !!

Use the link below if you wish to learn more about this area of Sweden called Österlen and about Sweden as well .

Iceland - A landscape photographers dream location

Do you want to travel to another planet, but you don’t quite qualify to be an astronaut? Don’t despair, there’s another solution called Iceland. You feel like Charlton Heston from the original Planet of the Apes movie who’s space ship has crash landed and believe you're on another planet.

Nowadays there’s a lot of images from Iceland as it has become very popular among travelers and photographers. Still, nothing can prepare you for what you will experience once you see it with your own eyes. Already the road from the airport into Reykjavik will give you the first glimpses into what to except. A barren landscape, with black volcanic ash spread out as far as the eye can see.

Reykjavik

Sun Voyager (Icelandic: Sólfar) by Jón Gunnar Árnason located in the harbour

Sun Voyager (Icelandic: Sólfar) by Jón Gunnar Árnason located in the harbour

The capital city is where the majority of the people live. Life in concentrated to the main shopping street Laugavegur, where you’ll find most of the souvenir shops, bars and small stores. It’s a very nice city with a relaxed atmosphere, which is also famous as a party destination during the short and intense summer months.

No cars allowed in the Laugavegur pedestrian zone

No cars allowed in the Laugavegur pedestrian zone

The opera house

The opera house

The city center with fast food restaurants

The city center with fast food restaurants

Hot dogs are very popular in Iceland. This one has had customers like Bill Clinton

Hot dogs are very popular in Iceland. This one has had customers like Bill Clinton

However, in my opinion visiting Reykjavik is not the reason you come to Iceland. Instead it's the unique nature and the rest of this blog will be dedicated to the places that I visitied.

Example of the nature in Iceland

Example of the nature in Iceland

Landmannalaugar

This was my favorite place during the trip. You truly feel like walking on another planet. To reach Landmannalaugar you take the Reykjavik excursion bus. It's specially build to enter the Icelandic inland where a normal car would have great difficulties reaching.

A special made bus will take you inland where most cars will not go

A special made bus will take you inland where most cars will not go

After 3 hours from Reykjavik you will reach the camp at Landmannalaugar.  Here you can stay in a hut or pitch your own tent in the designated area. If you're planning to sleep in the huts make sure to book you stay at least 4 months in advance as they fill up very quickly. Landmannalaugar is also the starting point of the Laugavegur trail where you can trek for 4-5 days all the way to Þórsmörk. 

Great hiking possibilities at Landmannalaugar

Great hiking possibilities at Landmannalaugar

Hard work going uphill. 

Hard work going uphill. 

Having brought way too much photographic and outdoor gear excluded me from walking the Laugavegur trail. Instead I choose to explore the Landmannalaugar area more in detail. The surroundings offer great shorter treks as well. By walking up the ridge to the north of the camping site you are greeted to vistas like these;

Spectacular views at Landmannalaugar

Spectacular views at Landmannalaugar

Everywhere you look there's a pitch black barren landscape with rocks, moss and volcanic craters. By going early in the season, which for Iceland's inland means beginning of June, you will still see patches of snow. The snow creates photogenic contrast and adds an extra layer of interest to the dramatic landscape.

Climbing over the lava rocks 

Climbing over the lava rocks 

Þórsmörk

Equally isolated as Landmannalaugar is the Þórsmörk area. It's closer to the coast, meaning it has a milder climate, with more vegetation and green forests mixed with volcanic rock. There's a strong river passing through the landscape and posing a clear danger to anyone wanting to cross it. Luckily there are mobile bridges on wheels that are moved to adjust to the rivers current.

Mobile bridges that are moved to adjust to the rivers current

Mobile bridges that are moved to adjust to the rivers current

Many driver make the mistake of underestimating the river and misjudging the currents resulting in vehicles getting stuck. Luckily the Icelanders are prepared and can quickly mobilize a tractor to assist

Driver stuck with his car in the river, but help is on the way

Driver stuck with his car in the river, but help is on the way

The Þórsmörk area is not short of great walking trails and you could spend days exploring the area. All trails are clearly marked and you just have to walk a couple of minutes outside the camp site to be completely alone with nature. There are multiple hills that offers fantastic panoramas and by waiting for the softer light you'll increase your chances of taking nice images.

Beautiful landcape in Þórsmörk

Beautiful landcape in Þórsmörk

Another beautiful viewpoint in Þórsmörk

Another beautiful viewpoint in Þórsmörk

Had to wait 1 hour before the sun broke through the clouds

Had to wait 1 hour before the sun broke through the clouds

The southern coastline

Driving on the Icelandic ring road that goes around the entire island you will reach some of the most famous places in Iceland.

Seljalandsfoss

Make sure you arrive here early in the day as the parking lot fills up quickly. Seljalandsfoss is one of the most famous waterfalls in Iceland, due to it's beauty and easy access from the Ring road. If you don't mind getting wet you can walk beneath the waterfall itself.

Seljalandsfoss waterfall. Notice the people walking behind it

Seljalandsfoss waterfall. Notice the people walking behind it

Skogafoss

This is the another popular waterfall located 30 km from Seljalandsfoss. It's very impressive with the water cascading down from the mountains. You can take photos from the base of the waterfall or walk up a bit closer to the waterfall itself by a prepared path. Make sure to arrive early to avoid the biggest crowds. 

Skogafoss, a very popular destination

Skogafoss, a very popular destination

Walking up close up to the Skogafoss waterfall.

Walking up close up to the Skogafoss waterfall.

Vik

A major hub on the Ring road connecting Reykjavik with the eastern parts. Life resolves around the gas station / bus stop where travels can change buses, fill up gas, get something to eat or buy snacks.

Church at Vik

Church at Vik

Jökulsárlón

In many ways the poster image of Iceland. The huge icebergs from the Vatnajökull glacier floating in the lagoon and slowly making its way to the ocean. I would highly recommend taking one of the many boat tours on offer. You'll have a very personal experience with the icebergs and can study their shape and form up close. Who knows, you might even meet one of the many seals that have made this place their home.

Tourists on the way with an amphibianboat

Tourists on the way with an amphibianboat

Entering the water

Entering the water

The smaller boats can get closer to the icebergs

The smaller boats can get closer to the icebergs

Seal resting on one of the many icebergs

Seal resting on one of the many icebergs

As you can see from the photos below people find many ways of enjoying the spectacular place. It really brings out the children in all of us

Chinese tourists posing for photos

Chinese tourists posing for photos

Having a beer

Having a beer

Hitting icebergs with small rocks

Hitting icebergs with small rocks

Impressive blue colours

Impressive blue colours

Floating icebergs, some larger some smaller

Floating icebergs, some larger some smaller

Heimaey

The latest volcanic eruption at Eyjafjallajökull is still fresh in peoples mind. While it had a direct effect on European air travel it did not disrupt the Icelanders way of life too much. However, the volcanic outburst in 1973 had a significant impact on the people of the small island Heimaey. Hundreds of homes were destroyed and you can clearly still see the effects when walking around the main city. The island is located to the south of Iceland and reached by a 40 minute ferry trip.

The main town. In the background lava that stopped just short of reaching the harbour

The main town. In the background lava that stopped just short of reaching the harbour

The road into town

The road into town

Icelandic horses interacting

Icelandic horses interacting

By visiting these places I feel like I've only scratched on the surface what to discover in Iceland. Next time I'll go even more inland and travel further to the north. But that's for another blog post...

Interested in more information about Iceland? Click the links below to buy your travel book from Amazon UK, DE or the US. I will earn a small commision from Amazon, but it will not cost you any extra. Thank you :-)

“Kyrgyzstan - The Pearl of Asia”


"Kyrgyzstan, where is that and why would anyone like to go there? By the way, is that not a dangerous place?"
Yurts at the Song kol lake

Yurts at the Song kol lake

Central Asia has always fascinated me. The people have throughout their history endured a hard life, various wars, conquests and occupation by foreign powers . I decided to visit this region after having read some books about Marco Polo’s travels along the Silk road .

The decision to go to Kyrgyzstan was really due to two main points; beautiful nature when searching on the Internet and my laziness in obtaining a Visa. All other countries in this region required one, which is a time consuming process since none of them have any embassies in my country of residence. This means you have to send away your original passport and hopefully have it returned to you. It also includes high costs as these countries see the Visa process as a chance of generating much needed foreign currency.

Kyrgyzstan was a exception so air flight tickets were booked, guide books were read, clothes were packed and the camera sensor was cleaned. For my preparations I also used a site called Indy-Guide, where you can find tons of useful information for planning your travels; http://indy-guide.com/kyrgyzstan

After a 12 hour flight the plane touched down at the post Soviet Manas airport in Bishkek. The booked taxi arranged by the hostel where I was staying the first night was waiting as promised. While driving into the city you truly felt a long way from home . There was a great feeling that 2 weeks of adventure lay before you.

The next day I went to the bus terminal to arrange for further transport with the most popoluar means of commuting in central asia, the marshrutka.

Marshrutkas waiting for passengers in Bishkek

Marshrutkas waiting for passengers in Bishkek

Marshrutkas are basically minibuses that run on a fixed route from town town. Most of the time there's no fixed schedule, instead they depart as soon as they are full.

Karakol

The first destination was Karakol in the north eastern part of the country close to China. The city is a somewhat of a backpacker / mountaineering hub. Of course on a much smaller scale compared to for example Tibet. The area is famous for great trekking possibilities in the Tien Shen mountains. You could do treks there that last weeks, but I decided to do some shorter excursions in the Jeti-Ögüz area, famous for its red stone formations called the seven bulls.

The seven bulls

The seven bulls

A short walk up the valley at Jeti Ögüz

A short walk up the valley at Jeti Ögüz

Local yurts in the valley

Local yurts in the valley

Local yurts in the valley

Local yurts in the valley

During his travels Marco Polo visited many animal markets and they still exist today throughout Central Asia. The most famous one is in Kashgar China, but Kyrgyzstan has many as well, the most famous one being the Sunday market in Karakol. People from the area bring their livestock for some serious buying and selling during the morning hours. I spend the morning there, walking around taking photos of the traders and action going on. I was even offered a sheep for 50 €.

Hmmm, should we buy this one?

Hmmm, should we buy this one?

Busy time at the market

Busy time at the market

Another deal done. Time to transport my new possessions home

Another deal done. Time to transport my new possessions home

Father and son waiting for customers

Father and son waiting for customers

Waiting for customers

Waiting for customers

The main square at the animal market where most of the transcations take place

The main square at the animal market where most of the transcations take place

Song kol lake

The next stop was Song kol lake, by many claimed to be the most famous place in Kyrgyzstan. Each summer the people take their livestock from the villages below up to the lake where the animals can freely move around and the people can return to their historical way of life. It was a fascinating to experience their way of life, sleeping in a yurt, hearing the animals grace outside in the early morning, eating delicious home made food and even trying kumus “fermented horse milk”. The strong acid taste is for sure not everyone’s “cup of tea”, but definitely something you should taste if given the chance. My favorite dish was Oromo, which could be described as a lasagna cooked in a pot under a steam of boiling water. Delicious!. This is for sure a beautiful area, definitely a must for people coming to Kyrgyzstan. Hopefully my photos can at least do it some justice, but you really have to experience it in person to understand its greatness.

Freedom at Song kol lake

Freedom at Song kol lake

Together with it's mother at Song kol lake

Together with it's mother at Song kol lake

A great way of life at Song kol lake

A great way of life at Song kol lake

Paradise of earth at Song kol lake

Paradise of earth at Song kol lake

Sunset at Song kol lake

Sunset at Song kol lake

Waiting for its master

Waiting for its master

The weather can change quickly at the Song kol lake

The weather can change quickly at the Song kol lake

Arslanbob

Having visited the northern parts it was time to see what the south of the country had to offer. Compared to the north, the south has a clearly warmer climate. It’s also more mixed with a large Uzbek population in cities like Arslanbob, Jalala-bad and Osh. After the break up of the Soviet Union new borders were drawn and many cities close to the new borders have different ethnic mix compared to the rest of the country. The city Arslanbob was a perfect example of this with a mainly Uzbek population.

People coming back from the market in Arslanbob

People coming back from the market in Arslanbob

The local butcher shop in Arslanbob

The local butcher shop in Arslanbob

Fresh delivery of hay

Fresh delivery of hay

Melons and cabbage for sale

Melons and cabbage for sale

Beautiful nature in Arslanbob. Can you spot the waterfall?

Beautiful nature in Arslanbob. Can you spot the waterfall?

In Arslanbob I would say it was more conservative compared the the rest of Kyrgyzstan in the way people dressed and approached you . Nevertheless the people were as friendly as always. We had a good home stay with a local family in their large beautiful house. Unfortunately our room was just below the attic. Every night when the lights went off you could hear the rats running around upstairs fighting for the best spots. Luckily none of them payed us a visit, but you definitely slept with one eye open.

Osh

Next destination Osh is a well known silk road city. The central market is a reminder of the old trade that took place there for thousands of years. Of course today there’s no more trade in silk, but more in cheap Chinese clothes and household items that are imported to this area.

Imported Chinese clothes

Imported Chinese clothes

A lot of shoes on display throughout the market

A lot of shoes on display throughout the market

Local delivery within the market

Local delivery within the market

Dried yogurt balls. Used as snacks by the people of Central Asia.

Dried yogurt balls. Used as snacks by the people of Central Asia.

Discussing the price of watermelons

Discussing the price of watermelons

Not only consumer goods is sold at the market. People also meet to interact, here a tournament of chess

Not only consumer goods is sold at the market. People also meet to interact, here a tournament of chess

The market offers you the chance to buy all you daily needed products and the restaurants in and around the market had some of the best tasting food I experienced during my visit. The high turnaround in people means the food is always fresh and served quickly with great customer service. A delightful experience.

Fresh food and warm chai

Fresh food and warm chai

Still warm for the owen

Still warm for the owen

M41. This is the famous Pamir highway that starts (or ends) in Osh and goes all the way to Dushanbe in Tajikistan. It’s supposed to be an epic adventure. Unfortunately I did not have the possibility to travel all the way, instead opted for a shorter excursion to the Alay region in the very south of Kyrgyzstan. The marshrutka from Osh took 3 hours through a mountainous landscape and there was not a dull minute. Everywhere there were fantastic vistas with yurts, sheep and small villages scattered around the landscape.

Sary Mogul and the Alay region

The final destination of the day was the village Sary Mogul, about 70 km from the Kyrgyz / Tadzik border. Arrangements were quickly made for a night stay at a local family.

Sary mogul village with the Pamir mountains in the background

Sary mogul village with the Pamir mountains in the background

The main road in Sary mogul village with the Pamir mountains in the background

The main road in Sary mogul village with the Pamir mountains in the background

The next day the journey continued to a yurt camp near by. The old Opel that must have been at least 20 years old picked us up in front of the guest house. It was a bumpy ride considering that the suspension was non existent, but the driver was proud, smiling, showing “thumps up” while saying “good German car”. After 30 minutes we arrived at the yurt camp located at a small lake.

Yurt camp in the background. Home for the next 3 days

Yurt camp in the background. Home for the next 3 days

New tourists have just arrived at the yurt camp

New tourists have just arrived at the yurt camp

In the afternoon I made a trek closer to this areas main attraction, the 7134 m Lenin peak. It’s considered one of the “easiest” 7000 m mountains to climb, still it must be a considerable effort in making it to the top. The snow was still deep up on the mountain so no climbing expedition were planned at the moment. Most people try to reach the top in August when as much as possible of the snow has melted.

Peak Lenin

Peak Lenin

The marmots were also active this evening, raising alarm as soon as somebody approached them. As with the rest of Kyrgystan the nature was breathtaking, you could spend weeks here exploring and never have a dull moment.

On the look out

On the look out

Sunset in the Alay region

Sunset in the Alay region

Sunrise in the Alay region

Sunrise in the Alay region

Peak lenin in the background. Sunrise in the Alay region

Peak lenin in the background. Sunrise in the Alay region

To sum it up, after 2 weeks or travel all I experienced where friendly and helpful people, children or adults, that will go out of their way in assisting you. And if you love nature as much as I do you'll definitely have a great time in Kyrgyzstan. Don't believe all that's said on the news, use your common knowledge and you'll be fine. Trust me !!

Friendly people in Bishkek

Friendly people in Bishkek

Hope you enjoyed my story from Kyrgyzstan. For my travel preparations I used the excellent Brandt travel guide, which you'll find a link to below.