Whether you’re a budding photo journalist with a penchant for instagram (aren’t we all) or your photos are more ‘blurry chic’ than awe-inducing, our photography gurus have picked their favourite corners of the globe to catch on film, and shared their tips on how to snap that winning shot…
Valley of the Moon, Chile
Valle de Luna in Chile’s Atacama Desert is probably one of the most enchanting places to spend an early morning watching the sun rise over the surreal landscape. The valley earns its name from the lunar landforms carved by centuries of battling wind and water – imagine a lunar landscape filled with deep shades of pink, purple and gold transforming as the sun rises to reveal distant volcanoes, giant caverns and eerie saline outcrops, that at a glance appear to be man-made sculptures. The best time to visit is the crack of dawn, perched on a giant sand dune poised and ready to take an other-worldly snap (or several) of the transforming landscape – you really will feel like you’ve been to the moon and back.
Lijiang, Yunnan Province, China
When you first take a glance at the magnificent white water river waterfall in Lijiang you will be astounded not only by its beauty but also by its colour; the water here appears white and is naturally cleaned and purified by the gravel stones resulting in crystal clear water. Created by the run-off from Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, take the chance to wade through the icy waters and get a shot of the majestic snow-capped and the trees lining the Baishui river bank. On a calm day you will be able to catch the reflection of the mountain in the Baishui River and from the river bank you can snap both – the white snow-capped mountain peak perfectly complementing the unusual white tones of the river.
Simien Mountain National Park, Ethiopia
Erosion on a gargantuan scale over millions of years has resulted in one of the world’s most spectacular landscapes in the form of the Simien Mountains in Northern Ethiopia. Think jagged mountains, rugged gorges and deep valleys and you have a photographic extravaganza, not forgetting the Mayshasha River weaving its way throughout the national park. In order to appreciate the true natural beauty of the Simien Mountain landscape you need to embark on the trek of a lifetime. Described as ‘the chess pieces of the Gods’, ascend Ras Dashen which standing at 4543 metres is Ethiopia’s highest peak and take a panoramic shot that will definitely be one for the photo album.
Ojo del Mar, Argentina
Ojo del mar or ‘eyes of the sea’ is a natural phenomenon that cannot be missed, situated 4km away from the village of Tolar Grande this lesser known spectacle offers some unusual yet memorable photo opportunities. One of few places in the world that these stromatolites or formations are present, these water sources are bordered with a salt crust and offer more shades of blue than you would think possible. The stromatolites present here in Tolar Grande are the only known on earth living at this altitude and are said to have shared much the same environment as the first ever living beings would have, some 3.5 million years ago. Take the chance to snap these enchanting water holes and on a still day the surrounding mountain ranges reflect perfectly in the water; the red of the mountain range against the azure clear waters offering remarkable contrast shot. Whilst you are here take a hike to the hidden sand dune where at the top you will be rewarded with a 360 degree view of the area and the opportunity for that perfect shot of the Sacred Macon Mountain and the surrounding compelling landscape.
Ninh Binh, Vietnam
This sleepy province located in Northern Vietnam is definitely not short of stunning scenery and although Ninh Binh city itself, at first glance may seem like just another Vietnamese industrial town, once you begin exploring the nearby Trang An landscape complex and its many photographic gems it all makes sense. The nearby Tam Coc (three caves) is the main crowd drawer and it’s no surprise why; a spectacular collection of dramatic limestone karst peaks jutting either side of a serene river winding its way through verdant rice paddies. The only way to capture the true beauty of this landscape is to take a boat trip down the river and attempt that extreme long shot, however snapping the local hawkers as they go about their daily routines will only add to the experience. The best conditions for photography aren’t necessarily a sunny, clear day – in fact a cloudy, wet day somehow enhances the strikingly mystical and moody landscape. For a more peaceful experience rise at the crack of dawn and avoid the crowds – you don’t want anyone getting in the way of that perfect shot.
Mirror Lakes, Fiordland, New Zealand
New Zealand really is a landscape photographer’s paradise and no landscape is more paradisiacal than the mirror lakes on the road from Te Anau to Milford Sound. Situated on New Zealand’s south island this natural phenomenon really takes your breath away, ideal to stretch your legs and take some first class photography on the drive to Milford Sound. The best time for that money shot is a calm, still day when the glassy waters act as a perfect mirror reflection of the Earl Mountains, popular for hikers and tourists alike this really is a photographic opportunity not to be missed. The journey into the heart of Fiordland National park is literally brimming with striking photo opportunities – make sure you snap the avenue of the disappearing mountain, an optical illusion that causes the approaching mountain to appear smaller rather than larger as you approach – not to be missed.
Nitmiluk National Park, Northern Territory
Katherine Gorge in Australia’s Nitmiluk national park is made up of thirteen dramatic gorges carved out of ancient sandstone and aboriginal rock art perfect for a series of snaps. Capturing the outstanding natural beauty is a task that is surprising simple – whether it is from the air on a scenic flight across the thirteen gorges or hiking the 58km Jatbula trail in one of the many lookout points perfect for that iconic image. Although to really capture the essence is to dig out the waterproof camera and hop on a canoe and get that shot inside the gorge, this offers a totally different perspective and one that is slightly more off the tourist trail. Why not try taking the same shot but from all the different angles to truly appreciate this diverse and stunning landscape and finish the day at Smitt rock where you can watch the deep shades of orange as the sun sets over the gorge.
Lofoten Archipelago, Norway
Lofoten is the photographer’s fantasia. An archipelago within the Arctic Circle in Norway, the scattering of islands boasts nearly every different type of scenery, from craggy mountains and peaks to sparkling open seas, sheltered pebble bays, golden stretches of sandy beach and endless untouched land. This is partly due to the archipelago having one of the world’s largest elevated temperature anomalies relative to its high latitude, and makes it the perfect place for budding photographers keen to capture as many different landscapes as possible.
And then there’s the Aurora Borealis. Sitting snug inside the Arctic Circle, the Lofoten Archipelago is in a prime position for photographing the Northern Lights – here’s our guide to capturing them on film.
A mountainous pocket of Kazakhstan located in the middle of the Kazakh steppe and spanning 7km, Bektau-Ata has been described as ‘a kingdom of unearthly beauty, full of grandeur and freedom’. One of the most striking places in the little visited Kazakh countryside, it remains obscure and almost completely unknown. Bektau-Ata is formed by numerous volcanic rock formations which have gradually built up layer upon layer akin to a giant cake; the top peak now rises a mile high, while the lowest points collect rain water to become little crystal pools. The dramatic layering with the strong contrasting lines come out especially well on film – we recommend a high contrast to really emphasise this striking Kazakh landscape.
The rolling red sand dunes of Sossusvlei with its scorched clay pan have become iconic of the Namib Desert. The name ‘Sossusvlei’ means ‘dead-end marsh’, alluding to the endorheic drainage basin (that is, a drainage basin without outflows) for the ephemeral Tsauchab River. The Sossusvlei area extends across southern between the Koichab and Kuiseb rivers and is characterised by high sand dunes of vivid pink-to-orange colour resulting from a high percentage of iron in the sand and the consequent oxidation processes. Take a hike up the largest sand dune in the world, ‘Big Daddy’, in the early evening. At 380 metres high, with the setting sun intensifying the rose gold glow of the hills, this is the place to capture the ultimate sunset shot.
Mount Teide, Tenerife
Not only the highest peak in the Canary Islands but in all of Spain; Mount Teide standing at an impressive 3718 metres, spectacularly dominates the landscape of Tenerife and the surrounding ‘Parque Nacional Del Teide’. This striking UNESCO world heritage site and volcano can be admired from one of the many walking tracks taking a shot of the entire landscape in all its glory or better still get on your hiking boots and start the challenging yet rewarding ascent. Depending on your preference the park offers spectacular views and photographic opportunities year round – winter with the quintessential snow-capped mountain or spring when the flowers start to bloom. For that extra wow factor and awe-inspiring snap head up Mount Teide at night and take a picture of the flawless milky-way above and the dramatic landscape below.
Quilotoa Loop, Ecuador
This hike in one of the most breath-taking parts of the Ecuadorian Andes is definitely one for the bucket list. Stretching for around 200km the Quilotoa Loop can either be completed from North to South and vice versa, whichever way you take it, the photo opportunities are quite literally limitless. Perhaps the main focal point of the loop is the dazzling emerald Crater Lake and to get that awesome panoramic shot of the crater in all its glory then unfortunately (or fortunately for some) this means a 10km hike to the viewpoint – trust us it’s worth it. Latacunga is another popular stop along the famed route and it’s easy to see why; Volcan Cotopaxi which is an active volcano is only 25km away and on a clear day makes the perfect base for that striking volcano shot. Volcan Cotopaxi actually destroyed the city of Latacunga on three separate occasions; the last time in 1877 so to commemorate the lack of eruptions and good luck Ecuadorians celebrate the popular Mama Negra festival. So if spectacular craters, indigenous Andean villages and an active volcano sound like the makings of an impressive photo-album then the Quilotoa Loop is for you.
Laguna Llanganuco, Peru
Laguna Llanganuco in the Cordillera Blanca region of Northern Peru is made up of two equally mesmerizing lakes; Chinancocha (female lagoon) and Orconcocha (male lagoon) both of which were formed by the run- off from the surrounding melting glaciers. Both glacial pools are characterised by their different shades of blue; Chinancocha a deep turquoise and Orconcocha a dazzling light blue and this coupled with the bountiful flora on the lakes shores will offer a picture postcard shot. The best way to see these lakes is to rent a rowing boat and make sure to adjust your shutter speed whilst gliding across the lagoons azure waters for that iconic static shot. For a light show that will take your breath away, arrive at Chinancocha before 8am and admire (or snap) the blue hues changing before your very eyes while the rays from the sun bounce off the surface. Orconcocha is the second lake you will reach and will offer a better panorama of the mountains reflecting against the glacial pool. Whether this is a starting point for the Santa-Cruz trek or just a visit in itself – you won’t regret it.