We left Nairobi early, and by mid-morning were well into our journey. I suspect it was not much past eight in the morning when we entered the hill country, catching glimpses of Mt. Kilimanjaro in the far distance.
I saw this tree from the road. My first few shots I tried to capture Kili, before scrambling across the road and back up the hill. The grass was sodden with dew, the sky spotless, the air fresh. The arms of this tree spread where it stood sentinel atop a small hill. Perching the sun just peeking out from behind the trunk so that the rays shone out like star-points, I lined up this shot. The contre-jour approach casts the trunk largely into silhouette, emphasising the gnarled form of the branches, while just a hint of colour still shines through the leaves. With the sun still low in the sky, and much of its light blocked from the sensor by the trunk, the effect is to increase the dynamic range in the foreground rather than throwing it all into silhouette, so that both colour and detail in the grass and the small pink flowers remain. The light catches in the dew, and the overall effect for me is of life, of light and of colour, all framed beneath the drama of that spreading tree. One of my favourite shots from Kenya this year.
Sometimes, less is more. I don’t have too much to say about these photos, other than to let you know they were taken on a recent early-morning balloon flight over the stunning Yarra Valley, outside Melbourne. If you get the chance to balloon here, do it! We obviously had perfect weather that morning- wisps of mist beneath a blue sky and a gorgeous clear sunrise. Overwhelmingly beautiful.
I’ve mentioned before that I have a bit of a thing for windmills and the Australian landscape. They add a piece of visual interest to a spreading landscape, and at the same time communicate a strong sense of place and time.
Therefore, almost any time I see a well-placed windmill, I experience the urge to photograph it. Sometimes it’s too impractical to do-so (because I’m doing 100kph on the highway, or because there’s a fenceline in the way), and I wrestle with deep frustration. Often, there are ugly features in the way, like watering holes or power-lines. And from time to time I’m able to take the time, hop out of my car (or whatever) and line up some shots.
I came across this one travelling near Geelong (there’s a few out that way; I should re-visit) and had a few minutes to spare, so I was able to wait out the sunrise and snap off a few shots. I share these ones with you.
They are certainly not the classic windmill shot I am looking for. That quest continues. When I find it, I’ll share it with you. But it’ll have to do for now while I keep my vision alive.
*Yes, yes I am perhaps a little obsessive about windmills.
The ascent from Phedi to Dhampus is a two-hour slog up stone staircases winding their way through the lush overgrown forest of the Himalayan foothills. Upon attaining the ridgeline along which the village’s little stone cottages are spread, a magnificent panorama opens up in the fading afternoon sunlight. The entire Annapurna Massif is laid out, from left to right some of the most magnificent peaks in the world. From Annapurna South and Annapurna I in the west, crowned by the dramatic Macchapuchare in the centre, and around to the enourmous Annapurnas II and IV in the east, the view is simply staggering.
Pemba, our Sherpa, booked us in at a sweet little guesthouse atop the ridge, where the views remained staggering. This was only our first evening on the Annapurna Sanctuary Trek, and it was already delivering the goods in spectacular fashion. The accomodation was rustic- wooden beds and thin mats in what felt like a converted stone barn, accessible by a ricketty wooden ladder slippery with years of tred and woodsmoke.
I got up early the next morning with Lydz and Laura to watch the sunrise. Our vantage looked over the east-facing flanks of the mountains, so as the sun slowly slipped above the distant horizon, they were washed in fresh sunlight, the low angles emphasising the details in the relief. We were standing four and five thousand metres lower than the peaks at which we stared, and the sunlight kissed their tips while our stretch of hillside was still very much swathed in shadow. The air was very still, and hanging with the smoke from early morning fires.
Macchapuchare, or Fishtail Mountain, is known as the Matterhorn of the Himalayas for its distinctive shape and prominence. It is an awe-inspiring peak, and as the sun rose, the light seemed to finger every little crevice and feature on its jagged face. After a little while, the light reached us as well, and a bush exploding with pink flowers in front of me was suddenly bathed in soft light. I balanced a shot with the flowers framing the mountain peak in the background- the sun-splashed petals, the shining peak and the blue sky contrasting with that deep shadows of the valley. The memory of that morning holds a place as one of the most beautiful sunrises I’ve ever witnessed, in one of the world’s most moving settings. The itself photo sits for me as one of the top two or three I’ve ever taken, and I hope you enjoy it as well.
I came across this bud just breaking open as a new morning dawned in northern Thailand. The air was cool and damp, and the light softened by a heavy blanket of mist, which was perfect for some of this close-up photography. I really loved the way the bud seemed to be struggling not just against its own leaves, but the web that was wrapped around it. The crack of colour against the otherwise dull background finished it off for me. The daily drama played out each morning, and we’re oblivious to it unless we take the time to stop and look.