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Grand Valley

Grand Valley

Grand Valley

This grand valley lies near Queenstown in New Zealand’s South Island and is a great example of the incredible hils and valleys that make up the Land of the Long White Cloud.

I love the way that the road cutting through the valley disappears into the folds of the surrounding mountains, and the sheer walls of the cliffs.

View this image in my Photo Gallery or on Flickr

Autumn Colours in Kyoto

Autumn Colours in Kyoto

Autumn Colours in Kyoto

The Tenryuji Temple in Kyoto’s Arashiyama area is a peaceful temple complex with spectacularly beautiful gardens.

The ponds provide stunning reflections, and in the bright middle of the day light, I found that eliminating sky and focusing on colours and the reflections made for stunning images.

This is a great complex that is worth spending time exploring and finding images that talk to you.

‘Serenity’ was that message that I took from the Tenryuji Temple and gardens, and this was the feeling I was aiming to evoke in my images.

View this image in my Photo Gallery or on Flickr.

Image Data

  • C: Panasonic Lumix DC-G9
  • L: Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4
  • E: Lightroom
Lava, Light and Rhyolite

Lava, Light and Rhyolite

Lava, Light and Ryolite

Iceland’s highland region of Landmannalaugar is notable for the spectacular rhyolite mountains, valleys and hills. It is also known for several surrounding lava fields.

For photographers, these features make for spectacular subjects, but a good photograph has a good subject and great light, and Landmannalaugar is also well known for the spectacular light that can be experienced.

After quite an amazing trek up Blahnukur, we explored the adjacent lava fields, and found several vistas showing both the hills and fields, but the light in this vista really took my imagination. It was simply spectacular.

An all day trip to Landmannalaugar allowed time to explore, and you really need to be able to take the time and let the light conditions progress. Don’t rush.

View this image in my Photo Gallery or on Flickr

Image Data

  • C: Panasonic Lumix DC-G9
  • L: Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4
  • E: Lightroom
Milky Way over the Lightstation

Milky Way over the Lightstation

Milky Way over the Lightstation

Precisely one year ago we visited Cape Otway on Victoria’s Great Ocean Road, staying at the Cape Otway Lightstation for a milestone birthday treat.

There are three or four cottages or studios in historical buildings in which you can stay at the Lightstation. On this occasion, we are pretty sure we were the only guests staying overnight, and given the staff don’t stay on site, we had this incredible piece of history to ourselves overnight.

I haven’t done a lot of night sky photography, but with a clear night and a new moon in a remote location I had to take the opportunity.

Staying overnight provides the opportunity to scout out compositions before dusk, and the use of the PhotoPills app allowed me to plan the time of night when the milky way would be aligned above the lighthouse.

While I am sure that there is a lot of room for improvement, I am very happy with this image. Not only it is a decent image of the magnificent night sky, it brings forth great memories and wonderful imaginings.

Photography is a medium for story telling. This image provokes thoughts of the vastness of the universe, it is a reminder of the danger of navigation along a treacherous coastline. These threads combine—for me—into thoughts of exploration and journey.

View this image in my Photo Gallery or on Flickr

Image Data

  • C: Panasonic Lumix DC-G9
  • L: Laowa 7.5mm f/2
  • E: Lightroom CC
Storm over Godafoss

Storm over Godafoss

Storm over Godafoss

Godafoss was one of the key photography locations that I was looking forward to seeing and capturing during our visit there in September 2019. I can’t remember exactly how and when I first learned of this stunning waterfall, but it certainly came up regularly as we planned our trip.

We based ourselves out of Akureyri in northern Iceland for a couple of days, and made the journey out there on our second day. Of course the weather was quite overcast, and the distant mountains were completely hidden in the cloud. We still spent some time hunting for composures and hoping for the weather to clear. It didn’t, so we continued on to visit other locations around Lake Myvatn.

While I got a couple of nice images, I was not able to get the image I had in my minds eye—and had travelled half way around the world to capture.

The next morning was our last in Akureyri, and I planned to get up early to try again for the image I wanted, but the weather was even worse, so we had a leisurely breakfast, explored Akureyri and set off early afternoon for our next destination.

Our route would take us right past Godafoss, but the weather was still poor. As we neared the waterfall, we decided to stop anyway. I got the camera gear out, covering it up a raincover.

Suddenly there was a break in the rain, and the cloud lifted just enough to expose the distant mountains. The drama in the sky added to the natural beauty of this ‘waterfall of the gods.’

A little bit of persistence, and an equal measure of luck, helped me to get the photo I imagined.

View this image on my Photo Gallery or Flickr.

Hiking Landmannalaugar

Hiking Landmannalaugar

Hiking Lannmannalaugar

This is without a doubt one of my favourite images from our September 2019 Iceland trip.

We visited the fabulous 1 region on a day trip from Reykjavik, leaving very early, and getting back at around midnight.

The day was quite overcast, largely with a soft, kind of boring sky.

With our guide, Kaspars Dzenis, we set out to climb one of the mountain trails, up a peak known as Blahnukur.

The rhyolite of the ranges around Landmannalaugar was magnificent, and so we focused on some more intimate landscape imagery, ignoring the sky.

We noticed two hikers approaching a trail on one of the adjoining ridges, and set up and waited for them to get further along the trail.

I love the way the hikers provide not only a sense of scale, but also a sense of mystery – I can only wonder where they are going, and where the trail leads.

View this image in my Photo Gallery or on Flickr

Image Data

  • C: Panasonic Lumix DC-G9
  • L: Panasonic Lumix G Vario 45–150mm f/4.0–5.6
  • E: Lightroom CC

  1. A great video to overview Landmannalaugar is Thomas Heaton’s Photographer’s View of Landmannalaugar. This video was where we first heard about this wonderful location. 
Earth’s Extremes

Earth’s Extremes

Earth’s Extremes

Today is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day so I wanted to present an image the shows nature at it raw finest.

This was an image made over a valley between a lava field and the incredibly colourful rhyolite ranges in the Landmannalaugar region of Iceland’s highlands. We visited this location on a photo tour with our guide Kaspars Dzenis.

Clearly the weather was quite overcast, but the muted light only served to bring out the incredible colours of the rhyolite, the grassy valley and the blackness of the lava fields.

We love the Landmannalaugar area, and reviewing these photos is a special opportunity to think back on one of the most special hiking photography experiences.

View this image in my Photo Gallery or on Flickr

Image Data

  • C: Panasonic Lumix DC-G9
  • L: Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4
  • E: Lightroom CC
Scuba Diving at Silfra Fissure

Scuba Diving at Silfra Fissure

One of the adventures I looked forward to most when visiting Iceland last year was the opportunity to dive in Silfra in the Thingvellir National Park.

There are two exciting draw-cards to diving at Silfra—the famously clear water and the fact that the dive occurs in the fissure between the continental plates of Europe and North America.

Des & Belinda diving at Silfra Fissure in Thingvellir National Park, Iceland. 
Photo by Tania Roque of DIVE.IS

We booked on with DIVE.IS, and completed our dive medicals and equipment sizing online, well before we left Australia. DIVE.IS’ system and customer service were seamless and responsive.

We were picked up from our hotel in Reykjavik at about 7:15am and then travelled to Thingvellir National Park for our dive.

As stated, Silfra Fissure lies on the tectonic fissure between the North American and European continental shelves. Above the surface the fissure is a couple of kilometres wide, but underwater you can reach out and touch both continents simultaneously.

Europe on one side, North America the other while scuba diving at Silfra Fissure in Thingvellir National Park, Iceland. Photo by Tania Roque of DIVE.IS

The visibility here was nothing short of amazing — it was at least 50m, but the range of vis was limited by the rock shelves and formations in the distance. The water is glacier fed water filtered through the rocks of decades and centuries.

Crystal clear water at Silfra Fissure in Thingvellir National Park, Iceland. Photo by Tania Roque of DIVE.IS

The dive entered at a set of metal stairs onto a metal platform where one group enters at a time, does their buoyancy checks before descending to 5-6m. You swim along, coming back up to the top of a wall in <1m ,before re-descending to a maximum of 18m (we got to about 15m). After a time you do a left turn into a lagoon, with a separate exit platform followed by a short walk to the carpark.

One of the shallow sections at Silfra Fissure in Thingvellir National Park, Iceland. Photo by Tania Roque of DIVE.IS

The water was, of course, very cold. While the dive leader (Tanya) stated that the range was 2—4C, my (borrowed) Oceanic OC1 computer showed that the temp got down to <1C. The rental drysuits (Bear hyper crushed neoprene) and undergarments did a perfect job — no leaks. We also wore mitts and a hood, and although these were not sealed they did an adequate job of keeping relatively warm — although the hands did get so cold that you lost most dexterity.

Des and Belinda scuba diving at Silfra Fissure in Thingvellir National Park, Iceland. Photo by Tania Roque of DIVE.IS

No life to speak of in the fissure — the reason to dive the site is for the site itself, with its spectacular rock formations and crystal clear water. The guide did mention that there are fish in the lake Silfra empties into, but they don’t come back up in into fissure.

Incredibly clear waters at Silfra Fissure in Iceland. Photo by Tania Roque of DIVE.IS

DIVE.IS1 is a professional dive operator, with good equipment, facilities at the dive site and very good leaders. Group sizes were small (3:1 max), and there was a very welcome hot chocolate waiting back in the carpark.

The dive itself was conducted very professionally, following strict safety protocols. There was oxygen at both the entry and exit points, and additional staff were on hand to assist with gearing up and de-kitting, and to assist during entries and exits.

With over 1,500 scuba dives to my name, I have had the opportunity to dive in many very special places, but the experience at Silfra will certainly go down as one of my top five dives to date.

An outstanding dive.

Des & Belinda kitted up and ready to dive at Silfra Fissure in Thingvellir National Park, Iceland. Photo by Tania Roque of DIVE.IS
With thanks

Images by Tania Roque of DIVE.IS and used with permission.


  1. As I write this the world is in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. DIVE.IS has suspended tours until things improve, and are currently intending on resuming limited operations in early May. I wish the DIVE.IS team all the best, and look forward to diving with them again in the future. 
Yasaka no To

Yasaka no To

Yasaka no To

Yasaka no To is a pagoda in Kyoto’s Higashiyama district that is one of the busiest tourist attractions in the city.

The picturesque pagoda, coupled with the adjacent old-style streets, makes it very popular for photographers, tourists and locals alike, and by day you would be hard-pressed to find an angle without dozens of people throughout the scene.

There are a couple of ways of dealing with these crowds:

  1. Ignore them, and in fact embrace them in your images;
  2. Remove them from the scene in post-processing; or
  3. Get up early and capture the streets with no one in them in the first place!

The third option was obviously what I did with this image, and I am really happy with the result. Not only did I get the images that I had in my mind’s eye, I was also able to have the experience of wandering these lovely streets and having them all to myself!

View this image in my Photo Gallery or on Flickr

Image Data

  • C: Panasonic Lumix DC-G9
  • L: Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4
  • E: Lightroom CC
Tekapo Star Gazing

Tekapo Star Gazing

Tekapo Star Gazing

I’ve had an interesting in getting into night sky / astro photography for some time, but this image was from the first time I gave it a solid go.

We joined a night sky tour at the Mt John Observatory near Tekapo on New Zealand’s South Island.

The night sky was wonderful and although we were a little early in the year for the Milky Way, I am pretty happy with this first image.

The night sky is amazing—you have to have a sense of awe in having the realisation of the immenseness of the universe. Night sky photography is something I will continue to play around with, and hopefully get better at!

View this image in my Photo Gallery or on Flickr

Image Data

  • C: Panasonic Lumix DC-G9
  • L: Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4
  • E: Lightroom CC
Arashiyama

Arashiyama

Arashiyama

The Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is a must see site when visiting Kyoto, Japan.

On the edge of the city, Arashiyama is a natural bamboo forest. To have the best experience I recommend you make the effort to get up early—sunrise early—to beat the crowds.

The other advantage of getting the early is to avoid the overly bright skies breaking through the peaks of the bamboo. You can get a more balanced light. Even at 0730, around the time of this image, you can see the bright sky.

Take the time to enjoy the location, capture scenes big and intimate, and soak up the tranquility.

Image Data

  • C: Panasonic Lumix DC-G9
  • L: Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4
  • E: Lightroom CC

View this image in my Photo Gallery or on Flickr

Mont St Michel

Mont St Michel

Mont St Michel

In 2015 I visited France. With some colleagues, we took an overnight trip to visit Mont St Michel, the famous abbey on an island in France’s Normandy region.

We timed our arrival for the mid afternoon and enjoyed a spectacular sunset. We also enjoyed sunrise the next morning, and a day of exploration in this fascinating abbey.

This was one of those locations that the one night there was not sufficient to do justice to the scene, but I am reasonably happy with the result.

I previously worked this using HDR techniques, but was never really happy with the results. I’ve reattacked the image just using a single RAW file, and processing in the current version of Lightroom. No additional processing was used, and I am quite happy with the result.

View this image in my Photo Gallery or on Flickr

Image Data

  • C: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7
  • L: Panasonic Lumix G Vario 35-100mm f/4.0-5.6
  • E: Lightroom CC