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Our Iceland Adventure

Our Iceland Adventure

In September 2019 Belinda and I spent two weeks in Iceland—a trip that we have been planning and anticipating for some time. It was a goal to get there, and now that we have been, it is a goal to go back and to further explore this amazing island nation.

This post is the start of what will be a series describing our adventures, the planning and preparation to get there, the photography opportunities and challenges, gear for travelling and photography, and more. I guess we will keep posting as long as the stories and supporting images allow us to illustrate how much this land of extremes inspired us.

A Land of Extremes

Iceland is a small country with absolutely massive landscapes.

There is nothing average about Iceland—it is a land of fire and ice; micro and macro; light and dark.

From a photography perspective, you have countless opportunities to capture the massive landscapes, or the incredible details.

To enjoy Iceland fully you need to be ready for anything. And everything.

Our Adventure

We flew into Keflavik Airport and collected our hire car before heading into Reykjavik where we stayed for the first few nights.

From Reykjavik we went on a scuba diving adventure in the Silfra Fissure, undertook an amazing photo tour to Landmannalaugar, and did a self-drive tour of the Golden Circle, as well as exploring the city of Reykjavik.

We then set out to drive around the 1,332km of the Ring Road, with side advemtures to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula with the iconic Kirkjufell on the west coast, and Seyðisfjörður on the east coast. We visited Akureyri in the north, and Hofn and Vik in the south.

Our visit in September was timed for the shoulder season—it was not the high season of Summer with the midnight sun, nor was it the icy winter. Weather was variable, with sunny, warm-ish days, and bitingly cold and very wet days.

Reliving the Adventure

We’re home in Australia now, and this series of posts and the images are a chance for us to relive the amazing experiences. We hope you enjoy sharing our experiences.

Daibutsu of Kamamura

Daibutsu of Kamamura

Back when I lived in Tokyo for a couple of years one of my favourite places to visit was the ancient capital of Kamakura, which is a short rail trip from the modern capital.

The Kamakura Daibutsu (Great Buddha) is a magnificent structure, dating back to the 13th century.

The Daibutsu was originally housed in a hall, which was twice destroyed/damaged in storms during the 14th century, before being washed away in a 1498 tsunami. The Daibutsu has now been an outdoor feature for some 521 years!

The challenge for photography here is the crowds that flock to visit this site throughout the year. Weekends in particular are crazy busy in the area.

To counter the crowds, I setup to incorporate the base, which is actually a couple of metres above the surrounding ground level and then waited patiently to have the fewest number of people in shot. I have then cleaned up a few errant individuals in Photoshop.

The day we visited was actually quite a rainy day, and this provided a dramatic sky (and kept the crowds down a little).

I highly recommend a visit to Kamakura to any visitor to Japan.

Image Data

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

View this image in my Photo Gallery or on Flickr

Torre de Hercules

Torre de Hercules

Hercules’ Tower (Torre de Hecules) is the oldest Roman lighthouse that is still in use today.

Located in the city of A Coruna in Spain’s Galicia region, the lighthouse was built in the 2nd century (CE).

This image was created in the morning of a cloudless summer’s day. Although many photographers prefer some cloud to provide contrast in the sky, I actually like a clear blue sky, at least sometimes.

In these conditions a polarising filter is an important part of the toolkit.

Image was processed using Lightroom CC and Photoshop, and there was some distortion correction and a small amount of object (people) removal applied.

View this image in my Photo Gallery or on Flickr

Image Data

  • C: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7
  • L: Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO
  • E: Lightroom, Photoshop
Gog and Magog

Gog and Magog

The Twelve Apostles, near Port Campbell on Victoria’s Great Ocean Road, is an incredible part of the Australian southern coastline.

Gog and Magog

While not technically part the Twelve Apostles, which are behind me while shooting this image, these two rock mounts—known as Gog and Magog—are wonderful features in their own right, particularly in the dawn’s morning light.

This coastline is stunning, carved out by millennia of waves and wind coming up from the Southern Ocean.

Some of the cliffs and sea mounts have collapsed in recent years, meaning that many vantage points are potentially dangerous. The natural vegetation also needs some protection, so for these two reasons it is important that photographers stick to the appropriate viewing points.

These points provide good views, although they are popular, so you need to get there extra early to find a spot and setup so that you are ready for the light.

My intention on this morning was to shoot the Twelve Apostles actual, but I’ve always made it a rule to turn around and look behind me. On this day it really paid off, providing me with a whole other composition.

View this image on Flickr

Lookout

Lookout

This image was made in the same general area as my Wanaka Wandering image, and apart from demonstrating the value of getting to some unique, off-the-beaten-path locations, it also demonstrates another value of a photo tour.

In this case the tour guide not only volunteered to be a model, but new a great spot that could use a human element to bring perspective to the immense landscape. There’s a reason that the Lord of the Rings trilogy was filmed in NZ, including in this very area.

People don’t feature in many of my images, but I have to admit that in this instance the human element added to the image, significantly.

View this image in my Photo Gallery or on Flickr

Image Data

  • C: Panasonic Lumix DC-G9
  • L: Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm f/2.8-4
  • E: Lightroom CC Classic, Photoshop, Nik Collection
The Broken Wharf

The Broken Wharf

The Broken Wharf

Meiklejohns Bay lies at about the halfway mark between the two namesake towns on the Queenstown to Glenorchy Road on New Zealand’s South Island, near a little hamlet called Paradise.

The stunning Remarkables mountain range looms in the background of this beautiful mountain lake, while the cloud formations bring meaning to the nickname for New Zealand—the Land of the Long White Cloud.

The broken wharf, also known as Old Paradise Wharf1, is a stunning feature, easily accessible from the road. Take your time, try different compositions and consider using a polarising filter and perhaps a graduated ND to help bring out the most in the sky and the water.

And bring insect repellent.2

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 Classic, Luminar 2018

  1. The image on the linked page was shot on the same day, but at a different time of day, and with different cloud formations. I like them both. 
  2. Six months later I still have strong memories of the insects, and the bites I sustained at this great spot. 
Frankton’s Golden Arm

Frankton’s Golden Arm

Where have I been?

I’ve been posting a bit to my Micro Thoughts Micro.blog site, but have been a bit slack in processing photos. Therefore, nothing new has been posted here for a wee while.

I still have a backlog of New Zealand images to post, and we got back from the land of the long white cloud in April. Since then I’ve been shooting a bit with the Panasonic G9 in Australia, and we had a wonderful trip to Japan last month.

I plan to post weekly1, and to include some narrative on a exploration or photography related topic before the weekly image.

So there’s a bit to come here…

Talking of the Panasonic Lumix G9.

I love it. And my new Panasonic Leica 8-18mm and 12-60mm lenses.

I’ve also been playing around with a Cactus remote flash system in an effort to do some lighting effects.

Frankton’s Golden Arm

Frankton's Golden Arm

Frankton Arm on Queenstown’s Lake Wakatipu is an awesome place for sunset image creation.



The twin mountain ranges converging in the background here provided brilliant lighting, with the setting sun casting its rays down the valley, lighting up the distant range, while the nearer one was silhouetted beautifully.



The glow of the sun on the lake provided lovely colours.



The shooting location was at the end of a suburban street, and can be easily worked out with some simple planning in Photo Pill’s, TPE or a similar app.

View this image in my Photo Gallery or on Flickr


  1. When work commitments allow. Sometimes I may not have the bandwidth (literally or figuratively) to post. 
That Wanaka Willow

That Wanaka Willow

Commonly known as thatWanakaTree, the Wanaka Willow is a tree that grows out in the waters of New Zealand’s Lake Wanaka.

Supposedly the most photographed tree in the world, the Wanaka Willow attracts dozens of photographers each sunrise and sunset to capture imagery of this rather unique vista.

As with all of our experiences on the South Island, Wanaka was a wonderful place to stop and make images of mountains, lakes and of course #thatWanakaTree.

Wakatipu Reflections

Wakatipu Reflections

A trio of images from the Queenstown area of New Zealand, featuring the stunning mountain ranges as a backdrop to the magic foreground of Lake Wakatipu.

The scenery around Queenstown is simply breathtaking and would keep any landscape photographer happy for years.

Wakatipu Reflections

Wakatipu Reflections

Magnificent reflections on Lake Wakatipu. Driving back from Glenorchy to Queenstown we spotted this great vista, smooth surface and great reflections, and pulled over as soon as it was safe to make some photos.

Old Paradise Wharf

Old Paradise Wharf

Roughly half-way between Queenstown and Glenorchy is the hamlet of Little Paradise, Mt Creighton. There’s not much there – basically just a lodge and the old wharf. This last site is a magic foreground for photos.

SUP Wakatipu

SUP Wakatipu

Taken from the Queenstown Gardens with the stunning mountains backdrop to the standup paddle-boarding and other water activities taking place on Lake Wakatipu.

A New Zealand Adventure Begins

A New Zealand Adventure Begins

Flightpath to Queenstown

Queenstown, a city on New Zealand’s South Island, is sometimes referred to as the ‘adventure capital of the world’, a title it has earned through the variety of outdoor and adventure activities that can be pursued in and around this alpine city.

Even the flight into Queenstown is regarded as the world’s most scenic approach, as well as one of the ultimate landings for thrill-seekers.

This is due to the need for the pilots to fly in over Lake Hayes, navigate through some very mountainous valleys and finally land on a runway that seems to lead straight into Lake Wakatipu.

Runway to Lake Wakatipu

The image at the top of this page shows one of the valleys through which arriving aircraft must fly, and a careful look will reveal an Air New Zealand Boeing 737 on final approach. The second image, just above shows the final valleys and peaks to be navigated, with the runway of the airport leading to Lake Wakatipu.

Skilled pilots of major New Zealand and Australian airlines regularly and safely make this flight, but it is nonetheless an amazing arrival for first time visitors and residents returning home alike.

Middle Earth

It is thrilling arrival to the start of an adventure to some of the incredibly picturesque landscapes in the world.

Diving PNG

Diving PNG

Belinda and Elephant Ear Coral by Des Paroz on 500px.com

I was surprised today to see blog post from DeeperBlue on Diving Papua New Guinea, featuring one of my images from a trip my wife and I made there in 2006.

We love PNG, and have dived at Kavieng, Kimbe Bay (Walindi), Milne Bay (Tawali) and Tufi. These are all amazing diving locations, and I am happy to see one of my images being used to promote diving in this part of the world.

With that said, a bit of advance notice and link back would have been nice!

Passage to the Castle

Passage to the Castle

Passage to the Castle by Des Paroz on 500px.com

Castel Sant’Angelo must be one of the most photographed sites in Rome. Given that Rome is one of the world’s most photographed cites, that is really saying something.

Having captured several of the classic vistas of Castel Sant’Angelo, I set about finding different angles. This street leading up to the bridge across to the castle presented an interesting composition for an afternoon image, with the shadows in the foreground, and the brightly lit castle behind.

This image was shot hand-held, and some work was done in Luminar to get the lights and colours to match more closely the scene I saw on the day.

Image Data

  • C: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7
  • L: Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO
  • E: Lightroom CC Classic, Luminar 2018

View this image on 500px or Flickr