photography

The most unexpected northern light sighting.

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During our way back to Stockholm, we stopped by Sunsvall for a night. Sunsvall is further from the arctic circle compared to the Kiruna, Abisko, and Lofoten so we didn’t expect to be able to see the northern lights there.

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But we are wrong! After we checked in, we decided to go to the city center for our dinner, but when we got into our car, I saw the sky glowing green right above our heads.Then I realized it was the northern lights!

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We are all pumped up! we quickly googled a better location with less light pollution compared to our hotel,  we found a lake nearby and we drove there as fast as we could.

CMY_PHOTOGRAPHY-3The lake was frozen and surrounded by threes, it was a great location! When we got there the Northern light gets really intense and it was incredible to be able to see it up close, it was right above us, it was an epic experience for us! but after few minutes of northern light shooting, clouds started to came by and block our view. We are unprepared for the cold night and we headed back to our hotel.

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Our hotel is on top of a mountain, the view there is spectacular. It was quite late, all of my friends are going to bed, but I didn’t give up, I went outside and tried my luck on the northern lights. I was lucky, the sky cleared up and the aurora light show appears again, the weather and the strenght of the northern light was so great, I can see the light even on top of the city, where the light pollution is very high.

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After realizing how lucky I am, I quickly found a spot and point my camera straight up and started to take photos. When the northern lights are right above you, it is a lot more beautiful then looking at them in a distance, it was surreal!

CMY_PHOTOGRAPHY-6And this is where I got  my favorite northern light photos, the Angel.

Ice Hotel, Sweden.

During my recent trip to Sweden, I visited the famous Ice Hotel. The hotel is made out entirely with natural ice and snow. Since we are on a tight budget, we didn’t stay at the hotel, we went there and joined the guided tour.

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But unfortunately, we are there before the completion of the 2016 Ice Hotel, as they rebuild the hotel each year with different design submitted from designers around the world. The Ice Bar, Ice Church and some of the rooms are not yet ready. We are slightly late for the tour and we need to chase up the tour at the area where they carve all the ice. After that the guided brought us to the rooms and since the tour are too big, we are ask to walk around the room ourself and if a we had any question we can ask the guide ourself.

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The rooms are smaller then I expected, maybe its unfinished, but some of the design are really amazing. It is quite challenging trying to take photographs of all the rooms and there are large amount of tourist during my visit and getting a clean shot of the room means I need to be either faster then the other or wait until the crowed goes to the other room.

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Another challenging factor is the lightning condition in the rooms. I don’t have my tripod with my during the guided tour, and I need a smaller aperture to get everything in the room sharp. I used all kind of methods to be as steady as possible.

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The above design is one of my favorite! I am sorry I forget to note down the designer’s name for the rooms. I think you can get more info from their official website.

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The Snice (a combination of ice and snow) ice to build the hotel has a higher density than snow and therefore is a better insulated and it melts slower. No matter what is the temperature outside, the rooms are always between -3degree to -5degree. ( well thats still very cold ! )

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The idea of getting room designs from all around the world is very interesting! (Maybe I could submit a design next time. 😛 )

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I was very impressed by the cool rooms, but It’s a bit sad that I don’t get the chance to see the famous Ice bar and Ice Church.

 

 

 

Reynisflara Beach to Swatifoss ,Iceland

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The black sand beach, Reynisflara. We visited that beach after we checked in to our guesthouse in Vic. It was a nice beach with unique basalt column and a small but intriguing cave. It was a nice stroll along the beach, at the east end of the beach you can get close to the famous basalt sea stacks.

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At the west side of the beach is Dyrhólaey, we didn’t go to there because that it was pretty late then. We only can see it’s silhouette from afar.

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After saying a night at Vic we departed towards Skatafell, after few minutes of driving we saw this beautiful cascade of water at the road side and decided to stop and have a look. It was beautiful but not many people notice it, as it is easy to miss from the road. I was glad that we stopped for it. 😀 There is when I realized that I have lost my filter pouch! fortunately my important filters are still on my lens because of my laziness. But my newly bought variable ND filter was lost, gone together with some step up rings and a cheap infrared filter. 😥 Until now I still have no idea when and whereI lost it.

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After we reach Skatafell we started our hike to Swatifoss, the most visited sight at the Vatnajokull National Park. There are some part of the hike that are quite steep but the waterfall are well worth the effort. The water flow down from a wall of dark lava columns. The hexagonal rocks at the bottom look like they are mathematically perfect, it’s almost hard to believe it was all made by nature.

Skogafoss, Iceland

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Skogafoss is one of the most crowded tourist attraction in Iceland. But theres a reason for it, it is really beautiful and you can personally get up close to the water fall. You can even climbed up from the side and have the view at where the water falls. The water is very so strong during my visit, creating dense water vapors. It was impossible to get a close to get a good clear shot of the waterfall, you and your camera will get wet almost instantly. So I decided to try to take some photograph from a further place.

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I then changed to my borrowed canon 70-200 f4  L lens to focus on the water flowing down. It was very cloudy that day, as the initial few photographs had a very flat/dull lighting, I decide to stay in the same position and gamble. I guess it was a win for me, as just before my brother rushed me to get back to the car (worrying of not getting to the hostel in time) the sun hits the waterfall from a opening of the clouds. 😀  Now I wish I can print it huge and hang it in my house. (but don’t have one yet 😥 )

Saljalandfoss, Iceland.

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Taking a long exposure photograph on a not-so-stable wooden bridge is hard work, especially when there are loads of tourist walking across it. 😛 But my patience paid off, I got a sharp image after standing there for awhile.

Gullfoss, Iceland

The Golden Waterfall , Gullfoss is a iconic tourist spot for Iceland. It is very significant and powerful waterfall, you can really feel the raw power of nature there. The water plummets into a canyon with walls up to 72 meters tall. If you are lucky enough you can see rainbows created by the mist from crushing waters. Here a link to their official website with 360degree view.

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There are no rainbow during my visit, the sun is out but maybe its angle is not able to create rainbows. It is a very big scenic area, you can view the great Gullfoss from different angles, the best part is to walk to the closest part and feel the huge amount of water pouring down.

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At Gullfoss I used my (borrowed from uni) canon 70-200 f4  L lens and created one of my favorite photograph from my trip. 🙂 I was amaze by that lens, and now I am really considering to get one, maybe the IS version. This photo was taken on a tripod of course, but the non-is version i borrowed is very hard to get a perfectly sharp image handheld, so most probably I will get myself a 70-200 f4 IS L in the future. 😀

Geysir, Iceland

The first destination after we got our rental car is Geysir. Geysir is a famous tourist spot in Iceland, people around the world would come and witness the mud pits and exploding geysers, and one of them – Strokkur can spouts up to 30meter high.

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The moment before the water and gas got blown into the air! 😀

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Everyone is waiting for that moment with their camera and phone. It is very fun to witness when the water goes BOOOOOM!! into the air. 😀 But don’t stand where the wind is blowing, or else you will get very wet.

Harpa Reykjavik Concert Hall and Conference Centre

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During my visit to Iceland, I spent my first night at Reykjavik, the capital city of Iceland. It is a unique city, there are a lot of traditional looking shops in the city center but there is this very futuristic looking building there, its their main concert hall- Harpa.

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I was there during the sunset, a surprising fact for is that it is actually 11pm that time. :O As a Malaysian, its my first time experiencing sunset at midnight. The timing was great to take photographs of the building. Harpa was designed by a Danish firm Henning Larsen Architects, and they did it in co-operation with a Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson. If I am not wrong the design won the 2013 Mies van der Rohe award.

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The interior of the building during the sunset was amazing, the low angle of sun-rays created beautiful shadows. I was so glad I was there at that time.

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Behind the Harpa, its a small harbor. The cantilever design of the building protrude outwards to have a better view of the harbor.

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I was lucky enough to have been there at that time, I knew I will not be able to visit this place anytime soon so I took the opportunity. Even though I was tired that time, I really enjoyed the experience. I enjoyed the architectural photoshoot. 🙂

 

 

 

Mont Saint Michel.

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On our way to Mont Saint Michel, we saw these beautiful horses at the road side, we quickly stopped our car and get down to take photographs of them. They saw us coming and started to get closer, they pose for us for a few minute then ran away.

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We reach Mont Saint Michel at the evening, the sun is very low then. I can’t wait to see the awesome structure, so right after i drop m bags in the hotel I ran out to scout around our hotel to see whether Mont Saint Michel can be seen there. I found a nice place that have a decent view at the structure, but it’s still very far away.

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We drove to Mont Saint Michel, but I remembered that I saw some website that we can’t do that. But luckily we didn’t face any trouble driving strait to the main entrance. The small island was always highly fortified since the ancient time, but since the 8th century AD it has been the seat of the monastery from which it drawn it’s name. It definitely reminds me of the Disney Logo. 😛 After sometime shooting in the strong cold wind, we decide to call it a day and then went back to our hotel.

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The next day morning, I woke up real early hoping to see the beautiful Mont Saint Michel during sunrise. It’s hard but it is definitely worth it! I walked to the place I found the day before, and started to walk towards the island more. Then I found some tiny stream curving around the grassland. 🙂 Used the streams as foreground , and a long exposure to get the shot above. But it is quite windy then, that why the grass are little bit blurry. 😦

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Just before I started to leave the place, a huge herd of sheep started arriving at the grassland. Controlled by a clever herding dog, they are start to head towards Mont Saint Michel. I am so exited back then. 😀

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I shot a lot that time but personally liked this photo the most. I like how there is only one sheep turn and looked right at me, and the morning sunlight highlighted it from the herd. 😀 Waking up early it’s always fun during trips/vacation.