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2016 Travel Photographs: My Most Favorite 25

2016 Travel Photographs: My Most Favorite 25

Old Jan 6, 17, 10:54 pm
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2016 Travel Photographs: My Most Favorite 25

My 25 Most Favorite Photographs of 2016

I subscribe to the idea that photography is about bringing a story to life. Travel photography is an adventure, when combined with a background story, it becomes an experience. That experience is best shared with others so that they can be part of the adventure without ever leaving the front door.

I travel to photograph. I photograph while I travel. 2016 was a blessed year on both counts. With 4 trips to China, 1 trip to Europe to pick up a new vehicle at the factory (aka European Delivery), plus one RTW (Round the World) trip. The “Family Reunion in London, UK” was part of the RTW.

On this post, I selected 25 of my MFPs (Most Favorite Photographs) and share them with you. They are listed here in random order, and perhaps you can pick your favorites.

1. Village in the Mountains, Guangxi, China. It has beautiful mountains but no water!

Behind the scene of this shot: While serving on a mission trip in central Guangxi in July, the ministry team visited this remote village to work on a future project. The 1,700 inhabitants (mostly Yao ethnic minority) are blessed with great scenery. Local villagers, however have this to say about their village: “We have mountains but not water”. Like many such isolated villages in Guangxi, there is no river or creek in the narrow valley. Villagers have to build circular concrete “reservoirs” to collect rain water for every use. Life can be tough, and it is!

This panorama image is made from 5 vertical shots, stitched together by software to form one image.



2. Old Village near Guilin, Guangxi, China. HDR of the fields and farm houses (Da Wei Gu Zhen)

Behind the scene of this shot: While traveling by train in China in December, I made a stop-over in Guilin. Since the weather was not cooperating (mostly heavy rain with grayish clouds daily), I took 2 buses and invested an hour to visit an ancient village. This village, like many “protected” old villages all over China, is in the process of getting itself a face lift to attract tourists. Glad to see it now before the herds move in!

The village itself is a good destination, but I found the green vegetable fields more enticing.

This HDR is composed of 5 bracketed shots, exposed at -2, -1, 0, +1, +2 respectively.



3. Place du la Concorde at night, Paris, France. Paris at night
Behind the scene of this shot: The night traffic and the large fountain make this a great subject of travel photography. Sandwiched between Champs-Elysées that leads to the Place de l’Etoile and the Tuileries Garden that leads to the Louvre, it’s one of my favorite photo-op locations in Paris. I came here equipped with tripod, remote shutter control and ND filter.

Foreground includes the Fontaine des Mers and the Obelisque de Louxor. The background shows the Musee Maxim’s.



4. Sun & Moon Pagodas, Guilin, Guangxi, China. Reflection of Twin Pagodas on Shan Hu at sunset.

Behind the scene of this shot: Every time I visit Guilin, I always try to photograph said subjects. Without a tripod, images are not much different from snap-shot on my mobile phone.

This time I brought along my tripod. I strolled along the eastern rim of the lake, searching for a proper spot to set up. I made many long-exposure shots during/post sunset. And many more when the lights were on. Fighting the herds of tourists (off-season) and the frequent tour boats made it somewhat of a challenge to shoot.



5. Parliament Building and Big Ben, London, UK. A cloudy evening in London.
As a part of my RTW, our family gathered together in London for a bi-annual reunion. We hang out here for a week, roaming the city and having a ball!. This shot was made while traversing Westminster Bridge on one sunny afternoon, while the clouds were rolling in. The traffic prohibited setting up tripod for the shot. This is a bracketed attempt with 5 shots taken at -2, -1, 0, +1 and +2 respectively. The software blends them together for a HDR (High Dynamic Range) look.



6. Guangxi in B&W. Fields and mountains seen from a speedy train.
Behind the scene of this shot: This shot was captured from a fast moving train (CHR, at 309km/h) from Nanning Dong to Guilin Bei. You will find gorgeous scenery near and after Liuzhou on this north bound train. I sat on the left side of the train, which appeared to have better looking mountain ranges. However, because I was traveling in the afternoon, the sun’s glare on the window presented quite a challenge, albeit the use of a rubber lens hood!

This image was shot in color but by converting it to B&W, it brings out more of the drama of the mountains and the clouds (I think).



7. Schloss Neuschwanstein, Schwangau, Germany. This is not Disneyland!
Behind the scene of this shot: In September, Schwangau was one of the stops of a 14-day motor touring adventure. We picked up a new 2017 vehicle at Mercedes Kunden Center in Sindelfingen, and began this road trip through 3 countries. Some images posted here are from Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

With umbrella in one hand, camera the other, I braved the rain and wind and hiked up to the Marienbrucke (the bridge over the Pollat Gorge). This uphill climb took me about an hour, including many stop-and-shoot episodes.



8. St. Coloman Church, Schwangau, Germany. Lonely Church in the Fields.
Behind the scene of this shot: I had a shot of this church from several years ago. I felt a need to get a higher resolution image for my collection. So here I was, on a rainy and foggy day, drove out to the grass meadow and photography the church. While the small church is nice enough, I thought a panorama would add more to the story. Hence I dubbed it “Lonely Church in the Fields”.



9. Schloss Linderhof, Ettal, Germany
Behind the scene of this shot: Drove here on a rainy and overcast afternoon (the weather had not change much for the last few days) to re-visit this 19th century royal palace of King Ludwig II. This panorama would have been more interesting if I could remove the 3 men on the terrace, ha ha! But I left them in for authenticity!



10. Good Morning Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Tirol, Austria. Guten Morgen Innsbruck.
Behind the scene of this shot: Shot from my hotel room with a window facing east. Each morning during my stay, I was greeted with this view!
This panorama image is made from 5 vertical shots, stitched together to form one panorama.



11. Innsbruck, Tirol, Austria. Innsbruck and the Inn River at Night.

Behind the scene of the shot: On a September night not much past 9PM, Innsbruck downtown was practically shut down. Tourists had gone home, and only a few bars and restaurants had their lights on. I strolled over the east bank promenade to shoot architecture and the river.
No one was around. I quickly made a few long exposure shots on tripod and left the scene. I was not sure if it was safe to be alone out there, with my gears. This shot was exposed for 30 seconds with ND filter on.



12. Seekirchl, Seefeld, Tirol, Austria. Seekirchl without the See.
Behind the scene of this shot: I read about this one-room church and was fascinated by its history. It used to sit on top of a lake (hence the name See), but now the lake was drained dry! Got to see it in person! Here I was.



13. The Mountains near Murren, Canton of Bern, Switzerland
Behind the scene of this shot: While walking and hiking in Murren, I was greeted by an unlimited numbers of shooting opportunities. So my camera was bursting in high gear. Within range of my camera lens are the mountain ranges of Eiger, Monch and Gletcherhorn. A bit farther is Jungfrau (the Top of Europe).



14. Lauterbrunnen, Canton of Bern, Switzerland. Sunny Lauterbrunnen Village and Staubbach Falls
Behind the scene of this shot: Being sandwiched between high mountain ranges on both sides, Lauterbrunnen valley gets the sunshine mostly from mid-morning to early afternoon. The rest of the time, it lies in the shadows.

I found a spot near the small bridge to shoot the well-known Staubbach Falls and the village church. The sun was high and strong (quite a pleasant change from days before), resulting glares in the lens. No doubt, this is a contrarian shot!



15. Lauterbrunnen, Canton of Bern, Switzerland. Bird’s Eye View of Lauterbrunnen Valley
Behind the scene of this shot: After hopping off the mountain-climbing train at Wengen, I trekked over to the edge of town and find a vantage point where the eyes would have a feast over this view. OMG, what a spectacular view of Lauterbrunnen valley, a valley claims to have 72 waterfalls (?)!



16. Bellagio and flowers. Lago de Como, Lombardi, Italy
Behind the scene of this shot: In August, as part of the RTW trip mentioned elsewhere, I stopped by Milano for a few days. Bellagio was a day trip. We enjoyed the gorgeous sunshine and high temperature. Love to see the colorful Bellagio simmering on the lake.



17. Varenna. Lago de Como, Lombardi, Italy. Village of Varenna
Behind the scene of this shot: This shot of the village of captured from the ferry. Varenna is my favorite village among all the lake side villages.



18. Huangshan, Anhil, China.
Behind the scene of this shot: One of 5 most famous mountains in China, Huangshan was on my bucket list for a while. Access to Huangshan gets easier in recent years. Now served by air and high speed train in addition to long distance buses, you have your choices. During my visit, unfortunately the weather was too good – sunny, blue skies and no clouds. Most unfortunate there was no fog nor rain in the forecast! So all my shots lacked that signature Huangshan-ish look. Nonetheless, this is my favorite.



19. Shenyang Jianzhu University, Shenyang, Liaoning. Sunset on campus.
Behind the scene of this shot: The placid lake and the golden sunset made this ordinary scene special. Love the reflection and the tiny center object (the boat) caught my eyes.



20. Victoria Harbor at night, Hong Kong, SAR
Behind the scene of this shot: Hong Kong is a frequent stop in my travel. On my December trip, I met up with a local photographer who was kind enough to accompany me to do some night shooting. My usual favorite spot to set up tripod was regrettably blocked by a cruise ship. I moved to a less ideal spot and made this shot.



21. Hong Kong Harbor in Panorama, view at night from Victoria Peak, Hong Kong
Behind the scene of this shot: My local photog and I went up to Victoria Peak by bus and waited until night fall before began shooting. It was unusually cool this evening with a mild gust of wind. The wind had helped swept away some of the perpetual haze over the city. To my surprise, there were plenty of photogs up here at this time of night!



22. Zhangye Danxia Landform Geopark, Zhangye, Gansu, China. The Rainbow Mountains
Behind the scene of this shot: First time in the Middle Silk Road area of China. I took the train from Urumqi to Zhangye where I stayed 1 night. Next day, I took the public bus to this well-known national park (National Geographic names it as one of “Top 10 Geographical Wonders of the World”) during mid-day in November (not during sunset) to do some shooting. I know, not the most ideal time. No other choice as I had a late evening train from Zhangye to Lanzhou.

This park lives up to its reputation. Undulating fiery-red ridges combined with multicolored mountainous folds transform the landscape into an immense sea of fire with rolling waves, given the sun’s position. Based on my research, best images are captured right after the rain! Rain I didn’t have!



23. Zhangye Danxia Landform Geopark, Zhangye, Gansu, China. More Rainbow Mountains
Behind the scene of this shot: While in the park, one has to keep track of the shuttle bus schedule. The park is vast. Even with the best time management, it is unlikely to be able to cover the entire park in 5 hours, which was what I got. Next trip, I plan to stay 2 nights or more so that I can capture images during sunrise and sunset!



24. Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque at sunset, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emerites.
According to its official web site, this Mosque is one of the world’s largest mosques. It features 82 domes, over 1,000 columns, 24 carat gold gilded chandeliers and the world's largest hand knotted carpet. The mosque's first ceremony was the funeral of its namesake, Sheikh Zayed, who was buried at the site.

Behind the scene of this shot: While traveling on a RTW (Round The World) itinerary, a 3-day stopover in Dubai, UAE, was planned. Before the next flight out from Abu Dhabi, AUH to New York City, JFK, I made a 3.5-hour detour to photograph the said Grand Mosque, during the golden and blue hours. Transportation was by Uber to/from AHU airport and it was effortless.

This panorama was made from 9 vertical shots, combined together by software.



25. Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque at night, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emerites.
At night the white and gold colors shining in the sun are transformed by a unique lightning system which reflects the phases of the moon. The silky reflection of the marbled courtyard makes it look like a lake!

This panorama was made from 7 vertical shots, combined together by software.



Well, there you have them, my 25 favorite travel photographs from 2016. What is your pick for top 5 or top 10?

In the FT community, I think many of you might have been to these places and may have captured hundreds of shots.

I like to invite all of you to post your favorite shots of 2016 and share some stories behind those shots with this community.

Happy New Year to all. Safe travel and have fun in photo shooting!
allset2travel is offline  
Old Jan 12, 17, 11:08 am
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Your photos are stunning, thank you for sharing .

I am taking a first crack a shooting HK at night next week - very excited to see what I can get. Also, first time shooting in RAW.
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Old Jan 12, 17, 8:11 pm
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Originally Posted by Madone59 View Post
Your photos are stunning, thank you for sharing .

I am taking a first crack a shooting HK at night next week - very excited to see what I can get. Also, first time shooting in RAW.
bring your tripod for HKG....you'll appreciate it for the night shots from Kowloon and from the peak!
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Old Jan 13, 17, 7:46 am
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Allset2travel
Great shots, especially in HK without fog/clouds.

#3: Place de la Concorde
Maxim's is a restaurant. I think you meant that the Church "Eglise de La Madeleine" can be spotted in the background.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Madeleine,_Paris

Last edited by zip10001; Jan 13, 17 at 8:31 am Reason: typo
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Old Jan 13, 17, 1:14 pm
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Originally Posted by Madone59 View Post
Your photos are stunning, thank you for sharing .

I am taking a first crack a shooting HK at night next week - very excited to see what I can get. Also, first time shooting in RAW.
You are welcome. Glad you enjoyed them.

HK offers endless photo-ops. The main obstacles are people and weather. The people problem becomes less of a problem if you go out early for sunrise; or late for "blue hour" shots. Night photo-op can be anywhere in HK or Kowloon.

Be sure to bring complete gear set: tripod, ND10, remote shutter; PLD filter etc..

Hear you are shooting RAW for the first time. Good leap forward! If your camera offers it, set it up to short in both RAW and JPG.

With RAW, you can do post edit. That's where the fun begins

Enjoy your trip to HK, and please share some of your shots here.
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Old Jan 13, 17, 1:17 pm
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Originally Posted by zip10001 View Post
Allset2travel
Great shots, especially in HK without fog/clouds.

#3: Place de la Concorde
Maxim's is a restaurant. I think you meant that the Church "Eglise de La Madeleine" can be spotted in the background.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Madeleine,_Paris
Thank you.

You are absolutely right that you spotted English de la Madeleine. I had tried to shoot inside the church but was asked not to.
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