Venice – A tale of two cities in winter

venezia paul reiffer professional landscape cityscape photographer gondolas moving sunrise dawn san giorgio san marco square piazza italy venice water winter morning

“Venezia” – print available to buy now

What an awesome sight – being up before dawn on one of the first vaporetto (water bus) services across to Piazza San Marco (or “St. Mark’s Square” as we know it in English) and capturing San Giorgio in the distance as the gondolas moved gracefully in the tide, lapping the side of the lagoon.

But Venice had a little surprise up its sleeve for me – just waiting for the right moment to reveal itself.

Heading to Venice in the “off season” is a great idea for two reasons.  First, the number of tourists there is low, so there’s a feeling of space that you simply don’t get in the summer. Secondly, the “odour” that Venice has become famous for as the waterlogged city heats up in the peak summer months simply isn’t there. We arrived by boat to a sunny day, and while the water in one of the canals near our hotel seemed a little high (picture on the right), we thought nothing of it.

So, why was there a tide diagram for the next 5 days waiting for us at reception?

venice venezia italy arrival sunshine grand canal boat san marco piazza square st marks flooding paul reiffer iphone

There was one shot, and only one shot, I wanted to capture of Venice on this trip – my first time to the city – and thankfully I managed to get it before things could have gone horribly wrong. Being up at 5:30am in January as the cold wind sweeps down from the Alps, blasting you on your ferry ride across the Grand Canal is a challenge in itself – and I’ll admit I wasn’t quite prepared for the temperature to drop that much. Still, on the first morning, I got a few shots before the lights switched off and I called it a day (picture left, below).

There was a strange siren that sounded as I was leaving, but no worries – in a few minutes I was back at the warm hotel, recovering. Later that afternoon, we headed back across to Piazza San Marco where everything seemed normal and fine.

The next morning, not happy with the results from day 1, I headed back out again (picture middle) and captured the main shot above – “Venezia“. Happy with the image, and taking the opportunity to try out the new NiSi filters I’d been given, I moved over to allow another photographer to set up in the same place (picture right, below) but noticed something strange. What was that on his feet? He was obviously planning to get a lot wetter than I was – and there was that siren sounding again. How strange…

venice venezia italy gondolas behind the scenes bts grand canal boat san marco piazza square st marks flooding paul reiffer iphone

Behind, what I thought were shopkeepers setting up were actually members of a daily task-force, setting up raised platforms.

Ah, oooops. So that’s why the tide tables were in reception – this place floods. A lot.

A quick pack-up was easy, but this was definitely one to watch. I dropped my kit back to the hotel and couldn’t help but return to see what happened next. It turns out that between October and April, half of Venice is submerged twice a day as the tide pushes the sea to a level above that of the city! Green plastic overshoes purchased, it was time to “do as the locals” and just get on with it. Pavement became swimming pool, the elevated pedestrian walkways became gridlocked and the whole city turned into a lake – it’s an incredible sight.

venice venezia italy grand canal boat san marco piazza square st marks flooding walkways raised rubber shoes over waterproof paul reiffer iphone

Flood boards, while installed, simply can’t handle the volume (and height) of water that forces its way over the canal walls and Venetians just have to get on with life, hoping their shops/homes/restaurants will dry out in time to prepare for the next wave of high tide.

piazza san marco grand canal flooding venice iphone raised walkways pavement elevated st marks square paul reiffer

So, Venice in winter really is a tale of two cities. The moment the water retreated we were back to crisp January air, blue skies, open-air dining and tourists all over the square. You wouldn’t even know that hours before you would have been sat in half a meter of water. But just be careful, when that siren sounds, the second side of Venice is headed your way – gone is the relaxed al-fresco atmosphere, and along comes the panic and challenges that the flooding brings twice a day.

Of course, I wasn’t the only photographer out to capture the city that day – this rather determined photographer (below) had his Phase One gear perched on a huge tripod as he clicked from his step-ladder all morning, capturing scenes of the flooding. Clearly he had prepared for the occasion but it seems he forgot to inform the police he’d be there; a few moments later he was nowhere to be seen…!

phase one photographer police piazza san marco saint marks square venice flooding ladder tripod removed told off paul reiffer iphone

Posted in Cityscape, Creative, Landscape Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Paul’s Phase One Instagram Take-Over!

Instagram Take Over Phase One Account Paul Reiffer Photographer January 2015 Landscape Cityscape View iPhone“Hey Paul, would you like to take over our official Instagram account for a week in January and publish some of your images as well as behind-the-scenes shots?”

(Said Phase One to me a few months back).

“Ummm – Yeah! Sure, that sounds cool!” was (of course) my answer.

So, here we are on “Day 4″ of my takeover, and I have to say it’s going pretty well. Everything you’ve seen on their Instagram account so far this week has been posted by me, and I have control of it from my phone – scary!

Some of my images have managed to get the highest levels of attention and “likes” of all of their previous uploads, and people seem to be enjoying the new scenes that I’m posting twice a day. It’s a mixture of landscape, cityscape and BTS shots – a collection linked (as with all Phase One images) by the hashtag #ProImaging

But there was one thing I hadn’t considered: It’s actually a little bit daunting when you switch from posting things to “fans” of your own – who tend to be supportive – to posting your work to others in the industry who use the same equipment. Will it be accepted? Will they find any flaws? Are there any images that might not be received with as much appreciation as they have before when I’ve posted them on my own page?

They’re all things that ran through my head as I posted the first image of the Sydney Opera House sunrise – “The Morning After” for all to see. Luckily, it was received exceptionally well, and so have those that followed. Phew!

There’s still 3 days to go – so while I may be quiet on my other social media channels during this week, do keep an eye out – there’s a lot more to come!

Just a shame I have to “give the keys back” on Saturday…! :-)


Posted in Cityscape, Creative, Equipment, Industry, iPhone, Landscape, Website Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , |

Back Down-Under : Sydney Cityscapes Revisited

The Morning After Sydney Opera House Sunrise Paul Reiffer Professional Landscape Photographer Long Exposure Golden Harbour Australia

I’m rapidly becoming a huge fan of Sydney. This was the first place I ever visited in Australia, and while there are obviously many more beautiful places across the country to see, Sydney will always be the place that impressed me first. My visit earlier in 2014 gave me the chance to shoot some unique (lucky!) images of the Opera House at sunrise as well as overnight during Chinese New Year – but this time, my trip dates included the world-famous New Year’s Eve fireworks and the chance to shoot the city from above.

Capturing the first shot at sunrise the day after Christmas was not as difficult as I thought it might be. For some reason, my Christmas Day after-meal “nap” (we all eat too much, right?) had completely screwed up my body clock, so heading down to The Rocks at 4:30am was no issue after not going to bed in the first place! The challenge was going to be getting access to the most impressive view of the city at night – from the top of the Shangri-La Sydney hotel ;-)

Behind The Scenes Paul Reiffer Photographer Cityscapes Sydney Harbour Bridge Opera House Sunrise Shangri-La From Above iPhone

Now before anyone gets too excited, there are a couple of things to bear in mind with the Shangri-La:

First, access to the roof is NOT normally possible. This was a one-off event, and I’m hugely grateful to the guys there for the massive amounts of co-ordination effort put in to make it happen. They do not allow access up there at other times, for both safety as well as security purposes, so please don’t be inundating them with requests!

Second, the view you get is almost identical to the scenes you can witness from one of three places within the hotel – “Blu” bar on the top floor, “Altitude” restaurant – one of the finest in Sydney, and their “Horizon Club” lounge for guests staying in higher-end rooms. On a positive, it’s a lot less windy inside and you can watch the view with a glass of wine in-hand ;-)

But this was a one-off opportunity to photograph the city without glass and reflection from even higher up with an unobstructed view; an opportunity I couldn’t afford to let pass me by. The result…?

Above Down Under Sydney Skyline Harbour Bridge Opera House Shangri-La Roof Top Paul Reiffer Photographer

I love this shot, and feel privileged to have been able to take it. Some try to avoid the boats coming and going around Circular Quay below (and I have a “boat-free” shot also) but for me, it would be a shame to ignore them. They bring the energy and movement to the city that relies on ferries as part of daily transport. In the high-res version of this file, the details are incredible – and I get lost exploring every corner of the image as it captured daily life carrying on below as I shot. So, a huge thank you to the security, management and marketing team for making it happen!

The rest of the harbour? Well, last time, I got unlucky with the weather on a couple of days – this time, the reverse. Days that were planned to be stormy were actually OK, and while frustrating when the “perfect” night sky didn’t appear on one occasion, it still held out well enough to let me capture some of the views I’d missed before…

The Night Before Sydney NYE 2014 Skyline Cityscape Bridge Opera House Harbour Night Dusk Sunset City Paul Reiffer Professional Photographer

That skyline, taken from (thankfully, due to government policy) publicly accessible land is a special one for me now. For such a big city on the world’s stage, it really is a small town compared to places like Shanghai – and that’s part of Sydney’s appeal.

Gateway Sydney Harbour Bridge Opera House Night Lights Long Exposure Bay Australia Paul Reiffer Photographer Under

Walk just a little further West from that point and you’ll find yourself under the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge. Such a grand sight, from above, below or across the water – it frames the Sydney Opera House perfectly in the background.

Behind The Scenes Paul Reiffer Photographer Cityscapes Sydney Harbour Bridge Opera House Night Sky iPhone

Of course, capturing sunsets and night images can take its toll – the cityscape images took around 2 hours of “waiting” to get both the sunshine shot as well as the night sky, but this time I wasn’t going home with an empty memory card! I’ll release the sunset shots at a later date, but even the night shots on their own made the effort worth it.

Bright Idea IYL 2015 International Year Of Light Sydney Harbour Bridge Opera House LED Paul Reiffer Photographer UNESCO UN

Then we have the “classic view” from Mrs Macquaries Chair/Point – and a little surprise for me on New Year’s Day. The LED screen that Sydney use for shows in the middle of the bridge had become an animated lightbulb in honour of 2015 being the “International Year of Light” – the very same occasion from which my image of Shanghai had managed to take first prize in their photo contest last month!  Small world ;-)

So there we have it. More images to come soon, but wow – what a fantastic city and skyline.

Posted in Cityscape, Creative, Landscape, Photo Shoots Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

International Year of Light 2015 Photo Contest – Winner

IYL Logo ColorPrimaryYou may not be aware, but 2015 is the International Year of Light (or “IYL 2015″) – a global initiative adopted by the United Nations and UNESCO to raise awareness of how light and optical technologies can promote sustainable development and provide solutions to worldwide challenges in energy, education, agriculture, communications and health. Along with over 100 scientific bodies spanning countries all around the world, SPIE organised a photo contest some time ago, and to my surprise during December I was informed that my image – “Over the Rainbow” won. :-)

IYL Over The Rainbow Winning Image 2015 Internaitonal Year Of Light SPIE Professional Paul Reiffer Shanghai

“Over The Rainbow” – print available to buy now

SPIE’s Press Release of yesterday read:


A 35-second-exposure image by Paul Reiffer of traffic and other lights on and around the Nanpu Bridge in Shanghai has been selected as first-place winner of the SPIE International Year of Light (IYL) Photo Contest. The depiction of the multicolor LED light show was selected from among nearly 800 images submitted last year to SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, for the contest.

The SPIE IYL Photo Contest was organized to raise awareness of the United Nations International Year of Light 2015 (IYL 2015) observance, and the vital role that light and light-based technologies play in daily life, promoting sustainable development and providing solutions to global challenges in energy, education, security, agriculture, and health. SPIE is a Founding Partner of the IYL 2015.

The man-made movement and complexity of the light in Reiffer’s photo effectively illustrates the goal of the IYL 2015 as well as light in everyday life, the contest theme, said Joe Niemela of the International Centre for Theoretical Physics, one of the contest judges and global coordinator for the secretariat for IYL 2015.

“The creativity in selecting the perspective, with the natural motion through the curves and onto the bridge, is very appealing,” he said.

Reiffer, a professional photographer from Weymouth, England, took the photo with a Phase One 645DF camera on 31 December 2013, and titled it “Over the Rainbow.” Reiffer relocated to Shanghai for a few years to be closer to photographic opportunities in Asia.

On certain holiday weekends in Shanghai, not only do the traffic trails create amazing shapes with headlights across the three-layer ramp, but a rainbow show of different-colored LEDs makes the entire scene come to life. This was not Reiffer’s first trip to the top of a nearby building to capture an image of the bridge, but it was the first time everything clicked for him.

“Being outside on a rooftop watching the city get home after a long day’s work with the moving light show going on below you is fantastic,” he said. “A photograph can never quite catch the real motion that sits in front of you when you see it live with your own eyes, but as so many cars passed ‘over the rainbow’ that night, my only hope is that I captured enough of it to create a truly lasting image.”

SPIE IYL International Year Of Light UNESCO United Nations Photo Contest Winner Paul Reiffer Over The Rainbow Shanghai First Place 2015 web

All very cool! But here’s where we get reminded of how small the world really is…

Being in Sydney over New Year’s Eve was an amazing experience, with a firework display unlike any I’ve seen before. Having the privilege to capture it from the rooftop of the Shangri-La hotel was fantastic and a truly one-off opportunity. But Sydney isn’t just about fireworks, and I also wanted to capture 3 or 4 more images from around the harbour while there. On New Year’s day, I headed to Mrs Macquarie’s Point to capture a few images at dusk, to find the LED display that is built onto the bridge doing something very cool – celebrating light.

Sydney Harbour Bridge Grand Opera House International Year Of Light IYL 2015 Show Logo LED Night Panoramic Paul Reiffer

With a bit more research, it seems I missed one of the images that were projected onto the display the night before – the IYL2015 logo (click to see)! Sydney is using the lights of the Harbour Bridge for the whole of 2015 to celebrate the occasion, and have a really cool show going on as a result.

So, the IYL 2015 officially launches in Paris this month, but I guess Sydney got there just a little bit ahead of time! Either way, I’m happy – that image was taken exactly 1 year ago on New Year’s Eve 2013 in Shanghai. A year later, it’s being published around the world and featured at the Royal Albert Hall for people to see how spectacular these city lights can be :-)

Page SPIE Professional January 2015 Magazine Paul Reiffer IYL International Year Of Light Photo Competition Winner


Full press release issued by SPIE is available here.

Posted in Cityscape, Creative, Industry, Landscape, Life, Magazines, Technical, Website Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Happy New Year 2015 and NYE 2014 from Sydney!

Sydney New Year Eve NYE 2014 2015 Fireworks Harbour Opera House Shangri La Rooftop Bridge Midnight Show 1 Paul Reiffer Photographer Professional ImagesWhat an amazing view – and what a privilege to be able to photograph it during a one-off event at such a special hotel location. I’ve always been a fan of the Shangri-La in Sydney, the views from the Horizon Club floor and Altitude/Blu Bar at the top of the hotel are simply the best panoramas you can get of the harbour.

But this was an unexpected (and very gratefully received) honour to be allowed up onto the roof itself to photograph the fireworks for New Year’s Eve 2014 and celebrate the first day of 2015 in style.

Sydney New Year Eve NYE 2014 2015 Fireworks Harbour Opera House Shangri La Rooftop Bridge Midnight Show 2 Paul Reiffer Photographer Professional Images

It’s weird, growing upwatching Sydney hit the New Year (along with Auckland) way before we did “back home” in England and now I was here to see it for myself. We’d been warned about the smoke, and got a little unlucky last night as the wind direction did send most of it our way, but wow – what a show they put on across the city!

Sydney New Year Eve NYE 2014 2015 Fireworks Harbour Opera House Shangri La Rooftop Bridge Midnight Show 3 Paul Reiffer Photographer Professional Images

Spending some time in Sydney before NYE actually gave me a bit of an insight into what a big deal it is to people here too. Even days before, some photographers and spectators (around 95% Chinese!) had taken to setting up camp on the old concrete jetties of the north shore with sleeping bags, camping equipment and entertainment in order to secure their spot for free at one of the hundreds of vantage points across the city. Young and old, they defined their territory with clear markings and were there to protect it at all costs! I’ve never seen anything so crazy except for some of Apple’s launches around the world! ;-)

New Years Eve Party At The House 2014 Opera Sydney Camping Chinese Fireworks Display Western Boardwalk North Sydney iPhone

Even the Sydney Opera House had to build queuing lines around some of the groups in order to function. Despite security being on-site, there was no way these guys were moving…

Luckily, we had tickets to “Party At The House” at the Sydney Opera House for New Year’s Eve – so all was going to be good. I hadn’t actually planned to photograph the fireworks display either, but through a discussion with Shangri-La was lucky enough to be invited to their one-off event on the roof. For what it’s worth, the party at the Opera House was good (if around 30% over-crowded), and it did give me a front-row ticket to the fireworks on the Harbour Bridge. The 9pm warmup show was great to watch from the Esplanade, champagne and canapés in-hand, but who could resist an exclusive offer to take my camera up to one of the best views in the city on such a special night?

Sydney New Years Eve NYE 2014 Harbour Bridge Party At The House Opera Fireworks Light Show iPhone Photographs

What you don’t see from the TV (or from one of the many vantage points around the harbour) is that there isn’t actually just one firework display – there are around 10, all synchronised, for miles around the city. Choosing which shows to focus on was an issue I hadn’t factored in, but when we made it to the rooftop – WOW – the answer was obvious…!

Shooting Photography From Roof Rooftop Shangri La Hotel Sydney New Years Eve View iPhone Paul Reiffer Photographer Fireworks Display

Yes, the smoke causes issues later on in the show, and sure – we weren’t at the “party” at the Opera House for midnight, but this is the kind of view that you only get to see (let alone photograph) once in your life – and it really was a “wow”.

Oh, one challenge with NYE firework shots – they’re kind of time-sensitive. While you can’t see it in that photo, there are actually glasses of champagne and wine on the table next to me as I filtered through the shots from upstairs quickly before heading back for a bit more of a celebration once the files were sent off!

Intercontinental Sydney View From Club Room Lounge Top Floor New Year 2015 paul reiffer photographer iphone

And so here we are the morning after. Some parts of the world are still to even have their New Year – while I’m sat on the rooftop of the InterContinental in Sydney watching the city recover (quickly, I must say!) from a night of celebrations and look forward to another year of sunshine. :-)

Happy New Year to everyone, and I hope 2015 turns out great for all!

Posted in Cityscape, Creative, Equipment, Industry, Photo Shoots, Website Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

New York City – The 2014 Manhattan Cityscapes

“The City that Never Sleeps”, “Gotham City”, “The Big Apple”, “Empire City”, “The City of Dreams”, “New Amsterdam”, “The Melting Pot” – to everyone that visits or lives in this incredible city, the place leaves a lasting memory that means something different. One thing that is common to all who visit or wake up in this amazing place is the sheer sense of wonder as you look out over the skyline – and that’s what makes it a cityscape photographer’s paradise ;-)

Glow Manhattan Cityscape Skyline Paul Reiffer Professional Landscape Photographer New York City Sunrise Empire State

I first “properly” photographed Manhattan in 2010 – and my image of “The Empire State” managed to catch the eye of companies such as Yahoo! and SanDisk for their campaigns in the following years, but the temptation to head back for a dedicated photography trip was always lingering following that visit, so in 2014 it was time to take a trip back to New York City for a big shoot from sunrise to sunset and all through the night…

New York City Paul Reiffer Photography Shooting City At Night Manhattan Bridges Cityscape Brooklyn Jersey

This time, I wanted to focus on the skyline – starting the very night we landed, off to Brooklyn we went to capture the latest feature of the Financial District – The Freedom Tower at its famous address: One World Trade Center from across the river:

Arise Financial District Freedom Tower One World Trade Center FiDi New York City River Paul Reiffer Cityscape Landscape Photography

As every traveller knows, jet-lag has its advantages as well as disadvantages – but when shooting cities at sunrise and sunset the ability for your body to want to be up at 4am is pretty handy and these four days were no exception! The image at the top of this post was actually captured on the first morning in New York, having driven to Lincoln Harbor to set up. A few friends had reported bad weather the week before, so I wasn’t hopeful for our heli-shoot that was planned in for afternoon, but hey, it was worth a shot… ;-)

helicopter shoot photography aerial new york city paul reiffer heli cityscape charter

Now if anyone wants an “instant jet-lag cure”, I can now confirm that hanging out of the side of a helicopter with no doors on during a 120mph journey across the city does the trick. Wide awake, I clicked away as we positioned into the key places I wanted to capture from above.  I’ll be posting more of these aerial views soon, but this one shot below has to be my favourite – how else to represent the “concrete jungle” of a city surrounded by water?

Concrete Jungle FiDi New York City Manhattan Financial District From Above Aerial Paul Reiffer Professional Photographer Freedom Tower

On many photographic trips, not everything on the itinerary is completely up to me – and this was no exception. Shooting a commissioned piece (I’ll explain in the next few months!) meant we took about a day out to find the perfect location to get this shot, twice, of the Queensboro Bridge as it spans across the river to Manhattan. First, from the West:

Queensboro 1 Bridge Manhattan Skyline Queens River Paul Reiffer Professional Cityscape Photographer Landscape New York City

And then from the East, as we made friends with a rather helpful building that happened to have a fantastic view over the city and across the entire skyline. They may not have been on my original “wish list” for New York, but wow, the city looked great from up there as the clouds rushed by in the wind through the night:

Queensboro 2 Empire State Skyscrapers Bridge Manhattan Skyline Queens River Paul Reiffer Professional Cityscape Photographer Landscape New York City

So on to another morning and an (almost) disaster… No, not everything on these shoots goes according to plan! The morning of our Queensboro shoot, I’d actually headed back across to New Jersey to capture the Financial District (or “FiDi” as it’s commonly known) now that the new tower was complete. The wind was a challenge in near-freezing temperatures, but it made for one amazing sky over a 60 second exposure:

Financial Freedom Tower FiDi New Jersey Clouds River Long Exposure Dawn Morning Paul Reiffer Photographer Cityscape City Manhattan

Having captured this shot, while I was happy with it, I felt that I’d missed the real colours of the morning due to the clouds – so I wanted to try again for a second time to get the shot I had in mind. Heading to the same spot, we stood there as the sun slowly came up but something was wrong: The sky where we were was just boring – looking left (north), my heart sank: The sunrise over midtown was phenomenal, and we were 10 minutes south!

Honestly, I have never packed up my equipment so fast in my life. Into the car, we drove back to Lincoln harbour to find a show of reds, oranges, yellows and purples exploding across the sky. Even on an iPhone the scene looked incredible:

Capturing Shooting Sunrise New Jersey NYC NY City Skyline Skyscrapers Cityscape Colors Warm Morning Paul Reiffer Professional Landscape Photographer Manhattan

But on a medium format camera, wow – I just love this shot. I got lucky too – I took 3 images: A 2 minute exposure (that was sadly affected by camera shake in the wind). A 60 second exposure (this one). And another 60 second exposure that was just too late to get the famous “New Yorker” hotel sign in lights, as the city awoke. Still, 1 out of 3 isn’t bad going for a shoot that was supposed to be a disaster!

The New Yorker Sunrise Red Orange Yellow Colours Silhouette Manhattan Skyline Cityscape River New Jersey Lincoln Harbor View Paul Reiffer Photographer Hotel

Shooting New York, of course, wouldn’t be complete without capturing the sights of its amazing bridges and lights at night. While the Brooklyn Bridge has been under construction/renovation for the last 3 times I’ve been in the city, it’s still no less impressive when you see it against the backdrop of the city behind at dusk:

Stone And Steel New York City Brooklyn Bridge Freedom Tower One World Trade Center Financial District FiDi Manhattan Long Exposure Night Sunset Lights Cityscape Paul Reiffer Photographer

And then it’s the often-neglected sibling, the Manhattan Bridge – just as important, but not as famous, I just love the fact that you can see the Empire State Building “hiding” in the background of this shot:

Empire City New York Manhattan Bridge Brooklyn Night Cityscape Photography Paul Reiffer Professional Landscape NY

I have to admit I got a little carried away with the bridges, and even turned to black and white to showcase the textures and structure of the Manhattan Bridge the next morning, as the clouds eventually rolled in across the river. As I say, it may not be as famous, but it’s no less impressive!

Crossing New York Manhattan Bridge City NY Queens Brooklyn Downtown Paul Reiffer Photographer Cityscape

So, my final take-away from my 5 days in New York: The Top of the Rock. I simply love this place. While they don’t allow tripods (without paying to close the entire rooftop for filming), if you’re able to get a good enough spot, it can be the source of some incredible pictures, and memories, of this fantastic city. This really was a last-chance shot on the final night, as we headed to the top around 1.5 hours before sunrise. (If you get there less than an hour before, don’t expect to get a usable spot!). As often happens with the best made plans, however, we arrived to a sky full of clouds and no sun to be seen.

I really wanted to capture a similar shot to my existing “Empire State” image, as it was taken before the Freedom Tower at One World Trade Center was built – but it didn’t look hopeful. We waited, along with what must have been 50 other photographers, and listened as each person’s heart sank towards the time the sun was due to set. But (as often happens), last minute – we got that amazing break: The sun broke through a tiny hole over New Jersey, sending streams of orange and pink light over the city just at the right time.

Photographing One World Trade Center Freedom Tower Empire State Building New York City Rockefeller Top Of The Rock Cityscape Sunset Pink Clouds Paul Reiffer Photography Professional

I’ve never heard so many clicks of a camera shutter – even during press events – it felt like the whole world wanted to capture that one moment that two pink stripes passed behind both the Empire State Building and One World Trade Center for a few moments that evening. And despite the lack of tripod, and space to move, I got it ;-)

The Empire State 2 Freedom Tower Building One World Trade Center Statue Liberty Sunset Clouds Paul Reiffer Professional Cityscape Photographer

Of course, after such a dazzling display by the sun, it would have been rude to leave before the night showed us what it could do and in that respect, New York never fails to impress. Granted, the lines to get back down nearly ruined any plans for dinner that side of midnight, but wow – images like this just make me want to visit the city again and again and again:

Midtown New York City Manhattan Cityscape Landscape Photographer Paul Reiffer Empire State Building Rockefeller Center Chrysler South Sunset Night Professional

Yes, that last image is one of the “standard views” of Manhattan – but hey, it’s become a famous shot not only because of the number of people who have clicked the button in that direction, but also the simple fact that every single person heading up to the top of the Rockefeller Center does exactly the same:

Walk. Stand. Look. And say the one simple word: “Wow”.

And that is why I’ll always love photographing New York. :-)

Posted in Cityscape, Creative, Equipment, iPhone, Landscape, Photo Shoots Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Paul Nominated for The Societies’ Photographer of the Year 2014

Well, we’re definitely heading into the “awards season”, and what better news to receive today than the email that came in informing me that I’d made the shortlist for The Societies’ Photographer of the Year 2014 award – Europe’s largest association for the serious photographer.

The Societies 2014 Photographer Of The Year Travel Nomination SWPP

Against some of the worlds most renowned photographers, my image of Huvafen Fushi‘s Spa Jetty – “Overwater” – will compete for the award of Travel Photographer of the Year and The Societies’ overall Photographer of the Year, with the winner being revealed at The Societies’ 2015 Convention Awards Dinner held in London during January 2015.

Overwater Huvafen Fushi Sunrise Spa Jetty Paul Reiffer Photographer Of The Year Nomination The Societies 2014 2015 Professional

Over 12,500 images were entered in to the competition and photographers from all around the globe have been putting forward their images making this a truly international competition.

Phil Jones The Societies’ CEO says, “This year we have seen a fantastic range of images and the standard has been very high. The finalists represent some of the finest images entered in to the competition and have competed against some of the world’s best photographers. Congratulations to all our finalists.

To go with this bit of good news, there was a bit of a surprise waiting for me when I got to Huvafen Fushi last weekend after shooting at W Maldives: Their digital artists have used the image as the backdrop for their Christmas 2014 campaign materials:

Huvafen Fushi Maldives Logos Dream Calendar Festive Season Paul Reiffer Spa Jetty

And that’s not all. The same image is also the feature shot for their “Decade” CD, celebrating the soundtrack to the island for the past 10 years, mixed by DJ Ravin.

A Decade By Ravin CD Cover Huvafen Fushi Maldives CD Music Cover Paul Reiffer

Not bad for an early-morning wakeup call in paradise, I guess! ;-)

Posted in Advertising, Creative, Industry, Landscape, Photo Shoots, Technical Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Win a full Phase One iQ250 system for a month!

For those that remember, I switched to Phase One’s iQ280 / 645DF+ medium format system last year, and have never looked back. The image quality is simply stunning, and I can honestly say it is the best camera system I’ve ever used.

Since then, a few more technological advances have been made by Phase One, most recently including the introduction of their 1.3x crop 50 megapixel CMOS iQ250 digital back. One thing digital Medium Format camera systems have historically struggled with is high-ISO noise when you push them too hard – the iQ250’s sensor is not only the world’s first medium format CMOS digital camera back, but it’s also one of the most capable low-light performers I’ve ever seen.

645df iq250 medium format digital back camera system phase one contest win

So, they’re celebrating the launch by running a photo contest which offers a month’s use of the full system (lens, 645DF+ body and iQ250 digital back) as the prize – worth $5,000! (Yes, you have to give it back after a month – the full system is quite a bit more than that to buy…!)

The full details are in the copy below; it’s open to everyone and free to enter. Better still, (along with two other great photographers – Michael Woloszynowicz and Tim Kemple) I’m one of the judges for the competition :-)

Phase One Photo Contest Win iQ250 Competition 2014 2015 Paul Reiffer Judges

  • For those of you who have always wanted to see how Medium Format camera systems perform, this is a great opportunity.
  • For those who want to take the next step in terms of image quality, there’s no better time to give it a try
  • For those who simply want to see if you have an image that cuts the mustard with the team at Phase One, what better way to get your work in front of them while at the same time returning with a very cool camera to use all around the world for a month?!

So what do you have to do? Simple – just enter by clicking here (having read the full terms and conditions by clicking here) and upload your photo.

You need to “theme” your image with the simple catch-phrase: “What the world’s best [your theme] is made of”. Maybe it’s “what the world’s best cities are made of” or “what the world’s best love story is made of” – it can be of any theme, any subject.

It’s absolutely free to enter, and based on the $5,000 prize (along with a lot of exposure for your work), I’d say it’s worth a quick upload ;-)

Good luck!

Posted in Creative, Equipment, Industry, Technical Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Tara Stiles – Strala Yoga at W Maldives Retreat

Some people think they’re flexible (and I’m not one of them), but having now had the privilege to shoot Tara Stiles during her Strala Yoga Retreat at W Maldives, I’d say my definition of flexibility has definitely changed…!

Tara Stiles Overwater Jetty Ocean Suite W Maldives Retreat Yoga Blue Pose Strala Paul Reiffer Photographer

Now, first things first – while it may sound like a dream shoot, shooting in the Maldives can sometimes be tough (and this was no exception). Landing late at night, you’re then working 16 hour days in 30-40 degree heat (which digital backs don’t appreciate), bombing around in hot seaplanes, blasting across the sea in speedboats to chase shots, sweating as you go. Although you’re staying in “paradise” (and it really is!), the fact is that you actually get to see the inside of your dark editing room for most of the trip!

Seaplane Arrival Editing Room Speedboat W Maldives Moofushi Fesdu Island

All that said, what a place to call an office for a few days! (Yes, the footsie shot above does prove that for at least 12 minutes I managed to make it into my ocean-view pool while we were there ;-) ). These Lagoon and Ocean Oasis rooms are a lot different to the beach bungalow I had last time I visited Fesdu Island to shoot, and it’s easy to see why many people head to the Maldives as their choice for a dream vacation. The W Retreat is absolutely stunning, and one that images and video really can’t do justice – you have to see it with your own eyes to experience how incredible the place is.

Fabulous Lagoon Oasis W Retreat Spa Maldives Deck Pool Private Ocean

Along with 9 journalists, we spent the week shooting Tara while she held private classes at sunrise and sunset each day. With a stunning location and absolutely perfect sunshine for 4 days in a row we got lucky with these setups, getting to see those amazing golden colours each morning and night.

Group Yoga Sunrise Sunset Sessions Away Spa W Retreat Maldives Tara Stiles Media Visit Paul Reiffer Photographer

As an ex-model, Tara established her Strala Yoga venture as a way of getting more people to see the benefits of yoga and a healthy lifestyle. By definition, however, Tara isn’t one to stick with the traditional Yoga rules – the whole point of her FIT collaboration with W Hotels Worldwide is to encourage people to try yoga in any and all situations. The result – their combined “PoseWhenever” tagline and Tara’s label as the world’s “yoga rebel”. In many of the city locations, it’s about what you can do in your surroundings – so when planning the Maldives shot list, of course it had to involve water and a bit of “wow”.

Tara Stiles Strala Yoga W Maldives Retreat Spa PoseWhenever StralaEverywhere Escape Luxury Yacht Sunrise Group Pose Paul Reiffer Photographer Commercial

What does that mean? Well, over the 4 days of shooting she was up on seaplanes, jetskis, underwater – the whole time in yoga poses. While a lot is obviously for publicity shots, to see someone pull off amazing yoga poses while balancing on the roof of a fast-moving yacht was pretty impressive – this woman is flexible beyond belief! :-)

Photographing Escape Luxury Yacht W Maldives Sunrise Yoga Paul Reiffer Photographer

So there’s me on the roof of Escape – W’s luxury yacht in my blue t-shirt. Opposite, the 10 people who managed to stay upright the whole time during a 1-hour sunrise yoga session as we made our way south to swim with whale sharks. You have to remember that these guys were a mixed level when it came to yoga experience, so to be doing this on the roof with Tara helping them all into positions they didn’t think possible was pretty damn cool.

Tara Stiles Strala Yoga Group Session W Maldives Retreat Spa PoseWhenever StralaEverywhere Escape Luxury Yacht Sunrise Pose Paul Reiffer Photographer Commercial

Of course, not all of the sunrise sessions were on a moving platform (that would just be a little too extravagant ;-) ) so the whole island was brought into the show during the course of the shoot. Photographing from the spa jetty one morning, we managed to capture this great alignment of the sun against a position that Tara held for a lot longer than I thought possible. (And yes, a position which would require me to break a few bones to get into myself…!)

Sunrise Yoga Tara Styles Upside Down Reverse Splits Jetty W Maldives Retreat Hotel Resort Sun Flare Paul Reiffer Photographer

One more location: The “Extreme Wow Ocean Haven” pool and deck. This infinity pool has incredible ocean views and a pool to die for – the temptation to shoot a series on the special stage they’d made was too much, so we spent quite some time playing with shapes and light to show off some of the amazing shapes she can hold.

Tara Stiles W Maldives Retreat Strala Yoga Rebel Poses Infinity Pool Extreme Wow Ocean Haven Platform Water Blue Paul Reiffer Photographer

I wanted to give you a sample of the type of shots we were grabbing – and this post only really just does that. The range of what we actually captured is huge, and you’re sure to see a few more in magazines over the next few months. The reality of shooting this type of event, however, is that while the location sounds incredible, it’s most definitely time for me to now book a proper vacation in order to recover! Shooting from 5am until 9pm every day, then editing in between, is a pretty heavy schedule to say the least, but there are few places in the world more amazing to be doing it. We packed a heck of a lot in, and I’m really happy with the shots, but wow that was exhausting – and I’m not the one doing all the yoga!

Sadly, my plan to photograph Scarlett Etienne (in the middle shot below) got shelved simply down to time. As the resident DJ at W Maldives, she’s hot property on the music scene and absolutely stunning in real life – maybe next time we’ll manage to squeeze that shoot in.

In the meantime, she provided some amazing mixes for the guys in each of the sessions – a real star on a tropical island :-)

PoseWhenever Tara Stiles Scarlett Etienne Music DJ New York Maldives W Resident Yoga Tara Stiles Retreat Beach Paul Reiffer Photographer

A few more of Tara’s yoga pose shots are below. Check them out – while I know for sure I can’t do any one of them, I’m pretty sure a few of you could give them a try!

Tara Stiles - Rebel Yoga - Strala at W MaldivesTara Stiles - Rebel Yoga - Strala at W MaldivesTara Stiles - Rebel Yoga - Strala at W MaldivesTara Stiles - Rebel Yoga - Strala at W MaldivesTara Stiles - Rebel Yoga - Strala at W MaldivesTara Stiles - Rebel Yoga - Strala at W MaldivesTara Stiles - Rebel Yoga - Strala at W Maldives

Posted in Advertising, Magazines, Model, Photo Shoots Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Cobb – Capturing Sunrise at Lyme Regis

Sometimes those unplanned shots are the best. Well, I say “unplanned”, but what I mean is I hadn’t intended to photograph Lyme Regis during this trip back home. Having spent the previous afternoon exploring the quaint town of Lyme Regis, however, meant the lure of the next morning’s sunrise was simply too great – and look at what I got:

Breakwater Lyme Regis Bay The Cobb Paul Reiffer Professional Landscape Photographer

As always, there’s a bit of an emotional rollercoaster involved in shooting sunrises and sunsets overwater. You need cloud – not too much, but not too little; you need a clear shot of the sun, but not head-on; you need a calm enough wind to allow for a long exposure, but not so calm that the sea is flat and dull; and of course, when it comes to standing on sea defences – you need the weather to be kind enough to not cover you and your equipment in water!

Arriving at Lyme Regis before sunrise, I was met with a pretty disappointing view. Fishermen were getting ready to head out to sea, and the town was slowly coming to life, but the shot I was looking for looked at risk : cloud was forming, fast.

Photographing The Cobb Lyme Regis Bay Paul Reiffer Behind The Scenes Professional Photographer

What had started out as a (luckily) relatively clear sky, despite the forecast for rain all day, started turning against me. The sea was perfect – a few small crashes here and there, but otherwise calm enough to allow for a half-second or second-long exposure to capture the motion. Visibility was clear too – but as time ticked on, past the official sunrise, there was no point of light to be seen.

Sunrise Lyme Regis Bay The Cobb Paul Reiffer Photographer Behind The ScenesOf course, these stories only have two potential outcomes – and you can guess from the shot above how this one turns out ;-)

Last-minute (around 15 minutes after the sun should have appeared), the illusive rays started to appear between the clouds. Another few minutes, and there was a complete sun blasting through – but it was clear it would be short-lived. The view was stunning, however, and even the iPhone shot (to the right) managed to do it justice.

I was already set up with my Cokin filters at this point and knew that the slightly pink cast caused by the mix of the 154 and 121 (ND and ND Grad) combination would actually bring something to the image this time. I had a window of maybe 2-3 minutes to capture the shot I had been waiting for – but as always, there are challenges, and in this instance there were two:

First, finding the perfect wave combination (I wanted a crash against the sea wall) to go with the sun-flare on the horizon. Luckily, with waves coming in every 8-10 seconds, this wasn’t going to be too difficult.

Second, however, was a little more tricky: People like to take their morning strolls and dog walks along The Cobb!

Dodging between walkers, clouds and waves, I finally managed to capture 6 images that worked. Looking at the sea structure in combination with the sky, “breakwater” was my favourite, and is now available as a limited edition print.

As for Lyme Regis? Well, it’s a fantastic little town to visit with loads of character and fantastic seafood. So much so, I think it’s going to have to be the destination for dinner tonight as well ;-)


Posted in Creative, Equipment, Landscape Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |