The Sydney Opera House – The Jewel of the Grand Harbour

I got it! The shot I wanted of Australia’s Sydney Opera House at sunrise – and luck (while not wanting to give me an easy ride this time) was on my side.

sydney opera house sunrise water glow orange yellow flare sun shadow paul reiffer professional landscape photographer solo

“Solo” – print available to buy now

Standing on the Grand Harbour wall at 4:30am wasn’t exactly the best use of the room we had at the Shangri-La for the weekend – but this was an image of the Sydney Opera House that I had in my mind, and had planned where to be for sunrise to get the exact spot where the flare would appear over the arches. All was going well – set up, calm, even some pre-dawn test shots being taken to make sure everything was OK…

syndey opera house before sunset blur cruise shipsBut then I looked closer. On the horizon, you’ll see two blurs of light. What could they be? Ah, yes – CRUISE SHIPS! :(

A quick check of the Sydney Ports Cruise Ship Schedule online gave the answer. Two monster ships were due in exactly at sunrise. Now, those of you who know me will know that I have a slight issue with cruise ships(!) – they simply don’t bring as much money “into the local economy” as they claim and have an amazing ability to ruin skyline views for thousands of people every day as they bellow out even more smoke into the city air. All that aside, however, today was not a good day for one of them to be docking right in front of me…

cruise ships ruin skylines sydney opera house

Luckily, it wasn’t the actual sunrise I wanted – it was about 10 minutes after, as the flare would appear over the arches of the roof. By which point, it had just moved far enough across to give me a clear view, phew :-)

iphone sydney opera house red from shangri la barSo, that was my one “lucky shot” of the trip.

Or so I thought. That evening, we headed to the bar at the top of the hotel, it has an amazing view of the entire harbour and well worth a visit if you’re ever in town. Managing to grab a window table, we started to enjoy a great bottle of wine when something seemed wrong outside – the Opera House had turned red?

It was of course the weekend of Chinese New Year / Spring Festival, and there’s a large Chinese community in Sydney, but this was something unexpected. Now – decisions… Wine? Or RUN downstairs (as nobody had any idea what time the lights would go out), grab all my camera gear and get to the end of the harbour? You guessed it ;-)

sydney opera house night red chinese new year spring festival harbour water lights encore

“Encore” – print available to buy now

I love how different this building looks with a simple change of light. Such a magnificent piece of architecture which really is an icon, worldwide, and I managed to get two photographs of it that are unique. Of course, with all that architecture, it would be rude to just focus on the building from a distance, so the next day was a chance to get up close. It was also a chance for me to try out a new Polapan filter I have…

sydney opera house tiles roof 4 polapan filter paul reiffer photographer landscape australia

sydney opera house steps polapan filter paul reiffer photographer landscape australia

sydney opera house tiles roof 2 polapan filter paul reiffer photographer landscape australia

sydney opera house tiles roof 1 polapan filter paul reiffer photographer landscape australia

sydney opera house tiles roof 3 polapan filter paul reiffer photographer landscape australiaWhat an amazing building, and I was lucky enough to see it in clear blue skies, and warm sunshine! So, what was missing from my list of shots of Sydney? Only two at this point, which I managed to grab before the weather changed for the next few days, first up, the entire Grand Harbour skyline and cityscape, including the Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Circular Quay, and Sydney Tower – all at the peak of a perfect sunset:

sydney grand harbour bridge skyline opera house tower paul reiffer landscape photograph professional sunset

“Bradley’s View” – print available to buy now

Then last (and maybe least in this case), I felt rather obligated to shoot the bridge itself. Now, honestly this isn’t one of my favourite shots. I’ve seen it done many times before and it’s never really “clicked” with me. Some like this angle, I don’t.

sydney grand harbour bridge opera house shadows black white paul reiffer photographer

I love the highlight it adds to the rest of the inner harbour with the framing, but personally, I’d rather shoot the Opera House all day :-)



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Phantasy Fairytale Underwater Exhibition at Huvafen Fushi & Niyama Maldives

What happens when you mix an award-winning artist, the world’s first underwater spa, the world’s first underwater nightclub, the luxury of the Maldives and the creativity of the Per Aquum brand? Simple – a unique underwater exhibition titled “Phantasy Fairytale” – a collaboration between two amazing hotels and Andreas Franke, the artist responsible for previous underwater galleries such as his work on “The Sinking World”.

cinema setup niyama club huvafen fushi niyama maldives phantasy fairytale per aquum andreas franke underwater exhibition lime spa subsix club paul reiffer professional commercial photographer luxury hotel
Looking back at my blog, in part I feel sad (that I haven’t written for over a month) but in a huge part I feel lucky that I’ve had such a random and amazing 5 weeks of shooting in some of the worlds most stunning settings. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be putting more images up from Australia, New Zealand, Maldives, Hong Kong and Singapore – but I really wanted to start with this as a highlight, a one-of-a-kind show that will only last for 3 months.

diver setup niyama edgeI was extremely privileged to be asked to shoot the setup and launch of Per Aquum’s latest “Dream Calendar” event, focused on the new concept of an underwater art exhibition – and where better to put such an exhibition than two of the most unique underwater locations in the world: Niyama Maldives‘ “SubSix” nightclub and Huvafen Fushi’s “Lime Spa” – both amazing feats of engineering, surrounded by the best that nature can offer under the sea.

With crystal blue water, and (generally) blue skies, it seemed a shame to spend so much time underwater. However, watching the setup involved in putting such an exhibition together, along with the benefit of air conditioning down there, gave me a lot more respect to the challenges these guys go through to keep ahead of their game and offer something unique to their guests.

Hopping between the islands via seaplane, both displays were set up within the week, with each island’s dive team and engineers putting their own take on how to display the artwork by Andreas.

diver setup huvafen fushi niyama maldives phantasy fairytale per aquum andreas franke underwater exhibition lime spa subsix club paul reiffer professional commercial photographer luxury hotel

In previous exhibitions, one of the main features of his work has been the decay of the frame and structure – allowing the man-made images to blend naturally into their surroundings. Here would be no different – so installing structures which would encourage decay and growth from sea creatures was key, something both islands achieved.

diver setup gallery huvafen fushi niyama maldives phantasy fairytale per aquum andreas franke underwater exhibition lime spa subsix club paul reiffer professional commercial photographer luxury hotel

final spa huvafen fushi niyama maldives phantasy fairytale per aquum andreas franke underwater exhibition lime spa subsix club paul reiffer professional commercial photographer luxury hotelEach resort offers a very different option for viewing the images – an exclusive set of artwork depicting famous fairytales in an underwater setting including one “exclusive” image in each location which is only able to be seen there.

For Huvafen, it’s their amazing underwater “Lime Spa” that gets the attention – where guests can watch sea life float around the pictures as they’re being pampered and relaxed by the therapists several meters below sea level.

For Niyama it’s an entirely different vibe. By day, an “art gallery” feel sweeps into their “SubSix” club – accessible only by the main island’s private speedboat. By night (as in the very first image), an amazing chill-out lounge/nightclub where you can watch the coral reef move and grow as tropical fish make their homes within.

gallery setup niyama club huvafen fushi niyama maldives phantasy fairytale per aquum andreas franke underwater exhibition lime spa subsix club paul reiffer professional commercial photographer luxury hotel

Of course, no exhibition would be complete without a formal gallery launch party – and so the guys did exactly that. If you were lucky enough to be a guest at Niyama on the week that the artworks were installed, you would have been treated to a sneak-preview as well as some exclusive cocktails to help ease the inevitable “arty discussion” ;-)

launch party niyama club huvafen fushi niyama maldives phantasy fairytale per aquum andreas franke underwater exhibition lime spa subsix club paul reiffer professional commercial photographer luxury hotel

So there we go – the exhibition is on until the end of May, when we’ll get to see just how integrated the frames and structures have become with the tropical sea which surrounds them. In the meantime, prints of the artworks are available to buy from Per Aquum (the owners of Niyama and Huvafen Fushi) – and get this, for the princely sum of $15,000 you can own one of the actual images which have been held deep within the ocean for the length of the exhibition.

By location, here are the one-by-one shots of the images on show agains the rich coral background, starting with Niyama’s SubSix club:

frames subsix niyama club huvafen fushi niyama maldives phantasy fairytale per aquum andreas franke underwater exhibition lime spa subsix club paul reiffer professional commercial photographer luxury hotel

And then Huvafen Fushi’s Lime Spa:

frames lime spa niyama club huvafen fushi niyama maldives phantasy fairytale per aquum andreas franke underwater exhibition lime spa subsix club paul reiffer professional commercial photographer luxury hotel

The guys are also doing a deal on stays during the exhibition itself – such as Niyama’s “Phantasy Fairytale Come True” package available here until the end of May 2014.

diver resting huvafen fushi niyama maldives phantasy fairytale per aquum andreas franke underwater exhibition lime spa subsix club paul reiffer professional commercial photographer luxury hotel

Having stayed at both properties, I can say hand on heart – they are both in their own right a form of “paradise on earth”. My lasting memory however, from the whole week-long setup, is this single image on the right.

What does a diver do when they’ve built 4 underwater structures for guests to view from within an underwater nightclub? Chill out, of course ;-)

Lots more to come – including some shots of the amazing waters and sunsets around the Maldives as well as more from Hong Kong and New Zealand. Now I’m back with feet on the ground for a few days, watch this space! :-)

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Wai-O-Tapu, New Zealand’s Geothermal Wonderland

A few miles south of the town of Rotorua, on the north island of New Zealand, lies a very special place. Of course, New Zealand itself is home to many volcanoes and much of its stunning scenery has its origins in volcanoes, glaciers and all manner of activity deep within the Earth – but this is one of the few places I’ve visited where you really can get up close and personal with nature…

…and the awful stink of the elements which make up our planet!

champagne pool witches brew wai o tapu rotorua geothermal park paul reiffer landscape photographer

“Witches’ Brew” – print available to buy now

This image, for me, perfectly represents the awesome view but also caustic environment in which I was stood for much of my visit to Rotorua.

If you want a closer look, however, take a look at the video to the left – taken at the point I was shooting the image above.

Now, of all the stupid things I’ve done, this has all the elements of being included in my top 10 list.

At 65m wide and around the same depth, this truly is a glimpse into the deep, dark, depths of what exists beneath our feet.

Yes, that’s (based on the body, digital back and lens) around £45,000 worth of camera equipment (and me) being constantly dowsed in a boiling hot steam bath of nitrogen, methane, sulphur, hydrogen and arsenic (yes, arsenic!) for over 10 minutes trying to get the shot I wanted above.

Interesting viewing for sure, but I can assure you the stomach ache I had after this episode, along with the desire to burn everything I was wearing when I got back, mean it’s not an entirely pleasant experience!

I guess the obvious question at this point is “where is this place?” Well, Wai-O-Tapu is about a 3 hour drive from Auckland, south, and very well signposted with the geyser logo for tourists (like me!) pointing towards the famous volcanic corridor that runs through the middle of the island. Click here for a Google map, but once there, you’ll see there are a lot of features to see, so allow a good 3 hours to get a decent exposure to it all.

wai-o-tapu map

Once inside the Geothermal park, you’ll find the “Champagne Pool” (as in the above image) – which, when photographed over “Artists Palette” looks more like a witches’ cauldron to me, with its steam and gases rising into the atmosphere.

champagne pool artists palette rotorua wai-o-tapu geothermal park landscape paul reiffer

Along with the surrounding mud pots which spew out molten elements from under the earth’s surface (while apparently good for the complexion, they do stink!) the Oyster Pool gives you a glimpse into how harsh our environment must have been when the earth was being formed. After all, I guess these are simply the planet’s form of an “exhaust” for everything that’s bubbling away down below.

oyster pool rotorua wai-o-tapu geothermal park new zealand auckland north island paul reiffer

One final feature which lead to many questions about its “authenticity” is a landform called “Devil’s Cave”. The challenge from many others? “Has that been photoshopped?” or “it’s not really that green, right?”. Well, I can tell you now that the below photograph is indeed not an accurate representation of the natural pool of water you see in this crater…

…what exists in reality is MUCH more vivid. The camera tries, but can’t actually convey the true “WOW!” that you hear everybody exclaiming as they climb the final ridge to see this phenomenon. What you see below is a 100% natural, organic, bright neon green, hot pool of water.

devils cave wai-o-tapu rotorua new zealand geothermal park north island paul reifferIs there more to see? Of course – and I won’t ruin it for you.

Is it worth going to see? YES. If you like “earth stuff”, or want to see a waterfall filled with boiling water, or like the idea of being dowsed in steam mixed with arsenic and sulphur (!) then it’s worth taking the time out to visit this true “wonderland”. It really was great to capture something that is so accessible to us all, in a genuinely natural setting. 10/10 guys :-)


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The Cauldron – Hong Kong’s Melting Pot

Hong Kong. The city where East truly meets West, and what an amazing recipe it has for a burst of culture and style.

from the heavens hong kong victoria harbour skyline sunset sky paul reiffer professional landscape photographer

“Reach” – print available to buy now

hotel indigo hong kong island wan chai swimming poolAs a result of living in Shanghai, Hong Kong becomes easily accessible and such a Mecca for photography it simply can’t be ignored (and the tax free purchases can’t be sniffed at either ;-) ). Having spent some decent amounts of time in the city, it was starting to frustrate me that I didn’t actually have any “cool shots” of Hong Kong itself – landscape or otherwise – so as an after-Christmas-present, I booked a quick weekend down to grab a few shots.

Added to that I managed to get a great deal on a new hotel on Hong Kong Island – the Hotel Indigo in Wan Chai – which, beyond its perfect location, has an AMAZING (yet concerning) swimming pool 30 floors up. For those who have a problem with heights, maybe stay out of the pool – from my perspective though, WOW!

First on the photo list? The “Symphony of Lights” show. Strangely, in all the times I’ve been to HK I’ve never once actually seen this show, so didn’t know what to expect. At 8:00pm every night, Victoria Harbour is brought to life with a laser and light show, synchronised to music, aimed purely at the tourists visiting every day. The first night I was there was a bit of a let down due to cloud, but I watched it nonetheless.

However, the second night taught me two things: 1) a clear night makes all the difference, and 2) when you’ve seen it once, there’s really not much to see the second time around!  Still, at least I got the classic tourist shot. It’s nothing special, to my eye, but it was on my list – tick :-)

symphony of lights hong kong victoria harbour skyline night show sky paul reiffer professional landscape photographer

So – with that “off the list”, it was time to take my “big camera” to two places I’ve been many times – “The Peak” (looking down over Victoria Harbour) and then back out over to Tsim Sha Tsui for sunset in winter (as the sun drops over the hills). The shot at the top of this post was actually one of the last shots I took before leaving for the airport – what had been a moment of misery (as the clouds rolled back in, obscuring the sun) turned into a brilliant picture, one which I couldn’t have predicted or planned in a million years! :-)

paul reiffer iphone shooting hong kong skyline phase one iq280

The Peak was a different matter – this is tourist hell. Setting up a tripod here is near-on impossible given the sheer numbers of people who come up for that first view of the night lights below. It is an absolutely amazing view, so you can see why thousands of people head there (including myself!) but getting a 15 second exposure was clearly going to prove difficult. Luckily, I had my Giottos tripod with me, which allows me to extend the head-arm at a tangent, over the edge of the observation deck.

Now, suspending over $55,000 of camera and lens over the edge of an observation deck is probably one of the most stupid decisions I’ve made in my life, BUT it did the job – I got the shot! As the city came to life below, the forest started to join with brief glimpses of “fire” bursting through the trees. This really is where you can see Hong Kong as the cauldron of city life that it truly is – and it’s an incredible sight :-)

the cauldron hong kong victoria harbour night city skyline paul reiffer professional landscape photographer

“The Cauldron” – print available to buy now

With memory card and bags all packed up, I headed to the airport.

bubba gump drink

I will always have a strange relationship with Hong Kong. It’s humid, WAY too tightly packed in, crazy, and manic – but for all those reasons, I love the place. There’s an excitement in the city that you don’t experience anywhere else.

Of course, Shanghai has all the lights, glitz and glamour it needs to compete with Hong Kong but there’s something truly special about this place – it truly is a place where East and West don’t just meet, they combine.

So was the photography my highlight of this trip? Well, in part, of course – the trip was specifically to get shots of the skyline, the vibrance of the city and the night sky.

I think there’s a lot more to shoot (including a lot of street scenes that I didn’t even touch on during this visit) and so it will remain a destination for me and my camera for a long time to come. But something else did manage to stick in my mind just as vibrantly – for an entirely different reason…

Meet Bubba Gump restaurant’s take on a Margarita – one that tops itself up with an entire bottle of Corona as you drink it! THIS was the ingredient which I’m sure helped me capture my shot from The Peak that evening with such clarity ;-)

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Somewhere Over The Rainbow, Shanghai’s Nanpu Bridge

As always, the most frustrating images to capture are also the most rewarding. At 7pm on New Year’s Eve, this is the night shot I was taking from a nearby rooftop looking out over Shanghai’s “Nanpu Bridge”.

Over The Rainbow Shanghai Nanpu Bridge Long Exposure Night LED Lights Paul Reiffer Professional Landscape Photographer City Skyscrapers

The bridge is one of two spans which link the two sides of the city – PuDong and PuXi. Not only is the HangPu river one of the busiest shipping channels in the world, these bridges are fundamental to daily life in the city – the Nanpu bridge alone carrying up to 140,000 cars a day. The unique part of the crossing, however, is not the bridge itself – it’s how they manage to get all those cars up to the base of the towers in such a heavily populated area. The solution? Build a 4km long circular junction which climbs up through three loops with on and off ramps in each direction.

This wasn’t the first time I’ve been to the top of the building I took this from – the first time was actually when I wrote a piece for “” on low-priced compact cameras.  During June, I took my old Canon 5D/III up there to shoot the network but there was something missing: lights!

MoneySupermarket com Paul Reiffer Nanpu Bridge Night Canon EOS 5D mkIII Comparison

You see, as someone who passes over the bridge on an almost daily basis I was acutely aware that not only does Shanghai illuminate the freeways at the weekends, it also makes use of the thousands of multi-colour LED lamps that were installed on both bridges on the night before a National Holiday. The problem? I’m quite often away for these holidays and, of course, security on rooftops is increased during these times. Still, determined (and with my trusty friend Hank to help!) we made our way up at 6:30pm on New Year’s Eve 2013 to see if we could capture the rainbow show on the bridge. We were in luck :-)

Nanpu Bridge iPhone Hank

I say “in luck” with little irony, as moments before getting there I had smashed my iPhone into as many pieces as there are lights on the bridge. :-( Still, frustrating though that was, it would have been even more of a waste had I not captured the picture I wanted while up there! I got the Phase One iQ280 and 645DF+ out, along with the Phase 28mm lens (which is a 17mm equivalent).

In theory, this was the same setup I used to capture the Nanpu Bridge in June (the yellow hued photo, above) – in practice, the difference between 80MP and 23MP is huge.

The detail, the clarity and the richness of the image I got on Tuesday night just can’t be touched by the image I took with my Canon gear.

Of course, proof that any camera is capable of great images, Hank’s iPhone did a great job too – just a shame it struggles with noise and a narrow field of view..

To see this thing with your own eyes is amazing. Don’t get me wrong, driving over the bridge and “across the rainbow” is cool, but 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. I’m not sure I’ll get back up there again (time to set my sights on my next challenge!) but as evidenced in these two photos, what a difference lighting can make to the exact same scene!

So, 1 broken iPhone, a risky rooftop traverse (don’t ask!) and being late for the New Year’s party on The Bund – all in all, an expensive and risky way to get one final picture during 2013. Was it worth it? Of course. ;-)

…and so were the fireworks later on as we welcomed in 2014 with the rest of Shanghai!

iPhone Shanghai New Years Eve 2013 2014 Paul Reiffer Fireworks Bund

…luckily, I had access to a spare iPhone until I got mine replaced the next day! :-)

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Some Recently Published Images – Thanks to my friends!

I still find it strange how much I rely on my friends around the world to let me know when images I’ve shot have made it out into the wild. Although the use of images is obviously something we negotiate all the time, exactly when and where they will turn up is quite often a mystery, and the past month or two has been no exception. Take my shot of the Hollywood sign, for example. A friend of mine, Mark Hayden, was flying with British Airways in September and snapped a picture with his iPhone of my image being used for a Los Angeles feature by Hugh Laurie:

BA High Life Magazine LA Hugh Laurie September Feature Paul Reiffer Photographer

Then there was the “run” on my image of Shanghai’s illuminated freeways that I took earlier in the year.

National Geographic Your Shot - Illuminating the World - Paul Reiffer Shanghai Freeway Elevated Night photograph landscapeIt’s one of a collection of images I keep on National Geographic’s “Your Shot” community – a pool of images they can pull on for stories from time to time.

The usage rights for National Geographic are a little bit too “open” in my opinion, however, it’s a good way of getting landscape shots out there for people to appreciate and potentially buy.

What’s rather strange in this case, however, is that the image in question wasn’t specifically uploaded into their “assignment” section by me.

Nevertheless, it seems someone there liked it enough to feature in November and publish along with a small collection of other nighttime images around the world. However, I wasn’t quite expecting the subsequent pick-up by other media outlets.

Being out here in Shanghai right now means I’m often the last to know but luckily, my friends are also the first to tell me! First, I got the message from Tina Sams that the Daily Mail (in England) had published it as part of a feature during November:

Daily Mail Illuminating The World National Geographic Feature Shanghai Elevated Roads Highways Paul Reiffer Photographer

Then, somehow, it managed to get used by The Times newspaper for their special “Christmas Edition” too, which was alerted to me by Andy Bundle on Christmas Day afternoon out here:

The Times Online iPad Christmas Day Special Edition National Geographic Illuminating The World Shanghai Elevated Roads Light Paul Reiffer Photographer

Moving to more current images, Yahoo!’s weather app for iOS continues to publish my shots as backgrounds to the cities people are viewing each day.

Their speed to publish has increased a lot for my images recently, with some shots now going live on their app the very same day I submit to them. The one to the right of Shanghai was highlighted to me by a friend out here, as it was one of the first long-exposure shots I tried with my Phase One iQ280 and apparently “easy to recognise”. ;-)

Yahoo Weather App iOS Photos By Paul Reiffer Shanghai Skyline Night

Beyond this shot, however, I noticed the other day they’ve also picked up images from Lake Tahoe, Dorset’s Durdle Door and even some of my brand new San Francisco collection.

Qatar Airways Joins OneWorld Alliance 2013 Paul Reiffer Photographer San Francisco ImageThen we’re back to the airlines. Just hours after I stepped foot off the plane from San Francisco in October, I got a request for a specific image from Qatar Airways’ advertising agency. Luck was in, as the brief they had (a shot of the bridge that they could overlay an image of cases onto as part of a series) exactly matched a set of images I knew I had already captured.

Quite a bit of into-the-night working then ensued to get it ready for a really tight deadline – a deadline I then learned was due to the official inclusion of Qatar Airways into the OneWorld Alliance.

It turned out, the image wasn’t just for a press announcement – they were using the city shots to wrap entire buildings around the world as part of the launch. Very cool!

So, if anyone around the world (especially in the Middle East) has seen the Golden Gate covering a large building, please be sure to get in touch and show us how it looks!

Still to come? Apart from all the commissioned and commercial work I’m already doing, I know there’s at least two other airlines about to publish my images worldwide, as well as 2 British magazines and 1 US publication over the next 6 weeks. Here’s hoping more of my friends can let me know where they eventually appear too!

Now, back to planning my Hong Kong skyline trip and the big Australia & New Zealand road-trip for next month… :-)

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Durdle Door Sunrise – The Golden Arches

Golden Arches - Durdle Door - Jurassic Coastline - Dorset - Paul Reiffer Professional Landscape Photographer SunriseWow – what a morning it turned out to be!

Preparing for the worst, having checked the weather forecast the week before I arrived back home to England, I wasn’t expecting anywhere near this shot when I arrived at Dorset’s Jurassic Coast – getting ready to (hopefully) capture Durdle Door at sunrise.

There’s a small window in the year when the sun rises just perfectly through the arch. It’s south enough to allow you to shoot it from the beach, and sunrise itself is late enough to not mean a 4am start from my house in Weymouth! A 6am start wasn’t much better, but jetlag was on my side this time as well as the tea-laden company of a good friend of mine, Nick Dempsey. Nick was there when I managed to capture Pulpit Rock for publishing around the world – so maybe he’s my winter’s day “lucky charm”.  Who knows, but the morning turned out for the best.

Arriving at the closed campsite is a little eerie. Having grown up along the Dorset coast, I’m used to Durdle Door (and the whole Jurassic Coastline for that matter) being packed with tourists. In the past few years, the recent spell of landslides (some fatal) along the coast have certainly put some visitors off, but the landscape remains as beautiful and dramatic as ever. During the walk down the hill in the freezing cold, I commented to Nick that we were doomed – a cloud bank was arriving just perfectly over the spot where the sun was due to rise. Still, “we’re here now” and all, so we carried on down the (now) mud bank to get to the beach.

Of course, the timing isn’t a secret and another 3 photographers were there with the same idea – most with their “TPE” app to ensure they were in the perfect spot to catch the sun’s rays through the natural arch in the rock. I didn’t hold out much hope, so in the interests of avoiding a wasted journey, grabbed this shot of the moonlight over the arch with a long exposure. It’s cold down there at that time of the morning and I hope this image gets that across!

Blue Moon - Moonlight Durdle Door Jurassic Coast - Dorset West Lulworth - Paul Reiffer Professional Landscape PhotographerSo, onwards and upwards, we trekked along the beach (to where the brown stones meet the grey stones on the right of the image above) with the very slight hope that the cloud bank might make way for us. I only had 3 more sunrises in England (and had other landscape photography plans!) so I wasn’t feeling good at this point. The other photographers set up, noticed it was a few minutes past sunrise and, just like me, started looking around to see if anything else could be photographed as it simply wasn’t happening.

And then… (as they say in all good suspense novels!) I noticed one guy moving. You could see run rays on the white cliffs – everyone ran to the water’s edge. It was late, and a little higher than I’d hoped for, but we had about a 2 minute window of when the sun had somehow managed to break through the cloud and hadn’t quite hit the top of the arch! Nick (in the picture below) started snapping away, I moved all my gear across to where they were and did the same….

Nick Dempsey Windsurfer Olympic Photographing Durdle Door Sunrise Dorset England

…and we got it! One poor guy got very wet as the sea attacked his tripod while shooting. Fair play to him, he carried on, but I’m definitely thankful for my remote trigger that allows me to keep one eye on the subject and another on the waves! It turned out well though, I think – certainly better than expected!

Golden Arches - Durdle Door - Jurassic Coastline - Dorset - Paul Reiffer Professional Landscape Photographer Sunrise

As a fan of McDonalds (in certain situations!) I couldn’t help but love the irony of stopping off for breakfast there that morning – maybe I’d just managed to capture the third of the Golden Arches…!

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Emerald Bay Sunset – Lake Tahoe’s little gem

paul reiffer professional landscape photographer california sunset pink emerald bay lake tahoe

“Pink Emerald” – print available to buy now

As someone who’s snowboarded around Lake Tahoe since 2001, it can be really infuriating when you know there’s an awesome view of the lake that you’ve tried to capture but not quite managed to get the right combination of weather, timing and camera gear to be in the same place at the same time.  This time, with a 3 day stay booked in, I was hoping that luck would finally be on my side. Turns out, it was :-)

Emerald Bay must be one of the most photographed scenes that lead into Lake Tahoe itself. With the historic “Tea House” perched on top of Fannette Island in the middle of the lake, tourists flock to this spot in all seasons to get a glimpse of this natural wonder. In fact, there really isn’t a bad time to visit Lake Tahoe. In winter, the snow-sport facilities are world-class. In summer, mountain bikers and hikers enjoy fresh, natural trails all over this huge mountainous play area. Not to forget the autumn and spring colours of course, which although unpredictable in season timings, add a whole new band of colour to the scenery around.

Now, there’s a trick to this image: the sunset was actually behind me, but this was the exact mix of colour I was looking for. When the sun fades behind the mountains in Lake Tahoe, every now and then you’ll get lucky and see the reflection of the rich colours in the clouds above and water below. With no visible sun, the entire sky and lake deliver fiery reds, deep pinks and rich blues over the whole area. I wasn’t the only photographer trying to get that same image either – this lookout point is full of tripods at sunrise and sunset…!

photographing emerald bay iphone pictures phase one iq280 sunset

So, this was taken on night one. Luckily, we were staying in the fantastic Holiday Inn Express, just down the road in South Lake Tahoe. I’ve stayed here quite a bit (usually with a snowboard!) but the location right at the bottom of the Heavenly Gondola makes it a perfect hub for getting around Tahoe. That said, it was still painful getting up at 5:30am the next day to try for a sunrise too. I got a few cool shots as the sun came up that following morning but in truth it was the sunset I wanted to get. Figuring I might be able to better the first night’s efforts, I headed back up the mountain to the same spot the next evening to watch the sun set again. My luck had ran out – the randomness and fickle nature of the reverse sunset was out to prove a point: I wasn’t getting another chance on this trip. :-( Still, my iPhone enjoyed the view, even in the freezing temperatures as the light faded:

iPhone emerald bay lake tahoe

So, things I learned on this trip?

  1. Don’t use an ND-Grad for a reverse sunset, there’s no need – just use a polarising filter.
  2. “Snack size” Doritos really are mini versions of a big one and will not fill you up.
  3. Once the sun drops behind the hill, even in September/October, it gets cold enough for ice.
  4. A quick run across the road from our hotel is a cool bar with fire pits to warm up :-)

paul reiffer fire ice doritos snow lake tahoe learning

I’ve seen Lake Tahoe (and Emerald Bay) in all different seasons, and all manner of light – but this was the only time I’ve been lucky enough to have the right equipment with me to capture one of the most colourful sunsets I’ve seen on my travels. I guess I should start sorting through my sunrise shots now too…!


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Digital Photographer Magazine – Long Exposures

digital photographer magazine 141 - long exposures paul reiffer northern lights

Featured in issue 141 of “Digital Photographer” magazine – my long exposure shots from the Northern Lights above Tromso in Norway during 2012.

The feature focuses on the techniques required to capture different situations with long-exposure settings in-camera.

From firework shows at 20 seconds to lightning captures to sports scenes, the whole spectrum is covered.

My visit to view the aurora borealis didn’t go without the odd hiccup or two – as I wrote at the time. But it was most definitely a trip that was worth the effort to make.

It’s funny that this is one of the rare cases where the camera really does see more than our own eyes are capable of, but the experience of chasing the lights was fun enough in itself to make the trip enjoyable.

Ironically, since the issue went to print, I’ve been producing more and more long exposures with my new Phase One iQ280 digital back – resulting in some cool images of cities at night.

I’m not back to the UK for a while so won’t get my hands on a physical copy. That said, at least I got the PDF version to read in the meantime :-)

Long exposures can deliver some truly unique images – hopefully the tips in the magazine will get more people out there giving it a try!

digital photographer magazine - mastering long exposures - paul reiffer northern lights feature

Posted in Creative, Industry, Landscape, Magazines, Technical Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , |

Capturing Circular Motion – Shanghai’s Financial District

Circular Motion - Shanghai Pudong Financial District Skyscrapers Lujiazui Night - Paul Reiffer Landscape Photographs

“Circular Motion” – print available to buy now

Who remembers being told as a kid to make sure to look both ways before crossing a road, and that cars are dangerous? Yeah… I do.

Sadly, when I drove through Lujiazui on the way home the other night last week, I saw a sight that made me cast that very wise advice aside and resolve to get the shot I pictured in my mind, no matter what. Skyscrapers, a cityscape, the financial district, a lit pedestrian overpass – all circled by a massive collection of LED-covered and neon-clad buses, taxis and strange vehicles. I just had to capture the feel of this place.

shooting street bob shanghai lujiazui city night paul reiffer

My driver, Bob, is thankfully now used to driving through the blue lights of the city to get me to strange locations at night (indeed, he’s getting good at being on “stake-out”). So the request to return to the same spot 4 nights in a row for hours at a time didn’t phase him. Unfortunately, it frustrated the hell out of me; each and every time I clicked the shutter, something crazy happened to ruin the picture. On an iQ280, a 2 minute exposure actually takes 4 minutes (by the time the dark-frame has been captured to reduce noise and artefacts from the initial capture) so when you’re spending that long on each shot, a person standing right in front of your camera at the end of the exposure is beyond annoying… :-(

Each and every night I witnessed cars going the wrong way across the road, vehicles with no lights on, bikes driving over the roundabout (literally), buses full of people racing into cars, people stopping in the middle of the roundabout and getting out to sit and watch (as in the picture above!). It’s crazy! Shanghai’s drivers worry me at the best of times, but my time on the Lujiazui roundabout for these 4 evenings has just proven to me they really do deserve the title of “the worst drivers in the world”.

shooting street shanghai lujiazui paul reiffer photographs

I’m very aware that setting up my camera equipment on the ground in the middle of a 4-lane busy roundabout puts me (at least temporarily) in the same category as the crazy people I witnessed during this run of shooting – but at least I got the shot I wanted. The bright neon-blue of the buses passing, the green LEDs flickering to add a “frequency” to their light trails on the left of the shot, the headlights of the cars zooming past me and even the red and blue code of a police car screaming through the traffic – I managed to capture it all. And for this one frame, I managed to avoid people walking in front or cars stopping right in front of me to take a look at what was going on!

Yes, it was stressful and yes, it was cold. But yeah, I love this picture. :-)

Circular Motion - Shanghai Pudong Financial District Skyscrapers Lujiazui Night - Paul Reiffer Landscape Photographs

“Circular Motion” – print available to buy now

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