A belated post from Japan – Lights of Tokyo

 

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All hail to Sauron! Stitched panorama

The weather hasn’t been in its most stable form lately in London (hello again British weather, fare thee well summer). On the flip side, thanks to the strong wind and fast moving clouds, we’ve been getting some rather amazing sunsets lately. Last Sunday as I was at home cooking dinner (while fully soaked in end-of-weekend blue) I spotted a hint of orange outside the window – this turned into a 10-minute sprint toward the local high point, Stave Hill. I was lucky (recent workout paid off!) enough to catch the amazing glow when reached at the top of the hill!

The panorama was stitched from 3 photos on a 50mm lens. Very pleased with the level of details preserved in such dark light condition (zoom in to check it out!), however it turned out to be a bit more grainy than I would’ve liked – was too out of breath to realise ISO number was defaulted at a high level (need to keep working out I guess…).

I always joked that the Shard reminds me of the Tower of Isengard from the LOTR. And in this photo in particular, the red tint on the clouds and the shadows really set the mood – all hail to Sauron! 😉

All hail to Sauron!

All hail to Sauron! Amazon sunset viewed from Stave Hill, London

Sailing fleet on Thames (best served with epic Hans-Zimmer-styled film OST)

On my way home today, I saw a fleet sailing boats gathering on the river at London Bridge creating quite a sight for the tourists. So I took a bet and ran home as quickly as possible (race the boats, race the boats!) to pick up the camera and then dashed to the nearest pier.

Quite a vision to see a fleet of 20 – 30 boats (later confirmed: 12 teams of yachts, and lots of other random boats including the Hilton Ferry and…the Thames Clipper) travelling together on Thames. On top of that, the magnificence of the sight got muchly enhanced as I happened to have this piece of Hans Zimmer Music playing on my ipod.

*P.S. It was apparently the start of a round-the-world yacht race check the news out

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Guten Abend Österreich! (Travel backlog No.2)

#the hills are alive…# I’ve actually have been to Salzburg a couple of times before, so we decided to skip the town centre (sorry Wolfgang) and do something different (also to take advantage of having a car). So we ended up visiting A GIANT ICE CAVE hiding in the middle of the Austrian Alps.

Eisriesenwelt (Ice giant’s world, how epic is that), the largest ice cave in the world discovered so far, lies in Werfen which is about an hour drive from Salzburg. It sits inside the Alps with about 1600m of attitude, involving a pretty steep climb and 1000 more steps inside (oh em gee that was such a climb up). Apparently it was discovered in the late 1800s but was not open as a show cave until 1920s.

So in order to get to the entrance of the cave you have to 1) hike for 1.5 hours 2) take the cable cart and then hike for 20 minutes. Being lazy tourists with a whole bellyful of Schnitzel, we obviously chose option 2 😉 Unfortunately we arrived there a bit late and the last cable cart was leaving in about 10 minutes by the time we arrived. Our day hence was injected with an unscheduled sprint up the mountain. After a massive gym workout at an altitude of 1500m, we turned around and spotted some *pretty* breathtaking view.

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The view from the entrance of the cave down. This…was…a lot of …hike

To enter the cave you have to go with a guided group. The cave path that’s open to the public is only about 1000m long, however it involves some 1000 steps just one way. So we started our workout round two in side the cave. The good thing is that amount of exercise actually keeps you pretty warm inside. Initially we were worried that we didn’t have enough layers on the occasion, but it turned out that you could even get away with shorts if you just keep moving!

Technically photos are not allowed in the cave. But as we were the last group of the day and our guide was particularly sweet, he actually let us take a few pictures at the main spots of the cave! However it was quite difficult to focus right inside the cave because of the lack of light. The only light source we got was our oil lamps (amazing) and the guide’s magnesium burner occasionally. In theory Leica should perform very well under conditions like this, but I had quite a lot of difficultiesto find suitable reference points to focus on. The “Ice Lady” profile below was one of the very few successful photos I took inside the cave. The picture doesn’t really do much justice on how majestic the ice formations looked inside. Walking along the walls of stacked ice sheets that built up over centuries really make you feel excited and awed at how amazing the nature is and how much more we don’t know about it.

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Our guide lighting up magnesium light to show the profile of the “ice lady”L1000896A tunnel out

A photographer’s luck (Travel backlog)

I was lucky enough to be at the right spot to watch the rainbow appear so had plenty of time to shoot a panorama with the rainbow at its best (only had a 50mm range finder camera with me, so one shot was not enough to include everything). The photo below was the end result of 3 photos stitched together.

Rainbow over Prague Old Town

Rainbow over Prague Old Town, taken from the Old Town Tower