When you think of lost ruins overrun by jungle, you probably think of Angkor Wat in Cambodia or a lost Aztec city in Central America. But this shot is from Nyaung Ohak in Myanmar – a cluster of temples located on the western edge of Inle Lake. To get here you have to take a boat ride through ever-narrowing channels, eventually reaching Indein village. From here it’s a short walk to the ruins. At the top of the hill is a temple in good condition, but the magic is in the ruins leading up the hill.
The Bo-Kaap area of Cape Town was the first area where freed slaves settled after they were liberated. As a result it was a real melting pot of cultures, predominantly Muslim, and became a center of cultural life of the city. The houses are all very colorful, probably as an expression of freedom and individualism.
Another highlight of my trip to Indonesia was watching the sunrise over Borobudur, built in the 9th century and today is the largest Buddhist temple in the world. It’s located just outside of the city of Yogyakarta. Unfortunately a lot of tourists go to see the sunrise, so you’re hardly alone at the top! I found it even worse than Bagan in Myanmar – at least there you have hundreds of temples which you can watch the sunrise from, whereas at Borobudur there is just the one. It means you need to bring your patience with you in order to get shots without people! You also have to search for different angles, as the side where the sun rises is covered in people. Still worth it though when I see this shot!
Yesterday I went to the 19th edition of the Potsdamer Schlössernacht – an evening where the gardens of the palaces in Potsdam are open and there are various musical and theatrical performances. The highlight is seeing the palaces lit up at night, and at the end there is a firework display as well. Unfortunately it draws massive crowds (unsurprisingly), so it can be difficult to photograph without thousands of people in the shot!
This picture was taken with a 1 minute exposure using a Hoya NDX400 filter – this way as people move they don’t appear in the frame (unless they don’t move of course!) and it always accentuates the beautiful colors at blue hour.
La Mezquita in Cordoba is a fascinating building – the site was originally the location of a small temple, which was divided into Muslim and Christian halves when the Muslims conquered Spain in the 700s. The Christian half was eventually purchased a few decades later and the entire structure was demolished, to be replaced by the grand mosque of Cordoba. When Cordoba returned to Christian rule in the 1200s, it was converted back into a church, and a cathedral was built in the middle in the 16th century.
The result is stunning – the mosque architecture is simple arches on tall columns, but the effect is mesmerizing. The building just seems to go on forever! The Mihrab at the back of the mosque, indicating the direction of Mecca, is particularly stunning as you can see in this shot.
Charles V, the King of Castile and Aragon who granted permission to build the cathedral inside the mosque, famously said “they have taken something unique in all the world and destroyed it to build something you can find in any city” when he saw the end result – in a way I agree with him, but the building is still stunning!
I just got back from a short trip to Andalucia in southern Spain – including Granada, Cordoba and Seville. Starting in Granada, I obviously couldn’t miss the famous Alhambra; although the crowds of people there annoyed me, as usual!
The Alhambra is a palace and fort build by the Nasrid rulers in the 13th century (in its current form at least). The art, architecture and design are striking, and represent the peak of Islamic architecture. Despite the crowds, it is a truly stunning place and a must-see for any visitor to Andalucia.
This is a view from the way up to the Mirador San Nicolas, just north of the Alhambra complex, with the snow-capped Sierra Nevada mountains in the background.
No doubt about it – our final sunrise in Bagan was a winner. We watched from the rooftop terrace of a small temple behind Dhammayazika Temple, with only a few other people around. The start of the sunrise wasn’t that impressive due to haze on the horizon, but later, after the sun was further up, the sky started to glow a beautiful orange color, with the nearby temples silhouetted in front. This was definitely one of the most special moments of our trip to Myanmar!
Dubrovnik is full of tourists, in particular in summer, but take the cable car up to the top of Srd Hill behind the city, and you can get away from the crowds (at least some of them) and have unrivalled views at the same time. I went up just before sunset, to allow me to take some shots with sunlight and some at dusk.