Thursday, 13 December 2012

Italy, Venice - Then & Now - Part 2

This is Part 2 in our Venice "Then & Now"series of photos. To see Part 1, which explains more about this project either scroll down or visit -

This image is titled "Rio delle Meraviglie" which is in the Dorsoduro sestiere of Venice. We're not sure where this comes from as every indication shows that this is actually "Rio di San Trovaso". As mentioned in our previous post, we researched the locations of all the images in the "Ricordo di Venezia" book and we found this particular location as one of the most difficult to locate even though the description below describes a "Palace" as being on the right! The Meraviglie on the image & the Meravegie on the back of the image really baffled us. In the end it ended up being not far from the Accademia Bridge. 

Book circa 1930 (image looks older!)

The text at the back of this image in the book is as follows - It actually spells the canal as "Rio delle Meravegie". Not the most descriptive caption in the book!!

"On the right: Contarini Corfu Palace" 

See if you can notice any of the changes between the 2 images and leave us a comment.

Check out Part 3 in the series by clicking on the following link - 

Tuesday, 11 December 2012


Nauru Location
Now, not many people have heard of Nauru. Most Australians have probably heard of it but possibly are unaware of where it is. This tiny island country was used for years as the "Processing Centre" of refugees who attempted to illegally enter Australia by boat. This is where refugees were housed while their refugee status was investigated prior to either being allowed into Australia or deported back to their own countries (they were mostly from Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran or Sri Lanka).
The island is only is only 21 square kms and with the world's second smallest population makes it also the smallest Republic. During the 1960's & 1970's, Nauru enjoyed the highest per capita income of any sovereign state in the world due to its rich phosphate deposits. Unfortunately when the countries phosphate deposits were diminished so did the country's wealth. Many Nauruans have now emigrated to either Australia or New Zealand leaving a population of less than 10,000 people. 

The Australian Government brokered a deal that offered aid to Nauru in exchange for use of the island as a processing centre for refugees as mentioned above. This ended in 2008 however there are now talks of re-opening the centre after other re-location solutions to the "boat people" have been unsuccessful.

Beach on Nauru
A beach on Nauru with your very own Japanese WWII bunker
Rock formations on Nauru
Rocky beach  formations
Local Nauruan children
Local Nauruan children
WWII Japanese gun emplacement
WWII Japanese gun emplacement
Phosphate mining has created a lunar landscape on Nauru
Phosphate mining has created a lunar landscape on Nauru
Well, that's a bit of history about the island. Needless to say, very very few travellers or tourists visit Nauru, which is a shame because the island is worthy of a visit. You certainly will get most of the beaches to yourself and the locals are extremely friendly. There are also some Japanese WWII bunkers & gun emplacements on the island which attracts a few veterans and historians. The fishing is stupendous here and it is extremely easy to organise a fishing trip with a local. You can also do an interesting drive across the island and see the bizarre lunar landscape as a result of the years of phosphate mining.  All in all its a great place to visit to get away from it all but expect to mostly create your own entertainment.

You can get to Nauru from Brisbane, Australia flying with 'Our Airline'. The airline currently flies Brisbane - Nauru - Marshall Islands - Kiribati (Tarawa) - Nadi . So if you are island hopping then it is a great way to see some of the more remote islands of this part of the Pacific. Accommodation is available at the Menen Hotel, which is where we stayed however it is a little isolated. Nearer to the main town is the Od-n Aiwo Hotel - nothing  flashy but if you want to be not far from the town centre and facilities then this may be your best bet.

For more information on Nauru please visit the Nauru Tourism website. Most of the images on this site were taken by us when we were commissioned by the SPTO (South Pacific Tourism Organisation). 

Ever been to Nauru? If so, would love to hear your comments. For more images of Nauru visit our website.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Italy, Venice - Then & Now - Part 1

Earlier this year we were fossicking through a small bookshop in the suburb that we live in. The owner specialises in old books and we spent quite a few hours there. We were about to leave with a handful of old travel guides when the owner suggested that we have a look at another box that he had out the back. In this box we found several small old books called "Ricordo di Venezia" & Ricordo di  Napoli". Well, we really wouldn't call them books, they're more like ornate versions of a concertina postcard book (without being postcards!!). Strangely there is no details whatsoever mentioning a date or publisher of these books, however with some research we believe the Venice book is circa 1930 (mind you, we are not sure how old some of the actual photos are). Each image has text in 4 languages (Italian, French, English & German), so they were obviously produced as a souvenir item for travellers. Funny enough, all of the locals we met in both Venice & Naples had never seen them and were fascinated by these books which led to quite a few doors being opened for us in our quest. 

Having been to Venice & Naples several times, these books really got our creative juices flowing. As a result we thought we would do a series of "then & now" style images. How hard could that be? Simple right! Just go to Venice and take the photo from the same spot, a bit of editing and "bobs your uncle"- easy. Well, how naive we were. Many of the shots were now just impossible to do, not because of the crowds but simply because access to the spots were no longer allowed and were at times so frustratingly close yet inaccessible. 

We have tried to get the images as close to the original as possible however this has not always been possible but it gives you pretty good idea of the "then & now" concept. We have used Photoshop to blend some of the original image into the new photo to enhance the concept.

Book circa 1930 (image looks older!)

The text at the back of this image in the book is as follows -

"This Canal is most characteristic and of notable beauty. The <campanile> which is seen - one, of the most stately of Middle Ages - is annexed to the Church of S. Barnaba, and was built by the architect Boschetti in 1749. This church boasts of pictures by Titian."

To automatically receive new posts for this project simply fill in your email details on the right hand side of the page. Hope you enjoy.

Check out Part 2 of this series at - 

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Vietnam, Central Highlands

We have been digging through our Vietnam archives. This image, which has never been previously released was taken in 1995 in a small village in the Central Highlands between the towns of Buon Ma Thuot & Pleiku

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Saturday, 10 November 2012

Montenegro, Kotor

Wow, time flies!. Just realised that our last blog post was back in August. We had planned to loyally keep the blog up to date while we were in Europe for 6 weeks but after shooting images all day & everyday for 6 weeks, downloading images every night, intermittent wi-fi connections, and just because we were buggered (tired,knackered,exhausted) - it didn't happen.
Kotor old-town at dusk
Most of our time on this trip was spent in specific places that we'd been to many times as we were trying to complete projects that are in the pipeline however before our visit to the Frankfurt Book Fair we planned to spend 5 days in Kotor, Montenegro - a place we had never visited but had heard a lot about.

Now, we were under the illusion that getting to Kotor was fairly simple as it is not exactly that remote, just down the road from Dubrovnik really!. Well, we thought wrong. Our plans initially had us going there directly after Santorini, Greece in mid September which as far as we were concerned was still a pretty busy month in the Mediterranean. As time was of the essence, we just could not make it work on the dates we wanted (ferries to Bar on the coast had stopped by the end of August), so we moved our visit till the end of the trip sandwiched between Naples, Italy and the Frankfurt Book Fair. We still had to spend 5 hours at Belgrade airport for a connecting flight but the wait was worth it. 

Kotor is becoming a  popular cruise ship destination especially for vessels doing the well trodden Adriatic cruise ports of Venice, Dubrovnik, Bari & Corfu. The old-town gets a bit inundated with the usual cruise ship tour groups but if you hire a car and explore the surrounding region it is amazingly tourist free. The coastal areas around Budva are geared towards mass Eastern Bloc tourism, especially from Russia but a visit to the area around the island of Sveti Stefan is still worthwhile (although the island is now a 5 Star resort and you cannot visit, unless you can afford to stay there of course!).

Here are just a few of our images taken in Kotor & surroundings. We will be posting more images on our website soon or you can 'Like Us' on Facebook to see more stunning images of this destination including quite a few HDR images.

The old town of Kotor taken with a 8mm 180degrees fisheye lens
1400 steps to the top for spectacular views
Rooftops - Kotor old-town
View from the top - Kotor old-town is in the foreground
Early morning - Kotor
Perast and the small island "Our Lady of the Rocks" 
We highly recommend a visit to this wonderful region. Most people will visit Dubrovnik in Croatia and bypass this area altogether on their way to Greece or Italy, however if you spend a few days in Kotor you will not be disappointed.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Vietnam - Part 2

Exactly 1 year after our first visit to Vietnam in 1994 we returned to find a rapidly changing country. Since the lifting of the trade embargo by the US government the previous year there was a noticeable change in the amount of construction projects commencing in Saigon. Many international hotels were being planned in anticipation of the increase in tourism that was about to engulf the country. Our favourite hotel, the Majestic, a famous drinking hole for journalists during the war years, with its magnificent French Colonial architecture and run-down interior was closed and being renovated. 
Ninh Binh
Minh Mang Tomb, Hue 
Tomb of Tu Duc, Hue
This trip didn't start off very well for us. A friend who was now working in Saigon was supposed to meet us but didn't show up and it was also a Tet holiday. So after a few days we headed this time towards the Central Highland towns of Buon Ma Thuot, Pleiku & Kontum. It was while we were in Pleiku that we encountered our second setback. We had returned from Kontum in the morning and were preparing to venture out to have a look around the town of Pleiku when there was a huge explosion outside the hotel. Without going into all the gruesome details please read the story as written by an American journalist who was also in the town, although not in the Hotel at the time. Regardless of what the press reported at the time we are pretty sure this was caused by unexploded ordinance from the war years. Needless to say it was a terrifying experience however we  continued our travels in Vietnam for another 5 weeks afterwards.

Visiting the north of Vietnam was definitely a different experience in contrast having been to the South twice. Not only did the cool weather hit us on arrival in Hanoi but the coolness of the local population was also evident. They were far more guarded than their cousins of the south. Considering that they were bombed continually during the war years and endured many hardships & losses of friends and family members, you really can't blame them for being standoffish when foreigners turn up. Regardless, we really liked Hanoi especially the 'Old Quarter'. It really showed us a different side of Vietnam that we hadn't seen before. 

Normally travellers go to Sapa in the north-west however we decided to visit Dien Bien Phu instead. Dien Bien Phu was the site of the Vietnamese battle with the French in 1954 which led to the eventual withdrawal of the French from Vietnam. The journey to Dien Bien Phu was hairy. The roads through the mountains were in a dreadful state and with some rain it became extremely hazardous. Our driver didn't seem to understand that going down steep slopes in the wet with no guardrail should be done in a low gear. We think he was doing it to save fuel.

For anyone interested in Indochinese history, Dien Bien Phu was fascinating however not particularly picturesque. You can still visit the French bunkers, a museum and see the odd tank still sitting on the plain surrounded by mountain peaks. The French unfortunately underestimated the determination of the Vietnamese to transport their heavy guns up the surrounding mountains and paid the price for the mistake. From Dien Bien Phu we headed towards Ninh Binh (see top image). The return journey was very fortunate for us but unfortunate for a truck driver navigating the mountainous roads. Our guide managed to gain permission to stay in a remote town for 2 days while the locals tried to work out how to remove the truck wreck that now blocked the road. 

Tourists in those days were only allowed to transit the area and could only stay at government approved accommodation. As there were no hotels or guesthouses in the village we were accommodated in what seemed to be an old army barracks that looked like it had not seen anyone for a very long time. Later that day we ventured into the town market square and everything came to a standstill. The locals were very wary of Paul as he is 6ft (1.8m) and was a bit rough looking back then. We retreated to our 'barracks' and advised our guide of our problem. He said he would try to pave the way for us to visit again the next day which was market day for the local hill-tribe people. The following day was just as difficult however eventually we started to blend in a little with the locals but the hill-tribe women were absolutely terrified of Paul and many retreated rapidly. We managed to shoot quite a few rolls of film that day but it was extremely challenging and if not for our guides persuasive manner with the locals we would have been image-less (see image above right). We eventually got clearance to leave and we made our way slowly around the wrecked truck on the mountain road. We stopped for some photos and a group of hill-tribe girls were heading down the hill so once again our guide re-assured them into being photographed (see image above left).

Our last stop was Ha Long Bay where we hired a traditional 'junk' to cruise around the many islands but unfortunately we encountered the worst weather and Paul ended up with a cold (strike 3). On departure our booked transfer to the airport at 5:00am didn't turn up so we scrambled to find another taxi which managed to get us to the airport just in time for our flight. What a trip!!! We spent 3 days in a Bangkok hotel, eating drinking and recuperating. It was an awesome trip and we managed to get some amazing images which we will share in future posts.

Rural Scene in North-West Vietnam

Friday, 13 July 2012

Vietnam - Part 1

View over Saigon, 1994
This post is based on panoramic images taken during our first visit to Vietnam in 1994. 
Paul has had a fascination in Indochinese history for many years and was itching to visit Vietnam. We planned to travel in the south half of the country on this trip for 6 weeks. The first half was spent in Ho Chi Minh City (still called Saigon by the locals) and the Mekong Delta area and in the remaining weeks we travelled from Ho Chi Minh City to Hue via Dal Lat. We made all the arrangements ourselves via FAX (yes, you could do all of this yourself without the internet,email and travel agents!!). We hired our own mini-van, guide & driver for a ridiculously low cost and headed into the Delta. This way we could stop wherever & whenever we liked without inconveniencing others. We visited Mytho, Cantho, Rach Gia, Ha Tien, Chau Doc, & Vinh Long before arriving back in Ho Chi Minh City several weeks later.

Rubber Plantation on the way to Da Lat
Hoi An

Dambri Waterfall near Da Lat
Anybody that has visited Vietnam will testify that it is an amazing country to visit. The people, food and the landscapes are incredible from a photographers perspective. We spent another 6 weeks in Vietnam exactly 1 year later and really noticed the changes as a result of the trade embargo being lifted in 1994. On the 1995 trip we visited the Central Highlands and the north of Vietnam and still did not manage to see everything that this country has to offer.

Our Tips

1.Polarizing Filter - Make sure you take a Polarizing filter for all your lenses, except for your ultra-wide lenses which probably can't accommodate this filter without vignetting.
2.Tripod - To take great landscape shots you need a tripod especially if you are shooting with large format cameras as you will be getting slow shutter speeds even in bright light (the 2 stop ND centre spot filter used on the G617 camera doesn't help either).
3.ND (Neutral Density) Filter - To get a shot similar to the waterfall shot to the right you will need a fairly slow shutter speed so consider taking a ND filter to reduce the light.
4.Batteries & Memory Cards - Make sure you take a spare battery and sufficient memory cards especially if you are shooting in RAW. Also consider taking an external hard drive to back up your images.
5.Camera Bag - Saigon & Hanoi were pretty hectic cities when we visited, and would be far more these days so we would suggest you consider using a 'sling' camera bag or similar as opposed to a 'backpack' style bag as you will be constantly changing lenses. These style of bags allow you to quickly access your equipment without removing them from your back. In addition, for security reasons it is better to have a bag over your head & shoulder at all times.
6.Security - Consider removing your watch or any loose jewellery while walking around any of the main cities especially Saigon (Paul lost his watch on the first trip, but that's another story). Be especially careful when you are concentrating on taking photos and your attention is elsewhere.
7.Golden Hour - The 'Golden Hour' is the ideal time to shoot landscapes no matter where you are. The term is used loosely as it usually lasts longer than an hour. Try to shoot in the first couple of hours of the morning and the late afternoon for best results. In addition, you are likely to encounter far less tourists when shooting during this time of the day.
8.Lenses - We both shoot very differently with DSLR's. Helen shoots with a 18-200mm lens only and Paul shoots with 3 lenses covering a range from 18 to 200mm. Everyone has their favourite combination of lenses but this range will cover most of your shooting needs. Also try getting into a habit of cleaning your lenses on a regular basis. The best way to minimize dust on your sensor when changing lenses is to always face the camera down when changing. Practise doing this quickly before you leave and it will save you heaps of time removing dust spots in post processing.
9.Taking photos of locals - Most locals are more than happy to have their photos taken but it is always courteous to ask first. We will feature a post in the future highlighting people shots in Vietnam, so stay tuned.
10.Silica Gel - The weather can be extremely hot & humid in Vietnam, especially in the south. Make sure you take a few bags of silica gel to keep in your camera bag to absorb any moisture. Also, it is quite usual for hotel rooms to have the air conditioner pumped up resulting in your camera viewfinder & filter to fog up when you venture out into the heat. Allow your camera to adjust to the change in temperature for a few minutes before shooting.

Paddy Fields enroute to Hue
Sunset over the Perfume River, Hue

Sunrise, Nha Trang

All the images above were captured on the Fuji G617 Professional camera using mostly
Fuji Velvia 50 transparency film (4 shots per roll). This camera produces 
6cm x 17cm transparencies and allow enlargements up to billboard size, making them ideal for domestic & commercial display prints. The largest we have printed one of these images was 25m x 5m for an international trade show in Berlin.

Click here to read Part 2 covering the 6 weeks we spent in 1995 visiting the Central Highlands, Hanoi, Halong Bay, Ninh Binh, & Dien Bien Phu. Here are some links to Vietnam tourism sites that you may find helpful -

For more panoramic images of Vietnam visit

If you have any questions about our techniques in shooting great landscapes in any format please leave us a comment below and we will get back to you. You can also subscribe to this blog and receive these posts direct to your inbox.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Turkey, Istanbul

Istanbul has to be one of our favourite cities to visit in Europe. The city and the country has a special bond with Paul as he spent 8 weeks traversing the country back in the 80's. 
Although Istanbul is now well trodden with tourism it is still easy to get lost in the maze of streets and away from the hordes of tourists. The majority of tourist sites in the city are located in the area close to the 'Blue' & 'Aya Sophia' Mosques making it easy to do it all on foot. 
Ceiling of the Blue Mosque

Grand Bazaar

10 of the best things to see & do in Istanbul

  1. The Blue Mosque - Built in the early 17th century this mosque is still in use and gets its name from the magnificent blue tiles adorning the interior walls. An amazing place to visit . Entry is free. However please note that the mosque usually closes for about 90 minutes several times a day for prayers.
  2. Aya Sopia Mosque - Amazingly this mosque is over 1,000 years older than the Blue Mosque. It is no longer used as a mosque and is now a museum. Entry is about 20 TL and I think it is closed on Mondays.  Don't even think of trying to get a tripod into this mosque.
  3. Topkapi Palace - A definite must see, not only for all its historical interest, but also it's magnificent views over Istanbul & the Golden Horn. Entry is approx 20 TL and extra if you want to visit the Harem.
  4. Grand Bazaar - the Grand Bazaar is one of the worlds largest covered markets with over 3,000 shops. Even though it is usually swarming with tourists a visit to Istanbul is not complete until you have visited at least once. 
  5. Spice Bazaar -  The colours & exotic aromas here are a treat to your eyes & nasal cavities.
  6. Galata Bridge & Galata Tower - The Galata Bridge spans the Golden Horn. It is the 5th bridge to span this location. Make sure you visit the lower level. The Galata Tower built in the early 14th century is on the north side of the Galata Bridge and from the top offers stupendous views over Istanbul.
  7. Bosphorus Ferry trip -  If you have the time this is a great way to see Istanbul from the water. 
  8. Dolmabahce Palace - An amazing palace located on the shores of the Bosphorus in the Besiktas district of Istanbul.
  9. Basilica Cistern - Dating back to AD532, this underground attraction with its columned chamber is great to escape the heat if visiting in Summer. There is an entry fee.
  10. Chocolate Baklava - You must visit Baklavaci Said at Divan Yolu Cd, No.88, Cemberlitas which is not far from the Grand Bazaar. The chocolate  baklava is incredibly yummy. They also have a shop in Sirkeci but this one is closest to all the main sights. 

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Italy, Naples

Apartment Block in Naples, Italy
Apartment Block, Naples - Italy
Naples is usually just a transit point for many tourists who base themselves in the city while they visit nearby attractions such as Mt Vesuvius, Pompeii, Herculaneum, Capri, Sorrento & the Amalfi Coast. What a shame, as Naples is a wonderful city that is blessed with many attractions and culinary delights. We have been to Naples many times and still have not seen a fraction of what it has to offer. 

This image of an apartment complex was taken in the historical centre of Naples. There is a courtyard at the bottom of the image but we didn't include this in the shot as it was fairly cluttered and we wanted to place the emphasis on the grungy architecture and the wonderfully patterned ceilings on each of the levels.

This image has also been tonemapped using
Photomatix Pro software which is great for bringing out the texture in the walls. Do yourself a favour and visit Naples for a few days and meander all the alleyways in the historical centre and you will find there is an amazing amount of photographic opportunities that await you. 

What's your favourite spot in Naples ? Leave us a comment.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Tunisia, Tunis

Leather Masks in Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia
Leather Masks at Sidi Bou Said
We were fortunate to visit Tunisia on two separate occasions just prior to the December 2010 events that resulted in the downfall of the Ben Ali dictatorship. As we had been to Libya before we thought that the problems may have been caused by us however we have never been to Egypt so we now sleep well at nights knowing that revolutions were not following us around. 

Taxi Tours Poster
Taxi Tours - 2010
Tunisia is a small North African country of just 165,000 sq. km (64,000 sq. miles) that lies on the Mediterranean Sea and is sandwiched between its much larger neighbours - Libya & Algeria. The southern part of the country is predominantly made up of the Sahara Desert and therefore extremely arid.  Although the coastline has numerous sandy beaches & resorts such as Sousse, Monastir & Hammametthe main 3 attractions that entice visitors to Tunis would have to be Carthage, Sidi Bou Said & the Tunis Medina (fans of the Star Wars films would probably differ as many locations were used in Tunisia).
Ancient city of Carthage, Tunisia

Blue Door in Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia
Colourful door in Sidi Bou Said
Carthage - The ancient city of Carthage is located about 17 kms (11 miles) from the capital city of Tunis. The Presidential Palace also sits overlooking the ancient site of Carthage and as we we there prior to the revolution, 
were instructed that no photos were to be taken in the direction of the palace. Quite frankly, there really isn't much to see here. As interesting as its history is on paper there really isn't that much left compared to other archaeological sites in the Mediterranean such as Pompeii, Ephesus & Leptis Magna. A visit however to the Carthage National Museum which is not far away is well worth a visit not only for its contents but for its splendid views over the city of Tunis. 

Sidi Bou Said - The quaint small town of Sidi Bou Said is about 20kms (12miles) from Tunis. This seaside town is a major tourist attraction due to its white-washed houses and brightly coloured blue doors. It also has a reputation as a town known for its artists. It's an interesting town to visit but try to visit when there are no cruise ships in port as it gets swamped by tour groups. You can get great view of the Mediterranean Sea & Bay of Tunis from the top of the hill. Well worth a visit is  a traditional home that now has been converted into a museum. It is a fascinating look at traditional life in the 18th century. There is also a small souk and souvenir stalls selling the traditionally made bird cages which are extremely popular. Don't forget to haggle.

Alleyway in the Medina, Tunis - Tunisia
The Tunis Medina
Tunis Medina - Probably the most authentic Tunisian experience of the 3, as you can easily lose yourself in the myriad of alleyways lined with vendors selling just about anything to the enthusiastic tourist. If you get off the beaten track you can find many of the shops that the are frequented by the locals when purchasing items for their everyday needs. Helen was sure that I had managed to get us hopelessly lost here but my ability to navigate back to our starting point impressed her. At least this time I was right !!!

We highly recommend a visit to Tunisia and we would definately love to get back there to photograph & experience more of the country. 

Our Tips:

  1. Like any bazaar, medina, marketplace always carry your bag at the front of your body. This makes it a lot easier to get into the small shops. Never ever carry anything in your back pocket. This is where a sling camera bag comes in handy.
  2. Be prepared to increase your ISO settings in the Medina to allow you to get a good depth of field with a fast shutter speed. Taking photos in the narrow Medina, like any marketplace where there is limited light and huge amounts of contrast is very challenging. Be patient.
  3. Concentrate on capturing portrait/candid people shots or colourful images of souvenirs & wares.
  4. For images taken elsewhere make sure you carry a polarizing filter/ND. These will be particularly useful in Sidi Bou Said, for example, if you want to shoot with a wide aperture in bright light for portraits. As most of the buildings are white it could also cause your camera meter to underexpose images so maybe consider overexposing the shots a little (do a few test shots and look at your histogram. If the meter is underexposing then it will start to bunch up to the left of the histogram. Adjust your exposure compensation dial until the tones start to move back towards the centre of the histogram. Overexposed images will start to bunch up to the right).
  5. Try some HDR shots at Carthage as they allow tripods to be taken in. On a bright sunny day you may want to hand-hold your HDR shots but if time permits put the tripod to work.
We do not have our Tunisia gallery up and running on our website yet however you can follow us on Twitter (@widescenes) or Facebook (WideScenes Photography) to hear about  the latest image galleries to be included on our site.

What's your favourite place in Tunisia? Leave us a comment.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Kiribati, Kiritimati

Bonefishing in Kiritimati, Kiribati
A couple of posts ago we featured the island of Tarawa so thought it appropriate to do a post on Kiritimati island which is also part of Kiribati. As mentioned in our previous post, Tarawa & Kiritimati are seperated  by 3,300 kilometers of Pacific Ocean and can only be reached by a weekly flight from Nadi in Fiji or Honolulu in Hawaii. The Air Pacific flight usually lands here enroute to Honolulu and stops again in Kiritimati on its return to Nadi. Most of the tourists who visit this remote island are sports fisherman who come for the world class bonefishing (similar to flyfishing without the river) and the occasional yacht , cruise ship & surfer. The accommodation on the island is simple but comfortable and the food & hospitality of the locals is fantastic. Surprisingly, Kiritimati (also known as Christmas Island, mainly because it is pronounced ki-ris-mas) is quite a large island and most accommodation (we recommend The Villages Lodge) is located not far from the main town of London. Car hire can usually be organised with tour & accommodation operators on the island however, if driving around on your own we strongly suggest that you let the local tourist office know where you are going as there are some extremely remote areas where there is little traffic and locals.
Broken Down in Kiritimati, Kiribati
Broken Down
Our vehicle broke down in one of these remote areas and our guide spent 1-2 hours walking to get assistance. Don't let this put you off as this island is absolutely awesome in its diverse landscape and beauty. We found this island to be as close to landscape photography paradise (in the island category) as anywhere we have been. Keen birdwatchers must visit the bird sanctuary on Cook Island as this is home to 18 different species of birds including the endangered Phoenix Petrel & the White Throated Storm Petrel.

Some of the places to see and things to do when visiting Kiritimati are -
Canoe in the Lagoon, Kiritimati - Kiribati
The Lagoon
  1. Cook Island Bird Sanctuary - you will have to organise this through a Tour Operator or the Kiribati Tourism Office.
  2. Korean Wreck 
  3. Boat Trip on the Lagoon
  4. Visit the Salt Flats 
  5. Beaches near the area known as Paris
  6. Visit to the village of Poland
  7. Sunday church service
  8. Try Bonefishing & Deep Sea Fishing.  Local tour operators and accommodation will be able to organise a guide and boat
  9. Scuba Diving - some of the clearest water you will ever see!
  10. Chill out and relax.
For any further information on Kiritimati visit the Kiribati National Tourism Office. For a map of Kiritimati click here. We produce one of the postcard ranges on both Tarawa & Kiritimati. To view the postcards click here

*Please note that we refer to the island as Kiritimati rather than the more common title of Christmas Island as this gets confused with the Christmas Island located off the north west  coast of Australia.

To see more images of Kiritimati visit our website.

Remote Beach in the area know as Paris, Kiritimati - Kiribati
Remote Beach in the area known as Paris

Friday, 25 May 2012


Talava Arches, Niue
Niue (pronounced New-ay) is a tiny  South Pacific island located 2,400 kilometers (1,500 miles) north-east of New Zealand. The land area is just 260 sq. kilometers and is known as "The Rock" to the approximately 1,400 inhabitants. Surprisingly there is quite a lot to see and do on Niue, especially if you love reef walking, cavingbiking, diving, golfing, whale watching or even if you just want to chill out. The great thing about Niue is that it is such a relaxing place and few tourists to compete with when visiting attractions around the island. There is stacks of great accommodation all on the west coast of the island and all within a short drive to the main town of Alofi. The food and local hospitality, like most of the Pacific Islands, is fabulous. Hiring a car or motorbike & driving around the island is delightfully easy, affordable and the best way to get to the many caves. Many people also visit Niue for humpback whale watching as it is one of the best places to see them migrating to warmer waters from July to October each year. 

Togo Chasm, Niue
 Togo Chasm
10 Things to Do on Niue
Small Cave, Niue
One of the many caves on Niue

  1. Visit one of the many caves especially Togo Chasm (see photo right)
  2. Walk on the reef at low tide or take one of the tours (make sure you pack reef shoes)
  3. Diving/Snorkelling
  4. Hire a bicycle and take a leisurely trip around the island.
  5. Play a round of golf (9 holes).
  6. Visit the Noni factory
  7. Visit a Sunday church service.
  8. Whale watching (take your binoculars although they quite often come close to shore).
  9. Go Fishing.
  10. Chill out & do nothing

Our Tips 

When taking photos in Niue -
  1. Make sure you always wear a hat, carry plenty of water & apply suntan lotion(30+).
  2. Take a tripod as the light in most caves is fairly dim 
  3. Definately take a Polarizing Filter for all your lenses
  4. Reef shoes for taking photos at low tide
  5. Consider taking some HDR images where contrast is high (see image below)
Canoe in a cave, Niue

Many of the images on the Niue Tourism website were taken by us when we were commissioned  by the SPTO (South Pacific Tourism Organisation) to provide images to assist in their tourism promotion. Visit our website to view more images of Niue.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Italy, Rome

HDR image in the Roman Forum, Rome - Italy
'Rome - Old & New'
Another HDR image. This image was taken in Rome on a visit to the Roman Forum. We think a great title for this image would be "Rome - Old & New" as the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II , known to Romans as the "typewriter",  in the background is relatively new compared to the Roman Forum. The "typewriter" was inaugurated in 1911 but was not completed until 1935. The €7 cost to get to the top of the monument are well worth the visit as there are stunning views over Rome.

The Roman Forum on the other hand dates back as far as the 7th century BC and is a must see on an any travellers visit to Rome. Allow yourself at least a couple of hours to wander through this site as it is a fairly large area.

Once again, this image was taken on one of several visits for our 'Cruising the Mediterranean' series of pictorial souvenir books that currently sell on selected MSC Cruises itineraries.

This image was a set of 3 exposures (-2,0,+2) and combined in Photomatix Pro 4.2 software. Once again we have used the 'Painterly' preset and then backed off the effect to give it a more realistic effect. Adding people to the image has given the image some scale. For any further information about our techniques used here please leave a comment.

Our Tips:
  1. Like any attraction in Rome try to get there early to avoid the crowds. Don't go in June/July/August as It's just too hot, busy & stessful. We always visit in September/October as there are less tourists, accommodation is cheaper and the weather is still good.
  2. On a nice cloudless day the contrast will be pretty high with lots of shadows so perfect for HDR photography however cloudless skies can be boring.
  3. Be patient as a lot of people will walk in front of your camera during shots. Always shoot on Continuous-High to take the shots as quick as possible.
  4. Try to use a tripod as much as possible although we tend to handhold most of our shots including the one above.