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.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Kiribati, Tarawa

Father son carrying a fishing net, Biketawa - Kiribati
This image was taken on Biketawa Islet in North Tarawa, Kiribati (ki-ri-bas). The father & son are heading off fishing. We especially like the expression on the fathers face, it really makes the shot. We were fortunate, as you can imagine in such a remote place, that they came by and offered us some foreground interest to liven up an otherwise dull image. It was pure luck that they wore great contrasting colours !! We chose a wide aperture to soften the background to draw attention to the subjects. Purists would say "to improve this shot you should have positioned the subjects further to the right in the frame", however most travel photography images are taken quickly and on the spur of the moment. We literally ran until we were in range to capture this image before they disappeared. Sometime you just need to get the shot and not worry too much about 'the rules' in photography. Always use 'the rules' as a guide but don't worry too much about breaking them.

The image below was also taken in Tarawa. We had just gotten into the car after getting some shots of a roadside stall selling fish when this little boy started playing peek-a-boo with us. Every time we tried to take a photo he would disappear. Eventually, with the camera on Continuous High we captured the shot. Although Kiribati is probably not very high on most peoples "places to visit" list we highly recommend a visit (especially photographers) to this wonderful, friendly and interesting corner of the Pacific Islands. We will be adding more images of this destination in future posts.

Young boy, Tarawa - Kiribati 
Kiribati was originally known as the Gilbert Islands. The 32 atolls and 1 coral island covers an area in the Pacific of over 3.5 million square kilometers. The main atolls are Tarawa and Kiritimati, although they are seperated by 3,300 kilometers of ocean and can only be reached via Fiji. The Kiribati people (known as I-Kiribati) have to be among the friendliest people in the Pacific Islands. If you are lucky enough to be invited to witness an I-Kiribati traditional dance (not our video) you are in for a real treat. We were commissioned by the SPTO (South Pacific Tourism Authority) to photograph 4 countries - Nauru, Kiribati, Tuvalu & Niue to provide them with images to assist in tourism promotion. For more information on Kiribati visit the Kiribati National Tourism Office website.

We also produce a postcard range that sells in Tarawa & Kiritimati. Click here to see the postcards.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Italy, Taormina

HDR image of alleyway in Taormina, Sicily - Italy
Made in Sicily
This is a HDR shot that we took in Taormina while shooting images for our Cruising the Mediterranean series of pictorial souvenir books.

Taormina is located on the east coast of Sicily and is about halfway between the towns of Messina & Catania. The town is perched on a hillside overlooking the Ionian Sea and is about a 45 minute drive to Mt Etna, Europe's largest active volcano.

The town of Taormina features an ancient Greek amphitheatre, many fine restaurants, old churches, wine bars and antique shops. Corso Umberto 1 is the main street of the town and is only accessible by pedestrians. Many small alleyways lead off the main street.

What we loved about this scene was the 'Made in Sicily' sign and the artwork halfway up the stairs. Without these the image would have been quite dull. As the scene was quite high contrast we decided to capture it as a HDR. We processed this in Photomatix Pro 4.2 and gave it a bit of a 'painterly' look which seemed appropriate considering the contents of the image.

Our Tips:
  1. Get there early before all the tourists arrive or better still stay in Taormina for a few days.
  2. Extremely difficult to set up a tripod when its busy to get a shot like this so you'll have to hand-hold the 3 shots. 
  3. Try bracing yourself against a wall, or tuck in your elbows close to your body and hold your breath during the shots. This will hopefully alleviate any movement between shots.
  4. Make sure there is some interesting foreground features to make the shot more interesting and try several different angles.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Fiji Islands, Taveuni

Fiji Waterfall, Taveuni - Fiji

This is one of Paul's favourite Fiji images. It was taken on the island of Taveuni in Fiji with the Fuji G617 Panoramic Camera. The waterfall is located on the east coast of Taveuni, known as the Garden Island, and can only be reached by a 90 minute hike along the Lavena Coastal Walk. We were lucky on the day that we took this as the weather was overcast with the occasional shower making the image low contrast allowing heaps of detail. Many people swim in the surprisingly icy waters to the waterfalls (there's actually another waterfall slightly to the left but out of shot). Most people go to the more popular Bouma Falls which are not far away so you may get the place to yourself. We hired a guide in Lavena who not only carried the tripod but who also constantly ran off into the bushes or climbed coconut trees to provide us with a different fruit each time. 

We produce one of the postcard ranges that sell in Fiji and this image is one of the most popular ones. We try to make it to Fiji at least once a year so if you see us, give us a BULA (pronounced Boolah). The correct greeting is "Ni sa bula vinaka" but everyone just says the Bula. For more Fiji panoramic images visit our website.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Greece - Santorini

HDR image of a Blue door, Santorini - Greece
We love doors!!. Everywhere we seem to travel we always come back with heaps of doors and other abstract shots. You have probably noticed this on our website. We think that doors, especially weathered and unusual doors give a destination a lot of character. The doors in this post were all take on the island of Santorini in the Greek Islands. We have been there many times over the years as if drawn there by some huge magnet. A visit to the village of Oia has to be on every travellers "bucket list" but don't forget to visit other villages on the island such as Pyrgos where you can get spectacular views over Santorini's interior. Make sure you also visit the volcanic islands of Nea Kameni & Palea Kameni offering spectacular views looking back at Fira, the main town of Santorini.

These single images have been tonemapped using HDR software Photomatix Pro, they have also been sharpened with Nik Sharpener Pro 3.0. We used the 'structure slider' to add some more texture to the doors and to highlight the wood grain. 

Our Tips: 

HDR image of a Blue door, Santorini - Greece
  1. Shoot on 'A' mode (Aperture Priority) 
  2. Try to shoot at between F8-F11 which are the sharpest apertures of most lenses. You don't need much depth of field on shots like this. Also make sure that the aperture you use has a corresponding shutter speed that can be handheld without camera shake.
  3. Don't only shoot the door too tightly. Take a few shots with lots of room around the door  as you will be able to crop out unwanted areas of the image later.
  4. Overcast days are great for shooting these type of shots due to low contrast however don't let a sunny day stop you from capturing the shot.
  5. Try different angles and get down low for a shot as well
  6. If there is an unusual feature on the door, such as a doorknob, then try to get a few close-up shots of this as well.
  7. Most importantly - enjoy 

If you are interested in finding out more information on the equipment we used and settings then please leave us a comment. For more door images taken in Santorini please click here

And don't forget, if you want to purchase Photomatix Pro  which we used to produce the HDR effect you can use the coupon code 'widescenes' to receive a 15% discount when purchasing.

We are planning to visit Santorini again in September/October 2012. For anyone interested in joining us on a photographic walking tour of Fira & Oia please contact us for details.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Italy - Cinque Terre

Riomaggiore Gelato, Cinque Terre - Italy
This is one of our favourite shots during our visit to Cinque Terre on the west coast of Italy. This image was taken in Riomaggiore, the southern-most of the 5 towns which make up Cinque Terre. The other 4 towns are Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza & Monterosso al Mare. 
We spent 3 wonderful days here while on a break after shooting images for our Cruising the Mediterranean range of books. The image was taken in the late afternoon and we especially love this image as it captures a couple (and their shadow) indulging in an afternoon gelato.