201 Photos - Jul 3, 2011
Photo: Photo: Schoolboys playing a dusty game of football in the setting sun. Port-Bergé, Madagascar.Photo: Colosseum at dusk. Rome, Italy.Photo: I have no idea where this guy came from but I hope he knows where he's going. Saharan Desert, MoroccoPhoto: A lake near Devin Castle, Bratislava.Photo: Minutes before sunrise at the Avenue of Baobabs. Morondava, MadagascarPhoto: I got up early this morning with the intention of taking some photos of the morning mist around our canal boat, but ended up getting sidetracked by this cobweb covered in dew. Perhaps not surprisingly there was no sign of the spider!Photo: Walking on waterPhoto: Kolmanskop ghost town, NamibiaPhoto: Lightning strike. Sesriem, NamibiaPhoto: Abu Simbel, EgyptPhoto: One of our zodiacs being dwarfed by the surrounding icebergs. Scoresbysund, GreenlandPhoto: Huge icebergs in the distance. The sun never quite set, but would sit on the horizon like this for several hours.Photo: Quiver Tree at sunset, NamibiaPhoto: Ice as far as we could see in every direction on the Greenland Sea. Some of the ice was multi-year ice (very thick) and the density was getting higher than the ship was designed to handle. It had slowed our progress to a crawl and we were often backtracking large distances trying to find a safe passage.Photo: A lone impala walking across the Etosha salt pan.Photo: Woman tending to her crops. Taken on the road to Punakha, Bhutan.Photo: Solitaire, NamibiaPhoto: Photo: Namibrand Nature Reserve, NamibiaPhoto: Our ship, the Akademik Shokalskiy on the right. To the left of the centre you can just make out some of our group kayaking.Photo: St Mark's Square, VenicePhoto: A lone iceberg floats by.Photo: VenicePhoto: Hong KongPhoto: Athens, GreecePhoto: Etosha National Park, NamibiaPhoto: Tai Chi at Kowloon Park, Hong KongPhoto: Sunrise at the Avenue of Baobabs.Photo: Graveyard in Hakuba, Japan. The ski jumps from the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics are visible in the background.Photo: Punakha Dzong sits at the confluence of Pho Chhu (Father River) and Mo Chhu (Mother River), BhutanPhoto: Fatehpur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh, IndiaPhoto: Water Palace, Jaipur, IndiaPhoto: VenicePhoto: The picturesque blue streets of Chefchaouen, MoroccoPhoto: Faluka on the Nile at sunsetPhoto: Meat trader. Luxor, EgyptPhoto: Sunset at the NilePhoto: Young monk selling good luck bracelets at Jangsarpey Lhakhang, BhutanPhoto: El-karnak. Luxor, EgyptPhoto: Kolmanskop ghost town, NamibiaPhoto: Times Square, Hong KongPhoto: Bare hillside, SardiniaPhoto: A trip ashore to try to reach the glacier that can be seen in the distance. We didn't quite make it; there were too many rivers impeding our progress. Note the rifle being carried in case we encountered polar bears.Photo: Abu Simbel, EgyptPhoto: Fishing boats in the harbour at Kota Kinabalu, Borneo.Photo: Monks at Trongsa Dzong. Paro, BhutanPhoto: Sultan's Elephant. The Mall, LondonPhoto: Watching the sunset from a waterside restaurant. Croatia.Photo: Photo: Another party of camel trekkers.Photo: Sunrise over the Himalayas at Dochu La.Photo: Kolmanskop ghost town, NamibiaPhoto: Here's a nice colourful abstract macro shot to start the weekPhoto: Low tide on the beach at Brean. I took this shot from a vantage point up a nearby hill. It hasn't been converted to black and white; the sun was directly in front of me and was reflecting off the wet sand.Photo: This was taken inside an abandoned coal mine on a hillside near the town of Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen. Coal has been mined in Longyearbyen from 1900 and is still being mined there today, though it is not such a big part of the economy as it once was.

I was up here exploring on my own and found it a little unsettling. I didn't know how safe it was so I didn't explore too deeply.Photo: Rather than go looking for it, this is one of those photos that came to me. I took this while seated in a restaurant on the coast of Croatia, enjoying a seafood meal that was as good as the view. I wish every mealtime could be like that one!Photo: Here's my contribution to #TreeTuesday. This was taken a week or so ago during a walk along from Chippenham to Lacock along the Wilts and Berks Canal. The canal was abandoned in 1901 and nature slowly took over, aided by some of the structures being used as demolition practice during the Second World War!

The canal is now in the process of being restored to its former glory by a team of volunteers. This work was very much in progress on the Sunday we were there and it was impressive to see how much effort was being put into it.Photo: Schilthorn cable car, SwitzerlandPhoto: Nan Lian Gardens, Diamond Hill, Hong KongPhoto: Palacio da Pena Palace, Sintra, PortugalPhoto: A lone oryx walks across the dunes at Sossusvlei, NamibiaPhoto: Luzzu fishing boat, Marsaxlokk, MaltaPhoto: Pigeon frenzy. Athens, GreecePhoto: Temple of Philae. Aswan, EgyptPhoto: Airshow in MaltaPhoto: Hong KongPhoto: Viewpoint onto the salt pan. Etosha National Park, NamibiaPhoto: Space Elephant statue outside the Dali Museum, LondonPhoto: Prayer flags flapping in the breeze at the Tiger's Nest Monastery. Paro, BhutanPhoto: Sunrise on the coast of the Åland IslandsPhoto: Young monks at playPhoto: This photo was taken at 3:45am from our ship's deck as we passed through ØFjord in Greenland. We were lucky - only a few days earlier the fjord had been impassable due to ice.Photo: Two young mothers climbing the steps to the Jama Masjid mosque, Fatehpur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh, India.Photo: This was taken last autumn, on the way up to the little mountain village of Gimmelwald in the Swiss Alps.Photo: A moody sky one evening over Luxembourg City.Photo: Buring incense at Man Mo Temple, Hong Kong.Photo: This photo was taken from Dochu La Pass in Bhutan at sunrise. The mountain is called Gangkhar Puensum which means "three mountain siblings". It is the highest Mt in Bhutan and at 7,570m high it is also the highest unclimbed mountain in world.

Mountaineering has been banned completely in Bhutan since 2003. The story as I understand it is because the local yak herders complained to the king that people climbing the mountains were disturbing the spirits and in turn upsetting their yak. The king responded with initially a partial ban, followed by a complete ban some years later.Photo: Taj MahalPhoto: Night falls over Tignes ski resort in the French Alps.Photo: Sunrise at the Avenue of Baobabs.Photo: Musicians at the Black Necked Crane festival. Phobjikha, BhutanPhoto: I've found the riots across London these past few days to be pretty disturbing, in particular the blatant disregard for the property and livelihoods of others that has been shown by the looters is simply astonishing. What sort of person choses to behave like this simply because they have safety in numbers and think they won't get caught? Here's hoping that as police review CCTV and other footage over the coming weeks, many of them will get identified and held accountable.

I didn't sleep too well but thankfully our neighbourhood remained trouble free. Here's hoping that will extend across all of London tonight and the worst of it is now behind us.

Here's a photo I took of a hazy sunrise over London, taken one peaceful morning some time ago:Photo: This was one of several arctic fox that we spotted during a landing in Spitzbergen. They were very curious, obviously wanting to come and investigate us but also very skittish so they never ended up coming all that close.Photo: Archery is the national sport of Bhutan. It is very common to see archery tournaments being played throughout the country, where contestants use both traditional and modern compound bows to try and hit small targets placed 140m apart (for comparison, the Olympic standard distance is 50m). An archery game is a very social occasion, with much banter and cheering amongst both the competitors and spectators. Some of the bolder contestants stand just a few feet from the target to help keep score, and to give advice to or taunt the opposition players.

This photo shows some children in a field playing Khuru (Bhutanese darts). This game is played in a very similar manner to their archery, with points scored by hitting a small wooden target in the distance. These children were already very accurate and no doubt Khuru prepares them well for when they're old enough to have their own bow.Photo: Here's an old photo of mine from back in 2004. I was on some travels passing through South Africa and during that trip a friend of mine +Darryl Pentz took me to visit Vergelegen Estate near Cape Town, which is where this photo was taken.

At the start of my trip I had just bought my first DSLR - a Canon 300D with kit lens. That camera went on to last me nearly two years, and it would likely have been a lot longer if I hadn't had a nasty accident while cleaning the sensor two days before I departed on a trip to Borneo. Important lesson learned... don't leave any maintenance until the last minute (and of course be careful when you clean your sensor)!Photo: I took this photo from the side of a rural road in Bhutan. The two women were walking up to the next village. It was difficult to compose the shot given their movement and the mottled light but I'm pleased with the way a streak of sun caught the woman on the left, lifting her intricately patterned coat out of silhouette. [Edit: though the pattern doesn't show up so well here - presumably due to additional compression being applied during the upload?]

The red flowers in the distance between the two women are poinsettias, and the white "wiggle" to the right is a chorten (a Buddhist monument, very common throughout Bhutan). In the background are the foothills of the Himalayas.Photo: This is definitely not the best photo I've ever taken but it's a stunning spot regardless. The town of Esch-sur-Sûre towards the north of Luxembourg is well worth a visit should you ever get the chance.Photo: Here's an aerial view of downtown Auckland. I took this from a flyby in a World War II Catalina - a two engined amphibious flying boat. The plane is owned by a club and they make a few flights each year that it is possible to be part of if you contact them far enough in advance. It's an amazing experience and an opportunity to get a very unique view of Auckland and the Hauraki Gulf.

If you're interested in finding out more feel free to ask me, or take a look at their website: http://www.catalina.org.nz/Photo: I took this from the back of an elephant in Kaziranga National Park just after the sun had disappeared over the horizon. Elephant safari is a great way to explore the park. Other animals such as deer and rhino are much more comfortable with the presence of an elephant than a jeep and so it's possible to get much closer to them. It's also a very peaceful way to enjoy the scenery.Photo: I recently saw a photo from +Athena Carey of a location I thought I recognised, https://plus.google.com/110258598415939907971/posts/YFhQu1RbmQC. After a quick rummage through my image library I found what I was looking for. Sure enough it's the same spot at the top of the Aiguille du Midi, a mountain in the Mont Blanc range.

The day I was up there was clear and fairly calm, but a very cold -20°C. I didn't waste much time before snowboarding down the 2800m vertical Vallee Blanche glacier descent. I don't know how long the climbers in this photo stayed where they were but one thing is for sure, they must have had much warmer equipment than I did!Photo: A beautiful part of the world - Krka National Park in Croatia.Photo: I've just arrived home from a weekend canal boating on the Wey River. It was the first time I've been and, apart from getting caught in the odd downpour while we had the boat halfway through a lock, it was great fun. Hopefully I'll have some photos to upload from that trip in the next few days. In the meantime here's a completely unrelated photo from Tallinn, Estonia!Photo: During one of our stops in the canal boat on the weekend we walked to the Royal Horticultural Society Gardens at Wisley. The gardens are huge and there's an amazing variety of plants to be seen. Unfortunately we only had just over an hour there so we hardly scratched the surface of what was on offer - I think I'll have to go back again sometime when time is on my side.

Here's one of the many resident honey bees, hard at work gathering nectar and pollen:Photo: Here's another spiderweb photo from Monday, a bit more abstract than the last one I postedPhoto: I decided to take a quick break from my packing and upload one last photo before I go on holiday...

This is at sunrise on the drive in to Sossusvlei, Namibia. The 60km+ drive in was a bit of a dilemma. The gates to the park open just on sunrise, and there's a mad rush by everyone trying to get to the dunes and vlei first before too many people arrive. The problem is, the view out the car window looks like this! I decided to forget about arriving early and just take my time and enjoy the scenery along the way. I also walked the last 5km cross country instead of taking a 4x4 along the final sandy road. I'm glad I did since the walk itself was amazing, and by the time I finally arrived at the destination many of the people had finished doing what they were doing and I had much of the vlei to myself anyway.Photo: Sunset at the Quiver Tree Forest, Keetmanshoop, Namibia.

Quiver trees are actually a species of aloe, and are so named because locals traditionally used the branches to make quivers for their arrows.Photo: Inside the barracks at Kolmanskop ghost town, Namibia.Photo: Normally it's a bad idea to take photos in the harsh sun, but for some reason I like this one. I think because there's such a contrast between the glare off the water, the cold of the iceberg, and the haze in the distance.

This photo was taken in the summer at Scoresbysund, Greenland, at 7:30pm. When you're that far north, all the usual rules about the light being best in the morning and evening no longer apply!Photo: Madagascan countrysidePhoto: Here's a fun one, taken on a trip back to New Zealand earlier this year. This is a cousin of mine on a flying fox just as he hits the unavoidable pond at the bottom :)Photo: A powerboat cruises past the shoreline of Rangitoto Island in New Zealand's Hauraki Gulf.

Rangitoto Island is an iconic sight visible from many vantage points in and around Auckland city. The island itself is volcanic and is thought to have formed from a series of eruptions about 600 years ago. It consists almost entirely of scoria and basalt (visible here along the shoreline) yet there is still an abundance of flora that has somehow managed to take hold.

New Zealand's Department of Conservation has undertaken a huge program to eradicate pests such as rats, rabbits, wild cats and stoats from the island, paving the way to reintroduce endangered native species such as tuatara and the very famous kiwi.Photo: Pedro IV Square in Lisbon, Portugal.

I had to take this shot handheld because I was travelling light and didn't have a tripod or anything to lean against. Usually in situations like this I'll take a burst of three or so shots in the hope that one of them comes out reasonably sharp. Something I've come to notice is that the first photo of the three is most likely to be the sharpest. This seems a bit counter intuitive to me but I suppose it must be something to do with the way I push/hold/release the shutter.

Has anyone else noticed something similar?Photo: Here's an old shot of mine of a paraglider at Leysin ski resort, Switzerland cruising overhead on a perfect calm day.

This upload was inspired by +Athena Carey's recent post with her paragliding photos from Mürren (https://plus.google.com/110258598415939907971/posts/GRQw11c67Ke). If you haven't already circled her you should do so, she contributes a lot to conversations and posts some great pics!Photo: Sunset in SardiniaPhoto: I'm seeing a lot of #MacroMonday posts today, great stuff everyone keep them coming!

Here's a macro of mine from a couple of weeks ago of some paper wasps hard at work on their nest. I had to get a bit close for comfort for this shot and it didn't help that their nest was deep inside a prickly pear cactus plant. Fortunately I managed to escape from both the wasps and cactus unscathed.Photo: Late evening rainbowPhoto: Huge dunes on the drive in to Sossusvlei, Namibia.Photo: A woman and child walk through a rice field in Ambositra, Madagascar.Photo: Here's a photo that's a bit different to what I normally post so those of you hoping to see more scenery or animals, look away now :)

The America's Cup yacht race is considered the Formula One of yachting and is the oldest active sporting trophy, originally awarded in 1851 and still hotly contested today. The race has had a very long, colourful and at times scandalous history both on and off the water. If you're interested in sailing it makes for a fascinating read.

This photo is from the the second race of the 32nd America's Cup, held in Valencia, Spain in 2007. The racing was between defending champion Alinghi (representing Switzerland) and the challenger Team New Zealand. Team New Zealand won this race in a very tight finish to level the series at 1-1 but Alinghi then went on to win the best-of-nine series by 5-2.

Watching these boats and crews in action from close quarters on a chase boat was quite an experience. The sheer speed and power these boats is incredible; even in a light breeze they fly through the water, often faster than the wind. The 34th America's Cup scheduled to be held in 2013 is going to be even more impressive because the contest will be held using the huge new "AC72" class catamarans capable of travelling at three times the speed of the wind!Photo: Here's a #TravelThursday photo (you could also imagine it's #MountainMonday) of none other than the very highest point on Planet Earth at 8,848m - Mount Everest.

I took this on a Druk Air flight from Kathmandu to Paro. I'd done a bit of research beforehand and as a result I booked a window seat on the port side of the plane away from the wing so I'd have a good view if the weather was OK. I'm very glad I did, the weather and scenery that day was fantastic!

Is that someone I can see waving from the top?Photo: I'm sneaking in a late photo for #SilhouettesOnThursday. This was taken at the annual "Battle Proms" at Burghley House during the grand finale - over 200 cannons firing to a live performance of Beethoven’s Battle Symphony.Photo: I thought I'd try an #ActionMonday image today.

This is (I think, please correct me if I'm wrong!) a Bombardier 415, an amphibious plane that is designed specifically for aerial fire-fighting. This was taken during an airshow in Malta, however I also saw one in action trying to put out a real bushfire in Mallorca a couple of months ago. I was very impressive to watch skimming the water, scooping up about 6000 litres of water over the course of about 400 metres. It then climbed steeply and dropped the load over the fire, banked sharply and repeated the manoeuvre many times. Each loop only took about 3-4 minutes and it was amazing to see how quickly it got the fire back under control.Photo: Here's a photo of the picturesque town of Castle Combe for #HistoryThursday.

The site was originally a Roman hill fort which was later built up into a castle by the Normans. Very little of the original castle (actually located above the village) remains today. By the 14th century the village became an important market town for the wool trade and the original market cross is still a prominent landmark in the village centre. These days Castle Combe is a popular tourist destination and has featured in several films.Photo: With Halloween right around the corner and it being #FrighteningFriday and all, I figured this was a suitable photo. The building looks rather spooky, but was in fact Hotel Traumerei in the Echoland district of Hakuba, Japan. Some friends and I stayed there for a couple of weeks while snowboarding; it was great to come home after a day on the slopes to relax with a beer in the hotel's onsen!Photo: Here's a #SunsetSaturday photo I took while I was in Athens a couple of years ago. Enjoy!Photo: I thought I'd try a couple of themes today that I haven't tried before, hopefully this photo is suitable for them...? #MinistractMonday curated by +Tom McLaughlan and #MysteryMonday by +Jenna Lynn Monroe.Photo: An attempt at #MinistractMonday for +Tom McLaughlan, take two! :)Photo: I'm sure there's a few of you that have ridden on an elephant before. But was it as big as this one?

Sultan's Elephant was a performance created by Royal de Luxe, a French theatre company. The show was spread across 4 days in central London. I went along to have a quick look one Saturday morning and ended up spending my entire weekend completely enthralled and wishing for more.

#TransportTuesday curated by +Gene BowkerPhoto: Here's a #ThirstyThursdayPics photo that's hopefully a little different. This is of the Nabada, a water parade held on the Danube every July in Ulm, Germany. Hundreds of home made rafts make their way through the town while trying to get competing boat crews as wet as possible along the way. Fantastic fun!Photo: The Skeleton Coast is an infamous stretch of coastline running down the south of Angola and northern Namibia. The combination of heavy surf, thick fogs and inhospitable desert have over the years led to more than a thousand shipwrecks and many lost lives. This, combined with the bleached whale and seal bones that covered the shores in the days when whaling was active are what gave the area its name.

This is one of the many shipwrecks I saw during an aerial flight along the coast. This particular wreck was the Eduard Bohlen, situated about 200m 400m inland (thanks Wikipedia! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eduard_Bohlen) as a result of the constantly shifting sands. I can only imagine how out of place it must look from ground level where the sea wouldn't be visible, though I can't imagine getting to it over ground would be very easy!

Here's its location on Google Maps: http://g.co/maps/z2hc7Photo: Here's a rather abstract photo that I'm submitting for #MysteryMonday, curated by +Jenna Lynn Monroe. At first glance it might seem like guesswork is required, but I believe there is enough information available one way or another to figure out the subject with a reasonable amount of certainty. If anyone does manage to, I'd be interested to hear your working! :) If it's proving a bit difficult I'll give out a few clues.

About the only thing I should add is that this is straight out the camera, no funky post processing, filters etc have been applied.

Good luck!Photo: We met this family in a small bay in the very north or Madagascar. The father had been fishing, both to help feed his family and also to try and sell to restaurants at the nearby town and earn a small income.

He ran into problems when the strap on his mask broke. Here he was trying to fix the mask with some string we'd given him, plus keep his curious children away from the still snapping moray eel he'd speared a little earlier!

For #TravelThursday curated by +Laura MitchumPhoto: Here's a photo from Saturday, taken at the Rye bonfire night. The people in the foreground were dressed up as Roman centurions - their role was to carry a local celebrity aloft on a chair and over to the bonfire to set it ablaze.

#FireFriday, curated by +Grayson HartmanPhoto: Here's a #SunsetSaturday photo (well OK, it's a sunrise...) taken just inside the Sossusvlei Desert Reserve in Namibia. I was supposed to be trying to beat the rush to get to the dunes and vlei. It felt a bit criminal to keep driving with this happening out the car window however so I pulled over and took a few photos before the light was gone.

Apologies for the panoramic crop +Diana Varbanescu and +Sumit Sen!Photo: Frozen tentacles at the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo.

This market is the largest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world, and one of the largest wholesale food markets of any kind. The market covers the same area as 43 football fields and apparently handles 20% of the fish caught worldwide. Here you can find any sort of seafood imaginable, and a few that you can't imagine...Photo: Here's a photo for #TreeTuesday, looking up through the branches of a quiver tree in Namibia's Quiver Tree Forest. The quiver tree gets its name from the local bushmen's practice of hollowing out the branches to make quivers for their arrows. Technically I'm cheating though because despite the name, it isn't a tree but actually part of the aloe family (Aloe dichotoma).

Here's another photo showing what these unusual plants look like in silhouette: https://plus.google.com/photos/104380036950579300637/albums/5625270201107754657/5625273948668568482Photo: Here's one that's a little different from me today... a street vendor who was set up on London's Southbank, making plaster moulds of people's faces.

Something that I hadn't anticipated when I uploaded this was that Google+ detected no less than eighteen faces that it wanted me to tag! :-)Photo: Here's another one from the Rye Bonfire Night for +Grayson Hartman's #FireFriday. This time it's a photo of the procession of torch carriers that walked through the town.

The intense red glow that's lighting up the whole sky in the distance is caused by a burning flare. I'll post a photo of the flare and the person carrying it shortly!Photo: As mentioned in my previous post, this is a close up of the guy who was carrying the flare in the Rye Bonfire Night procession. I have no idea why he's wearing a silly nose!

As you can no doubt imagine the flare was very bright, overpowering everything and casting intense and harsh red light and shadows. Quite spectacular but also a nightmare for exposure given how shadowy, smoky and fast moving everything was.

#FireFriday, curated by +Grayson Hartman.Photo: I thought I'd try a new theme today, namely #FortressesFriday curated by +Benjamin Dahlhoff.

This is a photo of Trongsa Dzong in Bhutan. This is the largest dzong fortress in Bhutan; you can get some idea of the scale by looking at the people walking along the path in front of the dzong.

Trongsa Dzong was build in 1647 on the site of an old temple and was used by the governors of central and eastern Bhutan for centuries. It is also a major monastery with approximately 200 monks in residence.Photo: Here's a #MistyMonday photo taken on a very foggy Sunday morning last weekend at Richmond Park.

I get the sneaking suspicion that I'll be able to squeeze a bit more atmosphere out of this shot with some post processing, though I did spend a few minutes trying and everything I tried seemed to make it worse! Hmm...

#MistyMonday curated by +Martin RakPhoto: A traditional dancer at the Black Necked Crane Festival in the Gangtey Monastery at Phobjikha, Bhutan. This festival is held annually in celebration of the cranes as they arrive from their migration southwards from the Tibetan Plateau. The cranes stay in Phobjikha Valley for about 4 months before heading back north via a difficult flight over the Himalayas.Photo: This is the front wall of the 14th of July Glacier in Spitsbergen. As you can see from the Zodiac, it's pretty big! The Zodiac's probably a bit too close for comfort really. It's pretty common for large chunks of ice to break off the front wall in a process known as calving. Aside from the direct danger of the falling ice, it can generate large waves that could easily swamp a boat like this.

During our trip we did witness quite a few instances of ice calving off the front of glaciers and it was always a spectacular sight. Normally you'd hear a crack and boom before the ice started falling, so even if you weren't facing the right way you'd have a split second to turn around and watch.Photo: The black dot at the bottom left is an ostrich, out walking in the hazy heat of the Etosha salt pan.

This was a distant shot and unfortunately suffered a lot from the heat haze. The lens was at 360mm on a 1.6 crop = ~580mm effective.

#MinistractMonday , curated by +Tom McLaughlan
#MinimalMonday , curated by +Olivier Du TréPhoto: Hey all! This one's from the weekend just gone, taken in a square near Sacré-Cœur Basilica in Paris. The square was full of street artists offering to draw portraits for tourists. This artist's rendition wasn't too bad, other efforts from nearby however looked pretty nasty. It was a lot of fun to watch the drawings unfold!Photo: My girlfriend and I went to Paris a couple of weekends ago. We've both been a few times before so the agenda was more to enjoy the food, wine and ambience than to do too much running around playing tourist.

We did do a brief walk by of the Eiffel Tower, however with the overcast and drizzly conditions it was hardly at its most spectacular. The cloud was so low it was frequently engulfing the top of the tower. Interestingly that didn't seem to discourage the throngs of tourists still queueing to go to the top! I suppose for many of them they wouldn't get another chance so were trying to make the most of it. I felt a bit the same when I took this photo - shortly after this we had to rush off to catch our train home.

Tonight I'm heading off to visit friends and family in New Zealand for my first summer Christmas in maybe 6 or 7 years. Have a very Merry Christmas everyone!Photo: The view from "The Bund" in Shanghai, looking across the Huangpu River to Pudong district is spectacular, especially at night. It's also very recognisable and widely photographed, so I tried to come up with something a bit different. Hopefully I succeeded? If not I have a bunch of cliché photos of the skyline too as backup :)

This is the base of the 468m high Oriental Pearl Tower, with one of the glass globes from the Oriental Riverside Hotel in the foreground. To give you an idea of the scale, each sphere is about 50m across.

As an aside, many thanks to +Jorrit Jongma for his wonderful DSLR Controller app. Without it I don't think I'd have had the time or patience to get an image quite as sharply focused as this one. It's amazing to be able to put my camera on the tripod then manually adjust the focus (or nearly any other setting for that matter) by miniscule amounts using a 10x liveview preview on my phone's screen, no touching the camera required.

#TravelThursday, curated by +Laura Mitchum
#PlusPhotoExtract 

Edit: Tagging with #PlusOneIssue1 for my submission!Photo: This is an image I took a couple of weeks ago, showing worshippers offering incense at City God Temple (Chenghuang Miao) in the old city area of Shanghai.

This was a fun photo to take. The flames are coming from a pit where people would throw the remains of their incense sticks. Every few minutes a man would come with a rake and give them a stir, at which point the flames would leap upwards for a few seconds. I'd then step forward, take a couple of shots before the flames died down (or my camera melted!). It took 3 or 4 attempts before I got this shot.

#FireFriday , curated by +Grayson HartmanPhoto: An electrical storm near Sesriem, Namibia, just after sunset.Photo: My previous post was of a lightning strike during a storm that I was lucky enough to witness while in Namibia. I thought some of you might be interested to see what things looked like just one hour earlier. This photo is a wider angle than the lightning photo but was taken from exactly the same location. The sun disappears and the storms roll in fast in this part of the world!Photo: Another shot from the Arctic. Some of the icebergs we encountered were well over a mile long, but it was generally very difficult to capture the enormity of them in a photograph.

Even though the icebergs shown here (including the "big" one at the back) were relatively small, this was one of the very few occasions I was able get above the action and include some people to give an idea of scale.

#TravelThursday, curated by +Laura Mitchum
#ThirstyThursday, curated by +Giuseppe Basile and +Mark EsguerraPhoto: Oxbow Bend in Grand Teton National Park is an extremely popular spot for photographers. That's not surprising because it really is beautiful, plus it is very accessible - the road runs right along side it and there is plenty of parking.

If you search for images of this location though, you'll hardly see any winter scenes. This is presumably because the road is closed to normal vehicles during the winter, with the only access being on foot, via snowcoach, or snowmobile.

I took this photo when we passed by a couple of weeks ago on snowmobiles while en-route to Old Faithful. Sadly we weren't quite early enough to catch the morning sun on Mt Moran (the peak on the right), but there was still a little mist around at least.

#MountainMonday by +Michael RussellPhoto: Sossusvlei, Namibia

For #TreeTuesday, curated by +Shannon S. Myers and +Christina LawriePhoto: I was heading out to meet someone early one morning in Shanghai. Because I was running late (as usual...) I was in a bit of a hurry and had my head down. For whatever reason though I happened to glance up and look down this side street at just the right time. I'm really glad I did because the unexpected sight of the Oriental Pearl Tower bathed in the morning sun stopped me in my tracks completely! It really made me wonder what else I'd missed whenever I've been in too much of a rush to pay attention to my surroundings.

#TravelThursday, curated by +Laura MitchumPhoto: This is a street performer in Paris by the name of Iya Traore. He was a professional footballer but due to other commitments he dropped out of the professional leagues and decided to make a living from showcasing his talents on the streets instead. We saw him at the foot of the Sacre Coeur, where he has a well honed and impressive routine. It's so good in fact that we watched it several times through!

Note that in the photo below, he didn't just climb the lamp-post then balance the ball on his head to pose for the photo. Rather, he climbed up the post with the ball balanced on his head the whole time, performing a few acrobatic feats along the way!

If you're interested in more information about Iya, you can find his website here: http://www.iya.fr/en/iya_traore.php You can also find video clips of his routine that people have uploaded to YouTube. [Edit: it looks like +Iya TRAORE has a profile on Google+ too!]

Have a great weekend everyone!

#FrenchFriday , curated by +Peak Ness and +Noze P.Photo: Here's another photo from a lightning storm in Namibia that I was lucky enough to have front row seats for. This was my first real chance to photograph lightning and it took a bit of trial and error to figure out what settings to use (I wasn't expecting nor prepared for it) but thankfully it all came together in the end. I was no doubt helped a lot by the time of day - it was just after sunset and there was still a very faint light left from the sun.

#BreakfastClubPhoto: It's been a while since I've managed to post anything, just haven't been able to find the time lately :( Hopefully I can do a bit better over the next few days...

This photo is another from Sossusvlei, Namibia. The landscape there is unique making it a great place for photography. To get this photo I had to climb halfway up a large sand dune in the sweltering heat, then wait a relaxing 10 minutes until a few tourists who were milling around had moved out of the frame. The trees themselves are probably a bit bigger than you might think at around 5m high.

#TreeTuesday, curated by +Christina Lawrie and +Shannon S. MyersPhoto: It wasn't just the train that was puffing

This engineer was sneaking in one last puff on his cigarette before climbing on board to drive the steam engine. Presumably he's not allowed to smoke in the train's cabin for health & safety reasons, though given the amount of smoke, soot and flame coming out of the engine's boiler I'd say this is one of the few jobs where it wouldn't make a lot of difference either way!

This was taken at the Kent & East Sussex Railway line in Tenterden.

#TransportTuesdayPhoto: Is that the time already?! I feel very much like the sun in this photo - time for me to get some sleep :)Photo: Despite its name, I'd always thought of Greenland as being a barren island covered in snow and ice. For the most part that is still true, however towards the south and around the coast there is a surprising amount of life beyond the obvious seals, bears and sea birds. The wildflowers in particular were unexpected in both their number and variety. This is a macro shot of a tiny Arctic Harebell, one of the less common wildflower species we saw.

#MacroMonday, curated by +Kelli Seeger Kim, +Kerry Murphy and +Jennifer EdenPhoto: These hand-drawn rickshaws or Pousse-pousse are a common sight in parts of Madagascar, where people use them in much the same way as you would a taxi. Needless to say the "drivers" work very hard. They can sometimes be seen pulling heavy loads, and many of them (like this guy) work barefoot.

For #TransportTuesday, curated by +Gene Bowker, +Joe Paul, +Mike Masin, +Steve Boyko and +Michael EarleyPhoto: These ancient rock drawings are located at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Twyfelfontein, Namibia. There are over 2,500 carvings in the area, thought to range in age from 1,000 to 10,000 years old. The area is at the site of a natural spring and is thought to have been used as a place of worship for shamanist rituals.

Some of the pictures depict seals and penguins which indicate the artists had some contact with the coast. That's perhaps surprising because other than the spring it is a very dry and inhospitable area and the coast is over 100km away.

For #HistoryThursday , curated by +Matt ShalvatisPhoto: Zaanse Schans in Holland is considered the first industrial site in the world. 250 years ago there were over 600 windmills in the area, performing a range of tasks such as milling timber or creating paints, paper and oils. Today only a handful of windmills remain but they are in working order and are still used today.

This photo was taken on the weekend just gone. While we were there it was pretty obvious that windmills were a good choice for the area. There was a strong and steady wind blowing the whole time. Unfortunately for us, the wind was also very cold!Photo: Photo: Every April, millions of female red land crabs emerge from the forests on the south coast of Cuba and head for the ocean. There, they lay their eggs then make their way back the way they came. The journey can be up to several kilometres each way, and many don't survive it.

Crossing the road is a particular problem where they get run over in huge numbers. I can personally attest to this. When we got caught out by the crabs in large numbers, we drove slowly and carefully but try as we might it was impossible to dodge them all. In places, the road before us was more squashed crab than tarmac.

Fortunately for the crabs, this confrontation isn't completely one sided. We had been warned earlier that cars often get punctures from the hard shells, but I didn't realise quite how serious that warning was until we discovered one of our tires had gone down later that evening. Upon closer examination we discovered no less than four large pieces of crab shell embedded deeply in two tires. One pointed piece of claw buried in the tire was about 1cm wide and 5cm long! That explains why there was so few cars on the road...

I guess it's not surprising the locals are adept at fixing these punctures. We whipped the wheels off and took them to a man's backyard, just next door to our casa particular. He had the holes patched up pretty quickly with very basic tools. In fact two of the holes he "repaired" in about 10 seconds by jamming condoms into them with a metal prong! Though I was a bit sceptical, the repairs lasted us just fine for the remaining week of our journey. Colour me impressed :)

All in all a surreal experience that I won't forget in a hurry. I'd quite like to go back in two months time to witness the many millions of baby crabs when they too make the journey back from the sea to the forest.

Another one for #WildlifeWednesday , curated by +Mike SpinakPhoto: Here's a Chevrolet from the 1950s - one of the first of many old cars we encountered in Cuba. It was amazing to see just how many cars like this there were across the country. A lot of them had clearly undergone an enormous amount of repair-work over the years, yet the owners were clearly very proud of their cars and generally kept them in amazing condition. I wish I knew a bit more about this era of cars as I'm sure there must have been some absolute classics.

#FourWheeledFriday, curated by +Akhil Kalsh, +anne-marie Janssen and +Annelies Kroen
#FridayGetaway, curated by +Gary CrabbePhoto: I'm still working my way through my photos from Cuba when I find the time. I'm hitting a bug in Lightroom 4.1 RC2 that means I need to restart Lightroom every half hour or so which is a bit of a pain :-(

In the meantime, here's an old photo from Namibia that I like. Nope, I have no idea what those pots were doing there! They were just outside the camp I was staying at and presumably just there for aesthetic reasons.

#NatureMonday , curated by +Rolf Hicker and +Jen BaptistPhoto: A tulip - enough said!

#MacroMonday, curated by +Kerry Murphy, +Jennifer Eden and +Kelli Seeger KimPhoto: We encountered this farmer while walking through the countryside in Viñales, Cuba. He was on his way to plough his field using the two cattle plus a traditional plough that he guided behind them by hand. A bit later on on we encountered him again while he was ploughing and he offered to let us have a go!

#TransportTuesday, curated by +Gene Bowker, +Joe Paul, +Mike Masin, +Steve Boyko and +Michael EarleyPhoto: This is a recent photo from Zaanse Schans in Holland, where I was fortunate enough to spot a rainbow in amongst the windmills. On the downside, the rainbow only lasted for about 2 minutes from the time I first saw it so I didn't exactly have a lot of say in the angle for this shot!

For #WideWednesdayPanorama , curated by +Andrew Marston, +Lucille Galleli and +Ken McMahonPhoto: Something a little different today... I was at the London Aquarium on the weekend. Really cool, lots and lots to see, though perhaps a little busy because we went quite late in the day. I'd suggest going first thing and you'll probably have the place to yourself.

It proved surprisingly difficult to take photos in here because the light was extremely low and I was reluctant to go even to ISO 1600 with my 40D. I think about 19 out of every 20 photos was a blurry mess, but here's one from the huge central tank that came out OK.Photo: We met this chap in Baracoa, Cuba. This was our first real day in Cuba so we were perhaps a bit unsure at first, but it quickly became obvious that the locals were genuine, loved to sing and play, and had years and years of practice! Despite his age and him having few or no teeth, this guy had an amazingly strong voice. We didn't realise at the time but it turned out to be one of the best we heard in the whole country.

I don't know his name, but if anyone reading this ever makes it to Baracoa, please track this guy down, buy him a drink and say hi :)

#WeLoveMusicWednesday, curated by +Folletto Folletto and +Harmony GoodsonPhoto: I'm not sure my logic is entirely sane but to perhaps show how genuine this guy was, even his shirt didn't pull any punches:

(follow-up to https://plus.google.com/u/0/104380036950579300637/posts/1GTwvgczeok)

#WeLoveMusicWednesday, curated by +Folletto Folletto and +Harmony Goodson
#WhateverWednesday, curated by +Cicely Robin Laing +Whatever Wednesday!!!
#WeNeedALaughWednesday, curated by +Pat Kennedy CorlinPhoto: We found this little waterfall down the back of a cave in Cuba. We'd hiked about an hour to get here and were happy to see that we had the place to ourselves. That turned out to be very useful because a certain degree of contortionism was required to take photos in here. We'd have looked pretty silly to any audience!

It's not obvious from this photo but to get this I had to balance the camera between some rocks and lie on the ground with my feet against a rock wall just so I could see through the viewfinder :)

For #WaterfallWednesday, curated by +Eric LesliePhoto: Baobab Sunrise

All the eclipse photos I've been seeing lately made me want to take a look back through some sun photos of my own. Here's one I found, taken early one morning in Madagascar as the sun rose between some baobab trees. This was a beautiful spot and, apart from a few local villagers going about their morning routine, I was the only one there.

#africantuesday, curated by +Morkel Erasmus and +Johan Swanepoel (+African Tuesday)
#TreeTuesday, curated by +Christina Lawrie and +Shannon S. Myers (+Tree Tuesday)
#sunrisePhoto: Hard at Work

Things tend to happen at a pretty slow pace in Cuba. Presumably this guy was supposed to be fixing the car but the book was proving to be far more interesting. We watched him for a while and took a few photos but he didn't look up once the whole time.

#PeopleAtWorkMonday curated by +Baki KaracayPhoto: A lone gemsbok walks amongst the dunes near Sossusvlei, Namibia

When arriving at the end of the paved road at Sossusvlei, there is a sandy track that continues on for the last few km to the vlei and big dunes. Most everyone pays a few dollars to pile into a 4x4 for this part of the journey. Having arrived early before it was too hot and having plenty of water, I decided to walk instead. I'm glad I did! The scenery away from the road was undisturbed by human footprints, there were quite a few animals to be seen (I didn't see any at the vlei), and there were some unique photo opportunities to be had. Highly recommended!

For #AfricanTuesday , curated by +Morkel Erasmus and +Johan Swanepoel. +African TuesdayPhoto: Sunrise at Sakalava Bay, Madagascar

My first morning in Madagascar was a bit of a disaster. It was spent trying to get an internal flight north because my flight to Antsiranana the previous evening had been cancelled. When I finally did get a flight, they "forgot" to load my luggage. As a result I wasn't able to head for Amber Mountain National Park like I had intended but instead needed to wait another day for my luggage to show up. Not a great start! Fortunately all was forgiven when I woke up the next morning to this deserted beach and sunrise. Finally it felt like the holiday was underway!

#AfricanTuesday, curated by +Morkel Erasmus and +Johan Swanepoel  +African Tuesday 
#SeaTuesday, curated by +Julia Anna Gospodarou +Sea Tuesday Photo: Early morning icebergsPhoto: Bamburgh Castle Sunset

#fortressesfriday by +Benjamin Dahlhoff
#sunsetsaturday by +Dennis Hoffbuhr
#saturdaynightlight by +Dirk Heindoerfer, +SaturdayNightLight
#ruralsaturday  by +Mario Cerroni, +#RuralSaturdayPhoto: Sunrise over Viñales, Cuba

I'm away for the next 3 days and probably won't be online much until next week so thought I'd sneak in one last photo before I go. This was taken one slightly hazy morning in Viñales, Cuba.

Enjoy your weekends everyone!

For  #travelthursday , curated by +Laura Mitchum Photo: Avenue of the Baobabs

For #TreeTuesday, by +Christina Lawrie and +Shannon S. Myers (+Tree Tuesday)Photo: Bamburgh Castle Wildflowers

These colourful poppies were an unexpected bonus during my trip up to Northumberland in June. I'd liked to have been a few paces back for this shot but that would have been hazardous to my health - there was a busy road with cars wizzing past about 10cm to my left!

#FortressesFriday by +Benjamin Dahlhoff
#FloralFriday  by +Tamara Pruessner  (+FloralFriday)

Tomorrow I head to South Africa for 6 weeks where I'll be doing volunteer work on a game reserve in northern Zululand. It'll make a pretty big change from life in London that's for sure and of course I'm really looking forward to the adventure!

It sounds like I won't have great Internet access, perhaps just a slow connection once a week, so apologies in advance if I'm a bit quiet over the coming weeks. I'll of course be taking plenty of photos while there and will try to post a few whenever I can.

Take care all!Photo: Drakensberg National Park

This was one of the more challenging sunrises I've ever witnessed, but boy was it worth it. To get to this point we set out at 3:30am and hiked up towards Cathedral Peak in the pitch dark. By 4am we were wading thigh deep through an icy cold river, torches in mouths... if we weren't fully awake before the river crossing we sure were afterwards!

We made it up to the ridgeline where this photo was taken from in time for a spectacular 360° view at sunrise. After a good break for breakfast and photos, we carried on and tried to make it to the 3004m high summit. Unfortunately we had to turn back a couple of hundred metres short because the snow was too deep and the rocks too slippery. That didn't detract from an incredible (and incredibly tough) day however. By the time we arrived back 'home' at about 4pm we'd hiked up and down more than 1600m vertically, covering a total distance of 21km. Everyone was exhausted and everyone was smiling :-)

For those who haven't heard of Drakensberg, it is the highest mountain range in Southern Africa and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. There are well over 2,000 known plant species there and about 300 species of bird. There are also around 40,000 ancient rock paintings, making it the largest such collection of bushmen art in the world. If all that isn't enough of a reason to visit then I should point out that the area is also stunningly beautiful!

#MountainMonday by +Michael Russell (+Mountain Monday)
#NationalParksMonday by +Juan Pons (+NationalParksMonday)
#NatureMonday by +Rolf Hicker and +Kate ChurchPhoto: Mosque Moonset

A crescent is one of the oldest symbols known to mankind, having been found on seals dating back as far as 2300 BC. The crescent and star was adopted by the Turks in the 12th century and went on to become symbolic of the Ottoman Empire. This in turn helped to popularize the crescent and star among the Muslim populations of many countries across Asia and Africa. As a result of this the crescent is now often used to symbolize the Islamic faith.

This photo was taken as the moon set behind the mosque in Uçhisar, Turkey. It wouldn't have been possible without a very useful mobile app called Sun Surveyor, written by +Adam Ratana. Because the moon was tracking so closely behind the sun it wasn't even visible until shortly after sunset, at which point the moon was already low on the horizon. Using the app I was able to predict the moon's path quite accurately so I was already roughly in position for when the moon slowly appeared. I still needed to run around a fair bit though, it was surprising how quickly the moon was moving and thus continually ruining the shot!

#MoonMondays by +Stephen Krieg and +SyLvAiN RoUx
#MoonriseMondayPhoto: I've just been looking through various photos taken during and after Hurricane Sandy. What an awful trail of destruction that it has left behind :(

One shot in particular that stood out to me was this one, taken in Santiago de Cuba:  http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2012/10/hurricane_sandy_the_superstorm.html#photo32

It stood out for a couple of reasons. One was because there hasn't been a lot of publicity in the western media about the impact the hurricane had on Cuba - this is perhaps only the second storm-damage photo I've seen from there. Another reason is that I was in the same spot as the above photo just a few months ago which really helps drives home the reality of the situation. Here's a similar photo I took before the storm. I'm not sure it's exactly the same street, but it can't be more than a block or two away. I hate to think how long it will be before the people in this photo, and everyone else affected regardless of where they are, are able to get their lives back to normal again :(Photo: The Milky Way

This panorama of the night sky was taken on a moonless night in the Drakensberg, South Africa. I had been waiting a long time to try my hand at some star photography so I was understandably quite excited to finally get this opportunity.

For the curious, here's how I created this image: My camera was on a fixed tripod. I took nine individual photos by panning my camera between shots then I stitched them all together using a free app called Hugin. Each photo was shot in a portrait orientation and the camera was in manual mode. I used manual focus at 16mm, f/2.8, 30 second shutter, ISO 6400. The full size version of this photo is roughly 14,000 x 4,200 pixels.

#NightPhotographyFriday  by +Mark Hammon and +Steve Passlow (+Night Photography Friday)
#AmazingLandscapes by +Rolf Hicker
#LandscapePhotography by +Margaret Tompkins, +Carra Riley, +paul t beard, +Ke Zeng, +David Heath Williams (+Landscape Photography)
#ImperfectEllipse by +Charlotte Therese Björnström, +Olav Folland, +Sharon Jeannette
#HowIShotThisPhoto by +Vince Ong
#plusphotoextractPhoto: Sunset over Hagia Sophia The Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Camii) - thanks +Baki Karacay for the correction!

For   #TurkishThursday  by +Baki Karacay (+Turkish Thursday)
#TravelThursday  by +Laura MitchumPhoto: Drakensberg Sunset

After spending half a day hike up Rainbow Gorge, we rounded a corner and were greeted with this view just a few hundred metres away from our camp. The four snowcapped peaks in the distance are (from left to right) Inner Horn, Outer Horn, The Bell and Cathedral Peak. We tried to climb Cathedral Peak the following day but had to turn back just short of the summit due to dangerous conditions.

#AfricanTuesday Magnificent Mountains by +Dick Whitlock, +Grobler du Preez and +Morkel Erasmus (+African Tuesday)Photo: Sorry for my long absence. I've been away for a few weeks and since being back it has been a mad rush to catch up on a million different things - most of them rather dull, such as sorting out tax returns!

Here's a shot from Göreme in Turkey. Almost every morning up to 100 balloons take to the skies, giving passengers a stunning view over the region's "fairy chimney" rock formations. Most of the balloons take off shortly before sunrise. The one pictured here was the very first for the day.

For #TurkishThursday (+Turkish Thursday) by +Baki Karacay
#TravelThursday by +Laura Mitchum Photo: Sunrise at Torres del Paine

It took me a few days to get this shot. I had to find a small, shallow and reasonably well sheltered pool that would give me a suitable reflection, then wait for the weather to behave - something that doesn't happen too often here because it is notoriously windy!

On this particular morning the wind was calm but there was a lot of cloud behind me blocking the sun. I was very close to giving up when the sun suddenly broke through and lit up the mountains in spectacular fashion. It lasted all of 20 seconds before everything went dull again. Those 20 seconds had me smiling all day :)

#MirrorMonday by +Gemma Costa and +Elizabeth Edwards  (+Mirrors and Reflections)
#MountainMonday  by +Michael Russell (+Mountain Monday)
#NationalParksMonday by +Juan Pons (+NationalParksMonday)
#NatureMonday by +Rolf Hicker and +Kate ChurchPhoto: Puerto Natales Waterfront at Sunset

Note the funky lenticular clouds to the top right. These are formed when cool moist air flows over mountains, causing standing waves to form on the downwind side which condense into clouds at their crests.

In this case the mountains were those of Torres del Paine, visible in the background on the left. They're the same mountains as in my previous photo, only this time around I was happy to have the wind back because without it these clouds wouldn't have appeared.

Single exposure with minimal processing, shot using an ND filter and a hard ND grad.

And with this I bid you all farewell again as I'm off on another very last minute adventure, overland and camping in East Africa.

#SeaTuesday by +Julia Anna Gospodarou (+Sea Tuesday)
#tuesdecay by +Ian Ference (+TuesDecay)Photo: Children jumping off the rocks on the northern tip of Zanzibar. How they didn't hurt themselves I'm not quite sure...

#AfricanTuesday  by +Morkel Erasmus, +Dick Whitlock and +Grobler du Preez (+African Tuesday)
#SeaTuesday  by +Julia Anna Gospodarou (+Sea Tuesday)Photo: Göreme Sunrise

This is one of the hundred or so hot air balloons that make their way across the town of Göreme in Turkey first thing every morning. The 3,916m high Mount Erciyes is in the background.

#TurkishThursday +Turkish Thursday by +Baki Karacay
#SilhouettesOnThursday by +Siddharth Pandit
#TravelThursday  by +Laura MitchumPhoto: Giant's Castle, Drakensberg, South Africa

I've just seen +Morkel Erasmus's post for today's Vast Vistas  #AfricanTuesday  theme (https://plus.google.com/115370996311184482015/posts/LsUZX9m8WUb). I recognised the location immediately since I was lucky enough to spend a day there last September. Here's a photo of mine from almost the same location.

#AfricanTuesday "Vast Vistas" by +Morkel Erasmus, +Dick Whitlock and +Grobler du Preez (+African Tuesday)
#hqsplandscape +HQSP Landscape curated by +Ara MO , +Delcour Eric , +Blake Harrold
#LandscapePhotography +Landscape Photography curated by +Margaret Tompkins , +Carra Riley , +paul t beard , +David Heath Williams , +Bill Wood , +Jim Warthman , +Ben T , +jeff beddow ,+Jeannie Danna , +Tom Hierl , +Vishal Kumar
#mountainphotos +Mountain Photos by +Baki KaracayPhoto: Northern Lights at Lake Torasjärvi, Finland

The tipi covers up a swimming hole that had been cut into the ice on the frozen lake. The air temperature was -30°C and no, I didn't go swimming!

#LongExposureThursday by +Francesco Gola and +Luca Gerardi (+LongExposure Thursday)
#TravelThursday by +Laura Mitchum
#FreshPics by +Trevor Farrell (+Fresh Pics)
#10000photographersaroundtheworld  by +Robert SKREINER (+10000 PHOTOGRAPHERS)
#AmazingLandscapes by +Rolf Hicker
#LandscapePhotography +Landscape Photography by +Margaret Tompkins , +Carra Riley , +paul t beard , +David Heath Williams , +Bill Wood , +Jim Warthman , +Ben T , +jeff beddow ,+Jeannie Danna , +Tom Hierl , +Vishal Kumar (+Landscape Photography)Photo: Look out!

Here's why it pays to be aware of your surroundings while you're out in the wilderness ;)

For #AfricanTuesday  by +Dick Whitlock and +Morkel Erasmus (+African Tuesday)
#onecatadaykeepsthedoctoraway +OneCatADay - Photo Theme Page by +Sandra Deichmann (though I'm not so sure in this case!!!)
#catsbigandsmallthebest +Cats Big And Small The Best curated by +Mark HELMPhoto: The Treasury. Petra, Jordan

The first sight that visitors see after walking through the 1.5km "Siq" (narrow gorge) at the main entrance to Petra is Al Khazneh, commonly known as The Treasury. Seeing the iconic structure suddenly appear after rounding the last bend in the Siq is a sight that stops many visitors in their tracks, myself included!

The Treasury was thought to have been build around the 1st century AD. It is carved out of solid sandstone and is over 40 meters high. Despite it's name however it is thought to have been a royal tomb rather than a treasury. The name "Treasury" originated from a legend that said pirates or bandits had hidden their treasure inside the urn carved into the top of the façade. As a result of the legend, local Bedouins tried to retrieve the treasure by shooting the urn, damaging it significantly in the process. In reality the urn is carved from solid rock.


Petra by Night

Three nights a week the path through the Siq and the open area in front of the Treasury is lit by around 1,800 candles and it is possible to visit for a couple of hours while local musicians play for the crowd. I wouldn't actually recommend it if you're going just for the experience alone. The show they put on is rather short, the atmosphere is spoiled somewhat by the large numbers of tourists present, many of whom disregard the requests for silence. I also think it is rather overpriced. If you like photography, however, Petra by Night is fantastic!

For photos, my advice would be to go in early so you have time to set up your tripod and figure out the best camera settings to use (the light is tricky to say the least). Try to take some photos from the Siq entrance too before everyone starts leaving, and once people do start to pile out en masse, move back into the forecourt area and take shots of the candles, façade and so on until they kick you out! At that point you should be able to walk out the Siq having the whole thing to yourself and get some more great shots along the way.

#HistoryThursday  by +Matt Shalvatis (+History Thursday)
#TravelThursday by +Laura Mitchum
#LongExposureThursday by +Francesco Gola, +Luca Gerardi (+LongExposure Thursday)
#plusphotoextractPhoto: Iceberg Graveyard, Pleneau Island, Antarctica

BEST VIEWED LARGE!

This was just one of dozens of icebergs that get trapped and run aground by the currents near Pleneau Island, Antarctica. They remain here until they melt - a process that can take many years.

Have a look through the arch at the Zodiac to give you some idea of the scale - there are 11 people in that boat. Then remember that up to 90% of the iceberg is under water!

#SeaTuesday  by +Julia Anna Gospodarou (+Sea Tuesday)
#landscapephotography by +Landscape Photography +Margaret Tompkins +Carra Riley +paul t beard +David Heath Williams +Bill Wood +Jim Warthman +Ben T +jeff beddow +Tom Hierl  +Vishal Kumar  +Michael Blyde  +Carolyn Lim  +Steve Gould  +Jay Gould (+Landscape Photography)
#HQSPLandscape +HQSP Landscape by  +Rodolfo Seide +Johnny Minor +Terrie Gray +Nicolai Neijhoft and +Lani BanaderaPhoto: Northern Lights and the Milky Way

BEST VIEWED LARGE (view it then press "space"). Even better is if you can view it at 100% (2048x464) because that way you get to see much more detail in all the stars, including the trails of some satellites passing overhead.

This was taken out on a frozen lake in the north of Finland at about 11pm. The panorama consists of 13 separate photos stitched together to create a final image that is around 54 megapixels in size.

#TravelPanoWednesday by +Rolf Hicker  (+TravelPanoWednesday)
#WeatherWednesday by +Jason Borg (+Weather Wednesday)
#WideAngleWednesday  by +Asif Patel (+Wide Angle Wednesday)
#WideOpenWednesday by +Shawn Clover 
#WideWednesdayPanorama by +Ken McMahon, +David Heath Williams (+WideWednesdayPanorama)
#WinterWednesday  by +Antoine Berger, +Logan Miller
#WowWednesday by +Jan Paul Anthony Zabala
#AmazingLandscapes by +Rolf Hicker
#landscapephotography +Landscape Photography +Margaret Tompkins +Carra Riley +paul t beard +David Heath Williams +Bill Wood +Jim Warthman +Ben T +jeff beddow +Tom Hierl  +Vishal Kumar  +Michael Blyde  +Carolyn Lim  +Steve Gould  +Jay Gould
#HQSPLandscape +HQSP Landscape by  +Rodolfo Seide +Johnny Minor +Terrie Gray +Nicolai Neijhoft and +Lani BanaderaPhoto: LongyearbyenPhoto: Bushfire festival, SwazilandPhoto: Kittiwakes on an icebergPhoto: Lake Inari and the Northern Lights
I recently spent a few days in the far north of Finland in the hope of seeing the northern lights. Fortunately the conditions came together perfectly on my last night there and I was treated to an incredible light show that far exceeded my expectations. A solar flare hit Earth that night, creating an unusually strong aurora that danced and flickered across the sky like crazy.

This photo was taken in the tiny town of Nellim, located close to the border with Russia and Norway. Unbelievably I didn't see a single other person the whole night. I guess perhaps the locals take nights like this a little more for granted than I did!

The yellow tint lighting up the foreground was due to a couple of sodium vapour street lights behind me. That wrecked havoc with the white balance of the photo but I found the low angled shadows they cast across the boats quite pleasing.

#coastalthursday +Coastal Thursday curated by +David Polzine and +Jon Kahn
#longexposurethursday +LongExposure Thursday curated by +Francesco Gola , +Luca Gerardi
#natureartthursday +NatureArtThursday curated by +Trisha Standard , +Dane Clingan
#PolarThursday +Polar Thursday curated by +Alistair Knock and +Marie Knock
#AstroFriday +AstroFriday curated by +Dawn Peterson and +Nimesh Patel
#10000photographersaroundtheworld +10000 PHOTOGRAPHERS curated by +Robert SKREINER
#AmazingLandscapes curated by +Rolf Hicker
#EuropeanPhotography  +European Photo curated by +Janusz Brakoniecki +Jean-Louis LAURENCE +Michael Muraz and +Susanne Ramharter
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#plusphotoextract curated by +Jarek KlimekPhoto: Longyearbyen sceneryPhoto: Son Doong Cave, Vietnam

I recently was fortunate enough to go on a week long adventure to see the world's largest cave, Hang Son Doong in central Vietnam. The cave is of course enormous, but it is also stunningly beautiful. Two sections of the cave roof have collapsed, bring the jungle down into the cave and letting in a lot of natural light that creates an incredible atmosphere. This photo is looking out towards the first of the two collapsed sections (or dolines). The mist you can see here was very dynamic and in the space of a couple of minutes could go from impenetrable to clear and back again.

#Mirrormonday +Mirrors and Reflections curated by +Gemma Costa and +Isabella Francesca Abigail Shores
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#landscapephotos +LANDSCAPE Photos curated by +Robert SKREINER
#naturephotos +YisforYellow curated by +Lucille Galleli and +Roswitha BöhmerPhoto: The Hand of Dog, Son Doong Cave, Vietnam

This large stalagmite in Son Doong Cave is affectionately known as The Hand of Dog. The light coming from behind it is from one of the cave's two collapsed roof sections or dolines. The air is thick with constantly evolving layers of mist and cloud caused by the differences in temperature and humidity between the inside of the cave and the outside jungle. The crazy fool standing on top is Adam, one of our fantastic caving experts and guides.

#AmazingLandscapes curated by +Rolf Hicker
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#weatherandnaturalforces +LANDSCAPE Photos curated by +Robert SKREINERPhoto: Camp One, Son Doong Cave

This shows the location of our camp for two of the nights we spent in Son Doong. My tent is the one closest to the camera. Not a bad spot at all, I had a great view out onto the first doline which is just out of shot to the right. You can see a thin line of smoke rising from our campfire but most of the cloud you see is natural, caused by the difference in temperature and humidity between the cave and the jungle above.

#AmazingLandscapes curated by +Rolf Hicker
#hqsplandscape , +HQSP Landscape curated by +Michael Garza +Nader El Assy +Vinod Krishnamoorthy +Luca Ferroglio +midori chan +Craig Loxley +Rob Tilley
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#weatherandnaturalforces +LANDSCAPE Photos curated by +Robert SKREINERPhoto: Doline #2, Hang Son Doong (World's Biggest Cave)

This photo shows some members of our party beginning the climb up one of the two collapsed cave roof sections or "dolines" that are prominent features in Hang Son Doong. The vegetation that can be seen is still inside the cave, with the real jungle floor some 150 metres further above what is visible here.

I'm happy to say that this photo has made it to the top of today's "Daily Dozen" At National Geographic's YourShot website http://yourshot.nationalgeographic.com/daily-dozen/2014-05-27/

#AmazingLandscapes curated by +Rolf Hicker
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#naturephotos +YisforYellow curated by +Lucille Galleli and +Roswitha Böhmer
#weatherandnaturalforces +LANDSCAPE Photos curated by +Robert SKREINERPhoto: *Doline #1, Hang Son Doong*

A few members of our party standing on a travertine formation inside the first collapsed roof section of Son Doong Cave.

I'm really pleased to say that one of my previous photos I posted from Son Doong has been highlighted this week in the National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest. You can view (and vote!) for it here, no login required: http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/traveler-magazine/photo-contest/2014/entries/rate/sense-of-place-week-11/#/262362  Please take the time to look at and vote for the other entries too, there really are some fantastic submissions.