Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Pic(k) of the week 44: Machu Picchu - The lost city of the Inca

Machu Picchu, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, has been on my bucket list for quite some time. I’m clearly not alone as it is the number one reason people visit Peru. Having said so, this great South-American country has of course much more to offer. 

Most archeologists believe Machu Picchu was built as an estate for Inca emperor Pachacuti in the middle of the 15th century; more than 550 years ago! It was eventually abandoned about 100 years later at the the time of the Spanish conquest. While known locally, the Spanish didn’t know about Machu Picchu and it was American historian Hiram Bingham who (re)discovered the place in 1911. 

Since the Inca didn’t have any written language, people don’t always agree what the main purpose of Machu Picchu was. Most tends to think along the lines of a Royal refuge. National Geographic who first wrote about the place after Bingham discovered it, list 5 different possible purposes in a interesting read here.

Today, one can hike the Inca trail to Manchu Picchu from a few difference place; the longest taking 4 to 6 days. Alternatively one can take a train from Ollyantambo (about 1h30 outside Cusco) to Aguas Calientes to then catch a bus up the mountain to Machu Picchu. Tickets for train and entry to the site need to be purchased before the travel dates are numbers are limited. High season JUL-SEP, tickets often sell out months in advance. 

It doesn’t matter how one travels to Machu Picchu, the first sight remains something very special! 

The image below, is one of the first images I made of the Lost city of the Incas just after opening time at 6am at the sun started hitting the city.

Image details:
  • Fujifilm X-T3 with XF16-80 f4 lens
  • ISO 800, f16, 1/250s, 21mm
  • RAW file development in Lightroom CC
  • DxO ColorEfex Pro 4 for optimal contrast using Pro Contrast filter
More images of my latest Peru trip can be found here.

Remember: "To Travel is to live". 

Tuesday, October 22, 2019


During our latest photo-adventure to Peru, there were 3 main places I really wanted to photograph. The number one of course being, Machu Picchu; shooting some of the Andean Condors with their 3m wingspan and last but not least, the Maras Salt mines in the Sacred valley a couple of hours outside Cusco.

These salt pools date back to the Wari civilization (500-1000 AD), more than 1000 years ago, but it was especially the Inca's in the 14th century that took the salt exploitation to the next level. There are several thousand salt pools at Maras, placed delicately on a mountain slope. Most (if not all) belong to families living in the two neighboring villages; the number of pools being carefully shared based on the size of the family. Once harvested, the salt is sold on site as well as in local markets and is known for its high nutrition quality. 

Normally salt pools are found in coastal plains. Placed at 3400 m in the Andes mountains far away from the sea, this side is of course very different. A natural spring feeds a salt rich stream that flows into the pools which are opened and dammed by the owners of the individual pools. Once the pool is filled, the water is closed off and allowed to evaporate. A few weeks later the salt is then being scraped off. All of it is done with manual hard labour; mostly early morning or just before sunset. 

Until last summer, tourists were allowed to walk along the top ridge of the pools. As some of the salt was being contaminated, this is no longer allowed. A shame on the tourists again!

Even though, there are still some interesting viewpoints over the pools, including a wooden viewing point that is "close enough". I do recommend using a longer lens; around 200 mm full frame equivalent, for those higher impact photos.

I shot a few hundred images at the pools; making it the most photogenic place of our Peru Photo-adventure. The one below I particularly like as the three people working on the left hand side, gives it the extra bit of scale. 

Image details:
  • Fujifilm X-T3 with XF50-140mm f2.8 lens 
  • ISO 400, 1/500s, f11, 135mm
  • RAW development in Lightroom CC using Velvia Color Profile
  • DxO Nik ColorEfex Pro4 for optimal contrast
The above image is definitively one that will be printed large as part of my Aerial collection. More images shot at Maras as well as all over Peru can be found here

Remember: "Don't always thrust what you see. Even salt looks like sugar".

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Pic(k) of the week 42: PARAGLIDER TAKE-OFF, LIMA - PERU

As I’m writing this, our Peru photo-adventure has come to a close. The 12 day trip started and ended in the capital Lima; a city along the Pacific with close to 10 millions inhabitants (1/3 of the total population of Peru) .What it trip it has been! Great experiences, great food and some good photography. What else can a Travel photographer wish for?

During the Southern Hemisphere winter, Lima is known for its morning fog and generally overcast skies. This is due to the colder water of the Pacific in what is otherwise supposed to be a tropical climate. 

On our second afternoon there, there was a lot of paragliding going on in Miraflores, ones of the better neighborhoods in Lima. With the sun breaking through the overcast over the ocean, it was a great opportunity to shoot silhouettes. 

I decided to still leave a little bit of detail in the image below (especially on the parasail). While I experimented with black and white for the shot, the warm glow of the sun peaking through the clouds added quite a bit to the overal atmosphere. 

Image details:
  • Fujifilm X-T3 with the new XF16-80 f4 lens
  • ISO 160, f5.6, 1/680s
  • Straight out of camera (SOOC) jpeg shot in Velvia Film Simulation mode
During the trip I only brought my 12 inch iPad Pro as I wanted to see how it can replace my MacBook laptop during my travels. Since the recently released iPadOS operating system, one can now connect external harddrives to the iPad which allows for a in the field photo back-up. As expected it is still a bot of a work in progress there were still a few bugs here and there.

I've just completed the editing process; images can be found in their dedicated Peru gallery here. One can of course expect to see some more Pic(k) of the weeks over the next few weeks.

Using the XF16-80 lens as my main travel lens has been great. I shot 90% of  the images on the lens and found it a great travel solution. In case you missed it, my XF16-80 lens review can be found here

Remember: "Those that fly solo, have the strongest wings” - anon

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Pic(k) of the week 41: BLERIOT XI AT HAHNWEIDE - Homage to Mikael Carlson

It was in 2010 that I saw Mikael Carlson fly his 1909 Bleriot XI over the beautiful UAE desert dunes at the Al Ain for the first time. The event has left a great impression on me and today it is still my favorite airshow act. 

Three years later in 2013, I saw the Swedish pilot fly again at the Oldtimer Fliegertreffen (OTT) at Hahnweide near Stuttgart, Germany; Europes largest Vintage/Antique aircraft event! 

On September 13 this year, we flew our own 1954 Piper Super Cub for the second time to Hahnweide for the 19th edition of the OTT show; easily my favorite aviation event in Europe... 

There is something very special in camping under the wing of your vintage flyer with several hundred like minded people. Since space is limited, the event sold out about 3 months before; being one of the more than 400 participating aircraft was a blast!

Like most previous editions, Mikael was there again with two of his collection vintage planes; the early 20th century Bleriot XI and a World War I Fokker Dr.I Triplane. Especially on the first day of the show, when the crowd is still a little smaller, seeing him fly at sunset is pure magic. Clearly the highlight of going to Hahnweide!

Image details:
  • Fujifilm X-T3 with XF100-400 lens
  • ISO 160, 1/3000s, f9, 400mm
  • RAW file development in Lightroom Mobile (on iPad Pro)

Carlson's personal Blériot IV story remains an amazing one... After a 10 year search he found an original Blériot in a small barn in Sweden in 1986. The aircraft was completely dismantled and stored in small boxes. After a lengthy work of love, dedication and rebuilding a lot of the parts, he managed to fly his bird for the first time in 1991.

He found a second Blériot XI in Sweden in the early Nineties. Some parts, including the engine, were missing and although he was able to copy parts from his first Blériot, it took him 10 years to find the engine. The restoration work was finished in October, 2004. He now has two flying Blériot's!

More images of my visit to the Oldtimer Fliegertreffen at Hahnweide, can be found here

Remember: "When fears are grounded, dreams take flight- Anon


Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Pic(k) of the week 40: THE SKY IS ON FIRE - Nice, Côte d'Azur

One of my favorite European layovers as an airline captain is spending some time in Nice, Côte d'Azur, especially since we are staying in a nice hotel right along the Promenade des Anglais. Translated in English to "Walkway of the English", this 7km walk along the beach dates back to the 18th century when the English aristocracy used to spend winters at Nice.

July 14, 2016, the Promenade des Anglais unfortunately came in the news when 84 people lost their lives in a terrible terrorist attack. 

Whenever I'm in Nice, I try to get up just before sunrise as the view to the east often makes for a spectacular sunrise. Such was the case last week when the post-sunrise light reflected on a beautiful cloud layer above; literally it looked like the sky was on fire!

Image details:
  • Fujifilm X-T3 with XF 16-80 f4 lens
  • ISO 1600, f7.1, 1/170s, 20mm
  • SOOC (Straight Out Of Camera) jpeg using Velvia Film Simulation
Over the last few weeks, I've pretty much shot exclusively with the new XF16-80 f4 lens; a great travel lens. In case you missed it, my lens review can be found here. 

More images of the city of Nice and its surroundings can be found here

As I'm writing this, I'm on a 2 week photo-adventure in Peru. To follow the progress of the trip, please follow me on Instagram. 

Remember: "Life is getting up an hour early to live an hour more".