My 22 Favourite Travel Photos

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I’d hardly call myself a photographer, but even a broken clock is right twice a day. Over the last seven years of traveling Australia and the world, I’ve been lucky enough to snap a few photos that I’m quite proud of.

As my desire to get out on the road again continues to build, I thought I’d share the twenty-two photos that I’m most proud of. This has absolutely nothing at all to do with  my being too busy with university work to write a full length entry. Nothing. At. All.

22. Ben Lomond Sunset. Ben Lomond. December 2014.

A brightly coloured sunset in my home town.
A brightly coloured sunset in my home town.

I’ll start things off with one quite close to home: it was literally taken in my back yard. The sleepy little village of Ben Lomond might not have much of a night-life, but it sure turns on a hell of a show every evening with some truly spectacular sunsets.

This one was snapped late last year on an otherwise unremarkable summer day.

21. Light and Darkness. Serengeti. November, 2014.

A lone hyena stands in the shadows, eyeing off the herbivores in the distance.
A lone hyena stands in the shadows, eyeing off the herbivores in the distance.

It’s surprising how often you won’t realise how much you like a photo until you’re back home going through them. I don’t even recall snapping this particular shot of a lonely hyena looking wistfully at the distant impala, but I loved the way it turned out.

The lone scavenger is hidden in the shadow cast by a storm cloud, while the herbivores continue to enjoy the warm sun unaware of his doubtlessly malicious intentions.

20. Fusimiao Foliage. Nanjing, China. June 2012.

Bright ribbons contrast with autumn foliage on this tree in Fusimiao, Nanjing.
Bright ribbons contrast with autumn foliage on this tree in Fusimiao, Nanjing.

The Fusimiao district of Nanjing is more market than historic site, but on my first visit there back in 2012 I did have the pleasure of seeing the way the changing leaves contrasted with the brightly coloured ribbons hung in the tree.

I don’t recall much else about my day at Fusimiao, save that I was there with a couch-surfer and that I had my first taste of Xiao Long Bao (soup dumplings).

19. Raven. Xinjiang, China. May 2012.

A raven picks through the garbage on the roadside in Opal, Xinjiang.
A raven picks through the garbage on the roadside in Opal, Xinjiang.

I was surprised by just how trash-strewn and dirty the town of Opal along the Karakorum Highway was. One of the benefits of this was the sheer number of ravens who came to the town in search of food.

I caught this guy picking through a pile of garbage and snapped a few photos of him. It’s hardly ground-breaking photo journalism, but I’ve always been a fan of these intelligent, menacing birds.

18. Maasai Woman. Mto Wa Mbu. November, 2014

A Maasai woman shows us her wares while visiting Mto Wa Mbu in Tanzania.
A Maasai woman shows us her wares while visiting Mto Wa Mbu in Tanzania.

In November of 2014 I was lucky enough to have been invited to visit Tanzania along with Robert from Leave Your Daily Hell and Lisa from LL World Tour as part of Shadows of Africa‘s annual media trip.

On day one of our safari experience, we made our way through the market village of Mto Wa Mbu on our way to Tarangire National Park. While none of us felt brave enough to test our bartering skilsl with the locals, I managed to snap the above photo of a local woman showing Lisa this gorgeous necklace. I’m even happier with this shot as it was actually taken as we began to pull away from her insistent pitch.

17. Pearl Shoal Falls. Jiuzhaigou, China. May 2013.

The Pearl Shoal Falls in Jiuzhaigou National Park, Sichuan.
The Pearl Shoal Falls in Jiuzhaigou National Park, Sichuan.

There are some things that a camera (at least, one I’ve owned) can never quite capture. The Pearl Shoal Falls in Jiuzhaigou felt like that for me.

Above the falls, you’re able to walk on walkways that take you above this strange mixture of river and wetlands. The crystal clear, ice cold waters eventually come to the falls pictured above, creating a broad cascade that extends for some distance. It’s a surreal feature of the land that I’ve thus far not encountered anywhere else.

16. Glencoe. Scotland. April, 2014.

A brook under stormy skies in Glencoe, Scotland.
A brook under stormy skies in Glencoe, Scotland.

I hadn’t anticipated the drive from Edinburgh to Loch Ness being the most picturesque part of the trip, so I’m glad I stayed awake for the drive. Our visit to Glencoe gave me an opportunity to snap some photos of the area from which the town next to mine takes its name.

This was another of those photos that I wasn’t particularly excited about when I took it, but which I thought turned out quite well once it was blown up on my PC. Love the greens, but wish I hadn’t boosted the saturation on those clouds so damned much.

15. Best. Pool. Ever. Serengeti Four Seasons. November 2014.

 

Best pool in the world? The infinity pool at the Four Seasons Serengeti overlooks an active waterhole.
Best pool in the world? The infinity pool at the Four Seasons Serengeti overlooks an active waterhole.

About as close as this humble boy will ever get to living in the lap of luxury, my stay in the Four Seasons Serengeti was the height of decadence by my standards. Forget the wonderful rooms, the delicious food, and creature comforts that the rich & famous travel to experience – it has a frickin’ infinity pool that overlooks a waterhole!

After eating breakfast, I spent a good hour or so on the verge of tears marvelling at the beauty of this herd of elephants coming for a dip of their own. Just stunning.

14. Drinking Galaxies. Dubai. March, 2015.

Enjoying a non-alcoholic cocktail and a stunning view.
Enjoying a non-alcoholic cocktail and a stunning view.

I was sitting on the Gloria Hotel’s pool deck enjoying a romantic dinner for one while looking out over the bright lights of the city. Waiting for my food to come, I idly snapped a photo of my non-alcoholic wine with the lights of the city in the background.

The way the lights caught up and swirled within the glass made it look like I was drinking the starry sprawl overhead rather than fizzy grape juice. It loses a little of its magic being blown up from iPhone size, but I still love the colours in this one.

13.West Lake in Summer. Hangzhou, China. August 2013.

A rare moment of quiet at West Lake in Hangzhou, China.
A rare moment of quiet at West Lake in Hangzhou, China.

When I found myself newly single after a year long relationship, I did what any young lad with newfound free time would do: I dragged my mates on a cultural road trip to Hangzhou to see what the fuss about West Lake was.

It was a 40C+ degree day while we rode bikes around the crowded park, but we managed to find a little serenity (and a lot of greenery) during our exploration.

I think I like this photo most not because it’s good (I don’t think it’s particularly well composed) but because it captures the image of China I had in my head before I went there. There’s no sign of skyscrapers or spitting locals – just a distant bridge, the water, and beautiful gardens.

12. Five Flower Lake. Jiuzhaigou, China. May 2013.

Five Flower Lake in Jiuzhaigou.
Five Flower Lake in Jiuzhaigou.

The startling blue and the clarity of the water in Five Flower Lake in Jiuzhaigou makes it the most popular stop in the stunning national park. This, of course, made it especially hard to capture its beauty without getting a horde of over-dressed Chinese tourists in the background.

Of the dozen or so photos I snapped of the lake, this is the one in which the crowd is the least obtrusive. I’d love to go back someday and try my luck in the fall, when the brilliantly coloured foliage on the mountain would make for a startling contrast.

11. Graffiti in Stone Town. Zanzibar. November, 2014.

stone town zanzibar alley
The alleys of Stone Town were utterly enchanting.

While on a walking tour through the Stone Town district of Zanzibar City, I had actually hoped to get a phoot of these local kids playing football in the tight confines of the alley.

Later though, while editing the photo to share, I was instead drawn to the graffiti sprawled across the walls and the dirt that smeared everything. It really captures, for me, both the beauty and the poverty of this part of the city.

10. Nomad. Golden Grasslands, China. May 2012.

A Uighur herder clings to his (or her) nomadic existence in the face of rapid industrialisation.
A Uighur herder clings to his (or her) nomadic existence in the face of rapid industrialisation.

One of the most appealing things about China’s Xinjiang province is that it is still very much as it was before China began its rapid industrialisation. While the province’s capital, Urumqi has been homogenized and fallen in line with the majority Han view of how the world should be – farther flung Kashgar and Tashgurkan (pictured) still exist much as they have for centuries.

Pictured above is a local herdsman ushering his charges across a stream on the majestically named Golden Grasslands. Even here, on the very fringes of China’s territory, things are changed. Behind me, a massive wooden walkway and performance space has been erected for tourists to better explore the grasslands.

This picture snuck up on me. It was only this year (almost three years since it was taken) that I noticed how the picture exists on thre layers – the water in front, the herd in the middle ground, and the ever present mountains in the distance.

9. Yosemite Sunset. Yosemite, USA. July 2012.

Nomadic American perches on a rock to capture the sunset from Sentinel Dome.
Nomadic American perches on a rock to capture the sunset from Sentinel Dome.

In July of 2012, I made the rather bold decision to fly over to the United States in the hopes of wooing a girl I’d known for a few years but never met. Over the course of the next month, we had a summer romance as we traveled around the US on our way to a wedding in Chicago.

Pictured above is one of my favourite shots from the trip. Nomadic American is perched up high to capture the sunset, and it’s the way the light bounces off the lens of her camera that I really dig.

About twenty minutes later, stumbling back towards our car in the dark, we encountered a bear and were scared witless. Good times.

8. Boats in Stone Town. Zanzibar. November 2014.

Fishing boats in the crystal clear waters of Zanzibar's Stone Town.
Fishing boats in the crystal clear waters of Zanzibar’s Stone Town.

My walk through Zanzibar City’s Stone Town district was mostly sweating profusely in narrow alleys, but I did manage to duck across the road at one point to snap this shot of the fishing boats in the harbour.

It loses a little bit being converted from Instagram to the ‘big screen’, but you get an idea of just how clear and colourful the water is.

7. Dune. Dubai Desert Conservation Area. March 2015.

Our balloon soars low over the dunes of the Dubai Desert Conservation Area.
Our balloon soars low over the dunes of the Dubai Desert Conservation Area.

The sheer level of detail in this picture never fails to amaze me. You wouldn’t think I’d taken it on my iPhone 4 from a moving hot air balloon.

Having spent a few of my formative years living in the NSW Outback, soaring over these dunes was a giddying experience for me. When you know full well how dangerous the desert can be, there’s something really enthralling about being able to photograph it from relative safety.

6. Big Sky. Tanzania. November, 2014.

A lone Maasai teen heads out under the wide open skies on the road to Serengeti.
A lone Maasai teen heads out under the wide open skies on the road to Serengeti.

Another highlight of our visit to Tanzania was the opportunity to visit a ‘traditional’ Maasai boma. While we had our doubts about just how traditional the village was when tourist weren’t around, the opportunity to photograph the bright-coloured clothing of the locals in such beautiful surrounds was something we really appreciated.

Pictured above, a teenage boy heads out to look after the herds. I dig the way this lone figure is made to look all the more lonely by the barren ground and the big sky overhead.

5. Stone Fort. Tashgorkan, China. May 2012.

The aptly named Stone Fort in Tashgorkan, Xinjiang.
The aptly named Stone Fort in Tashgurkan, Xinjiang.

Mostly destroyed during Mao’s idiotic and ill-fated Cultural Revolution, the Stone Fort dates back to the 12th century and is otherwise known as the Princess Castle for the colourful local legend that goes with it.

Abandoned and crumbling as it is, it still makes for an interesting photographic subject when you factor in the mountains that soar above it. The towers built by kings long dead do not measure up to those that occur in nature.

4. Deflation. Dubai. March 2015.

Its work done, our balloon slowly deflates on the dunes.
Its work done, our balloon slowly deflates on the dunes.

We’d just completed our hot air balloon ride over the Dubai Desert Conservation Area and were patiently waiting for the trucks to make their way out and pick us up.

While most people milled around the basket and chatted with the affable Captain Mike, I ducked away to snap this shot of the balloon slowly deflating on the dunes.

The fiery colours of the balloon give the impression that it’s melting into the sand and becoming a part of the desert it soared over only minutes earlier.

3. Dark Point. Tea Gardens, Australia. October 2011.

A slice of paradise. Dark Point Beach in Tea Gardens was all ours.
A slice of paradise. Dark Point Beach in Tea Gardens was all ours.

Back in 2011, I was working at a call centre and biding my time until I could flee Australia again. Summer was approaching when a contact at Ford reached out and asked if I’d like to test drive the new Ford Focus.

My friends and I quickly latched onto the idea, turning it into a weekend road trip to Tea Gardens on the NSW coast. The BBQs, boozy Saturday night, and the camraderie were all awesome, but the highlight of the weekend was discovering Dark Point Beach and having it all to ourselves.

If you look closely in the picture above, you can see one of my party on their way down to the sheltered end of the beach. I’d dropped back to snap this photo, which remains one of my favourites to this day. Just look at that water!

2. A Lonely Yurt. Xinjiang, China. May 2012.

A yurt in the mountains along the Karakorum HIghway.
A yurt in the mountains along the Karakorum HIghway.

There’s a peaceful solitude to this yurt high in the mountains along the Karakorum Highway in Xinjiang. China’s westernmost province is also it’s most unique in my opinion, with a very distinct culture and some of the most stunning landscapes to be found anywhere in the country.

Having come from a country which is both flat and largely devoid of snow, I was utterly enchanted by this isolated little mountain retreat and the view it possessed.

1. Leopard Relaxing After a Kill. Serengeti. November, 2014

A gorgeous leopard eyes us lazily from its lofty perch.
A gorgeous leopard eyes us lazily from its lofty perch.

Our day on the Serengeti was winding down when we came across this absolutely beautiful leopard lounging in a tree with its recent kill. The opportunity to not only see my favourite animal in the wild, but to photograph it from no more than eight metres away was a definite highlight of my time in Africa.

I honestly can’t decide whether I like this photo more or the photo below. Both have since been printed and hung on the walls of my room here in Coffs Harbour.

Another shot of the same leopard as it chooses to ignore its photographer.
Another shot of the same leopard as it chooses to ignore its photographer.

Your Say

What are your favourite photos from your own travels? Is there a story behind why you love it? Or is it just a shot you’re proud of?

Join the conversation over on Facebook and share your favourites. I’ll be showcasing the best of them on Facebook and on the site in the coming weeks.

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6 comments

  1. #10 & #2 are my favorite! Thank you for sharing these beautiful photos! WIsh I could have seen these two regions when we were traveling through China. If you are interested, you can view our China travel photos here: http://www.ooaworld.com/china
    Looking forward to more photos!

    • Thanks, Carole! Visiting Xinjiang was definitely one of the highlights not only of my time in China, but my travels in general. It was one of the most off the beaten track experiences I’ve had while traveling. I’d recommend it to anybody.

      Love your photos, by the way! Plenty of inspiration for when I return to China at the end of the year!

  2. Those mountains on #10! WOW! My favorite is probably #21. Maybe it’s not as beautiful, but it’s got character! By the way, my dad lives in Hangzhou…

    Honestly, I have to say I think I enjoy traveling more because I’m not a photographer. I think of those things I tried so HARD to get a photo of, and I imagine what it would be like to try and get it after going through the trouble of setting up my tripod, my $1,000 camera (mine was 300 and that’s enough money for me!) I mean, do you think you have more fun this way, Chris?

    • I’m glad somebody else agrees with me on #21! Haha. So far you’re the only other person I’ve spoken to who likes it.

      That’s cool that your Dad is in Hangzhou. Have you made the trek there yourself then?

      I definitely don’t see myself as a photographer, and I enjoy traveling where I’m not obsessing over getting the perfect shot. While we were in Tanzania, my two travel companions had top end cameras and had to keep switching lenses etc. I just had a little point and shoot with me, but (I think) it took great pics. I don’t think I’ll ever be one for fancy cameras and expensive equipment.

        • I tried, haha. I took along a nice DSLR my Dad loaned me and I just got frustrated with it. I ended up leaving it in the hotel and just using this little Sony point & shoot or my phone. The results turned out okay, I think 🙂

          Hangzhou is totally worth a spot on an extended China itinerary. I wouldn’t say it’s must see in the way that Xi’an, Beijing, Shanghai etc. are, but it’s quite pretty.

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