The Top 10 Landscapes I Photographed in 2018

2018 has been by far my most traveled year in terms of miles flown, driven, and walked. In terms of pictures taken and destinations visited. If I had actually not redeemed miles and paid for most of these flights, I may actually be an elite member of an airline in 2019 (that won’t be happening). 

122,000 miles flown and 85 flights taken

Something about traveling the world makes me better appreciate the people, cultures, landscapes, and places the world has to offer at an ever higher degree. Traveling helps me understand people better while also making me aware of how small individual problems are in relative terms. There are certainly far more solutions for problems than there are problems just as there is more good than bad in the world around us. A bit of a rant, but something I always come back to at the end of each year. 

Of course, I am extremely grateful for the support of my friends, family, readers, and followers. I couldn’t have done any of this without you guys. Thank you! 

Since I often describe myself as a landscape photographer more so than a travel photographer, I thought I would go through some of the most spectacular landscapes I’ve visited this year:

Note: Death Valley deserves to be on this list as well, but I’m not sure I did it justice….

10.) Milford Sound

Milford Sound is considered by many to be one of the new seven wonders of the world. The iconic Mitre peak and the backdrop of the fjord is easily New Zealand’s most iconic landscape. It is highly unlikely that you will find a more beautiful fjord anywhere in the world which is easily accessible by road. 

The area is breaming with potential photo opportunities, but it is rather easy to feel burnt out because it’s scene which begs panorama more than intimate scene. There’s no doubt you should add it to your portfolio, but for me the creative juices just weren’t flowing during any of my visits. 

Anyone else notice it at the beginning of the latest Mission Impossible film?

Best Time for Photography: After a Storm/During Golden Hour

500px Photo ID: 282466877 – Low tide at Milford sound on a rather unusually clear day. I stood there watching as the water levels began to rise….

9.) Aurlandsfjord, Norway

Aurlandsfjord is a branch off of the larger and longer Sognefjord, which is the largest and deepest fjord in all of Norway. Just off the road and sticking out into the middle of this fjord is the 30m long Stegastein viewing platform. From here you have pretty much a 180 degree, unhindered views of one of Norway’s finest fjords. That too without having to be in a helicopter or hike up some ridiculously long and strenuous trails.  While visiting in August I was dismayed by the number of rainy days I experienced, and chose to visit this locality instead of a steep and slippery hike. Just as I arrived, the sun broke through and made this panorama of the fjord one of my favorites of 2018. 

Best Time for Photography: After a Storm or After Clouds have Departed. 

500px Photo ID: 271011919 – A panorama of Aurlandsfjorden as the light shines through on a rainy day. I had the entire viewpoint to myself because everyone had left due to the heavy rain pelting the area.

8.) Lauterbrunnen Valley, Switzerland

The real life Rivendell Valley puts you in the shoes of author, JRR Tolkien who was said to have hiked the valley in the late 1940s. This one scene has everything: a village, waterfalls, towering glaciated peaks, and Swiss meadows. Whenever I think of postcard perfect, this is perhaps the scene I think of immediately. 

It is really the gift that keeps giving for me. It’s a location where I know I will always get a great picture from. Luckily this location wasn’t as popular when I visited as it will be after I’ve finished this article 🙂 

Best Time for Photography: Any Time of Day

500px Photo ID: 266261347 – 2018 edition of the greatest view on Earth. The one and only Lauterbrunnen valley as seen from the town of Wengen just before dawn.

7.) Waterfowl Lakes, AB, Canada

The Icefields Parkway, which stretches from Banff to Jasper National Park in Alberta, is by far my favorite drive on the planet. The serene turquoise lakes which dot the highway actually make it a very difficult for you to go very far without capturing a postcard perfect photograph.  So it comes as no surprise that I have been visiting this location on a regular basis for the past three years. This year I visited the area in the shoulder season which is a tricky time of year. Many of the hikes are closed due to snow, and much of the snow and ice are beginning to melt, making it hard to traverse across the fields and frozen lakes. I stopped by the Waterfowl lakes during sunset one evening for a look at the progression of ice melt, but instead came upon this scene as the clouds broke. 

Best Time for Photography: Any Time of Day during snow covered times of the year (Oct-June)

500px Photo ID: 255825853 – Spring time on the Icefields Parkway brings warmer weather, but the lakes are still frozen solid. This was taken on a 16 degree (70 degree F) day when I should technically be falling through the snow because it was melting. Somehow it stood up and I was able to make this shot.

6.) Schwangau, Germany 

Iconic castles, faraway mountains, glacial lakes, and historic towns characterize Germany’s Bavaria. It’s hard to go wrong when you have a morning to yourself for photographing this region. Fall brings color to the trees and blankets of low hanging fog to the region creating a mystifying atmosphere for this already idyllic land. It’s quite easy to get stuck photographing the famous Neuschwanstein Castle, but once you get past it, this area is a treasure chest of photographic opportunities. 

Best Time for Photography: Mornings (foggy ones esp)

500px Photo ID: 284161929 – First light falls on the peaks of the Alps as the morning mists of Bavaria clear up. The first snowfall of the year is still visible on this first winter like morning.

5.) Tasman Lake, New Zealand

Perhaps one of the big stories of 2018 has been climate change and the effects of it on our planet. There is no better place visualize the changes our planet is experiencing than New Zealand. New Zealand’s South Island is quite easily one of the world’s most beautiful islands. It is host to Milford Sound, Mt Cook (NZ’s tallest peak) Lake Matheson, the Remarkables, and many other iconic scenes of New Zealand. While on a visit to Mt Cook National Park, I came upon this glacial melt lake under the shadows of Mt Cook and Mt Tasman. If you visit the area on a regular basis or seen pictures of it, you will note that the Tasman Glacier (NZ’s longest and largest) at the edge of the lake is receding at an alarming rate of 300 m each year. 

Best Time for Photography: Mornings (by the lake shore) and Evenings (at the lookout)

4.) Lake Bled. Slovenia

Little needs to be said about Slovenia’s No. 1 tourist attraction, the iconic Lake Bled. The lake is located amidst at the eastern end of the Alps (termed the Julian Alps) and is iconified by the 171 foot church tower sitting in the midst of the lake. During one of my morning walks, I took cover under a tree from a massive storm that swept the area. As soon as the storm clouds cleared, I was greeted with this scene: 

Best Time for Photography: Mornings (foggy ones esp)

500px Photo ID: 260826881 – The sky just lit up after a morning of fog and mist. One of the most rewarding photography experiences I’ve ever had.

3.) Jamnik, Slovenia

Most people that visit Slovenia go to the tourist centers of Bled and Ljubljana, but forget to explore the other gems that are found within the Julian Alps. Slovenia is a like a mini-Austria with its abundance of quaint villages and surrounding Alpine landscapes. I

In Jamnik, a cathedral is nestled on top of a ridge jutting out into the surrounding valleys and mountainous landscape. It just so happens that my best picture of this landscape was a drive by shot, just as the sun set over the horizon opposite the cathedral. However, don’t get distracted by this shot when you get there because there are a number of opportunities standing on the ridge line or looking out upon it from the nearby hills.

Best Time for Photography: Sunrise

500px Photo ID: 258341149 – One of the most beautiful landscapes you’ll ever see. The sunlight hitting the church right as we drove up was just a surreal experience. We were planning on waiting at the location until the light happened, but we arrived and just took the shot.

2.) Seljandafoss, Iceland

My brief stint to Iceland resulted in one of my favorite pictures of all time. Not only did I visit Iceland’s most easily accessible and iconic waterfall, but I was also lucky to see it and capture it some of the best light I’ve ever seen. Sunset is the ideal time to visit this waterfall in the summer months because the sun aligns itself right behind the waterfall making for those postcard perfect pictures. Make sure you stay a little after sun down because you never know, the sky might explode in color. My sister and I were the only ones standing there when this happened: 

Best Time for Photography: Sunset

500px Photo ID: 259551705 – Panorama of the the Seljalandfoss area at sunset on my first day in Iceland. It’s almost as if my trip was completed by this one shot.

1.) Emmental, Switzerland

Let me just say that objectively speaking Emmental may not be the most exotic or beautiful location that I have visited this year. However, it holds a special place for me because of just how long I’ve waited to photograph this location. The rolling hills, meadows, chalets on top of hills, and the glaciated peaks of the Bernese Alps form this perfect Windows XP wallpaper type scene.

I arrived at this location in the midday light (a rather inappropriate time to photograph the usual scene) looking to check off that bucket list, but ended up shooting a lone tree on top of hill in the distance. Though I didn’t take my ‘bucket shot’, I’m quite happy to have gotten this unique shot.

Best Time for Photography: Any Time of Day

500px Photo ID: 284336019 – I’ve always dreamt of visiting the lands where Windows XP wallpapers were made and I finally got the chance to do so just a few days ago when I visited the beautiful Emmental Valley in Switzerland. Autumn colors were in full flight, but the area was quite hazy when I arrived. The shot I wanted with the rolling hills and alps in the background was not available due to the conditions, but I did come upon this singular tree standing against the sky. And it became my favorite of the trip.

Happy Holidays and cheers to an even better year in 2019! And as always if you like my work, I would very much appreciate a like and a follow on Instagram or on my Vlog

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