SEVEN Australian photographers who specialise is landscapes and wildlife tell us about their favourite destinations for photography.
David Evans is a photographer and travel writer hosting photo tours inside Scandinavia’s Arctic Circle.
Abisko is a premier location for viewing the northern lights because it’s nestled between a mountain range and Lake Tornetrask, with the topography creating a rain shadow and clearer weather than the rest of northern Scandinavia. Lapland is straight out of a fairytale – snow, reindeer, the Sami people and the magnificent aurora borealis – with this northern part of Scandinavia, inside the Arctic Circle, an extraordinary place of beauty, intrigue and extremes.
Photo tip: It’s not the sort of place you can stand on the side of the road in sandals and hitch a ride to the nearest backpackers – especially not in winter when the average temperature is -15C – so correct polar clothing and planning accommodation and transport in advance is essential.
Getting there: Fly into Stockholm and catch a flight on SAS or Norwegian Airlines to Kiruna, the hub of this part of Lapland, or join us on an eight-day tour, which includes reindeer sledding and aurora hunting.
Time to visit: Winter is the best time to see the aurora borealis, especially from January to March when there’s plenty of snow on the ground. But the days are getting longer after the winter solstice.
Alex Cearns is an animal photographer leading World Expedition’s excursions to Antarctica, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Sri Lanka in 2016.
Place: The Tarkine, Tasmania
The Tarkine is a pristine ecosystem and one of Australia’s best-kept secrets spanning 447,000ha of wilderness including a wild coastline, grand rivers, waterfalls, a cave system, an extraordinary wealth of Aboriginal heritage, and 267 animal species including at least 60 threatened or endangered species like the Tasmanian devil.
My four-day trek into the Tarkine was one of the most intense and inspiring experiences of my life and it was incredible to see daily evidence of Tasmanian devil activity and, knowing these animals were going about their business unaffected by us and still healthy, was reassuring and made me feel there’s hope for the future.
Photo tip: Everything in the Tarkine is big and majestic so photographing in the macro style gave me a different perspective, enabling me to see the natural building blocks, so look for the tiny things mostly overlooked when standing up.
Getting there: The best way to gain access to the ancient forests is on a walking tour via a recently opened trail, and Tarkine Trails is the only company offering regular accompanied treks with a strong emphasis on keeping the environment pristine.
Time to visit: The weather is mild and the days are long between November and April but February is my favourite time to visit because days are sunny and warm and nights are cool with clear skies.
Place: Bora Bora, French Polynesia.
After a lifetime of travel, much of it to the Poles, the islands of French Polynesia lift my soul and it’s not just the tropical warmth but the Polynesian culture overlaid by the style of France and the most beautiful landscapes on earth.
On this evening we were moored off Vaitape and had just returned to the ship when a rainbow crowned Mt Otemanu as the sun was setting which was the perfect end to a day cycling around the island and snorkelling with sharks and stingrays.
Photo tip: Perfect blue-sky days are too tranquil so be up at dawn and dusk and hope for clouds to provide texture.
Getting there: Get to Papeete with Air Tahiti via Auckland with the best way to get around the islands a luxury all-inclusive cruise with Paul Gauguin Cruises that includes lots of activities.
Time to visit: May through October is the dry season but in early May we had a few showers with some great clouds, and cruising when the moon is full adds another dimension of romance.
Place: Purnululu National Park, Western Australia
The beehives of the Bungle Bungles are so different to anything I’ve seen anywhere else in the world visually stunning from the ground and above.
Photo tip: This shot was taken while I was strapped into the front seat of a helicopter flying over the Y Gorge and Picaninny Creek — I spent the entire flight with one hand checking my seatbelt and the other on the camera — and the sun was just starting to sink casting lovely shadows over the rocks.
When you’re hanging out of a helicopter you want fast shutter speeds and a low ISO, and you want to make sure everything is strapped down so nothing falls from the helicopter which means removing the lens cap before leaving the ground.
Getting there: The Bungle Bungles are south of Kununurra and you can take a helicopter tour from Bellburn Airfield once you’re inside the Purnululu National Park, it’s pricey but definitely worth it.
Time to visit: June to August is the best time to visit, the days don’t reach the scorching temperatures of October, but it still gets cold in the evening so you’ll need shorts for the day and thermals at night.
Travel Photographer of the 2014 Year Nick Rains is principal instructor at Australia’s Leica Akademie hosting local and international photo tours.
Place: Lago di Maggiore, Italy
Italy is so different from the Australian images I usually shoot with landscapes in the north, particularly backed by the Alps, offering a dramatic contrast to many of the softer but at the same time harsher Australian landscapes.
Photo tip: As with so much outdoor photography it’s about the light, the early and late hours offer better possibilities than the rest of the day, and I took this shot from my balcony — chosen for this view, I might add — as the first light of day lit up the lake.
And needing to hop back on a bus every day to head to a new place is not conducive to good photography, so spend three or four days in one spot and you’ll really find the best places.
Getting there: It’s easy to reach Italy from Australia and, while I flew out of the UK to Milan because I was already in England, getting to Rome and then driving up would be one possibility.
Time to visit: Definitely spring and summer, say May to September, avoiding — and I’m not kidding — the European summer holidays in July and August because all the places you will be want to go the rest of Europe will be heading there as well.
Marree-based Julie Fletcher is a landscape specialist hosting workshops in her outback home.
Place: Lake Eyre, South Australia.
Lake Eyre is a favourite because of its simplicity, it’s remote and I love the absolute quiet and open skies, and it’s always changing after flooding with different colours and patterns.
This region has challenged me over the past couple of years because there’s so much of nothing until you really start seeing and not just looking, and I always search for patterns so can walk a few kilometres to find something of interest.
Photo tip: Shoot early morning or late afternoon during the golden hours, the magic hour is the period shortly after sunrise or just before sunset, and the daylight is softer than the middle of the day so you can capture magic colours.
Getting there: There are a couple of access points from the Oodnadatta Track with my pick Level Post Bay out from Muloorina Station 90km from Marree, or Halligan Bay 70km from William Creek, and the Roadhouse at Marree offers scenic flights which are a good way to see the big picture and get some great photographs.
Time to visit: The best time to come out are the cooler months when the temperature sits in the mid-20s while summer is too hot, reaching in excess of 40C, and the flies are horrendous.
Byron Bay’s Craig Parry, who is leading a photo tour to Tonga in September, specialises in marine and landscape photography.
Place: Vava’u Islands, Tonga.
Like all my favourite destinations Tonga boasts beautiful coral reefs, caves and an abundant oceanic life which makes it a marine photographer’s paradise.
But what is unique is it’s one of the few places in the world you can swim with whales and I was fortunate to spend two hours swimming with this female humpback who put on a show for the camera, followed me to the boat, and even gave me a gentle nudge when I was getting tired.
Photo tip: It’s important to hit the water with an experienced guide or tour operator to get the most out of your journey and, if you’re aiming for underwater photography, make sure you have a camera and water housing your familiar with so you can be in the moment when in the water.
Getting there: Vava’u is the northern islands in the Tongan archipelago so fly to the main island Tongatapu, with Virgin Australia via Sydney or Air New Zealand via Auckland, before catching a domestic flight.
Time to visit: The humpback whales move through from July to late October when you can be guaranteed to see these incredible animals.