Posts Tagged ‘waterfall’


October 15th, 2012

Some moments resonate in our minds more than others. For me, this is one of them.

This shot was taken some time ago in Iceland, at the foot of Seljalandsfoss waterfall. The falls drop some 60 meters from the cliffs of what was formerly the southern coastline. It is among the most well-known waterfalls in Iceland and certainly one of the most beautiful.

One of the things which struck me in Iceland is the sheer quantity of waterfalls. In 12 days there, I daresay we saw more waterfalls than we did people.

But back to this moment. I perhaps have more beautiful shots of this waterfall, but this one remains my favourite. It was windy and raining. Certainly not the ideal conditions to shoot. It was our second day of driving around Iceland, and we’d been on the go since the morning, awestruck for the most part – Iceland has got to be one of the most beautiful, wondrous places on Earth.

A sense of wonder had been upon us since we landed at the airport, and a measure of peace had been gradually creeping upon us since. But I think I only realised how genuinely peaceful and happy I was the moment after I took this shot.

The person standing on the black sands in the foreground looking tiny beneath the waterfall, is my wife. When we first approached, she had rushed forwards and stood, arms spread, head lifted and smiling, in the spray at the foot of the falls.


More coming soon!


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The Balaa Sinkhole

May 26th, 2011

A short while back I had the chance to visit another of the many natural wonders that Lebanon has to offer: the sinkhole known by various names including the Balaa Sinkhole (Ballou Balaa in Arabic), Baatara Sinkhole, and Three Bridges Chasm (Gouffre des Trois Ponts in French), or even the Batara Gorge Waterfall.

What is it? It is a natural sinkhole plunging 255 metres into the mountainside. It features three natural bridges, rising one above the other over a height of one hundred metres and overhanging the enormous mouth of the chasm. I was lucky enough to visit it during the snow melt, when a 100-metre waterfall drops behind the three bridges and into the sinkhole.

It was first discovered in 1952 and explored in 1962. You can find out more here and here.

That’s a couple down there on the middle bridge:

The snaking path of the river before it drops into the chasm below:

Some mini waterfalls, a little way up the river from the sinkhole:

The long drop:

A view of the three bridges:

Two perspectives from the middle bridge:

Below is a long-exposure shot I took as I was heading out. To give you an idea of the size of the chasm, those little red, white and blue dots to the right of the middle bridge are 3 people.

More coming soon!


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Temples of Astarte and Adonis, Afqa

November 26th, 2009

I seem to have broken my post-every-other-day routine. I’ve been so busy lately. Been a very very hectic time. But I’m still here, alive and kicking.

So, anyway: Back to the hunt for the temples of Adonis in Lebanon. New pictures!

After taking a goodly amount of time in Mashnaqa, the race was on to get to Afqa before sunset. I got there with bare minutes to spare before the last of the precious light was gone. I cursed myself for not carrying a proper, full-size tripod with me. (I’d only taken my trusty Gorillapod – which is an amazing piece of gear but unfortunately limiting – occasionally, you might want some shots to be taken from a higher – or a different – perspective than that the Gorillapod can provide.)

Aside from the scenery, Afqa was interesting from a human point of view: The soldiers I met at the checkpoint just outside Afqa, and again in the village when asking for directions, were ever so helpful and friendly. Two shepherd boys who were tending their flock just outside the temple grounds couldn’t be more different.

The boys made such a ruckus when they saw the camera gear. They threw fits every time the camera wasn’t turned completely away – screaming they didn’t want to be photographed (At no point was I tempted to in any event). They called to each other in shrill voices, their screams shattering the peace of the place. To top it off, when my back was to them I was followed by jeers. So much for the innocence of youth.

The Collapse (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f5.6, ISO 200, 1/40sec)

The temple in Afqa is an odd sight. Not exactly a disappointment. There is precious little left of it, most having been appropriated over the years by villagers from the nearby towns. All that is now left of what was certainly an imposing structure are piles of stones, rocks and rubble – a hillock overgrown with weeds.

Rocks & Rubble (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f5.6, ISO 200, 1/40sec)

The far end of the temple grounds overlook the famous Afqa cave, and a waterfall that falls into the most beautiful crystal-blue pool.

Afqa Cave (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 34mm, f5.6, ISO 200, 1/40sec)

The Pool (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 45mm, f11, ISO 200, 1sec)

Waterfall (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 85mm, f5.6, ISO 200, 1.6sec)

When about to call it a day, one of the soldiers who was with a group I’d asked directions from came to join me. Turns out he’d grown up in a neighbouring village but had never known of the ruined temple until then. The soldier, a young and friendly lad named Ahmed, told me of a hidden entrance to the temple from beneath which his friends had spoken to him about. We searched in the failing light and found a tunnel that led into the heart of the hillock.

The Half-Buried Entrance (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 55mm, f8, ISO 200, 1.6sec + flash SB900)

The tunnel was quite deep, curving leftwards about 15 meters in and carrying on for a bit before the ceiling dropped to less than half a meter.

Below you can see the figures of Ahmad and a friend at the mouth of the tunnel.

Inwards & Outwards (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f4.5, ISO 200, 1.6sec + flash SB900)

Torchlight revealed that the partially collapsed tunnel went on at least a further 20 meters or more and it seems there may be open rooms or halls further in. It certainly warrants further exploration. At some point I may return there with torches and clothes I don’t mind ruining…

The Collapsed Tunnel (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f4.5, ISO 200, 1.6sec + flash SB900)

On another note, I should have taken Ahmad’s portrait, but the thought only occurred to me after we’d parted ways. Ah well…

More pictures coming soon (promise)!


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Road Trip

November 6th, 2009

I took a day road trip on my last stay in Lebanon.

I followed the coastal road from Beirut towards the North and the mountains. I passed through Batroun, then Chekka, a cute town with the unfortunate name of Bziza, past Amioun, on up through Qozhaya (more on that later) and, finally, Ehden.

It was a lengthy, but beautiful drive. Here are a few shots from that trip.

In the hills overlooking Chekka was this little stairway down the sheer cliff face that led down to an ancient hermit monk’s abode which lay in ruins. Beyond it was a tiny and very beautiful chapel.

The Cliffside Chapel

Below is the view that could be seen from the stairway going down.

However hard life must have been for the monks in those little rooms clinging precariously to the cliffside, waking up every morning to a view like this must have made all the difference.

The panorama is made up of 8 overlapping shots taken in rapid succession with my D700 handheld.

Chekka Panorama

I loved how the sea faded into the distance until you almost couldn’t tell where the horizon was, and sea and sky mixed together:

The Thin Blue Line (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 85mm, f8, ISO 200, 1/250sec)

On the way up the mountains to Ehden was this little clearing by the side of the road. The clearing featured a beautiful little shrine, and behind it a small waterfall. As I was taking pictures, a friendly old man came over for a chat. Turned out it was his land. He’d built the shrine, and was looking to improve it and expand and preserve the clearing. After a few pictures, and a very pleasant chat with him (turns out his daughter and her husband are also based in Abu Dhabi), the road beckoned again.

The Waterfall (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 48mm, f25, ISO 200, 1sec)

Qozhaya brought many memories to the fore when I got there. The monastery, which housed the very first printing press in the Middle East, was one of the last places I visited with my grandfather before he passed away. It all came back when I was coming up the steps leading to the main buildings, past the grotto. One of the last pictures I have with him and the rest of the family is one taken on those very steps.

This shot here, I took at twilight from the other side of the valley where I’d hiked on a lark.

Monastery of St. Anthony the Great of Qozhaya (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f3/5-5.6 @ 24mm, f10, ISO 200, 13secs)


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