The photographic bucket list

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Havana, Cuba

We all have places, things and events we’d like to photograph – my mind was drifting on a recent drive back from Singapore, and I thought it might be interesting to compile a list in one place both for me to share some of my ideas with readers, and for you to contribute your own in the comments. Some I’ve done/been to, and others remain aspirational. We may well become aware some things locally that we hadn’t considered exotic or interesting, and if some interesting images come out of it – why not? There is one caveat, though: the bucket list has to be feasible (i.e. ‘the moon’ is out).

In no particular order:

Havana, Cuba
Both from a cultural perspective, a cigar aficionado’s perspective and the desire to see what the world was really like 50 years ago – Havana has always been the top of my personal list. It combines the best of an urban destination with an exotic one; the people are friendly, the streets are safe and pedestrian friendly, and there’s no end of material to photograph. And the quality of light is really quite magical, too. Add in surprisingly impressive food, and you’ve got a destination that has only remained this way because of the US embargo…I got to go for the first and only time in 2014 for the Havana Masterclass, including participating in the revolution day parade – I would love to go back, but times have changed (and will change even more rapidly) plus it’s a costly 30+ hour plane ride.

Svalbard, Norway
Landscapes and polar bears: two of my favourite things. Add a helicopter into the mix for some aerial work, and we’re all set. On top of that, if you go at the right time of year, you get to see the aurora, too – this is one location that ticks off at least four things on my list simultaneously.

Oregon forests
Every photograph I’ve seen from this region just looks spectacular – there’s such an incredible variety of formations, layout, species and topography that I think it’ll be very difficult to run out of material. Given the latitude, the quality of light changes dramatically with the seasons, too.

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The Australian Outback
I’ve flown over it several times, and been astonished by the variety of landscapes that present themselves – spending some more time working those both from the ground and lower altitudes would probably yield some very interesting images, and possibly of places that have never been photographed; that’s how vast the continent is. As a bonus, I’d also like to shoot at one of the massive open pit mines; very little work I’ve seen tends to convey scale very well, and I’d like the challenge…

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Queenstown and surrounds, New Zealand
Having been before, and likely to go again, I can’t actually think of anywhere else in the world that has that density of natural beauty: within an 150km radius, you get everything from barren rocky mountains to glaciers to lakes to forests to river deltas to verdant meadows. And every season is so different that each place takes on a very strong personality of its own; I can’t help but think this is where I’d want to retire – even if I stop shooting, I really think it’s impossible to get jaded or tired of these surroundings.

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Thaipusam, Kuala Lumpur
I’ve covered this event four times now; each time is a different experience for me. The conditions are extremely challenging technically and physically, but there’s just so much going on you can always find a different story to pursue on each visit. What I find interesting is the sheer intensity emotion from that many devout pilgrims in one place at the same time; the mood is something that has to be experienced – and we haven’t even said anything about the riot of color and texture in a very surreal (massive cave) setting. After a few repeats, you feel like you’re seeing the same people again (they may well be) but you know they’re really different individuals acting out age-old roles – and there’s got to be a story in that.

The pit lane at the Monaco F1 Grand Prix
A different kind of intensity and different kind of ‘religion’, I suppose; I have a feeling it would actually be quite a lot like Thaipusam in a lot of ways. The color, the focus, the energy, the physical challenge of shooting in those conditions (heat, danger etc.) – plus the cars!

Awake brain surgery
I’ve actually both shot and vidoed this for a healthcare client in the past; there is no ‘on assignment’ post for this because the images and footage are frankly extremely graphic. The surgery basically requires the patient to be conscious, awake and responsive as the surgeons remove a tumor from the brain to avoid excising any critical areas. Early on, I ruled out medicine as a career because of the blood; little did I know I’d be staring at an open brain for the better part of five hours under high magnification – and handholding a 600mm-equivalent lens whilst doing so. I found that documenting the event gave me enough detachment to not feel nauseous at the anatomy of it, but still enough understanding and appreciation of the degree to which modern medicine has progressed.

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A marine heavy engineering/ construction facility
I’ve also shot for this kind of client several times in the past, and really enjoyed the experience – there is something very majestic about (relatively) small men creating massive vessels that feel as though they shouldn’t really be capable of independent motion – something reinforced when you stand next to a tanker so large you can’t see both ends easily, or a very oddly shaped drilling rig. Extending this to shoot on an offshore oil facility is even more interesting – and having been on a rig or two myself in a previous life I can attest to this, but getting access and permission to that kind of thing is nigh on impossible unless you have petroleum clients. Sadly, I don’t have any images forms that experience as a) I was there to work on operational procedures as a consultant and b) photography was very strictly forbidden.

Chittagong shipbreaking yards, Bangaladesh
This is really the opposite end of the spectrum to construction. In a way, it’s probably been done to death to the point that the yards now police out photographers and have been reported to be actively hostile; no surprise when the working conditions are inhuman and having a record of it is not exactly in their best interests. At least with greater awareness, hopefully conditions may improve; this is perhaps the most powerful ability of photography. From a purely selfish standpoint, the contrast between the human labor, suffering and the almost human dying vessels is visual gold…

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The airplane graveyards, Nevada desert
I suppose we could consider this the first world equivalent to the ship breaking yards – except these aircraft are generally stored with the possibility of reuse, even though this almost never happens. It’s a testament to both colossal waste and scientific/engineering progress: today’s state of the art is tomorrow’s unrecyclable eyesore.

Japan in the snow
Specifically, Kyoto and Tokyo. The former because I suspect it gives the city a softer, more human side – rather than the stiff and formal place I’ve always found it to be; the latter because I’m really curious to see how a metropolis the size of Tokyo (and with the efficiency of Japan) functions under circumstances where a lot of other countries tend to grind to a halt.

Landscape beauty, beaches, tropical weather, supposedly good Japanese food, and the promise of the island paradise – I have no idea if it’s as good as the travel brochures make it out to be, but it’s possibly the one place that might rival New Zealand’s South Island for density of visual overload. To the best of my knowledge, there’s no flowing lava in New Zealand at the moment.

Namibia from a hot air balloon
My imagination of this is as much meditative as a photographic one: you take off at dawn, see the sun rise and create shadows over the dunes or sparse grassland, and drift through a silent landscape in near silence yourself – somehow above it, but part of it. There’s something appealing in a tranquil, peaceful way here. I suspect it may well come through in the resulting images, too.

Inside the Boeing or Airbus factories
Like a shipyard, only more precise…

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Sadly just a scale model shot, many years ago.

A vintage Ferrari
Preferably the legendary 250 GTO SWB, but any of them will do just fine. I want to put it in a giant lightbox and light it like a watch…

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The jumbo Lange Datograph demonstration/display movement
Lange made a few of these 10:1 scale movements for dealers, showrooms and some very lucky collectors. They run, they are finished just as well as the actual watches, and they’re made of the same materials. The best part though is you would be able to get angles that are otherwise impossible with a watch sized movement: something 30cm across is much ease to photograph and light than something 3cm across. On top of that, I suspect you may well be able to get a camera inside certain portions of the movement because the parts would be easy to remove. Imagine the perspectives…

A well-photographed and famous celebrity
This last one is a bit of a wildcard: most actors or celebrities are adept at putting on whatever face the role requires; I suspect few photographers really manage to capture a slice of their true personality. I don’t do portraiture much, but I am aware that it’s really a record of the relationship between the photographer and the subject; aside from the obvious challenge, I’m also curious to see how they would respond to me vs somebody else – which probably would say as much about me as them. You’d have to use somebody frequently photographed for this because I can’t otherwise see how there’d be any basis for comparison.

That’s about it for me for now – what’s on your list? MT


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  1. Went to Angkor during the SARS outbreak around 2003 and there were relatively few tourists. What an incredible time to have gone: no jostling for position or waiting in lines to get the best angle for shots. It was heavenly. Some places you think are overworked photographically simply make you exercise more creativity to get a different view than the touristic norm (or, the place is so photogenic, you can simply be lazy and take the easy shots – but they still look wonderful!) Which brings Cuba to mind. It’s a big island (900+ miles long). Yes, it is changing but if one cannot find novel views and places to shoot then one ought to give up image-making. Cuba is a lot more than Havana just as the U.S. is more than, say, New York City. You will never lack photo opportunities in the Pearl of the Caribbean.

    On my list: any place above the Arctic Circle or Siberia. I love northern climes and have been to the Canadian Arctic and Mongolia (many times) but not Svalbard or Siberia. One day!

    • Good point re. Cuba: one really needs a lot more time to explore it than we had; I don’t even feel we did Havana justice, to be honest…

      • I lent a friend an A6000 with FE 2/28 for his recent trip to Cuba. He’d never used a “real” camera before. He took over 1200 photos, I did the post-processing . . .

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        • That sounds like a rather unfair division of labor! 😛

          You could probably go a little easy on the color and vignette, though… 🙂

  2. Epic topic and great list.

    I’d add the Carnevale di Venezia as well as some other cultural gatherings, like Holi (Indian and Nepalese festival of colour) and La Tomatina in Spain.

  3. David Glos says:

    While certainly not mine, we do have a local gent with a 250 GTO. Specifically, the one featured in the following Hemmings article:—1962-Ferrari-GTO/1395032.html

    While certainly a beautiful, and photo worthy object, the real kick is hearing the motor exercised. He will occasionally take it out to Saturday morning, enthusiast car gatherings too. Mr. Jaeger has a wide collection of other exotic/historic/valuable automotive objects, should the GTO not hold your full attention.

  4. David Babsky says:

    It’s odd, considering that a camera can capture, or create, a photo in just a fraction of a second, that the entire Bucket Lists don’t include the word “when”.

    There seem to be lists of “where”, but not specific moments. Not a photo of the instant when a duckling hatches and sees, and imprints, its mother for the first time.

    Nor when the setting sun glints on, say, the Canary Wharf tower in London.

    Not when an inflictor of injustice and their victim meet for reconciliation. Not when the seawater is at its highest spring tide at, say, Mevagissey in Cornwall, and the water spreads – for just a few minutes each year – across the top of the town’s stone jetty. Not when traffic lights switch to green, and cars, bikes and trucks race around Paris’ Arc de Triomphe. Not when a rose is thrown down onto a coffin at a funeral. Not when teeny turtles struggle down to the surf to begin their way in the world.

    I’m astonished at the dismissal of places which have already been documented ..”done to death”. Pete Turnley has photographed Paris for decades, and every photo of his which I’ve seen is new and fresh. Cuba – done to death. Iceland – done to death. How dismissive can one get?

    I’m surprised, then, at the obsession with places, rather than moments. Places, rather than emotions or intangibles. Places, rather than relationships. Places which people have heard of, or already seen pictures of, but which those people want to take photos of themselves – unless “too many” pictures have already been taken, and thus those places’ve been “done to death”. I wonder, then, what’s the optimum number of photos of, say, Uluru / Ayers Rock, or of St Mark’s Square in Venice, or that cave full of Buddha statues on the Mekong River upstream of Chiang Mai, or Tokyo’s Shibuya crossing?

    Humans, and other sentient creatures.. they don’t seem to get much of a look-in in these Bucket Lists ..apart from, at the very bottom of Ming’s own list, “A well-photographed and famous celebrity”. Though it doesn’t seem to matter who that person is.

    So where’s my Bucket List?

    I don’t have one. I see photos wherever I happen to be ..and I’m lucky enough to have travelled around a fair bit and seen Lancashire, and Oman, Tokyo and Kyoto, Paris and Queenstown, etc. I haven’t been to the Galapagos – yet – or to Cuba.

    But it’s particular moments, people, creatures, occurrences and relationships which would intrigue me; “one-offs”, the specific relationship-moments which a camera can capture in a hundred-and-twenty-fifth of a second, rather than some “not yet done to death” specific view.

    • For me, it’s because the list of possible ‘whens’ is endless – it’s every instant and none at the same time, limited only by your imagination. Why would you want to arbitrarily cut that off? Regardless of that – you still need the stage for the play, and that’s often an atmosphere specific to a certain location. Why else would one travel?

  5. Lofoten Islands and the Helgeland coast in Norway are woth the visit. I would say Nordland county in general, but I’m pretty biased in that regard.

    • EDIT: As for myself, I would like to do Labrador/Newfoundland and perhaps Alaska. I like the arctic regions, and small fishing villages seems like interesting subjects. I’d also wanted to go to Chernobyl/Pripyat, but I guess that’s been photographed to death already.

  6. Hi Ming,

    What a vast debate!

    In the things I’ve already done, I’d say :
    – Brasilia and Inhotim open-air museum in Brazil. The feeling of exploring a tropical-modernist-utopia was just out of this world when you’ve been living in “old” Europe all your life.
    – Japan, obviously, probably because this is a place where the most trivial things can feel very exceptional. I’m particularly in love with the countryside there, and their nature has an enchanted touch that really moves me. (Yakushima island!)
    – The Black Desert and White Desert in Egypt, whose beauty took me by surprise. It’s a lesson on how an arid landscape can reinvent itself a thousand times.

    As for the fantasy list :
    – Mongolia. The challenging food and awful weather will probably keep me out of it, but I really dream of its landscapes and culture…
    – Iran. Knowing so little about a country so old fascinates me. It’s such a gigantic and mythical territory, it would be fabulous to document it.
    – Socotra island. This has a taste of paradise lost, and I’m in for anything that looks from another planet.
    And the list can go on…I’m particularly curious about the places where you don’t have any pictures in mind because they are vastly under-documented or always pictured the same way (Brazilian streets, Russia, Middle-Eastern cities, etc…)

    • Oh yes – I forgot Brasilia; every image I’ve seen out of that has such a 1920s net-futurist look to it, regardless of when it was shot. A sort of reverse-Cuba in a way…

      I had to look up that last place – WOW! Talk about another world!

  7. Excellent article, for which many thanks, nice way to spark ideas. I’d like to explore the west of Ireland for its stormy seas and soulful light, and the wilder, less visited parts of Spain, Romania and Bulgaria, all often overlooked I suspect but long and rich histories in all three. That’s fairly realistic. More in the fantasy league are eastern Tibet, spring in Sikkim and the old paths of Japan, the kind Basho wrote about, if they still exist. I find a lot of inspiration in the work of the travel and documentary photographer Timothy Allen.

  8. Jim Clayh says:

    I am a mountain landscape enthusiast. Nepal is beautiful (I have been there twice) but has been photographed to death. My next big photographic safari will be to the Karakorum via Kashgar in China. Specifically K2 base camp with views of some of the biggest mountains in the world and an approach reminiscent of a lunar landscape populated with camels.

    • I think you’d also enjoy the South Island of New Zealand for that…substitute camels for sheep, though.

      • Jim Clay says:

        I spent the Christmas season on the South Island in 2013. It certainly is worth a return visit, and I’d love to see it in late fall or winter.

  9. Rosa Michaels says:

    What gear would you bring to Hawaii ?

  10. Ming, in my opinion, Rangoon, Burma should be on anyone’s visit and photograph list. It has the most amazing English colonial architecture, much of which is mouldering in the tropical heat. Go before the developers discover Burma and destroy the heritage in the name of progress (already underway, unfortunately).

    • I’ve already been in 2013, and to be honest – didn’t like it at all. I found the people surprisingly cutthroat and hostile compared to how they behave overseas, which probably didn’t help. It felt as though it might have already been too late and everybody was trying to suddenly jump on the capitalist bandwagon at every possible opportunity…

  11. Scott McDonough says:

    I found the South Caucasus (Georgia, Armenia) to have a lovely mix of human and natural wonders, often juxtaposed in interesting ways (like Tsminda Sameba below Mount Kazbek, Davit Gareji monasteries in the “desert” of Georgia, the ruin of Zvartnots and Mount Ararat, Noravank, etc.).

    I’m hoping a trip to Iran next year will offer some interesting opportunities too.

  12. Many places/subjects come to mind, but thinking about the ones I haven’t had the chance to see yet, I would say, to name only three:
    –Landscapes of Iceland.
    –Aborigines of the Amazon.
    –Nomadic people and yurtas in Mongolia.

    • I left Iceland out because it feels very overdone. There are far too many identical photos coming out of that place – and a friend who went recently showed me an image that basically had tripods stuffed along the entire path to some second rate site, because access to the famous ones was either being controlled or too full! On top of that, you can’t stop on most roads because there’s no hard shoulder. Hardly conducive to spontaneity…which is a bit of a shame, I suppose.

  13. Jonathan Hodder says:

    A great list and a fun article. I would also like to mention a few more places which are on my list –

    1. Jiuzhaigou, China
    2. Palawan, the Philippines
    3. Jodpur, India
    4. Chefchaouen, Morocco
    5. Lahore, Pakistan
    6. Paro, Bhutan (once I’ve plucked up the courage to fly to the world’s most dangerous airport to land in)

  14. Chris Froelich says:

    Great thread Ming. It’s funny how “exotic” location is relative. I live in the Sierra Nevada mountains minutes from iconic Lake Tahoe and a short drive from Yosemite National Park. To me, of course, these are so yesterday. Now Singapore, wow. That would be amazing!

    I would love to do
    1. Fashion Week in New York
    2. Geisha in Japan
    3. Antarctica for landscape/seascapes
    4. Hokkaido Japan in winter for landscape

  15. “Japan in the snow” Specifically, Kyoto and Tokyo … the latter because I’m really curious to see how a metropolis the size of Tokyo (and with the efficiency of Japan) functions under circumstances where a lot of other countries tend to grind to a halt.”

    I for one can demystify this … it actually grinds to a squeaking halt … people abandon their cars in the middle of the streets, lock them and walk away. This “efficiency of Japan” is a myth only politicians like to play with … on the ground this plays on first responders … if they are overwhelmed by the circumstances … there goes the story! Japan is not any better than Turkey in this respect … maybe even worse as they have so much resources and only crisis management is always a bottle neck.

  16. 1. The Kalahari desert to photograph meerkats.
    2. Portraits of 10 random People from each state of the United States
    3. A portrait documentary of the Indigenous Indian Tribes of Panama.
    4. The Alps
    5. I would like to spend a month photographing various parts of Austria
    6. A Photo Safari with natives of the Congo

  17. I’ve very much gotten into wildlife photography so I want to go to Yellowstone for elk, moose, and wolves, Canada for grizzlies, Ngorongo crater for more animals than I can list, Virunga for gorillas, Antarctica for penguins! and I could go on.

    Landscapes at and in Grand Canyon (last time I was there was pre-photo-nut Sean), Yosemite, Glacier National Park, Yellowstone (again!), Big Bend, Australia, New Zealand… Even something so humble as my own Flint Hills of Kansas when I could have time and fore-knowledge to know when dawn and dusk will be ideal so I can get into position.

    Now you’ve got me dreaming Ming. This is fun.

    Oh yes, and Goodwood/Monterey Car Week too. I’ve moved on from cars as a principal hobby but I still would love a chance to shoot the legends.

  18. Interesting topic, and sad to hear that Prague will be your last masterclass for a while. You know you’ve always got a student if you’re going to do a Hawaii MC! 🙂

    My list is kind of random, but only because I haven’t thought too much about it:

    1. Assist some high-profile editorial photographer I admire. Someone like Dan Winters, or maybe one of the SI Swimsuit shoots … Taking one for the team here! 🙂 Seriously, that world is so out of my experience that I think I’d learn a lot.

    2. More prosaic (and achievable) are various landscape sites like Iceland, the US national parks, though to be honest, California alone has so many photogenic areas that I could probably spend decades just shooting here.

    3. Intern at some high-powered printing house that all the big shots use. I’d willingly clone out dust spots for a few months just to see how those guys (and women, presumably) work.

    4. Have a year-long, unrestricted photojournalistic, fly-on-the-wall gig at an artistic institution like one of the major ballet companies. I’m doing this on a small scale now, but it might be interesting to see different art institutions too like an orchestra, or a major theater.

    5. Somewhat related, maybe follow someone for a whole year or a few years, documenting their life. Could be famous, or not, but they have to be interesting (eg. maybe for NASA’s next mission, follow it from start to end).

    Thinking about it more, the stuff that interests me are long PJ essays on one thing. Following the construction of a concert hall or another interesting building from beginning to end with unlimited access would be cool. It would have been interesting to follow the construction of the LHC, or some other technical thing like Porsche’s Le Mans comeback.

    • Time and family commitments, Andre. I just can’t keep being away for 2 weeks at a time and not functional on return thanks to jet lag…

      2. It’s a good thing you live in California 🙂

      4. and 5. I fully agree. This is pretty similar to my brief for a couple of construction companies – it’s interesting work, though forces you to both challenge yourself in getting different images every time – but not so different you have a Genesis-type discontinuity between eras.

  19. Martin Fritter says:

    I dislike travel, so I’m not qualified to comment other than this: Ming! The Technological Sublime is your subject! The only other photographer current working who compares to you, and I know about, is Burtynsky. The links to the environmental crises are obvious, so you would benefit from being topical – and of course benefiting the world. The shipyard picture in this post is stunning and, I think, unique. Your horological techniques could obviously be applied to all kinds of small and tiny technologies.

    So happy for your success! And only 30!


  20. A couple of readers have mentioned the US Southwest…. I could guess wrong but suppose you’d find some rewarding content there.

    Colorado surprised me with its variety of settings. New Mexico might have surprised me more with qualities I did not expect to find.

    It might not rise to the level of your bucket list but I doubt you would come away completely empty-handed from Northern New England either… rugged coast, harbours, mountains, forest, shipbuilding and agriculture all within a short driving distance and ample seasonal changes as well.

  21. Another interesting discussion: thanks Ming.
    Especially since I’ve moved into 5×4 film, and also focused more and more on landscape work in the last year, I’m planning to stay closer to home in the UK. A dedicated trip to Scotland this autumn may well include Glencoe and Ardnamurchan, for a mixture of the classic vistas and more intimate details. Chances in future to explore e.g. the Lake District more, and the Outer Hebrides (i.e. Harris), would be great. I’m also fortunate in that my parents live in the Peak District.
    However, further afield, Iceland and northern Scandinavia in autumn strongly appeal to me (influenced by work of Hans Strand and David Ward in particular, as well as Paul Wakefield). Having visited Northern Sweden once before in late spring I can thoroughly recommend that wonderful mixture of textures that thawing snow can provide. Even further afield, particularly if you follow Ben Horne on youtube, you will know how wonderful the classic US national parks can be throughout the year.
    If I just had an iphone or a smaller camera with me, I know I’d find lots of subjects in big US cities such as New York and Chicago; Tokyo looks fabulous: perhaps a visit there next year will happen.
    Fom slightly more left-field, I’m regularly in Greece, but never really in the right season for landscape work. But I reckon a week combining wild camping and photography in the higher elevations in autumn would be excellent. Completely empty, so you would have the entire place to yourself.

    But: to turn the whole discussion on its head, there’s something to be said for returning again and again to the same location. Especially for landscape work, this is highly recommended, because shooting conditions become second-nature, and you connect more closely with the environment, hopefully producing better images. Charging around all over the planet is, to some at least, over-rated!

    • Is the Peak District as scenic as they say?

      I second Chicago – that place is incredibly rich. Tokyo never seems exhaustible even though I’ve been ever year now for ten years running.

      Same locations: yes, but one can overdo it…I shoot very little in Kuala Lumpur now unless its on assignment.

      • Thanks, Ming. Re. Peak District, depends what you want, I think. Certainly for grandeur nowhere near like highland/island Scotland or even the Lake District. But for more intimate things, and softer work, and for autumn colour in woodland, and in water in the dales, it may be just as good. It’s very green throughout much of the year, so you really have to look; early morning weather conditions over expansive farmland can be good (cloud inversions, mist etc.). It’s well known for certain areas (Padley Gorge, Edale area). It’s also good for industrial archaeology: old lead mines; beginnings of industrial revolution; old quarries. Magpie Mine, for instance, is well photographed, but there’s still plenty to shoot there. Quite a number of stone circles etc., though I’m still not sure how best to approach shooting them.

        • That sounds pretty good to me. As for stone circles and larger geologic-type ‘rough’ features, I find you need really strong light parallel to one facet and perpendicular to the camera direction to overcome the microshadow/texture on the surface of the objects…

          • Thanks; good tip, which seems to match what I’ve seen elsewhere.
            Another suggestion: places that I should visit on day trips from home that I haven’t reached out to so far. Top of the list here would be North Wales: I fancy an autumn trip to the woods, rivers, and abandonned slate quarries, about 3hrs each way by car. Great for texture, colour, and moody mystery.

        • The gritstone edges and quarries in the ‘dark peak’ can be really moody places to shoot (they’d make your recent Porto stuff look like summer). Slate is also awesome, and would suit your architectural eye. Look up peak district climbing / slate climbing for an idea of what’s possible.

  22. Good list! I’ve done a few of those:

    Oregon forests – I did a road trip from seattle to vegas via all the best tree locations in the world, very impressive. For me the highlight of Oregon was Trillium Lake at Mt Hood, though we visited some very wild places there too. Other highlights were the Bristlecone Pines near Bishop, Sequoia National Park, the Redwood Highway, Olympic peninsular, etc etc

    Kyoto in the snow, a very nice place to shoot, and you are right, the changes are really quite large between seasons, I’ve shot there some 6-7 times now in the last few years and still feel there is more to get from it.

    Queenstown, well yes, not much more to say on that one, the most beautiful area I have seen (narrowly), will try and move there in the next couple of years.

    My own list of best places to shoot that I’ve been to:
    Wanaka/Queenstown, NZ
    Jasper National Park, Canada
    Assynt, Scotland
    Iceland SE and interior

    Second tier just behind would include plenty of places in Japan, Yosemite, Zion national park, bits of the Swiss Alps

    And the list of still to go:

    Nepal, thinking Gokyo Ri trail

    We really don’t live long enough!

    • Sorry, of course meant to say best tree locations in the trip. Did happen to include the oldest, the tallest and the biggest trees in the world

    • junaidrahim says:

      All the things that are still on your list Richard pretty much mirror what I have. Small 1/2 week expeditions in those places would be amazing.

    • I’ve never shot Japan in the snow – my timing seems to be terrible. Unfortunately it’s not one of those things you can plan for!

      Absolutely with you on Wanaka/Queenstown. I need to get back there in autumn this time…

  23. Kristian Wannebo says:

    Australian Outback:
    Friendly and helpful (like in northern Sweden) – as you probably know.

    A good read: Laurens van der Post, A Far-Off Place.
    A novel about two western youngsters and two of the San people walking across the whole Kalahari desert fleeing from war. (Sequel to A Story Like the Wind.)
    Also his The Lost World of the Kalahari, a travel documentary.

    On my own list:
    Ice on a lake weakening and breaking in spring and finally piling up on the shore. (Also for video, but then _very_ far from airports!)
    Inside small old Swedish stone churches, nowadays usually locked though.
    Also the architecture inside Roman and Gothic churches – the loftyness.
    French town Angers, passed through once …
    The Hebrides (never been there) …
    Stockholm old town, once in a while.

    • I’ve always thought of the Hebrides as a place for spectacular seaborne weather…

      • Kristian Wannebo says:

        Aye, and landscape.
        ( Another place for spectacular weather – sometimes in spring and autumn – is the archipelago and coast north of Gothenburg.)

  24. There’s many places that I’d love to visit, which are quite doable. Japan for example. Although we have a young child, so many of these are best left for a while

    My bucket list has quite a few ideas for shots on it, that aren’t necessarily location dependant, but I haven’t managed to realise for one reason or another (street photography ideas mainly)

    So for places, I’d actually like revisit some of the ones I’ve been to before, and well; make a better job of it!

    I was once given a tour of Red Bull’s F1 HQ (incl where the cars are prepped and assembled) and surprisingly photography is allowed, although not in all areas! I had litterally about 10 mins notice of this tour, so I was lucky to have a compact on me, and not just a phone, but still had I known I would of packed a better camera (I’m going back a few years btw, the compacts of today would have made a better job of it)

    I’d also be very keen to photograph behind the scenes of a MotoGP team.

    • I had a similar experience at Renault F1 back in 2005 – I did remember to bring the camera, though I was there for a very, very different purpose so not much photography was done (and my skills at the time were let’s say less than stellar anyway!)

      • My scenario was that a friend of a friend of someone who worked there PROMISED he could get me a RB F1 tour… it never happened, never happened… Then one day “Adam, ok it’s on but get here NOW*” Bless the little cotton socks of the Pani LX3 I just happened to have in my bag that day or it would of been all on a Nokia work phone 🙂

        *I was working about a 5min walk away from RB F1, so not even time to go home and get a different camera.

        I’ve also been round Williams F1 Museum, which is well worth it (if such things appeal), although (iirc) not open to the public, they (used to at least) host corp events there, and I got in off the back of one of those!

  25. Cuba was mine…but I have missed the boat there, sadly.

    If you go to Svalbard hit up (they guy who works in La Commedia in Venice) he is desperate for a travel partner there, and asked me to go! Should be flattered he thinks I look like the rugged, hardy, arctic explorer kind of guy! Ha! If you do go then let me know and I might consider it!

    Oregon forests, definitely….count me in if you do go….and whilst there Canon Beach. Actually my dream trip starts in San Francisco, takes in the Redwoods, Big Sur, Yosemite, Oregon Forests and coast, Wahington Palouse, Portland, Seattle, Vancouver, and finish in Alaska. no itinerary, no time constraints, just a camper van and a camera.

    After that….rural China, again a long trip with no time constraints needed.

    Eastern Europe grand tour as above in format

    Rural Japan

    Varanasi and some rural India

    Italy – any of it, but Florence / Sienna / Tuscany first

    Southern Spain…Grenada, Cadiz, Cordoba, Seville

    North Africa…Constantine, Fez


    So many places, so little time *sigh*

  26. junaidrahim says:

    I was not aware there were jumbo Datograph movements! Though in some ways I am surprised you’ve not managed to find someone to let you see/shoot it.

    The Nevada desert is a good shout for the airplane graveyard.

    My own bucket list would involve small expeditions to uncharted areas. Canada and colder places the likes but also in warmer/desert climates.

    For the celeb – would you prefer someone you were a fan of or not?

    • There are – I’ve only seen one at the Hong Kong Lange boutique; they weren’t that friendly so I didn’t bother asking. In any case, it was in a purpose-made pedestal and I hardly think they’d have been wiling to let me take it out and set up soft boxes!

      Celeb: good question. If it’s somebody I was a fan of, then there’s the risk that you get intimidated by the subject. If not, then there’s the risk of not knowing enough about the person to storytell accordingly. However, the third argument is that the less you know, the less likely you are to make a cliched portrait of the way the person wants to be portrayed by popular media…

      • junaidrahim says:

        I tend to think someone you’re not a huge fan – less likely to try and impress them?

        I’m sure though you wouldn’t turn down your favourite rocker Avril Lavigne if you had the chance :p

  27. Philip Arthur Brindle says:

    Batanes, Philippines is absolutely spectacular, I’m sure you would enjoy, and not too far from KL either…

  28. My girlfriend and I are taking a risk in about 6 months — we’re *moving* to one of our bucket list locations. We’re relatively young (20+ years from retirement), no children, no debt.

    After looking at the money I was putting away for a new Hassy X1D, I realized the insanity of it. $10k USD for a camera? If I saved maybe 2-3 times that amount, I could relocate to one of our dream locations.

    Once I added up our potential travel locations for late-2016/2017 photography (doing the American Southwest this fall, Iceland and Ireland were slated for next year), that bombshell/light bulb went off above my head: I’m spending a boatload of $ to escape my own back yard.

    It’s a location on your list and just a few paces shy of a 4000 mile relocation for us. I hope my mother doesn’t read your blog, as we haven’t told friends or family yet. 🙂

    G*d willing, I’ll be taking some panoramas at 13,000 ft when Milky Way season fires up next February/March!

  29. Great list of beautiful and interesting places to visit indeed!
    Let me add some more from my experience, you can see photos on my website

    1) Kauai (Hawai) – especially Na Pali rain coast from a helicopter!
    2) Canyons in US Southwest: Canyon de Chelly, Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce, all around Moab, etc – just marvellous and will definitely come back asap
    3) US West Coast Highway 1 from LA via SFO to Eureka – has been kind of my second home over the past 20 years when I worked for a Silicon Valley based company
    4) Africa – Masai Mara and several game reserves in South Africa like Entabeni and Kruger – a must see

    My plans for the future: definitely Havanna, New Zealand and more of wildlife photography in Africa.

    Hope to be on one of your masterclasses soon!

  30. Erling Maartmann-Moe says:

    Great list. Agree on Svalbard, but what you describe requires a certain budget 😉 You can get some of the light (including the Aurora) and landscape in Northern Norway (I was in an area called Lyngen last February), but not the Polar Bears. Iceland is also an interesting alternative for landscape and light.
    I would add New York, just unspecified, I never get enough of that place.
    And a personal dream project: The Karakoram Highway, from Kashgar (with the Sunday market) through the Khunjerab Pass into Pakistan. Anyone joining?

  31. Mike S. says:

    Back stage, right wing or left wing, of a professional ballet performance at the Paris Opera or La Scala in Milan.

  32. India (duh). There’s no other place with such wonderful and colourful chaos, and variety of worthy subjects. Great food too. I suspect I’ll be returning many times before dropping the bucket (I hope).

    Southern Italy. See above, just the European version 😉 Especially smaller places are charming. Ditto with going back more than once.

    Certain districts of England (Peak District, Lake District, probably others). The soft, changing light looks magical, at least in photos.

    Scottish Highlands. For the whisky. Also landscapes.

    Your own child. The easiest and most difficult subject in the world.

    • Ooty was interesting for a different side of India. I’ve been to Goa and Mumbai in the past and honestly found them utterly chaotic and not particularly pleasant to shoot in – you get some great images, but you really have to work for them – even in the form of fighting off touts.

      Ah yes, Italy. Not been anywhere beyond Venice yet.

      And one’s child is a constantly changing challenge…

      • Many travelling people I know have gone to India and only visited big cities. All of them hated it. I’ve been there only 2 weeks but spent most of it in the Keralan countryside, and couldn’t have loved it more. I’ve never seen anything so different but so authentic at the same time.

      • I once imagined a Master Class conducted in coastal Italy, but then wondered if you would consider most of it too over-shot.

      • Get yourself up to the Dolomites, it’s a landscape photographer’s wet dream.

  33. jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    LOL – the moon! Sorry Ming, I’ve been planning this one ever since I realized it was possible. I have the ideal dates noted in my diary and have to pray for the right weather conditions. The shot won’t be “unique”, because I am now aware that others have produced similar shots of the moon in their own locality. So what? – these shots will be mine!

    If & when you get around to “doing” the Australian outback, you’ll have to avoid the “fly in, fly out” trap. This is the oldest continent on the planet [ or at least one section of it is 🙂 ] – and it takes time to soak up the atmosphere & find the “right” spot. Travel between different places of interest is also a problem – for example, head east from where I am, and it’s 1800 miles or so to the next nearest capital city.

    • Australia needs time, simply because of its vast size. Learned that the hard way on my last trip there – we spent most of our week driving!

      The moon: not so easy to do it right, especially at high magnification and free from atmospheric effects. It’s impossible in the tropics, for instance – between cloud cover and atmospheric heat haze…

  34. Gary Morris says:

    I’ve been on the Boeing tour a couple of times. Very interesting. However, photography is not allowed. Maybe you could get an assignment there that would include photography.

    I’ve been to Angkor Wat a couple of times. Thus far, I think that’s been the coolest place I’ve been to with a camera. Maybe the floating market at Can Tho second.

    If you want to try the west coast of the US, I’d suggest the Palouse of eastern Oregon and Washington. Maybe a little more visually variety than the forests of the west coast of Oregon and Washington. My 2¢.

    • Gary Morris says:

      One more… almost anywhere in Yellowstone Natl. Park… particularly Mammoth Hot Springs.

      • The nice thing about Yellowstone is that if you go anywhere off the usual trail, there’s a high chance it’s unphotographed territory…

    • I don’t think I’d ever get the right security clearance to shoot inside Boeing as a non-US citizen.

      Angkor is so close to me that it’s inexcusable I haven’t been. Add it to my list too…

      As for the Palouse, it seems overdone – and to be honest not much coming out of the bazillion workshops in that area feel particularly inspiring to me. It’s as though you go there for a certain specific type of shot, and it’s that – or nothing.

  35. What a timely topic Ming …Having just completed last week a lap of Australia (over a 49 week period) this has already got me thinking about the next trip. Australia is a vast kaleidoscope of amazing and wild landscapes – but is far from the only place(s) I would love to shoot. Below is my high-level bucket-list and in no particular order of preference.

    * Cape York Peninsula, Far North Queensland, Australia.
    * The Mitchell Falls during the hight of wet season, Kimberley, Western Australia.
    * Simpson Desert Crossing (during winter), Western Australia & Northern Territory, Australia.
    * South Georgia Islands – during Albatross nesting season.
    * Almost anywhere in and around Antartica.
    * The Iceberg runs of North Greenland, Greenland.
    * Anything in the Galapagos Islands, off South America.
    * Rugged and unique landscapes of Lord Howe Island, Pacific Ocean, Australia.
    * Yosemite National park in winter, California, USA
    * The sacred and protected canyons of Karijini National Park, Pilbara, Western Australia.
    * A photographic journey of the Siberian Railway.

    Perhaps a little one-dimensional on the landscape / wildlife genre however these types of wilderness places is what I have always most enjoyed shooting. Never hurts to dream!

    • You really need those 49 weeks to cover everything in Australia because it’s so far apart!

      I can’t help but feel that some of the other places – Antarctica, Galapagos etc. are somewhat overdone by photographers; Iceland seems to be the latest victim. I wonder if we can put ‘somewhere new’ on that list…or we will run out of places that have not seen Instagram first…

      South Georgia is a good suggestion, though. Would not have thought of that…

  36. Buenos Aires and Patagonia bro!

  37. – 12 months travelling around Australia….places, people and life (this will be done later in life)
    – a week in New York. I had a couple of days in 2013 and since then have always wanted to go back. Would do a week before or after a David Alan Harvey workshop!
    – Death Valley, California. I was there for 24 hours earlier this year. Didn’t touch the surface of the landscape possibilities.
    – China. Having just been to the Li River area I would like to go back and work my way around different parts of the country
    – Workshop with Alex and Lisa Norris-Webb…

    • – forgot…one more. work on and complete a documentary project of some sort.

    • That sounds like a plan! Out of curiosity – what is it about DAH and the Webbs that attract you?

      • It’s more Alex that has drawn me to them. His work just resonates with me. He covers two genres of photography I personally like to pursue in street and documentary. That said I’m sure how good a teacher he is! As for David I’ve seen a number of short video clips and read about his NY apartment courses and he comes across as good fun person to spend time with and learn from. Photographically he’s not too dissimilar to Alex but each different. David probably has certain images with more of an art basis to them.


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