Flickr challenge: ‘Forever’ theme results

Every week we challenge travel photographers to enter their best image for a specific theme. Our community on Flickr then has a week to vote for their favourite images.

The ‘Forever’ challenge has just finished. Let’s take a look at the results.

This week’s winner

Great Wall, Mutianyu section - Square Lamb

China’s Great Wall straddles the frosty countryside

This is a beautiful winning shot from Square Lamb, depicting the Mùtiányù section of the Great Wall with a light dusting of February snow on the ground. We love the way the photo has been framed, with the Wall itself leading our eyes from the bottom corner back and forth across the image… in fact, if you look closely, you can just make out where it continues along the hillside to the top right.

This week’s runners-up

Back to the portal - R*Pacoma

A peek at the impressive underside of the Scripps Pier, California

R*Pacoma has achieved a fantastic balance with this photo from the California coast outside San Diego, great for diving and snorkeling. The simple subject matter and composition are put to great use, ensuring our focus is on the amazing sense of perspective and infinite distance. The impossibly still water at the base of the shot completes the eerie, yet relaxing effect!

Forever - TravelPixelz

Breathtaking night skies in the Oberuckersee area, Germany

We love this capture of the Milky Way taken by TravelPixelz in the Brandenburg region. Most of the image is devoted to the incredible swathe of stars, but we appreciate the extra interest provided by the reflections in the water below. The blue colour palette also sets this photo apart, as what could be the light of dawn creeps in from the left.

IMG_1455 - alfieianni.com

The imposing colossi of the Great Temple at Abu Simbel ©

What an impressive shot from alfieianni.com! The oblique angle accentuates the scale and majesty of the three statues of Ramesses II at Abu Simbel, and the choice of black and white highlights the amazing texture of the stonework. We also like the use of darkness around the edges of the frame – it really makes the monument stand out.

Train Graveyard (Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia) - rabbit.Hole

Trains suffering permanent delays on the Bolivian salt flats

The Cementerio de Trenes often provides inspiration for photographers visiting Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni, and we can see why! In rabbit.Hole’s shot, the juxtaposition between rusting metal and desert landscape is further emphasised by the idyllic blue sky. We also like the way our gaze is led along the train and off into the distance.

This week’s staff picks

Love forever locks and Teekontor Krogmann in Hamburg - hsadura

An enchanting vista along the Hamburg canals

Our first pick is this charming photo from hsadura in Hamburg, Germany. The love locks along the top are a subtle nod to the challenge theme, and they serve to frame the rest of the image nicely. We especially like the contrast between the texture of the water and the crisp shaft of light reaching across the canal, seemingly inviting us in!

Here to stay (at least for a very long time). - gornabanja

Enduring plastic remnants of modern convenience in India

Although this second pick isn’t necessarily one we’d hang on the wall, we were nonetheless impressed by gornabanja’s shot from Kerala. We appreciate the different perspective on the week’s theme, and there’s a strange beauty about the way the different bottles catch the light. It’s a good reminder of the importance of responsible tourism, and we hope the detritus won’t really be there forever…

You can check out all the entries on our leaderboard. Next week’s theme is ‘Guide’. Interested in taking part? Visit our Flickr challenge page to find out more!

Just back from… Orkney, Scotland

About to slide into the depths of a Stone Age tomb... on a small trolley on wheels © James Kay

Heading into the depths of a Stone Age tomb… on a small trolley on wheels © James Kay

James Kay, Editor at Lonely Planet, recently returned from a trip to Orkney, an archipelago off the northeastern tip of Scotland.

Tell us more… I plotted a leisurely route from London to Orkney: a complex series of inter-connecting trains from Kings Cross to Aberdeen, followed by a six-hour ferry to Kirkwall, the islands’ dinky capital. Why? If you love travel, you savour the journey.

In a nutshell… Orkney defied expectations; I had imagined somewhere scoured by wet and wild weather, and perhaps a bit bleak for some people’s tastes – none of which put me off. But although it sees its fair share of storms, Orkney is in fact extremely mild for this latitude (it’s only 50 miles south of Greenland). The Gulf Stream ensures a micro-climate, and that’s part of what makes this such a rich natural environment.

Defining moment? A pair of sea eagles recently returned to nest on the island of Hoy after a hiatus of nearly 150 years. One rainy afternoon, my guide and I joined an RSPB vigil in Rackwick Valley in the hope of seeing one of these giant birds guarding their eyrie. After half an hour of squinting through the spotting scope without reward in increasingly heavy rain, my attention began to wander… and at that point I noticed a sea eagle circling casually in the sky right behind us.

Good grub? Indeed. Orkney is renowned for its beef (they’ve been farming cattle for 5000 years thanks to the lush pastureland). The seafood is also as good as you’d expect from somewhere surrounded by the North Sea; Orkney crab, in particular, is a world-famous delicacy. And Orcadians are makers by nature, producing everything from cheeses to chocolates, not to mention some quaffable beer.

The waterfront of Stromness, home of the Pier Arts Centre © James Kay

The waterfront of Stromness, home of the Pier Arts Centre © James Kay

You’d be a muppet to miss… the Pier Arts Centre in Stromness. Founded by the artist, peace activist and philanthropist Margaret Gardiner, the centre is now the home of her large collection of contemporary art, as well as other intriguing exhibits. Once the home of a merchant from the historic Hudson Bay Company, the building itself is an architectural gem.

Fridge magnet or better? With an environment this eye-catching, it’s no surprise that Orkney is home to so many artists and artisans, which makes for a superior souvenir-hunting experience. I bought my wife a pair of earrings from jeweller Sheila Fleet, whose work draws inspiration from the islands’ Viking heritage. I also bagged a toy puffin on the ferry home – alas, it has yet to find favour; the competition in my toddler’s cot is stiff.

loons

Perfect for twitching: the parabolic ‘Listening Wall’ at The Loons and Loch of Banks © James Kay

Fav activity? If pushed to choose only one, I’d go for the visit to The Loons and Loch of Banks, an RSPB reserve comprised of Orkney’s largest remaining wetlands, where you can spot godwits, lapwings and many other species. Our party dallied for a sunny hour at the ‘Listening Wall’, a parabolic structure that amplifies the sounds of the birds; where better to stop for a sandwich in the company of knowledgeable, Swarovksi binocular-wielding twitchers?

Quintessential experience? It’s hard to look past the Unesco-listed Neolithic Heart of Orkney site, which put Stonehenge in the shade in my opinion. But it would be remiss to confine your curiosity to this alone, as every sod of earth here seems sown with history; the locals like to say, stick a spade in the ground in Orkney and you’ll probably start a fresh archaeological dig.

The brooding landscape of Hoy, Orkney's 'high island' © James Kay

The brooding landscape of Hoy, Orkney’s ‘high island’ © James Kay

If you do one thing… Visit Hoy. I didn’t have time to explore the outer islands, which I’m sure are just as compelling, but I did make it to Hoy. The big crowd-pleasers here are the famous Old Man of Hoy rock stack, and the Scapa Flow Visitor Centre and Museum, which focuses on war-time history. They’re both worth the trip alone, but the island itself is topographically unique – it’s a chunk of the Scottish Highlands adrift in the North Sea, completely different to its immediate neighbours.

Watch the interview

Behind the ‘zines: Lonely Planet Traveller’s November issue

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Claire and Sophie discuss which shots to feature in the magazine © Lonely Planet

The new issue of Lonely Planet Traveller UK is out now, and jam-packed with autumnal adventures – from a gastronomic journey through Spain and quick getaways in Europe to a spooky trip to the USA’s Deep South.

Take a look at a few of the photos that didn’t quite make the cut this month and discover what makes a great shot as photographer Stuart Butler talks us through a photo from his story on Kenya’s Maasai lands.

LP South Tyrol ITALY Torggelon Feature- the Keschtneg the walking trail of south Tyrol. Autumn leaves and geberal scenery along the walk.

The Dolomites loom over South Tyrol © Matt Munro

South Tyrol, Italy

Writer Oliver Berry visited this German-speaking corner of Italy for our feature on Törggelen and its harvest festivals.

‘This photo is of a typical mountain village near the Val di Funes, a valley leading off into the Dolomites. You see many such villages travelling around South Tyrol, perched high amongst the peaks, with little houses topped by steeply-pitched rooftops and arranged around an old church spire. It looks like a fairytale, but there’s also the brooding presence of the Dolomites looming in the background. It sums up the landscapes in this part of Italy: beautiful, but a bit ominous too. In the end, though, the weather conspired to give us even more dramatic views’.

Follow @olivertomberry

Great Escape- Dominican republic The Oviedo Lagoon nature reserve. Flamingo, Iguana and wildlife in the Lagoon

‘I’m ready for my close-up’ © Matt Munro

Jaragua National Park, Dominican Republic

On assignment for our Great Escape feature, writer Mike MacEacheran travelled to the little-visited Lago de Oviedo – a saltwater lagoon inhabited by rhinoceros iguanas.

‘What I’ll remember most about the experience wasn’t that we had the entire reserve to ourselves, or the adventurous boat trip across the lagoon (we got stuck on a mud-bank),  but the confident guy in this picture,’ says Mike. ‘Despite our presence, he crept farther along the branch and out into the sunlight, posing for 15 minutes without as much as a twitch. It was as though he wanted to make sure we got his best side. In the end, we were spoilt for choice with wildlife shots, and this little guy didn’t make it in.’

Follow @MikeMacEacheran

stockholm

Go to Södermalm island for the best views of Stockholm © Lena Granefelt

Stockholm, Sweden

‘Stockholm has so many fine views, it’s hard to pick just one’, says Rory Goulding, who visited for our Perfect Weekend feature on the city.

‘Most of the best are from the cliffs that run along the north side of Södermalm island. This photo was taken on the Monteliusvägen – a walking path that isn’t as well known as some viewpoints. You can see the Riddarholm Church with its distinctive cast-iron spire, and the large, apricot-coloured building that used to house Sweden’s parliament. Beautiful as the view is, for the final edit I went with a viewpoint on the other side of the water, on the terrace of Stockholm’s city hall, where the Nobel prize dinner is held. I wanted to tell a story not just about what I could see in front of me, but what was special about the place I had my back to.’

Follow @RGouldingTravel

kenya

James poses for Stuart for the second time © Stuart Butler

Maasai Mara, Kenya

Writer and photographer Stuart Butler walked through Kenya’s Maasai lands while researching the Lonely Planet Kenya guide.

‘Before taking this picture of James, a Maasai man, I’d already spent a day and half with him and his family – and I’d actually met and photographed him the year before. He remembered me, and I was able to give him a print of the images we took that first time, which made him relaxed and happy for me to photograph him again.

I prefer to shoot only at dusk and dawn when the light is soft and dramatic. I often find myself using a low-down angle which gives something of a ‘hero’ look to the subject. I use artificial light in almost all my portraits.; flash allows me to control where the shadows fall on a person’s face. In this case the lights were set up behind James and just out of frame to the right.’

 

Flickr challenge: ‘Coffee’ theme results

Each week we host a community photo challenge on Flickr, asking photographers to submit their best travel images to match a chosen word or phrase.

With International Coffee Day at the start of October, and coffee tourism ever popular, we chose ‘Coffee’ as the theme for our latest challenge. Here are the top images as voted by the community.

This week’s winner

Coffee Culture, Ethiopian Way - rovinglight

Enjoying coffee the local way in Ethiopia © rovinglight

Another winning photo from rovinglight, this time from a small town in Ethiopia. We like the use of shallow depth of field to draw all our focus and attention to the cup, and we’re particularly interested in the accompanying sprig of rue on the side – apparently a traditional extra flavouring for the coffee, not just for decoration!

This week’s runners-up

beans - De Wet Moolman

Coffee beans for sale at the market in Indonesia © De Wet Moolman

This is a great shot from De Wet Moolman, taken in Rantepao market on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. The huge basket of beans in the image foreground shines temptingly in the light, and we like the background inclusion of a member of market staff to help us get a better sense of scale.

Café con Libro - Square Lamb

European café culture in Spain © Square Lamb

Square Lamb showcases more excellent photography from Seville with this evocative capture. The black and white works well to emphasise small details in the shot, like the snippets of contrasting graffiti on the café facade and the slightly warped reflections in the windows. We still can’t quite make out the title of our subject’s book though!

Coffee with a cause - Cranamanor13

Good coffee for a good cause in Australia © Cranamanor13

This atmospheric photo from Cranamanor13 takes a different angle on the theme, showing us a coffee outlet run by a local non-profit organisation in Melbourne. There’s a lot to examine and enjoy in this shot, and the largely grayscale palette really makes the bright red and orange splashes of colour pop.

Coffee - TravelPixelz

Coffee berries ripening on the tree in Guatemala © TravelPixelz

TravelPixelz shows us where coffee comes from in this image taken on a hike between Quetzaltenango and Lago de Atitlán. We like the decision to photograph a branch with only a few ripe red berries, as it creates an excellent contrast with the green foliage and the almost impossible blue of the sky behind.

Sousse - Perfect Coffees - muffinn

Taking time to enjoy the view with coffee in Tunisia © muffinn

A quintessential holiday moment in this photo from muffinn, taken in the lively Tunisian town of Sousse. It conjures up memories of morning research sessions on our own trips away, and we like the tantalising strip of ocean and palm trees visible on the horizon. However, the less said about that guidebook choice, the better!

This week’s staff pick

Silly Morning - Piotr_PopUp

A still life snap with a smile in Poland © Piotr_PopUp

As you might imagine, we received a number of challenge entries depicting cups of coffee and various tasty accompaniments, but this photo taken in Warsaw by Piotr_PopUp caught our attention immediately. We love how clean and simple the shot is, from the plain background to the limited shadows. Most of all, we appreciate the humour, and we hope it’s brightened your day in the same way it did for us.

LP Pathfinders: video of the month, September 2016

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Every month we share the best videos from our Pathfinders community. Here are our favourites from September.

This month’s feature is Jeff and Anne from What Doesn’t Suck who have created an action-packed video capturing their recent 48-hour adventure in Nepal. It may have been a short trip, but they certainly wasted no time embracing all Nepal has to offer, from white water rafting to digging into plenty of Nepalese dumplings. As well as taking time to see how the country is rebuilding and bouncing back from the devastation of the 2015 earthquake.

48 hours in Nepal: Kathmandu and beyond – What Doesn’t Suck

‘We’re just back from Nepal and what a beautiful surprise it was! Through our experiences and unexpected adventures, we wanted to create a fun and informative five-minute segment showing all that can be experienced in just 48 hours in Nepal.’

Hats off to Jeff and Anne for managing to pack so much into a five-minute video. The video strikes a great balance of first person footage and beautiful shots of Kathmandu, while also exuding bundles of energy.

There were lots of great submissions from our Pathfinders community this month; we also particularly enjoyed Taylor and Daniel’s video which took us on a visual journey of Ha Giang in Vietnam.