What happens when you combine a spectacular landscape, a sky full of stars and a very talented photographer? Take one look at photographer Marcin Zajac‘s work and you’ll discover it’s something special.
The California-based amateur photographer has a remarkable talent for astrophotography, turning his camera on the skies over locations such as the Bisti Badlands of New Mexico and the Eastern Australian coast. Unsurprisingly, Instagram has taken notice – his photography account has nearly 69,000 followers to date.
Speaking to MailOnline Travel, the 34-year-old, who originally hails from Warsaw, Poland, reveals: ‘I’ve travelled to many beautiful locations around the world, but my favourites are still the Western U.S states like California, Utah and Arizona. The diversity of the landscape is incredible, from a beautiful coastline, and majestic mountains to many amazing desert rock formations.’
Reflecting on the reaction to his work, Zajac, who is a software engineer by trade, notes that city-dwellers tend to be surprised by how many stars can be seen in a remote area with little light pollution.
A great deal of work goes into immortalising these enchanting skies. Zajac will often return to a location several times before he’s satisfied by the weather conditions, and naturally, he needs to work through the dead of the night. After the nighttime shoot, more work is involved. He explains: ‘I usually take several photos during each night, each typically a few minutes long, and combine them during post-processing.’
The result is a mesmerising portfolio of work, a taste of which can be seen below…
This extraordinary shot by Zajac shows Utah’s Reflection Canyon by Lake Powell. He says: ‘This is the most remote location I’ve had a chance to visit, photograph and spend the night at. It might also be one of the most beautiful.’ Zajac says accessing the beauty spot was a ‘challenge’. He hiked there, carrying eight litres of water, food, a tent, a sleeping bag and all his photo gear on the 20-mile (32km) round-trip trek. He says: ‘Overall [it was] 20kg (44lbs) on my back.’ However, he admits it was ‘worth it’ to see the Milky Way arch rise above the canyon at night
LEFT: This breathtaking photograph was snared in the Australian coastal town of Kiama while Zajac was visiting the country on a business trip. He recalls: ‘I made my way into this small cave and waited for a few hours for the core of the Milky Way to come out. Not familiar with the southern sky I was surprised to also see Jupiter appear soon after – it’s the brightest object to the left of the sea stack.’ RIGHT: For this enchanting photograph, Zajac angled his camera towards the skies above the Sky Rock Petroglyphs near the city of Bishop, California. The mighty Sierra Nevada mountains can be seen in the background
The Milky Way over Bixby Creek Bridge on California’s Big Sur coast is beautifully captured in this shot by Zajac. He says: ‘This stretch of the California coast features steep cliffs, hidden beach coves, and one of the most spectacular drives one can take anywhere in the world… there is no light pollution here which makes this a perfect destination for stargazing’
LEFT: This stunning picture shows the Milky Way over the Pfeiffer Beach archway in California’s Big Sur region. As it’s a composite picture, meaning the photographs were taken over a series of hours and layered upon one another, Zajac notes that the ‘light emanating from the arch is actually caused by the setting sun, not the moon or the stars as one might think’. RIGHT: Pigeon Point Lighthouse, a 19th-century structure that lies 50 miles (80km) south of San Francisco on the California coast, is the subject of this magical shot. Zajac says that the fog in the area often makes it hard to see the stars. He took this shot on an autumn evening when the fog ‘relented for a few days’, giving him the chance ‘to see the vertical Milky Way in tandem with the lighthouse’
‘In this image, the Milky Way is seen next to Boot Arch in Alabama Hills, a range of hills and rock formations near the eastern side of Sierra Nevada in California,’ says Zajac. He adds: ‘If, like me, at first you don’t see where the name Boot Arch comes from – look inside the arch’
LEFT: ‘If I had to choose my favourite place on Earth this might be it,’ Zajac says of the setting for this awe-inspiring shot. It was captured at McWay Falls on California’s Big Sur Coast. Commenting on the location, Zajac says: ‘It really has everything – a beautiful cove filled with emerald waters, an 80ft (24m) waterfall falling directly onto the beach, a palm tree making you feel like you’re on a tropical island and a perfectly dark sky that shines bright with stars at night.’ RIGHT: The ‘Alien Throne’ sandstone rock formation of New Mexico’s Bisti Badlands is majestically captured in this picture by Zajac. The photographer comments: ‘The landscape here looks otherworldly, especially once the sun sets and the stars appear. The bright objects to the left of the [rock formation] are the planetary duo of Jupiter and Saturn, which were unusually close that night’
LEFT: This magnificent photograph shows the Milky Way ‘shining bright’ on Samuel Boardman State Park along the Oregon coast. RIGHT: Zajac says that this striking shot shows the night sky ‘spinning around the North Star’ while cars drive over California’s Bixby Creek Bridge. ‘This is my first attempt at capturing star trails caused by the Earth’s rotation,’ he notes
This eye-opening photograph shows a prescribed fire – a preventative measure carried out to remove vegetation that could contribute to a wildfire – in California’s Yosemite Valley. Though he notes that the fire was fully under control, Zajac admits it was ‘surreal’ to witness it. He adds: ‘The thick smoke didn’t seem to discourage climbers – if you look carefully you can see lights from their headlamps as they climb up El Capitan [the rock formation to the left]’
LEFT: Zajac captured this atmospheric photograph on Bowling Ball Beach in California’s Mendocino County. He notes that the beach’s ‘strange spherical boulders’ are revealed only during low tide. RIGHT: A gnarled tree in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest of California’s White Mountains is the subject of this bewitching photography by Zajac. He notes that some of the pine trees in this forest have been dated as being nearly 5,000 years old
(The Magazine Plus Editorial):- Faridabad, Haryana Jan 10, 2023 (Issuewire.com) – Dream Travel Yaari
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Ladakh, a region in the northern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, is known for its rugged, mountainous terrain, beautiful landscapes, and rich cultural heritage. It is a popular destination for travelers and adventure seekers, who come to experience the unique culture and natural beauty of this region. Many people from different locations in India love to visit Ladakh. They Choose the following packages for their trips like
1) Leh Ladakh Bike Trip Package
2) Ladakh Group Tour By Car
3) Leh Ladakh Tour Packages
The region is known for its unique blend of Indian and Tibetan culture, which is reflected in its cuisine, clothing, and religious practices. Ladakh is a popular destination for travelers and adventure seekers, who come to experience the unique culture and natural beauty of this region. It is a great place to relax and take in stunning views, participate in adventure sports, and learn about the rich cultural heritage of the region.
The Top Places To Visit In Ladakh
Although you will find a picturesque view and wonderful sights wherever you look in Ladakh, we still managed to make a list of the best of the best places to visit on your next Ladakh Trip. The wanderlust in you will thank us later! Here are some of the top places to visit in Ladakh:
Leh is the capital of Ladakh and a popular hub for travelers visiting the region. It is known for its ancient monasteries, colorful markets, and stunning views of the surrounding mountains. Some of the top attractions in Leh include Leh Palace, Sankar Gompa, and Shanti Stupa.
According to Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council’s official website, It is listed on the global tourist map and receives a lot of visitors from both domestic and foreign travel. Therefore, tourism serves as the region’s economic foundation. Because of this, there are many hotels, guest homes, and taxis in Leh. Leh has 250 hotels and guesthouses of all kinds.
The Nubra Valley is a beautiful region located in the north of Leh, Ladakh. It is known for its stunning sand dunes, which are a popular spot for sandboarding and camel safaris. The valley is also home to a number of ancient monasteries and temples, including the Samstanling Monastery and Diskit Monastery.
The Samstanling Monastery is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery that was founded in the 16th century. It is home to a number of ancient statues and murals, as well as a library that contains rare manuscripts and scriptures. Visitors can participate in prayer ceremonies and learn about the teachings of Buddhism.
The Diskit Monastery is another popular attraction in the Nubra Valley. It is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery that was founded in the 14th century and is known for its beautiful architecture and stunning views of the surrounding mountains. Visitors can participate in prayer ceremonies and learn about the history and culture of the monastery.
Pangong Tso is a beautiful high-altitude lake located in the eastern Ladakh region. The lake is known for its stunning blue-green waters and the beautiful views of the surrounding mountains. Pangong Tso is a popular destination for boating, fishing, and birdwatching.
The lake is located at an altitude of 4,225 meters above sea level and stretches over 134 kilometers (as per Wikipedia) in length. It is a popular spot for photography and is also a great place to relax and take in stunning views. Visitors can also participate in adventure sports, such as kayaking and rafting, on the lake.
The Zanskar Valley is a remote region located in the central part of Ladakh. It is known for its rugged terrain and stunning views of the Himalayan mountains. The valley is home to a number of ancient monasteries and temples, including the Stongdey Monastery and the Sani Monastery.
The Stongdey Monastery is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery that was founded in the 11th century. It is home to a number of ancient statues and murals, as well as a library that contains rare manuscripts and scriptures. Visitors can participate in prayer ceremonies and learn about the teachings of Buddhism.
The Sani Monastery is another popular attraction in the Zanskar Valley. It is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery that was founded in the 10th century and is known for its beautiful architecture and stunning views of the surrounding mountains. Visitors can participate in prayer ceremonies and learn about the history and culture of the monastery.
Tso Moriri is another beautiful high-altitude lake located in the eastern Ladakh region. It is known for its stunning blue waters and beautiful views of the surrounding mountains. Tso Moriri is a popular destination for birdwatching and nature photography.
The lake is located at an altitude of 4,522 meters above sea level(as per Wikipedia) and is a popular spot for photography and relaxation. Visitors can also participate in adventure sports, such as kayaking and rafting, on the lake. The surrounding region is also a great place for trekking and hiking, with a number of trails that offer stunning views of the lake and the surrounding mountains.
These are some of the best tourist destinations in Ladakh that you must include in your next Ladakh trip! Ladakh offers everything one could ask for, from beautiful landscapes to diverse cultural heritage. You can go for adventure sports like trekking, mountain biking, and paragliding or participate in numerous cultural activities. Hope you find this information useful for your next Tour to the land of High passes and beautiful skies.
Frequently Asked Questions about Ladakh Trip
Ques 1) How do I get to Ladakh?
Ans) The most popular way to get to Ladakh is by air. There are regular flights from Delhi to Leh, which take about 2 hours. You can also reach Ladakh by road, either by driving or by taking a bus or taxi from Srinagar or Manali.
Ques 2) Is Ladakh safe for travelers?
Ans 2) Ladakh is generally a safe destination for travelers. However, as with any destination, it is important to be aware of your surroundings and take basic safety precautions. It is also a good idea to familiarize yourself with local laws and customs and to respect the culture and traditions of the region.
Ques 3) What should I pack for a trip to Ladakh?
Ans ) When packing for a trip to Ladakh, it is important to bring warm, layered clothing, as the weather can be quite cold and changeable. You should also bring comfortable shoes for walking and hiking, and good quality sunscreen and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun. Other essential items include a torch, lip balm, first aid kit, gloves, cap, water bottle, etc.
From learning astro-photography at a hilly countryside, witnessing a stunning sunrise above a mist of clouds from the highest peak of the Eastern Ghats to discovering a trek route that opens up a world rich with biodiversity, a growing number of people are seeking localised and personalised travel experiences in and around Visakhapatnam.
Many are trying to learn a new skill in the process, experience a new culture, tradition and history and gain knowledge about the rich ecosystems in the vicinity.
Over 120 participants have gathered at the ongoing 10th national workshop on pictorial and travel photography organised by Khamam Photo Arts Organisation (KPAO) in Araku to travel to the interior tribal villages of the region and learn key elements of photography from experts.
“The response has been overwhelming. There are art lovers, photographers, Fine Arts students, journalists from across the country who want to experience the beauty of the place and learn the different elements of photography,” says V Naga Raju Devara Rao of KPAO. During the three-day workshop, participants in small batches visited the hills of Odisha’s Malkangiri district, which is home of the Bonda tribes, a particularly vulnerable tribal group known for their secluded lives. “Every Thursday, the Bonda tribes come to the shandy (local market). This is a great way to understand the tribal culture of the region,” says Naga Raju. According to noted photographer Sudhakar Reddy, secretary of Andhra Pradesh Photography Academy, the experience of traveling with a group that shares a common interest opens up a deeper understanding of the world around. “Participants learn the ways of identifying the subject, understanding the right composition and capturing the essence of a place,” he adds.
Ban Nanda, a photography enthusiast and one of the participants of the workshop, discovered a new viewpoint for shooting the sunrise from a veil of clouds from a cliff near Madagada village. “We reached before sunrise and were stunned by the beauty of place. Acessibility to the hill, proximity to Araku makes it a great place for viewing the sunrise,” he says. Madagada is a potter’s village. “Ideal days to visit are from Monday to Thursday where one can observe the potters at work. On the weekends, they head to the shandy to sell the pots,” Nanda adds.
According to Naveen Rongali, founder of Ecohikes, a trekking group that conducts sustainable treks and travels, the concept of experiential travel has picked up in a big way during this year. “We saw many people who expressed interest in understanding the local culture, food and tradition while camping at non-touristy spots in the tribal belts near Visakhapatnam. In fact, many families with children are keen on trying out these weekend camps and want children to experience Nature and rural life,” he says.
The group’s focus has been the Jhindagada peak, considered the highest peak of the Eastern Ghats in Andhra Pradesh. “We have been training the tribals to interact with the travelers and give them a peek into their culture,” says Naveen. Ecohikes has been conducting camps at lesser-known peaks and waterfalls in the Eastern Ghats almost every weekend. “Our main objective is to help people understand how our tribes have been living in these regions with reverence for Nature,” explains Naveen. Shortly, a new place near Devarapalli will be added to their list of camping sites.
Within the city limits in Visakhapatnam, there are people who offer experiential treks that help one understand the biodiversity of the region. Sumanth Behara, who started Triptan Adventures earlier this year, says the Yarada hike is the most sought-after trail. “This is a secluded beach and the trek offers a breathtaking view of coastline,” he says. One of the essential parts of the treks involve sensitising the participants about the importance of the place, being extra careful in geo-heritage sites and to leave no plastic behind.
City-based organisation Wilded has been conducting noctural walks at the Simhachalam hill range and inter-tidal walks at Rushikonda coast to uncover a colourful world bustling with life hidden amid the rocks. “The idea is to build a community of responsible travelers and discoverers who can appreciate Nature in their surroundings and understand the significance of the varied ecosystems. Over the past year, we have seen a good number of participants turn up for these experiential treks and walks and actively involve in being citizen scientists to document inter-tidal biodiversity of Andhra Pradesh,” says Sri Chakra Pranav Tamarapalli, who along with K Vimal Raj started Wilded with the primary aim of wilderness education.
“We are now exploring Araku and Paderu to conduct camps centering around birdwatching and butterfly watching. We are planning to roll this out soon,” says Pranav.
Suspended high over Lake Wakatipu, Jagged Edge is just a 10-minute drive from Queenstown. Photo / Supplied
Balmy temperatures and no work to get up early for the next morning are the perfect combination for sleeping under the stars. Here are some of the best places in New Zealand to marvel at the night sky.
Aotea Great Barrier Island
Good Heavens offers cosy and light-hearted experiences for small groups, with “moon chairs”, hot drinks and blankets. Suitable for all ages, a guide uses a laser pointer to identify constellations, everyone has binoculars to gaze at middle-distance objects and an 8-inch telescope allows a closer view of faraway stars and planets. Great Barrier and Stewart Island (see below) are two of the world’s 15 Dark Sky Sanctuaries.
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Stargazers Lodge guests and visitors can book a night-sky tour of the observatory and planetarium in the light pollution-free zone overlooking Kuaotunu. Its solar-powered, rotating-dome observatory houses a research-grade set-up, perfect for the astro-curious and photographers.
Just an hour north of Wellington, Wairarapa wants to become the world’s largest and most accessible dark sky destination. Here you’ll find Stonehenge Aotearoa, built on the same scale as some other place on Salisbury Plain in England.
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It’s not a folly. Open-air, hands-on Stonehenge Aotearoa is a modern observatory connecting people with the sky and cycles of nature, covering solstices, equinoxes, Matariki, ancient Egyptian, Babylonian and Indus Valley astronomy, Polynesian navigation, as well as Celtic and Māori lore.
Under the Stars runs bespoke events for schools or house parties, and every weekend, Star Safari opens the universe with powerful telescopes, planetarium tours and space science communicators. It’s a social enterprise from Milky-Way.Kiwi, an online platform for space and astronomy news with a New Zealand flavour.
At 4367sq km, Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve is a master of the universe, covering Aoraki Mt Cook National Park and the Mackenzie Basin, the townships of Tekapo, Twizel and Mt Cook. This rugged, isolated land, dominated by large sheep stations for more than a century, has some of the world’s clearest, most spectacular night skies.
Scientifically, it’s important because it protects the University of Canterbury’s astronomy research at Mt John Observatory.
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A world leader in astro-tourism, there’s no end of inventive ideas here.
Alpha CruX provides private astronomy tours and astrophotography lessons throughout the region.
Big Sky Stargazing’s tour uses the naked eye, astro-binoculars and state-of-the-art telescopes, delivered from an outdoor viewing platform or, if the weather’s unkind, New Zealand’s first 360-degree digital Dome Planetarium at the Sir Edmund Hillary Centre in Mt Cook Village.
Here, science meets entertainment. Families “leave Earth, fly to the edge of our galaxy and far beyond to the reaches of our known universe” and get home in time for supper.
Chameleon Stargazing is a more budget and family-friendly tour in a near-zero light pollution location in Tekapo (with hot chocolate and a fire bowl with roasted marshmallows).
Ngāi Tahu Tourism’s Dark Sky Project is the best-known experience. Its observatory tours are boosted with explanations of Māori navigation, planting, significance of lunar cycles and observations.
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It’s fair to stay the West Coast’s skies are stunning on a clear night. Paparoa Nature Tours in Punakaiki take guests to explore the Milky Way and southern constellations through a computerised 260mm telescope while being serenaded by great spotted kiwi, morepork and weka from nearby rainforest.
A Starry Nights Queenstown photography tour with astro-photographer Simon Williams includes a trip around spectacular Whakatipu Basin locations in a Land Rover, a professionally curated photo session and tips on shooting stars.
Rakiura Stewart Island
A Unihedron Sky Quality Meter reading of 16 indicates a light-polluted city and 21 a very dark sky. Stewart Island’s readings have ranged between 21.51-21.93 since 2017. Twinkle Dark Sky Tours are one of several local operators helping you see everything from craters on the Moon to the centre of the galaxy.
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These luxury cabins can now be found in nine locations, stretching from Banks Peninsula to the newest on Rakiura Stewart Island. Each off-grid cabin has uninterrupted views of the night sky, but you don’t have to worry about people looking in — they’re all in secluded spots far from light pollution, with the exact location revealed only after you book. purepods.com
Galaxy Boutique Hotel
Tekapo’s Galaxy Boutique Hotel is a traditional hotel with some stand-out features — namely, large splayed skylights that allow views of the mountains and night sky beyond. Make sure to nab a room on the upper floor for the best seat in the house. galaxytekapo.co.nz
Hidden in the foothills of the Ben Ohau range is Skylark Cabin, which quietly opened in 2020, yet is the type of place that visitors can’t stop talking about. Designed by award-winning architect Barry Connor, it boasts a huge circular window directly over the bed, positioned so guests can spend a night under the stars. An outdoor stainless steel bathtub with gas-heated hot water can also be found on the property, making it possible to soak while you soak it all in. skylarkcabin.co.nz
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Wai Dome O, Waikato
Wai Dome O (a play on “Waitomo”) is one of Canopy Camping’s properties — and it’s only a few minutes away from Waikato’s famous glowworm caves.
The geodesic dome is positioned at the top of a steep hill with views over rolling farmland, meaning it’s in a prime position for stargazing. But if you want to be even more immersed in the landscape, it also has an outdoor tub. canopycamping.co.nz/wai-dome-o
Side-by-side soaker tubs at Horopito’s award-winning Nightsky Cottage are positioned to look out a large window. The aptly named two-bedroom cottage also has skylights, so you can find constellations without stepping outside. But if you’re keen to get outdoors, there’s a clearing just 50 metres from the cottage, where you can watch the sun go down over Mt Ruaephu. nightskycottage.co.nz
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Suspended high over Lake Wakatipu, the ultra-modern Jagged Edge is all sharp lines, softened by its use of floor-to-ceiling glass. The glass walls jut out from the base at an 18-degree angle rising to over 9 metres, resulting in 270-degree views of the night sky in each of the luxury retreat’s three bedrooms. But that’s not the end of your stargazing options. There’s also a heated infinity pool hanging over the lake, alongside numerous outdoor seating areas. It’s just a 10-minute drive from Queenstown.
This is an amended version of previously published stories by Ewan McDonald and Jessica Wynne Lockhart from Herald Travel. For more great travel inspiration, go to nzherald.co.nz/travel
Travel enthusiasts, who crave a holistic astronomy experience to give voice to their curiosity about the vast skies beyond our stratosphere, can gain an integrated astronomy experience through Astro Tourism, a trend that has seen an increasing number of travellers who are keen to get to experience activities such as stargazing, sun observations, stargazing parties with friends, experiential science activities and much more. The spike in Astro Tourism could be a result of the post pandemic world where many people are looking for less crowded and nature driven experiences or the offer of a sense of discovery as when you look up at the sky, you may see a big white moon or two bright stars that never twinkle but when you look at them through the telescope, the moon suddenly has massive features (craters, flat grey surfaces, highlands, etc.) of varied colours and the two bright stars are no longer stars – one is Jupiter, a big disc with a giant red dot on it (which in itself is a storm three times the size of the Earth) and the other is Saturn, with many rings around it.
You literally cannot believe your eyes and you realise that the universe is so much more complex than what you see, with so much left to discover hence, a number of resorts and hotel chains are now offering stargazing as one of the activities for their guests to treat them to a flashback to their childhood. For a large number of people, the last time they looked at the skies and enjoyed the stars was when they were kids and ever since they turned into adults, they moved to a city and neither got the opportunity nor the time to experience the cosmos but looking up at the skies lets them relive their childhood.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Paul Savio, CEO and Co-Founder of Starscapes, revealed that Astro Tourism is seeing a spurt for three reasons:
(1) With higher disposable incomes and a more liberal view of living a wholesome life, people are on the lookout for new and exciting experiences that are beyond the usual offerings available. Anything new piques a huge interest, and today people are more willing to try them out than before.
(2) Millennials have, due to access to the internet in their formative years, a much more global exposure to life and career than previous generations. As parents, this demographic is open to encouraging their kids to look at radical career options, and therefore get exposed to such experiences that could kindle an interest in the kids becoming astrophysicists, aerospace engineers or even astronauts.
(3) Space is in the news, with NASA going back to the moon (Artemis), India sending humans to space (Gaganyaan) and space tourism kicking off with private enterprise (SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin). So it is currently top of mind.
He shared, “Lots of people, especially in metros, are beginning to step out to nearby dark sky locations to get a glimpse of the starry sky. Apart from the usual suspects (Ladakh, Spiti, Kodaikanal, Kutch, Coorg, Jaisalmer, etc.), myriad sites exist within 2 hours of all metros which can give a great dark sky experience. However, daytime astronomy as a concept is slowly picking up too.”
According to Neeraj Ladia, CEO of Space Arcade, there is a lot of interest in Astro tourism all over India. He said, “One major reason is social media. More and more people are showing people where they can travel. Places which were accessible for very few people earlier, like mountaineering and trekking, are now common among people. There are videos, reels on social media accounts where there is a lot of conversation around offbeat activities such as astro tourism. People have become more aware of these kinds of things. Astro tourism has gained more popularity post lockdown mainly because people want to be closer to nature and want to do something new and offbeat. Similarly, like wildlife photography/nature photography, people are developing an interest in astro photography too.”
Talking about some of the common activities under astro tourism, Paul Savio highlighted stargazing, sun observation, astrophotography (where you learn how to photograph the night sky and even deep sky objects using different cameras and mounts), astro tours (trips to dark sky locations for an enhanced night sky experience), workshops and activities to understand different phenomena associated with astrophysics and space exploration.
For a person who has never experienced astro tourism, Neeraj Ladia suggested stargazing as one of the most exciting activities to do. Secondly, he recommended, “If it is a starry clear night, guided telescope view of planets and deep sky objects along with an astrophotography session can be quite exciting. With astro tourism, people have an opportunity to see and learn the names of the stars and constellations. They can also go much deeper into understanding these concepts.”
Paul Savio concluded, “Astro Tourism is the sunrise segment of the experiential tourism industry. Massive interest is being shown by luxury resorts across India to incorporate astro-experiences in the bouquet of offerings for their guests. Today, the customer base is overwhelmingly of people who are looking for a new experience and not necessarily an astronomy experience. We expect this to flip in the next 3 years – people will travel with an intent to have an astronomy experience. This will be driven by the springing up of dark sky parks (the astronomy equivalent of national parks) and other dark sky places equipped to service this interest.”
A close-up of pink-tipped daisy petals, a terrestrial hermit crab using a plastic bottle cap as its new home and a steenbok’s desperate battle for survival were among the winning and highly commended images in the individual categories.
Roberto Garcia Roa, a conservation photographer and evolutionary biologist, took the winning photo of a tree frog and spoke about the threats the animal faces.
“This image reveals the beauty of nature hidden in Tambopata, (Peru), a region that is currently threatened by gold mining,” he said in a news release. “It is paradoxical to see the eyes of this frog as small golden pearls, because in reality, the true treasure lies in ensuring the protection of this area and its inhabitants.”
All the winning and highly commended images “celebrate the diversity of ecology, capturing flora and fauna from across the globe,” the news release said.
The photographs display each of nature’s many faces — some photos are tranquil, some restless, some wild, some entangled with the human world.
“Locking eyes with this year’s winning image, I’m impressed by how it captures in such exquisite detail the sometimes-otherworldly beauty of life on Earth,” Yadvinder Malhi, president of the British Ecological Society, said in the news release.
“Altogether, these photographs display the incredible breadth and beauty of biodiversity. The winners have done an excellent job of capturing ecology in intriguing and thoughtful ways, presenting a powerful reminder of the many joys and intricacies of nature.”
A selection of the winning and highly commended images can be viewed in the gallery above.
The pictures “spotlight important stories of nature from across the globe” and were chosen from 38,575 entries across 93 countries, according to a news release from London’s Natural History Museum, which runs the annual competition.
Through powerful photography, the museum hopes to inspire people to engage with nature and help to protect the planet.
Some photos in the shortlist highlight the threats to wildlife, such as one taken by Eladio Fernandez of fishermen in the Dominican Republic catching endangered glass eels during the night.
Another of golden snub-nosed monkeys huddling together in extreme winter cold in China raises awareness of the endangered species threatened by deforestation.
Dutch photographer Auke-Florian Hiemstra was shortlisted for his image showing a fish trapped in a discarded rubber glove, found in the canals of Leiden.
“The photo confronts us with our throw-away society,” Hiemstra told CNN on Wednesday. “I would like to dedicate this photo to all our clean-up volunteers and litter pickers worldwide, who try to prevent the impact of plastic on our wildlife.”
“Humanity is addicted to plastic, but animals have to face the consequences,” he added. “Hopefully, the image makes people think about their own behavior.”
Members of the public can vote for their favorite of the 25 images using interactive screens at an exhibition at the museum. The top five will be displayed online, alongside category winners from the competition that were chosen by judges and announced earlier this year.
“Voters will have a challenge to choose from this stunning range of photographs which tell vital stories and connect people to issues across the planet,” said Douglas Gurr, director of the Natural History Museum, in the news release.
Voting is open until February 2 and the winner will be part of an exhibition that closes on July 2.
One minute you’re at Inverlochy Castle, guzzling fizz beneath crystal chandeliers and eating dishes devised by Michel Roux Jr on furniture gifted by the former king of Norway. The next, you’re e-biking into a soggy smirr, trying to work out where Ben Nevis has gone. Yes, this was a trip of contrasts, but – surprisingly – no compromises.
Five-star travel can come with a high price tag, for both you and the environment, so for some time I’d wondered whether I could have a luxurious holiday without totally blowing my carbon budget. Scotland seemed an obvious choice if I was going to put my plan into action: in 2021, VisitScotland became the world’s first national tourist board to sign up to the Tourism Declares climate initiative, and the country is gunning for net-zero by 2045.
Furthermore, my tailor-made, carefully thought-out small-group trip, organised by Wilderness Scotland, would combine castle stays and gourmet dinners as well as activities designed to connect with nature; it would also have an accurate carbon score, worked out via the company’s robust labelling scheme, with the impact offset via carbon mitigation projects.
My mission began aboard the Caledonian Sleeper. I didn’t sleep much, but didn’t care, happily cocooned in my cabin, snug and eco-smug as half of Britain slipped by outside. We rolled into Perth and, soon after, into Murrayshall Hotel. This baronial stone pile, dating to 1664, emerged beyond towering trees and golf tees in the mist-hung November dawn.
The OM System (aka Olympus cameras) just released the flagship OM-1 camera, a major upgrade from the beloved Olympus E-M1 series.
The OM-1 has a similar layout to the E-M1 series but it packs a super fast stacked sensor for high-speed stills shooting at up to 10 FPS mechanical and a blazing 120 FPS electronic. An updated sensor brings better low light performance and subject detection autofocus algorithms that can detect cars, planes, animals, and humans.
This model also has hand-held high-res shooting (you can take 50 MP images out of a burst of 16 frames) and the Live-ND filter, which simulates a neutral-density filter. In addition, computational photography for handheld shooting emulates some tripod-based long exposure shooting (for example, a blurred waterfall). The pro line lenses have a high-quality build, integrated lens hoods, smooth zoom and focus rings, and round bokeh visualization (background blur).
The OM-1’s lens options make it ideal for birders and wildlife watchers. The new 150-400mm F4.5 TC1.25x IS PRO gives you a lightweight 300-800mm range and an integrated teleconverter up to 1000mm handheld. Tom tested this lens/camera combo and had a blast photographing birds in his neighbourhood without his arms getting too tired. For more: OM Systems
Tip: The best lenses include the Olympus 12-100mm F/4 IS PRO (24-200mm), 12-24mm f/2.8 II PRO (24-80mm f/2.8 equivalent), 40-150mm F/2.8 PRO (80-300mm pro zoom), 7-14mm PRO (wide-angle zoom), 300mm F/4 IS PRO (600mm F4 equivalent), 150-400mm F4.5 TC1.25x IS PRO (300-800mm f/4.5).