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Photography abroad:

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Whenever I am going abroad I prefer to go to a country with mountainous regions. The overwelming landscape with its unique views, its specific flora and fauna (wich differs per region as well, not only between the northern- and southern alps, also per valley there can be a distinct difference), the challenges, the disappearing culture (even whole mountain villages are vacated and the sound of cowbells is hardly heard annymore (southern alps)), authenticity (mountainfarmers, chalets, cowbells, etc) and lots more, are unprecedented. Once hooked, forever captivated. In recent years i've discoverd another type of favorite landscape namely that of rocky coastal areas like forinstance the coast of Brittany (France) and that of Pembrokeshire (Wales, England) and also the chalk cliff coast of the German island of Rügen is very photogenic.



What's there to be found:

A selection of typical mountainous animal species is: The alpine salamander (mostly found in the northern alps, where its moist): a weird looking creature, black from top to bottom (even the eyes) and (it has) the feel and look of a rubber artificial bait or a toy animal or if your into wine-gums: You might have a tendency to eat it. The izard or mountaingoat (has different subspecies depending on the mountainregion, for instance the pyrenees subspecies), the marmot of the alps (both these afforementioned animals whistle in case of peril), the capricorn, the golden eagle, the lammergeier, the white grouse, the nutcracker (if you've heard that one you'll never forget it), the alpine chough, the alpine accentor, the wallcreeper, but also domestic animals like the braunvieh, the Ehringer cows and the sheep with their typical black face and thick collar (Wallis). And, wait and sea how things develop, but the bear, the wolf and the lynx are also back.
The alpine flora typically stands out (especially at high altitude) for its dwarft growth, hairy leaves and stem (protection against the cold) and (to protect against drought) succulent leaves and stems (storage of water in leaves and stems). The everpopular Edelweiß (rather unique, but a bit unsightly with its felty appearance) and the alpenrose steel the limelight from comparitavely more beautiful species like: alpine toadflax (so tiny, you would walk right past it, where it not for the many purple flowers with their orange hearts ), alpine butterwort, purple columbine (deep purple flowers, almost black), alpine clematis, bunch saxifrage and last but not least the orchids with wich the alpine meadows are teeming. In Austria we once saw aprox. 10 different species in one piece of meadow whose abundance matched that of our common buttercup or cuckoo-flower. So there's more than enough food for Photography.

Other areas:

But in other area's there's also a lot to photograph as wel, predominantly because of the fact that the terrain as wel as the animals and plants differ (so much) from our flat (monotonous) meadows, swamps, heaths, mudflats, seas and forests and often the area's are much larger and free from human disturbance. These things give me an enormous boost and inspiration as far as photography is concerned. One often states that regularly revisiting a certain area will yield the best photographs, but with me it works yust the other way arround, I take my best shots during the hollidays abroad.
One area that has surprised me very pleasantly is Pembrokeshire in Wales, a magnificant coastal area with pleasant small harbours, but also the preselli hills and the primeval forest more inland tempt the immagination and in springtime this area is teaming with wildlive, especially coastal birds. Germany with it's large diversity in landscapes has it's charms as wel, especially with it's many nice villages with timbered houses. The Danish main land with it's sloping hills filled with cereal fields dotted with field flowers and the roadsides teaming with colour works very attractive, but what has left the biggest impression on my mind about this country are the enormous chalck cliffs bordering the coast of the island of Mön, very photogenic and the fossils ly there for the taking, where it not for the dimensions of the country it could have easily passed for a peninsula with it's ever present coast. The same chalk cliffs can be found on the Germand island Rügen, from where you can see the chalk cliffs on the isle of Mön. This island also holds much attraction for it's ruggedness with many a hedgerow and tree girth and the presence of many a crane and see eagle. France in turn has it's favorable climate especially in the southern regions where for instance the maguis has such a warm and dry climate that all growth has become dwarfed in an area that looks like a large low-lying plain. The ardache lies north of this area and has a somewhat milder climate and is far more epoxed. One can even find area's of volcanism there, albeit that the volcanic domes you see all have lost their activity a long time ago, sometimes one can see rockformations comming to the service that clearly show the rolling magma streams in it. It is a country which is rich in rare orchids, sometimes covering entire areas. They have a variety of snakes amongst which are the whip snake (can grow upto 2 meters in length) and the aspic viper, insects like praying mantisses, in short a southern type of flora and fauna. And along it's edges you ofcourse will find high mountain ranges and a very long stretch of coast. Countries like the czech republic still work very oldfashioned on us westerners with it's old decrepit villages, old transport etc. Sweden in turn is very heavily wooded area with large lakes and in stead of grass it has an undergrowth of mosses, blueberry and shrubbery like juniper and dwarfed growth of birch trees laden with usnea. You will also encounter treeless, swamplike plateaus (fjell), where you can encounter many species of birds and special plants like evergreen, gold blackberry, Swedish dogwood. The presence of reindeer, musk oxen, wolves, bears, wolverine, snow hare and elk make it a unique are as far as mammals are concerned. The neighboring country of Norway has more rugged mountain areas and a unique fjord coast flanked by mountains of 1000 meters in hight. Also the flora is very unique here as well as it is exuberant, if you encounter a certain species it will for certain crowd an entire area. To name a few: evergreen, Swedish dogwood, dusky crane's-bill, lupins, butterwort, wood anemone, sundew, Hare's-tail Cottongrass. Here you'l also find the same unique mamals as found in Sweden only somewhat less abundant apart from the musk oxen which can be encountered a lot here.

I have never traveled outside of Europe, but when I think of all the things I have already encountered and photographed in Europe then Europe has got a lot to offer and I've got a lot of countries and areas yet to visit like: Finland, Poland, Iceland (is supposed to be very inpressive), Greece, Spain/Portugal, Rusia, etc, etc. Stil a tropical country appeals to me as wel, one country which has always been high on my wishlist is New Sealand, a country that hosts a large variety of typical landscapes amongst which are coastal areas, mountain ranges, rainforests and vulcanism.

 
 
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