The ambition of Lonely Planet’s The Travel Book is big: to take readers on a journey through every country on earth. By zooming out to get a global perspective, you start to realize just how diverse our planet is.
From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, each of the 230 destinations evoked and explored within its pages makes a convincing case for a traveller’s attention and we’ve got your taster of what to expect and the photography tips you need to capture the perfect photos.
One thing above all else draws travellers to Cambodia: the ruins of Angkor. The centrepiece of this smorgasbord of sandstone masonry is incomparable Angkor Wat – the largest religious monument in the world and a literal representation of a Hindu heaven on earth.
But visitors can live out their Indiana Jones role play away from the crowds as they explore more than 1000 temples, shrines and tombs scattered throughout the jungles of the north.
Photography tip: Patience is key to the perfect photo when exploring the ruins of Angkor as you’ll have to wait for tourists to exit the frame before the perfect photo can be captured. You may wish to consider visiting in the off season (April to September) and the best light is to be had around 5am. The region is extremely humid so keep your gear to a minimum and beware of condensation.
Sure, other destinations combine geysers and glaciers but nowhere else offers the same level of drama as the ash-belching, lava-spewing, steam-venting geological laboratory that is Iceland.
The economy of this former home of Vikings took a major nosedive during the global financial crisis, which lowered the price of entry for a new wave of adventurers; that vanguard returned with word of a spectacular land of fire and ice, and Iceland has been riding high in travellers’ wish lists ever since.
Photography tip: “Technically, this was a very difficult shot, as it was windy and spray was blowing everywhere. Not only did I get soaked, I had to wipe the lens after every frame – a very time-consuming process. I wanted to show some blur on the water to give a sense of it moving, so I set the camera on a tripod and used a slow shutter speed. The rainbow was a bonus – we waited until late afternoon for the light to be in the perfect position to produce it. If the conditions had been less difficult, I don’t think I would have captured this shot. Canon EOS 5D Mk II, 16mm lens; ISO 100; shutter speed 1/400; aperture f/8” – Gary Latham
Famed for its friendly people and relatively easy to get around, Malawi has long been a favourite of travellers exploring Africa. Stray beyond the shores of the eponymous ‘Lake of Stars’ and you’ll discover diverse landscapes, ranging from dramatic peaks to rolling grasslands and thunderous waterfalls.
With restocked national parks, Malawi is now home once again to Africa’s iconic Big Five (lion, leopard, rhino, buffalo and elephant). You’ll struggle to find a better place to see them.
Photography tip: Before heading off to Malawi make sure that you are well versed with your camera’s functions. Choose a camera with a quiet shutter sound, be patient (you can expect to take hundreds of photos to achieve the perfect shot) and study the behaviour of the animals you’re trying to photograph in advance.
Do not centre all your shots; leave room in your subject for the animal to move into. This will prevent lifeless composition and give an imitate portrayal of your subject. Use the rule of thirds when composing your picture and finally consider investing in a 35mm SLR camera and/or a lens with an f stop of 4 through to f 2.8 or a 100-400 f5.6.
Nepal has faced its share of troubles in recent times, including a series of catastrophic earthquakes in 2015 that reduced ancient monuments to rubble and razed whole villages. Thanks to the resilience of its people, this ultra-rugged chunk of Asia is already bouncing back.
Reconstruction work is well underway, most trekking routes have reopened and visitors have returned to the trails that wind their way up toward the shimmering, snow-capped peaks of the high Himalaya.
Photography tip: Nepal is home to countless picture-worthy temples but keeps in mind that they pretty much always have dim or diffused lighting so prepare to shoot with a higher iSO. Depending on where you’re trekking (e.g. Annapurna) the weather may be volatile so make sure your camera equipment is well protected from the elements and pack lighting since you’ll be hiking a lot. Most photographers recommend bringing a 16-35mm lens for wide-angle shots, a 55mm prime lens for portraits and a 55-300mm lens for close range landscapes.
Primordial forests, divine beaches, mist-wreathed fjords… Mother Nature had a very, very good day when she created New Zealand. This green and peaceful island adrift in the deep blue South Pacific might just be the ultimate escape. Not that you’ll have much time for quiet reflection given the regular bursts of adrenaline flowing through your system: from hiking up to skiing down, New Zealand is also a paradise for lovers of adventure sports.
Photography tip: New Zealand’s waterfalls cannot be missed but in order to perfectly capture the movement of the water you’ll need to experiment with slow shutter speeds. Set your camera to Aperture Priority mode (Av) and by choosing the smallest aperture your camera will give you the slowest possible shutter speed.
You can also use a slow shutter speed in the evenings to capture city lights, the glow of a campfire, star trails and more. Use Shutter Priority mode (Tv) and set your desired shutter speed, the camera will automatically set the aperture.
Don’t let bucketloads of rain and bone-chilling winds put you off – embrace Scotland’s elemental appeal, fortify yourself with a nip of whisky and button up for an adventure in the great outdoors. From the heights of its castle-crowned crags to the depths of its lonely lochs, Scotland knows how to brood.
You’ll find one of Europe’s last great wildernesses here, but that’s far from the whole story: Edinburgh and Glasgow can go toe to toe with much bigger rivals when it comes to culture.
Photography tip: Whenever possible, do the majority of your Scottish photography early in the morning or late in the day. Any mid-afternoon haze will have a negative effect on most photographs but you could avoid a lot of trouble by using a polarizer. They’re fairly inexpensive and help turn tepid blue skies into rich, deep blue skies; essentially a decent polarizer eliminates a lot of the need for Photoshop.
The ‘teardrop of India’, as it is poetically known, is slowly rebuilding its reputation as the southern gateway to South Asia. While the nation reflects on the final throes of a brutal, decades-long civil war, ordinary Sri Lankans look forward to a future in which tourism plays a vital role.
Travellers won’t need a lot of persuading to return to this spice-scented tropical island, which boasts world-class beaches, epic surf, ancient kingdoms, wild elephants, lofty mountains and so much more.
Lonely Planet Photography Tip: “We came across four fishermen in waist-deep water balancing on their poles. As they plucked fish from the water, I got some shots from the beach but realised I couldn’t capture the feeling I wanted. The current was quite strong and I didn’t have a waterproof camera but I decided to get in and try to shoot them from the water. It soon became clear why they use the poles as I tried to protect my camera from the waves swirling all around me. I managed to get a few nice shots off and made my way back to land without losing a camera. I had been trying to get as much in focus as possible. As the light was fading I had to use a slower shutter speed. In doing so, you risk the chance of the shots not being pin sharp but sometimes that can give your photos a nice feeling of depth and movement. Canon EOS 5D; 24-70 lens; f8; 1/60 sec; 100 ISO” – Matt Munro
Vikings, ABBA, Ikea… Sweden’s cultural footprint in the popular imagination belies its size. And the rise of Scandi-noir – notably, hit TV show Wallander and the movie of blockbuster novel The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – showed a darker side of this nation of fewer than 10 million souls.
But beyond these touchpoints, Sweden – which encompasses the graceful cities of Stockholm and Gothenburg, set like jewels in a patchwork of forests, lakes and islands – has a rare wholesomeness: a visit here feels restorative as soon as you set foot on its soil.
Photography Tip: Sweden is considered to be a fairly tripod friendly country so feel free to set up where you need to in order to capture the right shot. Be sure to pack a perspective correction lens to grab the right pictures for the impressive Swedish architecture. If you’re interested in snapping pictures of the country’s wildlife population grab an 800mm lens for the birds you’ll find in sanctuaries.