Photography will always be subjective, as will the emotional response every viewer has to the same photograph. But these 10 locations across the world will take the cake when it comes to places that combine visual stimulation with the best natural light.
Photography will always be subjective, as will the emotional response every viewer has to the same photograph. But these 10 locations across the world will take the cake when it comes to places that combine visual stimulation with the best natural light. The list has been compiled by Forbes contributor Peter Lane Taylor
Southern France is home to some of the most historically photographed locations in Europe, including the medieval villages of Lacoste and Carcassonne, Provence’s endless lavender and sunflower fields, the beaches of the French Riviera (Cote d’Azur), stretching from Monaco in the east to Cassis in the west, and the iconic celebrity and billionaire hotspots of Cannes, San Tropez and Nice. The south of France is also considered the world capital of perfumes, with hundreds of historic perfumeries.
This one might be a little cliché, but there’s a reason for that. For travel photographers, Greece’s visual appeal goes far beyond the whitewashed, Santorini-esque islands and ancient Athenian ruins. On the mainland, the snow-capped Olympic mountains rise over 10,000 feet from sea level, looming over Greek temples thousands of years old that few ever visit. In the remote centre of the country, the cliff-hanging monasteries of Meteora are a Unesco-designated World Heritage Site and defy physics. The Greek people are also some of the most expressive in the world, so bring your portrait lenses.
Patagonia, which comprises the southernmost regions of Chile and Argentina at the tip of the continent, is South America’s ‘American wild west’: it is ruggedly mountainous, historically individualist and endlessly scattered with grasslands, deserts, buttes, aquamarine alpine lakes and snow-capped peaks. Unlike the American west, it’s also hemmed in by the ocean and fjords at the edges, which make for some of the most dramatic scenery in the world. Orcas, seals, alpacas and penguins are just a few of the remarkable wildlife species.
North and South Islands, New Zealand
The North and South Islands of New Zealand are roughly the size of Colorado, but they encompass a range of habitats, landscapes and native culture that exist in few other places on the planet in such a small area. The fjords of South Island’s Milford Sound rival Norway’s, and Queenstown might just be one of the coolest lakefront, mountain towns in the world. North Island, with its native rainforests, volcanoes and geothermal pools, could easily be a trip in itself.
Cuba is a frequent destination for European and Canadian travellers. Travel and trade restrictions for Americans that have been in place since the 1960s were recently loosened by former US president Barack Obama, making Cuba more accessible than it’s been in 60 years to US citizens. Partially as a result of the longstanding US embargo, Cuba’s culture, cities and landscapes are trapped in a time wrap since there has been little commercialisation or development in six decades.
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There is no other place on the planet more unspoiled than Antarctica. On the Antarctic Peninsula, in particular—the arm of the continent sticking out into the southern Ocean most easily accessible to travellers sailing by a cruise ship or yacht from Ushuaia, Argentina and other Patagonia ports of call—99% of the mountains are unclimbed, and you’ll still find penguin colonies, which have never encountered a human being before.
Vietnam became a major tourist destination in the 1990s, so it’s still relatively unspoiled and off the beaten track. Its food is iconic, its beaches pristine, its geology mind-bending, and there remains a Cuba-esque quality to its culture that makes it feel like you’re travelling in a time warp.
Though recently in the news for a failed military coup and perhaps on the adventurous outer edge for some travellers, Turkey nonetheless remains one of the most photogenic countries in the world, somehow pulling together within a single border a tropical Mediterranean coastline, island chains, Greco-Roman ruins, one of Europe’s longest ski runs, a global melting pot cuisine scene, and the sites, sounds, and cultures of one of the world’s most vibrant cities, Istanbul. And don’t forget the Turkish baths.
Western Cape, South Africa
The Western Cape of South Africa encompasses Cape Town (the country’s second-largest city), the southernmost point on the African continent (which is one of the top places in the world to scuba dive with Great White sharks), and the western Cape Winelands, which go toe-to-toe with Napa and Sonoma valleys, both in terms of quality of wine, as well as beauty of landscape. The western Cape coastline varies from wide sandy beaches to rugged cliffs plunging into the ocean like the promontories of Big Sur, California. A few hours inland, dozens of nature and game reserves protect many of Africa’s most iconic wildlife species like cheetahs and giraffes.
Four Corners, American Southwest
The region roughly known as America’s ‘Four Corners’ is where Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona intersect. It’s rich with Navajo Native American and pioneer history and home to at least a dozen national and state parks, and conservation areas protecting some of the most extraordinary geologic features in the world, including Grand Canyon and Canyonlands National Parks and Monument Valley. The landscape is sublimely rugged, the light pristine and there is probably no better place in America for star trails and moonlight photography due to the almost complete lack of light pollution.