From mountain peaks to clear blue seas, Earth holds an abundance of wonders. These four photographers share their favorite shoots in the most beautiful corners of our planet.
Last year, National Geographic published a photo gallery with the headline These Breathtaking Natural Wonders No Longer Exist. It included images from eighteen sites around the world, from Legzira Beach in Morocco and Elephant Rock in Canada to New Zealand’s Sylvia Flats Pools and five of the Solomon Islands. All of them have vanished within the last few decades. The wildest corners of the earth are under threat, including some of the most-visited and revered places in human history.
Even those listed among the Seven Wonders of the Natural World are not immune to the sands of time. In 2015, Mount Everest lost the Hillary Step, a famous and challenging rock face, to an earthquake. More disturbingly, hundreds of miles of the Great Barrier Reef have died due to excessively hot waters caused by climate change. If the United States government ends its uranium mining ban, the waters around Grand Canyon could be polluted.
Photographs of these sites are important. They inspire the public to protect the land, and they preserve their memories for future generations. We asked four photographers from around the world to tell us about their experiences visiting some of the most magnificent places on earth. These are their stories.
1. “Detailed planning is the key to success. The best time to visit Nepal and the Himalayas is in spring or autumn.”
Arsgera (Arsenii Gerasymenko)
Image by Arsgera (Arsenii Gerasymenko). Gear: Sony SLT-A99 camera, prime Sony Carl Zeiss Planar T* 85mm f/1.4 ZA lens. Settings: Exposure 1/160 sec; f9.0; ISO 800. (The final panoramic stitched image consists of 11 vertical shots, captured handheld.)
Tell us about photographing Mount Everest.
I will never forget seeing the highest peak on planet Earth, and I keep coming back to Nepal every year to discover new mysteries and the beauties of the Himalayas. The most memorable thing I experienced near Everest was one misty evening, when everything around me was covered with heavy clouds and fog. Suddenly, the gray canvas ripped, and the shining, golden Everest summit appeared to be floating high in the sky. It seemed that the mountain had no foot and it swam in an ocean of clouds and cold.
Image by Arsgera (Arsenii Gerasymenko).
There are plenty of trekking routes and tourist spots in the Nepali part of the Himalaya Mountains, so you do not have to be a professional mountaineer to see gorgeous summits, including mountains higher than 8000 meters. All you need is a bunch of permits, a guide, and a porter to carry your stuff. It takes about seven to ten days to get from Lukla Airport to Everest base camp by foot. Another option: you can take a helicopter and get there in two to three hours with no acclimatization, but it’s dangerous, and you will not be able to spend much time at a height of 5500 meters.
Detailed planning is the key to success. The best time to visit Nepal and the Himalayas is in spring or autumn. In any case, the weather in the mountains is always unpredictable and changes rapidly. There is a good chance you’ll have sunshine, snow, rain, and freezing cold just in one day in the Himalayas, so leave room for all kinds of clothing in your backpack, and be ready to change quickly.
Be patient and always scout your locations. Keep your batteries warm inside a pocket of a jacket or sleeping bag, as close to your heart as possible. Do not miss a single sunrise or sunset, and wake up early every day. The magic usually happens at daybreak. There is nothing worse than missed opportunities due to oversleeping. Stay in good physical shape; you will have to carry all your gear at a height of 5500 meters above sea level, and mountain sickness is a bad thing.
2. “There are a lot of balconies with panoramic views, so you just have to select the one you like most using any GPS tool, like Google Maps in its ‘street view’ mode.”
Image by Jon Chica. Gear: Nikon D500 camera, Nikkor 17-55mm lens. Settings: Focal length 17mm; exposure 1/1250 sec; f5; ISO 200.
Tell us about photographing the Grand Canyon.
Last year, during my summer holidays, I spent three weeks traveling around the West Coast of the United States. I fell in love with the landscapes I visited during this 3600-mile road trip, especially the Grand Canyon. It was a dream come true. I flew above this amazing natural wonder by helicopter, taking more than 400 pictures while on board. I felt that no matter how long I stayed, it was always going to be too short. If you haven’t been there before, you cannot even imagine the endlessness of this wild landscape.