My top travel photos on Instagram in 2017

It’s hard to believe that almost a whole year has gone by. Specially considering that, for the first time in my life, I’ve been on the road pretty much non-stop doing what I love to do most, which is taking photos.

And yes, I know, I have shamefully neglected this blog for most of the year. So much so I’ve had to push aside a few cobwebs on my way in… Seriously, though, the reason is I’ve felt I’d much rather be out exploring, watching the world go by and taking photos of all the exciting places I’ve been to this year, than writing 1,200-word posts that hardly anyone will read or comment on. When I started this blog I knew it was going to be an uphill struggle to get some solid traffic and subscribers, but I didn’t really appreciate just how much.

I’m not giving up on this blog just yet, for sure. But in the next few months I’ll have to figure out a new blogging strategy that gives something valuable to you, my readers, other than the images I capture during my travels. Because for that, I’ve come to the conclusion that my Facebook and specially my Instagram accounts, are a much more effective way to share my images and, therefore, a far better use of my time.

Instagram profile - The Visual Traveler (@bigfernowski)

I’m pleased to report that, improving on last year, my Instagram account has seen some solid growth in 2017. As I write this, over 1,500 people follow me on Instagram, which is just about three times as many as this time last year.

Also this year, I was truly thrilled and honored to have one of my photos (funnily enough one I took in 2014 but hadn’t shared yet) featured by Lonely Planet as “Fan Photo of the Week” on their Instagram feed.

Although it didn’t bring in as many followers as you’d think (just over a hundred), it was a massive boost to see one of my images picked by Lonely Planet, whose guidebooks have been so useful to so may travellers like myself over the years. You can find this photo as a bonus at the end of this post.

Since many of you find these details interesting, this year I’ve also added the camera and lens combo I used, as well as the shooting parameters. [Spoiler: all but one were taken with my beloved Fuji XT-2. It’s crazy how much you can bond with a camera when you use it pretty much every day for a whole year].

Let’s get on with it, shall we? These are, in increasing order of popularity, my top 9 travel photos on Instagram in 2017:

9. Mt. Agung from Lempuyang Temple (Bali, Indonesia)

This is a photo I almost didn’t take. Since I’ve told the story elsewhere (including on Instagram), I’ll just say I was so glad I got up at an ungodly hour that day and the clouds gave me the briefest of respites. Incidentally, you may have seen Mt. Agung on the news lately, as it has been threatening of a major eruption for the first time in half a century.

Fuji XT-2 with 18-55mm lens at 18mm, 1/60 s, f/5.6, ISO 6400.

8. Low tide at Penang Clan Jetties (Malaysia)

This year the island of Penang (Pulau Pinang), and in fact Malaysia on the whole, have become one of my favorite places in SE Asia. If you go to Penang, make sure not to miss the Clan Jetties. Go there early, or visit the less visited ones to avoid the masses, and enjoy the calm and the views. Tide times didn’t quite work for me when I last visited, but as it happens, I found the low-tide seascape quite compelling.

Fuji XT-2 with 18-55mm lens at 23mm, 1/250 s, f/8, ISO 640.

7. Taj Mahal (India)

Although I spent two months in India this summer, I decided to skip Taj Mahal. Hopefully I’ll come back some day, but this time I wanted to visit mainly new places. There are thousands and thousands of beautiful Taj Mahal photos out there, so I wasn’t really keen to share this old photo (from 2013) to begin with. It turns out that people quite liked it, and I’m not surprised as it is such a stunning monument.

Fuji XE-1 with 18-55mm lens at 50mm, 1/170 s, f/8, ISO 200.

6. Tegallalang Rice Fields (Bali, Indonesia)

Sometimes it’s hard to decide whether it’s better to visit a place early in the morning or not. Generally speaking, it is, but in this instance in Tegallalang, many of the rice terraces were mostly in the shade, as the sun was still too low to hit them. I was nonetheless rewarded with this gorgeous light at one of the upper rice fields.

Fuji XT-2 with 18-55mm lens at 36mm, 1/220 s, f/8, ISO 200.

5. Kelimutu National Park (Flores, Indonesia)

What can I say, this year I totally fell in love with beautiful, and largely unspoiled, Flores Island. Its warm, welcoming, really lovely people and its drop-dead gorgeous landscapes made for a truly amazing trip there. These three crater lakes in Kelimutu National Park were one of many highlights that will stay forever on my mind. I don’t know, just looking at this picture again got me thinking of going back to Flores next year. Will I?

Fuji XT-2 with 18-55mm lens at 24mm, 1/450 s, f/8, ISO 200.

4. Penang Clan Jetties (Malaysia)

Didn’t I just tell you that you really should visit Penang, and its Clan Jetties? Well, then, what are you waiting for?

Fuji XT-2 with 18-55mm lens at 18mm, 1/180 s, f/5.6, ISO 200.

3. Candidasa Lotus Lake (Bali, Indonesia)

On my way to Amed and the slopes of Mt. Agung, I stopped for a few days at Candidasa, on the southeast coast of Bali. I missed early morning at the Lotus Lake on my first two days, but I sure as heck wasn’t going to miss it altogether. So on my last day there, a few hours before hopping on the bus to Amed, I went there and found all these gorgeous lotus flowers open.

Fuji XT-2 with 18-55mm lens at 18mm, 1/160 s, f/9, ISO 800.

2. Wat Phra Singh (Thailand)

After a lot (and I mean a lot) of moving around in the first five months of 2017, I felt like I needed some rest and time to cull and edit my photos. I decided to go to Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand, because I liked it in my first visit a couple of years ago, and it’s a great place to spend a few months.

Although I spent a longer time in front of my computer than out and about taking pictures, I repeatedly visited this temple, Wat Phra Singh. It is one of my favourite temples in a city that boasts dozens of them, and a seemingly inexhaustible source of photographic inspiration. It is probably not by chance that I took there both this photo and the next, my most liked one on Instagram this year.

Fuji XT-2 with 18-55mm lens at 18mm, 1/200 s, f/8, ISO 640.

1. Rainy season in Chiang Mai (Thailand)

I was a little apprehensive about staying for a few months in Chiang Man during the rainy season. I shouldn’t have worried, though. Not only it didn’t rain that much, and it was mainly just for a couple of hours in the evening, but puddles and reflections made for very interesting photo opportunities.

This photo is part of a four-shot burst of which only two were keepers. As for the other two, in one the monk was not in the right place for a balanced composition, and in the other the sharpness was not optimal (because I was crouching on a slightly unstable position, or maybe the breeze created some ripples on the water surface).

Fuji XT-2 with 27mm lens, 1/160 s, f/2.8, ISO 1250.

Bonus: Leshan Giant Buddha (China)

Finally, as a bonus, the photo featured by Lonely Planet that I mentioned at the start of this post. I couldn’t believe it as the likes and comments were adding up by the hundreds every hour! This was truly my top photo on Instagram in 2017, by far. But of course it’s mostly thanks to the good people at Lonely Planet and their huge following.

This one is also the only photo out of this ten that I didn’t take with a Fuji X series camera, since at that time I was travelling with the also great, but much bulkier and heavier (particularly the lenses!) Canon 6D.

Canon 6D with 24-105mm lens at 24mm, 1/60, f/4, ISO 125.

And that’s the countdown done. I hope you enjoyed seeing all the images together and maybe found some you missed during the year.

If you have an Instagram account and liked the photos, don’t forget to join me there, and, as ever, don’t hesitate to leave any comments or ask any questions below!

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