Go on a mini adventure with these 10 stunning pictures from around the world. Featuring the Lofoten Islands, Morro Bay California, and the Kamchatka Peninsula.
After the second meeting of the day, the third time you’ve ordered delivery this week, and the fourth Netflix binge session this month, sometimes you just need to let your mind wander. What else is out there? What adventures do you want to tackle? What exotic locations are you still waiting to explore? Lucky for us, landscape photographer Chris Burkard provides just the catalyst to inspire the adventurer in all of us with his jaw-dropping photographs.
Chris is a self-taught photographer, based in Central Coast California — though it’s hard to pin him down to one location given how much he leapfrogs from place to place. From the hills of Chile to the sunsets of Russia, Chris is a pro at capturing the small, more intimate moments as well as the unreal flashes of nature’s majesty. As a staff photographer at Surfer Magazine, it shouldn’t be surprising that the ocean is his favorite muse. Chris has consistently captured the expansiveness of the ocean with his photography, and frequently frames his human subjects against its deep blue vastness. In addition to being an innovative photographer, Chris is also an accomplished explorer, creative director, TED Talk speaker, and the author of a growing collection of books.
Aside from being the most beautiful images you’ll see all day, these pictures will also refresh your spirit, tapping into the fundamental mysteries of nature as well as your place in the world.
Check them out, and let your mind wander today!
Want to take amazing pictures like the ones in this article? Check out Chris’s new class on mobile photography!
1) Unstad, Norway, on the Lofoten Islands
As Chris is primarily a surf photographer, he gets to visit some of the most popular surfer hotspots in the world. Unstad, Norway which is nestled away in the Arctic Circle, is a prime surfer destination for its towering waves and breathtaking views. A bit more secluded than more traditional surfer locales, the roundabout journey is well worth it once you get a glimpse of Unstad’s snow-capped mountains and expansive skies. Don’t forget to bundle up — temperatures can get quite frigid. Another benefit of having your surfer vacay in the Arctic Circle? The otherworldly northern lights, featured in this picture.
2) Faroe Islands
Geography tidbit of the day: The Faroe Islands are an independent country within the Kingdom of Denmark. Smack dab in the middle of Scotland and Iceland, they’re known for their subpolar oceanic climate, arctic-alpine plants, and famous island moss — flora which Chris features heavily in this picture. I love how in this shot Chris is able to make a somewhat overcast sky look angelic, and how, rather than heavily featuring the waterfall, he lets it blend in as part of the overall aesthetic of the coast.
3) Rocky Mountains, Canada
The Rocky Mountains span more than 3,000 miles, from the frigid north of Canada, all the way down to the more sweltering sands of New Mexico. Immortalized by nature (not to mention the fact that they’re heavily featured on Coors Light cans everywhere), the Rocky Mountains are a prime destination for hikers, bikers, campers, skiers, and adventurers the world over. In framing the mountain’s peak near the center of the shot, Chris creates an almost biblical vibe — this is a place where man feels in awe under the vastness of the mountains.
Loving these nature shots? Check out Chris’s class "Outdoor Photography for Smartphone: Getting a Professional Look"
There’s a lot going on in this photo. Particularly, I really like how the subject (traditionally the main attraction in most photos you see) is the least interesting part of the shot. Instead the wave, particularly its parabolic shape, takes front and center. You’re not just observing someone surfing, you’re getting an almost four dimensional view from inside the wave. The cloud looks ready to dip into the water, and the crest of the wave curves up to kiss the atmosphere. The whole scene works together to distort the viewer’s perception of where sky ends and ocean begins.
5) Morro Bay, California
Morro Bay is an oceanside city located in southern California. The city is known for its peach colored sunsets (featured prominently in this picture), its flocks of western seagulls, and its many otters and sea lions. The bay was named for Morro Rock, the striking volcanic plug seen in the left of Chris’s photograph. Fun fact: Morro Bay was the setting for the recent Pixar film, Finding Dory.
6) Morro Bay, California
Another pic from Morro Bay, this one emphasizing a completely orange sky. Not a speck of blue to be seen! While both Morro Bay pics prominently feature huge rock-forms, this photograph also frames a flock of Morro Bay’s many birds as shadows. The birds rest atop the mammoth rock in the center of the shot creating an interesting double take effect — you could easily mistake the birds for features of the rock until you look closely and begin to make out their distinctly avian shape. All in all, the photo does an A+ job of exhibiting the unshakable quality of nature; the wave crashing onto the rock with such force, though at the same time not disturbing it an inch.
Learn Chris’s photography tips and tricks in his awesome new class!
7) Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia
In his class, Outdoor Photography for Smartphones: Getting a Professional Look, Chris says he often shoots human subjects at a wide angle because he wants the viewer to relate to the scene — to see themselves in the photo. This picture from the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia illustrates that concept in action by not closing in too tightly on its bohemian subjects. Instead, you barely notice the faint outline of four friends and a jeep. You don’t know who they are, you don’t know their stories, and most importantly you don’t know what they look like. All you know is that they’ve found themselves in this beautiful, otherworldly landscape. Similar to the water pooling to reflect the subjects at the bottom of the frame, you take a second to look at this picture and can see yourself looking back at you.
8) Aleutian Islands, Alaska
The Aleutian Islands are a chain of volcanic islands off the southwestern coast of Alaska. It’s a bit chilly — average temperature is around 38 degrees — so don’t forget to bring a parka. In this specific shot, Chris masterfully captures the natural beauty of the volcanic formation. He really plays with the color pallette, finding a way to present the sky, mountain, and ocean all as similar shades of whitish blue. The copper plateau stands as the main distinct element, separating the visual flood of light blue. The surfer and the bird both reach up towards the mountain (though the bird’s chances of reaching the peak are a little more realistic). He makes both his organic subjects relatively the same size, a technique which implies that, compared to the vastness of nature, both man and animal, are on the same playing field.
This lush photo from Chile almost looks like a painting — like Van Gogh’s Starry Night if Van Gogh spent less time with his canvases and more time hanging ten. I love the vibrant greens, the blues that look like they were filled in with a watercolor brush and the way the mist paints the overgrown hilltop. Chris frames the surfer as a speck within the shot, so tiny compared to the sprawling landscape. Definitely gives off a Where’s Waldo vibe and really shows the ease with which you can get lost in nature.
10) Unstad Norway, on the Lofoten Islands
For our last picture, we end right where we began — the Lofoten Islands in Norway. This photo captures a perfect in-action surfing moment, while at the same time presenting the inherent allure of the island. The surfer gets major height riding that wave, but it’s no match for the daunting elevation of the towering peak in the background. I also love how the sky represents three different shades. On the bottom you have the bright, almost sunny aura, in the middle you have a darker, cloudier, a little ominous vibe, and on the top you find just a glimmer of a deep blue sky.