Elysium…Heaven on Earth…The Antarctic

This time last year I was in South America on my way to The Antarctic.

I can’t believe nearly a year has past since my trip of a lifetime..

I think about The Antarctic everyday…

The vivid blue colour of the ice, the wildlife and the beautiful feeling of visiting such a remote, isolated part of our planet.

My exhibition, Frozen Lenses was a huge success for me last year..dates will be released soon for venues in 2014

These are some of my favourite pics…

If you have any questions or comments about these photos, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Click on the first pic to view all the pics as a slideshow.

Chris 🙂

My favourite pics from 2013

I’ve had a fantastic year….

I turned 50, I realised a dream and went to the Antarctic, my clickwalklearn photography tours business has taken off (and hasn’t stopped) and I’ve had two really successful photography exhibitions.

I’ve taken LOTS of pics this year – I mean LOTS….

Thanks to everyone for all your support. I really enjoy your feedback and comments 🙂

Here are some of my favourites photos from 2013…

I hope each and everyone of you enjoy your new year celebrations and that 2014 brings you all you hope and dream for….

Follow your dreams…I do…..xxx

Don’t forget to click on the shots to enlarge them…

This is my absolute favourite shot from the Antarctic. We were in a zodiac right near Port Lockroy. This magnificent iceberg was backlit and begged to be photographed. It was exhibited as part of my exhibition ‘Frozen Lenses’ during the Head On Photo festival..I could look at it all day 🙂


This humpback whale was as huge as he looks in this pic…I look at this shot everyday (its hanging in my loungeroom) and marvel at the wonder of nature…


I watched this beautiful chinstrap penguin for a while….How majestic is he? I absolutely love this shot…another favourite 🙂

I bought myself a macro lens earlier this year and have LOVED it ever since!! This pic shows the detail you can get out of this lens. Everyone now go and buy a macro lens…you won’t be sorry 🙂


At Easter, we packed up with my family and went to Lake Eucumbene, down in the Snowy Mountains of NSW. It was a photographers paradise! Here are my favourite shots from this trip..I especially love the stars..




I’ve photographed so many babies this year…They were all beautiful and cuddly and gorgeous!! I love them all particularly this first one that really shows the love between Jodie and her beloved Jack….


This is Macey…She’s the daughter of very special friends of mine…isn’t she adorable?


How cute is Lachlan? A beautiful little boy..I love the expression on his face….


Benjamin is such a happy boy, he was SO tired after our photoshoot….how soft does he look here?


Here’s Emily. She was definitely the most photographic little girl with such a beautiful smile….


Mount Wilson is such a glorious town up in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney. This garden was truly magnificent. It was really hard to choose my favourite shot, but the softness of the Wisteria and the blurred background makes this shot so easy on the eye….


I celebrated my 50th birthday in June. This is a shot of me, my hubby Ray and my two boys Ryan and Bryce….such a special family time..


Its such an icon in Sydney. The face of Luna Park…I’ve photographed it many times before. But I just love the angle and the colour of this one….


The gardens in the Blue Mountains are always spectacular in the spring and I loved visiting many homes during the ‘Garden Festival.’ I love the colour in this shot and the simplicity of the flower…


The moon….always a challenge to photograph…I spent lots of time with the camera to get this shot….You need a zoom lens, a tripod and lots of patience 🙂


Last, but not least, this is my favourite pic from 2013. It’s me…Alone in the Antarctic doing my favourite thing…I absolutely love it!!

© D. LEAL 04a

Happy New Year everyone 🙂 🙂 🙂

Hotel Boutique Acontraluz – a beautiful place to stay in Valparaiso, Chile

Hotel Acontraluz, Valparaiso Chile is one of the nicest hotels I’ve ever stayed in.

Situated in the neighbourhood of Cerro Alegre, high up behind the hustle and bustle of Valparaiso, this boutique hotel is a real haven in this eclectic city.

The hotel is decorated with art works from local artists in a kaleidoscope of colour – which I absolutely loved. 🙂 Beautiful vases, flowers, a piano, huge beams of oregon and oak, old sideboards – this hotel has a warm, welcoming style that will make you feel instantly at home.

The hotel is a family business and the service and attention to detail was second to none.

We were greeted by Javier, a gorgeous young woman who couldn’t do enough for us during our stay. She shared all her local knowledge and was never too busy to help us with a restaurant choice or to phone us a cab.

Our room was lovely with comfy beds and plenty of space for us to unpack some of our gear and spread out after a long day.

The tariff included breakfast, which was served buffet style each morning on the ground level. We sat outside on the verandah, enjoying the food and coffee whilst admiring the beautiful bay of Valparaiso.

The ‘stand out’ of this hotel was the lounge area situated on level three. A huge verandah with a wicker cane lounge was the perfect place to sit and catch up on emails (the hotel has wifi), enjoy a glass of wine and just relax, taking in the beautiful views.

So if you’re heading to Valparaiso, check out the Hotel Acontraluz – you won’t be sorry 🙂

Thank you to all the staff, especially Javier, for making us feel so welcome.

Enjoy the pics. Click on the first pic to view all the photos as a slideshow:)

Valparaiso, Chile – a city of extremes….

Valparaiso, Chile is a bustling city situated approximately 110km northwest of the country’s capital, Santiago.

I visited this colourful city earlier this year with my buddy Carol on the way to Antarctica.

I drove from Santiago airport to Valparaiso. It was an easy drive until we got right into the heart of the city 🙂

‘Chaos’ was the first word that came to mind…There were lots of one way streets and we found it really difficult to find our accomodation (no, we didn’t hire a Sat Nav with the car.)

My first thought was that the city was a lot bigger than I had imagined. We stayed in a ‘newer’ part of the city in a renovated hotel that was absolutely beautiful and looked out over the blue Pacific.

The city was very polluted and the brown sludge seen on the horizon was a constant reminder of this.

Built on 42 cerros (hills) that rise up out of the sea, this city has an extreme personality. Flamboyant mansions intermingled with some of the worst slums I’ve ever seen. Wonderful food and vibrant, colourful graffiti.

Brightly coloured homes piled on top of each other. More dogs than I’ve ever seen lazily lying in the sun. Barbed wire wrapped around high stone walls. Tattered shanties in all shades and textures of brown and alleyways that seemed lonely and eerie.

Almost one third of Chile’s slum dwellers live in Valparaiso. Many of them live in squatter settlements that don’t have formal access to the cities water, sewerage or land tenure.

We drove through the slum areas on our second day. As photographers, we both wanted to capture the essence of this part of the city and set out with our cameras on the floor of the back of the car and all doors locked.

We saw burnt out cars left on the side of the road, more dogs and rubbish everywhere. It was unbelievable to think of a city with such wealth and extreme poverty. The streets were often empty and at times it felt like a ghost town. When something caught our eye that we wanted to photograph, we would carefully check that there was no-one around, get out of the car with our cameras, take some shots and quickly jump back into the car and lock the doors. We thought we were being careful.

Not careful enough.

To cut a long story short, Carol was mugged and her camera was stolen by a guy posing as a tourist. It all happened so quickly. Even though she had the camera strap wrapped around her wrist, he pulled at her arm persistently and wasn’t leaving until he had the camera.

Within two minutes he was gone and so was Carol’s camera.

Hindsight is such a wonderful thing. We shouldn’t have been there. We looked like tourists. We are photographers with BIG cameras. What were we thinking?

I can hear you all…lesson learned and thankfully Carol was okay and had insurance 🙂

We were both quite shaken and after a ride in a police van to report the incident, and a visit to the local hospital we arrived back at our hotel.

That night we had a beautiful seafood dinner overlooking the city and took a cab to a spot high above the urban chaos and enjoyed the dazzling night lights below.

We spent the next day quietly wandering around the ‘newer’ part of Valparaiso 🙂

I’m not sure if I’ll ever visit Valparaiso again, but if I do, theres one thing for sure, I’ll take a smaller camera 🙂

Have you been to Valparaiso? What were your thoughts of this city? I’d love to hear them in the comments below.

Enjoy the pics. Click on the first pic to view all the photos as a slideshow:)

‘Bisley’ – Mount Wilson – another beautiful garden…

I know I’ve been on a bit of a garden theme of late 🙂

Spring is in the air and there are so many FANTASTIC gardens to view in the glorious blue mountains.

Last Sunday Ray and I took off to Mount Wilson which is off the Bells Line of Road on the way to Lithgow NSW.

What a quaint little village tucked away just waiting to be explored 🙂

The garden we chose to visit was called ‘Bisley’…A 4 hectare garden that is lovingly cared for by its two gorgeous owners who are in their eighties!!

They bought the virgin land in 1982 and have spent the last 30 years creating this magnificent garden.

I loved wandering around with the camera, looking for pockets of light filtering down through the trees. The wisteria was one of the most beautiful I have ever seen…

It was very hot, but there were plenty of shady spots to rest and take in the glorious views….

If you would like more information about the open garden programme visit opengarden.org.au

Enjoy the pics. Click on the first pic to view all the photos as a slideshow:)

Lake Eucumbene – How blue is that Lake?

Lake Eucumbene is a very special place for my family.

My Father has been travelling to the Lake every Easter (and sometimes in October) for over 20 years.

Situated in the Snowy Mountains district of NSW, Lake Eucumbene lies approximately 440 km’s south west of Sydney.

Completed in 1958, the lake was created by damming part of the Eucumbene River as part of the mighty Snowy Mountains Scheme.

This lake holds around nine times the volume of water of Sydney Harbour, making it the largest storage lake in the Snowy Mountains Scheme.

It is approximately 1200 metres above sea level with an average depth of 33 meters.

A mecca for trout fishermen – including my Dad 🙂 – the lake holds good quantities of both rainbow and brown trout and also atlantic salmon.

Earlier this year, Ray and I travelled south to this beautiful part of the world to explore the area, recharge and spend time with our loved ones.

I’d forgotten how absolutely beautiful it is.

I love the shapes of the dead trees dotted along the shoreline, the stillness of the deep blue water and the incredible reflections…

We wandered around on foot, drove the 4WD up over the mountains looking at the remains of a Copper Mine and homes from times gone bye. I love checking out places where people have left their mark. I always wonder how they survived the isolation and hardship under such extreme weather conditions.

Naturally, the camera came with me 🙂 It clicked pretty much the whole time I was there….

I can’t wait to get back there…….

If you would like more information about this fantastic part of NSW visit lakeeucumbene.com

Enjoy the pics. Click on the first pic to view all the photos as a slideshow:)

Colour in the Blue Mountains….

Last week I had the busiest week ever..

Nothing relaxes me more than getting out into the country and immersing myself in nature.

My niece Claire and my buddy Maree and I set off to the Blue Mountains for the day to take photos (what a surprise) 🙂

We tried to find Minnehaha Falls, but ended up on a fire trail..hmmm….

We visited Leura, such a beautiful town and wandered through one of the gardens that was part of the Leura Gardens Festival.

We we surrounded by colour, one of my other favourite things.

We had lunch in a beautiful cafe in Leura and I sat eating a ploughmans lunch watching the world go by.

After lunch we headed to Blackheath and ended up at Evans Lookout – (a must visit spot) where the wide expanse of the Blue Mountains stretches out in front of you. It is beautiful and made me feel so alive and free….

Next stop was the tea rooms in the Megalong Valley – absolutely gorgeous – where we ate scones and sipped on a cappuccino 🙂

What a fantastic day…..

The Blue Mountains really worked its magic on me 🙂

Enjoy the pics. Click on the first pic to view all the photos as a slideshow.