Death Valley National Park

United States, California, Death Valley. From Dante's View 5,500 feet (1,700 m) above sea level. Great view of central part of Death Valley. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

United States, California, Death Valley. From Dantes View 5,500 feet (1,700 m) above sea level. Great view of central part of Death Valley. (Photo Bjorn Grotting

Don’t let the name scare you, Death Valley is far from a dead valley. Located in the Mojave Desert in eastern California the valley makes up most of the Death Valley National Park, one of the largest national parks in the United States. It is home to a large variety of plant and animal species, and for geologists it’s an open book presenting a number of geological eras.

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Bali:: Gianyar, the richest district on Bali

Bali, Gianyar. Some of the many large statues in this area. Close to the center of Gianyar city. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Bali, Gianyar. Some of the many large statues in this area. Close to the center of Gianyar city. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Traditionally Gianyar has been the richest district on Bali, today about half the population here works in the tourist industry. Gianyar city is the administrative center of the district, while Ubud is the cultural capital and has the largest population. Gianyar city is located about 23 km from Denpasar, and is a junction for north and east bound traffic. Around Bedulu, between the Petanu and Pakrisan rivers, is a 10 km long belt of land known as “the land between the rivers”.

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Joshua Tree National Park

United States, California, Joshua Tree National Park. Skull Rock. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

United States, California, Joshua Tree National Park. Skull Rock. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

The fascinating Joshua Tree National Park in California represents three different ecosystems; the Mojave Desert to the north, the Colorado Desert which occupies the eastern and southern parts and finally The Little San Bernardino Mountains. As the name suggests the park can offer large habitats with the characteristic Joshua tree, mostly found in the western parts of the park. Similarly fascinating is the geologic formations found here, almost like somebody has been sculpting them.

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Värmland county of lakes

Sweden, Värmland, Sunset. Fire in the sky. Colourful sunset at a small lake in Värmland, not far from the Norwegian border. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Sweden, Värmland. Fire in the sky. Colourful sunset at a small lake in Värmland, not far from the Norwegian border. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Värmland is maybe one of the most scenic landscapes in Sweden, and has inspired painters, writers and musicians for centuries, like Nobel Prize winner Selma Lagerlöf, many of her novels take place in Värmland. Värmland is both the name of a landscape and county. Landscapes no longer serve any administrative functions in Sweden, but often has the same borders as a county.

The county has 10512 lakes, including Lake Vänern which is the largest inland lake in Western Europe. Other large lakes are Fryken, Glafsfjorden and Värmeln. The Klarälven river is very important, 460km long from it’s sources in Norway, ending in Lake Vänern.

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Winter sunset

Norway, Stoksund. Winter colours. An ice and snow covered landscape at sunset. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Norway, Trondelag, Stokksund. Winter colours. An ice and snow covered landscape at sunset. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

It’s always fun to look through old photos. I captured this scene more than ten years ago. It got me a price in a photo contest held by Trondheim’s largest newspaper. This was back in the “old” days, while film based cameras were more common than the digital wonders we use today. Most of us who shot film know the feeling; you think you have a nice shot, but will not know the result for several days, or weeks in worst case.

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The Supermoon

The Moon at full perigee, the coinciding of full moon and shortest distance to the earth. Also known as the Supermoon. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

The Moon at full perigee, the coinciding of full moon and shortest distance to the earth. Also known as the Supermoon. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

These days there is a lot of fuzz in the media regarding the so-called Supermoon, some even believe this is the end of the world as we know it…

Fear not, this is the rare occasion when the Moon is at it’s closest to the earth, or perigee, coinciding with a full Moon. It makes the Moon look slightly bigger and brighter, but only by approximately 12%, so in reality you wouldn’t really know, as it is already quite small on the sky. If it’s close to the horizon it will however look bigger due to an optical illusion. Super or not, it doesn’t really matter, just enjoy the view! The above image was taken yestaerday, with the Supermoon as seen from my home in Stavanger, Norway.

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Sakhalin, Russias largest island

Russia, Sakhalin. Okhotskoye is a small village at the south east coast of Sakhalin, not far from Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. Residential buildings are mostly made of wood. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Russia, Sakhalin. Okhotskoye is a small village at the south east coast of Sakhalin, not far from Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. Residential buildings are mostly made of wood. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Sakhalin island, just north of Japan and off the east coast of Russia, has led to many bitter disputes between the two countries. The island is today part of Russia, and is Russia’s largest island.

I visited the island last year, and have added several images to the photo gallery.

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Winter in Grand Canyon

United States, Arizona, Grand Canyon. Sunset at Lipan Point, with sunrays hitting some of the peaks. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

United States, Arizona, Grand Canyon. Sunset at Lipan Point, with the last sunlight hitting some of the rock formations. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

I recently came back from a trip to western United States, including a couple of days at the Grand Canyon. It was still early February, so I was afraid we would meet some really bad weather up there. To my delight we had cold but nice and sunny winter conditions, with some snow in parts of the park.

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Java:: Madura

Java, East Java, Madura. Small village in the Sampang regency on south Madura with traditional vessels (from helicopter) (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Java, East Java, Madura. Small village in the Sampang regency on south Madura with traditional vessels (from helicopter) (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Madura is a large island outside East Java, 5.290 square kilometers, about 160 km long and 35 km wide. It is separated from Surabaya by the narrow Madura strait, and is administered as a part of the East Java district. Main income is fishing, salt, cattle and agriculture. The local capital is Pamekasan. Number of inhabitants is about 3-4 million, and the population is considered to be an unique ethnic group like Javanese and Sundanese. Madurese is also a separate language.

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Bali:: Goa Gajah – The Elephant Cave

Bali, Gianyar, Goa Gajah. The elephant cave. The cave entrance area. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Bali, Gianyar, Goa Gajah. The elephant cave. The cave entrance area. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

The mysterious Goa Gajah (elephant cave) is one of the oldest relics on Bali. The exact time of origin is uncertain, but archeologists estimate the cave to have been built around year 1022 AD. This was long before Majapahit entered the island, and also hundreds of years before the first Europeans set foot here.

The site is a mix of Hindu- and Buddhist symbols, among them the cave with the entrance in an artistically carved cliff, a bathing pool with fountains, a statue of the Buddhist goddess Hariti, as well as several other Buddha figures.

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