Monday, 30 November 2015

1,400-year-old Tree Still Sheds Golden Leaves

Once a year, this majestic 1,400-year-old tree showcases a transition into fall in a remarkable way and its countless leaves change into a radiant shade of gold. The tree is located within the walls of the Gu Guanyin Buddhist Temple, in the Zhongnan Mountain region of China; this wonderful autumnal display entices travelers from all over the world. Therefore, as the leaves fall and make a vibrant ocean of gold, tourists leap at the opportunity to capture photographs of the colorful carpet. The ginkgo tree sometimes referred to as a “living fossil” because, despite all the drastic climate changes, it has remained unchanged for more than 200 million years. Though, in late autumn, when the Gingko literally Silver Berry in Chinese tree sheds its leaves, throngs of tourists will gather in the ancient Buddhist temple to have a high regard for the wonderful views of the old Gingko tree in its finest glory before winter.

Hence, it is thought to be planted for “Emperor Li Shimin”, the founding father of the Tang Dynasty (618-907), this well-known tree draws people attention from all over China. The gingko tree is also famous as a maidenhair tree, actually an ancient species that is native to China. Moreover the magical yellow color that it adopts in the fall, this specific species of tree is also brilliantly useful, serving as a source of food and equipped with numerous medical benefits that are known in traditional Eastern medicine. This predominantly impressive millennia-old Gingko tree is definitely popular, but as a species this tree is also widely respected for its wealth of benefits and ancient ties to the region.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Wild Scotland

For my second aerial film, entitled ‘Wild Scotland’, I wanted to showcase some of the wilderness this magnificent country has to offer. From the Highlands and Islands on the west coast to John O’Groats and North Berwick on the east I’ve captured just a fraction of the stunning wilderness which Scotland has to offer.

I’ve spent the last few months travelling up and down the country capturing locations, carefully planning my schedule to take advantage of the best light, be that dawn or dusk. Along the way I’ve been lucky to pick up some unexpected shots such as deer near Ardnamurchan and a large group of seals in a bay near John O’ Groats at the very top of the British mainland. I was lucky to experience a prolonged spell of good weather so filming this was a much faster process than for my first aerial film; Beautiful Scotland.

Making this film involved a series of mini adventures. Hiking up Bidein a'Ghlas Thuill at 3am in the pitch dark, to film the spectacular serrated ridge of An Teallach, and hearing stags roaring in the valleys below is a memory that will stay with me for a very long time. Also filming Bass Rock near North Berwick, which is home is to the world’s largest single rock Gannet colony with some 40,000 pairs of birds, at first light was a real treat.
The film was mostly shot on the DJI Inspire 1 and for the more remote locations I used the DJI Phantom 3 which can be packed in a backpack really easily. 

Big shout out to Drew Gibson who has done another magnificent job colour grading this and also to Pete Smith ( who created the sound mix. Cheers also to Rob Waugh ( for feeding back throughout the edit and helping suggest locations.
Locations in order –

An Teallach
Ardnamurchan lighthouse
Bidein A’ Ghlas Thuill
Mangersta Sea Stacks, Isle of Harris
Luskentyre Beach, Isle of Harris
Callanish Standing stones, Isle of Lewis
Duncansby Bay (Seal shot)
Tantallon Caslte
Bass Rock
Duncansby sea stacks
Glen Etive
Castle Stalker
Forth Rail Bridge
Neist Point, Isle of Skye
Music again by the fantastic Tony Anderson – Eyes Wide Open

Wild Scotland from John Duncan on Vimeo.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

The Real-life Flintstones House

The incredible holiday home is carved between four granite boulders and comes with a swimming pool and bulletproof windows but there's no electricity. It looks primitive but the stone house is well-equipped with a fireplace and a pool carved out of one of the rocks could have been a yabba dabba do time.

The real life Flintstones house also known as Casa do Penedo, or House of Stone.  This strange dwelling was built in northern Portugal’s Fafe Mountains perched at an elevation of nearly 2,600ft. This house has been converting into tourist magnet after being transformed into a museum though earlier this was a holiday home by a family. Now this stone of house has earned a reputation as a real-life “Flintstones house”. However, it is ot precise, why the original owners required bulletproof doors and windows. Portuguese photographer Ricardo Oliveira Mateus, 34, recently returned to the 16.5-ft tall house to capture its unusual character.

The house was built in 1972 from four large boulders that serve as the foundation, walls and ceiling of the house. Due to its uncommon design and integration into the surrounding nature, the building has become a growing tourist attraction being really impressed by the house architecture and the magnificent view around it.

Friday, 20 November 2015

The Great Mosque and Hospital of Divriği Turkey

This Anatolia region was conquered by the Turks at the start of the 11th century, and then in 1228–29 Emir Ahmet Shah founded a mosque, with its adjoining hospital, at Divrigi. The mosque has a single prayer room and is crowned by two cupolas. The Great Mosque and Hospital of Divriği is a remarkable building combining a monumental hypostyle mosque with a two storey hospital, which includes a tomb, located on the slopes below the castle of Divriği, Sivas Province in central eastern Turkey.

The Mosque and Hospital is an ornately decorated mosque and hospital complex built in 1228-1229 by the local dynasty of the “Mengujekids” in the small eastern Anatolian town of Divriği, now in Sivas Province in Turkey. The mosque (Masjid) and hospital adjoins in building complex, which shares qibla wall. The main entrance to the mosque is marked by a tall portal which is celebrated for the quality and density of its high-relief stone carving. The other entrance side had collapsed and was rebuilt at later stage. Therefore, third entrances of the mosque have served a royal entrance reserved for the ruler and his entourage. The name of the chief architect is inscribed in the interior of both the mosque and the hospital and has been read as Khurramshāh b. Mughīth al-Khilātī.

The Great Mosque of Divriği is the most splendid example of the mosques built during the Seljuk Period mixture of Baroque, Seljuk and Gothic styles, but nevertheless represents a unique and distinct style of their own. Moreover, mosque interior comprises of stone piers actually help in stone vaults. The central bay of the mosque left open for sky and original wooden furnishing survive along its Qibla wall. The mosque window opening to the tomb chamber within the hospital and its wooden minar dated back to 1243 and signed by the craftsman Ibrahīm b. Ahmad al-Tiflīsī. Even some carved wooden panels to belong to the royal platform are today on view in the museum of the Directorate of Pious Endowments in Ankara. The Great Mosque and Hospital remain intact retaining the key attributes carrying outstanding universal value, setting the complex is vulnerable to the impact of surrounding development.

The superb carvings and architecture of both structures place them amongst the most significant works of architecture in Anatolia and led to their inclusion on UNESCO's World Heritage List in 1985. The hospital portal located on the western façade, different in design from the north portal of the mosque and framed by a monumental pointed arch and features a window in the center. The inscription on the portal of the hospital describes the building as a dār al-shifā' “house of healing” and ascribes its foundation to Tūrān Malik bint. The stone carving is the same quality as the main mosque portal but is less dense and appears, in certain places, to be unfinished. The hospital interior comprises of rooms and iwans.  The hospital has a second story on its southern side which is reached by a staircase just inside the entrance. One of the rooms of the hospital was dedicated to serve as a dynastic tomb chamber. This room has a window opening to the mosque.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Elephant Foot Glacier

The unique “Elephant Foot Glacier” in northeastern Greenland looks like a bowl of batter that has been poured over a pan. The Elephant Foot Glacier is located on the Kronprins Christian Land peninsula. The sheer pressure of the zillion-ton ice has broken through the mountain and spilled into the sea in close to symmetric, fan-shaped lobe. 

This kind of glaciers is known as “piedmont glaciers”, and the Elephant Foot Glacier is a textbook example of it. Its form is so distinctive that it stands out melodramatically from its environments when viewed from high above. Glaciers are one of the most strange of the earth’s natural phenomena. These rivers of frozen snow amassed from numbers of centuries of precipitation are so thickly packed that it surpasses its overall ablation. 

They’re in a continuous state of flux, flowing down in the direction of the slope in the direction of a valley or a water body. Therefore, you can’t really tell if it’s moving but come back in a few decades and you’ll be able to see the intense change in the landscape. The Elephant Foot Glaciers is not connected to Greenland’s main ice sheet. Rather, it’s part of a network of glaciers and ice caps that hangs around the periphery of the island. Moreover, exploration has shown that as an entire, these remote glaciers and ice caps account for five to seven % of Greenland’s total ice coverage, but they are accountable for 20 % of its contribution to sea level rise. 

Moreover, another example of piedmont glaciers is the “Malaspina Glacier” in southeastern Alaska. A 65 kilometer long and 45-km wide, it is the largest piedmont glacier in the world. The glacier arises where several valley glaciers, primarily the Seward Glacier and Agassiz Glacier, spill out from the Saint Elias Mountains onto the coastal plain facing the Gulf of Alaska.