The Komodo Islands of Indonesia are renowned for their biodiversity, stunning landscapes, exceptional diving and snorkeling, and of course their famous Komodo dragons, the world's largest lizards. Photography opportunities are seemingly limitless in this beautiful place, making it truly one of the photo wonders of the world.
Where: The Komodo Islands are an archipelago located off the western tip of Flores Island in Indonesia. You can fly into Labuan Bajo on Flores Island, and from there take a boat to visit the Komodo Islands. A multi-day boat tour is the best way to photograph the amazing diversity of the islands. Komodo National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site that protects several of the Komodo Islands, including Komodo Island, Rinca Island, and Padar Island.
When: The best time to visit the Komodo Islands is during the dry season, which typically extends from April to December. The wet season (January to March) brings lush green landscapes but also more rain and storms, and rough seas and canceled or altered tours are not uncommon.
Photography: To photograph the Komodo dragons, you'll need to visit Rinca or Komodo Island. Guided tours will take you to areas where you can photograph these massive beasts in their natural habitat. Komodo dragons can be very dangerous, so it's important to follow the instructions of the guides and park rangers to ensure your safety and the well-being of the animals. The dragons often stay still, making it easy to get portraits, but moving dragons are much more exciting to photograph.
There are also great opportunities for landscape photography. Plan a sunset or sunrise hike to the top of Padar Island to enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding scenery. This spot works at both sunset and sunrise, although sunrise will increase your chances of beating the crowds often found at this popular viewpoint. At sunset, you are shooting into the setting sun, while at sunrise, the light is at your back illuminating the mountains in front of you.
Plenty of other islands offer beautiful beaches and crystal-clear waters. In places outside the National Park boundaries, a drone can be used to capture compelling aerial perspectives. Many of the islands are surrounded by reefs covered by shallow, cyan water, making a colorful contrast to the green foliage on the islands and the dark blue of the surrounding seas.
Equipment notes: I used Tamron's 50-400mm lens on my Sony camera for my Komodo dragon images. This lens allowed me to quickly zoom in and out to perfectly frame dragons when they were both near and farther away. My fast Delkin Devices Black SD card ensured quick, reliable capture, so I never had to wait for my camera's buffer to clear even when firing off shots like a madman to capture a flicking dragon tongue.