Films Influences

Part of my influences in capturing landscapes comes from pop culture, essentially influences from blockbuster movies; some, which I grew up with and come to love about. In this post, i share some of the films and locations that inspired my interest in landscape photography.


Lord of the Rings Trilogy, The Hobbit

Based on J. R. R. Tolkien’s novel, the Lord of the Rings (LOTR) was one of the many movies I grew up, and came to love the stunning vistas and landscape with dramatic scenes of the war, which inspired many people including me, wanting to travel back to the Middle Earth. Essentially, it’s New Zealand.

The Hobbit brings us back to the Middle Earth as prequels leading to the LOTR trilogy. The Fellowship of the Ring first came out around the same time as the first Harry Potter film.

Filming Locations

MT NGAURUHOE – Also known as Mt Doom!

View From Mt Doom by Chloe Smith on

THE SHIRE – or the Hobbiton. Any true Lord of the Rings fan cannot come to New Zealand without visiting this iconic movie set.

Hobbiton night by Natanael Alfven on

MT SUNDAY – This stunning location in Canterbury is the backdrop for Edoras, the capital of Rohan. One can easily imagine where the Edoras set was on top of Mt Sunday.

Sunday, Mt. Sunday

MT GUNN – One of the stunning locations where the beacons were lit between Gondor and Rohan. This is definitely a standout moment in the films for New Zealand scenery.

Mt Gunn

The Tongariro Crossing  The rocky slopes and grassy tussock of Turoa in Ruapehu was the setting for Hidden Bay, the entrance to the Lonely Mountain in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Turoa is a popular ski field on Mt Ruapehu in the Tongariro National Park. The area is also known for its breathtaking cycling and hiking trails, including The Tongariro Crossing which is considered one of the best one-day walks in the world.

Pelorus River, Marlborough – Peter Jackson chose the Pelorus River to film the dwarves in barrels scene that appears in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Here, the dwarves were filmed floating in giant barrels down the river.

Lake Pukaki, Mount Cook  Stunning Lake Pukaki was chosen as the location for Laketown in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Glacial lakes feed into Lake Pukaki giving the water its vibrant blue colour. The lake is also a favourite fishing, walking and cycling spot, while the snowcapped Mt Cook overlooking the lake is busy with skiers during the winter months.

Braemar Station at Lake Pukaki was used in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey to portray epic scenic shots, the ‘Warg Chase’ and approach to Rivendell. The property was also used for the forest slopes of Misty Mountains.

The popularity of the entire film series were soo well received that New Zealand Air had incorporated it into part of its safety video which was a brilliant move.


Harry Potter Trilogy

Harry Potter was one of the many movies of my generation I came to love, not because of its narrative story or its fantastical visual effects, but it was the stunning locations of the wizarding world that won me over. The first movie came at the same time as LOTR. Its scenes were everything I dreamt about the Scotland, and coming to the UK.

Scenes & Locations

The Glenfinnan Viaduct – On its way to Hogwarts, in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002), the flying Ford Anglia lands on – what is in real life – the Glenfinnan Viaduct, on the West Highland line between Fort William and Mallaig in Scotland.

Oxford University – Oxford University’s famous Bodleian Library starred in 3 of the Harry Potter films. The medieval Duke Humfrey’s Library was used as the Hogwarts library and the elaborate fan-vaulted Divinity School became Hogwart’s infirmary.

King’s Cross Station – The Hogwarts Express departs from Platform 9¾ at King’s Cross Station, which of course doesnt really exist, but you can still locate the spot at the arched wall between Platforms 4 and 5. If that seems short on magic, head towards the entrance to Platforms 9, 10 and 11 on the west side of the station. There you’ll find a trolley disappearing into the magical realm through a wall marked ‘Platform 9¾’.

Leadenhall Market – The entrance to wizard’s pub the Leaky Cauldron is in real life an optician’s in Bull’s Head Passage, which you can find in Leadenhall Market in the City of London. Leadenhall is a superb example of a Victorian covered market with an ornate painted roof.
Piccadilly Circus – One of the most memorable scenes in the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows I where we see Harry, Hermione and Ron jumping out of the way to narrowly miss being hit by a London bus.

 James Bond, Skyfall

Skyfall is the 23rd James Bond film featuring Daniel Craig in his third performance as James Bond, and Javier Bardem as Raoul Silva, the film’s villain. It was directed by Sam Mendes. The story centres on Bond investigating an attack on MI6; the attack is part of a plot by former MI6 agent Raoul Silva to humiliate, discredit and kill M as revenge against her for betraying him.

Scenes & Locations

GLENCOE – Scenes from Skyfall were shot in Glen Coe as well as in nearby Glen Etive. Skyfall Lodge is a countryside mansion located in Glen Etive. The little bridge in front of Bond is the landmark. However, the lodge set was custom built for the film on Hankley Common near Elstead in Surrey, England. The land is owned by the British Ministry of Defence.

Hankley Common was also used in other James Bond films The World Is Not Enough and Die Another Day. The sets depicted a pier in the Caspian Sea where James Bond was attacked by a helicopter saw, a chase scene through the Korean Demilitarized Zone on hovercraft, and as the site of James Bond’s ancestral Scottish mansion respectively.

EILEAN DONAN CASTLE – Eilean Donan Castle (pictured) has an unforgettable cameo in The World is Not Enough when it serves as the Scottish headquarters of MI6. The film’s producers fully embraced the Scottish connection, with Q (Desmond Llewelyn) giving Bond (Pierce Brosnan) a demonstration of bagpipes that double as a machine gun.

VAUXHALL CROSS – Located at Central London, the SIS Building or MI6 Building at Vauxhall Cross houses the real-world headquarters of the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS, MI6).

Standing on top of the building that’s home to the Department for Energy and Climate Change, the view includes Big Ben and the Ministry of Defence, dotted with flags.



Prometheus was a 2012 science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott, a prequel to the brilliant Alien series. The project was shot using 3D cameras throughout, almost entirely on practical sets, and on location in England, Iceland, Spain, and Scotland.

Scenes & Locations

Image by Hugi Ásgeirsson

The opening scene is located at the Dettifoss Waterfall in Iceland. Just before getting to the waterfall, the camera flies you over the Krossá river, in Landmannalaugar.

Image by M’sieur rico

The Old Man of Storr in Scotland is the perfect setting for some archaeological discoveries.

Image by Asands

Image by Deltron3032

The sight of the steep mountains in Wadi Rum, Jordan, provides the background for a large part of the movie.




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