Empty (Landscapes)

I took it very light with my blog (and imagery) lately. Partially because it’s low season for my kind of photography. And, the summer is definitely not my favorite part of the year in general. The sun rises way too early and it is moving way too fast for my Linhof (and my age) to catch up. Also, it’s been extremely hot over here in Prague so my basement workroom provided for a good (cold) place to sleep rather than servicing its usual duty as a landscape photography meditation center. Another reason behind the silence is my ‘civil’ life. Too many changes have been occurring around here; I’ve gone through one of the busiest period in my daily work that included lots of travel. I could not refrain from watching the political turmoil in Czech, which by the way is one of the weirdest thing I have seen ever since I remember following the scene – one of the cleanest prime ministers they (we) ever had got naively swept by his own efforts to make the politics less corrupted... What a world we live in.

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Prix de la Photographie Paris 2013

I just come back from my family vacation in south of France, so that is why our blog has been bit quiet recently. Today I would like to share one great news. My series of photographs of Northern Lights in Black and White was awarded First Price in this year's Prix de la Photographie Paris 2013 in category Fine Art. You can see the winning photographs here or in our gallery section. I am currently working very hard in darkroom to get them all printed on baryta paper. This unexpected success is huge motivation for my future work.

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New Photographs From Lake Geneva Added

Today just very briefly. The weather has been extremely hot here during last few days, so I am not able to write anything interesting nor meaningful. Therefore I just want to let you know, that I added few new black and white photographs from Lake Geneva area to our gallery section here. Lac Leman has been my ongoing project for several years and I am now getting to know the lake little bit more. I have discovered few new places recently, which I would like to revisit, when the conditions get ready. Summer time is usually very busy around the lake, so I will wait until late September, when holiday season is over, and I will be able to enjoy again those very special quiet mornings, which I like so much. My plans for summer are quite simple, I would like to spent as much time as possible in darkroom and also to do some mountain hiking. I hope you enjoy those new photographs and survive this heat wave:)  

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Exposing Negative

I wrote about my darkroom experience here, but later on I thought I should also write bit more about individual stages of my analog workflow. Therefore in this post I would like to focus on exposure and film development, since both are very important for future work in darkroom or in Photoshop. I am aware that internet is full of similar post and tutorials, so please take this as my individual approach, which is not the only one possible, but rather the one which works oaky for me. There are plenty of more experienced photographers, which I believe might have different opinion:)

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Darkroom Experience

It is very obvious that I have been through significant transitions over the last few years. From color to black and white, from digital to analog and from fast to slow process. I cannot really say what was the trigger for me to undergo such changes, but I already know, that I am getting more enjoyment form my photography than any other time before. There are also moments of high frustration, when things are not coming out right, but still the level of satisfaction when you get one good print out of developer is extremely high.

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Iceland - Winter Landscape Photography Paradise

I truly believe Iceland is the winter landscape photography paradise. Over the past few years, it has become one of the must-go spots for plenty of landscape photographers. For many good reasons that are often discussed on this website and all over the place. What I loved the most during my first two summer visits was the excellent quality of light and angles of sun that allowed to photograph through the (entire) night. I did not mind the community crowd - not too many shot film overnight, their results inspired me and, especially during the second trip, we went quite off the beaten track...

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New Photo Gallery

As I promised here I just added selection of my black and white photographs of Northern Lights to our gallery section. At the end I have decided to include photos I took on film and also with digital camera. I want you to see the difference between these two types of media. As much as I love the traditional analog black and white photography I have to admit that the digital system can produce higher technical quality files than the film. But maybe it is too early to say that, since I still have not printed my negatives in darkroom and also it was just my first attempt in this field. As I said earlier there are still a lot of things which can be improved when I have a chance to photograph the northern lights next time. So maybe next year I will tell you exact opposite:)

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Northern Lights in Black and White

Seeing Northern Lights is very exceptional and amazing experience. I hope that I never forget the feeling I had after the first magical show I saw last winter in Landmanalaugar. The explosion of colors and shapes was unbelievable and definitely not from this world. On the other hand, from pure photographer’s perspective it is not easy to capture those special moments. That time I really did not handle it well from technical perspective. For example I was using only ISO 800, but I could have used even higher and get much shorter times, without blurry stars, and there were many other little things I should have done differently. With this experience I was getting ready for this year’s trip. I tested my Canon 5D mark II and I was sure that I can use up to ISO 1600 without any obvious quality deterioration, that I can use the lowest aperture on my 17-40 lens and I really have to pay attention to focus properly, manual focusing recommended.

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Norway Photo Gallery

I just added new images to our Norway photo gallery. It is always interesting to look back to your photographic journal to see a progress (?) or downfall (?) in your image making development path. This time, I feel attracted again by the place I initially went to to shoot northern light, with some hopes for something else interesting should we end up at a right place. From all I have been shooting so far, Lofoten differ by being quite populous yet able to keep not only signs but rather whole features of wilderness at the same time. Returning back to my transparencies and digital files nowadays, after two years, I can see an interesting shift in the way I value final photographs from the place. I can now see and appreciate much more the intimate moods and colors in my work that I brought from there than anytime before.

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Transform Your Scenes with Lee Big Stopper

For few of you who might not know, Lee Big Stopper is 10 stop neutral density filter that reduces the amount of light passing through your lens hence allowing significantly slower shutter speeds than what we all are used to under normal circumstances. Couple of years ago, I started series of images that I call 'Landscape in Motion' using Singh-Ray Vari ND filter. I was particularly inspired by Daryl Benson's breathtaking image of moving branches of the tree colored by the fall palette. Soon I learnt that Singh-Ray would not suffice for manually controlled film camera for its lousy calibration but that's a different story. I swapped for my beloved Lee Big Stopper some 3 years ago. Ever since I have been playing with it occasionally, building on my old series of landscapes in motion. The main reason I like Lee Big Stopper so much is that it fits my feelings for simple compositions, it adds to it via removing the texture from scenes with large uniform areas.

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Black and White Photo Gallery

As Marek mentioned here we have decided to share more of our photographs with you. I would like to start with selection of my black and white photographs from Lake Geneva area, since it is my main ongoing photo project. I have been working on this project for few years with intention to discover capture the specific mood of the lake. For that purpose I am frequently visiting more or less hidden ports and beaches. I have been avoiding photographing the main lake’s icons for some time, but everything can change this spring, when I feel finely ready capturing those places and hopping to find a little bit different and inventive way. The whole project is designed to be in black and white and approximately since 2011 I am using exclusively the traditional black and white films, mainly Kodak T-Max, to achieve my goals. I do not have any strong reason for it, it is just personal preference, since I feel that black and white film together with silver gelatin print can produce excellent photograph with very specific and unique mood respective for the place.

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Adding Photo Gallery

It took us considerable amount of time but I am finally happy to announce that we added photo gallery to our website. I believe it will be interesting and nice for our visitors to find all images that we decide to publish at one place. There are two parts of our collection there - Black & White is the selection of Ota's work, Land & Colors represents color portfolio of mine. I decided to organize it by country, at least until I get some of my projects finished so that I will be able to present photographs under some other headline.

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Back from Iceland

It is hard to believe that this year’s trip to Iceland is already over, but in the same time it is great to be back home with my family. Now it’s time to develop all negatives, scan them and do the necessary post processing. I can already see, it is going to be quite long process, but I will do my best to share new photographs as soon as possible.

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Icelandic Diary

We are getting a bit frustrated with the weather. This morning, it required a strong character and a big heart of photographer to get out. The wind blew by the friendly speed of 61 km/h, the snow drifted through the road in an uncontrollable manner. Driving was an adrenaline adventure due to zero visibility, photography impossible for the same reasons. After few minutes, we turned the car back. I managed to take the photo of the day, it seems, with my iPhone right after we parked it by the hotel. I tried the same pre-dawn scene on Velvia, hoping to achieve the blue / yellow contrast and eventually to capture some of the mood out there but not too convinced the tripod withstood the wind.

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Back to Iceland

Here we are again, sitting in the cosy little hotel by Myvatn lake in Iceland. Waiting for the heavy storm snow to pass by. The strong gale plays some nice bass vibes behind the lobby windows. We are wasting our photography time now, but in big hopes for brighter future (days). Good that they have a good beer as this is how it looks outside right now:

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Latest Thoughts

I know that I have been talking about the photo festival in Gex quite a lot already. But I would like to share one more thought, or I should rather say the result of my presence there. The really great thing about the festival was the opportunity to talk to other photographers and visitors. I was very much surprised how all the attending photographers were willing to talk about their work, share their experiences and ideas. It was really special.

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Twenty Four Trees and More

Near Rostock, that day I have been looking for a perfect shoreline that I could spend a good time with, but I happened to discover an amazing forest to photograph instead. I walked through it, stubbornly hoping that the coastal views my map would suggest are going to be worth it. Only at the cliff, enjoying the visual range of few kilometers, I found out that it looked the same way as those I shot this morning, previous evening, previous morning, pre-previous evening... Turning back though, this is what I saw:

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Photographs with words

As I mentioned here I have quite decent collection of book about photography. One book, which I like quite a lot is Michael Kenna’s “Love in Black and White”. This books combines amazing Kenna’s photographs with very special poems written by Bianca Rossini. I have always found this combination of the photographs and words as the “ultimate” form of art, and I was dreaming how nice it would be to have a chance to accompany my own photographs with some meaningful words. The problem is that I not very good with words and to write a poem would be definitely a huge disaster. Therefore I was very please, when I got email from Joshua Sellers asking me for approval to use my photograph “Between” with his own translation of passage from Marcus Aurelius. You can see the result here. I think it is very nice and I really like it. So maybe I should start little projects and try to found more meaningful words for my photographs. I am convinced it would be very rewording process and the results might be worth of the extra work.

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Photo Exhibition

As mentioned here, Land and Colors was participating in one of the biggest photography events in Geneva area called “Confrontations Gessiennes de la Photographie”. We were invited to show our photo series “Iceland: One Place Two Visions” and few extra photographs. Together we presented 35 color and black and white prints, which can now be seen and purchased from Shop section on our website.

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