Baikal Reflections

I'm blown away.

By the Lake Baikal, by its immensity and liveliness; its subtletness and tranquility. You get it all - monumental vistas with shorelines, islands and rocks, and tiny little details sculpted in the ice under your feet. Loud cracks of the ice plates and absolute silence, occasionally broken by blasts of the freezy wind forcing tears in to your eyes.

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Photographic Process: From Snapshot To Snapshot

Iceland, widely known as the land of fire and ice, has recently became a buzz place that everybody and his brother with a camera visits. So here I was as well, with my bro Ota walking the picturesque and breathtaking black beach of Jokulsarlon. Just imagine - I could nourish my love for the outdoors only few meters from where we parked the car. We were experiencing the beauty of loads of magnificent icebergs, the greatest creations of the Mother Nature.

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Night Photography with Phase One IQ250 (Part II)

Do not get misled. I am not an expert in night photography. Not at all. There are plenty out there such as Ben Canales, just to name one. I have not taken more than a dozen night shots in my life. And at least ten of them with my iphone when drinking at a friend's stag night. Hence this is not a tutorial for shooting stars. Look at Alister Benn's articlesif you want to read a truly good one.

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Isle of Eigg - Blessed With Light

It was a pretty dull early morning there on Isle of Eigg, but we decided to go explore the place despite, as we just arrived. It took a few hundred meters to get from the lodge we slept in to the Bay of Laig, the beautiful sandy beach with the amazingly photogenic silhouette of Isle of Rum in view right on the horizon. We found the beach fully naked, with the lowest tide revealing lovely sandy mosaics and structures. They were constantly on the move, as small streams of the water played with the dark and light sands mixing them nicely together. Fascinated I walked carefully on the moving sand looking for some strong schemas for the foreground. The lighting looked awful (to no surprise for me - I'm used), but we have had the entire week for this place so I remained calm and actually enjoyed a lot that I don't need to be in a rush here whatsoever.

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Photographic Process: From Snapshot To Artwork

Okay, I'm perhaps exaggerating on both ends here but all I am trying to show in this post is my photographic process of getting from the first brief snapshot of subjects that grabbed my attention to the final image I am very satisfied with. I explain working with the composition and other considerations, out in the field. Ota and I attended the workshop with Bruce Percy couple of weeks ago. We spent couple of mornings and evenings photographing Bay of Laig on the Isle of Eigg. I packed my stuff and slowly headed for breakfast when I noticed interesting sand waves created by the low tide water. Also, some nice heavy clouds started to group above Rum on the horizon.

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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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Baltic Sea with Phase One IQ140

This past weekend I spent couple of interesting days in eastern part of Germany, by the Baltic Sea. I did not expect more than just locations scouting and (mainly) testing my Phase One IQ140 digital back. I've owned it for few months but did not have much time to find out what it can actually do. And I can say now it can deliver a lot, much more than the P30 I used before. I'm still waiting for my slide films to be processed but unlike anytime before, I don't need to wait to see them in order to publish a note as I'm happy with what I captured digitally. Or, perhaps, following the announcement on Velvia discontinuation, I should rather feel that way. I have not done any explicit tests but the bottom line is that, compared to P30, the Phase One IQ140 made a tremendous progress when it comes to colour rendition. It's been showing a character, a sense to capture much less instantly and eventually show what has really been happening out there in the atmosphere.

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The Ultimate End of Fuji Velvia?

At the end of July, the scary news from Fujifilm discontinuing Fuji Velvia flashed through various websites and blogs. I first saw it in British Journal of Photography. Although at this stage it more affects my future ambitions to move towards true large format as 'only' the production of Fuji Velvia 50 in 4x5 format is to be halted (and the full range of Fuji Velvia 100F that I would not connect to at all anyway), it really sounds like the beginning of the slow end of the legendary inverse material. Will it mean anything to me? Yes and no.

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Black and White Magazine

Few days ago I found out that my portfolio from Iceland won the Excellence Award in yearly portfolio contest organized by well respected Black and White Magazine in USA. I am really excited about it and it is just great motivation for my future work and development. So here are few photographs which were published in the Special issue at the end of May 2012.

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15 Treasures of Slovakia by Lightharmony

It's been more than a year since we finished our project 15 Treasures of Slovakia with the book printed. Six members of the Lightharmony camera club based in Slovakia photographed 15 places to convey beauties of our country to public and customers of a financial institution we have done the work for, in couple of exhibitions. We are now left with less than 10 prints of the book yet for sale. The texts in there are in both, Slovak and English. Interestingly written, by the way. Wikipedia was not used, they rather talk stories that are unique and unknown about the 15 different spots

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Iceland Calling

"The one who has seen the light has seen the true Iceland and will never lose sight of it again." Pall Asgeir Asgeirsson in the foreword to the book of Daniel Bergmann Iceland Landscapes. It was back in 2009  when I first travelled to Iceland, with two particular interests in mind. I looked for much simplified landscape from what I used to know in the Central Europe. And I hoped to photograph when the nordic sun stays shallow below the horizon and the bright nights still provide enough lighting to do so. But I found much more.

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The Essence of Selfoss

In a couple of weeks, we shall again depart north for our annual photography outing (i.e. no business, no family, no problems - just shooting). Though we initially planned Lofoten, for some reasons we ended up going to Iceland once more, this time in winter. So no wonder I go through my older work when planning the trip. I've posted some texts and images already here and some other, too. And a few more here and even Ota created a video. We simply love the place. I have many more photographs to share but one place was really special. Read on. (Summer 2010)... After having spent few miserable rainy days in the fishermens village near Landmannalaugar, we lost patience and decided to cross the island to try our chances in the north. The journey itself turned into much more adventurous event than what we expected, with rough rocky roads, deep and wild river crossings and endless lava fields to go through.

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Copyright Infringement in Landscape Photography?

Last week, the interesting ruling of a court in the UK came to my attention. Actually, it caused quite a lot of buzz within landscape photographers community in social as well as serious media. In a nutshell, and very simply put, the judge looked at the two images linked here and decided that the second photograph was a copy of the first one. Looking at it from the landscape photography perspective and with no further details (as many people shared the news this way), it's scary. Bloody scary (do I really need to know each and every photo made from a specific location to be on a safe side??). Here, even the compositions significantly differ (not to mention the ugly effect of partial desaturation that however, as I learnt later, might have had some 'artistic' intention to support sales of souvenirs but this is a different story). I got genuinely interested hence I read the copy of judge's justification.

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Souvenir from Iceland

Having started to plan my third visit to Iceland for March next year, I am closely watching news on signs of an increased seismic activity of Katla volcano with hopes nothing serious will happen that would stop us from going there. On the other hand, some 'peaceful drama' that would not hurt nothing can be of a desire. But of course, just to add sceneries to our trip rather than cause a massive disruption in air traffic as Eyjafjallajokull did last year. Well, I cannot influence anything hence staying tuned in case I will have to replace an airplane with a car. In the meantime, I look forward to photographing this wonderful place on Earth during winter. I also keep myself busy thinking whether to take my Linhof Techno kit to enjoy more and shoot less, or Hasselblad to be on a faster and safer side. The latter is winning by a nose right now because of my previous experience with the weather. It changes so quickly that I would face a huge risk with my Techno to become just a passive beholder rather than doing an action packed photography. It reminds me one of my most favorite image from my first trip to Iceland in 2009.

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