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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Icelandic Experience Rewinded

I am having an interesting evening with Ypahh and my Iceland photographs tonight. The initial idea was to finally finalize my Iceland gallery on this website so that everything I consider worth showing from all 4 trips over there is presented at one place. I processed the very most of the stuff by now, but shortlisting the right work turns out to be more difficult endeavor than I initially thought.

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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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Isle of Eigg - The Perfect Hideaway

We are now about 10 miles off the Scottish west coast, on Isle of Eigg. Wikipedia says it's 9 km long and 5 km wide (which makes its total area of 31 square kilometers). Locals say there are about 100 people permanently living here. That means we have seen the most of them in the small harbour pub when we arrived. Bruce Percy is saying it is one of the most photogenic islands in Britain. We have not seen many of them but we both absultely trust Bruce and our own eyes.

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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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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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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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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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Photographing Northern Lights in Iceland

This past winter provided some excellent opportunity to get photographing northern lights in Iceland as we could have witnessed strong solar activity capable to produce fantastic performance of green dances up in the sky. We believed Landmannalaugar to be one of the best locations to shoot it. Deserted and wild, very remote and hard to visit. Actually the only way to get there, with a little bit of luck, is to hire a guide with a special truck and naval GPS as roads are invisible - covered by thick plates of snow and ice. We agreed with Stefan from Icelandic Mountain Guides to drive us there. One video is better than 1000 words, so check out below how beautifully it all looked like. And yes, many thanks to Dead Can Dance for their Frontier (Demo) that plays out there instead of our small talks, car sounds and winds.

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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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Lofoten Reminiscence - Rocks and Cabins

As it happens to happen every summer, I did not manage to do much photography related stuff over the last two months. Way too many things have been going on in my other lives that kept me very busy but eventually also let my eyes rest from looking at images, my mind from creating them and my legs from walking for getting them. So I guess I'm checking in fresh and with a long to-do list. To start with, I have been browsing through some older photographs from Lofoten made last winter. I got attracted by the below two that I thought the comparison might have been interesting. Both were shot from the bridge over the bay near Hamnoy, with the difference of few hours, couple of hundered meters and the media used (here, because I process digital files other way and time than film, I only now realized the two were created one after the other).

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Beach Graphics

I have been silent to this blog in the recent weeks. Too hot in my roof workroom, too much football (the most of it quite crapy though), too much happening in my non-photographic life that proved to be no less important than images. But now, it's time to catch up fast. It's raining in Prague now. Pleasing more than 20 degrees difference from how it was in Bratislava today - 41 Celsius when I sat into the car this afternoon. I went through some storm drama on the highway that somehow associated my thoughts with two things. One is the concert of Soley, one of endless musical talents from Iceland, whose concert in Prague was cancelled earlier this month (sadly) and I'm still left with the ticket (I will survive till the next one hopefully). So I'm playing her now while the soft rain kisses the terrace of my house on the background. It always amazes me how deep the music of many Icelandic artists I get to discover over time (and trust me, it's so many of them) connects with their landscape and its mood. Try this one while looking at photographs below, for instance. And be patient for a minute (or rewind :-)).

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Lesnicke Sedlo, the Place of Infinite Inspiration

I certainly do not remember when exactly my fondness for this place evolved, but for more than 20 years I have been taking there everything I loved at a time. It started with my bike when I was a teenager, followed by couple of girlfriends that qualified worth showing them around. I then drove my first car there to see how well it can handle the steep curved road that leads up there. In recent years, I have spent endless hours wandering round the place with all my cameras I owned so far. And finally, few weeks ago I brought my kids there to witness a joy in their eyes that would help me recall my first visit thus the beginning of my passion. 

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Where Water Falls From Heaven

It takes 500 kilometers to get from Reykjavik to the Lake Myvatn, which is about 6 hours of non-stop driving. It's actually a very interesting route for the most of time, passing through couple of mountain ridges and valleys with some spectacular views. We had dropped Ota at the airport on Friday morning and decided to drive over to Myvatn for the weekend, sort of fed up with the southern sceneries. The plan came out quite well despite the tight schedule - we aimed to stop at Godafoss for sunset shooting. One more hour of drive to Myvatn. We would definitely used some more time to explore the location but what actually helped was that we have been there before 2 years ago. Unlucky though then, leaving with few documentary shots only. I now happened to have a pretty good idea of what I wanted to do there. And that was to get off the official parking place to the other side of the river. The short walk to the waterfall allowed for a little bit of time to absorb the surroundings while the lighting that was turning to get quite dramatic and beautiful.

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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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From Dusk Till Dawn

This is the enriched re-draft of my older text that celebrated the passion for shooting when the sun stays below the horizon. As it largely influenced my approach to photography, I wanted to post it here and now as well. There are many forms of light but generally a “golden hour” is widely considered as the very best time to take photos. No matter how cliche-ish this sounds. Whoever (landscape photographer or not) gets to any attractive place on  Earth during the “golden hour”, which is something totally different from a common daylight must always be amazed. You just can’t escape, unless your feelings are as dull as a rock on the bottom of a lake. Lighting conditions that are unusual for our eyes change any subject matter to a previously unrecognized quality. The landscape is gaining some extra hues and the real feel of three-dimensional space thanks to a long trip the sun needs to take through the atmosphere and a low angle it is illuminating the ground.

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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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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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