Photographic Process: I'm Only Happy When It Moves

Breidamerkursandur is the black sand beach near Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon. I'm brave to say it's one of the most incredible places to photograph that is furthermore easily accessible. It is the contrast between the volcanic black sand and crystal-clear to turquoise colors of icebergs that makes it feel otherworldly and extraordinary. In this post, you will find the detailed description of my photographic process - from content considerations all the way to the post-processing workflow.

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Darkroom Saga Continues

I have spent quite some time in darkroom during last few months. I have been printing photographs for our exhibition Marek and I will have in November this year here in Geneva. It has been quite interesting process full of surprises, positive and negative. Those negative were actually not so bad, since I was able to learn new things from them, and those positive they are always nice.

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Long Exposures with Phase One IQ250 (Part III)

I would definitely use a better weather when shooting Phase One IQ250. I only had couple of days on Isle of Harris with this chubby baby. Not enough. The very most of time spent either drying it or admiring its design. Or, testing the wi-fi connected to my iPad and Capture Pilot app. This is by the way a lovely feature.

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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 Harris with Phase One IQ250 (Part I)

I have been using Phase One backs since 2009 when I got lucky with a reasonable price on refurbished P30. Back then, I intended to get rid of the digital SLR that I carried as a back up for my film medium format camera so that I can entertain one system only. I ended up with Hasselblad H1, on which I could switch the Phase One with a film cassette. It is a very handy set up that contains one medium format body and three lenses only, but allows shooting film or digital as desired. With some alterations, I enjoy using it until now.

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Busy days

I have been quite busy with my work, which is why I have not been active much here recently. To be honest it was not only work, which kept me away from writing blogs and sharing photos. I also spent very nice time with my parents who came to visit us to Geneva. Regarding photography, I have been mainly thinking about my current and future projects and of course I have spent some time in darkroom. I have almost finished my next silver print offer for November. This time it takes me bit longer than I expected, since I have to do some spotting in the final picture, nothing major just few small dots, but I have to say spotting is art on its own and I have already wasted few prints.

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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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Developing Black and White Negative

Marek mentioned here that we spent a great week on Isle of Eigg attending workshop with well respected photographer Bruce Percy. I have never been to photography workshop before, so I had no idea what to expect, but somehow I took more rolls of film than I usually take for one week long trip. It was good decision since, I did manage to take 27 rolls of medium format film despite the fact that we went only to two locations during the entire week. Now is time to develop them, which might take approximately three weeks. In my previous post here I was describing how I do expose my black and white negatives, so now I would like to follow up and share how I do develop them. Before I begin, I want to emphasize the fact that I am describing here the way I work, which might not work for other more experienced darkroom masters. As I mentioned earlier I am exclusively using Kodak T-Max films.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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