Scotland Gallery Updated

I added 18 images to my Scotland gallery today. And I deleted two that I do not like anymore.

Even though I am still sitting on plenty of unprocessed scans and raw files, you can now see a pretty much comprehensive collection of photographs that I made during my four trips to Scotland over the past few years.

The gallery might look somewhat "over-Eigged" I agree. But I must say that the Isle of Eigg was one of the greatest photographic experiences I have ever been through. One tiny beach, one beautiful island on the horizon, one week of returning to the same place of mickle moods and designs.

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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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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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Greetings from Isle of Harris

We are now sitting in a small bar in Tarbert, on the beautiful Isle of Harris for the second consecutive day. The good news is that it's just a few steps from the ferry terminal so it's likely we are not going to miss one when it goes. The bad one though is that no ferry to the mainland has been permitted due to the harsh winds over the past 48 hours. By now, we both have missed our flights to home and exhausted any topic that could have been talked (except for photography that is endless), including serious thoughts about settling down over here for good.

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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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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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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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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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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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Iceland - Work in Progress

I am still busy with processing my negatives from my trip to Iceland in winter 2012. I am done with scanning and I have started the selecting and adjusting process. Since I am not in a hurry, I do find useful to compare the new photographs with those I took during my two previous trips to Iceland in 2009 and 2010. I am quite amazed how much some of those places have changed and also how my personal photographic vision has changed over the years. The first obvious difference in my photography approach, is the total change of my equipment. Unlike the two previous visits, when I was using mostly digital camera (90 % of time), this time I was using almost exclusively Ebony 4x5 large format camera with black and white films and the digital camera was used only in a few situations as a back-up.

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Linhof Techno at the Equator

I have been married for 10 years. It was impossible to imagine back then but it actually got to this point much faster and easier than expected. What's even more intriguing is that my own wife has been married for 10 years, too! Happily, I have no doubt. So I thought these were two excellent reasons to leave kids behind and spend few days in Seychelles together. And one thing that I made sure not to leave behind had been my Linhof kit. La Digue, one of many islands belonging to Seychelles, looked like the perfect place for the trip that would combine lots of hideaway resting and a little bit of photography. In this scope and order, dear Mrs Potomova. :-)

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Canon 5D Mark III

This new camera from Canon has been rumored for many moths and finely on Friday, March 2, 2012 Canon launched this new generation of 5D series. I am not technical expert, so I do not want to write a technical review I will leave that for others, but since I own Canon 5D mark II I feel I can write about my own impressions and whether I am going to upgrade or not. So for those who do not want to read the full story, I can say right now that I am not going to upgrade and I will stick to my current camera until it keeps working. I am seriously very happy with it and most of the new features of mark III are not really important for my work. I believe that Canon is right in saying that they listened to the existing 5D mark II users and they tried to satisfy most of their needs. Internet was full of complains about the mark II autofocus and speed with only 3.9 fps. I am not expert on video functionality, but there were also few complains in that area, which Canon tried to solve trough firmware updates.

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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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Photo of the Week – August 7, 2011

Today was quite special day for me, since I went to a first photo workshop in my life. The topic was traditional black and white printing, and my tutor was one of the best printers in Geneva region, or maybe in whole Switzerland, Aurélien Garzarolli from Actinic studio here in Geneva. We started at 9 am with some introduction to silver gelatin black and white process and after a while I was learning how to use masking tools for dodging and burning    with some prints on RC paper. In the afternoon, when I got some confidence with using the masking tools, I had a chance to start with printing on baryta papers (Ilford Multigrade FB Warmtone). I do realize that I am still influence by this experience, but watching the photograph to slowly emerge on baryta paper is somehow special and when I saw the final photograph under normal light, with all the deep shadows, rich whites and smooth gradient in mid tones, I was very very impressed, despite the fact that my mentor was not so happy about my first print, but that was kind of expected:)

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Peace in Mind

I have been silent in recent days traveling (no photography) and recovering and traveling again. I returned today from Slovenia where I had some noble plans that did not come true because: a) the sun rose too early, b) I stayed up too long, c) I met too many friends, d) there were too many storms, e) my dearest daughter reminded good old forgotten Roald Dahl to me after no less than 20 years and I was too busy re-discovering his unbelievably comical stories. All of the above is a cause I carried some pointless cargo but at the same time I call all of it rest. It was really nice rest till Friday when whole my heart and all my thoughts went to Norway. I travelled there two times this year and fell in love with it. I consider Norway as one the most beautiful and peaceful countries I have been to. What happened is so sad and painful and no words have a power to express it. So I only browse through my images from Lofoten looking for one that is perhaps showing how tranquil the place was, is and always will be...

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