Dragon Rock and the Rest

One of the reasons I keep returning to Baikal is that you have plenty of photographically creative options even if you avoid local icons and typical views. Two years ago, I was so amazed with the frozen lake that I forgot about everything I pre-visualised having seen images of the iconic spots on internet. Now, with heavily increased tourist traffic, it became actually impossible to be alone in such place at the best time of a day. That is why I did not make a single image of Ogoy island or Shamanka viewpoint despite of 3 trips to Baikal.

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Lake Baikal Photo Gallery

I like to sit on images for some time after I come from trips, absorb them and work on them at a rather slow pace. I do so as I learnt over years that I need some emotional distance if I want to process more 'objectively', without panting of impressions from places. This time, it took even longer to finalise imagery from my two travels to Baikal. I think it is because I got disappointed on my second trip earlier this year, for a lot of snow on ice that destroyed all my plans...

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The Edge of Autumn

This very morning, I left Prague at 4am to go to Jested aiming to again weigh my Linhof camera in my hand after what was almost six months. Martin Rak made me a pleasant company so here we were, driving a steep little road that leads right on top of the hill. Extremely comfortable photography from a parking lot with 360 degrees views. I have never been there before hence I wondered and hoped for some good conditions. The weather is promising, actually amazing - we saw autumn leaves still on trees here and there, and rather warm colors in valleys while noticed snow on top of mountains. We pass fogged foothills and it is freezing healthy.

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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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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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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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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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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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Back from Iceland

It has been almost two weeks since I come back from trip to Iceland. As Marek showed is one of the previews posts Brief Report from Iceland we had experienced quite a lot of different weather events, such as very strong winds, snow storms, heavy rain and of course clear and cold nights during which we were extremely lucky and had a chance to witness the amazing Northern lights shows. Just before our trip started, the weather forecasts did not give us much hope to see the Northern lights, since very cloudy and stormy weather was expected for almost every day and night. So our expectations were very low.

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Northern Lights

I'm not a great believer in luck but we've spent some significant amount of time trying to collide with it. Except for exploring various spots and photographing for the most of our days here in Iceland, we have been checking out forecasts (weather and aurora forecasts) and moving around so that we maximized our chances to see northern lights.

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Brief Report From Iceland

We are both on Iceland now where we experience everything and more, but the good light. Sometimes, however, we get to see a northern light. Better said, we've had some northern lights once. In the middle of the island, in Landmannalaugar. Yesterday. Our hopes for the rest of our stay remains high though. These trips are really great for us to get together and spend some time together and over photography. There's hardly any better place to do this than moody and dark Iceland.

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Frozen Tree

Last week I mentioned my plans to do a first test of my large format camera system in extreme cold weather conditions, which are currently dominating to most parts of Europe. Last Sunday I went to Lake Geneva shore close to small town called Anthy-sur-Leman in France. I got there just before sunrise and thermometer in my car was showing -12 degree Celsius, which would not be that bad, if there was not strong cold wind blowing from North-East. These two factors combined together created real feel temperature well below -20 degree Celsius. As every landscape photographer can tell you it’s not so much fun to be out there if you feel cold, so to protect myself in those conditions I recently purchased special winter jacket from Sirjoseph and I have to say that it did exceed all my expectation. I did not feel the cold at all and I was able to easily wait for my long exposures to finish and in total I spent couple of hours outside without feeling cold.

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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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Matter of Luck?

I was not particularly blessed with a luck with lighting in my recent photographic trips and attempts. Actually, I had no luck whatsoever. To be factually correct, I would call it an absolute misfortune. Being a little more on an unsettled side as a person, I would have full right to talk about a huge frustration as I can't remember when I last time witnessed an epic landscape lit by a bold and spectacular light. This is what I was grown on and have been always looking for. I planned this autumn to be much more active than anytime before. And I really was, spending the most of recent weekends out exploring new places near my place, the old spots in High Tatras as well as my new linhof.

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Photo of the Week - August 28, 2011

This is probably my favorite photograph from both trips to Iceland. I took it last year in the northern part of Iceland in area called Krafla. There were definitely much more interesting subjects to photograph, but I was quite impressed with this view, where the last remaining snow splotches created a great contrast against green grass and dark cloudy sky. It was also one of my first experiences with medium format analog camera. I had had my Contax 645 for just few weeks before this trip. Unfortunately, I do still do not have a long lens, so I had to use standard 80 mm lens instead. I was little bit worried that the sky will be little bit to big for such small motive like that, so I decided to use long exposure, and was hoping that the moving clouds will get the very much needed third dimension to this relatively flat scene, and I was also hoping that the photograph would get the kind of feeling of “unstoppable time”.

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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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