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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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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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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Prix de la Photographie Paris 2013

I just come back from my family vacation in south of France, so that is why our blog has been bit quiet recently. Today I would like to share one great news. My series of photographs of Northern Lights in Black and White was awarded First Price in this year's Prix de la Photographie Paris 2013 in category Fine Art. You can see the winning photographs here or in our gallery section. I am currently working very hard in darkroom to get them all printed on baryta paper. This unexpected success is huge motivation for my future work.

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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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New Photo Gallery

As I promised here I just added selection of my black and white photographs of Northern Lights to our gallery section. At the end I have decided to include photos I took on film and also with digital camera. I want you to see the difference between these two types of media. As much as I love the traditional analog black and white photography I have to admit that the digital system can produce higher technical quality files than the film. But maybe it is too early to say that, since I still have not printed my negatives in darkroom and also it was just my first attempt in this field. As I said earlier there are still a lot of things which can be improved when I have a chance to photograph the northern lights next time. So maybe next year I will tell you exact opposite:)

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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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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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Back from Iceland

It is hard to believe that this year’s trip to Iceland is already over, but in the same time it is great to be back home with my family. Now it’s time to develop all negatives, scan them and do the necessary post processing. I can already see, it is going to be quite long process, but I will do my best to share new photographs as soon as possible.

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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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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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