I have been drawn to the mountains since my very young age. I admire their shapes, their magnitude and their strength. They have been here for millions of years, which makes me feel so little when I stay next to their giant rock walls. I do enjoy their quietness and some sort of slowness of time while I am there. I can find my own internal peace. However, it was not my interest in climbing or skiing which made me to go there at the first place. It was originally my passion for landscape photography, from which all my other interest slowly evolved.
Iceland left me spellbound when I first visited in 2009. I have been coming every year since, up until 2013. Don’t get me wrong here, my passion for the simple, moon-like design of its landscape has not faded at all. To me, it is somewhat less of a traditional landscape and more of a workspace that can be perfectly decomposed into shapes, structures, lines, patterns and tones. The reason I stopped returning was the enormous hype for photographing the country and its famous spots, apparently fuelled by spectacular images on every social media around. See the stats - in 2009, only 493,000 tourists visited the country. The number grew to almost 800,000 in 2013 and it has banged to over 2 million in 2017.
In Czech we say something about an apple, which does not fall far from the tree. In my case it is also little bit true, as my son has became interested in photography. In his case it is mainly for his Instagram feed, but I would say quite normal thing in his age. Thanks to that I had a chance to spend some nice time together with him hiking in the mountains last year, and that is something we both will remember. I gave him my old canon 5d mkII, and started to teach the basic of photography. However, I did not expect the side effect of all this. After a while I have started to be interested in colors again, and wanted to give it a try on my own.
In my photography, I have always been intrigued by different perspective. As an old school guy with fixed focal length lenses, I had no other choice but my feet to get it. And I liked it as it was the part of the process and it will stay like this - horizontally.
But. There is also a vertical direction to get the unusual sights. For years, I was ignoring it as drones were simply too large, too heavy and not portable enough. It was not the option until some time last year when I spotted the first Mavic Pro in one of the shops and I got immediately striked by its compact size when folded. The size of one middle range lens (198 x 83 x 83mm). Meaning that I could now carry my main kit and only replace one lens with the drone and put the controller to the pocket. I took it for a test drive to Baikal this Spring and I wrote some bits here and here. I wanted to do a more comprehensive review that has not happened eventually.
And now with Mavic 2 in my hands it makes a little sense to do it.
I wrote before a bit about my new toy that I took with me to Baikal this year - DJI Mavic Pro. I'm still flattered by the new possibilities it adds to my landscape photography practice. My photographic sessions became longer as I used the drone at all times when I finished shooting or when the light was too flat. What's the most amazing about it all is that you don't really need too much to start producing an interesting footage and imagery from the air.
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.
Today was certainly the coldest day I have ever experienced. My phone showed minus 29 when I was leaving the hotel at about 5am. And it did not get any warmer later. All my outdoor and photography equipment went through the ultimate test. And I’m happy to report that except for iPhone X losing the image transition signal when flying the drone, everything else including Phase One (that I was afraid it might have been built mainly for a studio shooting) worked flawlessly and reliably - it definitely exceeded my own operational longevity at such weather.
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...
I’m back from (South) Korea for a few days now, but postcards always arrive with delays. The business that feeds me brought me to Seoul and I could not miss the opportunity to see Korean nature and experience a bit of its culture. It has been a very short trip – 5 days of wandering through the country without any plan. Although usually I like to take a hippie approach and instantly react to opportunities, not having a plan proved to be a problem this time when it came to photographing. Together with the weather – even when I got to a nice place, there were no clouds, no colors and the blue skies only.
I purchased my first large format camera Ebony RSW 45 in 2011, and I have been using it with more or less success for my landscape photography since then. I even traveled with this camera to Iceland, to discover that it is not so difficult to use this cumbersome equipment in rather challenging weather conditions. I regularly take it with me to the mountains and also around the lake here in Geneva. At the end it is not so heavy, so I can carry it everywhere I want. However, to set up camera properly can be sometimes quite challenging. Especially when it is windy or cold, but it is getting easier with practice.
Col des Aravis is very nice and easily accessible area close to the mountain town La Clusaz in France (my favorite skiing resort). It is known for its countless outdoor possibilities from hiking to ski touring. To me it provides also interesting but in the same time challenging opportunity to pursue my photography. It is relatively small area with two dominate mountains on both side of the pass. When you arrive from La Clusaz, there is L’Etale on your right hand side. In my opinion, one of the most beautiful mountains in the chain of Aravis.
As a hobby photographer I cannot choose to go out when the conditions are perfect. I have to squeeze my photo adventures to couple of weekends a year. When I am not outside making pictures I do think about what kind pf photographs I would like to make next time, and I usually set high expectations for the next trip. But as I cannot choose the perfect moment I am heavily relaying on given weather conditions on one specific weekend.
Have you ever been frustrated and disappointed on your vacation? This is how I felt for a few days when we arrived to Olkhon this Saturday. The structures of the frozen lake are now covered by snow and there has been very little clouds until now. The warm and windless weather (around zero degrees at noon) transformed a wild and rough beast into a calm and gentle princess, ideal destination for traveling parents with their toddlers.
Not long ago, I have come across a striking and a thought provoking meditation by Guy Tal on why we photograph. I have been following and admiring Guy's work and story for many years. I mention the story on purpose as it chiefly exceeds his photography.
It is the whole process of creating photographs and not so much the photographs themselves that blows me away. As if anything in one's existence that is different from ordinary and that goes beyond bare necessities of life, it has a beneficial effect on all vital functions and human senses.
I have not been participating to many photo competitions last year, But when i saw invitation from Bergger (which is French manufacturer of black and white negatives and high quality photo papers) to submit photographs for their new baryta papers packaging, i decided to take my chance. I prepared three photos and send them just before the deadline expired without any hopes and expectations.
Fist public presentation of this latest project of mine is done, and after all I am very pleased with the feedback I received over the long weekend in Gex in October last year. As I do not have regular exhibitions it is always very special event for me. The closer itI become to opening ceremony, the doubtful I was. The voice in my head was constantly asking the unpleasant questions “how people will react to it?”, “will they understand?”, “will they find it interesting?” etc. These questions were permanently on my mind, as it is impossible to hide behind computer screen and internet anonymity during the exhibition. I have to face and talk to real people who give me immediate verdict about my work.
This place is so different from all I have experienced so far that it deserves every kind of engagement and one is actually unable to avoid it unless he / she lives there. I just feel I owe Baikal more than what I have done last year. Hence, I'm going there on March 11 for a week.
In case of interest, I would be very happy if any of you joined me. Seriously - I can help with the logistics and everything else. Just write me an email right now.
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.
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.