Sep 122009

Do you know that feeling, that whatever you do, it comes out wrong? Today’s images (actually images of Thursday) are such a case.

We visited Kraków‘s royal castle, the Wawel, saw the fantastic renaissance architecture of the castle’s big courtyard, saw the exhibitions, saw the cathedral, … and I made no single good image there.

OK, you are not allowed to take images inside castle or cathedral, but there was so much wonderful architecture there and … nothing. Not a single original image.

I am not sure what exactly causes this … block? No, it’s not a block, it’s maybe more that I feel these places have been photographed from every possible angle, there is not much chance to come up with anything original, at least not while on a short trip, certainly not within an hour or two. It’s a kind of resignation.

I don’t say that you can’t make good images there, but at least for me it would take more time and leisure than I can muster at such times. It would mean to go there, look, go away, sleep a night over it, come back, look again, and then I think I could find one or the other new and original view. Probably.

The other thing is, that on travels you are at the mercy of the weather and all kinds of external or self-imposed schedules. You make plans for visiting this and that, and when you get to the Wawel in brightest noon light and under a clear, blue sky, you have a pretty hard time to produce anything that does not look like the typical tourist picture. My image, the one of the cathedral, certainly does.

Being in such a place, you basically have the choice to hunt for moments when nobody stands between you and the monument (and the wider the lens, the less likely that will be), or to make images not about monuments, but about monuments and the people viewing these monuments. I mean, the way to go is pretty obvious: don’t avoid the people, use them. Make images of people and their interaction with monuments. Show them viewing, show them photographing.

Sometimes I try these things, but most often I do them when I am on home turf. Here, on vacation, more often than not I can’t help but act as a tourist myself. Plenty of room for improvement, I guess 🙂

All other images but one were taken in Kazimierz, the district formerly inhabited by a lively Jewish community, but of course that was before the Nazi barbarians made an end to it. Today you still feel a shadow of the past, and of course there are many Jewish tourists, but the Jewish infrastructure of today is only touristic.

The last image, this gentle landscape, is from outside of the city. We concluded the day with a short trip north, just to get some different views. I actually used one of my split neutral density filters to darken the sky, and although I managed to make the sky quite dramatic, I ended up cropping most of it away. Just like so often, a square made for better balance.

The Song of the Day is one more time “Past In Present” from Feist’s 2007 album “The Reminder”. Hear it on YouTube.

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