1063 – Past In Present II

 Sigma 28/1.8, Tokina 11-16/2.8  Comments Off on 1063 – Past In Present II
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.

Sep 092009

These are images of yesterday, our first day spent entirely in the center of Kraków. The Image of the Day features the cupola of the small church of sw. Wojciech (St. Adalbert), located in one corner of the vast central market square.

The chain looks gruesome, but it is no more than a simple chain, hanging in front on the Dominican Church. On the other hand, were the Dominicans not the order assigned with the duty of the Holy Inquisition? Maybe the chain is not so wrong after all.

The final image was taken when we sat in the patio of our hotel, drinking a glass of beer and enjoying the last rays of the sun.

For most of the images, and especially for the three shown here, I used the Sigma 28/1.8. A marvelous lens and clearly my current favorite as a “normal” lens.

I have made many, many more images, most of them much more characteristic of this city, but it’s the same old story: I tend to go into “documentation mode”.

Most images will help me remember the place. In fact, from many of my past journeys I remember almost nothing but the places where I have taken images, although those I remember well. Thus a yield of 3 out of 200 does not particularly worry me 🙂

The Song of the Day is “Thou Art Gone Up On High” from Handel’s “Messiah”. As always I recommend the 1990 recording conducted by Trevor Pinnock, though you can’t go wrong with John Eliot Gardiner or William Christie either. Hear it on YouTube.

Sep 062009

Kraków, Poland, just as promised. My Internet connection is great, the only problem is, that I forgot my computer mouse. Editing images with a touchpad is, well, interesting. I’ll get one tomorrow 🙂

We drove all day, everything went well, but we arrived when it was already dark. I was tired from the road and only went out for half an hour to make some images.

These bronze soldiers stand on the small square just in front of our hotel. I have no idea who they were. There is an inscription at the bottom of the monument, but of course it’s Polish. I’ll ask at the reception tomorrow.

The Song of the Day is “Celluloid Heroes” by The Kinks. I have it on disc two of “The Ultimate Collection”. See a live video on YouTube.