Feb 232012

This is actually the first photo I took in Wenceslas Square, but the third that I’ve published. Weird really, it wasn’t planned this way. As you’ve probably noticed I felt that this elongated square required symmetry. The cobble stones in the foreground of this image seemed perfect for this goal.

Wenceslas Square in Prague lit up at night with symetrical cobblestones in the foreground.

Feb 222012

This is the entrance to the Old Town of Prague. It’s called the Powder Gate because this is where gunpowder was once stored. This intersection may be one of the worst designed in the world. There’s three one-way roads filing into one single lane, and from what I could see no one has the right of way.

Wenceslas Square in Prague, entrance to the Old Town, lit up at night with traffic.

Feb 172012

One of the many shots I’ve taken of the Vitus Cathedral, Prague Castle, and Charles Bridge. It’s pretty difficult to pull yourself away from shooting these three structures the whole time you’re in Prague. I was just constantly finding new angles on them.

Panoramic view of Vitus Cathedral, Prague Castle, and Charles Bridge in Prague from across the Charles River.

Feb 132012

While wandering around Prague I was trying to take photos that didn’t conform with every postcard hanging in the shops. It’s pretty difficult not focusing on exclusively photographing the landmarks here. There’s lots of them and they’re everywhere. So, I was pretty pleased when I looked over the edge of the Charles Bridge and spotted this scene. The bridge was crowded with street vendors and tourists bustling by. Then, over the edge it was just peaceful. As I set up I noticed that every now and again someone would stroll through. So, I waited until someone got right into the spot I was looking for. It was a surprisingly short wait.

This is a combination of seven exposures from -3 to +3. It was important to use this wide range of exposures because, as you can see, I was shooting directly into the sun. This photo is a good illustration of the capabilities of HDR photography. Typically, shooting into the sun is considered a no-no and with the limited light range of my camera’s sensor I’d really only be able to capture a silhouette of everything lined up in front of the sun. By combining multiple exposures the details in the trees’ bark have been captured along with the camouflage jacket the man is wearing. These are all details I was able to see while I was there.

Man taking a peaceful evening stroll along the Vltava River in Prague with the bright sun reflecting off the water and creating shadows of the trees on the buildings.

Feb 112012

The East end of Charles Bridge, taken at night. I used a long exposure, by attaching my ND-4 filter, in order to erase the people walking to and fro. The last time I was there a friend of mine took a photo on the bank just to the left of this tower, looking across towards the castle with the bridge and it’s statues in the left of the frame. I really wanted to get down there to do the same. Unfortunately, that area was closed for construction.


The east end of Charles Bridge, Prague taken at night.

Feb 042012

…at least that’s what I’m calling it. This is a detail shot of the door, and mosaic, beneath the astronomical clock on the Old Town Hall of Prague. This was taken at the same time as the picture in the above link, shortly after I’d discovered that the clock did not spring to life at this time of day. That is probably what the old street sweeper was trying to tell me as he watched me move my camera about in the middle of the road. The twelve apostles, which parade hourly when it’s running, did not appear. However, being there early did mean that, prior to  the sound of Death noting the hour by chiming a single bell, I could hear the mechanisms through the stone wall working away. The clicking and whirring of gears spinning bred anticipation. I thought wow, this is going to be a much better show than the last time I saw it. That time I was surrounded by tourists and paying for overpriced water in a cafe to secure a view. I wasn’t too disappointed at the lack of action though. At least I got to hear something I hadn’t noticed the first time there.

This photo actually took a surprising amount of work. I even converted it to black and white to try to make it look a bit more interesting. In the end I realized that the bricks were an over-saturated orange color, which distracted from the door and cobblestones. Once that was toned back to a more natural level, I was happy with the result.

Oh, and England managed to beat Scotland in the 6 Nations today, despite a pretty poor performance. I’m happy with that result too.

Detail shot of the door, and mosaic, beneath the astronomical clock on the Old Town Hall of Prague.

Jan 312012

On my last night in Prague, nearing the end of my five-hour stroll,  I decided to make my way to Charles Bridge from the Old Town Square. I didn’t want to take the same route I had in the past and took off in what I was sure was the general direction of the river. Luckily, I was right. On the way there, I stumbled across this building and a very busy intersection in front of it. At the time I had no idea what the building was, but decided I definitely had to stop and take a photo. As I stood there shielding my camera from all the foot traffic, it was situated about a foot off the ground, the van driving politician cruised through with his music still blaring.

Since getting back home, Google Maps has informed me that this is the Czech Philharmonic at Rudolfinum, which I think is a great name for a building.

Czech Philharmonic at Rudolfinum in Prague at night with lights and cobblestones.

Jan 282012

I set out early in the morning to get some photos of Prague’s main tourist sites, the Old Town Square and the Charles Bridge, without hordes of tourists blocking my view. There’s a few ways to create images without people in them. Of course, the best is to take an image when there’s no-one there. Another method is to set a long shutter speed so that any people moving through the scene will not register in the final image. This requires two things. Firstly, the people crossing through the frame need to keep moving enough that you won’t end up with a ghosted image of them. Secondly, you either need low enough light levels or a dark enough filter to use a long enough exposure.

Neither of the above methods worked for me in taking this picture. I was there early, but not early enough. On top of this people like to stop on Charles Bridge and I didn’t have a dark enough ND filter to really extend my shutter speeds to block them out. As a result I set about working on a post processing technique. I took a bunch of pictures so that I could blend them together and end up with a people-free Charles Bridge. Then, this little girl walking with her parents suddenly took off running and stopped at this little plaque. I decided this made for a nice image and decided to keep her in the photo. Once I got home I decided I’d actually have liked to show the various stages of her approach. Unfortunately, I hadn’t taken enough images to make this work. I’ve seen an intriguing e-book called “Photographing the Fourth Dimension – Time” . It’s available at Flatbooks which is run by Trey Ratcliffe of Stuck In Customs. The photographers he works with in producing these books are always interesting and informative. I’m planning on buying this book and giving it a read as the concept sounds intriguing to me. Also, the next time someone starts moving through  a scene in an interesting way I’ll make sure I keep the shutter firing.

Charles Bridge with statues and little girl and view of Old Town, Prague.

Jan 262012

For some reason I’ve gotten stuck on producing panoramas. Tomorrow night I am going to ensure that I process a photo that isn’t a panorama!

This is a picture of Wenceslas Square. It’s an odd square as it’s actually a skinny rectangle. As you can see it’s more like a wide boulevard with a divider down the middle. It was originally the city’s horse market. Also, while there I was informed that it was also the location of the fall of communism following student protests.

It’s funny how you can try to imagine how your picture of a place is going to look prior to getting there. I did just that with this location. I had this image of light trails from traffic rounding various bends and going off in different directions. When I arrived this isn’t quite what I found. In fact the first thing I discovered was what I’m sure was a politician stood atop a van with a megaphone. He was yelling excitedly at the crowd of 30 or so onlookers that had gathered. I encountered him numerous times throughout the night. However, on each of those occasions he’d given up on speaking and was just driving around blasting out classical music at an ear-splitting volume – fantastic from a distance, horrible up close. It certainly set a great mood when he cruised through the Old Town Square though.

Wenceslas Square in Prague lit up at night with light trails from traffic rounding the bend.