minsk, belarus | no passport, no password!

No passport? No password! That's the sentence which resonated the most during my trip to Minsk in Belarus. When I stopped by for a lunch in the local restaurant in the downtown of Minsk and asked the waiter for wifi password, she asked me to see my passport. After my perplexed expression, she added: "It's the new law. So no passport? No password!" Wow, that really took me back and just confirmed general observation that Belarus government (aka czar Alexander Lukashenko) takes the protection of the nation (and especially censorship of those pesky foreign visitors ;) really seriously.
Visiting Belarus was for me like a time machine trip going 25 years back to communism. Only cars were more modern and everybody have mobile phone. But otherwise... Police with huge flat hats everywhere controlling everything. Just in case. City primarily of big blocks of flats, even the "downtown" was only modern version of those blocks. And most of all - people were not smiling. Not a bit. Just looking very seriously, in front of them and being - well - expression-less. I am sure that after knowing them closer and spending a time with them they would become friendlier and they would open up (as some of those I have spent a time together did). But overall... pretty depressing state of mind.

And this is it. The most desirable object worth to visit in Minsk. I have asked about 5 people independently, what is worth to visit in Minsk and everybody mentioned as must-see National Library. Usually people send me to see their city's castle, church, river bank, red-district or tower. 
But hey, nothing against the National Library, except I was expecting some old historical building, which upon arrival happen to be another big block of concrete. OK, shape is interesting and it has cool lightning in the evening, but inside you can visit only the entry hall and the roof terrace (see shot below). I haven't seen one book, which I was really looking forward to it! Only catalogs - see here. Everything is securely and safely deposited above...

This one I couldn't resist. Did you noticed a "gentleman"? ;)

And oh yes, election were just behind the corner. Volunteers like these below were everywhere.
I understood they were explaining other citizens advantages of staying with Bathuska Sasha Alexander, to make sure that "Belarus will have independent future". Unfortunately, all of them completely ignored my initiatives to have a conversation about Belarus and Alexander. Just turning around and completely disengaging... Pity, maybe they would convinced me too... Like other 80+ percents who voted for Alexander later on.

Oh yes, as I said, complete flashback... Throw back Thursday. Where on Earth you can still find old Soviet Union flag being proudly flapping in the wind on the top of the government owned building? Seriously... This flag disappeared about 25 years ago and even in Russia you can't find it being placed on official buildings.

Belarus has quite turbulent history with borders being redrawn many times and they were part of different other countries. Being the area between Poland and Russia it is not so surprising and no wonder Alexander is playing with "independence card" in his election campaign. Within 100 or so years Minsk was part of Poland (department of Minsk Guberniya), then Soviet Union and now they are independent state. History become so obvious and readable when I've visited old cemetery (which I always love visiting in new places!). Within few meters you can see thumb stones written in Polish and then in Russian, some of them in Belorussian.
BTW, Belarus has their own language. But official languages are two, with Russian of course. It wasn't surprise to me, that everybody speaks and understands Russian, but it was a bit of surprise to find out, that Belorussian language is close to be extinct, youth not understanding it, in school it is not mandatory and government really is not making a lot of effort to prioritize Belorussian over Russian - I would say other way around. Completely different to Ukrainian approach...  

And then I also visited this small "airplane museum" next to the international airport.
Pictures are here.

giverdy | burgundy | france

Me, myself and I. Roaming and relaxing with camera and just enjoying photogenic landscape in the central France, in Burgundy. Name of the tiny village is Giverdy and it is the end of the world as you can imagine it from the romantic movies about french countryside... Rolling hills with tractor tracks, lonely trees and sky full of contrasty clouds. What else do you need? Oh yeah, how about some sunset which can highlight the scenery? Of course, just wait a moment.
This is what I call relax. Two hours on my own. And with a bit of delay, here's the return to the beginning of the wonderful summer of 2016.
PS: Big thanks to family Vernillat for letting me to enter their property. Hills behind your farm are so nice, did you know? :)

Iba ja sám s foťákom, to mám rád. Túlať sa, relaxovať a užívať si fotogenickú krajinku v strede Francúzska, v Burgundsku. Maličká dedinka sa volá Giverdy a presne takto som si vždy predstavoval koniec sveta, keď som ho videl v nejakom romantickom filme z francúzskeho vidieka. Vlnité kopce s pásmi po traktoroch, osamelé stromy a obloha plná krásne nadýchaných oblakov. Čo viac človek potrebuje? Aha, veď áno, čo takto nejaký ten krásny gýčový západ slnka, ktorý zvýrazní celú krajinku? Samozrejme, žiaden problém, stačí iba chvíľku počkať...
Tak toto ja nazývam relaxom. Dve hodinky iba pre mňa. A s menším omeškaním návrat na začiatok skvelého leta roku 2016.
PS: Veľké poďakovanie rodine Vernillat za to, že ma vpustila na ich pozemok. Viete o tom, že tie kopce za vašou farmou sú tak nádherné? ;)

Beauty of the early morning

As a travel photographer (which means being a photographer who travels a lot) I am privileged to take pictures in the beautiful parts of the world. I am also lucky to have an opportunity to meet great people and help them to become better photographers. And that was again a case last Sunday when we had early morning "Photo Walkie-Talkie" next to Lac Leman. Early alarm was so worth it and we all were rewarded with a spectacular sunrise with all the colors and clouds to make it pop! As often is the case, light show lasted for about 15 minutes, but during that time... Oh my, I have heard a lot of woooows and yeaaahs. Thank you Mariel, Mariana, Tony, Kylie, Lina and Polly!
PS: And as a side bonus - I could get picture for this theme of project 52, which is: Magic of the early morning! :)

Mám to šťastie byť fotografom, ktorý veľa cestuje a to mi dáva nádhernú príležitosť stretávať skvelých ľudí, ktorých baví fotografovanie a ja im môžem pomáhať aby sa stali lepšími fotografmi. A presne takto sme sa stretli minulú nedeľu na jednej z mojich "Photo Walkie-Talkie" vedľa jazera Lac Leman. Budík nastavený na skorú rannú hodinu stál za to a boli sme všetci odmenení úžasným východom slnka so všetkými tými nádhernými farbami a mrakmi, ktoré to zvýraznili! Ako to v takýchto prípadoch býva, svetelná show trvala asi 15 minút, ale počas tej doby... Čéče, počul som veľa jééééj a waaaauw. Ďakujem vám Mariel, Mariana, Tony, Kylie, Lina and Polly!
PS: A ako bonus mám fotky do tohtotýždňovej témy Projektu 52 - Kúzlo skorého rána! ;)

And some behind the scenes of course ;) / A samozrejme zopár záberov "spoza scény"...

prague in black and white

It is not a big surprise, that I am colorful guy. Starting with my colorful socks through the way I am seeing things and objects around me. Colors are catching my eyes and I am pointing my camera immediately. I've learnt to photograph this way. So it is quite rarely for me to to think in black and white while shooting already. But the photo below was the case! I was ending up my morning walk in Prague and was ready to call a day as sun was getting too high. And I knew I would get to this specific point later on, during sunset to get more colors (like here). But those lines of safety barrier on Vltava river got my attention, they were perfectly leading my eye into the image and towards the main subject, which is Prague's castle here of course. And I knew, that those lines will look amazing in black and white, because their contrast will be cleaner and more dominant. At the end of the day, with sun so high, they weren't at all so attractive.
And I was right! They look pretty good to me in black and white. What you think?
PS: And you know what is also interesting about this photo? It took me 5 years to post it! It was originally shot in 2011 (!) and it would get lost in my archive. But I was cleaning folders and I have rejoined with this image happily again. So what's the moral story here? Do the cleaning, you'll never know what you will re-discover again :)

Určite pre vás nie je prekvapením, že som na farby. Počnúc mojimi strakatými ponožkami až po spôsob ako sa pozerám na veci okolo mňa. Farby ma priťahujú a hneď na ne mierim fotoaparátom. Takto som sa naučil aj fotiť. Takže je pre mňa pomerne nezvyčajné myslieť v čierno-bielej už pri fotení. Ale fotka vyššie je povestnou výnimkou potvrdzujúcou pravidlo.  Končil som rannú foto prechádzku po Prahe a už som sa zberal to zabaliť, keďže slnko už bolo riadne vysoko. A vedel som, že sa na toto miesto vrátim podvečer, lebo pri západe dostanem krajšie farby (ako napríklad tu). Ale tie línie ochrannej bariéry na Vltave ma zaujali, lebo skvelo viedli moje oko do záberu a namierili ma priamo na hlavnú postavu tohto záberu, ktorým je samozrejme pražský hrad. Bolo mi teda jasné, že tie línie budú vyzerať úžasne v čierno-bielej, lebo ich kontrast bude výraznejší. Koniec koncov, so slnkom tak vysoko neyzerali až tak atraktívne.
No a mal som pravdu! Podľa mňa naozaj vyzerajú skvelo v čiernobielej, čo poviete?

PS: Jedna perlička o tomto zábere. Trvalo mi 5 rokov, kým som ju zverejnil! Bola pôvodne nafotená v roku 2011 (!) a už sa skoro stratila v mojom archíve. Ale keďže som čistil adresáre, tak som sa s radosťou zvítal so "strateným" záberom. Aké z toho plynie poučenie? Upratujte si v počítači, nikdy neviete, načo narazíte! ;)

What to do with colors?

Naše deti sú už tiež fotograficky nakazené! Pred pár dňami sa naša dcéra hrala s guličkovou hrou Marble Run (príklad tu) a pribehla s pestrofarebnou trúbkou a navrhla mi: "Tatik, že je toto tak krásne farebné? Myslím, že by sme to mali odfotiť!". A tak sa aj stalo. Vďaka veľkej pomoci oboch detvákov a taktiež vďaka Nikkor Macro 105mm objektívu sme nafotili tieto krásne farby!
Keď sa fotia makro zábery, tak hĺbka ostrosti (teda vysoké f/číslo) je kritická a preto často je rýchlosť uzávierky rátaná v skeundách. To ale pri fotení v interiéri nie je žiaden problém. No a keďže som bol lenivý ísť si po statív do auta, tak som použil aj ďalšie hračky, aby som stabilizoval fotoaparát a farebný objekt - viď nižšie...
Díky decká! Ostaňte aj naďalej tak farebne pozitívne! ;)
PS: Ak vás zaujíma fotenie "riadne zblízka" a čo všetko obnáša fotenie v makrosvete, tak sa v novembri/listopadu pridajte ku mne do kurzu "Naučte se fotografovat detail kretivně" (viď link). Všetko vám to aj s Bryanom priblížime!

Nikon D800, Nikkor 105mm Macro, f/29, 15 sec, ISO 125

Our kids are also photography positive! Few days ago our daughter was playing with Marble Run game (see here) and she came keeping the colorful tube saying: "Daddy, isn't that so nicely colorful? I think we should photograph it!" So we did. With a big help of kids and also thanks to Nikkor Macro 105mm we got such a nice colors! When shooting macro, depth of field (aka high f/number) is critical, so the shutter speed is often counted in seconds. And that is not an issue when shooting indoor. As I was lazy to bring the tripod from a car, I have utilized other kids' toys to stabilize my colorful subject and the camera - see below... 
Thank you kidos! Stay colorful positive! ;)

Flash to highlight the action

S Monikou sme mali skvelé fotenie s nádhernou modelkou Sárou. Je to budúca profesionálna športová gymnastka a/alebo modelka. Monika jej samozrejme nafotila svoje krásne portréty (ako napríklad tu), ale ja som hneď vedel, že chcem vyskúšať niečo iné. To že som mal k dispozíciu skvelo a plynulo skákajúcu gymnastku a zatiahnutú oblohu bolo jasným signálom na to, aby som vytiahol svoj externý blesk! A voilá! Kombinácia svetla z okolia (ktoré som podexponoval aby som získal dramatickú oblohu) spolu so svetlom z môjho prenosného slniečka - teda blesku Nikon SB-900 - dokázala vyrobiť tento záber! Zbožňujem ako Sára letí ponad hradby v mojom rodnom Bardejove, perfektne natiahnutá a s úsmevom! Vďaka blesku som ju dokázal oddeliť od pozadia a upriamiť VŠETKU pozornosť len a len na Sáru.

Ak sa chcete naučiť ako dostať váš externý blesk pod kontrolu a ako skombinovať svetlo z okolia a svetlo z blesku, tak sa pridajte do nášho PPSOP kurzu "Záhada blesku odhalena", ktorý vediem s Bryanom Petersonom. Viac info o kurze nájdete tu! Začíname 9. septembra/září.

PS: Záber bez použitia blesku je nižšie - celkom rozdiel, čo poviete?

Nikon D800, Nikkor 16-35mm @27mm, f/11 @ 1/160 sec, ISO 160.
Nikon SB-900 in manual mode, off camera, triggered with Pocket wizard at 1/2 power.

strecno - beautiful home country!

I travel all around the world to find and take a great photos. That's why I am so happy and proud to capture beauty of my own country whenever I am back. This time I have focused on old medieval castle Strecno, near city of Zilina. Right under the castle is old fashioned, cable operated ferry, which I wanted to add to the image of the castle, as castle and ferry are very specific for Strecno area. Together with my buddy Miroslav we have spent one evening just shooting around and here are the few shots which I favor.

Kvôli krásnym záberom cestujem okolo celého sveta a tak ma vždy poteší a naplní hrdosťou, keď zachytím krásu mojej rodnej hrudy, kedykoľvek sa dostanem domov. Tentokrát som zamieril na stredoveký hrad Strečno, neďaleko Žiliny. A hneď pod hradom je krásna, poctivá kompa, ktorá vás za pol eura prevezie na druhú stranu Váhu. Kompa sa mi veľmi hodila do záberu, lebo spolu s hradom sú niečím veľmi špecifickým práve pre Strečno. Spolu s mojím fotografickým kumpánom Miroslavom sme strávili jeden podvečer pri Strečne a výber je tu.

Ako bolo na pražskom workshope

Na mojom posledno fotoworkshope v Prahe 14.8. bolo skvelo!
Vstávali sme skoro, niektorí cestovali celú noc a niektorí dokonca aj deň vopred. Prišli dokonca aj zahraniční účastníci, takže to bolo naozaj medzinárodný workwhop!
A tu je výber toho, čo sme fotili - ale najmä ako sme fotili, lebo zábery spoza fotoaparátu sú tiež výborné!
Pridajte sa ku mne na môj budúci workshop v Prahe aj vy... Plánujem jeden koncom septembra/září
a ak máte záujem tak mi napíšte na pb@patrikbanas.com
PS: a fotky účastníkov workshopu si môžete pozrieť priamo tu - alebo aj v tomto skvelom článku!

"The best of" selection from my latest Prague's workshop. We were not the only one "early birds" at the first location and whole day was just blast! Couple of "behind the scenes" photos, as those are often very cool too... 
Join me next time - I am planning workshop in Prague again for the end of September. If you are interested in, contact me at pb@patrikbanas.com!

Tichá Praha skoro ráno

Aj takto vyzerá Praha. Keď je skoro ráno a väčšina ľudí ešte spí (alebo sa chystá spať ;)
Pridajte sa ku mne na môj zážitkový fotoworkshop v Prahe, v nedeľu 14.8. 2016 a tiež si budete môcť Prahu takto v kľude vychutnať - a samozrejme nafotiť...
Viac informácii o workshope nájdete tu.

oroszova lavka bardejov (p52 cik cak)

This week theme in project 52 has intrigued me - ZIGZAG. And it was just a matter of time to find a proper architecture object and play with a long exposure and angles. And voilá! Visiting my home city Bardejov, Slovakia and there it was! New pedestrian bridge over the small Topla river (I do not want to use the word creek, even it would be more appropriate ;). First and main shot was taken with 10ND filter and 4 minute long exposure. Rest of them - it is working the subject, which is something what I like to do very much too. Enjoy!

Téme Cik Cak v projekte 52 ma zaujala a vedel som, že to bude len otázkou času nájsť správny architektonický subjekt aby som sa mohol vyhrať s dlhou expozíciou a rôznymi uhlami. A voilá! Našiel som ho pri návšteve rodného Bardejova! Nový mostík pre chodcov ponad rieku Topľa. Aj keď popis "potok Topľa" by podľa množstva vody bol asi správnejší ;) Ten záber vyššie bol nafotený s 10 stupňovým ND filtrom a 4 minútovou expozíciou. Ostatné zábery - to bolo už len "vydolovanie maxima" z danej situácie - niečo čo robím veľmi rád!
PS: Keď som tu bol naposledy, tak v Bardejove ešte stála pôvodná "Oroszova lávka", taký mostík, ktorý tam bol pre mňa odjakživa. Preto sa priznám, že keď som počul, že Oroszova lávka, už nie je tá čo bývala, tak som bol sklamaný. Proste nostalgia. Ale po osobnej návšteve musím povedať, že sa mi páči a oceňujem, že tam nebolo hodené len tak niečo, ale je to naozaj pekný architektonický kúsok! S výstavbou "čínskeho múru", teda protivodňovej ochrannej hrádze mám stále problém, to je podľa mňa absolútna zbytočnosť. Ale nová Oroszova lávka sa mi páči...

palouse in motion (part 4)

I have enjoyed tremendously my recent photo trip to Washington state, to lovely Palouse area. And while there are endless opportunities to shoot landscape and static subjects, I am always looking for an opportunity to add some motion to already interesting shot. And obviously, cars are the easiest way how to "spice it up"... So, let's buckle up and drive with me!

Strašne som si užil môj nedávny foto výlet do štátu Washington, do krásnej oblasti Palouse. A aj keď tam je nepreberný kopec možností fotenia kraijniek a statických subjektov, tak ja sa vždy obzerám a hľadám možnosti ako pridať pohyb do už beztak zaujímavého záberu. No a autá sú vďačné objekty, ktoré to dokážu trošku osviežiť a rozhýbať. Takže prosím = pripútajte sa, vyrážame!

Pohyb v Prahe (zážitkový fotoworkshop 14.8.)

Niet pochýb o tom, že Praha je dynamické mesto, lebo sa parádne fotí v pohybe. Zachytávanie pohybu v jeho rôznych podobách mám strašne rád a určite budeme fotiť veľa pohybu aj počas môjho
zážitkového fotoworkshopu v Prahe, v nedeľu 14.8.
Ak sa chcete pridať a zachytiť Prahu (okrem iného) v pohybe, tak sa ku mne pridajte - nafotíme veľa skvelých fotografií, užijeme si kopec zábavy a naučíte sa kopec nových vecí! Posledné 3 voľné miesta!
Viac info o workshope nájdete tu: www.patrikbanas.com/fotoworkshop

Všetky fotografie nafotené na predchádzajúcom workshope v Prahe, v júni 2016

Zážitkový fotoworkshop v Prahe 14.8.

V nededeľu 14.8. budem v Prahe viesť zážitkový fotoworkshop, kde nafotíme kopec skvelých fotografií, budeme mať zábavu a môžte sa naučiť kopec nových vecí!
Budem rád ak sa ku mne pridáte.
Podrobnejší program a informácie nájdete tu: tu: patrikbanas.com/fotoworkshop
Máte dotazy? Napíšte mi!

A spolu môžeme nafotiť aj takéto zábery (ktoré som nafotil na minulých workshopoch v Prahe).

human element (and why it is worth to wait)

I can't stress enough how important human element is for the photography. It brings the sense of the scale, motion, reality and helps viewer's eye to focus on something what they know. They can better estimate the size of the objects on your pictures, they can relate it better to something they know.
And that was exactly my case during my recent visit to Howth bay in Dublin, Ireland. Simple wall with colorfully strong doors was inviting for a seafood to a nearby restaurant (BTW, mussels and tuna steak were magnificent at Howth!). While I was "okay" with the picture I took (photo 2), I knew I was missing something. And as always, patience rewards those who wait and it took only a minute or two at the same spot and I have noticed a couple coming my direction... When they've entered my frame I have taken few other images - and voilá - see it for yourself and compare those two. I do not know as you, but I like the first one much more!
Thank you anonymous pedestrians for completing my photography aim! ;) And how about you? Do you like to have human elements in your photos? Do you wait few more moments to get it there? Let me know...

Howth, Dublin, Ireland - photo 1, Nikon D810, Nikkor 24-70mm
Vždy rád zdôrazňujem ako dôležitý je ľudský prvok vo fotografii. Záberu dáva zmysel pre veľkosť, pohybu, realitu a pomáha divákom sa sústrediť na niečo, čo poznajú. Dokážu lepšie odhadnúť veľkosť fotografovaného objektu, vedia si to primerať k niečomu, čo poznajú. A toto bol presne aj môj prípad počas mojej nedávnej návštevy v prístave Howth v Dubline, Írsku. Jednoduchá stena s nádherne farebnými dverami pozývala na jedlo vo vedľajšej reštaurácii (mimochodom, mušle a steak z tuniaka sú úžasné v Howth!). A pokiaľ môj prvý záber (č.2) bol "obstojný", bolo mi jasné, že mi tam niečo chýba. No a ako vždy, trpezlivosť ruže prináša a stačilo len minútku či dve počkať na mieste a zachíľu som zbadal prichádzať dvojicu mojím smerom... Keď mi vstúpili do záberu, tak som stihol nafotiť zopár ďalších záberov - a voilá - veď sa pozrite a porovnajte si oba zábery. A neviem ako vy, ale mne sa teda páči oveľa viac ten prvý! 
Chcel by som teda poďakovať anonymnej dvojici, za to že mi pomohli splniť môj fotografický zámer! :) A ako ste na tom vy? Radi pridávate ľudský element do svojich záberov? Počkáte si chvíľku? Dajte mi vedieť...

Howth, Dublin, Ireland - photo 2, Nikon D810, Nikkor 24-70mm

life in the bubble

Did you met already those street artists who make these incredibly big bubbles? I met them today while walking through downtown in Dublin (very beautiful by the way!) and my first immediate reaction was to put my camera with wide angle INTO that bubble. To see the city as seen from inside the bubble. Pretty cool view actually, what you think? ;)

Už ste stretli na ulici tých pouličných umelcov, čo vyrábajú tie obrovské bubliny? Ja som ich dnes stretol na uliciach Dublinu (ktorý je mimochodom nádherný!) a moja prvotná reakcia bola vopchať im fotoaparát so širokouhlým foťákom priamo DO BUBLINY. Aby som videl mesto, tak ako sa dá vidieť zvnútra bubliny. A bol to celkom cool pohľad, čo poviete? ;)

palouse, part 3 - god save america!

During my last five days spent back again at american soil I have noticed that EVERYBODY is talking about the elections! Yes, those presidential. Which in reality got to the point Clinton vs. Trump. Everybody! My friends, instructors, colleagues, waiters, receptionist, taxi drivers, strangers in the park... Well, I thought that in 2007/2008 when I experienced first Obama campaign and his unprecedented win, that it cannot be more polarizing or more more different. But I stay corrected. Yes, it can be. I am seeing and hearing democrats (including democratic politicians!) saying that they cannot even look at that ... Hillary. And I am seeing the most peaceful and tolerant people who are married to spouses from very exotic nations getting behind Trump, because "I can't stand that our president would be discussing at night in the bed what to do with this country with this liar Bill!"... This is really unprecedented I have to say and it makes me completely enjoying this, knowing that I am just an observer :)
Actually, we got with one of my new friend to a following statement:
"The best solution for US would be Trump. As he would immediately forget about the Mexico border and instead he would declare a war to Canada, next day he would occupy British Columbia (of course including Vancouver) to FINALLY get a direct access from continental US to Alaska"! It is actually still unbelievable that in 2016, US do not have the direct connection with its own state. What a shame! Go Donald*!!! :)

Just a few (more or less) patriotic shots taken during one day ;)

Do you also see the map of the world behind the US flag? Especially Russia and China!? :)

Go Donald! (irony)
bepoppy! expanding to usa! ;)

palouse, part 2 - people around

Palouse is not only a photogenic landscape, but there are plenty photogenic people around! Especially for photographers - this is a paradise. And for me, who loves capturing other people doing what they enjoy - special and unexpected treat!

Aren't they just adorable and photogenic? ;)