Taking photos of animals, or people, or anything that tends to move around a lot really is not something I am too interested in. I guess that is because I like taking time to properly compose a photo and I try to capture shapes and colors rather than spontaneous situations.
Sometimes, though, I can’t help myself. Right after walking out of some bunkers in Gibraltar, I spotted these two monkeys fighting on a wall. In Gibraltar, the monkeys aren’t locked away in cages, they just wander around wherever they want, though they usually stay inside a big nature reserve. That’s why you can just casually encounter them while walking around and get really close to them.
Unfortunately, I still had all the settings in my camera adjusted for taking photos in dimly lit bunkers, so the picture I got came out overexposed. I corrected that as good as I could during raw conversion but the clouds still look a bit funny. I still like the expression on the little monkey’s face, though.
So, I was reading the news this morning when I saw the following video about a statue being toppled in Kiev, Ukraine:
And I remembered that statue. In fact, I only uploaded this photo a few weeks ago.
Interesting to take a photo of something before it has been on the news. Even if only by chance.
In the beginning of 2011, I found myself on a short trip to the Ukraine to meet up with a fellow photographer. It was my first longer distance international trip in almost 8 years, so it took me a while to prepare everything.
But with a freshly printed passport in my hands, I embarked on a long and exciting journey that started around 4 am in Cologne and ended over 18 hours later in a large hotel in Kiev. Unable to sleep, I took my tripod and camera backpack and headed outside for a little walk around the neighborhood.
Back then, I didn’t have a smartphone with offline GPS navigation yet, so I had no idea where I was or where I was going. But I figured as long as I remembered enough parts of the way, I would find back eventually. I ended up walking along the Dnieper River and just kept looking for a nice view to take a photo. After passing an old, ornate bridge that was unfortunately being covered with a scaffolding, I found a spot along the river where I could see the massive Mother Motherland statue in the distance. Shooting with my (then new) tele lens, I got it into the picture large enough. After getting the shot, I decided that I was cold, tired and far enough away from the hotel to head back and get some sleep.
The next morning, I consulted a little tourist map I had received from the friendly guys at the travel agency and took the Metro to the city center of Kiev. Riding the Metro is a lot like taking the subway in Cologne. Except it only costs 20 cents per ride, the trains arrive every 2 minutes and are never late. They are also completely packed with people at all times of the day. Something that struck me as really odd was that nobody ever smiled. Not on the subway, not on the streets and not in the shopping malls. I only recently learned why Russians are not smiling and I guess it is true for Ukrainians as well.
Navigating the subway was a bit confusing for me because the stations are all very large and have lots of hallways going in different directions. The fact that all the signs and station names are in Cyrillic didn’t make things easier. I tried to learn a bit of the Cyrillic alphabet in advance and kept a little transliteration table in my pocket but I still felt like back in Kindergarten when I was just learning how to read simple words. I exited the Metro in some place I didn’t originally want to go but decided to walk around a bit and take some photos anyway. I think it feels more authentic to have some shots from a completely random place in a foreign city.
Go to the gallery to find some more photos of Kiev!
During my vacation on the Baltic sea, where we planted a tree, I also took some other photos. One of them was a beautiful sunset behind a field of grain and I thought I’d write a bit about what I did to get the final picture:
About the only thing you can do on a camping trip during bad weather is sit inside and read books or visit Restaurants in the area. We had just returned from a dinner trip when the clouds opened up and the sun came through to mark the end of the day. I grabbed my camera bag from the car and the tripod from the tent and rushed towards the coast. I spotted the field of grains and immediately knew what kind of picture I wanted to take. The idea isn’t that original to be honest.
Behind the field, there was a group of trees with a gap in between. I moved around until the sun fit in the middle of that gap, dropped my tripod into the grains and mounted the camera with the Sigma 10-20mm ultra wide angle lens on it. An ultra wide angle lens can be positioned very close to an object and still capture a really big scene. This results in the grains in the front looking very large while the sky with the sun is still visible.