Taking It To The Next Level with Level 43 Dubai.

Good evening, my good friend and thank you for tuning in.

Today I had an amazing opportunity to go do what I love to (shoot cityscapes, sunsets and blue hours) with a bunch of like-minded individuals. Thanks goes to mr. Mohammad Azizi aka Alphaspotting for organizing, and to Nikon ME who were kind enough to lend gear to people who wanted to try different things to shoot.

Yes, I’ve been to this location before. I’ve seen shots from this location before. Many, many, many times. But I still love the glitter of the big city lights and the unbeatable futuristic vistas this terrace provides.

While in the beginning the weather looked promising for the sunset and there were even a few clouds there was not good enough material for long exposure shots that I love so much. And the sunset was dead, it was so dead, that I had to colour it all myself and I wish it was looking like it does in my shot, but in reality it didn’t. But hey, I am a visual artist and that’s how I see the world.

What I loved most about this meet-up was the unity of like-minded photo geeks. Some are old friends, always pleasure meeting someone new. Some of us are more geeks than the others, we all have different cameras and different techniques, but we all love fiddling with those buttons, pointing our lenses in different directions and most importantly sharing our love of photography with the world.

Thanks for the inspirational evening!

Also, big thanks goes to Four Points Sheraton and Level 43 for the yummy sushis and warm welcome from their team.

One love,

Anna

 

Hiking up for the View in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Bavaria.

When I decided to Germany, I tried to research the most breath-taking views, and there are plenty just in Bavaria, quite hard to choose… but since I only had a couple of days, I had to make it logistically possible, so I first went to Schwangau, the story of which I will tell later, and after that I went to this place with the unpronounceable name Garmisch-Partenkirchen, which as it turned out was an Olympic village for skiing competitions in Winter Olympic Games 1972.

Arriving to this place by train, I was quite literally glued to the window… those mountains look absolutely indescribably beautiful. I am not used to the sight of the mountains, so they always mesmerize me.

I got off the train around mid-day and thought to myself “wouldn’t it be a great idea to walk to the hotel? Such a beautiful day!” Checked how long it would take me, and google maps said that it’s only 30 minutes away, so off we go.

The city itself is so cute, you just want to take pictures on every corner. It is like a fairy-tale place, every house has decorations and flowers on the windows, beautiful lawns and wooden figurines in the yard.

After 20 minutes of my walk, I arrived to the bottom of a quite a steep hill. Maybe 45 degrees or so, because when I let go of my luggage it would roll down without hesitation. The map was telling me that it is only 500 metres left, which is like nothing, right? So I started to make my way up the hill… and boy it was a hard one.

Arrived all sweaty and tired like after a hard cardio work out, but man, what a view!

The reception was closed, because apparently Monday was their day off. It took me a bit of time to figure out where to find the key to my room, because they left me a message in Arabic (my name does truly sounds Arabic, right?), but I made it.

Caught my breath, changed my clothes and went out roaming around alpine fields, farms, mountains, horses… recharging my lungs on fresh air.

I was planning to go visit another beautiful location of this place – a gorge called Partnachclamm, but when I arrived to the Olympic Stadium (which is the bus stop for this location), I took the wrong turn. I don’t regret though, because it was fantastic to get lost in those fields. Also saw the cows that look like those from Milka ads, so cute!

Two hours later I went back to the village, had a wonderful Bavarian meal, and went back up the hill through the park, which made it easier this time. The park there is called the trail of philosophers, and has a bunch of benches with philosophic quotes, you can sit on and enjoy the view of Zugspitze thinking about the meaning of life… or whatever else you prefer.

I am very happy that I chose this hotel because it was cheap and it had such a perfect view. I was capable to capture these two images while comfortably sitting on my balcony with a pint of Bavarian beer. The first one is of the sunset that didn’t disappoint with colours and clouds.DSCF6987-Edit-2When I was taking this photo, there was a bunch of teenagers who arrived to the downstairs area of the hotel that they perhaps do every Monday cause they know that the management is off. They were listening to Joe Dassin and Gainsbourg’s songs quite loudly, which I find to be a strange choice for teenagers, but better than gangsta songs.

This second one is of the sunrise… with much less amount of clouds and a bit hazy, but still beautiful. Had to wake up before 5 am to have a look what’s available on the sunset menu, because sunrises are so early in Europe in the beginning of July.

Love the alpenglow in this photo… first time I see it red, last time it was golden in Iceland.DSCF7210-Edit-2.jpg

I loooovvveed this wonderful place so much, really hope I can go back there one day.

Have a beautiful day, friends!

Enjoy summer… if you live in the place where it is summer.

Anna

Mesmerized by the Ice in Jokulsarlon.

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One day when you’re going to visit this beautiful place, just don’t be tricked by the slow peaceful way these ice cubes move, they can totally bring you down and let you feel how really icy Iceland can be… but I will tell you the full story another time. For now just enjoy the soft palette of the rolling in sunset.

1/200 sec at F 7.1, 24mm with Canon 24-70 2.8 L USM taken with Canon EOS 6D.


Check the other Icelandic adventures here:

Falling Down The Golden Waterfall – Gullfoss.

What is Down there in the Ice Cave?

Making Friends with Dogs in West Iceland.

Getting Lost in West Iceland – Kirkjufell Stories.

What do Auroras Make You Think of?

Chasing Walter Mitty in West Iceland.

Getting Lost in West Iceland – Kirkjufell Stories.

There are chances that you haven’t been to Iceland, but you’ve seen Kirkjufell Mountain and its’ waterfalls photos. That’s actually what comes up first in Google search. This is also the first location in Elia Locardi “Photographing the World” video tutorial. For me, it was the first sunset location in Iceland.IMG_2361-Edit

I must admit, I haven’t researched much about photographic locations in Iceland before going there since I knew was is all arranged for us, but some of the people on our group knew so much about every place that even up to this day I learn something new when they post a photo from the trip.IMG_0041-Edit

So, at Kirkjufell there is an obvious view with the mountain in the back and 3 waterfalls in the front – you can optionally add more of the foreground if your lens allows, or more of the skies, if you are lucky with the cool sky. There is also a second layer of the waterfalls and it has the mountain in the back as well, but at a slightly different angle. Aaaaand, as our tour leader Patrick Di Fruscia was teaching us the whole 10 days, you can just walk around and find your own angle.IMG_2331-Edit

I wanted the postcard view and I was very lucky to get a great image with a horse in it. The white horse… with the sunset colours it almost looks like a unicorn. Ken told me to give a bit more freedom to the mountain on top, but this composition worked fine for me.IMG_2175-Edit-2

Before this trip I bought a variable ND-filter made by Hoya, which I decided to use in this location at the sunset. Very soon I found out that it had a nasty feature of making the center of my photo darker than the edges. Who really wants any effects like this? So I soon ditched it and never took it out again during the whole trip.

As it got darker, the wind started blowing stronger. Even though I was dressed with all the possible layers, I still was cold. I went roaming in the field by myself, trying to find an alternative view on Kirkjufell and sinking in snow. Didn’t find anything exciting apart from a Japanese guy with a Mamiya camera who was showing us some awesome photos he took, but couldn’t say a word in English, so it was hard to communicate to him.

After it got completely dark, we drove off to some Grundarfjörður hotel in our warm and welcoming yellow bus.

We quickly changed and went down for dinner. Had some fish that night, and a traditional Icelandic desert – Skyr. I was sitting next to Patrick and Siggi, and we were exchanging comments on the subject of Instagram. Denny was saying that he doesn’t need Instagram at all, but nevertheless, Denny was the one who was aaaaalways taking photos of all the food he ordered. He said it was not for Instagram, but for his wife. Siggi said he doesn’t need Instagram either, he prefers to be old-school. And I was telling them that if I didn’t have one, I wouldn’t have been there that night. One good reason to have it.

Our hotel room was cold, but Emily and I were equipped with hairdryers, so we spent a good amount of time warming up the room and even greater amount of time warming up the bathroom, it was like a piece of ice… Patrick and Ken somehow forgot to switch on their heater in the room… and somehow managed to sleep with no heater, but I don’t know, maybe they cuddled at night haha (I was soooo cold the whole night that I almost couldn’t sleep). My roomie, Emily, also had a funny habit to wake up in the middle of the night to check if everything is charging properly. She had 2 cameras with multiple batteries, 4 batteries for a drone, 1 laptop, a go-pro + 2 iPhones to charge. So it was quite an impressive charging station of blinking lights every night.

In the morning we went back to Kirkjufel to shoot the sunrise. There was no epic sunrise that morning, the sky was very bright and blue like on a typical clear winter day, but I was just so happy that morning. The air was fresh and the day was exciting… it was clear white snow with nice blue tones in it and I was playing around with the angles and was happy to stay there as long as possible.IMG_2308-Edit While we were waiting for the warm morning light to illuminate Kirkjufell, we almost have missed the moment when the mountains behind got illuminated with absolutely fantastic colours. Sadly, I was jumping in the middle of the field at that moment and didn’t manage to take any ‘very cool’ photos of those mountain tops, but overall the morning was just amazing. RNCF0751Pure happiness!

Hope your Kirkjufell experience was as cool as mine.

Best wishes,
Anna

If The Sunset is Failing, Turn Around.

I just watched the video tutorial of Elia Locardi where he shoots the The Londrangar Cliffs in his F-Stoppers series of videos “Photographing the World”. I have two views of that location – one view from the same side as Elia, but at sunset, and the other one is where the sun is behind us. I looked at my photos of the sunset and first – my composition sucks big time, second – my foreground is just shadows. No matter how hard I try to get anything out of it, it is just one big shadowy grainy mess. I have some cool shots of our group taking photos, but what a shame to have failed this iconic view. A note to future self – don’t be afraid to go past the rope, and, if it looks like it sucks, you can ask the fellow photographers to help out.

Glorious Patrick does what he does best “goes low”.

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My Canon got a bit carried away with the cold temperatures and the wind (probably due to the fact that this Canon, as well as me, comes from Dubai), so it was taking ranges of 3 brackets by itself with a random time interval. I swear I didn’t even know it is possible. So with the freaking cold wind and my fingers freezing, I decided to leave it doing what it wanted to do. Now I have 560 useless photos. I don’t even know what I was thinking and why I exposed for the sky when it was obvious that the foreground needs some love. Probably it also has something to do with that wind.

Our photography tour leader Mr. Ken Kaminesky was fantastically wise not to have brought the gloves, nor the scarf with him, so at some point he had to leave us because he was more of the piece of ice than a photographic companion, and that’s understandable. Hard to think of the right exposure when your fingers don’t feel anything. I don’t exactly know what happened to Patrick, but Siggi, our Icelandic tour guide, was actually right next to me and asking me what I was doing… as I couldn’t explain now, couldn’t explain then.

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So this sunset is a total failure. And that is pretty much the only sunset where we actually saw the sun. And it got epic. After we got in the bus. As it usually happens.

As we were about to leave the location, Siggi told me, or rather just said out loud: “Watch that cloud on the other side… that one can be a pretty good one”. And that cloud was indeed the thing that saved the night. So, thanks Siggi.

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Another reason to go back to Iceland, I challenge myself to shoot this view again. Now I know what is the good composition. I know that I don’t need a polariser, I know that I need a lens hood and warm gloves.

Thanks for stopping by.
Anna

Jump High and Touch the Sky of Sri Lanka

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Whether you are suffering from a travel addiction or enjoying it, one of the great places to visit is Sri Lanka, an island in the Indian Ocean that used to be called Ceylon in the past.

I have been there already 4 times, and not planning to stop exploring the island. So far I have only seen the South, which represents maybe 15% of things to do in Sri Lanka. Haven’t yet visited Siguria, haven’t been to tea plantations and haven’t seen elephant reserve, but will make sure to go one day.

When you go to Sri Lanka, along with the amazing sea food, crazy sunsets and washing-off-your-swimsuit waves you get the crazy drivers. I really hope that God is watching over them, because otherwise I don’t know how they do it. It is the manner of triple overtaking in a single-lane road + dogs sleeping in the roads, cows roaming everywhere, it is a miracle that there are no collisions everywhere. The only road where you feel kind of safe is the highway, but unfortunately it doesn’t last forever.

Two years ago there was a second airport functioning on the island, and it was built literally in the middle of the jungle. We were driving in a mini van to our hotel when out of nowhere a family of elephants showed up in the middle of the road. We had to take the opposite direction road, but i guess it was safer than to try sharing the other road with elephants.

Another time we were staying in the South of the island, in a pretty remote place. The more remote it is, the more it is invaded with all sorts of creatures. There was a huge lizard (called monitor lizard) who was constantly trying to enter our friends bungalo. Maybe it fell in love with him and his irresistible French accent. But it is not a kind of “friend” you want to find next to your bed in the morning… nevertheless, the lizard was always patiently waiting next to the door. Another friend brought some M&M’s from the airport with him, and got it confiscated by a squirrel at night. The furry bully just took the whole thing and left the building like Elvis.

People are quite fun to deal with too… in certain places Sri Lanka is quite popular with hippies and that kind of crowds. One of these places is Mirissa Beach – beautiful long beach with long rolling waves and plenty of restaurants. Some of them will leave you doubting if you are really in Sri Lanka or you have by mistake waken up in Jamaica. And maybe Bob Marley is still alive, at least some of those guys have a suspicious resemblance with him. So there is no doubt that some of that smoke coming from the back is not so legal, and perhaps the minds of those beach boys are not so sharp. They might even fall asleep on the way to the kitchen, forgetting to place your lunch order. At least it happened to us once. But the good part about it is that they also forget to add to the bill half of the things you ordered.

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You have to try the catch of the day sea food and banana pancakes. There are no better tasting banana pancakes than those, and do not be afraid of the yellow flower that they make them from. Don’t take coffee in the morning, always take the tea. Remember, that you are in the homeland of the tea that every British person drinks at 5 o’clock. Beware of the waves, they will take everything they can – took our go pro, the top of my swimming suit and a couple of sunglasses. But that’s all fine as long as you come out alive – they can be fun, but they are quite dangerous.1495910_10151814500180885_2120854643_o

Don’t forget to bring a strong sunblock and mosquito repellent. And don’t bring lots of clothes – there is no one looking more ridiculous than girls from Dubai trying to wear high heels on those beaches. They don’t accept that. Enjoy the fact that you don’t need to brush your hair and there is no other way but you will have sand everywhere.

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Much love,
Anna

Keep your Inner 5 Year Old Happy. 

Hello and happy Friday!

You know, my friends, this year I’m going to turn 30 years old. 15 years ago I thought it is going to be a milestone of wisdom and I’m probably going to be serious, grown-up and responsible.

However, I am at the beach of Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka right now, enjoying the loud noise of the waves and ordering beers before sunset… Which is neither wise, nor serious. I have my wedding coming up at the end of this month but regardless of this fact I took off for 5 hours flight to the “I-give-no-damn-about-anything” paradise where you can wear the same t-shirt for a week and nobody really gives any damn about how you look like. I mean, who does that, traveling the same month as their destination wedding? But when did I ever do things according to the set rules? Well, there were times, but those times were not fun. If we really live once, which I am pretty sure we do, then let’s not waste any time.


So arriving to my 30th birthday, I realize that with each year I give less and less care about what people think of me, what people expect me to be doing, what is socially acceptable and actually I just become more careless and wild.

I spent 4 years in a company where I pretty much never expressed my opinion, sat silently at my desk and did what I was told to do. There were moments when I blew up and then I would receive those emails about my attitude and lack of respect, and those would make me feel like my silent behavior was the right thing. Being quiet and modest is what keeps me the job and so what nobody cares about my opinion… Maybe my role is valued most for being the shadow of the office.

But then I won this trip to Iceland, which made me think that in fact if out of a 1000 photos Elia Locardi chose mine, I am not such a bad of a photographer. All the other guys didn’t get it. And then when I actually went to Iceland and met all those 10 talented people who were on my group and each of them told me not to give up on my dreams, stand for what I believe in, and go out of my comfort zone to do things and talk to people because in fact nobody’s going to die if they refuse to talk to me even or don’t like what I have to say… What does it matter, you try and if this door won’t open, just go to the next one. So upon my return I was recharged, reborn and had my heart open for whatever comes my way… And I must say that magic is happening. I am endlessly thankful for all the support and guidance that Iceland and people I met there provided, and just saying, but keep your inner 5 year old happy. Do stupid things, go on crazy adventures and keep in mind that you will never be as young as you are right this moment. 

If you die tomorrow, would it matter that you made a fool of yourself today? Probably not.

Love and peace,

Anna