N-Photo Magazine published two of my pictures

The independent magazine for Nikon photographers N-Photo published two of my black and white pictures in the latest Black & White edition.

Rod Lawton, Technique Editor from N-Photo asked me to show original color shots, just to show, how much more effective black and white can be for subjects like this. I said, no problem…

I wrote tutorials for both of these pictures a few months ago, you can read the post process of the City Shapes here and the processing of the Path To The Sea here. So, thank you guys for this feature, I am so honored!

N-Photo-Magazine-Matej-Michalik N-Photo-mag-Matej-Michalik-seascapes


Posted in Matej Michalik awards, Uncategorized

Fujifilm X20 quick review

Today I bring you Fujifilm X20 quick review. Fujifilm X20 is a new addition to my photo equipment. Again, it will be the review where I would like to write more about my practical experiences with this camera than its technical parameters about which you can learn anywhere on the Internet.

Why did I buy just Fujifilm X20?

About buying a compact camera I´ve wondered for a long time. Often happened to me that I did not have a mood to take my Nikon D800 with me.  It´s because even with only basic lens it is heavy enough for casual wear. Thus, I always have a camera with me and do not think whether it´s worth it or not.

The fact that I´ve been photographing a specific genre, I carry a complete equipment with me explicitly targeted when I know that I will need it. I missed the camera primarily for documentary  purposes for my trips and also the camera suitable to moderately demanding conditions. At the same time my condition was to have a good output with enough resolution for printing photos of moderate size. I chose therefore Fujifilm X20.

Sample photo from Kitzsteinhorn in Austria

This photo I made while skiing on the Kitzsteinhorn glacier in Austria. These are precisely the conditions in which you do not want to pull an unnecessary burden but you do not want to miss the opportunity to make a nice picture. Here comes the compact camera.

FUJIFILM X20 review Kitzsteihnorn in Austria

My vision about this photograph

This photo I called ZORRO. As you may see from the photo, it seems like snowboarder etched the letter “Z“ into the snow.  Often I have a problem how to call my photograph, this time I thought of it immediately after its first viewing it. When you look at this photo, it evokes an impression that snowboarder went from the top and went down hill in one pretty stroke. But the reality is that he went toward the left to the right and the top two traces are from other skiers. Isn´ t it good to have a zoom lens?

Shoot in RAW or JPEG?

Personally in 99% of cases when I shoot with FUJIFILM X20, I shoot directly into the JPEG format because most photos end up in my private album. This photo was also shoot directly into the JPEG. Small adjustments I made in Photoshop CS6 as a local darkening / lightening, adding contrast and sharpening. So far I have not come to a situation when the JPEG would not suffice.

My final conclusion about FUJIFILM X20

Fujifilm X20 is a compact of middle class. It is affordable, has a nice design, good quality lens and output. It produces good results at ISO 400, however, ISO 800 is its maximum, at higher values the noise reflects significantly. In moderately demanding conditions and sufficient light FUJIFILM X20 pleasantly surprises you.

Subscribe for newsletter:


Posted in Gear review

Which filters to choose for Long Exposure Photos?

I already shoot Long Exposure Photos some time, I dedicate to this genre of photography in a greater depth than probably most of you so I decided to write this article about my experiences and hardships that I have experienced. When buying a lens is often said that it is difficult to advise, you need to try it and already then you find whether it is good for you or not. For ND filters it does not apply and this article, I hope, will help you to make the right choice and thus save your time as well as considerable funds.

Color shift

At the beginning I will talk about the color shift. If we talk about Long Exposure Photos I mean exposure at least 30 seconds. For most of my Long Exposure Photos is used the time about four minutes in daylight, here one even extra strong ND filter (for example LEE Big Stopper or B+W 110ND) is not enough, they must be combined two at a time. Personally, I convert all long exposures to black and white, therefore I do not examine the color shift but in my humble opinion, for the combination of two filters at once we can not, in any way, talk about the possibility to correct colors later on your computer to neutral form. There are photographers who do not mind the color shift, even it is their intention and I saw many of these photos which were, despite significant shift color, very impressive.

How powerful filters will we need?

Here, I will be very brief, we need two filters which will extend the shutter on 16 stops. Neither 14 nor 18, just 16 is the right number! Concretely in combination 10 + 6. Sometimes my intention is to use a shorter time, for example 30 seconds when is still seen, for example, the structure of water, I use mostly only 10 stop filter. If I go on four or more minutes, I use both filters at once.


Nikon D800, Nikon 16-35, ISO 200, 24mm, f/14, 30 seconds (LEE Big Stopper)

In this case, I decided to use less time, 30 seconds is ideal for maintaining the structure in water. This applies only at sea level, the lake water structure is not so interesting and personally for lakes I use the time at least two minutes.

Let´s begin with circular filters

When I started taking Long Exposure Photos, I first bought a circular filters. Their advantage is that they are really storage, you can constantly have them with you. However, with hindsight I can say that these filters have more disadvantages than advantages. Handling them in frequent use very soon starts to annoy you. When recomposing the image, you always have to remove filters from the lens, after composing and focusing you must deploy them again. Do you think I am too comfortable? Try to repeat this procedure 5 times per hour and take pictures that way all day.

Another very essential thing you have to realize is that when you use a zoom lens, with these filters you can expect really hard times. Imagine that when putting filter by pressure on the lens you blur the picture.  The worst thing is that you find it only at home because on the small screen of the camera slight blur is almost impossible to notice. Ostensibly successful photograph can boldly go into the trash can.

Although this can be avoided to prevent unintentional movement of zoom, photographers use tape to seal up the zoom ring on the lens.

Pros and cons of circular filters

+ storage / space-saving

+ lower price compared to indexable filters

−   wide thread frame, when using two filters on each other there is a significant vignetting

−   the possibility of using with the lenses with the same size thread

−   worse manipulation

I decided for circular filters, which to buy?

If someone wants to use filters occasionally and does not mind any of the above, then I recommend to buy the following which I was satisfied with:

1.) B+W 3.0 ND 110 Filter (10 stops)

2.) B+W 1.8 ND 106 Filter (6 stops)


The above mentioned filters are manufactured with a diameter of up to 77 mm!

Long Exposure Photos

Nikon D90, Nikon 16-85, ISO 200, f/6,7, 252 seconds (used circular filters B+W)

My very first Long Exposure Photo. The photograph comes from the famous lake Neusiedler am See. From here comes more photos from my portfolio. The lake serves me as a training center. That day was cloudy, the sky was almost motionless, yet shining light create a beautiful atmosphere.

LEE Neutral density filters 

If you want to use ND filters often and simply do not want any compromise, buy at the very beginning the LEE ND filters in size 100 x 100 mm. Once you start to have fun with ND filters, anyway, sooner or later you will buy them. Although at the beginning it is affordable challenging, ultimately you save because you do not sell the old technique below cost. Beside LEE filters is necessary to buy also adapter ring and filter holder itself.

What holder? LEE! I am not concerned about the brand but the system itself. Now I already know why it is so popular. Holder has got the fuse from the side and by gently pulling you release the entire holder or vice versa, deploy it during the second. Filters will remain mounted in the holder, recompose the scene, focus and again just a second and take pictures again. In addition Lee offers adapter rings for wide angle lenses what is very useful. Thread for attaching to the lens is embedded deep into the body of the ring so the ring extends the lens less than 2 mm. Say goodbye to vignetting and utilize your wide angle lenses to the fullest!

Long Exposure Photos

Nikon D800, Nikon 16-35, ISO 100, 25mm, f/8, 157seconds (LEE system)

Cloudiness that day was not very favorable therefore it was not necessary to prolong shutter. Normally I would use a more broad focus for intensifying the scene, on the right, however, composition disrupted the house on the lake shore. How I edited this photograph you can read on my blog post From color to black and White using levels in Photoshop.

What will we need?

1.) Wide angle adaptor ring

2.) Lee holder known as Lee Foundation Kit:

3.) LEE Big Stopper (10 stops) (separately suitable also for colour photography, does not have such colour shift)


4.)100x100mm (4×4″) Resin ProStop IRND 10 (10 Stops)


4.) 100x100mm (4×4″) Resin ProStop IRND 6 (6 Stops)

Attention! When you order 6 stop filter, should be noted that you want clean filter without foam that protects against the penetration of light between the lens and the filter itself which you can also see on LEE Big Stopper. When you deploy this filter immediately after 10 stop one, there is no need to seal it anymore because of the penetration of light, it is rather for a pity as it would cause vignetting on your wide angle lens.

Pros and cons of Lee filters

+ filter size 100 x 100 mm using a wide angle adapter ring avoids vignetting

+ very comfortable and quick handling

+ easier to clean

+ the possibility of using for all lenses

-        high price

-        takes up more space in the bag and is more susceptible to damage


So if you have read up to these lines, you probably have a question which filter for “extra” Long Exposure Photos to choose answered. On one side is the price which, in the case of circular filters for 77 mm, is 200 euros and on the other hand, uncompromising way in the form of LEE filters for which the user pays almost double. Neither way is bad, both can lead you to the quality results. It depends just on who is looking to viewfinder :)

Keep in mind that when shooting long times is not uniformly determined how much time is needed, therefore, it is necessary to constantly experiment. 

Posted in Gear review, Long exposure Photography

Lomonosov Moscow State University

Lomonosov Moscow State University

Lomonosov Moscow State University is one of the most beautiful places I have visited in Moscow. Whenever I have the opportunity to visit this beautiful place, this is exactly the place where I always have to find myself. It is difficult to describe the feeling, I think that simply you must experience it to know exactly what I mean.

The largest and oldest university in Russia and the campus are located in a large territory of Leninist mountains, southwest of downtown. This area is so vast that until you get on foot to the entrance of the university, it will take you about fifteen minutes. You walk through a beautiful park when suddenly this spectacular building emerge in front of you. You remain impressed.

Lomonosov Moscow State University is different during the day and different at night. During the day you can enjoy the peace that literally carries in the air. Beside students, this place is also popular for residents and tourists. They come here for the same purpose as me, to take a break, walk and looking at the grandeur suck energy. Immediately I get the taste to go back to school, improve in Russian and forget about everything else. It does not happen often to me because I was one of those students who wanted to leave the school as soon as possible. So it speaks for itself.

At night Lomonosov Moscow State University becomes a wilder place. In two visits of the three happened to me that there took place one big party. I do not know whether I just had a luck or it is a kind of tradition. Anyway, I am glad I was a witness. That night I and my girlfriend did not drink anything and we are not just dance types but this night we wanted to dance away. We look blankly at each other and we say what is going on here? Great music, many people, dance and the ongoing race for the most expensive car models and all this before the university highlighted. Simply say, this town LIVES.

A little history

At Lomonosov Moscow State University are studying about 30,000 students. 11 of its graduates awarded the Nobel Prize. Originally the seat of the university was building on the Red Square in Moscow, at the site of the historic museum. In the years 1786 – 1793 was constructed a new building which served as a university object. In 1812 the building burnt down in a fire in Moscow during the war with Napoleon and later it was restored again.

Brand new location Lomonosov Moscow State University gained already in the years 1948 – 1970. The whole complex is located on 320 hectares with 30 major and 20 service buildings. The main building which has quickly become one of the symbols of Moscow was built in the years 1949 – 1953.

If you liked this article about Lomonosov Moscow State University, share it on social media or subscribe to newsletter.


Posted in Long exposure Photography, Photo stories, Uncategorized

Zaha Hadid Architects have created another masterpiece

Zaha Hadid Architects belong among the best architectural offices in the world. They participated on 950 projects in 44 countries of the world. Their latest project includes the campus of Vienna University of Economics and Business. The following article will be dedicated just to this project.

Zaha Hadid Architects and Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien

Vienna University of Economics and Business by Zaha Hadid Architects

A brand new student campus is located near the center of Vienna, near the Prater. Overall, the campus consists of six buildings and the whole concept is created on the basis of green buildings.

University of the German title Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien with its size of almost 100,000 m2 of usable area represents one of the largest university campuses in the world.  It is a place for respectable 25,000 students and 3,000 jobs.

Zaha Hadid Architects and Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien

Zaha Hadid Architects combine unique design and functionality

For photographer of architecture, the whole area and particularly the campus of library is incredibly photogenic place. Only in the entrance hall you can spend hours and you will not approach the potential that this project offers the photographer.

Zaha Hadid Architects and Vienna University of Economics and Business

Not only the futuristic design itself but the effectiveness is one of the main domains that this project offers. Operation of Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien is compared to a separate ecosystem. Up to 25% of withheld rainwater is used for the operation of sanitary facilities and 13% for irrigation of green areas. Up to 50% of the energy for heating and cooling is ensured thanks to geothermal resources, low energy and water consumption and efficient sanitary facilities. In the case of the maximum load, the system is connected to the additional district heating. Of course there is also the use of solar energy. Heating, ventilation and air conditioning are optimized according to the actual occupancy of rooms. Lighting is also controlled by motion and light sensors.

Zaha Hadid Architects and Vienna University of Economics and Business

Project in numbers

Land area: 90 000 m2

Publicly available free areas: 55 000 m2 (61 %)

Built-up area: 35 000 m2 (39 %)

Net utility area: 100 000 m2

Estimated total costs: 492 mil. €

Investment construction costs: 383 mil. €

Period of projecting: 2008 – 2010

Construction time: 2011 – 2013

Homepage of Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien: http://www.wu.ac.at

Coming soon

So far I have had only a limited permission to photograph mainly in the entrance hall and public places. At the moment I am waiting for the extended permission. However, soon will be added to the article photographs of exterior and other looks that this great architectural project offers.


Posted in Uncategorized

How to calculate the exposure time

How to calculate the exposure time in Long Exposure Photography

How to calculate the exposure time in Long Exposure Photography is one of the most important basis that is necessary to learn if you want to become a long exposure photographer. I currently use for photographing of long exposures two filters stacked one on another. I use 10 stop filter – LEE Big Stopper and 6 stop filter  Formatt ProStop IRND 6.  So the total is 16 stops, an example which is shown below is using both at once but I often use separately one or the other. The procedure to calculate the exposure time, however, remains the same.


Vision is what makes your photo great. And composition as well. Do not underestimate them. The basis, however, always remains the properly captured photograph. In the classic static photography the camera will do everything instead of you. Regarding to Long Exposure Photography, you must tell your camera how long the shutter shall remain open for the correctly exposed photograph. The camera must be set to full manual mode. Therefore, we now tell how to calculate the exposure time in Long Exposure Photography in a few easy steps.

Set the camera to aperture priority mode

Find a suitable composition, put your camera on a tripod, fix cable release to the camera. Set the camera to aperture priority mode („A“ on Nikon and „Av“ on Canon). Focus and select the required aperture.

Ideal aperture for Long Exposure Photography

The most ideal aperture for most lenses is between f/8 and f/11. Since mostly for long exposure photography are used wide angle lens, it is not a problem even for aperture f/6.3. From my experience all will be sufficiently sharp. Do not exceed the upper limit f/16, try to keep it in an ideal values. The reason why not to go above is diffraction by which the lens suffers and in the photograph  you can see all the dust on your ND filter. You will save the time to remove them in photoshop.

How to calculate the exposure time seascapes

Nikon D800, Nikon 16-35, f/14, ISO 200, 24mm, 30sec. If you want to see the structure of the water surface, use the exposure time of 30sec.

Do your first test shot

We have the camera on tripod, we have set the ideal value of aperture on f/11, the camera is set to aperture priority mode. Pressing the shutter we have the following values calculated by the camera: ISO 200, f/11, 1/500sec.  Now we will show the example of how to achieve at these values the exposure time for example 4 minutes.

How to calculate the exposure time

I use a table with exposure times according to used density of ND filters for calculation or an application on the iPHONE. Let us first look at the table below: (Click on this link if you want to donwload this tab)

How to calculate the exposure time tab

As I wrote, I use two filters stacked one on another, they stopes the exposure time together for 16 stops. When you look at the lef column in the table you will find a value of 16 (density of used ND filters) and then look in the same line value of 4 minutes. The table will show you that the time you set (1/500sec.) is not correct. The correct should be (1/250sec). You are still at aperture priority mode so increase the aperture „f“ above until the camera shows the value of 1/250sec.

How to calculate the exposure time using the Iphone app.

The second simplier option how to calculate the exposure time is to use an application for example on the Iphone. Click on this link if you want to download this app. After its launch in the first menu click on „Stacking ND Filters“. In our case, we set the value of 1/250sec., the first filter 10-stop and the second filter 6-stop.  The application will instantly calculate that the correct exposure time is 4minutes and 22seconds! Isn´t it great?

How to calculate exposure time using Iphone app.

Set the camera to full manual mode and take the shot

Once we know what values we need, we set the camera to  full manual mode. Value of the exposure time is set to „bulb“. Shutter will stay open as long as you need. Cover your viewfinder so that light would not trap through it on the camera sensor at long exposure, attach filters and finally take the shot!

Control the histogram and give extra 20%

Control the histogram for each photo to avoid completely dark and completely bright areas in the photograph. You may lose the drawing in some parts of the photograph what we definitely do not want. Often applies that although you correctly calculate the exposure time, we still need to add  20­% of extra time. This will show you most reliably the histogram.

How to calculate long exposure times

Nikon D800, Nikon 16-35, f/5.6, ISO 100, 19mm, 149sec. If you prefer more ethereal look, set the exposure time for 2 or more minutes.

Finally, a few tips from me

Learning to technically manage how to calculate the exposure time is of course the basis of how to get to the photo itself. Equally important is your vision of how the final photograph should look. In Long Exposure Photography there is no rule which the photographer must strictly follow. Experimentation is definitely the way you must take. On the LCD screen of the camera you can not actually see whether the desired outcome is successful. My final tip for you is therefore as follows. Always do the different variants from each picture, I am doing 30 seconds, 1 minute, 2 minutes, 4 minutes, sometimes going even further but it depends on the conditions. Subsequently I select only one at home which I like the most.

Did you like this article How to calculate the exposure time? Subscribe to newsletter and share it on social media. If you have a question, do not hesitate to write me.

Subscribe to newsletter:


Posted in Long exposure Photography, Tutorials

Nikon D800 review

Nikon D800 review

Finally on my website you can find Nikon D800 review. Yes, given the time when this camera came out as a novelty, has already passed about a year and a lot of reviews have been written, from amateur photographers to laboratory tests. In this Nikon D800 review you will find my subjective evaluation of this camera, I particularly highlight the areas that interested me when I planned to buy it.

Nikon D800 review

Why did I choose Nikon D800?

I bought Nikon D800 about a year ago and it is my first full frame camera. I decided for some time and as well as others I have been waiting for a successor D700. When buying I had the following criteria. I wanted to move to another leve therefore it was clear that a new camera must be full frame. Since I sell photos in large sizes, the further condition was at least 16 megapixels sensor. Because I like shoot street photo, the last most essential condition was high ISO performance. Let´s go gradually.

Nikon D800 and 36 MPx

When I heard about resolution 36 MPx in a new D800, I was disenchanted like many others. I really did not expect this.  When I read that one NEF file has about 70 Mb, I was even more disappointed. However, I was so eager that concerns of  the resolution went sideways and I just ordered it.

Nikon D800 review

When you look at my gallery you will find that post process in my work is very, very important, even I would say it´s crucial. After the first recording of photographs and subsequent editing (adjustment) I immediately found that my (brand new) computer iMAC27 with processor 2.7 GHz Intel Core i5 and 8GB RAM is on its knees and gasping for breath! Do you think I am exaggerating? Imagine that you are working simultaneously with eight Layers in Photoshop and size of photograph climbs to record 2GB. What do you think about it?

Buy SSD Disk!

My problem was solved faster than I thought. I talked to my brother who versed in computers and I bought Intel 520, 240GB SSD. So I had to put my iMAC in service to put out the system disc and instead of it give this SSD.

The result? Until you do not try, won´t believe. It´s like dying when they give you an injection directly into the heart. And I am not exaggerating! The computer starts in 15 seconds instead of one and a half minutes! And work in photoshop? Crazy fast!

I was a bit carried away, I´ll just say only one thing.  SSD disc should be the most important component in every new computer. It´s the only thing that will slow you down. At today´s  prices I see no reason why not to buy it just now. Now, let´s continue with the main what is the article about and that is  Nikon D800 review.

Suitable lenses for D800

The truth is that to feed 36 MPx sensor requires the highest quality lenses. I personally use Nikon 16-35mm 1:4G ED VR as my favourite wide angle lens. As you may have already noticed, the option to put filters on the lens is essential thing for me. It is an excellent lens in all respects. Better is perhaps only Nikon 14-24mm F2,8 G. Practically I almost do not give it down from the camera.

Then I use Nikon 50mm 1.8 G, mainly for street photos and as tele I have Nikon 70-200 F2,8 VR II G. Buying either one of these lenses can not go wrong.

Nikon D800 Review

Sensor and High ISO performance.

Personally, most often take photos of landscape and architecture. I specialize in shooting long exposures. In this genre there is no scope for increasing ISO sensitivity. However, if for example, taking photos of  street, often set the camera on AUTO ISO and the upper limit on ISO 6400. There is nothing more to worry and photograph looks great.

Nikon D800 review 2013


Conclusion of Nikon D800 review

Nikon D800 is undoubtedly one of the best cameras on the market at all. However, I dare to say that it´s not for everyone. Often people buy expensive thing and then they do not want to accept that it will not be the right choice. I have read a lot of posts from professional photographers, that they bought D800 and after a few photo shoots sold it immediately. For photographic equipment applies the golden rule that review can navigate you to the right path but only you yourself can judge whether it was a good choice or not. Unfortunately with the risk of losing money but ultimately it´s almost in everything.

If you are a professional photographer who photographs often and produces a number of photos per week, also shooting to RAW, probably you will want to sell it in a week. Also, if you are a professional sports photographer, sending current photographs of the match even while it is running, do not buy it!

Nikon D800 review photos

But if you belong to a group of photographs like me, shooting mainly landscape and architecture, probably you cannot ask for nothing better. Extreme resolution captures the smallest detail. In combination with a sensor with such a large dynamic range you will make the most of the scene. There is no room for excuses, behind a failed photo search for yourself.


Posted in Gear review

Shooting architecture and meeting new friend Dragan

Writing a personal blog should not be just about writing tutorials or tips and tricks. Therefore, I would like to share with you today what happened to me last week.

Why is it good to have your own website and write photo blog?

When I first began to think that I should do my own website, the first thing I wanted was that the site is pure, simple, full of great photographs. Once I started to study this subject in more depth, I found that it is very important to have not only a nice site but a site full of content based on which people will be able to find you.  It is useless if you have a beautiful photos but visit of website is almost zero. A talented photographer remains undiscovered.

Meeting Dragan

Dragan (on the left) and me during our architecture photo-tour.

Dragan (on the left) and me during our architecture photo-tour.

Last week I received an e-mail:

Hello Matej. My name is Dragan and I am an architecture photographer. I noticed your site a couple of months ago – congratulations on your success! I notice we have a lot of similarities – I also love long exposure architecture photography.

It would be great if you can find the time and visit Vienna for a photo-tour together. I am still exploring Vienna and think it has some really great motifs.

Dragan found my site through articles which I gradually add to my blog. And I am very glad it happened.

Except that Dragan is a very nice person, he is also a very talented photographer. Among other things, we have a common hobby and that is shooting architecture, however, he shoots in color. On this website I have written that this blog is dedicated strictly to Black and White Photography. After I met with Dragan and saw his work, I am going to review this slogan immediately. As long as he will have prepared his site with a portfolio, his work will be certainly featured here in my blog.

Click here to see Dragan’s portfolio at 1x.com!

For now, with the consent of Dragan I join two photographs to let you know what I mean.

"Green Line" by Dragan Jovancevic

“Green Line” by Dragan Jovancevic

"Mumuth" by Dragan Jovancevic

“Mumuth” by Dragan Jovancevic


Finding new places for shooting architecture

I like Vienna very much, it is a city full of beautiful architecture. However, once you are somewhere not at home, you just do not have a chance to find a lot of nice places. Getting to know someone who can help you may mean an opportunity that simply cannot be refused. Therefore, I use this space to thank Dragan and his wife for everything and I look forward to our meeting early.

At conclusion

Although the weather was not very good this day, I attach at least one photo. The place of shooting remains so far under the veil of mystery. Maybe some of you already know it, if not, you have to look forward because I have one excellent tip for shooting architecture in Vienna for you!



Posted in Fine Art Photographers, Photo stories

Powerful Black and White conversion workflow in Long Exposure Photography

Black and White conversion workflow

Today again we will show a simple  but powerful Black and White conversion procedure. Again, this is not a conversion with one mouse click but judge for yourself whether the result is worth it. I also recommend you to read the article: “From color to black and white using levels in Photoshop”.

Below you can see a photograph, how it came directly from the camera without any intervention and then its final form. I remind again that in adjustments are almost infinite possibilities so you can but do not have to get affected by my vision about the final photograph.


Before I start with adjustments I always leave the photograph chew over and wonder which way to go. Each photograph is divided into several parts with which I will work later.

In this case, it is the water, the sky and the pillars at the front and rear pillars. I will focus on each of these areas separately. Using the program from Nik Software Silver Efex Pro2 I created a color photography of the following versions: Overexposed, Neutral and Full Dynamic. Nik Software is a very powerful tool for conversion to black and white. Almost always I use three or more versions which I simply choose from the default presets. Then each of the versions is fine-tuned easily or I use them as they are. For beginners, I recommend to use only the default.


Neutral Version / Overexposed Version / Full Dynamic Version

Selections are the key in Black and White conversion

As I have already mentioned above, now is the time to do a selection of water and pillars. In this case, I will have three selections, pillars which are in the foreground, rear pillars and the rest of the photograph. Do selections precisely, this is probably the most time-consuming part of the photo adjustments. How to do selections read in my article “Selections in Photoshop, how to use them in Black and White photography”.


My goal is to darken the rear pillars as much as possible but not so much that their drawing disappear. Water and sky I will try to adjust to high key effect, thus the brightest as possible. However, if the water would be only one bright area, the photograph would pose very flat so then I also add gray tint to the water. The last Full Dynamic Version will be used for adjustment of the pillars at the forefront.

Step 1: Adjustment of rear pillars

Now I induce already saved selection of rear pillars in Photoshop through Select – Load Selection. When I will have the selection of pillars indicated, I click on “Create a new fill or adjustment layer” under layers, click on “Levels”. In that way, I will adjust levels only in designated part of the photograph.






Using the levels you adjust the light and dark parts of photograph and midtones. Thus let´s watch the histogram. We can see that this part contains mainly midtones. Let´s try to shift the left slider, which relates to the dark parts, to the right until the top of histogram.  We get a rich dark blacks but with a drawing and we have not damaged the photograph!


Then by right click on “adjustment layer” select “Merge Down”.

Step 2: Adjustment of water and sky

Intention is to have a gray sky while the water with the hey key effect. Therefore I combine Overexposed Version with Neutral Version. As yet ignore other parts of the photograph. Layer with Overexposed Version is placed above a layer with Neutral Version. So when I am already on Overexposed Version, I click on “Add layer mask”.

On the left panel click on “Gradient Tool” and choose the first option “Linear Gradient Tool”.  Click somewhere in the upper pillars and drag the mouse just above the horizon. Observe that we have a very fine passing from Overexposed Version to Neutral Version. Transition looks very naturally.


As a last in this step right-click on “Apply layer mask”.

Step 3: The combination of individual selections into one photograph

So after the combination of water, dark rear pillars and front pillars from version Full Dynamic we get the following result.


For someone, the final version, but not for me. Photo lacks depth, thus I add gray to water in the bottom and fine-tune transition of the pillars jutting out of the water to be as natural as possible.

Finally I gently sharpen the photograph and it is finished.



Play and try. Not everything needs to be done in a single day, leave adjustment to chew over for several days and then return to it again. Thus you will achieve a better result. If you liked this Black and White conversion tutorial, subscribe to newsletter and you will receive all the news.


Posted in Long exposure Photography, Tutorials

I just won two Honorable Mentions in IPA 2013!

The 2013 International Photography Awards received nearly 18,000 submissions from 104 countries across the globe. I am so happy, that two of my images won Honorable Mentions!

Matej Michalik was Awarded: Honorable Mention in Fine Art – Landscape category for the winning entry“Tanah Lot” and he also received Honorable Mention in Architecture – Cityscapes category for the winning entry “Double Tree Hotel by Hilton”






Here are my award winning entries

Honorable Mention in Fine Art – Landscape category for the winning entry “Tanah Lot”

Honorable Mention in Architecture – Cityscapes category for the winning entry “Double Tree Hotel by Hilton”

Posted in Matej Michalik awards