Category Archives: Photo stories

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.

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Matej Michalik

About Matej Michalik

Matej Michalik was born and live in Bratislava, Slovakia. He came in touch with photography in 2010 and from the beginning his intuition was leading him towards black and white photographs. He specialize mainly in Long Exposure Photography, architecture, seascapes but he is also interested in shooting streets.

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!

WU-MatejMichalik-Black-and-White


 

Matej Michalik

About Matej Michalik

Matej Michalik was born and live in Bratislava, Slovakia. He came in touch with photography in 2010 and from the beginning his intuition was leading him towards black and white photographs. He specialize mainly in Long Exposure Photography, architecture, seascapes but he is also interested in shooting streets.

Why I like photography: Testimonial from Lorrin Baker

Today I want to share with you a testimonial from one of my customer – Lorrin Baker from Springfield. I am writing this post because this message from Lorrin made a big smile on my face and I feel very happy that two of my images are hanging abroad :)

This is exactly what can a photographer really push forward in his work!

So here is the message with the picture of the framed images:

Matej,

I wanted to send you an image of your framed images finally hanging on the wall. They really look wonderful! My father is very impressed with your images and is displaying them proudly in his home office. Thanks so much, once again. I cannot express what a pleasure it was corresponding with you. I hope everything is well with you and I will continue sending people to your website!

Take care,

Lorrin

Matej Michalik

About Matej Michalik

Matej Michalik was born and live in Bratislava, Slovakia. He came in touch with photography in 2010 and from the beginning his intuition was leading him towards black and white photographs. He specialize mainly in Long Exposure Photography, architecture, seascapes but he is also interested in shooting streets.

BW photo stories: Padang – Padang Beach, Bali

BW photo from Padang – Padang Beach, definitely a must do on your tri to Bali

Padang – Padang Beach is one of the most beautiful places we visited on Bali. Whether you love surfing or prefer just lying on the beach and admiring the magnificent surroundings, you will be amazed. This place is located about 25 km from the Denpasar airport in Badung regency. Some of the beautiful scenes of Bali that appeared in the movie Eat Pray Love with Julia Roberts in the main role were made in this very place. The crystal clear water and the scenery around will literally take your breath away. If you‘re hoping for some romance, just wait for the sunset which is so magical here. This place is definitely a must do on your trip to Bali.

Which time of the day to choose if you are a Long Exposure photographer

Padang – Padang Beach is a very popular beach, it starts getting crowded with tourist around lunchtime. Each of them wants to take at least one photo at this beautiful rock with that “bonsai tree“ on the top. Those who are hungry for more photos and want to have a picture with the rock from the front, from one side and from the other side, smiling, making funny faces, serious or jumping  – these tourist become a nightmare of long exposure photographers.

BW photo from Bali

Take your time to take maximum from the scene

I had my tripod ready on one spot and I set up a 4-minute exposure. I made about 15 of them, which took me over an hour and I was hoping to be able to use at least one of them. And I was. I had just one and yet, there were some ghosts on the right side of the photograph, which took me quite some time to remove from the photograph. Although I know, that some place has a great potential and I won’t get ever a chance to get back there- for example the next morning, without any disturbing people, I take 3-4x more shots, just in case. Now that I got to this photo that was taken 2 months ago, I’m thankful  that I have at least this one, beacuse I would be very disappointed now, that I didn’t wait and took more BW photos back then.

Fine Art Prints are available!

Technical information about this BW photo

Nikon D800, Nikon 16-35, 26 mm, ISO 200, f/9, 231 seconds

LEE Big stopper and LEE 1,2 ND was used on this shot


 

Matej Michalik

About Matej Michalik

Matej Michalik was born and live in Bratislava, Slovakia. He came in touch with photography in 2010 and from the beginning his intuition was leading him towards black and white photographs. He specialize mainly in Long Exposure Photography, architecture, seascapes but he is also interested in shooting streets.

Black and white photo stories: Shooting at Unda river, Bali, Indonesia

Get tips for shooting from local photographers

As I already mentioned in the previous post in black and white photography tips about how to find the best places for shooting, you might have already understood, it was my intention to come to this place. Lots of local photographers takes photos of newlyweds with a sweet background of children playing and splashing water around or jumping into the water  and making funny faces into your lens. These photographs really caught my attention.

It looks like a waterfall, in fact it’s just the river Unda. Even with a local taxi-driver, it was really difficult to get here. When we finally came to this place, I didn’t see any children around. The locals told our driver that it’s Saturday and all the kids are still at school. Yes, Balinese children go to schol also on Saturdays! We managed to find at least one boy and we asked him to find someone who also “forgot” to go to schol today. We arranged the finances regarding his reward for shooting and shortly there were three of them. As I have already mentioned, it is a well-known place of local photographers, the boys didn’t need much explanation to know what I wanted them to do. I could start shooting right away! Just for your entertainment, we found out that the boys spent the money straightaway in a Playstation gameshop.

Bali Photo Unda River

Sometimes we must take a risk for a good picture

The only problematic thing was how to get right in front of them. A photograph taken from the river bank wouldn’t be worth much, really. The only option here was to walk into the river. I had no idea how deep it was, it took me a moment to think whether to go for it or not. When it comes to a chance to take a good photo, the fear usually steps aside, which doesn‘t always pay off. I set the apperture for f11, then I raised the ISO to 800, so that I didn’t need to care about the settings anymore and at the same time be sure, that the shutter speed would be fast enough in order to freeze the move of the water which was my aim. The water was almost up to my shoulders at the spot where I took the photo. But now I can say to myself that it was worth taking that risk! More black and white photos from Bali are comming soon.


 

Matej Michalik

About Matej Michalik

Matej Michalik was born and live in Bratislava, Slovakia. He came in touch with photography in 2010 and from the beginning his intuition was leading him towards black and white photographs. He specialize mainly in Long Exposure Photography, architecture, seascapes but he is also interested in shooting streets.

Batur Lake – widest lake in Bali

About Batur Lake, Bali

Lake Batur is the widest lake on this island. It lies down on the feet of Mount Batur and Mount Abang. On the left side which is not seen in this photograph, there is mount Batur, which is a small volcano. The volcano is still active today as Balinese still remember the great eruption of 1917. It claimed thousands of lives and destroyed hundreds of temples. It has erupted about 24 times since the year 1800. From the distance you can see many trucks carrying away the volcanic soil which is later used in the construction industry all around Bali. There are six ancient villages around the cauldron of Batur Lake which is often conceived to be the Bali Age Village. The total number of residents in this area is about 15 thousand; they are mostly working as farmers, merchants or they work in tourism.

The story behind the photograph

When we arrived here, at first I thought I would not be able to make this shot. This wharf was interesting for shooting from the left side, where the whole shore was full of fishing boats tight to the shore with ropes. I pulled out the tripod anyway, I set it up and waited for the situation to change. After 15 minutes, I was lucky and two of the fishermen took off to the see to fish. I should say that it is necessary to have good luck but at the same time you have to be ready. I had enough time to make only two long exposures, where I tried two times of different duration. After that, two other fishermen appeared and the scene was ruined, so there was just a little missing and this photo would not be taken at all. When you’re taking long exposures, you always have to experiment, it is not a rule that a 4 minute exposure should be always suitable. The weather conditions keep changing constantly and you have to adopt to them. When you’re taking pictures on a place where you might never get back again, it would be a real shame, if you brought home a useless shot just because you didn’t feel like experimenting and relied on the fact that the photo seemed quite well-done on the LCD screen of you camera but when you look at it on your computer at home, the reality can be completely different.

I usually make 3-4 different shots of the same composition with different exposures and then choose the one I like best and meets my idea. However, I regularly take several shots with the same exposure time because the density of clouds can also change quite often and that can have a significant impact on the final effect. It is always true that in order to take a good photograph, it is essential to have it exposed correctly, which is why you need to control your histogram all the time.

Luckily, for all long exposure fans smart phones applications are also available today, they easily calculate the required time for you. And finally, my last piece of advice for long exposures: when taking long exposure shots, always cover the viewfinder, the light gets inside and there might appear some artefacts on the photograph which later cannot be  removed in the post-process. Originally, I thought I would cut off the photograph into a square but I decided to stick to the 2:3 size. I always make my first adjustments with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, where I slightly adjust the contrast, I cut off the photograph, add a little bit of clarity and I convert the photograph into the TIFF format, 16bit, 300 pixels.

Nik Software Silver Efex Pro2 for B&W conversions

I use the program Nik Software Silver Efex Pro2 for convertions into BW. I believe, it is one of the best into black and white conversions. As soon as you get familiar with it, you will not ask for anything else. After having converted the photos into BW, I finialize them in Adobe Photoshop, where I use dodging and burning a lot, levels, curves to achieve the desired result.  The key is to do everything slowly and carefully without any hurry. Otherwise, as a result you can get a  photograph bungled by the post process.

Technical information

Nikon D800, Nikon 16-35, 23mm, ISO 100, f16, 154sec.

LEE Big Stopper + LEE 1,2 ND was used on this shot.

 

Matej Michalik

About Matej Michalik

Matej Michalik was born and live in Bratislava, Slovakia. He came in touch with photography in 2010 and from the beginning his intuition was leading him towards black and white photographs. He specialize mainly in Long Exposure Photography, architecture, seascapes but he is also interested in shooting streets.