Robin visits South Africa, part II

Continued from Part 1

It was hard to believe how close we were able to get to the wild animals in Madikwe Game Reserve. Our park ranger drove us as close as 5 meters from the animals! The feeling of potentially fatal danger was persistent even while we busied ourselves composing images. The animals kept turning toward us and glancing at us from time to time, but they never showed any sign of aggression or agitation. I guess they’re so used to human presence with the never-ending stream of tourists that pass through the reserve. I was thrilled to be able to continue shooting my portraits of strangers, only this time my subjects were wild animals instead of humans.

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Robin visits South Africa, part I

Let me begin by expressing my gratitude for the overwhelmingly positive response to my recent announcement about joining the Olympus Visionary team. I am grateful to have such supportive readers and have come this far thanks to your support. So please do continue to visit the site regularly as MT and myself endeavour to produce content.

From December 7th to 13th, I traveled to South Africa with a group of Olympus Visionaries from Asia Pacific. This photography trip was fully sponsored by Olympus with the objective of encouraging the 19 photographers from Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, South Korea and Australia to share ideas, inspire each other and to work more closely with Olympus. We went to Madikwe Game Reserve for safari shoots and stayed at the Tau Game Lodge. We spent 3 days going out in the field, trying to capture wildlife and nature shots. This particular trip was full of new experiences for me. For this first part of my South Africa series, I will share wider landscape and environmental photographs of the locations we visited.

All images shot with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II and M.Zuiko PRO lenses (300mm F4 PRO IS, 40-150mm F2.8 PRO and 7-14mm F2.8 PRO).

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Photoessay: Urban vignettes, Osaka

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Today’s photoessay is a short series of vignettes from Osaka. I found it a strange place because the visually appealing bits – photographed here – were pretty empty most of the time; the not so nice bits, not photographed, were buzzing wit activity. A strange paradox and one I couldn’t really reconcile with the city’s place as an industrial hub and one of the largest cities in Japan. One thing that didn’t appeal so much was the omnipresent overhead highways; not so much the fact that they were used (understandably, to preserve real estate yet create efficient arteries directly through the heart of the city) – but the fact that they blocked out so much natural light at street level, leaving the place feeling somewhat post-apocalyptic-Blade-Runner-esque even during bright sunshine. Further adding to the challenge is the layout of the city itself: a grid without much light at ground level is really not very conducive to photography, hence the relatively low yield (which dropped off even further after the last few months of maturation time). MT

These images were shot with a Nikon D850, 24-120/4 VR and Canon G1X Mark III, and post processed with Photoshop Workflow III.

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Photoessay: travels in hard light II

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Trying the sun on for size

Monochrome, today. The variation of weather in Istanbul can be spectacular; one moment you have brilliant sunshine, and barely 30min later: hail. I suppose such are the joys of a maritime climate. Regardless of weather, Istanbul seems to be one of those places that has realities of so many different eras that it’s almost timeless; the modern overlaps with the ancient in the sort of organic way that can only happen over centuries – millennia, even – of continuity. I was there at the time of the constitutional referendum; there were fears that it might get ugly, but the reality is life would continue as normal – daily ups and downs being relatively minor blips in the grand scheme of things – short period transience and a sort of lack of definition for individuals, and a much slower erosion for the surrounding environment. What holds it together? The framework is left in the shadows, and only when you look closer (at these images, too) is it clear that things are not always as they seem.

This series was shot with a Hasselblad H6D-100c and 100mm. Post processing was completed using the techniques in the weekly workflow and Monochrome Masterclass.

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Photoessay: travels in hard light I

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Today’s images are a mix of subjects from around the world that have benefitted from one thing in common: the kind of strongly directional light that makes shadows so solid they seem real. For want of a better term, I’ve always had this feeling of ‘something more’ when encountering this kind of scene: perhaps it’s the mystery of what isn’t revealed; perhaps it’s the transient objects implied by the shadows – and their absence. It takes light at the right angle relative to the subject (some of these were shot early or late in the day, others near noon) and a particularly clear sky for the light to be intense enough to produce that hard black edge. The world somehow seems just that little bit more vivid – whichever city we may be talking about (in this case, Tokyo, Gothenburg, Doha and Lucerne). MT

This series was shot with a Canon 100D and 55-250STM, an X1D-50c and 90mm, and a H6D-100c and 100mm. Post processing was completed using the techniques in the weekly workflow and PS Workflow III.

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Photoessay: John Rylands, Manchester

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I had a very small amount of time between meetings during a recent visit to Manchester; one of the buildings on my to-shoot list is (was, I guess) the John Rylands Library. It’s an interesting mix of new and old, much in the same kind of style as the British Museum, and to a lesser extent, the Louvre. The new part is very new; stark, minimalist and somewhat Escheresque in places; the old part is very much Gothic (though built in the late 19th Century, and opened in 1900). The detailing and finesse of the stonework is both delicate and extremely detailed; it’s an absolutely beautiful building to photograph. It’s also sensitively lit inside, too. Whilst photography is permitted, tripods aren’t, so one has to be either very steady – or find something to brace against*. The oculus/ring/gallery in the last shot is a personal favourite feature: you almost expect a portal to another dimension to open from time to time (but only during visiting hours, 10am-5pm Monday-Friday, closes 2pm Saturday). MT

*I can’t help but think an E-M1.2 and 12-100 with its incredible stabiliser combination would have been perfect here.

This series was shot with a preproduction Hasselblad X1D, 45 and 90mm lenses, and post processed with Photoshop and Lightroom Workflow III. Roam vicariously with T1: Travel Photography. and the How to See series.

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Photoessay: Doha to London

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Doha

I always try to get a window seat if I’m flying, and if there might be the slightest chance of anything to see (night photography from an airplane has so far proven highly challenging, with few exceptions – either your ISO is cranked so high that any subtle tonality in the widespread blue palette completely disappears, or you have motion problems). In those cases, it’s probably advisable to take an aisle seat if you’re the insomniac type, or stick to the window if you prefer not to be climbed over by your neighbour. Usually, the Middle East to European routes have something worth seeing; you overfly desert, mountains, and cities, and there’s at least eight hours of boredom to kill. I can’t imagine what else the answer might be if not photographic, to the point that I’ll try to sit on the ‘correct’ side of the plane for light and likely opportunities – beats 20 reruns of Friends at any rate. Whilst perhaps airline travel doesn’t quite have the same immediate connection with the changing landscape as driving or taking the train, it simply happens at a much faster pace and larger scale – which sadly is all too often overlooked by most travellers.

The opening image proves again that the adage ‘the best camera is the one you have with you’ is true: whilst the H5D was on my lap as usual for takeoff, I had completely the wrong lens on (100mm) – iPhone to the rescue. MT

This series was shot with a Hasselblad H5D-50C, various lenses and post processed with Photoshop and Lightroom Workflow III. Roam vicariously with T1: Travel Photography. and the How to See series.

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Photoessay: Postcards from a wintery Gothenburg

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This set has had a little sitting time – shot in March, just about on the cusp of spring. I was in Gothenburg for Hasselblad-related things. The usual hotel near the office was booked out, which I initially resented, but it did give me the pleasure of a nice walk of a couple of kilometres down the waterfront from the hotel to the office and back. Living in the tropics, you really miss the seasons – the whole year passes pretty much the same, with some variations in precipitation as about the only clues as to which month you’re in. It’s strange, but there’s definitely pleasure in getting such a strong feeling from your environment that change is about to happen – you can see the brilliant sunshine and warmth trying to break through slightly more each day and chase the vestiges of winter misery away, though there are still moments during the day where you’re not quite sure what season it is (especially towards dusk, if there are clouds). What was that old saying again – we always want what we can’t have…MT

This series was shot with a Hasselblad X1D and 90mm lens, and post processed with Photoshop and Lightroom Workflow III. Roam vicariously with T1: Travel Photography. and the How to See series.

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NEW video: T1 Travel Photography

Click to watch the trailer above

We’re pleased to offer a new video in time for your holiday season viewing and vacations: T1: Travel Photography!

Shot on on location in Prague, T1: Travel Photography focuses on making the most of your trip photographically – and how to come home with unique images that represent what you saw and experienced. It covers everything from pre-trip planning to post-trip workflow, camera maintenance, field tips and everything in between. The location city is both beautiful yet widely seen and visited, making getting something different an interesting challenge. Join us in this video for a unique blend of philosophy, technique and composition/seeing.

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Photoessay: Lisbon monochromes I

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He who watches the watchers

Few words today, just a series of singles from Lisbon in the style of Idea of Man. It’s too late to put them into the first series because that now has a mature and complete narrative; they don’t really fit the second series because I changed the presentation style – so they stand alone. You might wonder why I still photograph in this style given the first two statements; in this case, partially because I was demonstrating for a couple of students at the Lisbon Masterclass, partially because I felt the aesthetic suited the feeling at some of the starker and heavier locations – Oriente station, for instance. Enjoy! MT

This series was shot with a Hasselblad H5D-50c, various lenses, a Leica Q 116 and post processed with the Monochrome Masterclass workflow.

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