Trash The Lens

Journeys and photos

Tokyo Density

All too often we associate landscapes and city-scapes with wide angle lenses. It's natural that we want to take in the whole scene and show as much of it as possible, but I'm starting to realize the wide views are not always the best views.

Here's a photo I took from the observation deck in Tokyo World Trade Center building. While struggling to find a good framing with a wide angle lens it struck me that it might be better to zoom in and avoid showing the horizon line altogether. This way we don't create an artificial boundary and therefore don't even hint as to where the city might be ending. Although technically it might be an open composition, in my mind it adds to the claustrophobic feel of the metropolis.

Tokyo Density

Tokyo never ceases to amaze me and I hope it'll always stay that way. (2014-11-05 Tokyo, Japan)

Tokyo: tradition amidst ultra-modernity

While I would love to say this shot was taken spontaneously, that would not be true. This photo was one I came there to take: I did my research, I looked through many images from Tokyo and figured out the vantage points I liked. I checked them out during the day and came back in the evening to take the photos. This may not sound like much fun, but it actually was.

This is the south-west exit of Tokyo Station taken from the balcony/garden on the 6th floor of JP TOWER KITTE building. Fun fact: kitte (切手) in Japanese stands for postage stamp which is quite fitting given that the building is partially occupied by Japan Post Office.

Tokyo Station

I love it how Tokyo blends the old and the new, this is just one example. (2014-11-21 Tokyo, Japan.)

Singapore: the fine city.

Blue hour. We all know this is the magic time to photograph cities: when the sky has still some color left in it and the city lights are already on. The only problem with Singapore is, due to the latitude of just a couple degrees, the sun dips behind the horizon very quickly and the blue hour is extremely short -- it's more like a magic quarter.

Merlion and Central Business District, Singapore

But if you manage to use this short window of opportunity, the colors will just blow your mind. (2013-02-09 Marina Bay Area, Singapore)

Shibuya: motion and stillness

I know you must have seen this crossing before in many movies and on countless photos. I know it has become cliché by now. But I still think this place is awesome. So energetic and so lively, it is the quintessential Tokyo. I spend a lot of time in this location, mostly waiting for something interesting to happen and I think it paid off. From all the frames I took there it came down to the choice between this couple standing still by the lamppost or a guy in a white coat in the same spot. I chose the couple -- call me a romantic. ;-)

Shibuya crossing

Ok, ok, the white coat had too much contrast for my liking. (2014-11-11 Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan).

Gems in ash

I said it before and I'll say it again: Tongariro Alpine Crossing is an amazing hike. Unless you take either of the side tracks to Mt. Tongariro or Mt. Ngauruhoue, Red Crater at 1886m a.s.l. is the highest point on the route and provides spectacular views in all directions. Here's a look to the east, towards Emerald Lakes. On a sunny day they resemble little gems sparkling in the endless ashes. It's just over a hundred meters elevation difference between Red Crater and the lakes, but boy, it is steep! And as if the steepness wasn't enough, the descent leads through a very loose surface made up mostly of ash and hardly any bigger rocks. It must be quite challenging doing the crossing in the opposite direction.

Emerald Lakes

It's quite windy up there. In fact, it was one of the strongest winds I've ever experienced. (2014-03-05 Tongariro Alpine Crossing, New Zealand)

Golden Auckland

This was our last evening in New Zealand. In the early afternoon we were scouting for a location to shoot the cityscape and found this spot by the Wynyard Crossing drawbridge. As it later turned out, we were not the only ones who felt this was the right place to be for the golden hour -- a photography workshop was taking place right there. Twenty or so people with tripods, and a photography instructor explaining the basics.

I took this photo from a pedestrian ramp at the Viaduct Events Centre. A bit wobbly, but fine enough as long as nobody walked on it.

Golden Auckland

The true golden hour lasted for maybe ten minutes... (2014-03-09 Auckland, New Zealand)

Old Sandyman's Mill in Hobbiton

Here's another gripe I have with Hobbiton: they have all those LOTR-themed souvenirs and tidbits on sale, but they lack any descent postcards. The ones they sell are of rather inferior quality compared to what you can get anywhere else in New Zealand. While I get the ideas behind the photographs on them, the print quality is just poor. It's a shame, because the place is really picturesque and deserves much better. Also, they seem to have a monopoly on cards with Hobbiton on them. Maybe it's due to copyright reasons, I don't know.

On the other hand I should cut them some slack, because after all they had been just an ordinary family running a farm and suddenly they were faced with the challenges of running what is essentially a theme park.

Sandyman's Mill in Hobbiton

Also, please cut those bloody rushes obstructing the view! (2014-03-07 Hobbiton Movie Set, Matamata, New Zealand)

One bridge in Hobbiton

He who is without a photo taken in midday sun, let him cast the first rock... Sometimes the conditions aren't what they should be or it is the wrong time of the day, and so the photo you're taking won't be perfect. But if you know you're not coming back anytime soon, if ever, I think it's better to take the shot anyway. It won't be one worthy of putting in a portfolio, but could make a nice keepsake anyway.

My main gripe with Hobbiton is that it's open only during the day. I would love to visit during a golden hour one day and just stroll around freely instead of listening to a guide, but they didn't come up with such an offer catering to photographers' needs. Unless of course you're Trey Ratcliff.

A bridge in Hobbiton

They are working on illuminating the whole village for evening tours, so maybe there's still hope. (2014-03-06 Hobbiton Movie Set, Matamata, New Zealand)

Approaching Mt. Doom

Here's another photo taken while hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. This has clearly been the most inspiring of all the places I visited during our NZ trip. For this hike you get up in the middle of the night, get on a bus (booking in advance required!) which takes you to the base of the volcano and you start climbing just as the first rays of sunlight peek over the mountains around.

The clear weather of the dawn turned into an unbelievably dense fog while we hiked up to South Crater. It lasted long enough to let me take a few photos, but luckily cleared up afterwards not to spoil the views. Truly, the weather gods were in a good mood that day.

Approaching Mt. Doom

Normally I don't deviate so much from the original colors of the photo, but somehow this feels perfectly fitting -- it's Sauron's territory after all! (2014-03-05 Tongariro Crossing, New Zealand)


I'm happy to announce an image from my "Tempest-tossed Islands" series has been selected by the editors of Camerapixo magazine and is published in their latest issue -- Hot Shots vol.3. I definitely recommend checking it out, and since there are many outstanding photos there I can guarantee you will find something that will blow your mind. It is truly an honor for me to be among such skilled photographers.

It also came as a nice surprise that my favorite travel/destination photographer, Elia Locardi (from Blame the Monkey blog), published one of his photos in the same issue.

The magazine is a hefty 56MB download in pdf, but is worth every last bit of it. (2014-05-28, Poland)