Posts Tagged ‘Mobile photography’

Exploring Ukraine: The Pearl of the Black Sea, Odessa

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Sunrise fishing 

Ukraine isn’t a particularly popular tourist destination, although it has a plenty of wonderful sights- like the Black Sea coast with sandy beaches and great local wineries, and the Carpathian Mountains with their striking natural scenery and beautiful small villages.

Odessa, a beautiful city in the south west part of Ukraine, is a longtime favorite spot for a getaway. It has very distinct culture and its inhabitants even have a region specific accent. It is very different from any other Ukrainian city, yet as welcoming as the others.

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Passing Vorontsov Lighthouse on a boat

Port

First and foremost, Odessa is a seaport. It started as a port and it still holds it’s privilege of a free port and free economic zone. During the 19th century, it was the fourth largest city in Imperial Russia, after Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Warsaw.

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Port of Odessa

It’s port (locally known as Morskoy Vokzal) is a great place to get oriented with the city. From impressive hotel buildings reaching towards the skies to fast and elegant motor boats in Yacht Club, it offers quite a few photo ops.

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Yacht Club

Once you are at the port, don’t miss a chance to go further – by a scheduled or private boat tour. The prices start as lows as $4 for a group option, and from $30 for a private hire. It is also the only way to see the 27 meter (88 foot) red-and-white Vorontsov Lighthouse, one of port’s famous landmarks.

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Selfie on Board

The Port is also a good point to start a nice city walk. Go climb (or use funicular!)  the recently renovated Potemkin Stairs considered a formal entrance into the city from the direction of the sea. This giant staircase 142 meters long is the best known symbol of Odessa. As a bonus you get the greatest view of the harbor.

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Viewing machine at the top of Potemkin Stairs

Architecture

Odessa’s historical architecture has a style more Mediterranean than Russian, having been heavily influenced by French and Italian styles. Some buildings are built in a mixture of different styles, including Art Nouveau, Renaissance and Classicist.

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Inside the museum of Western and Eastern Art

If you’re dreaming to get away from the crowd, try going to museum instead of a beach, try Museum of Western and Eastern Art (entry fee $2). Not only it is located in a beautiful 19th century building, it also has a magnificent collection of paintings, sculptures, porcelain, furniture and more. The exhibitions include ancient, western European and eastern arts, and western European collection of exhibits.

 

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Keep walking towards second most famous symbol of Odessa it’s Opera Theater. Its neo-baroque building was constructed in 1887 by two Viennese architects, Ferdinand Fellner and Hermann Helmer. It was also the first building in Odessa to use electric illumination.

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Fountains Near Opera Theater

Beach

Although Odessa has a few public beaches, they become overcrowded in the summer. For a more pleasant experience I would advise to pick one of the numerous beach clubs. The entry is usually free, but you have to pay for a beach chair ($5-10/a day), towels or umbrellas, if you’re using any.

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Early morning at Bright On Beach

My choice was Bright On Beach club, for bright girlish design, reasonable prices and perfect peach sangria at the bar!

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Peach Sangria at Bright On Beach

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Oh, and don’t forget flamingos!

Food

Summer is the season of open terraces and cold coffee in Odessa, my all time favourite it a White Whale, where you can find the best cappuccino in city and  a variety of alternative brews. For a fancy cup with vegan options try order Coconut Latte at Moloko Bar. Their specialty is actually a trifle yogurt with a broad list of add-ons, so it’s a perfect place to indulge yourself with healthy and yummy breakfast before heading off to the beach.

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Trifle yogurt with blueberries and coconut latte at Moloko Bar

Eating local is a must at Odessa. And here it means you should try the seafood. I woulds advise you skip Forshmak (a combination of pickled herring and apples is not for everyone, or at least not for me), but local mussels are a dish of choice. While you can find mussels at almost every cafe in the city, I advise visiting the place that specializes in bivalve molluscs, like Kotelok Mussels Bar.

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Grilled mussels with cheese and tomato sauce at Kotelok

For a good dinner with live music head to Odessa City Food Market. The newly established local food hall is the one and only in Ukraine. With an open floor plan; fresh food prepared in front of your eyes; a post-industrial space, and good-looking people sharing communal tables or sitting on stools around countertops this place is a perfect pick for a night out.

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Oysters and Wine

Welcome the Sun

There is something special about sunset and sunrises at the seaside. Odessa is facing the East, so sunsets are quite boring here, yet seeing the sun rising from the water is very special experience.

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Sunrise colors of Odessa Port

My favorite sunrise spot is Langeron beach. It is the closest beach to the city center, and has unobstructed views of the sun. On weekend mornings, you’ll always find here late party goers, fishermen, tourists, local park workers, all of them gathered with a single purpose: to witness the first light of the day. So why not join?:)

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Chasing the sun

Odessa International Airport (ODS) has daily direct connections from and to Kiev, Vienna, Istanbul, Ankara, Warsaw, Budapest, Minsk, Prague,Tel-Aviv. Several days a week there are also scheduled flights to Athens, Dubai, Milan, Sharm-El-Sheikh and Saloniki.

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Honored to be Among the 2017 iPhone Photography Awards Winners

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1st Place Travel Category

I was thrilled to learn this morning that my image Snow + Fishing Cottages = Win won 1st Place the Travel category of the 2017 iPhone Photography Awards (IPPAs). I took this image in February in Norway and it is one of my personal favorites, so I am excited it may find a new audience. After perusing the gallery of winning images I am humbled and honored have my photograph included in this mix of truly amazing shots.

In addition, three more of images were named as Honorable Mentions in the Trees, Sunset, and Nature categories. I am particularly pleased that a photo I shot on my iPhone 7 plus while experimenting with photographing the Northern Lights in Norway was named among the Honorable Mentions in the Nature category.

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Honorable Mention: Trees

This sunrise shot from Joshua Tree National Park during the last supermoon of 2016. Joshua Tree is one of my favorite places in California and the skies were so gorgeous that morning it was worth losing a good night’s sleep.

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Honorable Mention: Sunset

An image I took on safari in Serengeti National Park in Tanzania garnered an Honorable Mention in the 2017 Sunset category of the IPPAs. This shot was taken during the end of the Great Migration of wildebeest. It was truly an epic view!

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Honorable Mention: Nature

While photography contests are arguably a matter of taste, I’m perhaps most excited about this image I took using the Northern Lights Photo Taker app receiving an Honorable Mention. For me it’s the intersection of technology and creativity that keeps iPhone photography exciting and this image pretty much summarizes that.

I am grateful I didn’t have to judge these awards! There are so many amazing images, including many by friends. I was thrilled to learn my friend and fellow Shot on iPhone/Apple World Gallery photographer Brendan Ó Sé won the 1st Place Photographer of the Year for an amazing image he shot in Jakarta.

The gallery of winning images is gorgeous and inspiring and well worth looking through if you have a few minutes. Congratulations to all the photographers mentioned!

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Exploring Norway: Winter Photo Workshop in the Lofoten Islands

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White on white landscape in Norway’s Lofoten Islands

I’m currently in the middle of a week long photo workshop in Norway’s Lofoten Islands. I visited this spot back in October and truly loved it. It’s a winter wonderland in late February. I wanted to share this cloud lapse video I made so you could get a sense of the beauty of this special Scandinavian spot.

Arctic Cloud Lapse 

I booked this week long photo workshop through Iceland Photo Tours, a company I had a great experience with in 2015. This tour is being led by Stian Klo, a Norwegian native who has major photo game. Photographer Shane Wheel is also helping with this workshop.

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This landscape was the inspiration for the movie Frozen

I am definitely outside my comfort zone with extra gear, parkas, and toting multiple tripods. We’ll see if my photos come out great.

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Snowy marina in Reine

I’ll cover the tour in depth in future posts.

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Happy little clouds in Norway

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Exploring the Pacific Northwest: Portland and Seattle with High School Students

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UHS Faculty member Maggie Beckman hiking Portland’s Forest Park

I’ve long held the belief that travel is the best kind of education. So when my friend Wes Priest, an English teacher at University High School in Indiana, told me that he was bringing a group of students to the Pacific Northwest with his colleague, art teacher Tasha Barger, I agreed to join them and give a few photography tips.

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Wes and the JTerm students at the Witches Castle in Forest Park (photo credit: Maggie Beckman)

These 23 teenagers spent the first part of January studying the art, photography and literature of the Pacific Northwest with Wes, Tasha, and faculty member Maggie Beckman during their school’s January Term (J-Term). During J-Term, the students take a break from their normal studies to immerse themselves in a single subject that interests them. This interdisciplinary class culminated in a trip to Portland and Seattle.

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PDX snowpocalypse in Forest Park

I met up with the group in Portland, Oregon while the city was still pretty much shut down after experiencing the biggest snowstorm in 20 years. As a seasoned traveler, I know plans how often plans go awry and you need to embrace that. But I had no idea how a group of teenagers would handle it. Their upbeat attitudes and lack of complaints caught me off guard. It was refreshing. There really is nothing you can do about the weather and the students got to see Portland in a really unique way.

Time lapse of the students working on zines in Portland. What a cool class.

Spending time with this group taught me a lot of great things to do with teenagers in Portland. We hiked through snowy Forest Park to the Pittock Mansion to get a view of the city. We hit legendary Portland institutions including Powell’s City of Books and Voodoo Donuts.

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Hiking the Upper Macleay Trail in Forest Park

I learned donuts are very popular with high school students. Top Pot Donuts in Seattle was also on the week’s agenda. The students documented their trip with cameras and used photos and found items to create hand bound zines. It was fun to watch so many young creative minds get busy making art.

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Snoqualmie Falls

Spending the week with this group of students was both exhausting and inspiring. They appreciated both cities as well as the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest and they reminded me of what it is like to have a youthful perspective.

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Eating Ramen at Pine Market in Portland (photo credit: Wes Priest)

Eating Ramen at Pine Street Market was a big hit with this crew on a cold night in Portland.

Watching the students document their trip made me want to include some of their photos and impressions on this blog. Featured below are some images the UHS students shot on their trip to the PNW and their own captions.

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I took this photograph of my friends’ and my feet right before our hike at Twin Falls.”- Kathryn Papp

These students came prepared and learned the best way to handle the Pacific Northwest’s moody weather is by dressing correctly. Every one of these students was wearing appropriate footwear. It made for a cute photo opportunity and I was excited that one of the students captured it.

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Lily in Capitol Hill in front of graffiti- Erin Webb

The students wandered through Portland, checking out local record stores, thrift shops, and the Portland Art Museum.

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I took it because its kind of a perfect depiction of the Seattle vibe. Everyone and everything is accepted, except for lack of acceptance- Lily Hunter

The students broke up into groups and explored different neighborhoods in Seattle, which prides itself on being progressive and a Sanctuary City. I wasn’t surprised the teenagers loved Pike Place Market and my personal favorite, MoPop  (formerly known as the EMP).

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 Gorgeous water fall at Snoqualmie falls in Washington” – Kenzie Binford

Seattle’s weather cooperated with us and the group got to visit Snoqualmie Falls and went for a great hike in Twin Falls.

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 “A different perspective of a piece of wood art at Portland Art Museum”- Drej Cosby

It was my first visit to the Portland Art Museum and I thought it was both user friendly and a nice size. There was lots to see without it being too overwhelming.

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 “Meowtropolitan cat taking some time to chill”- Drej Cosby

Some of the students visited Seattle’s Meowtropolitan, a Japanese-style cat cafe. I’m allergic to cats but was interested in their take. They really enjoyed it, and seemed to think it was quite a bit of fun for the price point!

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 Red and Boji”- Maddie Compton

I was impressed by the student’s genuine appreciation for the post-modern architecture of the the Seattle Central Library. They made me remember just how cool the Rem Koolhas and Joshua Ramus-designed building is.

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 “The Seattle Room at the Seattle Public Library”- Elise Zaniker

Seattle’s Central Library is also a great location to take photographs and the kids got some eye catching shots.

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 The modern built Seattle Public Library is home to many of writers and artists that open a portal of literary bliss to anyone. I felt that this was a good representation of the modern architecture that houses the classic tales of our time.”- Serena Patel

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  “This was on the bus ride from Portland to Seattle. It was just a nice, quiet moment I wanted to capture.”-Kathryn Papp

The students impressed me with their keen interest in the Pacific Northwest, their manners and the general lack of drama. Travelers have always been de facto ambassadors, and this group certainly made University High School look good.

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This bridge that served as our entry point into Forest Park felt like a gateway or portal into another world. Once I crossed under this bridge, I felt like I was in an entirely different universe of snowy bliss. Almost like Narnia.”- Livi Nichols

Spending a week with these kids strengthened my belief that travel is great education. It forces you out of your comfort zone, makes you to think on your feet and switches up your perspective. It was fun being able to share the experience of exploring the Pacific Northwest with these students. Their enthusiasm and curiosity was contagious.

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  Michaela laughed as she hoisted herself up to get a better view of Elliott Bay. It was our first day in Seattle and the rain and fog only added to our ‘authentic’ Seattle experience.“- Livi Nichols

I did not just learn from the students. Wes, Tasha, and Maggie are passionate educators who are dedicated to helping young minds develop. They worked hard to plan this trip and make it a positive experience for all involved. I hope these students know how lucky they are to have such fantastic and accessible teachers.

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“It was really spiritual and one of the best moments of my life because everybody was helping everybody else. People were cold and tired, but everybody stayed positive and struggled together to get the best feeling once we hit the very top.”- Eli DeBrota

The whole J-Term concept is a really cool idea. Where were classes like this when I was in high school?

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The JTerm Crew on the waterfront in Seattle

I have to confess I missed this group once they left Seattle. Hopefully some of them with return to visit. I promise Portland is an entirely different experience without all the snow.

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Wes and Tasha at Snoqualmie Falls

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Photo Tips for Capturing Norway’s Northern Lights With An iPhone

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Norway’s Northern Lights captured on my iPhone 7 plus using the NorthernLights App

I photographed the northern lights with my new iPhone 7 Plus on my recent trip to Norway’s Lofoten Islands. Anastasia Chernykh, this blog’s social media manager, also gave it a go with her iPhone 6. We had some success. As a general rule, the brighter the aurora, the better your chances are of getting a good photo of them with your iPhone. Here are five tips for photographing the northern lights with an iPhone.

Tip #1 Download Camera Replacement Apps to Shoot Longer Exposures

You need to use longer exposure times to effectively capture the northern lights. Since the iPhone’s native camera app doesn’t allow you to manually select your exposure time, I experimented using LongExpo Pro and the NorthernLights app.

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Northern lights near Svolvaer, shot with iPhone 7 plus

I really like the LongExpo Pro app, and I thought it was going to be my go-to for this experiment because it has an intuitive interface which easily allows you to easily change the shutter speed with a simple tap, and an easy-to- locate timer butter.

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Faint Northern Lights (shot using LongExpo Pro on my iPhone 7 plus)

Unfortunately both Ana and I had issues where the focus would lock where we wanted it to and then shift after the timer was set, resulting in blurry foreground. Hopefully this will be corrected in future updates of the app. I had the better luck using the NorthernLights app, which has some easy presets to play with for weak, moderate, and strong aurora lights. There is also a custom option that allows you to adjust your film speed (ISO) and shutter speed.

Tip #2 Use a Tripod or Mount to keep your iPhone still

Longer exposures require you to keep your camera still to avoid shake and blur. This also applies when you are shooting with an iPhone. Since we were both traveling with large tripods for our DSLR Cameras, we used In Your Face ViewBase clamps to steady our iPhones and clamped them onto the legs of our larger tripods.

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Squiggly Aurora Borealis (shot with the NorthernLights app)

Other lightweight options include the Joby Gorillapod Stand which easily fits into a backpack. When I return to Norway in February for a winter photography workshop, I will use an entirely separate tripod setup for my iPhone 7 plus, including the MeFoto Sidekick 360 Smartphone Adaptor for Tripods and a MeFoto Backpacker Air tripod.

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Northern lights reflected near Svolvaer (iPhone 7 plus)

Tip #3 Use the Timer feature

Delaying the shot by a few seconds helps prevent camera shake, which usually results in a better image. Using the timer feature or remote shutter release helps reduce shake and blur. All the camera replacement apps mentioned in this post have timer features. I found a two second delay sufficient. Some iPhone camera replacement apps, like Slow Shutter Cam, are compatible with the Apple Watch, which allows additional remote shutter release options.

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Anastasia got the image above using the Shutter Speed App on her iPhone 6

Tip #4 Include Foreground Interest in Your Shot

The aurora can appear as everything from a green streak across the sky to a rapidly shape-shifting pattern of streaks ranging in color from green to pink and purple. If possible, you’ll want to compose your image in a way that will add some local context. I tried to frame my shots to include the local fishing cabins to add a bit of Norwegian fishing village atmosphere. The northern lights were strongest and easier to photograph a few hours later, when we were near a lake outside of Svolvaer. There I tried to compose my shots to include some of the lake, where the lights were reflected on the water’s surface.

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 Ana got the image above using the Shutter Speed App and her iPhone 6 

Tip #5 Use iPhone Apps to Edit Your Northern Lights Images 

All of the northern lights images I got in Norway’s Lofoten Islands looked better after some basic photo editing. Reducing the noise in the images and making the color pop were the two things most of the aurora photos shot on my iPhone 7 plus needed. I found the most useful app for editing these northern lights images was Adobe Photoshop Express,which has a good de-noise feature. I also used the TouchRetouch app, which was also useful for cleaning up burned out highlights and bleeding from artificial lights. I straightened the horizons in my images using the editing features right in my iPhone’s native camera app.

For more northern lights images shot on our DSLR setups can be found this earlier post, Chasing the Northern Lights in Norway’s Lofoten Islands.

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