Weekly Photo Challenge: Peek

At last, I am having a kind of break in my seasonal weekly travel routine, so I can swipe off the dust from my cameras, go through the photos I made it what now seems to be another life, take out my digital brushes and create a little. Also this week’s challenge is interesting.

The theme of this week is Peek. I have this blog for a year and a half, and travelling from my old photos to my more recent ones, I can see how my work as a photographer has changed. I used to (as any other starting photographer) aim at making to crispest, the brightest photos depicting my subject in the most accurate way. A cute small tribute to HDMR. Now, comfortably achieving that, I am moving towards being more creative with my photography. Which, ultimately, means not showing it all, or not showing it that well.

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A girl in the restaurant as seen from the streets of Busan, South Korea

I like this photo (that much that I chose it as a cover for my latest blog post about South Korea) because it makes you pause and reflect. What you see is a girl leaning towards her table (or what’s in front of her), – but then you don’t know whether she is eating, typing on her smartphone or, maybe, drawing or creating some other kind of art. If she is writing, to whom? if she is making something, what is it? In the end, this photo – not that crisp and not the revealing – makes you think more about its subject than would the one processed to the minute details. You pause and spend some times asking questions, guessing, contemplating.

And that is one of the key objectives of the photography, ins’t it?

🙂

Racoon Cafe in Busan, South Korea: What’s Life Without a Friendly Fur

October is an exciting time for me at work. I start new projects, bring up new topics to the discussion on Digital Innovation, and even introduce a couple of new full-bred solutions. I fly for weeks straight (actually, I am set to fly through the entire month), and put all my energy into my job. Then comes a weekend. During the week, I am looking forward to it as a time when I can finally switch gears and create, read, do sports. I somehow picture it as 48h charged up with useful and exciting activities for which I can’t set time aside during the week. And then, on Saturday/ Sunday I spend most of the time in my pjs, watching series, ordering food and doing rare bicycle gigs around the city, mostly to go to the movies. (I do read books though.)

I now I think it it’s okay. I used to feel sorry for these unused stretches of creative time, but then I got to a point in my life when I understood the value of planned downtime (hello, “How to Have a Good Day” by Caroline Webb). This time around, I am embracing my racoon weekend personality, swiping the dust from my August photos (made with Fuji, by the way, my go-around-the-city camera, instead of my Canon 5DIV), to spread some more love for South Korea, the country of my eternal vacations.

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This post captures my visit to a racoon cafe in Busan, South Korea. Today Korea – a small country with no natural resources and a landscape made up by 70% of mountains – is one of the world’s leading economies. I have been coming there for 13 years by now, and could witness their economic ascent. I gave a lot of thought about what made Korea what it is now, and being humble and eager to learn is one part of it. Take Apple vs Samsung battle. Some years ago, Apple used to be the number 1 phone in Korea, the high earner’s trade mark and a sign of (be)longing to the Western sophisticated civilization. Most of what Samsung did these days was to mirror Apple’s design and functions, first to a very modest success. With years, Samsung caught up with Apple, offered their own progressive techs, and now very few people in Korea still have an Apple device. Samsung there is all the rage now (despite the fact that Apple offers a very appealing price level in Korea).

The same about animal cafes. Koreans have been excited about cat cafes, even launched a few dog cafes (where dogs are wandering and playing around, not what you could have thought), and now introduced a racoon cafe.

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Come explore.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Transient

This week’s theme is Transient. Now, “transient” is something I had to look up online even though I often think that I speak better English these days than I do Russian, my mother tongue (a few years back, I had to look up “nimble”, which then made part of our corporate strategy. Speaking of which, corporate strategies in tech are indeed transient but I don’t happen to have a photo of one of them on hands).

Now that I know what transient is (which is “not lasting, enduring, or permanent; transitory”), I have immediately thought of a picture to illustrate it. I took this photo of a girl jumping off the cliff in Kythira, a magical island in Greece, a few weeks ago. The girl was contemplating this jump for quite some time, stumbling, looking unsure into the dark blue water at her feet and her family at the shore. And then she jumped – into the dark blue water and into the freedom. I was as unsure that she would do it as she was herself and, for some reason, was moved by the outcome of this short story – and by the fact that I could capture it with my 50 1.2 lens, which is not exactly the number one choice for action photography. 

Sometimes the world offers us much better shots that we could be dreaming to orchestrate. We should just be there to capture them.

🙂

Weekly Photo Challenge: Focus

This week’s photo challenge, Focus, is asking to share one’s favorite focus (or out of focus) photo. Now, there are two “aha” moments in every photographer’s life: the moment you try your first full frame camera and the moment you get that low aperture lens to play with focus. Focus (or, more precisely, its strategic lack) is what made me fall in love with photography. (Ok, there is a third “aha” moment and that is when you take and process – successfully – your first RAW photo.)

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A cup of Turkish coffee at the Café des Délices in Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia

This photo of a Turkish coffee in a Tunisian cafe is my latest absolute favourite. I love it so much that I am using it as a background photo to my mobile chats, – this and what is means to me (not to mention my favorite color combo of white and blue). And it means… focus. On this cup of coffee, on the moment of pleasure it offers, on a creative break, on living and breathing, in the now. How often we let beauty, taste and creative pass unnoticed, busy with our daily concerns, daily thoughts, daily messages, news and chats.

I keep it precisely where most of this noise is coming from, on my phone, to remind myself. To focus.

🙂

Weekly Photo Challenge: Order

This week’s photo challenge is about Order. Now, order has never been an integral part of my life. It is not something I breathe or create by default. I try to find a system in anything I want to accomplish (because I noticed that things work better this way), and after many years of practicing it still does not come natural to me. Oh well, many people practice public speaking, decision taking and making friends. Order is my thing.

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The Souks of Tunis

This is why I admire order when I see it existing naturally (another reason would be aesthetics). And this is why I always lance a second glance at it: is it really natural? Is there anything that stands out from this even perfection? It warms my heart if I find it. To me, imperfection makes it human. Even more so, unique.

Just like these jewels at the Souks of Tunis: they all seemingly follow the same design, yet now and then there is a bead of unusual shape, a glimpse of color, a spark of creativity. An individuality.

🙂

Weekly Photo Challenge: Heritage

This week’s photo challenge is Heritage. To me, heritage is much about history and much about culture, – two things that growing up in St Petersburg, home of one of the world’s largest museums and a scene of many, well, interesting historical events, has deeply ingrained into my character. That made me put work aside for a moment and go through the pictures of my recent travels.

As you might have noticed, I like learning new things. A few weeks ago I discovered a new country for me – Tunisia. It’s capital, Tunis, has the world’s largest mosaics collection, Le Bardo. And that’s just breathtaking: hundreds and hundreds of square meters of history laid out in gorgeous rainbow colored tiles, floor to ceiling.

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Which museum have you recently discovered?

🙂

Weekly Photo Challenge: Earth

I have a moment to tune in to the Weekly Photo Challenge contests that brought me so many great impressions (and yet so many great friends). This week’s theme is Earth: and as you would understand if you have ever opened my blog, I just could not pass such a topic.

My love for outdoors was not inborn. I am coming from the heart of a 5 million city, and for many years nature was something I mostly saw in books and on TV, something very theoretical. For a long time, landscape beauty for me equaled city skyline and fine architecture. The only sunsets I saw were that over the cities. Apart from my summer time in a Southern city where my grandmother lived, I have never seen the stars.

And then I moved to Finland, to the capital city smaller than my hometown’s central island. Finland has taught me many things, for which I will be forever grateful. Appreciation of (and introduction to) nature was one of them.

I have traveled a lot since then, and have seen many amazing cities. I fell in love with New York, Berlin, Lisbon, Rome and Havana. I gave my heart to Paris. But when I think about all my travels, the images that come to mind first are that of nature: the sunset over Oia, the turquoise waters of Crete, Morocco desertIguazu Falls. Cities make imagination wander, nature captures hearts. Even for a die-hard urban person that I am.

And Rio, Rio has it all. ❤

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Sugar Loaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

🙂