Nikon Presents: Project Spotlight

Project Spotlight is designed to shine a light on photographers who are pushing the boundaries of photography in unique ways. We focus on individuals that bring a singular perspective to their work and aim to capture images that haven’t been taken before.  We work with them to turn their dream photography project into a reality.

Our first photographer is David de Rueda.

David de Rueda’s ‘Abandoned Places’

On the surface of this planet there are still many places where man has not yet dared to tread.

There are other places, however, where man has come and built and lived and thrived…and then eventually abandoned.  These are places where man no longer dares to tread, and these are the exact places that appeal most to David de Rueda.

David was chosen for Project Spotlight for his unique ability to capture the aesthetic beauty of derelict buildings and forgotten, empty spaces. What humanity has abandoned, David finds and makes beautiful again through his lens.

David’s dream project was to explore abandoned relics of Europe’s history and photograph them in a way that had never been done before.  This meant a journey of 6 weeks across 9 countries in extreme weather conditions and many difficult situations (and many more unexpected ones).

The route: Paris – Milan – Kiev – Pripyat (Chernobyl) – Moscow – St. Petersburg – Tallinn – Budapest – Sofia – Reykjavik – Kyzylorda (Kazakhstan) – Larnaca (Cyprus) – Paris

mapDavid’s plan: a trip of a lifetime covering 22,000 miles to these far-flung locations

We believed in his vision, and supported the project because we wanted to see the end result as much as he did.  To say that this was a good idea is an understatement.  He came back with amazing images that have to be seen to be believed.

But don’t take our word for it.  Check them out for yourself and read David’s thoughts on the experience…

urbex, urban exploration, David de Rueda, Nikon, Nikon Presents, Project Spotlight, Abandoned PlacesLost in Space by David de Rueda

“This image is the result of 180 kilometres of off-road driving in the Kazakhstan desert, followed by 45 kilometres of walking in a highly restricted area. We arrived and there they were; two relics of the Soviet space race in a huge abandoned warehouse. It may be the single most epic scene I’ve discovered since picking up a camera.”

urbex, urban exploration, David de Rueda, Nikon, Nikon Presents, Project Spotlight, Abandoned PlacesFrozen Stars by David de Rueda

“This is an abandoned radar station in the mountains of Italy.  After almost three hours of walking through snow 50cm deep, we reached these huge frozen antennas. A full moon, clear sky and snow everywhere: the atmosphere was unreal. I wanted to create something post-apocalyptic, lost in the middle of nowhere.”

urbex, urban exploration, David de Rueda, Nikon, Nikon Presents, Project Spotlight, Abandoned PlacesThe One by David de Rueda

“This is inside the abandoned power plant near Budapest, Hungary. It’s an impressive place, with a huge sense of scale, abandoned machinery everywhere and a strong, haunting atmosphere. I felt like I was in a science fiction movie and wanted to create my own world with this photograph.”

Travelling with David was one assistant, and his model Tania da Silva.  Together they weathered the harsh conditions, including carrying gear, setting up the shots, and camping overnight in these remote places.

urbex, urban exploration, David de Rueda, Nikon, Nikon Presents, Project Spotlight, Abandoned PlacesChild Dream by David de Rueda

“Our last day in Pripyat, Ukraine. For three past days previous, I asked myself how I could capture the famous ferris wheel from a new and original point of view. Luckily, my wish to have some snow was fulfilled, providing a dreamy ambiance that totally changed Pripyat. Positioning myself on a rooftop next to the wheel, I finally captured the picture I was looking for.”

For those curious, Pripyat was abandoned two days after the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant disaster in 1986, and does fall within the borders of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.

“Of course, I asked myself whether it’d be safe to stay there for a few days.” David remarked about the particular risks involved in this leg of his trip.  ”Actually, radioactivity is relatively low, so it was no problem to spend some time in Pripyat. Areas with higher radiation levels are more restricted.”

urbex, urban exploration, David de Rueda, Nikon, Nikon Presents, Project Spotlight, Abandoned PlacesHigh Frequency by David de Rueda

“This picture was taken in a disused experimental power facility near Moscow, which was closely guarded by half a dozen dogs. After a little persuasive discussion, the caretaker let us in. As the sun was setting, I had a few minutes to find the perfect point of view. A chance bird flying overhead added further poetry to the scene.”

This is just a small selection.  Allow yourself to be transported to distant abandoned places and discover the full project on our Flickr, or watch this short film about the experience.

David’s commitment to make this project a reality impressed us.  His passion and sense of adventure shine through his images, and we are proud to have helped him achieve this goal.

Do you have a dream project that you hope to one day photograph?  If so, let us know in the comments, and keep checking back for future Project Spotlight photographers.


Curious about what was in David’s kit during his exploration?

The camera: Nikon D810

The lenses:
•AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED
•AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G
•AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II


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We are sending Sutton Images photographer Mark Sutton out to each F1 event to be our eyes and ears of the races.  In this series, he shares with us his favourite image from each race, documenting how he captured the shot and why it is his favourite.

Pure Emotions! by Mark Sutton

“I decided to cover the team’s celebration knowing that (winner) Nico Rosberg would offer up great emotion and energy…and I wasn’t wrong. I positioned myself on the floor sitting down comfortably with my two Nikon D4s bodies and the Nikkor 24-70mm and 70-200mm lenses, knowing that I had all bases covered in terms of possible shots.

Lewis Hamilton (2nd place) arrived and was given a round of applause.  Then Nico came around the corner skipping and jumping, waving his arms in the air to gain some momentum.  As soon as he started, I began shooting with the D4s and the 24-70mm with the shutter speed already set at 1/500th of a second to capture the action and shoot him frame by frame. The team cheered and applauded the winner.

I love this photo because of the emotions on the team members and on Nico himself.  You can tell that victory was sweet and meant so much to everyone.”

Austrian Grand Prix winner Nico Rosberg cheers with his team

Pure Emotions! by Mark Sutton, Sutton Images

Camera: Nikon D4s

Lens: Nikkor 24-70mm F2.8ED

Exif Data:

  • Shutter speed – 1/500th of a second
  • Aperture – f/11
  • ISO – 400

Stay tuned for more shots- after 5 July we will bring you Mark’s favourite image from the British Grand Prix.

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At each F1 race, photographer Mark Sutton of Sutton Images will be there to capture the highs and lows of the world’s fastest sport for Nikon.

Champagne Showers by Mark Sutton

“It was a “lights to flag” victory for Lewis Hamilton in the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal.  I love this image as he sprayed the champagne; it shows emotion but I also love the blurred champagne.  It’s actually more of a photo of champagne spray than anything!

The photographers have a photo tower just opposite the winner’s podium.  All of the photographers pack up and run from the gate to the podium after the win, and I managed to run past everyone and get to the tower first to grab the perfect position.

The AF-S NIKKOR 200-400mm f/4G ED VR II is the perfect lens for this podium as you can zoom in and out depending on how it progresses with celebrations and the epic trophy lifting shots.”

Montreal June Champagne Showers by Mark Sutton, Sutton Images

Camera: Nikon D4s Digital SLR Body

Lens: AF-S NIKKOR 200-400mm f/4G ED VR II

Exif data:

  • Shutter Speed: 1/1000th of a second
  • Aperture: f/11
  • ISO: 200

Check back in a few weeks when we will bring you Mark’s favourite image from the Austrian leg of the race, taking place on June 21st.

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During the F1, we will be bringing you photos by photographer Mark Sutton of Sutton Images, who is on location to capture the energy of the races.

Spanish Flags by Mark Sutton

“I headed out on Saturday morning to watch the FP3 practise and postioned myself to cover turn 2/3, where you can also turn and cover the 6th turn in the track.

This area offers good angles, and as the session progressed I noticed the local Spanish fans had started to erect some patriotic flags for Spain, Fernando Alonso, and the local Oviedo region where Alonso comes from.  They started with one flag, and then eventually put four up attached to the fence with tie wraps and completely blocking our view onto turn 2.  One Spanish photographer shouted to the fans ‘You’re blocking our view!‘, but I could see that the flags had created a good angle in what was normally a standard image.

I decided to use my Nikkor AF-S 70-200mm F/2.8G ED VR II lens.  It’s the best lens to have the flags slightly out of focus but the F1 car sharp. I positioned myself between two sets of the flags and waited and waited for Fernando Alonso, the local hero, to appear.  When he did, I fired off 5 or 6 frames and knew that I had a great image.  It perfectly captures the Spanish GP, the beloved Spanish driver and offers a unique image which is what we are always looking for, having been to Barcelona for 25 years!”

Spanish Flags by Mark Sutton

Spanish Flags by Mark Sutton, Sutton Images

Camera: Nikon D4s Digital SLR Body
Lens: Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II

Exif data:

  • Shutter Speed: 1/1000th of a second
  • Aperture: f/10
  • ISO: 200
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In the fourth and final post on our Future of Imaging Report, we look at the growing desire for self-expression through live visualisation and the possibility to analyse images and the people in them.

An image-based world

We are living in an increasingly image-based society. The digital era has made capturing images easier than ever before, and also more popular. In 2014, it’s estimated that nearly 1 trillion photographs were taken- that’s about 150 photographs per person on the planet in one year alone. Today, photographic proof has so penetrated our society that it is considered mandatory evidence for everything from scientific discoveries to friendly debates on Facebook.

Every moment is photographed; every situation caught on camera. Imaging devices such as smartphones, tablets and smart cameras are becoming vehicles for our interpersonal relationships at every level. Photography is a shared language and everybody wants to be fluent. But how much further can the technology of photography take us?

Capture Every Moment

In the future it is expected that we will capture and record every aspect of our lives. Demand for agile, flexible cameras with always-on point-of-view image capture continues to grow. There are already lightweight, durable devices on the market designed to enable “always on” visual narration.  These highly portable, wearable devices will evolve to be worn seamlessly and help document our lives and surroundings at all times. With storage capabilities increasing rapidly and faster wireless connections, these devices will shrink in size and could transfer images and video continuously to a nearby storage unit.

Why would we use these? Well, picture an afternoon playing with your kids in the garden. You will be able to continuously record everything without having to think about it or worse- miss a moment by trying to capture it. Tiny, lightweight ‘swarm’ devices working in harmony like a swarm of bees will use spontaneous, hands-free image capture to do the work for you. You can now capture family moments like never before, creating a visceral documentary of your children’s development that offers previously unmatched levels of interactivity. This only raises the question – what can you do with this new wave of audio-visual records?

Live visualisation image

Constantly documenting our environment will be one possibility for the photographer of tomorrow.

Nikon expects that always-on photography will form a vital part of our quantified world and self. One of the greatest shifts in personal technology is the growth of the ‘quantified self’ movement, where people use multiple devices to measure data of their day-to-day lives or biomedical situation.

But this applies for the world around us too. Drones and ‘swarm’ technology can be used to monitor our environment and ecology remotely, offering opportunities to explore and photograph areas of our planet that few humans can reach.

Visual Analytics

The sheer amount of visual data will change the way in which we use images. Facial recognition is one important technology that is progressing rapidly. In the future, it is expected that we will be able to identify and analyse people’s faces from a distance, in crowds or in difficult or imperfect conditions. Existing facial recognition technology developed by Professor Alessandro Acquisti of Carnegie Mellon University can already link people to their Facebook profiles within 3 seconds using just one photograph.

Currently there are studies into how photographs can read what our faces say about our health, or identify personality traits. This also applies to inanimate objects. There are already mobile apps available which allow people to snap a picture of any object and use image recognition to quickly identify it. Love that new designer table your friend has? Quickly take a snap, buy it online, and have it delivered to your door the next day.

These new technologies will change the way we consume photography on a daily basis. Our series of blog posts has already detailed some of the opportunities lying ahead of us.  Future cameras will read your emotions to let you take the perfect snaps. You can experience your last holiday all over again with multi-sensory images perhaps even compiled into full-virtual replays, or get rid of nasty headaches through visual healing.

The future of imaging is an open-ended realm of possibilities. You can read more about some of the future technology Nikon expects in our full Future of Imaging Report.

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In our previous posts about the future of photography, we wrote about contextualised cameras reading people’s emotions and ‘All Sense Imaging that engages your five senses. In the third part of our Future of Imaging Report we look at the role of photography in the medical world.

Future of Imaging Trend 3 of 4: Visual Wellbeing

Always connected, always stressed

We live in a world where smartphones have become our Swiss army knives – equipped with applications for almost anything from personal organisers to games and fitness to social media. Multi-tasking is now the name of the game, and we  end up filling every moment of downtime by checking our emails while waiting in the queue for lunch, texting while crossing the street, and reading the news while chatting with our friends.

We feel more pressure than ever before to always be ‘on’ and connected and this constant multi-tasking has a negative affect on our health. There is now a rising trend in a demand for anything that helps us switch off – escapists’ environments are increasing and visual wellbeing will become an important part of that.

Visual escapism  

Visual stimulation is photography’s answer to rising stress levels. In the future, screens on the ceilings of examination rooms will help patients remain calm and relaxed during their treatment. On visits to the doctor you will be able to pick your favourite location to escape to – from lying on the beach in Mexico to exploring the French Alps. According to Universal Everything’s Matt Pyke “visual stimulation can have a really positive effect on patients by accelerating the recovery period, and reducing the need for prescription drugs such as painkillers and antibiotics.”

Visual WellbeingImmersive visual technology in the examination room will help patients to cope with anxiety and pain

The use of immersive visual technology won’t stop here. We already see the health benefits of visual imagery taking over our homes and offices. In the past we used screensavers – now devices can be transformed to respond to sounds in the room or the presence of people. In the coming decade this trend will expand into all parts of our lives: relieve a headache at work with a quick visual therapy during lunch or break up the stress of a business trip with peaceful imagery of your favourite holiday location.

A visual revolution is underway. ‘Visual Wellbeing’ might just be the remedy we’ve been waiting for to relax and reenergize in the busy times ahead.

Our next blog post looks at Live Visualization and Visual Analytics. In the meantime you can read the full report here.

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