I AM NIKON Blog

Famous for its modernist architecture, it is understandable that a tourist visiting Barcelona would head straight to the works of Gaudí, such as his renowned Cathedral “La Sagrada Familia”, Parc Güell and Casa Batlló. However, this magical city has a medieval past which has much more to offer photographers and here is Angel Martinez Moreno’s hidden view of Barcelona.

Plaça Sant Felip Neri – Barcelona. NIKON D3100 with a NIKKOR 18-55 lens, f/3.5, 1/125S, 900ISO , Focal length 18mm, Max aperture 3.6, © Angel Martinez Moreno

Plaça Sant Felip Neri – Barcelona. NIKON D3100 with a NIKKOR 18-55 lens, f/3.5, 1/125S, 900ISO , Focal length 18mm, Max aperture 3.6 © Angel Martinez Moreno

Angel Martinez Moreno, a 27 year old photographer and graphic designer from Puigcerdà Catalonia (Spain) has lived in Barcelona for 10 years. His favourite hidden view of Barcelona is Plaça Sant Felip Neri:

“Plaça Sant Felip Neri is one of the most magical places in Barcelona. Built around a medieval church, the square’s architecture gives it its special character. The attractive buildings enclose a simple, yet beautiful, fountain surrounded by ancient cobblestones. There are two enormous trees which let in some of the sunlight and create soft shadows around the square. Even though it is the centre of the city, only the most adventurous can find it by walking through the small dark alleyways.

Plaça Sant Felip Neri is easy to reach – located in the popular Barri Gòtic (Gothic Area), 200m from Barcelona’s Cathedral and 400m from the City Council, just off Carrer Bisbe.

Angel’s tips for capturing Plaça Sant Felip Neri:

• Visit the square at mid-day to capture the sun falling on the trees – the lighting will create attractive soft shadows. If you want to capture it at a quiet moment though, head there in the morning

• Try and incorporate the cobblestones within your image as this will help capture the area’s personality

• Experiment with different compositions – there are tiny shops, a restaurant and a museum in the square that can help introduce a snapshot of daily life to your image.


Visit our blog next week for the ‘Hidden View of Berlin‘ by photographer
Andrea Figari!

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Artillery Passage Spitalfields, London by photographer Steve Ullathorne

Think of London and you probably imagine red buses, The Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace and Big Ben, but head down a side street and you’ll find a diverse city with Georgian Squares, Roman Walls and some of the most exciting modern architecture in the world.

NIKON D3 with a Nikon 28-70 F2.8 lens, F-stop f/22, Exposure time 1/2 sec, ISO-100, Focal length 42mm, Max aperture 3, © Steve Ullathorne

Artillery Passage in Spitalfields, East London. NIKON D3 with a Nikon 28-70 F2.8 lens, F-stop f/22, Exposure time 1/2 sec, ISO-100, Focal length 42mm, Max aperture 3. © Steve Ullathorne


Steve Ullathorne
has lived in London for nearly 30 years. He is the former president and current member of The Camera Club in London, one of the oldest photography clubs in the UK. Artillery Passage in Spitalfields, East London, just across the road from the financial centre of London, is one of his favourite places to take photographs in the UK’s capital.

“The Spitalfields area couples historic 18th century brickwork with the 21st century glass and steel that typifies London today. The area is home to some of the most vibrant independent designers and artists, selling their wares at Old Spitalfields Market and Brick Lane, where the new influx of Bangladeshi immigrants have slowly replaced the traditional Jewish area with Curry Houses and Sari shops. To photograph this space is to capture the hustle and bustle of London, and simultaneously absorb the historic backdrop of one Europe’s most emotive landscapes.”

Old Spitalfields Market is a short walk from both London Liverpool Street tube station and Shoreditch High Street overground line in central London.

Steve’s tips for capturing Artillery Passage in East London:

  • Don’t worry if the sky is flat and grey, after all it is London, just keep your shooting angle down and concentrate on the architecture. A sky like that means you won’t have harsh shadows on buildings, so use it like a big soft box and see it as an advantage.
  • Check the weather forecast before you set out. If it looks like it is going to rain, consider incorporating the pavements in your shot as the reflections on the wet paths will look great.
  • Select the smallest aperture and a long exposure to blur the pedestrians passing by (F22 with the shutter speed at 0.5 seconds). This will allow you to capture more texture and detail in the frame.

Visit our blog next week for a ‘Hidden View of Barcelona‘ by photographer Angel Martinez Moreno!

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I AM | LIFE AS IT HAPPENS

Thursday 20th March was World Storytelling Day, and to celebrate Nikon Europe invited 18 bloggers, who regularly post about urban life, to tell the story of their city in a day.  The unique aspect of this challenge? These  storytellers were armed with a Nikon D5300 and asked to capture and upload images instantly using the camera’s Wi-Fi function that connects it directly to a smart device, as an audience watched the stories unfold live on Storify.

Then, a panel of three judges, professional photographer, Kirsty Mitchell; Nikon School Manager, Thomas  Maquaire; and visual artist, Johan Thornqvist, reviewed each blogger’s entries, assessing firstly the story they told and secondly the photography skills they demonstrated during the challenge.  The panel were highly impressed with all of the entries, but there could only be one winner.

Congratulations to Nikon Blogger Challenge champion, Parisian blogger, Audrey Felix, who told the story of her home city. Named ‘Paris en couleurs’, she captured the ebb and flow, architectural significance and unquestionable beauty of the French capital – all linked by a charming colour pallet.

'Paris en couleurs 1' The first image submitted by winner Audrey Felix.

‘Paris en couleurs 1′ The first image submitted by winner Audrey Felix.

“The images really answer the brief and tell the story of someone wandering through a city and immersing themselves in its beauty. Her first image (above) is one of my favourites in the competition; she showed us a stolen moment in time.” Said judge Kirsty Mitchell.

One of the winning photographs by Audrey Felix.

One of the winning photographs by Audrey Felix.

'Paris en couleurs 4'. By winner Audrey Felix.

‘Paris en couleurs 4′. By winner Audrey Felix.

'Paris en couleurs 5'. By winner Audrey Felix.

‘Paris en couleurs 5′. By winner Audrey Felix.

““For me, the central narrative is the time encapsulated in the series. As darkness falls, the city becomes full of colour, washed with orange warmth at the end of what is a graphic, clinical start to the collection.” commented Johan Thornqvist

'Paris en couleurs 7'. By winner Audrey Felix.

‘Paris en couleurs 7′. By winner Audrey Felix.

“I like that the title tells the whole story – the photography doesn’t lie to us. It’s not trying to suggest anything other than a snapshot of someone’s personal, unassuming viewpoint and journey through a city from morning to evening.”  Noted judge Thomas Maquaire.

You can also visit Audrey Felix’s blog here.

In second place, Tihomir Stojanović  from Serbia with his enchanting story, Wandering Belgrade .  The Nikon enthusiast and culture blogger’s images told a personal tale which portrayed real emotion and a sense of loneliness.  He took the viewer on a journey through his city, wandering from old to modern parts of Belgrade, showing both the past and the future.

'Wandering Belgrade' by Tihomir Stojanović.

‘Wandering Belgrade’ by Tihomir Stojanović.

'Wandering Belgrade' by Tihomir Stojanović.

‘Wandering Belgrade’ by Tihomir Stojanović.

“This story was the most personal of all the entries and I felt like I was wandering alongside the photographer.” commented judge Kirsty Mitchell.

'Wandering Belgrade' by Tihomir Stojanović.

‘Wandering Belgrade’ by Tihomir Stojanović.

 “The absence of people and the only living creature visible in the photographs being the dog running away from the camera adds to the solitary feel of the story.” Noted Johan Thornqvist.

'Wandering Belgrade' by Tihomir Stojanović.

‘Wandering Belgrade’ by Tihomir Stojanović.

'Wandering Belgrade' by Tihomir Stojanović.

‘Wandering Belgrade’ by Tihomir Stojanović.

 “Stojanovic is a very talented photographer with excellent framing skill – it is particularly well executed in these pictures where the different lines in the image cross so well.” Stated judge Thomas Maquaire.

You can see Tihomir’s blog here.

In third place was lifestyle blogger Stella Harasek for Postcards from Helsinki. From the first to the last picture, Stella used a range of photographic styles.

'Postcards from Helsinki 1' The first entry by Stella Harasek.

‘Postcards from Helsinki 1′ The first entry by Stella Harasek.

The last photograph submitted by Stella Harasek.

The last photograph submitted by Stella Harasek.

Her considered and quiet pictures portrayed an interesting, personal and poetic perspective of the city.

'Postcards from Helsinki 9' by Stella Harasek.

‘Postcards from Helsinki 9′ by Stella Harasek.

“Although this lacked a clear narrative it featured some beautiful shots and this hotel image is one of the best photos submitted to the entire competition.” Said judge Johan Thornqvist.

Her blog is here.

Notable mentions

With such high levels of creativity and photography on display, there were two other competitors who deserve a special mention. Firstly, Milan Maglov’s  story Love is in Belgrade showed us the Serbian city through the life of a loving couple.

'Love is in Belgrade' by Milan Maglov.

‘Love is in Belgrade’ by Milan Maglov.

'Love is in Belgrade' by Milan Maglov.

‘Love is in Belgrade’ by Milan Maglov.

'Love is in Belgrade' by Milan Maglov.

‘Love is in Belgrade’ by Milan Maglov.

“As his story unfolded we realized it was a tale of an aging couple. It was a lovely way of bringing life into the city, as the purpose of cities is to support our lives.” Said Thomas Maquaire.

You can also read Milan’s blog

Finally, Steffen Gothling’s story Rush Hour also captured clever, graphic images to portray Berlin during the city’s rush hour. His blog is here.

'Rush Hour' by Steffen Gothling.

‘Rush Hour’ by Steffen Gothling.

 

'Rush Hour' by Steffen Gothling.

‘Rush Hour’ by Steffen Gothling.

Thanks to everyone who supported this challenge – from the competitors to the judges.

You can see all of the entrants’ images on the Nikon Challenge Storify stream.  What are your thoughts on the competition – which ones would you have selected? Add your comments and thoughts here.

See how the D5300 could help you tell your city-life story. With built-in Wi-Fi and GPS, this impressive 24.2-megapixel DX-format camera lets you capture and share your world in incredible detail.

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In the first of a new series of blog posts, we present five of Europe’s most-visited cities – Barcelona, Berlin, London, Rome and Paris  – in a new light. We asked one photographer in each city to provide capture a shot that shows a ‘hidden view’ of their city. We also asked them to provide tips to help visitors capture their city in interesting ways. Here, French photographer, Gerard Planchenault, presents his selection that shows a hidden view of Paris.

Pont Saint Michel, Paris by photographer Gerard Planchenault  

In this stunning black and white shot, Gerard captures a unique perspective of the grand Notre Dame taken from underneath the Pont Saint Michel bridge.

NIKON D3S, with a 24-70mm lens, f/2.8G, ISO 200, Aperture f/14, Speed: 2,5s. © Gerard Planchenault

NIKON D3S, with a 24-70mm lens, f/2.8G, ISO 200, Aperture f/14, Speed: 2,5s. © Gerard Planchenault

Paris – the city of lovers – has long been a destination of choice for everyone wishing to experience the ‘joie de vivre’ of French life, culture and cuisine. Capital city since 508 AD, Paris has been a focal point of European culture, politics and society for centuries. Today, Paris is home to many must-see landmarks for a city-traveller: The Eiffel Tour, The Louvre and The Champs Elysées, to name a few. Yet in addition to these traditional photo subjects, Paris’s galleries, bridges, and monuments offer another view of this fascinating city.

You can see the complete set of photographs Gerard took for the Hidden View assignment here

Our hidden view photographer, Gerard, points out that many people often underestimate the potential for great shots along the banks of the River Seine. “The banks of the Seine are an interesting and unusual way to discover Paris. Just strolling along them can awaken your creativity, which will help you take more original and spectacular photos.” Says the long time photography teacher.

His favourite hidden spot in Paris is by the Pont Saint Michel bridge on the River Seine. There lays a fantastic spot to capture Paris’s beautiful architecture and an alternative view of one of its most famous landmarks, The Notre Dame. The Pont Saint Michel bridge is found in the centre of the city and links Place Saint-Michel on the left bank to the Île de la Cité – one of two remaining natural islands in the Seine (the other being the Île Saint-Louis).

Gerard’s tips:

  • “If you are planning to shoot in colour, try taking your shot at sunset. The moment when the sky is deep blue and the city lights are starting to turn on, can create a beautiful effect.”
  • A tripod and a flashlight are useful, but if you don’t have these with you, make sure the ISO sensitivity is high
  • Remember, there are no set rules: photographers must choose their own framing, camera angles and focus settings in relation to how they feel about each location

See the complete set of photographs Gerard took for the Hidden View assignment here

Visit the I Am Nikon blog next week for the ‘Hidden View of London’. 

 

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“These young photographers are talented and ambitious. It was great to be able to give them this opportunity to learn from some of the best in the world.” Frank Zuidweg, Nikon Europe.

Earlier this month, NOOR and Nikon invited 14 photographers to Istanbul to start an intensive five-day Masterclass in Documentary Photography. Selected from 153 unique portfolios from 13 different countries, achieving a spot in this sought-after annual event was an achievement in itself.

Photograph by Frank Zuidweg with Nikon D800E

Photograph by Frank Zuidweg with Nikon D800E

During five days, the 14 participants, learnt from veterans like NOOR photographer Stanley Greene, who has been capturing the trials and tribulations of mankind for 25 years. The participants also learnt from fellow NOOR members Andrea BruceBenedicte Kurzen, and Jon Lowenstein. Joined by Evelien Kunst, NOOR’s managing director, and Frank Zuidweg from Nikon. It was a unique opportunity for the attendees to gain new knowledge, improve skills and develop a personal vision to their documentary styles.

Photograph by Frank Zuidweg with Nikon D800E

Photograph by Frank Zuidweg with Nikon D800E

During the first few days the attendees had the opportunity for a one-to-one personal review of their portfolios and editing sessions with the NOOR team.  “It has been a great experience editing my work with Andrea and the other participating photographers,” said Achilleas Zavallis from Cyprus. “Having the input from these photographers with diverse backgrounds, coming from different countries, gave me a new perspective on my own work. Being able to get their collective knowledge helps me to look at my work with a fresh set of eyes.”

Photograph by Frank Zuidweg with Nikon D800E

Photograph by Frank Zuidweg with Nikon D800E

As well as practical skills, topics such as ethics and storytelling were discussed. “I want to learn how to transform an idea into a visual story,” said one of the students, Yasaman Dehmiyani from Iran. “Documentary photography is not about a single image, but about showing a story from all angles,” said Frank Zuidweg.  “For me, the most important thing to do in news stories is to humanize them,” asserted Andrea Bruce, an award-winning photographer and one of the lecturers. “To show that people are living a day-to-day normal life, even in conflict situations. I see it as my role to educate the people that read the newspaper at the other end of the world.”

Ethical issues included altering content and misuse of images by clients when they take them out of context. “It is good that we are bringing up these examples of ethical misbehavior, since it is happening all the time in this industry and it jeopardizes our credibility,” said Stanley Greene. “We need to be responsible because the public trusts us and we have to make them trust us.”

Photograph by Frank Zuidweg with Nikon D800E

Photograph by Frank Zuidweg with Nikon D800E

The class was also given tips and advice on how to work with editors. Benedicte Kurzen stressed that if photographers have knowledge that editors might not have, they need to communicate it. “You know your country better that any editor who sits in an office in New York, London or Paris,” she said. This was expressed by one of the participants, Kursat Bayhan, who presented a project that his newspaper Zaman initiated, called Time in Turkey. This gave the group a great example of how a newspaper can understand the importance of photo features.

“The Masterclass was like a pressure cooker of feedback and experiences. It’s always hard to tell right after the event what the participants got out of it, since it was so intense.  A lot of the feedback and issues discussed need to sink in and over time things will start making sense. The immediate result is that we helped create a network of young talented photographers who can perhaps stay friends for life and help each other. For me that is valuable, since this is a lonely profession and there are no over-arching organizations for documentary photographers.” Said Evelien Kunst, managing director of NOOR.

The Masterclass will be repeated next year in March. So please stay tuned to the I AM NIKON Facebook community for next year’s location and entry details.

Photograph by Frank Zuidweg with Nikon D800E

Photograph by Frank Zuidweg with Nikon D800E

Lenses used in photography: AF-S NIKKOR 35mm/1.8G ED and AF-S NIKKOR 85mm/1.8G

Celebrating this Masterclass, there is an exhibition of the participants’ portraits on the I AM Nikon Flickr account. A documentary portfolio of these future documentarians.

 

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The second part of an earlier blog post from March 10th in which photographer Kadir van Lohuizen talks about his experiences working with Young in Prison. This initiative aims to boost the future prospects of juvenile offenders by giving them creative photography projects, using COOLPIX cameras donated by Nikon.  In this post, Kadir presents the personal stories of two young men he worked with in Mzuzu Prison, Malawi.

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ALBERT

Albert Mwale, Malawi. Photographed by Kadir van Lohuizen, Nikon Df. Credit: Kadir van Lohuizen

Albert. Photographed by Kadir van Lohuizen with a Nikon Df. Credit: Kadir van Lohuizen

 

Albert is 21 years old and has been consigned to Mzuzu Prison for a 12 year sentence. He was prosecuted and jailed for robbery and raping a girl, according to the official judgement. However, he says that although the robbery did occur, the girl wasn’t a minor and agreed to have sex with him.

The family of Albert Mwale at home. Photographed by  Kadir van Lohuizen with Nikon Df. Credit: Kadir van Lohuizen

The family of Albert at home. Photographed by Kadir van Lohuizen with a Nikon Df. Credit: Kadir van Lohuizen

 

Albert sits quietly in my classes, but is intrigued by the camera in front of him. He does seem to be lonely and feels abandoned and misunderstood. “I lost my youth and I wish it could have been different”, he says. In a way Albert is lucky, because he is in a prison in his hometown. If you are placed in a prison a long distance away from your family, life is much harder. The prison provides food once a day, but this rarely includes vegetables. Clothes, soap and other daily necessities need to be brought to you by your family or friends.

I visited Albert’s family. His parents are together and live on the outskirts of Mzuzu in a small house. He has five brothers and sisters, of which his parents can barely take care of. His father works as a watchman and earns 10,000 Kwacha per month (about 18 euro), while his mother is a housewife. The parents did own their own house, but had to sell it due to financial constraints. Now they are renting and have a small garden next to their house, where they grow vegetables to save money. They also have a son with a mental disorder, so life is far from easy.

The father works whilst a sister of Albert's plays. Photographed by Kadir van Lohuizen with Nikon Df. Credit: Kadir van Lohuizen

The father works whilst a sister of Albert’s plays. Photographed by Kadir van Lohuizen with a Nikon Df. Credit: Kadir van Lohuizen

 

BALAKA

Balaka has been sentenced to three and a half years in prison for stealing a mobile phone. He very much regrets that he did this and that he has to pay such a high price for this simple crime.

Balaka Mgode. Photographed by Kadir van Lohuizen with a Nikon Df. Credit: Kadir van Lohuizen.

Balaka. Photographed by Kadir van Lohuizen with a Nikon Df. Credit: Kadir van Lohuizen.

 

He has friends in the prison, but life is tough. There is absolutely no privacy as he shares his cell with 35 other inmates. During the day, they go into the courtyard and mix with the adults, but by 3:30pm everyone is locked back in their cells. In these small spaces, there are no mattresses and no space to lie down, so they must all sleep in a sitting position.

Balaka's mother sells rice in the market. Photographed by Kadir van Lohuizen with a Nikon Df. Credit: Kadir van Lohuizen.

Balaka’s mother sells rice in the market. Photographed by Kadir van Lohuizen with a Nikon Df. Credit: Kadir van Lohuizen.

 

His parents visit him once a week. But they are not allowed to touch each other and speak through bars. Balaka has five brothers and sisters, who partly still live at home. They once owned a small farm in the countryside, but moved to the city now. An arrangement, which according to his parents, is harder because life is more expensive now. His mother sells rice in the market that his father buys from local farmers. They earn 40,000 Kwacha per month (about 69 euro).

Balaka Mgode's family. Photographed by Kadir van Lohuizen with a Nikon Df. Credit: Kadir van Lohuizen.

Balaka’s family. Photographed by Kadir van Lohuizen with a Nikon Df. Credit: Kadir van Lohuizen.

 

Balaka has really taken to the photography workshop I am teaching and hopes he can use these new skills when he gets out of Mzuzu Prison.

 

 

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