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More Nieu Bethesda Photographs

A Blog Post by Ivan Muller

Two nights and one and a half days...

Nieu Bethesda has a very small population of about a thousand people or so. The last time I was here was in 2000 and in the preceding 12 years the town has definately taken on a more touristy flavour. The are over twenty guest houses and almost all of them were full over the long weekend in December 2012. There are at least two restaurants that are open at night and quite a few more open for lunch...

There are not streetlights and no one takes credit cards nor are the autobanks...thus a cash only town! Oh yes there are no petrol stations either...

The town is small enough to easily explore on foot via the dusty streets, there are no tar roads either.Many houses have been restored and in that sense the town has become almost too 'pretty'. Really old houses with the patina of many years of gentle neglect are few and far between. Of course this is a good thing it just means there is less for me to photograph....

We had a very nice dinner for our 29th anniversary at the Karoo Lamb restaurant, although the service was very slow...We didn't recon on their being no auto banks in town and as I said no one takes credit cards..so we had to make an internet transfer to pay for our first nights accommodation and meal and we asked the nice lady, Katrin, that owns the restaurant and the accommodation for some extra cash. We couldn't do the internet transfer for various reasons, but Katrin assured us that it would be ok if we did the transfer when we got back home in Centurion...how is that for Karoo hospitality at its best?!

In the end , apart from the character of these small Karoo towns with their well preserved architecture and imposing NG churches, it is the people that impresses most. Their hospitality, friendliness and down to earth helpful demeanor that stays with one...

Take the guy with throat cancer and the hole in his windpipe that allowed me to take his photograph and told me all about his health problems and wife that died twenty years ago and that she smoked and drank too much and that's why he has outlived her...his name is James and he is 84 years old.

Regards, Ivan

More Nieu Bethesda Photographs
More Nieu Bethesda Photographs
More Nieu Bethesda Photographs
More Nieu Bethesda Photographs
More Nieu Bethesda Photographs
More Nieu Bethesda Photographs
More Nieu Bethesda Photographs
More Nieu Bethesda Photographs
James, 84 does quilting at a local artgallery
James, 84 does quilting at a local artgallery
More Nieu Bethesda Photographs
Jan , the gardener at our cottage.
Jan , the gardener at our cottage.
More Nieu Bethesda Photographs
Created: Sun, 20/01/2013 - 12:10

Owl House, Interiors

A Blog Post by Ivan Muller

This is my first post for the year and I would like to wish all of you a fantastic 2013!

I ended my recent four day photographic journey through the Southern Freestate and the Eastern Cape in Nieu Bethesda.

I picked up a potential problem with my car, after having had it serviced just a week before! Funny how cars pick up problems only after the service...! Anyway I had to stay another night in Nieu Bethesda, which was quite nice and cancel my night in Jagersfontein at short notice. The owner of the guesthouse in Jagersfontein, Karin Duvenhage kindly offered to keep my deposit for a year! How is that for service!

So after a long trip from Pretoria to Smithfield and then Hofmeyer I ended up in Nieu Bethesda for two nights.

As most of us know the main attraction in Nieu Bethesda is the Owl house. I have been to Nieu Bethesda before but the last time was about two years ago. I visited the Owl house each time but never really took any photographs. This time I visited in the middle of a very hot December afternoon. I quickly walked through the garden and took many photographs but the time of day was just wrong and before I publish any photographs here on my blog of the garden, or 'Camel Yard' and its many cement figures I will have to work extensively on the images via photoshop etc.

The interior was wonderful and a great reprieve from the midday heat. I photograph many interiors professionally but these interior spaces blew me away! They were so colourful and personal...and to think Helen Maartins started the project in the fifties...truly remarkable!

More images from my trip, as usual working backwards, to come...

I used my little Leica X1 with a fixed 35mm equivalent lens for all these available light photographs. Most of the rooms were partially cordoned off and it was quite difficult to get decent angles. As it got quite dark inside I had to bump up the iso sometimes to the maximum of 3200 ( all the images were taken with the iso set between 800 and 3200 ) to prevent camera shake and often shot at the max aperture of f2.8. ( I didn't have a tripod and I wasn't sure if I would be allowed to bring one...I just took it for granted that it would be disallowed. I never thought to ask..... ) Looking at these images at 100% enlargement on my monitor I was quite surprised at the good quality of the files...one can just do sooooo much with digital!

The entrance fee was R80-00 for two (about 8 Euros). The Owl House Foundation can be contacted at 049 8411733, and the international dialing code is +27.

Regards!

Ivan

Original front entrance
Original front entrance
Sunbeam kitchen
Sunbeam kitchen
Sunbeam kitchen
Sunbeam kitchen
Sunbeam kitchen
Sunbeam kitchen
Detail
Detail
Honeymoon room
Honeymoon room
The long bedroom
The long bedroom
Detail, long bedroom
Detail, long bedroom
The green bedroom
The green bedroom
Detail, the green bedroom
Detail, the green bedroom
Owl House, Interiors
Created: Mon, 07/01/2013 - 14:05

Expose to the Right...

A Blog Post by Ivan Muller

There is still life left in the old girl...

I have had a Canon EOS 5dmkII for three years now. Canon recently introduced the Eos 5d MkIII with better AF and 'cleaner' files at higher iso's. One of the mkII problems was noise in the shadow areas especially when underexposed and then 'pushed' in post production to regain some shadow detail. But even the new mkIII when compared to the new Nikon D800 has much more noise in the shadow areas...

It would seem that Canon's sensor technology lags behind the Sony sensor in the Nikon D800. It is even more remarkable that Sony has managed to produce such a a clean sensor with so many megapixels packed into it, all of 36mp compared to the mkII and mkIII sensor's of between 21 and 22. Usually fewer pixels means less noise but somehow Sony has managed to fix this with their new sensor. Of course this noise is mostly only visible in the shadow areas and even more so when the shadows are opened up a bit in post production...

I wonder if the rumoured 40+megapixel Canon has not been announced yet for this very reason: that Canon sensor technology needs a bit of an overhaul first before they can release a 40+ camera. Perhaps their technology at present is just not good enough... So we have to wait for Canon to play catch up before we will see their Nikon D800 competitor.

I am positive it will come. Canon cannot let Nikon lead the way for too long, the market is just too competitive...

Of course this is all pure speculation on my part but it is one of the reasons why I have decided not to upgrade my mkII yet. I have decided to rather spend my hard earned pennies on lenses, and I have put my money where my mouth is and have already acquired a few new lenses this year, the most notable being the 24mm TS.

In the meantime I have found a workable solution for the noisy sensor, namely expose to the right or overexposure.

A recent assignment to photograph a mine illustrates this technique well.

It was very overcast on the day that I arrived at the mine and I decided to do a bit of HDR photography to recapture some highlight detail. Thus I bracketed three exposures, 1 1/2 stops over and under from normal.

I don't really like the HDR look and so I have not really mastered the technique. Before I started the HDR process I tried to 'pull' a few overexposed images to see how much of the sky detail and texture I could regain. It was quite a lot actually which just showed me once again just how much information is captured on modern day sensors. I couldn't 'push' the underexposed images because then the shadow noise would become too visible.

Below a few screen prints from Lightroom 4 that shows exactly how overexposed the image was that I used and how clean the shadow areas of a 'pulled' image is compared to a 'pushed' one.

'Expose to the right' or overexposure works. I managed to get all the highlight detail back with super clean shadows compared to normal and underexposed images. Generally there was also less noise in the image overall. I 'only' used iso 500, which shouldn't be too noisy but with noise reduction turned off in the first two sample images it is clear just how noisy the overall image is at a mere '500 iso' ...
With a bit of practice and my camera set on auto bracketing 'exposure to the right ' for stationary images is easy. Portraits can also benefit from this and a bit of testing beforehand will make bracketing, which is not ideal with portraiture, unnecessary.

Here are a few steps to remember when ETTR (exposing to the right)

Don't underexpose - introduces too much noise in the shadow areas when 'correcting' in post production.

The 5d2 can easily handle 1 1/2 stops of overexposure.

When in doubt bracket.

After re adjusting the exposure in post processing, I use LR4, use the clarity slider to bring back some 'punch' if the image looks a bit flat.

As I said in the beginning there is still a lot of life left in the old girl and I know with a bit of tweaking here and there the files from the 'old' mk II are still excellent.

regards, Ivan

'Under exposed' detail of image. 1/30sec iso 500. Default noise reduction turned off in LR4 to show  noisy file @200%
'Under exposed' detail of image. 1/30sec iso 500. Default noise reduction turned off in LR4 to show noisy file @200%
'Overexposed' detail of image. 1/4sec iso 500. Default noise reduction in LR4 turned off to show noise @200%
'Overexposed' detail of image. 1/4sec iso 500. Default noise reduction in LR4 turned off to show noise @200%
Over exposed image shown full frame to show how little detail there is in the sky. Same image as above.
Over exposed image shown full frame to show how little detail there is in the sky. Same image as above.
'Underexposed' image with a +1 stop exposure. Visible increase in chroma & colour noise. Default LR4 noise reduction turned on.
'Underexposed' image with a +1 stop exposure. Visible increase in chroma & colour noise. Default LR4 noise reduction turned on.
Overexposed image 'pulled' 2 stops. absolutely clean shadow areas with no noticeable chroma & colour noise!
Overexposed image 'pulled' 2 stops. absolutely clean shadow areas with no noticeable chroma & colour noise!
Final of the 1 1/2 stopped overexposed and 2 stops pulled image with my usual LR post processing
Final of the 1 1/2 stopped overexposed and 2 stops pulled image with my usual LR post processing
Detail from image above to show clean shadows and generally cleaner overall image
Detail from image above to show clean shadows and generally cleaner overall image
Straight out of camera on left and pulled 2.5 stops on right...look at the sky detail!
Straight out of camera on left and pulled 2.5 stops on right...look at the sky detail!
Created: Mon, 10/12/2012 - 18:12

B&W, Upside Down and Square

A Blog Post by Ivan Muller

I sometimes have great difficulty in deciding if an image works better in colour or in b&w...

In the bad old days of film I almost always used b&w film. B&W was cheaper and I could print it in my own darkroom. Colour film was expensive. I always used transparency film as opposed to negatives, because that's what my clients wanted and we thought that transparencies had better quality. It was painstaking and precise work to get the exposure just perfect on transparency as there was no lee way such as with negatives, and only professional labs could make prints...

Eventually I learned to 'see' in b&w and upside down. Upside down because my favourite camera was a 4x5 field camera and the image was upside down on the ground glass...just like it is today except that now (as then) we have a prism to correct the image..

Looking at things in 'b&w' and upside down must have improved my compositional skills. In art class we were taught to turn a picture upside down if we wanted to copy it exactly...I cant remember the exact reason why but I suppose it has something to do with left brain vs right brain...a concept that I still don't quite understand and I am forever having to ask my family if I am left brain or right brain!

Even today when photographing people with my camera on a tripod, after I have focused, I lift my eye up from the camera viewfinder and look at the subject normally...it also helps to see if they close their eyes when the flash pops...The great advantage with a dark, stopped down upside down image on a ground glass is that clients tend not to want to look through your camera all the time...they just cant 'see' the image...sometimes because there was no image because the lens has been 'closed'.... but that's another story.

After the 4x5 my other favourite camera was the square format Mamiya twin lens reflex (and later a Hasselblad 500c). I like the square format for people....somehow they just fit in better with a nice space around them. Today I have to crop to get a square image and I must say I don't intentionally shoot with a crop in mind later but I suppose somewhere buried deep inside my 'photography' mind the decision does take place that I should crop it square later and then I frame it subconsciously that way..

Anyway here are three square cropped b&w images from my journey to Greylingstad as shown in my previous post here ...http://www.ivanmuller.co.za/blog-item/greylingstad-mpumalangaa-trial-run

regards, Ivan

B&W, Upside Down and Square
B&W, Upside Down and Square
B&W, Upside Down and Square
Created: Thu, 06/12/2012 - 13:37

Greylingstad, Mpumalanga....a Trial run....

A Blog Post by Ivan Muller

This week I visited Greylingstad again.

Over the long weekend in December I am going on another one of my photographic journeys. To prepare for the trip i.t.o cameras and lenses I traveled to Greylingstad and spend the morning photographing the people and the landscape. I chose Greylingstad because I thought it will be typical of the type of small Karoo villages that I wanted to visit on my photographic journey through the Freestate and Northern Cape.

I used all three my cameras, the 5d2 with 40mm and 24 TS lens, my old medium format Mamiya ZD with 50mm shift (about 32mm equivalent in 35mm) and the Leica X1(aps-c format), fresh from a nip and tuck in Solms, Germany...

The Mamiya has a more square format and the 50mm lens is very close to my 'standard' 35mm lens. The 24mm TS is much wider and after this trip I have second thoughts about using it on my journey as I feel its too wide...as opposed to the ZD with 50mm shift that feels 'just right' with a very 'normal' view. The X1 works well as a people camera because its small, quiet and has more depth of field at equivalent apertures...and sometime I just don't feel like lugging all the heavy stuff around...and with face recognition its like using a point and shoot, no worries about focusing and exposure...

So three cameras, four lenses...maybe its just too much choice...I will have to think about it a bit more over the next week or two...

In the meantime here are the fruits of my labours in Greylingstad. As usual with an increase in micro contrast and de-saturated colours...

Regards, Ivan

Jaydon & Ryan selling peaches on the sidewalk for R2-00 each...X1
Jaydon & Ryan selling peaches on the sidewalk for R2-00 each...X1
Mamiya ZD & 50mm shift
Mamiya ZD & 50mm shift
Mamiya ZD & 50mm shift
Mamiya ZD & 50mm shift
Mamiya ZD & 50mm shift
Mamiya ZD & 50mm shift
Mamiya ZD & 50mm shift
Mamiya ZD & 50mm shift
5d2 & 40mm pancake lens
5d2 & 40mm pancake lens
Katryn, 5d2 & 40mm pancake lens
Katryn, 5d2 & 40mm pancake lens
Thabo & Thebo,  5d2 & 40mm pancake lens
Thabo & Thebo, 5d2 & 40mm pancake lens
Red chips stained fingers, 5d2 & 40mm pancake lens
Red chips stained fingers, 5d2 & 40mm pancake lens
5d2 and 24mm Tilt & Shift
5d2 and 24mm Tilt & Shift
5d2 and 24mm Tilt & Shift
5d2 and 24mm Tilt & Shift
5d2 and 24mm Tilt & Shift
5d2 and 24mm Tilt & Shift
5d2 and 24mm Tilt & Shift
5d2 and 24mm Tilt & Shift
Nhlakamipho & Njabulo, 5d2 & 40mm pancake lens
Nhlakamipho & Njabulo, 5d2 & 40mm pancake lens
Created: Wed, 05/12/2012 - 19:37

Greylingstad, Mpumalanga

A Blog Post by Ivan Muller

Yesterday I photographed a coal mine near Greylingstad.

The idea is to photograph the progress of the construction. When I heard that I had been awarded the contract as well as a few interior and architecture assignments in the pipeline, I decided its time to invest in a tilt and shift lens, more specifically the Canon 24TS f3.5 L II. This is the second version of the lens and is a vast improvement over the first model.

I was drawn to this lens not only because of the tilt and shift capabilities but also because it was said to be Canon's sharpest lens. I am not sure if it is the 'sharpest' lens in Canon's wide angle arsenal but it sure is very very sharp right into the 'shifted' corners. Not only is it sharp but there is also very very little chromatic aberation and virtually no distortion. There is probably a little bit of distortion but I don't bother to correct for it anymore as it is very seldom visible.

So all in all superb technical quality lens...

Handling wise its rather big and heavy with a 82mm filter size. I have yet to get a filter for it, but my filter of choice, the Marumi uv is not available at my local supplier yet, but I will get one eventually and also a circular polarizing filter. I don't like using polarizing filters outdoors on wide angle lenses because I dislike deep blue polarized sky's' ( yes I know I am probably the only one!!) but also don't like the fact that with wide angle lenses one part of the sky is usually more polarized than the other which gives a very uneven blue sky. Indoors it works well photographing interiors because often its a good way to kill unwanted reflections, especially on shiny kitchen cupboards.

Its a manual focus lens and because its a wide angle and the detail is small in the viewfinder it can be a bit more difficult to get sharp focus. My Canon 5d2 has live view with 5x and 10x magnification and this works very well indoors and when its dark outdoors. Live view is very difficult in bright sunlight and almost useless under bright conditions. Yesterday on the mine it was overcast but mostly very bright and I couldn't see anything on my camera's lcd screen. I have been looking at lcd screen magnifyers, which works like a mini 'darkcloth' but I just havent found one yet that has a reasonable price and a diopter adjustment and magnifyer of some sort. Some of them also have a square magnet strip that fits around the lcd and then the hood 'clips' onto the magnet...but I am still looking...

There is just something satisfying about using a wellmade purpose build lens like the T/S. When my camera is on a tripod, a must for this lens, precise framing is a must, and with the T/S its as easy as pie...Virtually no cropping in post production is necessary, and when I have to its usually just because of the format that did not fit in with my 'vision'.

Photographing the mine was quite exhaustive and I wasnt all that happy because it was overcast and the light was just plain dull. Towards the afternoon things started to improve and the sky became quite dramatic. I was hoping to make some more images when it was quite dark but then it started to rain and still having a slippery dirt road to navigate before I hit the tar road, I decided to pack it in as home was still a good 2 hours drive away.

As soon as I got off the dirt road it stopped raining and before long I drove into Greylingstad. Everything was wet and the sky was dark with the streetlight on and the lights of the buildings and houses bright and yellow. It was that magical 'twilight' time of the evening when there is a balance between 'natural' skylight and 'man made' light.

I quickly stopped and put my camera with the T/S lens on my tripod. It was dark thus easy to focus via live view and after leveling the camera with my hot shoe mounted spirit level made some exposures. The first house was photographed at F5.6, the last f stop I had used at the mine, the camera remembers this, and I made a few exposures before I realized it and then stopped down to F11/f16. My exposures times ranged from half a second to 20 seconds as it got darker and I stopped down. Looking at the f5.6 exposures with some shift later back at home, I was pleasantly surprised at how sharp they were and how much depth of field I got. In fact I would quite happily shoot at f5.6 in future!

The funny thing is that when I got back home the scene that first attracted my eye was the one I had most difficulty in processing ito a satisfactorily 'look'. I just cant make up my mind how to process it and at the moment I prefer the B&W version....

These twilight images of a few structures in Greylingstad are the first personal images I have made with the T/S lens. I have made a ton of interior and architecture images but I always thought that the 24mm will be too wide for my personal 'vision'. I prefer the 35mm focal length and I like the fact that it is not overly wide but almost 'normal'...but looking at the images I made last night I am quite satisfied with their 'look' and I will definitely be exploring this focal length more...

So here are my images of my short time in Greylingstad last night, it took just 15minutes to make all the photographs as shown above, and a few of my more 'technical' industrial images made earlier that day, just to show off my lens a bit...

Oh, btw I haven't checked out the tilt function yet..being so wide depth of field is quite enormous at f16/22 and so far I just haven't had the need for.

Regards, Ivan

When I saw this house in the twilight I just had to stop...
When I saw this house in the twilight I just had to stop...
...but when I got back home I found the colours difficult to visualize...
...but when I got back home I found the colours difficult to visualize...
200 ISO f16 at 15sec. Slightly overexposed to keep shadow noise down.
200 ISO f16 at 15sec. Slightly overexposed to keep shadow noise down.
My (dirty) car used as foreground prop, I just didn't have time to move it..
My (dirty) car used as foreground prop, I just didn't have time to move it..
some lens flare, and without my 'prop'
some lens flare, and without my 'prop'
..the once beautiful municipal 'art deco' building.... now quite derelict...
..the once beautiful municipal 'art deco' building.... now quite derelict...
...a mine photograph an hour and fifteen minutes and 25km earlier...
...a mine photograph an hour and fifteen minutes and 25km earlier...
..extreme shift at f11...and some liberal post processing
..extreme shift at f11...and some liberal post processing
...extreme shift and 100% corner detail...
...extreme shift and 100% corner detail...
...and another 100% crop detail...
...and another 100% crop detail...
Created: Thu, 15/11/2012 - 13:19

View of Lake Maggiore, from Stresa

A Blog Post by Ivan Muller

In 2010 I stayed for a whole week in Stresa, on the southern shore of Lake Maggiore.

Stresa is a holiday town with magnificent views of Lake Maggiore and the Borromean islands.

I was truly captivated by the dramatic views across the lake towards the snow capped alpine mountains. The northern tip of Lake Maggiore juts into Switzerland and the lake is mostly surrounded by steep hills with many small villages.

I experienced quite a few days when the sky was filled with dramatic clouds and I suppose it has something to do with the 'warm' waters of the lake and the surrounding mountains...

On my few visits to Italy over the years I have mostly just photographed the towns and cities. We have quite dramatic landscapes back home (South Africa) so I never really attempted to do much landscape photography when in Europe, thus I was pleasantly surprised when confronted with these stunning alpine vistas...

Stresa is a delightful small Italian town that is so compact that almost all the sights and shopping was within only a few minutes walking distance from our apartment across the street from the ferry landing. As always I am on the lookout for my favourite Italian vehicles, Vespas and old Fiat 500's...and I was not disappointed!

I was a nice contrast to the busy busy larger towns that has been mostly my experience to date.

I used a Canon 5dmk2 with the 24-105L zoom lens. This is a very nice combination for travel photography as it covers all the needed focal lengths and more, in a relatively compact size and with the added bonus of I/S...in fact one doesn't really need anything more than this combination. Some of the images very made with the camera on a tripod, a necessary piece of equipment for slow shutter speeds, long exposures and for maximum image quality, although rather cumbersome to cart all over the place!

regards, Ivan

View of Lake Maggiore, from Stresa
View of Lake Maggiore, from Stresa
View of Lake Maggiore, from Stresa
View of Lake Maggiore, from Stresa
View of Lake Maggiore, from Stresa
View of Lake Maggiore, from Stresa
View of Lake Maggiore, from Stresa
View of Lake Maggiore, from Stresa
View of Lake Maggiore, from Stresa
View of Lake Maggiore, from Stresa
View of Lake Maggiore, from Stresa
Created: Fri, 09/11/2012 - 15:37

Portraits...

A Blog Post by Ivan Muller

...of rural Swazi women.

Swaziland has an incredibly high unemployment rate of over 40%. It is a very poor landlocked country with the highest HIV/Aids prevalence in the world, in fact one in four have got the disease.

Gone Rural is a non profit organization started by the late Jenny Thorne to create employment for women in rural communities across Swaziland. Jenny started a small local business working with a handfull of women that has evolved into an international company providing income for over 731 rural women and supplying products to over one thousand retail outlets worldwide.

Please visit their website here, http://www.goneruralswazi.com/about for more info and to see the range of products they offer and to read their very interesting and fascinating story.

I visited this amazing community and took some photographs for http://www.amagugu.com, an e-commerce website that sells beautiful and unique African decor and gifts.

What struck me was the royal bearing and dignified beauty of these determined and hardworking woman of all ages that, against all odds, have found a way to earn a living in this poor country....

Portraits...
Portraits...
Portraits...
Portraits...
Portraits...
Portraits...
Portraits...
Portraits...
Portraits...
Portraits...
Created: Fri, 02/11/2012 - 17:41

Zurich, 24 hours

A Blog Post by Ivan Muller

On my journey to Italy & Switzerland, I spend my last day in Zurich...

My Journey started in Lucerne, from there we traveled by train to Locarno, next was Stresa and Milan before going home via Zurich.By the time we got to Zurich we tired and eager to get home.

There is not much to say about Zurich, as in Lucerne it rained almost all the time. It is a small and compact town and its strange to think that this small old town is the business capital of Switzerland...

Here are a few images from the streets of Zurich...

Zurich, 24 hours
Zurich, 24 hours
Zurich, 24 hours
Zurich, 24 hours
Zurich, 24 hours
Zurich, 24 hours
Zurich, 24 hours
Created: Fri, 12/10/2012 - 11:30

The Streets of Milan...

A Blog Post by Ivan Muller

Milan is the design and fashion capital of the world...

Whilst in Stresa, about an hour or so by train from Milan, one of the shop owners we had befriended told us that she never goes to Milan as its too commercial and ugly. She owned a luxury goods shop with her family selling mostly handbags and I always thought of her as a typically refined Italian lady. We were told by her shop assistants that in Milan the 'designer' handbags are never made from leather but mostly from canvas and other lightweight materials and only the trimmings are 'real' leather. (Later we discovered the all leather handbags we bought from this particular shop was all plastic and they hardly lasted more than a year...I suppose it did really only cater for the tourist trade but somehow we felt a bit 'cheated' and let down that our genuine leather 'Italian made' handbags turned out to be 'genuine plastic' probably from China....)

Anyway we had booked three days in Milan and arrived there on a Sunday afternoon. Our hotel was in the Corso Giuseppe Garibaldi, in a pedestrian zone filled with little shops and restaurants. From there its a straight walk to the fantastical Duomo. Next to the Duomo is the famous Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the worlds first covered shopping centres. A short walk from there is the also famous Via Montenapoleone, where the really expensive designer stores are...

It seemed somehow quite ironic that the ultimate place of religeous worship, the Cathedral of Milan, or the Duomo, was surrounded by the ultimate consumer places of worship...and perhaps you the reader will know the names better than I, but one name comes up immediately and that is Louis Vuitton...

The reason I remember this brand so well is that when in Paris a few years ago my family dragged me to the flagship store there and all I remember was that it was incredibly crowded and the cheapest item was a key ring at a price that I could never afford...

Here in Milan I saw the brand everywhere...hanging from the shoulders of, so it seemed, of every woman I walked past, young and old all had the familiar brown patterned bag. I even saw pink ones... What amazed me that it was actually quite a common sight...everyone had one...and I had always thought that it was quite exclusive...and pricey...but here the bags were hanging from the shoulders of teenagers...all very strange to me...

The other thing I remember of Milan were all the impossibly tall and slender beautiful woman...many of them were wizzing past me on bicycles wearing the highest heel shoes I had ever seen...!

I actually enjoyed my three days in Milan quite a bit. The shopping is much too expensive for my purse but I was fascinated by all the commerce, and all the exclusive shops that I felt much too intimidated by to even walk in and have a peek...I suppose they are designed that way to keep the riff raff like myself out...we can only peek through the windows and stare at the merchandice displayed inside and if we somehow entertained the idea of going inside the price tags that were boldly displayed alongside would be enough of a discouragement...

I enjoyed just looking and photographing the people. These worshipers of high fashion are truly quite fascinating. Always beautifully dressed and groomed walking on the highest of heels against a backdrop of cobblestone streets, neon, crowds, scooters all busy busy doing what they do best, shopping.

Here are some images of what I had experienced and hopefully captured with my camera.

Regarding the images, some are just included for illustration purposes. Take the first image below, here I used a longer focal length and because of that, imo it doesnt 'fit in' with the look of the other images because they all have the wide angle look more commonly associated with 'street' type images. also the image of the woman shoppers having their 'trophy' photograph taken by a friend...the whole look of the image just doesnt 'work' for me but I included it here because it almost best illustrates the power of the 'brand'.

As usual with my colour images I increased the micro contrast and de-saturated the colour...but I did also increased the saturation of certain elements of the image. Although I have been making colour images since 2004 when I started using digital I am still trying to find a 'look'. I intensely dislike the over saturated colour images that are quite popular with the 'amateur' photographers and often de-saturate my images quite severely...

The last three images are in B&W because two of them just didn't work for me in colour.

This post has a total of 20images, which I think by far is the most images I have posted on any of my blog posts! I hope you enjoy this gallery...

regards, Ivan

The Streets of Milan...
The Streets of Milan...
The Streets of Milan...
The Streets of Milan...
The Streets of Milan...
The Streets of Milan...
The Streets of Milan...
The Streets of Milan...
The Streets of Milan...
The Streets of Milan...
The Streets of Milan...
The Streets of Milan...
The Streets of Milan...
The Streets of Milan...
The Streets of Milan...
The Streets of Milan...
The Streets of Milan...
The Streets of Milan...
The Streets of Milan...
The Streets of Milan...
The Streets of Milan...
Created: Sat, 15/09/2012 - 17:51