I didn't expect this post to be so long so I decided to split it into 2 parts
I've been travelling a lot this summer and of course, I've taken many pictures on these trips. Since these were my first three trips after the pandemic and my first trips with Ricoh GRIIIx I would like to share some of my favourite photos of Georgia that we took and the experience that I had with this camera.
Why I decided to share this post
I have another blog post about the visual library in photography and why it's so important to enrich it as much as possible. That post describes one of the best ways to learn photography faster. I do not believe that some people have good taste straight away and some will never obtain it. I noticed that taste is something you can train by looking at the works of other photographers. If you like my style and the pictures I take I will be happy to share some more of them with you. I do not claim to be a high-end artist and if at some point my pictures will start to look boring to you - that means you have overgrown me a lot and I'm really happy about that and hope to chase you someday.
One camera for two of us
Since we wanted to go to the mountains and camp there, my wife and I decided to not take any tripods and additional cameras to cut down the weight. I have experience hiking with a DSLR and a film camera and a tripod and it was not very pleasant to carry 5 kilos of photo equipment in an already very heavy backpack. So we had only 1 camera for both of us. We first thought that it might be not convenient but over some years of doing photography, we actually started to take less of images overall but more good ones. And I didn't need the camera with me all the time. So we travelled for 2 weeks with this minimalist setup taking pictures of life in Georgia. In this post, I will share the best pictures from these 2 weeks and tell how they were made.
So some of the images in this post are made by Anna Ivahnenko and some by me.
Part 1 Urbex in Tskaltubo
Tskaltubo is a little town full of Soviet sanatoriums which are now abandoned and slowly falling apart. It's a nice place for photography since there are loads of unusual locations. We didn't stylise anything for the pictures and only explored and captured.
All of the shots from Tskaltubo are Anna's
This particular picture was done with HDR to soften the light from the outside. We also lightened up the curtain on the floor and made the parquet texture slightly sharper.
All of these houses are abandoned but some people moved in and actually live there. To get inside you won't need to climb over fences or snick by the guards because no one looks after the houses they are just there and in this condition. I would say it was especially convenient to have a pocketable camera in such conditions when we explored all of these empty houses.
Part 2 the Hike
After Tskaltubo we went to Svaneti region to hike in the mountains. On the first night, we stayed at a trout farm. At night it looked amazing and thanks to the stabilisation system of the camera we could take some pictures at night when the fog laid down on the water.
These moments I understand that sometimes it's very important to get out and shoot. That there are a lot of beautiful things in the world and you can capture this beauty. I would say this is also the part of unstaged photography that I enjoy. When the pictures show the world as it is.
The next day we went up to the mountain and above the clouds. I very much like the picture above because of its minimalist composition. It's very important to keep every picture minimalistic and here the clouds helped a lot.
The picture above is actually very simple. Although I love the way Anna edited it. She darkened the whole picture and blues and lifted up the black point on curves a bit. It's one of the pictures that are beautiful mostly because of the place but I can see the style of the photographer.
We camped on the mountain and had such a view of other mountains disappearing in the fog below.
I tried to add more contrast using an adjustment brush and adding exposure to the spot of light and darkening everything around. This is one of my pictures where, I would say, the main subject of the picture is the light. Lately, I've been shooting different spots of light on the streets and in nature. It even got a bit repetitive. I would say that light indeed is the main subject of my photography because I think of taking pictures as capturing light.
Later, when we got to the top of the mountain I didn't take many pictures because I was quite tired and carrying a 15-kilo of backpack climbing at an angle like this. Although often we stopped to have some rest and Anna also took some great minimalistic photographs of this snowy peak with clouds. Meanwhile, I can't say that the pictures that I took up there deserve to be published.
This one is one of our favourites since it's so minimalistic and the only details in the frame are the rocks on the peak.
To be honest I have over a hundred photos of Georgia but I try to keep this post not too long and show only the most interesting photographs.
We haven't met a single person on this mountain so that is me standing on that rock. By the way, if you like to take pictures of yourself in the mountains try to find places where you will be in front of a minimalist background and do not come too close to the camera. It's better to show your surroundings well and place yourself in this setting. Although this photograph is not staged I would do a staged shot like this if I wanted to.
Then we descended down to an abandoned village where we camped overnight
These derelict houses created a very strange mood. The village was empty but there were cows. This shot is made on 1/60 and ISO 200 although potentially we could lower ISO since we shot on this camera even at 1/4 and everything was sharp.
Ricoh GRIIIx has a 26mm lens (40mm equivalent) and I like this format it's not too wide but also not narrow. I love wide lenses because they show the volume very well and pictures look closer to the way we see the world. But it's also harder to take pictures on wide lenses because you need to think of how to separate your subject from the surroundings. And how to capture not too many details in the frame. I still want to switch to a 35mm prime lens which is better for learning photography on my main sony camera.
Very well composed shot made by Anna.
I tried to slightly shift more attention to the cabin using curves with masks and brightening the cabin while darkening the background and surroundings.
After that village, we went down the mountain and more villages were on the way.
Some soviet machinery was along the road where we were walking. I took this picture and decided to add even more contrast by making the greenery hue more bluish and the bus more orange.
We happened to pass by such scenery where I took this straight-on shot. I especially like that the whole shot is brown, of course, the colours were adjusted accordingly. The sun was still quite harsh so I tried to slightly underexpose the shot. It's always better to set the right exposure and protect the highlights from overexposing.
We asked a Georgian family to show us the way and they invited us for tea and coffee. Later they offered us some wine, homemade bakery, and juice. In the end, they offered us to have dinner and stay overnight. We still left the same evening to continue our journey also because we couldn't take so much from people without giving. Anyways I think that this is a very beautiful culture where people's life is not rotating around success and money. I think it's very important to capture and, at least in the pictures, preserve this disappearing culture and show these beautiful people and the way they live. It would be a job of a documentary photographer, to capture photos of Georgia and Georgian people as they are.
The mountains were still around us and the views were gorgeous. It's hard to believe that people live in that mountainous area, far away from civilisation, growing all the food in their yard, riding horses, and hunting.
The picture above was also strongly underexposed to show the sky and create a big silhouette of mountains. I love silhouette photography, It has its own mystery and charm. Since mountains are big and there are a lot of details I would recommend trying to hide the most details. For example, when shooting against a bright sky you can underexpose the picture by about 2-3 stops.
That's it for part 1! if you enjoyed reading my story, looking at our photos of Georgia and reading my notes about how they were made, please respond to this post and I will make more posts like this in the future. Please subscribe to my blog and newsletter, I send updates about new posts there.