News and more from around Poland, in English

Ten Days in Kraków

It's been an interesting last 10 days or so. There have been a few minor disappointments, but generally it has been pretty damned good.

Photo Walk

On Saturday I took part in the Kraków edition of the global Scott Kelby photowalk. Last year we (a group of ten photographers of various levels of ability) took in Podgórze. This year we explored the region slightly to the East of Podgórze, namely Zabłocie. This area of Kraków isn't exactly the most beautiful part of Kraków, but we did have the benefit of a setting sun a rather nice model. Basically, anyone not carrying a camera becomes a prop. I took the opportunity to experiment with lens flare. I came to the conclusion that lens flare should be used sparingly. As it was getting dark my camera's low-light performance was working well. I had to forego the final part of the photowalk (and subsequent post-walk drink) in Kazimierz. Places to go, people to meet... you know how it is.

On the Spot

Day: Monday. Location: Bunkier Café. Time of Day: After dark. Exact location: On the patio (designated smoking area).

I met up with my friend from Kielce (who has now moved to Kraków) in the Rynek and after checking out Krakowskie Zakąskie) we found ourselves at the wonderful Bunkier Café. I was slightly surprised when she invited me to draw her. I felt a little unprepared (having no special paper or decent pencils to draw with). Anyway, the prerequisite drawing materials were soon produced and I was able to do a drawing by candle-light. It might not have been the best drawing in the world, but it was a tribute.

Lessons in Lightroom

Wednesday. Pretty much a year ago to the day I participated in a two-day photo workshop and got a brief look at what professional photographers use to beautify their photos, Adobe Lightroom. Recently I booked myself onto a day-long nude photo workshop which would no doubt involve some Lightroom tweakery, so I bought myself a copy. To get the best out of Lightroom you need two things. First, you should take photos in RAW format (basically this is data recorded as the image sensor sees it, with as much detail as is possible). For the last year or so, I've just been shooting in JPEG as I haven't been editing the photos (apart from some basic cropping). Now my camera is permanently set to RAW. Second thing about Lightroom is you need to know how to use it. Of course I could have learned by myself, but it's usually easier if someone just shows you the basics and some little tricks and tips. My tutor, Monika, arrived a little late. While waiting I was able to learn a few things. After the real lesson I was fully versed in such things as white balance correction, spot removal, cropping and all sorts of exposure and contrast manipulation.

The source material for the lesson was a photo of Miss Dee (one of my favourite photos). By the time we had finished with her, she was no longer bright orange and one mole had been surgically removed.

Cancelled Studio Session

Saturday. I had hoped to spend the in the studio taking tastefully-lit photographs of naked women. I woke up fairly early to a message from the course instructor saying that he had fallen foul of a debilitating illness. Boo! To be honest I was kind of relieved. After only five hours sleep I didn't exactly feel great, so I would be able to spend some quality time with the sofa.

An Evening of Gaiety and Racism

Saturday Evening. My friend had decided that she was now a grown-up and we should celebrate her birthday with a mature dinner for grown-ups at her favourite Indian restaurant. The original plan was to go to the restaurant then take the party to a mutual friend's flat to watch Mystery Science Theater. It was quite a nice evening, but it didn't quite go to plan.

The food at "Induś" was indeed good. Service, on the other hand, was not. It took about an hour for their slack-arsed staff to take our order. The restaurant interior is poorly lit and rather uninspiring. I held back from drinking alcohol, because I was "saving myself" for the afterparty. Alas, we spent so long at the restaurant that we ended up just staying at the restaurant. There was plenty of entertainment from our friends there with some very politically-incorrect chat. Luckily in Poland it is ok to be a racist and homophobes aren't exactly ostracised either.

So, the dinner party finished at midnight. I returned home still, with Mystery Science Theater still a mystery.

Rysowana Niedziela (Drawn Sunday)

I've been going to the Sunday drawing sessions at Klub Nie Lubię Poniedziałków for what must be six months now. The practice has done me good (especially now that the meetings are now every week rather than every other week). I am now turning out some quite good likenesses. I have some off days, but generally I'm getting better. This Sunday we had the rare good fortune of having more models that artists. Unfortunately of the three chosen ones, there was only one female. I'm not a fan of drawing guys. I'd much rather draw girls. Anyway our first model (female) was joy to draw.

Art Come Out

Sunday evening; A presentation by a photographer at Ogród Sztuki (Art Garden). Hmm interesting... Photos from Magda Hueckel's travels around Africa. Lots of photos of death. All in black and white. Mostly depressing. Anyway, it made a change from the usual Sunday night Scrabble game.

Poetry Circle Monday

"Poetry about the sea. Plus szanties, come along. It'll be fun:)"
That's how the announcement (posted by Anna an acquaintance) in the language exchange group page read. So, I went along to Kawiarnia Lwówska (not knowing what to expect as the last review on Yelp was over two years old). I took along a sketch book just in case the "It'll be fun" bit turned out to be an exaggeration. I was greeted by a man in a captain's hat, got myself a very cheap beer and waited for the fun to start. The cafe soon filled up with people aged 60+. Luckily Anna arrived. Thanks to her I wasn't sat alone isolated from the rest of the group like some sad loner. The participants read their Polish poetry, as did Anna, interspersed with occasional shanties and pirate songs from "The Captain". I'm not entirely sure it was fun, but it certainly was interesting. I left with sketchbook unsketched in and wishing I had brought a camera.

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