Flights from Tbilisi to Prague tend to arrive at odd hours of the day, either very early or very late. Perhaps things are better now but when I visited back in 2011 my flight landed around five in the morning. I arrived at my hotel before six before my room was ready so I dropped off my carry on, pulled out my camera and went for a walk. It was 29th January. At the airport it was -14° C, in the city it was a balmy -11° C. Brass monkey weather. I had just arrived from Tbilisi where it was a tropical 6° C. Still, on this, my fifth trip to the city, I finally got some pictures that didn’t consist mostly of tourists.
First stop was Charles Bridge. Normally the bridge is crowded with tourists, jazz musicians and sellers of souvenirs. On this morning it was empty other than one or two people who crossed in the twenty minutes or so I was there. The sun was just starting to warm the sky behind the old town and the colours were muted, almost washed out, in the soft light. Despite not being able to feel my fingers it was beautiful. Below is my favourite shot from that morning, an image that has served as my background picture on every computer I have owned since. I’ve also processed this a dozen different ways over the years depending on my mood. This is the current iteration.
Here are a few more taken on the bridge around the same time.
I took a night time walk around Prague and made use of a feature of the NEX-5 that I can no longer remember much about. As I recall the camera took six shots in quick succession at a hand holdable shutter speed and then stacked them to create a properly exposed shot, though it only worked with jpegs and not raw files. I was sceptical but the shots turned out reasonably well, a little on the soft side but good enough. The softness was down to the camera defaulting to 6400 ISO when using this mode which was a bit of a stretch in the distant days of 2011.
For comparison here are a couple of conventional shots I took as raw files and processed normally. These were shot at 3200 ISO and hand held at 1/15th. The NEX cameras did not have sensor based stabilization but the 18-55 kit lens I was using had optical stabilization that worked well. The first shot below is near identical to the second shot above and, as well as the image stacking technology works, I think the processed single shot raw file is much better. The second shot was taken in the Old Town Square with the striking Tyn Church in the background.
I’m not generally an early adopter. I prefer to wait until the reviews are in and the price has dropped. Yet when Sony announced the original RX100 I decided to get one as soon as they became available. I’m a fan of small, serious cameras and have been ever since I pickup up a Panasonic LX3 ten years ago. I sold the RX100 a couple of years ago because I was finding the slow lens a little limiting and as I – and my eyes – got older, I found the absence of a viewfinder frustrating. Sony corrected both those failings with the RX100iii and subsequent versions but they were even more expensive that the original RX100. I may yet buy another RX100, with the RX100vA very tempting.
Meanwhile here are a few night shots I took around the Washington Monument in Washington DC. I thought these turned out really well considering just how dark it was. The RX100 was right at the edge of its capabilities here. I was shooting at ISO 3200 with the lens wide open. This gave me shutter speeds between 1/20th and 1/40th of a second. The result was some motion blur, but it worked in these particular shots. Converting most of them to black and white and darkening the sky even further helped take care of noise. I thought these turned out quite well.