Images from historic churches and monasteries in Bucovina and Moldova

In August of 2*** (regular readers will know the year 😁), we took a tour of the historic churches and monasteries in the provinces of Moldova and Bucovina (within the territory of Romania).

A clarification is in order here. When people hear Moldova they automatically think about the Republic of Moldova, which used to be part of the Romanian province of Moldova but was taken by the Russians in 1940. That whole region has a fairly tumultuous history which you can read here. Just keep in mind these photographs were taken within the current-day borders of Romania and yes, there are two provinces called Bucovina and Moldova in Romania. I’ve lost track of how many times people have tried to correct me on this, all of them foreigners…

romania-historical-provinces

I could have published individual posts of each place but that would have been tedious for me (and for you too). I know it was tedious for me when we visited these places, one after another, day after day, dealing with heat, huge crowds and the hospitality industry (you know, the three Hs of travel; they add together to form a fourth H which is a four-letter word)… but we had made a plan and we stuck to it. Romanians in general tend to make trips to these places yearly for religious reasons. We visited these places because of their historical and architectural value, so while we were there we saw as many as we could in the time we had allotted ourselves.

In this gallery of photographs (there are 134 of them), you will see images from the following places:

  • The wooden church in Șurdești (Maramureș), a UNESCO monument and also the highest wooden church in the world
  • Moldovița Monastery
  • Sucevița Monastery
  • Chilia lui Daniil Sihastrul
  • Putna Monastery
  • “Dragoș Vodă” wooden church
  • Voroneț Monastery, famous for the blue used in its exterior murals, called Voroneț Blue
  • Humorul Monastery
  • Arbore Church
  • Dragomirna Monastery
  • Agapia Monastery
  • Văratec Monastery
  • Neamț Monastery
  • Secu Monastery
  • Sihăstria Monastery

Since I arranged the photos in chronological order, you’ll see them just as they’re listed above. You’ll probably want to know which was my favorite place. Dragomirna Monastery, definitely! Enjoy the gallery and thanks for being a subscriber!

I kept things simple in terms of photo gear for this trip, because there were four of us in the car and I knew I’d have to deal with the 3Hs of travel I mentioned above. I shot mainly with my Canon EOS 5D and the EF 24-105mm f/4L lens. My backup camera was the Canon PowerShot G10.

Canon EOS 5D (front)
Canon EOS 5D
Canon EF 24-105mm f4L IS USM Lens
Canon EF 24-105mm f4L IS USM Lens
Canon PowerShot G10
Canon PowerShot G10

A walk through Sibiu’s historical center

These are a few photographs (only 13 this time 😁) taken during a walk through Sibiu’s historical center nine years ago (yes, 2009). If you’re wondering why I keep publishing photos from that year, it’s because I’m finally taking care of my editing backlog. Wait, Raoul, are you saying you’re nine years behind on editing your photos? Ahem… most of my photos, yes. When you take lots of photos, that’s what happens 🤷‍♂️.

Anyway, these photos were taken with my cellphone at the time, the now-venerable Nokia N95 which had a 5 megapixel camera. It was pretty good by the standards of its time and is woefully behind the times now, not necessarily in megapixels but in dynamic range and image quality. Still, it did okay in daylight.

Enjoy the photos!

And here is the grandfather of many of today’s cellphone cameras:

Nokia N95-1

Around the town in 2009

This is a gallery of photographs taken in and around Medias in the summer of 2009 (68 photos in total). As I look back on these photos, it’s interesting to see how the town has changed and stayed the same during this time. It’s definitely changed since 2006, when I took these other photos. Enjoy!

I used the following cameras and lenses to take these photographs: an Olympus C770 UZ, a Nokia N95 (my mobile phone at the time), a Canon EOS 5D, a Canon EOS Rebel XTi, a Canon PowerShot G10, a Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS lens and a Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 lens.

Olympus Camedia C-770 UZ
Olympus Camedia C-770 UltraZoom
Nokia N95-1
Nokia N95
Canon EOS 5D (front)
Canon EOS 5D
Canon EOS Rebel XTi
Canon EOS Rebel XTi
Canon PowerShot G10 Front
Canon PowerShot G10
Canon EF 24-105mm f4L IS USM Lens
Canon EF 24-105mm f4L IS USM Lens
Canon EF 50mm f1.4 USM Lens
Canon EF 50mm f1.4 USM Lens

 

Blue hour and snowfall!

This past Sunday morning, I woke up to a beautiful snowfall and luckily for me, about 10 minutes before the blue hour (which actually lasts less than an hour). I tiptoed down the stairs so I wouldn’t wake up my wife and child, put some clothes and shoes on, and because it was snowing heavily, I took my Canon 7D (my only weather-sealed camera), along with the 10-22mm EF-S lens (which is also weather-sealed). I wanted an ultra-wide perspective to the photos and also the ability to shoot without a tripod at low shutter speeds. An ultra-wide lens lets you do that because of the “reciprocal rule”: as long as the shutter speed matches the focal length, you should get a good photo (provided you have steady hands). A 10-22mm lens would let me use shutter speeds as low as 1/10th of a second, which is just what I did on some of the photos. Enjoy the gallery!

For those of you who love looking at camera gear (I know I do), here is a photo of the camera and lens I used.

Canon EOS 7D
Canon EOS 7D
Canon EF-S 10-22mm f:3.5-4.5 Lens
Canon EF-S 10-22mm f:3.5-4.5 Lens

Summertime in our garden

I was going through old(er) photos of mine taken in 2009, and I put together a lovely collection of summertime photos from our garden (even if I do say so myself). Look, I know it’s not summer now. It’s winter (sort of). Each season has its purpose and is beautiful in its own way. Should we get some snowfall or at least some frost, I’ll probably be out there taking photos that you’ll be able to see here. So I could have scheduled this post to publish sometime in May, or I could let you see these photos now, and let you dream of this next summer, which I hope is going to be a beautiful one for all of us. (Unless you’re in the Southern hemisphere, in which case you’ve already got your summer. Isn’t it weird how that works out?) Enjoy the photos, there are 82 of them!

These photos were taken with the following cameras: Canon EOS 5D, Olympus Camedia C-770 UZ and Canon EOS Rebel XTi. For the Canon cameras, I used the following lenses: EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro, EF 50mm f/1.4, and the EF 24-105mm f/4L.

Canon EOS 5D (front)

Olympus Camedia C-770 UZ

Canon EOS Rebel XTi

Canon EF 24-105mm f4L IS USM Lens
Canon EF 24-105mm f4L IS USM Lens
Canon EF 50mm f1.4 USM Lens
Canon EF 50mm f1.4 USM Lens

 

Canon EF 100mm f2.8 Macro USM Lens
Canon EF 100mm f2.8 Macro USM Lens

Winter photos from our garden

It’s been a hum-drum winter, I’ve said it before. It barely snows, and when it does, it melts right away. The temperatures hover between 0-10° Celsius, so it’s neither warm nor cold, just kind of annoying. I don’t know where the winters of my youth went, but I hope they come back at some point. I’m talking about snow that stays on the ground for weeks and months, big, thick, frequent snow that keeps the top layers fresh… Those kinds of winters are now only found in movies and fairy tales.

Fortunately, we humans are endowed with a little something called optimism. We can always call on that spirit and make the best of what we have. So the snow melts quickly. So be it. I’ll photograph the melting snow. The falling water drops make for great macro photographs.

This nifty lens I just bought, the M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-50mm, has a Macro button on the side, which locks it in Macro mode and lets me get right up to the things I want to photograph, as you’ll see below. Not only is it a versatile 24-100mm (35mm equivalent) zoom, but it’s also a macro lens when I want it to be.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-50mm Side View with Buttons
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-50mm side view with buttons

I always shoot in RAW format, on any camera that’s capable of it, but with my E-P2, I forgot how good the JPG engine was. During my early morning outing a couple of days ago, I shot both RAW and JPG together (there’s an in-camera setting for that) and then I compared the photos in Lightroom. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the E-P2’s color reproduction is very good and the noise reduction algorithms built into the camera are actually better than Lightroom’s. Yeah, surprise! I pixel-peeped those images side by side and the JPG files were cleaner and had the colors I wanted, straight out of the camera. Guess what I did next? I switched my camera to JPG-only mode.

The photos you’ll see here are SOOC: JPG files produced by the camera, imported into Lightroom, where I added metadata and exported with no modifications to the colors, exposure, contrast, etc. Other than the metadata, I added nothing. Full disclosure: I bumped up the exposure on three snow photos that came out a little dark, but that’s it. I think you’ll agree with me when I say this little camera is pretty good!

Raoul using the Olympus PEN E-P2
Raoul using the Olympus PEN E-P2. Photographer: Thomas Hawk

Enjoy the photos!

 

A walk through town before daybreak

To celebrate the acquisition of a new camera (well, the acquisition is new, the camera isn’t), I took a pre-dawn walk through town. It was cold and somewhat rainy. Water got on my lens a couple of times and I’d forgotten to bring a lens cloth, so you’ll see some weird light artifacts on some of the photos. That’s from the partially wiped lens… I was hoping dawn would come soon and I’d get some nice photos of the “blue hour”. As it turned out, my battery ran out of juice and I got pretty cold before that happened. But it was really nice to walk through town with few to no people around me. I am after all an introvert, so the more time I spend alone, the better I feel.

I am quite pleased with my acquisition. It’s a camera I used and reviewed in the past (eight years ago, actually): the Olympus PEN E-P2. I loved that little camera and I should have bought it back then. After quietly pining for it all this time, I found it online a few days ago at an unbeatable price, second-hand, in great condition: about 100 euros for the body, plus another 100 euros for the viewfinder (yes, I got the VF-2!) and about 200 euros for a wonderful little lens for it, the M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 EZ (it’s a 2x crop factor so a 24-100mm 35mm equivalent).

Now I have the E-P2 and the E-PL1, which I bought several years ago with the two kit lenses offered at the time, the 14-42mm and the 40-150mm. Yay!

I took the photos without a tripod, relying on the camera’s optical image stabilization technology, which shifts the sensor on a 3-way axis in order to keep the shot steady. I shot at 1/10, 1/15 and 1/20, keeping the ISO at 1600 and the aperture wide open. Given that the lens goes from f/3.5 to f/6.3 when it’s at its longest focal length, that means some of the photos are darker. I squeezed every bit of light out of them in post processing, but having shot both RAW and JPG simultaneously, I can tell you the camera’s built-in noise reduction and image processing is so good (for its time), I could have just shot directly in JPG and uploaded them SOOC (straight out of the camera). Enjoy the photos!