Slovak International Air Fest is the largest air show in Slovakia, that usually takes place at the end of August. This year saw the change of date to first weekend of August and the return of world-famous Frecce Tricolori acrobatic group from Italy. Other than that, the performances were a little disappointing compared to previous editions.
The multi-week X-Bionic Summer Tour, held in beautiful X-Bionic Equestor Sphere in Samorin always offers great equestrian events. This year for the first time in Slovakia, the CAI2*-H4 Combined Marthon took place over several days. A grand finale with 6 carriages took place on July 28th. My photos are from July 21st and July 28th. If only the weather was as great as is the norm in Samorin…
On April 20 – 21st, Team Slovakia played against Team Brazil during the 2019 Fed Cup Play Offs. The winning team would secure the position among top 16 Tennis teams of the World. It was also the last Fed Cup tie for Dominika Cibulkova. She decided to retire from Fed Cup and other team competitions in front of the home fans after playing in Fed Cup for 14 years.
Results: Dominika Cibulkova : Carolina Alves – 6:1, 6:1. Viktoria Kuzmova : Beatriz Haddad Maia – 6:3, 6:3. Dominika Cibulkova : Beatriz Haddad Maia – 7:6, 6:0, Viktoria Kuzmova, Rebecca Sramkova : Carolina Alves, Luisa Stefani – 1:6, 3:6.
On February 1st and 2nd, the new format of Davis Cup was played for the first time with 24 teams competing for a spot in newly established Davis Cup Finals held in Madrid. The Canadian team led by rising star Denis Shapovalov and playing captain Frank Dancevic faced Slovak team for the first time in almost 22 years. Bratislava saw 5 high quality rubbers played on clay over the two days with Felix Auger Aliassime securing the win for Canadians in the deciding 5th rubber against Norbert Gombos.
Results: Filip Horansky : Denis Shapovalov – 4:6, 5:7, Martin Klizan : Felix Auger-Aliassime – 7:5, 6:3, Martin Klizan, Filip Polasek : Felix Auger-Aliassime, Denis Shapovalov – 3:6, 7:5, 6:3, Martin Klizan : Denis Shapovalov – 6:7, 4:6, Norbert Gombos : Felix Auger-Aliassime – 3:6, 4:6
Welcome to yet another edition of “A year in pictures” blog, that I’ll be once again submitting to Jim Goldstein’s annual blog project. Continuing the tradition from the last few years, I won’t be picking a handful of best photos. Instead I’ll do a month-by-month recap. In my opinion, this gives a better overview of what I was up to during the entire year. I’ll be providing links to larger galleries from various events, so feel free to check them out as well. You are also welcomed to explore my Landscapes and Travel portfolios as well as Galleries section, where I provide pictures from events I attended without too many words.
Overall it was a very busy year, both in photography as well as other work areas. Some of the photo assignments were by far the biggest I’ve done so far. On the other hand, I have a lot of bad taste in my mouth. Things are changing and it is a change for worse. Virtually every aspect of photography business took a turn for worse and a lot of outlets either just don’t work anymore. But it has became a tradition for me to be negative this time of year, so the only thing that I can do is wait how it will all turn out.
I started off the year at IBU Cup Biathlon in Osrblie. The biggest star of the event was Simon Fourcade, the older brother of Martin Fourcade. Martin is already among one of the best biathletes of all time, so chances of him appearing at lesser competitions is next to none. So it was nice to get the next best thing in Fourcade family and a first place for Simon too. The weather was unpleasant, but that’s Murphy’s law. When you need to be out and shooting, why having a nice sunny weather, right?
February was incredibly hectic. On some days I’d really appreciate the ability to split myself and being in two or even several places at once. But I still found a bit of time for personal photos. At the beginning of the month I was invited to Prague for European premiere of the Mummies of the World exhibition. Since this was only a one day trip because of scheduling, I only had about two hours to explore the city afterwards. The evening panorama of Prague Castle and Charles’ bridge was done to death, but I’m still happy I got my own version.
Few days later, I was shooting the Fed Cup tie between Slovakia and Russia. The Russians arrived with a team full of “young guns” including Anna Kalinskaya, pictured below.
At the end of March, I made a trip to Austria’s Neusiedler See, which is the largest endorheic lake in Central Europe. One of the most famous locations on its coast is a town of Podersdorf and its small but very picturesque lighthouse. I have seen quite a few photos from this place, but I never visited it until now. The weather was very sunny for a March and rather cloudless. When I arrived there, I realized the marina and lighthouse is definitely a morning location, but there are some nice photos to be captured at sunset and after sunset too. The lake was incredibly still and the evening turned out quite nice.
One day in April, I escaped our office a little earlier and made a short trip to the famous Church of Michael Archangel in Nitra-Drazovce. This tiny romanesque church is one of the oldest churches in Slovakia and stands atop a cliff above the village of Drazovce. The cloudy weather looked promising and I arrived just before the amazing early evening light. There was a lady taking some pictures and was ready to leave, when I told her that the Sun will shine in a little while. Her impatient husband insisted on leaving… Few moments later this happened:
It’s always worth waiting. If I already made the effort getting there, why leave after several minutes. Spend some time, be patient and maybe the luck will bring you the right moment.
In May I spent a total of nine days as the tournament photographer for Empire Slovak Open, which is the biggest women’s tennis tournament in Slovakia. The 10th edition has attracted some famous names, including former World no.2 Vera Zvonareva and Andrea Petkovic, whom I had the chance to not only photograph, but also do an interview. Being super smart and honest, Andrea’s answers did not disappoint. There are many nice photographs from this event, so my random photo of choice is the two time finalist Veronica Cepede-Royg in the heat of the battle.
June is traditionally associated with stormy weather and I was always on the lookout for photo opportunities. Unfortunately, by far the most impressive stormy light happened while I was on a photo assignment. As I finished, I took the tripod and drove to a location I haven’t visited in a while. Even though the best part of the stormy sky was gone, I still like the nice light and green color in the foreground. I also like the leading lines the dirt road provides. Hopefully the sky will fully provide next time I’m actually available for shooting.
In early July I returned to almost exactly the same spot (can you spot the common element of the two photos?) to capture the passing storm above the wheat field. The sun from the west created beautiful golden tones and the massive black clouds looked really menacing. Suddenly a double rainbow appeared. This is probably my first proper rainbow photo with nice composition and light. I’m very happy that I managed to capture this. I’m also happy that I wasn’t struck by lightning 15 minutes later as the second storm started to brew above my head.
At the end of the month, I made the annual trip to beautiful X-Bionic Equestor Sphere in Samorin for the Summer Tour 2018. Due to scheduling conflict I wasn’t able to attend Saturday races with the popular night session, but I managed to capture this funny moment of teeth cleaning. One of my favorite equestrian photos to date!
August was a slow month for personal projects. The only notable one was the Summer biathlon championships of Slovakia on roller skis. Unlike last year, none of the members of men’s and women’s “A” team were present.
At the beginning of September we made a short family trip to Cortina d’Ampezzo and the surrounding areas. This was a photo oriented trip with proper location planning, unlike my solo trip to the same area of Dolomites five years ago. You can plan all you want, but you have to have a lot of luck in landscape photography too in order to capture beautiful light. This photo of sunset light on Cinque Torri, captured on the very first evening in the area, is a prime example. It lasted less than a minute and I was extremely lucky that I was all set up and ready to capture it. The moment was so short I was unable to do a panoramic view I was planning to capture. It is probably my favorite photo of the trip. To this day, I haven’t processed all of the photos I took. A dedicated gallery or even a blog from this trip will definitely follow in 2019. In the mean time, you can see some of the photos in my landscape portfolio.
In mid-October I made a one day trip to Banska Stiavnica. This historic town is located in central Slovakia and since 1993 it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Some time ago, I decided to photograph the town in all seasons. I made the first trip last summer. The calvary complex (one of the landmarks of the town and one of the largest of its kind in Europe) was undergoing a major restoration. I decided to postpone the project until the restoration was complete. The day I picked was perfect for autumn colors. The weather was decent in the morning and got worse in the afternoon. I still managed to get some nice photos and I’m looking forward to be back. Hopefully this winter. You can see the full gallery from my visit here. One of my favorite photos of the trip is the morning panorama of Old Castle and surrounding rooftops.
At the beginning of November I made a late attempt to capture the remains of autumn colors in Little Carpathians. Until then, the weather was either not good for forest photography (mostly strong wind) or I was busy shooting paid work. That day the weather turned out great. There was almost no wind, it was partly cloudy and as I was gaining elevation, the forest turned into this foggy marvel. I like the forest pathway, the fallen leaves and of course the fog that seem to make the forest stretch to infinity.
In mid-December, an unexpected white stuff started falling from the sky. Such an odd feeling, I almost forgot what it’s called… I woke up to a beautiful morning. Everything was covered in thick layer of snow and more of it was still falling from the sky. I was slowly getting ready for the last event shoot of the crazy streak, that started at the end of November. Then I decided I just had to take advantage of these conditions and I headed out to a forest I had not visited in several years. The time I had was limited, but I managed to found this composition, which works well as a single photo. But I like it even more as a panoramic view.
On 29th, I made a trip to Osrblie to end the year with some biathlon shooting. It was one of those days, when things just were not meant to be. The races were tightly scheduled, the weather, while nice, was more difficult to shoot than last year’s “blizzard edition” and stuff just wasn’t happening. I guess one has to just accept those kinds of days and move on.
So that was my year 2018. I’m already looking forward to 2019 and I’m once again with a bit of fear what it’ll bring. I hope you had a great year of 2018. Thanks for reading this far, let me know in the comments how was your year of 2018 and what are your plans for 2019!
Photogallery from 2018 Viessmann Cup Round 1 in Osrblie, Slovakia. Around 90 biathletes in 11 categories competed in sprint on December 29th, 2018.
Personal notes: Sometimes you go in with the best intentions and things just… don’t work out. Despite the nice early afternoon weather, at times I found it more difficult to shoot than last year’s “blizzard edition”. Not much (capture-worthy) was happening on the track, the scheduling was way too tight so moving around was difficult at best. And my gear’s ability to produce decent results was a no show as well – probably still finishing the Christmas dinner leftovers. As they say: on some days, it’s indeed no picnic.
In mid-octobe 2018, I made a one day trip to Banska Stiavnica to see how the city looked during the peak of autumn colors. I was not disappointed. This time, my focus was on photographying the morning views of Old Castle and city itself, the well known antiquarian store on the main square, the underground “Love Vault”, which was featured on BBC International and of course the newly restored calvary complex, that was listed among the World’s Most Endangered Cultural Sites. I hope to be back to our UNESCO World Heritage Site jewel soon, hopefully during the upcomin winter season.
Summer Biathlon Championships of Slovakia 2018 on roller skis took place in National Biathlon Center in Osrblie on August 4th and 5th. Unlike last year, no members of Slovak “A” Team were present (or Marwe Skis for that matter), just beautiful surroundings of Central Slovakia and mostly nice August weather. My photos are from Satuday’s sprint
X-Bionic Summer Tour 2018 was once again held in the beautiful X-Bionic Sphere in Samorin, Slovakia. Like last year, this equestrian event was stretched over two weeks. Due to other committments, I was only able to visit on Friday 27th of July. The competitions weren’t as strong as during the weekends and I also missed the popular evenig session which is held on Saturday. But even during the slow days, there are nice moments waiting to be captured…
The 10th edition of Empire Slovak Open 2018 took place from May 12th to May 20th 2018. For the first time, I shot this largest women’s tennis tournament in Slovakia as the official tournament photographer. Viktoria Kuzmova became the second Slovak player in tournament history to win the title. She beat Veronica Cepede-Royg of Paraguay in three sets. Other notable players in the main draw were Andrea Petkovic and two time Grand Slam finalist Vera Zvonareva. The schedule was very demanding, as two full days had to be cancelled because of the rain.