Budapest from the Danube

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If you look in any publication that features Budapest the article will, without doubt, feature a photo from the heights of Buda looking over the Danube to Pest and the Hungarian Parliament Building, the Országház. 

When you see the building close-up, as we did recently, you realise why.  It is indeed magnificent.   We were fortunate to have a pleasant evening on a cruise down the Danube viewing the cityscape as night fell.  It was an opportunity to feast on the views of the building that presented itself.  I got carried away. So this post unashamedly features different views of this monumental structure.

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Taken around 9pm  X-T2 & XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS  @ 39 mm  f/6.4 1/60” ISO 1600 tone mapped in Photomatix

The rich detail of this 1904 Gothic Revival building (with a noticeably Renaissance style dome) seemed to emerge from the failing light and I’ve tried to capture the feel of that lighting in this next shot.

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X-T2 & XF18-55mm @ 26 mm f/7.1  1/60” ISO 2500

Whilst working on the image to create a black and white version, I decided to push it into an almost pencil-sketch look. Now if I only I could draw like this…

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Only forty minutes later, on the return up the river, the light had completely gone.  It was a real test of the capabilities of the X-T2.

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X-T2  & XF18-55mm  @ 48 mm  f/4.0 1/125”  ISO 8000

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The Széchenyi Chain Bridge at night

The Chain Bridge is probably the most famous bridge in Budapest, completed in 1849, although rebuilt a century later in 1949 after being destroyed in WW2.

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X-T2  XF55-200mmF3.5-4.8 R LM OIS @ 200 mm
f/4.8  1/170” ISO 12800

The enormous Liberty Statue stands high on a hill and is itself 14 metres high atop a 26 metre plinth. A telephoto shot taken with the XF55-200 lens at 200mm.

Szabadság híd (Liberty Bridge) at night

Built at the end of the 19th century with an Art Nouveau flavour, the Liberty Bridge (or Green Bridge) shows off its green metal sheen at both night-time…

… or daytime:

Szabadság híd (in English: Liberty Bridge

Ah. I know what you are thinking. Not enough pictures of the Parliament Building. Ok, last one. Back to the evening glow.  Hope you liked them.

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Gone all arty in Cologne

Cologne is a city named after a famous perfume.  Ok, I’m kidding but truth doesn’t seem to count for much these days.  Eau de Cologne though was named after the city by an Italian perfumier who moved there and created it in 1709. Now that is true.

Our trip into Cologne centred around the Cathedral area and once again I was up against very harsh mid day lighting. But it did provide me with the opportunity for some of my favoured architecture photography.

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FUJI X-T2 with XF10-24mm @ 18 mm f/4.0 1/480s ISO 200

I was fascinated by the shiny steel modern lighting contrasting with the dark and ancient stone of the cathedral and spent a long time taking numerous shots, none of which particularly pleased me.  This was the closest to the idea in my head.

It was pretty clear that my friends and members of the tour group I was with at the time were thinking there was actually very little in my head and doubting my sanity as I appeared to take pictures of lamp-posts rather than the cathedral.  But the image above is what I’d been after.

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Fuji X-T2 XF10-24mm @ 10 mm f/8.0 1/200s ISO 200

We were prevented from walking on this ribbed area of Heinrich-Böll-Platz outside the Cologne Philharmonic Concert Hall to prevent making noise inside the hall – which was a joy for me because it meant I could get a great shot of old and new architecture and leading lines to Cologne Cathedral.  In fact by this time my fellow travellers had wandered off leaving me to my madness and my squatting on pavements.  This area, however, was just begging for photos from every angle…

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I love modern architecture for the shapes and lighting of their construction materials.  With a grey featureless sky and glass panels on the Museum Ludwig I felt it would lend itself to a harsh contrast working in monochrome as above.

Then, during the process of working with my software (a Nik filters and Lightroom combo) I felt the blue sheen of the metal panels was looking interesting – hence this version with a blue tint and raised shadow detail.

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FUJI X-T2 & XF10-24mmF4 R OIS @ 11 mm f/8.0 1/125 s ISO 200

WU_EuropeRivers_1806_57 Ancient & modern – I liked the museum and the cathedral together but the lighting was poor.  But it’s always worth taking the shot  –  I knew it was good raw material for a creative image.  This is the original shot out of the camera.

And below is the final version.

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Fuji X-T2 10-24mm @ 24 mm f/8.0 1/280s ISO 200. Edited in Affinity & LR Classic

You see there is no such thing as bad lighting for photos, only different challenges and opportunities.  So it wasn’t a day for vibrant colours and blue skies but it was a day for me to go mad and push the creativity side of things in the digital darkroom and I had a field day!

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FUJI X-T2 XF10-24mmF4 R OIS 24 mm f/8.0 1/100 s

The stonework of Cologne Cathedral is quite black – a combination of sulphur damage in the last century from household and industrial smoke and from the train station alongside where steam engines belched their sooty smoke over the building – and that gives little contrast when capturing dark buildings against a dark building. Which is why I pushed the contrast in the above image and washed out the church detail.

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X-T2 XF10-24mm @ 24 mm f/8.0 1/160 seconds ) ISO 200 given an HDR tonemapped treatment

I’d now spent far too long wandering in this architectural photo feast and I managed to find the others sheltering from the heat in a local bar and joined them in a thirst quenching return to colour….  cheers!

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