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Jan Novák: A Story of Five Photographs


So now it’s my turn to share some of my work with you and to tell you about the creation process. I made the selection out of all my photos I took in the last few years. I think these five represent me well and, at the same, there is a story behind each of them which is worth mentioning.


Image 1I actually took this picture because of the article – I wanted to show the use of a Fresnel film light in photography. This light creates a cone of hard light which means that the light source surface is small and when aimed directly at the model, it creates hard reflections and shadows in the photo. Martina is my make-up artist but sometimes I talk her into posing in front of the lens and this is the case, too. My point was to show an absolutely simple way of lighting. That’s why I brought her to a long corridor with white walls and aimed the Fresnel light at the wall, so that the light reflected from it. Finally, I took the advantage of perspective – thanks to the wide focus, the chest is wider and more distinct, and the torso narrows downwards to the waist. The side light was set in a way to emphasize as many features of the model as possible, i.e. breasts, ribs, and face. The contrast between light surfaces and shadows is what characterises the shape of the model and forms her features. This way we’ve created a photo that Martina hung on the wall and that makes her happy every day when she enters her home. That’s actually what I enjoy about photography: the original idea was to take a photo for an article but in the end, it resulted in a print which looks great on the wall.


Image 2On Instagram I came across a girl who appealed to me, so I contacted her about photo shooting. All arrangements and cooperation with Týna went absolutely great. I’d been wanting to try out neon-style shooting with colour filters and to be able to do that, I needed a ‘relaxed’ girl who’d be fun to be with, who wouldn’t take things too seriously and who’d let me experiment a bit. To begin with, I must admit that the first few photos were a total fiasco. But then I decided to take a simple approach and I used regular 16.5 cm reflectors on Digital Pro X 500 flashes. I attached colour filters over the reflector and started playing with angles. I’ve found out that this method makes sense because the way coloured light behaves in photography is completely different from the classic light. When you use colour filters together with a soft box, the light softly illuminates the model and there are almost no reflections and shadows, and the features and the shape are not distinct. If you use a smaller light source, you can find a lot of details in the red and blue colours that define the shape of the model. Having realized that, all I needed to do was to find the right angle. If I am to evaluate the work of the model, it was a huge help for this experimenting of mine to work with someone who’s very independent and a little crazy. I didn’t have to worry about posing at all, I just took care of the lights and captured the moments.


Image 3 Veronika is a gorgeous redhead with long hair and a beautiful figure. Now a few words about the photo: I like simplicity. In the picture, I highlighted the model on a simple background. The vignette effect on the background attracts attention to the model and possibly to certain parts of her body. I used two lights, the first of which was aimed at the model and the second was hidden behind the girl and directed at the background. The skirt and the scarf covering the breasts are made of a piece of lining fabric which I bought at a haberdashers. You can buy it for about CZK 60 (EUR 2.40) for a meter and use it in plenty different ways. In the back it is fastened by clothes pegs. As for the model, I can say that Veronika and I have known each other for a very long time. She had never modelled before I met her at a car repair shop. Right away I knew she’d be a perfect photo model, so I just went and approached her about shooting. Then it took about a year to make it happen, but I can by all means say that all the waiting paid off.


Image 4This shooting was just for fun, with no particular purpose. My girlfriend Katka, my friend David Šanda, and I went to see an orchard close to Hradec Králové, David’s favourite place. The weather was beautiful, and I wanted to take a little break from the studio and to go to the countryside with Katka. David took us out to the orchard because it was just blooming, and I made up an experiment. On the left from Katka, there is a reflector panel which casts a shadow on her, thus creating this soft illumination. However, the magic is that the photo is composed of nine shots. It was shot on a Nikon Z7 with 50 mm f/1.8. The photos were connected into one big panorama and the resulting photo has 8139 x 12360 px. If you’re asking what good it is to make such a photo, it is because of the resulting depth of sharpness and, most importantly, the print quality. I like printing photos very much because you can tell the true quality only when you can see the photo on a paper. The clothes – the skirt and the scarf – were borrowed from my friend David. After years of shooting, he has gathered an impressive collection of such skirts and pieces of fabric. Every now and then I like to sort through them and to use them to shoot something unusual.


Image 5I’ve saved this black and white analogue photo for last. I enjoy taking this kind of photos very much. I shoot on a Pentacon Six TL with 80 mm and 180 mm lenses. I got this camera as a birthday present from my boss and I can say that it’s perhaps the best present I’ve ever got. Shooting on medium format and then developing the film at home in the bathroom is something I enjoy incredibly. Tiny and slim Veronika with sharp features is a perfect model for shooting in bright sunshine. I’ve always liked working with her because of her enthusiasm – she clearly enjoys shooting a lot. It was very hot, so my friend David Šanda and I went to the water and we took Veronika with us. I usually cheat a bit and measure exposition with my DSLR instead of a light meter. Unfortunately, this time the battery was dead, but I refused to give up. I used the Ilford Delta 100 film, so I just eyeballed it and estimated the shutter speed for the 2.8 diaphragm, and I was ready to start shooting. I think that in the end I used 1/1000. The photos came out great. When I first saw them at freshly developed negatives, it made me super happy because I hadn’t expected too much. Then I scanned the photos because I’m too much of a coward to try to enlarge them. You might also call me lazy, that’s another point of view. I think that the only retouching I did was to remove a bit of fine dust that got attached to the negative during scanning.

I enjoy shooting girls and I usually prefer simplicity. I try to make my photos worthwhile. I don’t want them to make it only to Instagram or Facebook, I want them to hang on the walls and to make people happy. With one exception, I’ve accomplished this goal with all these pictures, and I hope for the same in future. There is always something to improve, whether it’s the technique or the creative side, but I actually hope that there is still a long way ahead of me. A lot of people may not realize it but discovering and learning new things is the greatest fun in photography. At least that’s how I see it.

About author 

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Product specialist, photographer, photo lector and author of articles about photography. I graduated from the SPŠ el-it high school in Dobruška,where my multimedia love started and where I learned the basics of photography. I am focused on portrait and sports photography. I like to edit and improve my portraits in post-production. I like action sports, which I also actively do. My photo wakeboard project ( won the Red Bull Show case project. I also like to use old manual lenses. Since 2015 i am working as a product specialist for studio equipment in FOMEI. I have the opportunity to assist as an illuminator in the shooting of prestigious photographic projects. I use Nikon cameras and lenses for photography. Recently I became interested in analog photography so I take pictures on Pentacon Six TL and try to improve in developing films, which I digitize with a scanner.   Follow me on social networks! :-) 

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