Monday, 16 December 2013

Under the olive tree...

I am presenting on this blog varies aspects on my photography. From experiments and tests through my personal projects and exhibitions up to more interesting assignments I have a pleasure to work on. 
We all have own style of work and the way we are the most productive and able to get the best of our knowledge and talent. It is always very personal and depends on many aspects. It concerns not only photographers  but all professions I would say.
As a traditional photographer I appreciate every moment I can slow down and contemplate the scene before recording. Every session takes a time. It has to be planed and properly prepared to eliminate fortuity. It is especially important in case of equipment I am using.
Pressing the shutter release is the final moment. Everything what has to be done in relation to the image is happening before that. After, there is only chemistry…

I am happy enough to work with people who perfectly understand such process most of the time.

Two weeks ago I had a pleasure to work on something completely new for me. I was photographing children yoga classes for Christina Breen (Chroi Yoga),
yoga teacher (trained in Yoga for Children & Families with and Montessori educator.  As you probably remember this is not our first cooperation. Last summer I took two portraits during the event organised also by Christina. /You can have a look at it HERE/
This session was a pure pleasure as it suits very well my style of work which is always in benefits for my client and myself. Christina perfectly understand every visual aspect of type/style of photography i am representing and she has a fantastic approach to it. She can also read images in the way that many photographers wouldn't be able to do so.

I came to see the class some time before session to get an idea how everything looks like and what can I do in there to make the best images possible.

Olive Tree Studio, where this session took a place, is located in the basement of 19th century house. It is a beautiful space for yoga and dance. Due to time of the year however we had not enough daylight I needed for this session even if the windows are relatively large. At the same time I didn’t want to use a flash lamps. I am always trying to avoid it as much as possible once I am outside photography studio. It usually flatten image doesn’t matter how well set it is.  I truly love ambient lighting as it give completely different dynamic of the image. It is also very important for me to achieve as much natural and realistic look of photographed person and place as possible. Subdued light, type of the place and the way how the class was runned by Christina - all of it was beautiful and I wanted to show it that way.
That was a challenge...
In this case the space we were working in had a few spotlights giving really nice ambiance. I spent a while before session to set those lights and direct them properly into space of the room I was going to work in.
The light was still relatively low (for photography) but as most of you know I am always pushing my films at least one or two stops. This time even three. It was just right. We were ready.
Session itself took about 3 hours (including over one hour for classes with some beautiful theatrical elements) and it was really hard work for all of us…myself, Christina, our assistants and first of all for children. They were absolutely fantastic and very cooperative. Many thanks to all of them. Here I must also thank their parents! 

That was the first time I was photographing children (beside my own of course) and it was  wonderful  experience.
Truly amazing event. Christina is a perfect teacher. She has a great contact with all kids. She is also more then kind and at the same time very professional. If any of you reading this article ever thought about yoga class for your child or for yourself - Christina is a person to contact to.

Above images are just an examples showing different stages of that afternoon session.
More of them will be presented soon on Chroi Yoga website. 

Contact details below:


facebook page:

Technical part:

I was using there 4 cameras in 3 different formats and 3 films at 4 different speeds. Sinar F2 large format camera with Schneider-Kreuznach Symmar-S 150mm 5.6 lens, Hassleblad 500cm with Planar 80mm 2.8 lens. Canon A-1 with 50mm 1.4 and Canon 6D with 50 1.4 and 35 2 lenses. Yes, I was also using digital camera this time for a few shots but somehow non of them were as good as recorded on film even if this camera is an outstanding performer, especially in low light situations and also during actor head-shots and business portraits in studio.
As for film…a few rolls of beloved TMax 400 exposed at 800, 1600 and 3200, roll of Trix  400 at 800 and for the first time Fomapan 400 4x5 at 400 and also and 1600. It was a test for this film which I never used before. What can I say - I love it!
After first light check I had a plan to shoot all at 3200 but apparently small spotlights properly set gave a couple of stoops better light condition.
All images processed in Xtol 1:1, except Foma 400 and Trix which I souped in Rodinal 1:50. All scanned on great V700 as always. 

Thank you!

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Joseph Plunkett Tower

Saturday. Beautiful sunny morning. Ballymun. Joseph Plunkett Tower - the last one remaining...
Loaded with cameras and tripods we are going to the second floor of almost empty 15th storey structure.
I am with Jim, who brought me once again into Ballymun and got an access to the Tower. /you can have a look at my previous article related to this place to get a is HERE/
We choose stairs and within no time we are in the front door of one of the three still inhabited flats. 
Doors opens...
Very bright and spacious two bedrooms, large living room with kitchen annex. Nowadays apartments usually not getting even close with size to this one built about 50 years ago. That's the fact.

Living room /fragment/
It's quite warm in there. Half century old underfloor heating still working perfectly. After a while I realized why most of the people who had to leave those flats were so dissapointed. They left behind beautiful memories but also comfortable and secure places. They were surrounded by good neighbours, people who cared, truly friendly and family-like neighbourhood which was mentioned many times by those who had to move away after decades ...

After short conversation with Lisa, owner of the flat, wonderful and very patient person, we took our equipment out of the bags and started to photograph it.
Soon this place will be gone as all original Ballymun flats...
While I was writing this text I got the message from Jim that actually only two families left out of three in Joseph Plunkett Tower...

The Tower consist of 90 flats and was named /as six other/ after the signatories of the 1916 Proclamation. It was build as the last one /1967/ and will be demolished as the last one.

On the way back we decided to stay a while within the building and record the maze of corridors and staircase on our negative films. Strong light of winter sun was illuminating everything so well... 
Surrounding emptiness and echo bouncing from concrete walls, ceiling and floor was the only strange feeling. It also emphasized mystery of that situation.

Corridor on the ground floor
Just before we left, on the main gate we've met Bernie Rehill on her way back from shopping /photograph below/. Bernie, retired from Ballymun Library was mentioned third person living in the Tower. She is moving to the new place now.

...How much time left? Months? Weeks? 
Lisa will move probably soon. The same will happen with the last family we had no chance to meet.  I am convinced that these people will find themselves and happiness in new reality. The question is how long it takes...
All of it it's a part of history, disappearing part of it good or bad? 
I am not the one to judge. The future will give the answer.

I would like to thank Lisa for showing us her place, Jim for all his help and companion and also Bernie for posing and great chat. Really appreciate that.

Equipment used:

Sinar F2 large format camera 4x5 with Schneider-Kreuznach Symmar-S 150mm 5.6 lens, Hasselblad 500cm with Distagon 50mm 4 and Planar 80mm 2.8 lenses. Film? Fomapan 100 4x5 exposed at ISO 64, couple of rolls of TMax 400 exposed at 3200 and 1600. 

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

'the wind' ...

Photographing modernism in Ireland I almost missed one very important place in history of Irish architecture, planning and urban design and history at all. 
This place I would describe as an important and interesting from sociological and also technical point of view rather than architectural itself.
Ballymun flats and its area. 
This is the place where great ideas and dreams of planers failed almost instantly...

Remaining block of flats /2013/. Photograph taken on Direct Positive Paper.
Last Sunday I had an opportunity to spend some time on the streets of Ballymun with two fantastic people who grew up there and have a wonderful memories related to the flats when this place was shining. Jim and his brother Eric. These couple of hours I spent with them opened my eyes and allowed me to perceive Ballymun from completely different perspective...not as a 'Concrete Jungle' with many internal problems but also as a place with strong community integration. many thanks to both of them!
Most of the people are happy seeing all those flats going down. There is however  also significant group of those who would rather see this place booming as it was at the time when it was build, when the future of this place was very bright....for the very short time.
This is typical example of great ideas of creating new places for overcrowded cities in post war world, especially in Europe. Ideas related directly to famous modernists and their ideology, ideas of Garden Cities.
Ballymun was the answer (one of few) for huge housing problem in Dublin/Ireland those days.

The estate was built between 1966 and 1969 by the National Building Agency which was established specifically for the task. It comprised seven 15-storey towers, nineteen 8-storey blocks, ten 4-storey walk-ups and 400 single family houses. 
I would easily call it state of the art which may sound controversially but saying that I am thinking about its technical aspect rather then quality of architecture itself.
All those large, comfortable apartments (over half flats had three bedrooms) with underfloor heating, central hot water, flush toilets and lifts brought an amazing comfort of living. And we must remember that all of it was in Ireland in times when large families (sometimes around ten people) had to live often in one room in extremely poor condition.

Why its failed then?

Back of the local shopping centre /2013/
Such places which we can see all over the Europe needs properly designed and perfectly working infrastructure and maintenance. Lack of any of these elements along with mentioned sociological problems causes degradation of society. This is what has happened over there briefly. There was not enough money to finish what planers just started so many places like promised public swimming pool, meeting places and play areas were never built. People were left alone in the middle of nowhere.
During the 80s things got even worse due to economical crisis. Huge unemployment brought problems with robberies and drugs.
Today Ballymun is changing along with its inhabitants who remember old flats.

Now there is just 3 block of flats left. These buildings will be demolished very soon and Ballymun will step up into the next stage of its history.
Wandering among those abandoned structures you can hear only the wind and imagine how it was over there back in 60's...70's

Ballymun flats - Building that doesn't exist anymore with Maser's mural photographed many times before... 
I took this photograph in 2010

technical info:

During this trip I was using Sinar F2 with Schenider-Kreuznach Symmar-S 150mm 5.6, Harman/Ilford Direct Positive Paper 4x5 and Ilford FP4+ 4x5.
Also there is a roll of Kodak Tmax 400 exposed through hasselblad 500cm, Planar 80/2.8 and Distagon 50/4. This film will be processed soon and I hope to show some photographs soon my FB website.
The last photograph in this post was taken with Holga 120GN + Fomapan 400.

What else was engaged? strong wind and some rain...

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Bus Garage...

Sunday afternoon I packed my cameras, tripod and left my place going towards the second building I visited during this year Open House 2013 Festival. There was a bit of traffic at this time but there is also always place for bicycle. 
Yes, it is possible to cycle with Large and medium format cameras in bags and tripod. It is just a matter of proper loading the 'vehicle' haha
So I reached my destination with almost no time despite mentioned traffic. 

Donnybrook Bus Garage... completed in 1951 was designed by Michael Scott /Scott Tallon Walker/, author of another beautiful building photographed by me about a year ago - Busaras. 

Somehow I missed the slot with guided tour so had to wait about 30minutes for another. I decided to make a photograph waiting for it. 
The main part in the image was obvious. Famous structure of this classic building. 
Absolutely impressive!

Donnybrook Bus Garage
'Donnybrook was the first of seven other garages to be built and as the brief was similar for each, Michael Scott/Ove Arup proposed a modular shell construction solution with a column free 33.5m x12.2m bay size - 1.9m deep x 500mm wide beams supported the thin shell which varied in thickness from 75mm to 100mm. This innovative world first solution also included a continuous roof light at the apex. (...)'
 /info from leaflet delivered before each tour/

All of you who would like to know a little bit more about this particular garage and its authors please have a look at his LINK.

Donnybrook Bus Garage, Elevation

All process of preparation to make this image (the first one) and photographing itself took a little bit over 30minutes…I obviously missed another tour. Quick decision - I packed all equipment and cycled back to Dublin Port Centre to make one of the photograph presented in previous post…. 'View over the Port'.

Monday, 14 October 2013

View over the Port

I found at last a little bit of time to write a few words about Open House 2013 weekend and first of all show some photographs.
Organized by Irish Architecture Foundation Open House 2013, architectural festival is one of the most important annual events for me
This is great to see so many people visiting different buildings, queuing in the front of them or running through town with maps looking for certain locations.
Architecture is something more then just another form of expression which you can have a look at and walk away. It is three dimensional, something you can feel, touch, walk inside. There is also lots of different aspects related to each object you can perceive in so many ways. I am talking here about texture of used materials, form, style of the building, light penetrating interiors, the way how you feel inside, its impact on surrounding area and finally structure itself. 
All of it is fascinating once you can understand it.
Due to constant lack of time I was able to see only two buildings
this year
There was also third one but sadly it was open just on Friday…while Saturday or Sunday is the only time I can take a part in such a tour.
Anyway - two buildings…Both designed by Scott Tallon Walker, architects with a long tradition, history and many achievements.
Saturday morning. Short trip to the first place - Dublin Port Centre. Building was designed by Niall Scott, of Scott Tallon Walker in 1981. It's one of the youngest objects within 'Unfulfilled Dreams' series.  Niall was also a guide on our tour which gave us fantastic look inside the history of an all process  from inception to completion.

Here is fragment of description taken from beautifully printed booklet we received at the entrance:
'The Six storey office building is mounted on a raised podium which is also the roof to the lettable offices underneath. The building comprised of expressed concrete columns and windows are recessed 1.5m resulting in an overhang providing shading from the sun (...)'

Below you can see a few photographs. I should have a couple of more good images but somehow I loaded film in a strange way and just a half of the roll was exposed. It's all because of lack of morning coffee I suppose ;)

Dublin Port Centre

I was using that day Hasselblad 500cm with Distagon 50mm f4 loaded with Kodak TMax 400. No pushing.
Photograph presented above however was taken next day when I came back to capture some interesting forms with my large format camera /Sinar F2, Schneider-Kreuznach Symmar 150mm 5.6 and Fomapan 100 4x5 exposed at 64/.

Entrance Hall
Conference Room
Waiting Area

Front Elevation

Tomorrow or the day after I will present second building I visited during this year festival. Photograph are ready so it won't take such a long time as for this one ;)
Comments are always welcome. Thanks!

Tuesday, 10 September 2013


In this article I would like to draw a little bit of your attention to my Etsy shop. Most of you already know it but for all of those who are new here - Artur Sikora Photography Etsy Shop offers some of my photographs as a limited edition prints.

All presented there photographs are printed on beautiful Canson Infinity Rag Photographique (310) matte paper. It is a 100% cotton museum grade white Fine Art paper. It also does not contain any Optical Brightening Agents (OBAs).
Quality of every single print on such a paper along with Epson Ultrachrome K3 Vivid Magenta inks technology is absolutely amazing and everlasting.

Each photograph is signed and numbered at the front and back and comes with certificate of authenticity. 
Photographs are printed with 1 inch margin around which leaves just right amount of space for mounting and framing...and it's obviously looks good.
Some of my prints already found their new homes in Switzerland, Japan, US, Poland and of course Ireland. I believe there is much more places perfectly suitable for them ;)
Postage at the moment is free worldwide.
Please have a look at my online shop: PRINTS

Also feel free to contact me if you have any question related to it.

Thank you!

Saturday, 20 July 2013


I am back to Liberty Hall... full of elegance but somehow forgotten building.
I already wrote a lot about it in my 'What's left?' article and the older one 'Before they will vanish'. This time I will show only a couple of photographs from conference room (very important from historical point of view) and theater.
I have to admit that it wouldn't be possible without a big help of Josephine and Peter. Thank you very much for that!

More photographs will be presented on my FB website soon. You can also have a look at constantly growing 'Unfulfilled Dreams' series in HERE . Thank you!


Sinar F2
Schneider-Kreuznach Symmar-S 150mm 5.6
Fomapan 100 4x5 in Kodak Xtol

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

'A Day for Bernardos'

Welcome back after quite a long break. I am very busy recently so not much time left for blogging.
I would like to show here however a couple of photographs from latest assignment just to keep you up-to-date ;)

Last Sunday I've been asked by friend of mine Christina Breen, Yoga Teacher and Montessori Educator /Chroi Yoga/ to take some portraits during event she was organizing for Bernardos Ireland.
To all of you who don't know - Bernardos is a British charity organization founded by Dr Thomas John Barnardo in 1866, to care for vulnerable children and young people. 
'A Day for Bernardos' took a place in Olive Tree Studio in Dublin.
Workshops runned by Christina and also Michael McCann, Yoga Philosopher and teacher  from Northern Ireland ended up with very emotional concert by Mia Parsons, singer and writer with her friend Evelyn on guitar.

Mia Parsons and Evelyn
Michael McCann
Taking into account my busy schedule I was able to spend over there just about half an hour. Very enjoyable half an hour. I was impressed how 'A Day For Bernardos' was organized. Well done Christina!
Also meeting new to me, inspiring and talented people it's always a pleasure.

Some technical info...
For this assignment I was using my reliable Hasselblad 500c/m with Planar 80mm 2.8 lens and my favourite film Kodak TMax 400 pulled this time to 100.

...Mia's song at the end:

Monday, 18 March 2013

Ubiquitous Concrete

It will be the first and probably the only Polish accent within 'Unfulfilled Dreams' series. 
1964, International Architectural Competition for Master Plan, for the New Campus & Arts, Administration and Aula Maxima Buildings for University College Dublin, Ireland.
The author of the winning scheme is very talented young architect from Poland, Andrzej Wejchert (1937-2009), graduated with honours from the Faculty of Architecture, Warsaw University of Technology. 

I will focus here on the most important for me - Administration Building /Tierney Building/ completed in 1972, awarded Triennial Gold Medal 1971-1973 by The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland.

Bridge in between  Newman and  Tierney buidings

I approached UCD Relations Office with request for permission to photograph Administration Building in early December 2012. Now in March 2013 finally
I was able to set my camera in there and record its internal beauty.

'This building has a centralising function relating to the entire campus. It is used by academic staff, students and outside visitors. The offices of the President, Registrar, Secretary and the Governing Body are located here, and it also serves as a distribution centre.The building features a dominent central space, containing the General Office Hall and Public Concourse. Cellular accomodation is simply and directly related to this space.'

Photographing UCD campus, oasis of modernist forms many times before I knew exactly that I will come back there one day to focus on just one, very special structure.
I am truly fascinated every single time I can admire such a genuine design. Concrete is so versatile and creative material to build with. Especially when used in the way Modernists did. 
Modernist's design is timeless itself... their  buildings however vanishing or quite often are changing irretrievably. I am pointing it almost every time I am photographing modernist architecture...
All UCD campus is changing as well which is obvious sign of time. It should be done however with a little bit more respect to the first and really good concept of all Belfield Campus.
Part of Tierney Building has been already 'covered' by new extension - UCD Research Building. It's a big loss as in my opinion the idea of the original design has been 'damaged'… You can still have a look at non existent elevation visible on old photographs. It is beautiful...Please click HERE

First floor waiting area
Interior space is mostly reorganized of course and its way of use has changed. However there are still  places which remains untouched or at least they looks like that ;)
I am talking about communication area.
Typically nice staircase, large windows giving beautiful natural light, bridge in between Tierney and John Henry Newman buildings /first photograph/...and ubiquitous fascinating concrete.


Coming back to the author ... After winning mentioned above competition Andrzej Wejchert co-founded in 1974 with Danuta Kornaus-Wejchert the practice later known as a  A&D Wejchert Architects, here in Dublin. While working initially in Ireland, A&D Wejchert Architects undertook also several commissions in Poland. 
Andrzej Wejchert passed away in May 2009.

I also took couple of photographs outside which I am going to present very soon.
 /within 'Unfulfilled Dreams' series on my website and on my FB website

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Four strings

Saturday afternoon, just a couple of hours after photographing TCD buidings  /described in previous post 'The Form'/ I had another session. 
My studio visited Bart Kotowski, Fusion Trip bass player.
You already know him from my old session over two years ago.
Fusion Trip just released their new album 'Spreading Passion' which you can listen and buy HERE

Some tech info as always:

Sinar F2
Schneider-Kreuznach Symmar-S 150mm 5.6
Fomapan 100 4x5 in Kodak Xtol

2x lights Quantuum PT-300 with softboxes

And music at the end:

Monday, 4 February 2013

The form

'Unfulfilled Dreams' is moving into the next stage. While interiors still remain the most important part of the project I am starting to focus also on buildings itself. This is just to show context or simply how form and function can blend itself inside and outside.
Since first week of December last year I am trying to get a permission to photograph another object. Looks like I am almost there. Talking to different people responsible for such a decisions I came across Trinity College communication office once again. 
That was it. Decided to come back to TCD campus... Berkeley Library and Arts Building area.
Luckily I got an answer withing 24 hours and spent Saturday morning in there

At the same time 'Unfulfilled Dream' as most of you already know, got a really good exposure on fantastic Le Journal de la Photographie last weekend. 

You can see it HERE if you missed it :)

And of course new photographs:

Berkeley Library

Arts Building


Sinar F2
Schneider-Kreuznach Symmar-S 150mm 5.6
Fomapan 100 4x5 in Caffenol-c-m

Monday, 14 January 2013

Keeping myself busy...

Time for a bit of self-promotion ;) 

It is information rather for those who are not aware of the fact that I am offering a few services related to photography.
I would say even more - they are all related to celluloid based traditional film photography ;)
Let's start then....

Darkroom Service
This one is for photographers, both amateurs and professionals and also for all those who keep their old negatives in boxes and would like to archive/transfer them into hard drive or CD. 

What is it all about?

Darkroom Service offers hand processing of professional B&W negative films from 35mm up to large format 4x5 and high resolution scanning (2400dpi or even higher) - colour and B&W negatives and slides up to 8x10.
Excellent quality and really good prices.

As a Darkroom Service I am offering also B&W negative film processing workshops. It covers traditional way of developing or alternative, using COFFEE. Decision is made by a student.

Here I would like to point that I am open to any form of cooperation with schools or camera clubs on the field of B&W film photography.
Last year I was providing such workshop in National College of Art and Design (NCAD) as a part of Photography and Digital Imaging Course (PDI). I have been also teaching for a few months traditional photography and darkroom printing techniques in The Academy of Photography (within DLight Studio).

You can have a look at website for details.

First of all however I am a photographer specializing in portraiture and architectural photography. I work exclusively with analogue equipment which make all process and its result very special and unique.
I am open for commissions!

phot. Rafal Krol
Please contact me in case of any questions or simply if you would like to book a session.
You can have a look at my website for further details -

Thank you! 

Long live film :)