Marcin Konkel

Transsib - here we go !

All things packed and re-packed few times to make sure it all fits. Lot's of good humor, excitement and curiosity included. Tomorrow, in the small hours, we're starting our Trans-Siberian journey through Siberia and Mongolia to Beijing, China. It will take us 19 days to complete with several stops along the way which you can read about by searching through #transsib2014 tag on this site or clicking the tag below this essay.

You can keep track of our journey on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Google+ and maybe some other) by using same #transsib2014 hash tag - here you can view the aggregated results from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and more. Internet access in many places will surely be scarce but we'll try to post things as we go using wi-fi access in public places or hostels.

See you in some time !

Moscow - Beijing train (Nauschki 05). Copyright (C) Ben Beiske ( Photograph used without modifications under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 licence.

Red Bull Air Race 2014

Another side act performed by Breitling Jet Team which is the largest civilian aerobatic display team in Europe based in Dijon, France and flying seven Aero L-39 Albatros jets.

Red Bull Air Race (RBAR) is a world-wide event that takes place in such locations as Abu Dhabi, Ascot, Dallas or Las Vegas where pilots compete with each other going through the track with speeds up to 370 km/h and massive 10G load on their bodies. In Gdynia, RBAR has gathered 855 000 spectators throughout 3 days of air races and side acts. Few of the latter were Bretling Team air show (photo above) and Boeing 787 Dreamliner low pass in Gdynia's marina. I had the pleasure of being one of team leads in Gdynia's organization committee and to work together with really great people with open minds, huge loads of energy, commitment and big smiles. Guys, if you are reading this - thanks a lot !

In between work I managed to do some photo shooting - the outcome can be seen on the slides below. Next stop for the event is Ascot Racecourse in United Kingdom on 16–17 Aug 2014. Click on the photos for a better viewing experience.


Also check out a GoPro video of Kirby Chambliss training on the track in Gdynia on Jul 25th in his Edge 540 plane as well as a recap from the whole event in Poland.

Change of route and conflict on Ukraine

It's a tough period in Europe due to the tensions on Ukraine. Our carrier (Air China) has announced some changes on the route Beijing - Warsaw so it will avoid flying through Ukraine territory. All because of recent Malaysian air plane being shot down by Pro-Russian separatists. Air China has issued a note informing that:

"According to China Airlines, its current flight route from Europe is through Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan before entering Indian air space." - reports China Post. This will probably increase our flight time by around 20 minutes (with the overall time close to 10h).

This is surely re-assuring. Although we are not planning to cross Ukraine territory, tensions can be seen between Russia and Central / Western Europe with possible economic restrictions from the EU and already applied sanctions and export restrictions from the US. We are keeping track of the events on the East but remain distanced to what is happening and will be using nothing else but common sense during the journey. Two of my colleagues who were recently in Moscow did not report any negative or nationalistic behavior towards western tourists. On the other hand, the topic is hitting the headlines in Russian TV. As someone said recently: "Putin is not Russia, Russia is not Putin" meaning that politics is a separate thing and contrary towards ordinary people's attitude towards you. 

Koh Yao Noi

I am fascinated how technology and constantly cheaper solutions are enabling people to create professional images and movies. Earlier on the technology and experience was available only to few or only in few locations. To achieve great results you often had to use bulky equipment that cost a small fortune. Today so have abundance of possibilities, tutorials, DIY guides and, of course, low cost (when compared) equipment. One of my favorite director Philip Bloom proves this right by shooting the below movie with a GoPro Hero 3+ camera (in Protune flat 25p mode) and a DJI Phantom drone during his holidays in Thailand. The film was originally shoot in 2.7k and is available on Vimeo in hi-resoultion. You can read a bit more on specs and used equipment under here. Enjoy.

The class of 40-70s

They say that back in the 50s, 60s or 70s people had more class then nowadays. Might be. When you look at Frank Sinatra getting out of the helicopter with a glass of whiskey what do you think ?

Frank Sinatra getting our of a helicopter with a glass of whiskey. Copyright (C) unknown.

Would you say: "Darn. This guy knew how to roll !" or rather "A bit pretentious isn't he ?" or just plain "What a douche !". Anyway, being one of the guys from the Rat Pack was something that you had to deserve and such behavior was nothing new. Anyway, people back then had a different style, a bit more formal I would say. I especially enjoy the photographs from the 60s and 70s from New York City, Chicago or San Francisco. Just look at these gents from Chicago back in the days.

Negro boys on Easter morning. Southside, Chicago, Illinois. April 1941. Copyright (C) by Russell Lee / Farm Security Administration - Office of War Information.

Pulptastic has done some research on the subject and gathered 47 images from 40s-70s and titled it "47 Photos That Prove People Had More Class In The Past". Check them out and, if you have any thoughts, feel free to comment below. You can also visit American Photo Archive to view photos from the mid-twentieth century (and not only).

Tickets for Trans-Siberian railway ! Finally !

The time has come. All things arranged, not yet packed. We were waiting for the day when the tickets for transsib train would finally be on sale. It's usually between 50-60 days prior the date of travel that you can buy them in Russian Railways system at (ru. Российские железные дороги (РЖД)). There is also an English version of their website but it does not seem to have the booking module. The tickets are pre-sold a bit earlier, to the above mentioned time constraints, to all travel offices interested in purchasing. Buying from a travel office obviously comes with an additional fee so we passed on this and purchased ourselves.

If you'd like to buy a ticket from remember that not all cards will work. Most of the credit cards with 3D-secure type of verification (transaction confirmed with a token or sms) should work. We used Citibank MasterCard World. The total commission, due to the spread and the process of exchanging the currency from RUB to EUR to PLN, has been around 4% of the total cost.

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Ulan Bator and Moscow

Ulaan Baatar from above. Copyright (C) Ben Beiske ( Photograph used without modifications under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 licence.Nauschki 05 -

Ulan Bator is, by some, thought as the most ugly capital in the world. Photographs often resemble the capital of Mongolia being similar to Poland during the communist regime. Lot's of, almost adjacent, high blocks of flats without a sheer area development plan. We will see for ourselves if this is true or not. What is interesting, as far as I know, many Polish companies supply Mongolia with products on the FMCG market.

In Ulan Bator, for our stay, we went for LG Guesthouse which, again, had good ratings on TripAdvisor and is close to the city center and the main railway station. We've booked it for 35 PLN / 8.45 EUR / 20980.84 MNT per person (four beds / room) and this includes breakfast. It also has an all accessible kitchen for cooking and a restaurant. It's also listed in Lonely Planet's Trans-Siberian Railway Guide (2012 edtion, p.278) which, by the way, I highly recommend buying.

Lomonosov Moscow State University (MSU) in Moscow. Copyright (C) Alexey Kljatov ( Photograph used without modifications under CC BY-NC 2.0 licence.

Moscow has many faces and contrasts around and is a huge city with over 11 million inhabitants. Lot's of sights to see and places to check out. As for the capital of Russia, we'll stay in Apple Hostel for 62 PLN / 14,92 EUR / 697 RUB for a room with four beds. It's based in Moscow's Kitay-gorod (ru. Китай-город) which in literal meaning of the word is "China town" but in this case it's not. Wikipedia states that it is a cultural and historical area within the central part of Moscow, Russia, defined by the markings of now almost entirely razed fortifications, narrow streets and very densely built cityscape. It is within a short (around 10 min) walking distance from the Red Square (ru. Красная Площадь).

Open'er Festival

Another (13th to precise) edition of Open'er Festival has ended. There were few noticeable changes but were there for better or for worse let the crowd vote with their feet in the next edition. Below is a glimpse from my Instagram account on the event (photos taken with my mobile). 


A post shared by Marcin Konkel (@marcinkonkel) on

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In your face

Hommage à William Klein. Copyright (C) Franck Vervial ( Photograph used without modifications under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 licence.

William Klein was born 1928 in New York although he names Paris to be his home. After being discharged from US Army he enrolled to Sorbonne University. He studied under Fernand Léger and started exhibiting his works soon after. Embarked on a broader career in New York. Having photographed NYC in the 50's and growing up close to Harlem has made him more accustomed with breaking the ice and talking to strangers. The ability to quickly connect with somebody, get to know his life and problems has since been his strong asset.

In the early years William took his pictures using a camera he bought from Henri-Cartier Bresson. It's interesting how a different set of eyes can produce quite different shots using same camera. Bresson being described as a ghost following his subjects whereas Klein having a direct "in your face" contact with people he captured on film. Additionally, Klein was known for his straightforward language and brilliant satire of the fashion world - especially by the making of "Who Are You Polly Magoo?" film in 1966 (fr. Qui êtes vous, Polly Maggoo?). William has done shots for Vogue and directed few films - two of which are most renown were Broadway by Light (1958) and Cassius the Great (1964, on Muhammad Ali).

His experience, marked on his photographs, could be described as a melting pot. Harshly-framed and often blurred and distorted pictures gave his work a specific kind of a personal signature. He still shoots, still on a roll of film and carries his camera wherever he goes. Faithful to his methods of work, documenting the moment. Below you can see a full, close to an hour, documentary from 2012 by the BBC going by the title of "The Many Lives of William Klein".

Everybody Street

New York streets are so diverse in people, alleys, streets.. Or are they ? The streets of NYC are accessible to everyone - no matter the race, age or beliefs. This is the formal side of things. The other one is hidden in moments that go by and the eye that captures the detail. In the document "Everybody Street" we view the city through the lens of Mary Ellen Mark, Clayton PattersonBruce GildenJeff MermelsteinBoogieJoel MeyerowitzRebecca Lepkoff and Bruce Davidson. Everyone having their own style and history could probably end up with at least a couple of books. Check out the trailer - you can rent the full picture at a price of 5$ or buy for 13$.