Travel Photography – Cluj Napoca, Romania

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I’ve just returned from a group trip i organised exploring a little corner of Romania that has been on my bucket list for some time.  Cluj Napoca, the unofficial capital of Transylvania is steeped in history dating back to the Roman Empire and offers a multitude of photographic opportunities.

I’d researched what to expect, areas i’d like to visit in the city, and also a little further afield, with the wealth if information already available on the internet.   One day was used to visit Corvin Castle which had association with Vlad the impaler but the other days were spent exploring the streets and mostly the old part of the city which did not disappoint.

Street photography has always been one of my favourite genres but, make no bones about it, it’s hard work.  Trying to capture spontaneous candid moment or qwerky compositions is no easy task but it gave me the opportunity to work on my zone focusing techniques and also a little shooting from the hip.  Using the Fuji x camera app also got used too.  The light was harsh throughout the day with clear blue skies compounding the difficulties but it was great to be put under pressure and work hard to produce what i think are some worthy images.  Take a look at these and let me know what you think.

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The city of Cluj has a colourful history from the many ruling factions dating back to the middle ages and the Roman Empire to most recently the last Romanian Revolution of 1989 which saw the end of authoritarian communist rule and the ousting of Nicolae Ceausescu after nationwide demonstrations.

The ‘old city’ offers plentiful medieval gothic architecture interspersed with neo gothic and renaissance architecture all within a small area.  With a bountiful assortment of cafes and restaurants you could spend more than a couple of days exploring this part of the city.   The city has a busy bustling feel about it with many cafes and bars in the main square but be a little brave and explore some of the side streets and you will find some amazing hidden gems.  One such place is Roata restaurant which offers local traditional cuisine at an amazingly affordable price.  Again, here are a selection of images from that area.

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Day two saw us heading out on a road trip to Corvin castle briefly venturing off the beaten track for a short distance to the abandoned fortress of Coltesti and then a short walk through the village of Rimetea with its Germanic inspired architecture at the foothills of the Carpathian mountains.

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Corvin Castle was one place I’ve wanted to visit for some time.  It’s association with the story of Bram Stokers Dracula is often misplaced.  The real association is that Vlad III, commonly known as Vlad the Impaler, was imprisoned there for many years and whilst held prisoner the Hungarian military leader who ruled the area, John Hunyadi, executed his father.  On his release Vlad III entered into a political alliance initially but then sought his revenge for his fathers death and went on a killing spree using impalement as his favoured method of execution.

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Photographically the castle is best viewed from the northern side, either at dawn or dusk, but to get a clear view you have to be relatively close so a wide angle lens would definitely be required.  My xf14mm on my Fuji X-T1 was at the very limit of what i could fit in view.  That said i did attempt a few multiple image panoramic shots which turned out ok.  A wide angle tilt-shift lens would have been ideal.

Throughout the trip i was thankful for my lightweight Fuji X gear.  We were out from early in the morning returning to our accommodation late in the evening and much of that time was spent on our feet exploring, apart from the frequent stops at many of the local cafes.  All of the images were taken on my Fuji X-T1 with the XF14mm & 35mm primes and the 18-55 & 55-140mm Zoom lens’ and, when required, supported with the Lee Seven5 Filter system.

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So, that wraps up this little blog please feel free to share this and to leave me any comments or questions.  There is much much more to explore and find in this wonderful city so i’ll be organising another small group trip soon.  If you’d like to join me then please do get in touch.  You can take a look at my website for more from this trip and details of any future tours when they are planned or catch up with me on social media on twitter, Facebook or instagram @robferrolphoto

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Aurora Cancer Charity Fashion Show

I’ve been photographing an amazing bunch of people now for the past couple of years and what these people do is nothing short of astonishing.

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The Aurora Cancer Charity exists to help and support people and their families who are affected by and living with cancer.  Anyone with a diagnosis receives a free package of support, wellbeing programmes and holistic & beauty treatments to help raise their self-esteem and confidence at one of their local wellbeing centres.

The charity relies on much needed donations and part of it’s fundraising efforts, amongst many other events, is the annual Aurora Fashion Show and the stars of the show are all affected by cancer.  The spectacle is a culmination of months of hard work and dedication, not only from the models, but also the amazing team behind them who put the show together.  From the choreography and the amazing audio visual performance to the individual stories of people going above and beyond, it’s one truly emotive evening.

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The show runs for two nights at the Doncaster Dome and this years guests were entertained by the highly acclaimed Rob McVeigh and their regular host and patron Caroline Hodgson.  If you’d like to find out more about the charity please do head over to  their website here.

If you’d like to find out more about my commercial photographic services then you can find my website here, or why not follow me on social media via the links below.  If you like this blog post please feel free to post a comment and please do share it with your family & friends.

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Nottinghamshire Pre-Wedding Photography – Thoresby Hall

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The weather in North Nottinghamshire can be bizarre at this time of year.  It had been foggy for the last few days without the sun making any appearance, but, it seemed Jo & Craig had all that in hand as literally just a couple of hours before their pre-wedding photoshoot the mist lifted and we were blessed with the most amazing light for their 40 minute photoshoot.

rob, ferrol,pre,wedding,photography,photographer,nottingham,nottinghamshireJo & Craig booked me to photograph their big day way back in 2013 and the pre-wedding shoot was a perfect time to catch up and run through their plans over a warming cup of coffee, but first we had to make the most of this glorious evening light -it was fading fast!!

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They are getting married later this month at Pearlthorpe Church on the edge of the Thoresby Estate in North Nottinghamshire followed by a reception at Thoresby Courtyard what has the backdrop of the stunning Grade 1 listed Thoresby Hall.  Coupled with the wonderfully ornate gardens they have certainly chosen one of the regions finest venues to say their “I do’s” and i’m totally delighted that they have also chosen Rob Ferrol Photography to capture their special day.

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I like to work in an unobtrusive way using a blend of contemporary and reportage photographic techniques to capture the full essence of your special day to create a compelling storybook portfolio of images for you to treasure for a lifetime.  If you like to find our more about our Wedding Photography please do get in touch or feel free to drop by our website or Facebook page.  We would love to hear from you.

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Mystical Marrakech and beyond.

I’ve been lucky enough to do a fair bit of travelling over the years.  Unfortunately much of this was before the photography bug had bitten me.  Anyway, having planned a surprise birthday treat for my daughter i figured that this would also be a fab opportunity to try my hand at a little travel photography.

I’d visited Morocco some 15+ years ago and had many fond memories of the culture, people and lifestyle of this amazing country.  The sights, smells & tastes of the spice markets & street food were a bewildering attack on all of your senses and i was excited to experience these again, with my daughter, and this time with my camera in hand.

I was also keen to pay a little attention to the amazing architecture that still exists in this country, some of which has not changed its appearance for hundreds of years.  From the mystical medina of Marrakech’s old town to the long abandoned Casbah’s on the edge of the Sahara desert there was certainly plenty to capture our attention.

For the trip i travelled light from a photographers point of view, with just 2 Fuji XT-1’s and a small selection of prime & zoom lens’. The cameras were amazing to work with, especially in the tight confines of the Souks.  I was able to work relatively unnoticed and if you’ve ever been to Marrakech you’ll know how difficult it can sometimes be photographing on the streets.  Many people dont like having their photograph taken and those that do often come asking for money for the privilege.

Marrakech itself is a city that is full of life, it never seems to sleep.  That said, it’s at night that it seems its liveliest.  We travelled in July and, true to our expectations, the heat of the day was pretty much unbearable, hence the reason many stay indoors during the day and emerge at night when the temperature had dropped a little.  Talking of the temperature, towards the end of our stay the temp was 45 degrees Celsius and with the heat index of the stiff Saharan wind this felt more like 49 degrees celsius.   Anyway, the buzz of the Medina at night, especially on the Jemaa El-Fnaa is a must for any traveller to Morocco but watch out for the Snakes & Monkeys!!

So, enough of the blurb heres a selection of images from our trip which includes Marrakech and our excursion through the High Atlas Mountains to the edge of the Sahara Desert to visit the ancient Casbah’s of Telouet and Ait Ben-Haddou.

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The Moroccan Flag. The green pentagram represents the 5 Pillars of Islam.

With Snake charmers, Monkeys, food & entertainers the square of Jemaa El-Fnaa (square of the dead) is a full-on sensory overload but certainly a must see!!  The Koutoubia Mosque, the largest in Africa, sits close by to the west of the square and if the towering minaret doesn’t grab your attention the call to prayer certainly will.  Views of all the activity are best viewed from one of the many cafes that offer roof top terraces and one of my favs was the Le Grande Balcon Du Cafe which offered panoramic views and there most amazing spot for capturing the sunset, but get there early to secure your space.

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The tanneries are somewhat of an experience and if your a little sensitive to strong odours then maybe its not for you.  But, if you do visit you’ll be given a bunch of mint leaves to ward off the smells a little and a whistle stop tour finishing of being taken to see the “finished products” AKA the leather shop.  Here you will experience the most amazing display of leather goods but also the most amazing level of pressure sales you’ll probably ever come across.  Don’t be forced into buying if you dont want anything but if you do, be sure to bargain hard and firm.

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The tropical gardens, Jardin Marjorelle, offer some respite from the madness of Jemaa El-Fnaa with their abundant collection of exotic Cactus and other plants & palms set around the deep blue of the buildings that were once an artists studio.  Until 2008 the gardens were owned by the designer Yves Saint Laurent.

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The alleyways of the souks are a maze and getting lost is all part of the fun.  Almost anything is on sale from skins to bones and treasures to tatt.  If you can’t find it in there then i dont think it exists. Be prepared to haggle and walk away if you dont get the price you like, very often they will chase you and agree to your offer.  Their sales patter/technique can sometimes appear aggressive but dont let that stop you bargaining.  Also watch out for the ‘ever helpful’ guides – young males who seem to be everywhere to help guide the lost looking tourist.  As we found out they can, and will, lead you the wrong way, or the long way (but not always though) and expect a little payment at the end. Having already visited the Souks of Fez one thing i did notice in the Souks of Marrakech was the abundance of mopeds.  The booming things were everywhere, even in the most crowded of places they were intent on pushing their way through and on the quieter alleyways they seemed to travel at some speed so do watch out for them.  It’s something that i do not recall being an issue in Fez.

Medina & Souk, Marrakech, Morocco.

The Palais La Bahia, Palais El Badi and the Medersa Ben Youssef each display fine examples of Moroccan architecture from the ages.  With intricate mosaics, carved cedar wood and the finest moulded plaster walls that any modern day architect would find difficult to emulate.  Listen for the Storks nesting on the walls of the Palais El Badi, they make the strangest noise at dawn & dusk.

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We ventured out to the edges of there Sahara desert passing through the high Altas mountains, along twisting roads and the Tizi n’Tichka, the highest mountain pass in North Africa, to the Casbah’s of Telouete and Ait Ben-Haddou, the latter of which has been the backdrop of many films including The Mummy, Gladiator and the more recent The Game of thrones.  Although we didn’t make it to the Sandy “dunes’ part of the Sahara, which was another days travel away, with was certainly very barren and a world away from the hustle & bustle of Marrakech.  We even had time for a Camel ride but thats another story 🙂

"Berber TV"  at the Casbah of Telouet.

“Berber TV” at the Casbah of Telouet.

Morocco is truly an amazing place and has much to offer any traveller, certainly more than one visit could cover anyway, so im hoping to make a return visit myself sometime soon.  If you’d like to experience a different lifestyle & culture then be sure to put it on your bucket list.  As always, if you enjoyed this little blog please do leave me a comment and also feel free to share it on your social media sites.

http://www.robferrol.com

Sheffield Portrait Photography

I arranged a photoshoot yesterday with Ashleigh, an amateur model who i have worked with a few times before and has attended my last two big Charity Photoshoots at Rufford Abbey.  I wanted to combine this shoot as a venture into a new location and also to put my new addition to my camera family through its paces.  By no means will this be a blog post about the Fuji X-T1, i’ll leave that to the technical types, but lets just say that it is exceeding any expectations that i had before its purchase.

We ventured into Victoria Quay in Sheffield and found an abundance of little spots that gave more than enough creative inspiration for the small 3 hours we had for the shoot.  We even ventured into the multi-storey car-park which threw a whole different angle on things.

Anyway, here are my favourite images from the shoot and all of these were taken on the X-T1 mainly using the 35mm f/1.4 and i have to say that i was blown away with the clarity & sharpness it produces, it was way above what i ever could achieve from the Canon lenses.  Admittedly, i only use zoom lenses on the Canon and not primes so maybe its time to change those too!!

Hope you like the images, please leave me some feedback and i’ll look forward to sharing more X-T1 images soon.

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Before i go, i’d like to say a massive thanks to the lady who owns the cafe at Victoria Quay who, having just closed for the day and was about to drive off, kindly re-opened and served us all hot chocolate.

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