Pavel Kosenko

Author's blog about photography



Armenia on my Fujifilm

I have written lately about “Armenia on my iPhone”, and now I’d like to show you photos shot on my other favorite camera – Fujifilm X-T1. Even if this time I’ve been using it less than usual, taking most of the pictures on iPhone, I still (or maybe thanks to that) have few good pictures, which I would like to show you.

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Traveling light. Hand luggage

For a long time now I’ve been meaning to explain how I manage to limit my luggage to just hand bags without leaving anything essential behind. This morning I’m going to Armenia, and I’ve just packed my bags, so this is a good time to deliver on that old promise and take exhaustive pictures of my traveling gear.

I used to travel with huge backpacks stuffed with everything necessary, and a lot of what was unnecessary, for living. Photo equipment took up a separate backpack. Check out documentary proof here, and here. Those days feel like a bad dream now.

Eventually I realized that I bring along all sorts of bulky and useless things, which is particularly inconvenient with a backpack – to take out something buried in the middle, you have to excavate at least half of the stuff. Suitcases are much easier in this regard: snap it open and choose what you need without disturbing the rest. I don’t carry luggage on my person anyway – it always either lies at the hotel or a shuttle/car/sleigh carries it, and so on. And even on wilderness trips there’s a porter or a sherpa shouldering the stuff. At any rate, the suitcase is my bag of choice – or, very occasionally, on Arctic expeditions where you really need to take a lot of equipment and clothes, a large knapsack. But that’s a whole other story. For 99% of the traveling I do, including photo trips, I can’t imagine anything more convenient than a suitcase small enough to pass as hand luggage.

With experience I’ve learned to fit everything necessary for a month’s worth of travel in hand luggage – without omitting anything really needful or breaking air travel rules.

You shouldn’t think I bring only bare necessities either. Most people would say that I bring plenty of excessive stuff: a projector, running clothes and shoes, hard drives, ironed shirts, a hair trimmer, a heart rate monitor, an anorak and more. How does it all fit? Very simply. Here is the inventory of the stuff, and below you can see the same on the pictures.

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The Photographer’s Day

I’m not sure if it’s celebrated anywhere else, but we in Russia do have that holiday – on the 12th of July. The editor-in-chief of “Russian Photo” came up with the idea in 2009, promoted it and registered a trade mark for it. To be honest, that’s not the most authoritative source for me. However! I like the 12th of July day because on that glorious day in 1854 the Father of photography, the founder of Kodak George Eastman was born. And that’s worth celebrating. So on this day I congratulate all my friends and colleagues — in Russia and in the West. I’m blessed with an abundance of them. See for yourself!

Frameway club in the Magnum Photos London office with Steve McCurry, Mark Power and Grigiry Yaroshenko. April 2015

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The best of #degradr in Instagram and Flickr

Degradr is now on Flickr and Instagram! Every day, we publish the best pictures shot by Degradr. If you want your photograph to be featured in one of the selections, use the #degradr tag on your Instagram account. And don’t forget to take a look at today’s featured images: they are really something! What a fantastic demonstration of a great creative tool in use!

The best #degradr photos, 9-15 June 2015

The best photos of Degradr users.
9-15 June 2015
From Instagram on tag #degradr
Degradr editors choice


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Degradr — NOW on the App Store!

Give it up for… Degradr!
Please, give a warm welcome to the world’s first smart camera with a LiveView automatic color correction.

“You press the button – we do the rest”
© George Eastman, founder of KODAK, 1888

Degradr is a smart iPhone camera that “degrades” digital images to make them look as if they have been shot on film. It subtly distorts and softens the original to achieve better harmony, variation and expression of color.

The shutter is the only button you will need to press in Degradr. Since the images are analyzed and processed automatically in the Liveew shooting mode, you can see the result right away, and no additional processing is needed.

Inspiration for Degradr came from a combination of sources: our own personal photographic experiences, the work of one Robert Hunt, who spent 34 years of his life as the head of KODAK research, and a little bit of alchemy, of course.

As of today, Degradr is available on the App Store:

Download Degradr

LIMITED TIME OFFER: press one of the repost buttons and get an instant boost of your photographic karma!

P.S. 1000 downloads and counting – time to make the next move :) We now kindly ask you to support @degradrapp at ProductHunt. All you need to do is to log into your Twitter account and vote for us here:
Thank you – and do spread the word! Reposts are highly appreciated ))

Degradr will become officially available in the AppStore on or around June 5 2015

“You press the button – we do the rest”
© George Eastman, founder of KODAK, 1888

Dear friends!

Degradr App will become officially available in the AppStore on or around June 5 2015. If you are a journalist or a blogger for a photography blog / website, you are very welcome to try the app before it is made public. Please, contact us at

Please find press-release here:

Kodachrome is coming back…

Suddenly postcard was born. Just for fun and pleasure. Exactly this way all ideas are born in Degradr Team — for fun and pleasure.

We uploaded Degradr in App Store today. Waiting for around 7-8 days to be available for everybody.


This is my new project, which will soon be available in the App Store. More information and updates here.

Have you ever seen a smart camera before? Meet the first one and let it degrade your pictures so they look..even more awesome!

Degradr (from eng “to degrade”) – a smart camera which «degrades» digital photos changing colours to make them look more harmonious and expressive.

The app doesn’t include any settings: there is only single option in Degradr — to click the shutter. Picture analysis and processing are being done automatically so you can see the result right away — no additonal processing needed.

We were creating Degradr guided by our broad personal experience  using the studies of Robert Hunt who was the head of Kodak scientific research laboratory for 34 years. Some magical spells and buzz words have been used as well. Some of them are:

  • compressed exposure
  • eccentricity coefficient
  • chromatic adaptation the cone responses
  • reverse saturation
  • squaring the circle of colors
  • cubical Lab color space compression
  • perceptual saturation theory
  • gamut in cut projection
  • finite impulse response
  • mask with convolution
  • Fourier transform

Plus alchemy, of course.

© Degradr Team

Photo tours

The familiar phrase „photo tour” doesn’t always mean what people expect it to, and in some ways the meaning is very different. A „photo tour” is a kind of catch-all, like „engineer” or „manager”. But because it’s often bandied about in the photographic or near-photographic circles, it may be a good idea to discuss what „phot tour” stands for – just so you know what to expect during one and whether it’s what you want.

There are two parts, the photo and the tour, and together they refer to a sort of cloud of all possible events where photography can meet travel. Depending on how accents are placed, this can mean anything from a regular tourist tour where are you allowed to take pictures to full-scale workshops in the open air.

In the former case you can expect to be taken on a route with old people and newlyweds, who will take out point-and-shoot cameras when the guide says and snap pictures of themselves with monuments in the background. In the latter – in-depth photo training with like-minded enthusiasts, art history lectures, daily picture reviews and other photo practices all the way to painting and drawing. Somewhere between these extremes roam bands of landscape photographers with knapsacks and tripods, catching sunsets and sunrises. Any of that can be called a photо tour.

As you can guess, sometimes the accent is on the „photo,” sometimes on the „tour.” Basically:

Photo TOURS are tours with a camera
PHOTO tours are photography lessons on the go

The balanced position is to combine discovery of new places, lessons in photography and discussions with other lovers of photo. But I don’t think this balance is always a good idea. Some people care more about interesting routes and exotics, and the photographer guide can give advice two-three times during the whole trip. Others want to study under a particular photographer, and they’re pretty indifferent to the choice of subject matter. But almost always people have preferences as to what kind of company they’re going in.

Company is the thing. The clearer a tour’s format has been positioned, the more likely it is to attract like-minded people who will be comfortable and interested in travelling together. So if you’re considering a photo tour and you have questions, don’t be ashamed to ask the organizers. The more you know on the shore, the smoother your sailing.

Here are some questions anyone will find worth asking:

1. Where are we going?

Of course, the route must be interesting to you. Even people who sign up to study under a well-known photographer look at where they will be travelling. It could be one city or an extended non-stop outfit or an auto rally through several countries. Make sure you want to go there. Pay attention to how quickly the tour’s program changes locations and overnight stays. The more hopping from place to place it includes, the closer it is to the „tour” end of the spectrum. Few locations means closer to „photo.” Both kinds of tours are legitimate, choose what’s more appropriate to the way you are feeling now.

2. Who is the photographer guide?

If you haven’t heard of the photographer guide, don’t rush to conclusions. Look up his pictures on the Internet and read up on him (/her). It’s impossible to know everybody and here is your chance to expand your scope. You may very well like the style and decide to learn from this photographer or just travel together. Being interested in him as a person is an important ingredient. There are plenty of good photographers in the world, but not too many are ready and willing to share their how-to. Those it would be pleasant and interesting to camp with for a week are even fewer.

3. How is this different from a regular tourist tour?

However the accents are placed, a photo tour must be different from a basic tourist offer in some way: tried and tested locations for photography, scheduled shooting times depending on the hour and weather, unusual routes, interesting events (festivals, celebrations etc.), special permissions to shoot in hard-to-access places, joint museum tours, an atmosphere of art (with medieval castles, theaters, film studios), professional models to pose, make-up artists, stylists on board, impressive staging and so on. And, of course, a photo tour must include lectures and picture reviews. This is important enough for a separate article.

4. How much time are we going to spend reviewing pictures taken on the tour?

A photo tour of any kind is always photographic practice. Any advice on photography is useless without looking through and evaluating actual pictures you take. This can be done „in the field” on the camera screen, but it’s much better to dedicate special times to it. And a large projector works better than crowding around a laptop screen. The presence of a quality projector is sure proof the tour’s solidly on the „photo” side of things. On the other hand, if it is, say, a trip to the mountains, a projector is probably not an option – not necessary either. On the whole, get some idea of what the tour is about – basically tourism or basically photo training.

5. Where can I see the pictures of people from the last tour?

Coming up with an original, interesting route to take photography students on is a rather complicated task. It takes resources to set up, too. So almost all tours are made repeatedly. If the organizers can’t show you pictures taken the last time around, it probably means there aren’t any. It’s also an indication that this tour stresses the tourism component. Or maybe the photographer guide couldn’t inspire the students to pictures worth showing. Or places and events aren’t so exciting. All these limitations are normal and may be fine with you, just make sure you know it in advance. Looking through previous groups’ results is a sure way to discover what you can expect and what level of pictures you may be able to take on this tour and bring home. Regardless of a tour’s accents, a common picture album and picture exhibitions are a very good indicator of quality.

6. Who else has signed on?

Unless you’re first past the post, ask who else has signed on. At least get a general description. What matters at this point is not specific names (and the organizers probably won’t reveal that until you have joined up yourself), but the general feeling with which the group is described. It’s a fine idea to get to know each other online before the tour. If the organizers allow it, make sure to visit each other’s sites, Facebook and Instagram pages and link up.

6. What is the level of this photo tour for?

A sensible question, but practice shows that difference in technique is not a decisive moment. Complete newcomers to photography are certainly going to have a bit of a harder time the first few days, and professionals will be a little bored. But usually photo tours create such a comfortable environment to develop in, old hands and newbies quickly get on the same level, at least enough for everybody to know the terms and general photographic methods. Besides, experienced photographers like passing on their knowledge.


To make the picture complete, here are some words that are used instead of or in addition to „photo tour”:

1) Photo journey. Used by those who want to move the accent off „tour.”
2) Photo expedition. Hike-a-lot.
3) Master class. Photo tour with a clear stress on photographic mastery.
4) Workshop. The same thing as a master class, perhaps stressing joint practice a bit more.

So what should you go for, the photo or the tour? In what proportions? How to mix and match? This depends on what you want, where your priorities lie. Either part of the equation or any combination and be interesting, useful and pleasant.

As for recommendations, at the moment I suggest choosing from this short list of companies and people who provide quality photo tours:

Photo Planet
Ivan Dementyevsky
Vladimir Trofimov

There is a vast number of other people and organizations in the photo tour business, and a lot of them are probably deliver the goods, but I’m citing those I know very well myself and have absolute confidence in. I won’t mind seeing other names and links in the comments, though – feel free to post your recommendations.

May you choose well!

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