Call me old fashioned but when it comes to black and white photography, I like to use a film camera and my old trusty Canon AE-1 does the trick. I use a variety of lenses from wide angle to telephoto and Fujifilm’s Neopan stock, but that was my preference for the shots I planned to take on my trip to Prague. I highly recommend going by your trusted local camera shop and talk to them about what and where you are shooting. They will be able to make the best recommendation for film stock.
Prague is, in my humble opinion, one of the best cities for amateur to professional photographers to capture in their lenses. Prague is an old city, never having been laid siege to during World War 2. In fact, only three bombs hit the city and that was by accident as Allied bombers came out of a fog thinking they were over Dresden, Germany.
Wenceslas Square is a good place to start on a photographic journey of Prague. There are three subway stops along the square and just as many trolley car stops. It is more of a long rectangle then a square but that just gave me a little more exercise.
Wencelslas Square provides a fun contrast of the modern and the medieval. The square is loaded with modern shops and restaurants including KFC’s and Mc Donalds. On the other hand, even these 20th Century restaurants are enclosed in several hundred years old Czech architecture. The Square also contains many statues that are just screaming to be photographed. One of my favorite things to do is to set these statues in contrast with the modern shops through frame composition and depth of field.
Heading west on foot, only a few short minutes away, is Old Towne Square. This square has many gems for black and white photography. Architecture is a definite subject here as visitors will find things from medieval through the communist eras. Looming high above the square is Tyn Cathedral. It’s an amazing gothic cathedral that photographs in all sorts of moods, from spooky to awesome.
Across the square from Tyn is the Orloj or the astronomical clock. This is a tourist favorite because it has figurines that dance when the clock chimes on the hour. This clock is very ornate and between the designs on the face, the figurines, and the structure itself, I have found myself taking photo after photo of the intricate detail makes each picture quite unique.
I couldn’t help but notice the large statue of Jan Hus in the square. I remember this statue from history books when I was in school. My mental picture of this statue was Jan Hus with Soviet tanks parked around it during the Prague Spring invasion of 1968. It is one of my favorite subjects to shoot. Because of its location in the square, it can be composed within the frame with many other parts of the square, and there is a lot of depth of field to play with here too. Of course, I love shooting similar photos to those in the textbooks and showing “Hey, no Russian tanks here now!”
Heading west from Old Towne Square though the winding is the Charles Bridge. Anyone who has been to Prague has fallen in love with this bridge and the photographer will love it even more. The bridge is filled with statues of medieval era people who are important in Czech history. This bridge is a huge attraction and is open to foot traffic only. The drawback to photographing the bridge are the huge crowds of tourists and vendors. I still took great longer shots of Prague Castle from the bridge during these hours, but it is best to get there at sunrise for photos of an empty bridge. In the summertime this is about 5-5:30 am and you will capture the Charles Bridge in all of its majesty with only a handful of people on it.
From Charles Bridge, I suggest a short hike up the hill for photographic treasures galore at Prague Castle. Prague Castle has St. Vitus Cathedral adjoining it and what can be described as a mini village supporting it. One could spend days and dozens of rolls of film and never seem to run out of fresh perspectives for beautiful photographs.
Prague will yield some of the most amazing black and white photographs one could ever take. I suggest taking your best ones and making a coffee table book though it will be tempting to take guests on a two-hour tour of many volumes of photo books from this amazing city.