NBA 3X Tournament, Caddebostan, Istanbul 2013


Opponents face off in the 3X Basketball Tournament in Istanbul

In between the two GEP Photography Workshops in Istanbul, I had the chance to practice sports photography. The NBA (National Basketball Association of America) and their official partner here, Avea Turkey, brought street basketball to Istanbul. This was a two-day event, to promote basketball for youngsters in Turkey.

The guest of Honour was Tyrone “Muggsy” Bogues, at 5'3", 
the shortest professional player in the history of the NBA. 

Muggsy shoots a basket, to the delight of the crowd

Before the tournament began, we were entertained with some great acrobatics

A dynamic duo

Wow! That's a real high flyer!

We watched some great basketball

Each team really played a hard game

They were all very determined

We were also delighted to meet up with Henry Utku, the NBA's European, Middle East and Asian Events Manager, an ex student of ours at the British International School, Istanbul.

Henry with his proud father, Levent.

By Elizabeth Coughlan


GEP Photography Workshop, Istanbul: Day 4

Turkish delight, in every flavour imaginable, in the Spice Bazaar

Our first shoot on the last day of our Great Escape Publishing Photography Workshop, saw us at the Spice Market in Eminonu. Unfortunately our cameras couldn't capture the exotic aroma emanating from the shops along its aisles. Once again our early start meant that there were few people in our way, and the stallholders far more amenable to our presence. We spent a productive two hours in the Spice market and the surrounding streets, before meeting up again.

Some of us just couldn't resist buying!

Delicious dried fruit and nuts in the spice Bazaar

 Our next visit was to the Suleymaniye Mosque, built for Suleyman the Magnificent in 1557. This was chosen for our workshop because far fewer people visit this mosque than the more popluar Blue Mosque, making it easier to photograph. I also believe it is the more beautiful of the two. Our session over, we just had time for a hasty lunch before we were back at the hotel choosing our three favourite images of Istanbul, ready for Efrain's critique in the group review.

The Suleymaniye Mosque

The beautiful interior of the mosque

The architecture is stunning. This is the entrance to the courtyard

A detail of one of the domes in the Suleymaniye Mosque

 Sadly, our photography workshop was coming to an end, but we still had one more activity, our farewell dinner on the rooftop restaurant of the Adamar Hotel, with its stunning panoramic view over the ancient peninsular, and down the Bosphorus towards the first Bridge.

We couldn't resist photographing down the spiral staircase that leads
to the roof of the hotel

As the sun set, the moon began to rise over the Aya Sofya

 Its always sad when these workshops end and everyone goes their separate ways. One can only hope we will all meet up again at another workshop, or maybe even in Istanbul. It is said, this city has a magic allure that, once experienced, draws people back again. I do hope so!

By Elizabeth Coughlan


GEP Photography Workshop, Istanbul: Day 3

The Grand Bazaar. A shopper's delight!

This was the day that many people were waiting for. We were going to Istanbul's ultimate Shopping Mecca, the Grand Bazaar. The main problem would be remembering to take photographs, while drooling over the treasure trove of products on sale.

I can never resist photographing the beautiful lamps!

We arrived early, while the stall-holders were still setting up. They are more relaxed at the start of the day, and more accommodating. It is also possible to take time over shots with fewer people around.

...and the Scarves! One can never have too many scarves.

We arranged to meet at Mahmutpasa gate after our photo shoot, and then headed down through the narrow streets filled with shops of all kinds, until we came to the harbour. There, we lunched on fish sandwiches, served from the colourful boats to the left of the Galata bridge.

One of the richly decorated, colourful boats selling fish sandwiches.

The fresh filleted fish are cooked on the boats

The fish sandwich boats, lined up in the harbour, 
with the Suleymaniye Mosque in the background

Lunch break over, it was time to get shooting again. This time from the Galata bridge itself, with its rows of fishermen either side. Time was of the essence, as we had to return to the hotel for Efrain to look over our chosen shots for the small, medium and large versions of the same subject.

Fishermen on the Galata Bridge

One fisherman on the bridge

The caught fish

The day was still not over, however, as we were off to Sirkeci Station to watch and photograph the Whirling Dervishes that were performing their ceremony there. This was a difficult task, as the lights were low, and the spinning Dervishes were difficult to capture. But we experimented with our settings, and we all learned a tremendous amount with this exercise.

The Dervish's orchestra played traditional music before the ceremony

The Dervish whirls with his right hand towards heaven to receive God's blessings,
and his left towards the earth to convey God's spiritual gifts to the people

Thus ended another wonderful day of our photography workshop.


GEP Photography Workshop, Istanbul: Day 2

The Blue Mosque, as dawn breaks, reflected in the still waters of the fountain.

Day 2 of our photography workshop began very early, at 05:30, so we could photograph the Blue Mosque at dawn again. This time we walked to the fountain between the Blue Mosque and the Aya Sofya. The fountain is turned off at night, and we wanted to catch the reflection of the Blue Mosque in the still water of the fountain before it was turned on again. Unfortunately, we couldn't do the same for the Aya Sofya as the stage for the Korean festival was in the way, and would have ruined our shots.

With barely time for breakfast, we were on our way again, as we were off on a tour of the Bosphorus. Once more, it was important to get ahead of the crowds, so we could secure the best seats on, what has become, a very popular activity in Istanbul.

Rumeli Hisari, the fortress on the banks of the Bosphorus

Once we set sail we relaxed as we glided up the Bosphorus towards the Black Sea. There are many interesting places to photograph along the banks of this mighty strait, but we did have one in particular to focus on - that of Rumeli Hisari, the fortress built by Mehmet ll to launch his attack against Constantinople.

We disembarked in Sariyer, a fishing port at the northern end of the Bosphorus. There we were free to roam and photograph the fish market by the harbour full of fishing boats, as well as other points of interest.

Our task today for our group review, was to return with three shots suitable for a travel magazine. One showing the overall picture of a scene; one of part of the scene; and one close-up, detail shot. We had to keep this assignment in mind as we happily photographed everything in sight!

The fish market in Sariyer (the scene)

One of the stalls in the fish market (part of the scene)

A detail shot, showing fish

After a quick lunch, we travelled to our next stop, Rumeli Hisari. The fortress is in amazing condition, considering it was built in 1452; although it was evident that in those far-off days health and safety wasn't a factor. Some of the stairways are positively lethal, and we had to take great care when climbing them.

Looking out at Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge from Rumeli Hisari, the old and the new.

Part of the 2nd group taking photos in the fortress

The fortress has 3 main towers, one small tower, and 13 watchtowers 

Some of the first week's attendees resting after climbing all over the fortress

Finally, shooting for the day over, we drove along the banks of the Bosphorus and back to our hotel, where we eventually wandered off to enjoy a delicious dinner in one of the many restaurants in Sultanahment.

By Elizabeth Coughlan


GEP Photography Workshop, Istanbul: Day 1

The Blue Mosque in early-morning light

I've just returned from two one-week photography workshops, with Great Escape Publishing, in Istanbul. As an Istanbul resident, I was their "woman on the ground" to help them negotiate this amazing city.

The Hagia Sophia in early-morning light

Our first day of the workshop, began with an early morning shoot from the roof of our hotel, the Armagrandi Spina, in Sultanahmet, the old city of Istanbul. Our task was to take an aerial shot of the old town, including the Aya Sofya (Hagia Sophia) and the Blue Mosque. Most of us had limited experience with tripods, so we were delighted to have our three teachers, professional photographers Efrain Padro, Bonnie Caton, and Charlie Bulla, to help us set up and adjust our camera settings.

After an hour's work, we enjoyed our well-earned breakfast before our next shoot at the Topkapi Palace. The palace opens at 09:00, so we made sure we were early, in order to get ahead of the hordes of other tourists.

Once inside, we headed straight for the Harem, while other early birds headed in the opposite direction. This ensured that we had the Harem to ourselves for our shoot. We were then free to wander around the rest of this huge complex looking for suitable subjects for today's assignment, as follows:

1. An image with subject centred, and another of the same subject off centre.

A detail of the mother-of-pearl decorated doors in the Harem, with the lock centred

The same door with the lock off-centre

2. An image with a distracting background, and  one with a clean background.

A pottery urn with distracting people in the background

The same urn with a clean background

3 An image that shows the subject as part of the scene, and one where the subject is the focus.

A subject as part of a scene

focus on my subject

After leaving the Topkapi Palace, we wandered through the area between the Hagia Sophia and the Blue mosque, looking for more subjects to shoot, before taking time out for lunch. With our meeting set for 15:00, we then beat a hasty retreat back to the hotel to download our images and choose the ones for our Guru, Efrain Padro, to review.

Our final task for the day, before falling exhausted into bed, was a twilight photo shoot from the hotel roof, to capture the Aya Sofya, and Blue Mosque "lit up against an evening sky".

The Blue Mosque at dusk

The Hagia Sophia at dusk

By Elizabeth Coughlan

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I couldn't resist this one!