Thursday, July 31, 2008

Power plant

Power plant, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Buildings of the power plant at Anjalankoski. The river is Kymijoki.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Witnessing a moose crash

On Tuesday while driving on the Porvoo-Helsinki motorway I witnessed a moose crash ("hirvikolari" in Finnish), when the car in front of us hit a moose at about 80-100 km/hour.

There was a bit of time to notice the moose, so the speed of the car was less than 120 km/hour, but 80-100 km/h is a big speed to hit a moose nevertheless. I stopped, phoned the general emergency number (but I had to wait in queue on the phone), and checked the status of the passengers.

I took 3-5 minutes until the next driver stopped, a policeman who was off-duty. Then we waited for the ambulance, firemen and police to arrive. Luckily no-one was killed, except for the moose. It died almost instantly. It was harly alive we I got to the car.

In retrospect, there was a lot of possibilities for taking photos, but this was one of those occasions when you don't think (or shouldn't think) about such things. I'm still a bit shaken. I had sufficient warning to stop in time, but the same thing could have happened to our family.

Update: One thing especially remains in thoughts. There was moose hair everywhere, in big chunks, especially inside the car on the front.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Warming up

Butterfly on pine, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

This butterfly was not at all afraid of the camera. After settling on the pine, it soon opened the wings and displayed them for all to see.

Update: This is a comma butterfly.

Monday, July 28, 2008


Butterfly, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Due to the warm weather in Finland there are now more butterflies than earlier in the summer. This one seemed to seek a hiding place in the maple leaves.

From Monday onwards, I'll be traveling in southern Finland. I hope I can get a few nice photos, at least I'll take the camera with me.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


Landing, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

A Finnair aicraft was preparing for landing to the Vantaa airport, the stairs belong to a school building.

Still evening

Finnish lake view, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Another photo taken yesterday evening from Velskolan Pitkäjärvi, "Long Lake at Velskola", Espoo, Finland. The air was completely still.

Lake names in Finland

It has been estimated that there are 188000 lakes in Finland (area more than 500 square meters). Naming such a collection of lakes is challenging. Even in Espoo there are several lakes with the same name, for example Pitkäjärvi (Long Lake) and Myllyjärvi (Mill Lake). I posted earlier some photos which were taken at Pitkäjärvi at Velskola, Espoo, and one photo from a Myllyjärvi in Espoo.

The most common lake name in Finland is Pyhäjärvi (Holy Lake). I remember reading that this is due to censorship, that is the priests and officials censored pagan and vulgar names and used Pyhäjärvi instead. It is interesting to speculate what the original names have been - referring to pagan deities or to certain parts of human anatomy. On the other hand, Pyhäjärvi is not a bad name either.


Lake view, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

I underexposed this photo by accident, and it turned out rather nice. This was taken by the lake Bodom at the Oittaa camping area in Espoo, Finland.

Reading about photography

I have been reading two books by Michael Freeman: "The Photographers Eye" and "Light and Lighting". Both books are good in that they handle not only technology but also the art of seeing, and more than one level of photography (both novices and professionals).

I think I learned a great deal already, but most of all I realized that there is a great deal to be learned. A some kind of path forward (with possible exercises) is there to be seen.

On the other hand, I have no pretentions of great ambition as a photographer. I'm really more of a word person, dealing with writing first of all. But I admit that the visual art does have some attraction, and thus I'm quite willing to put some time and effort into learning a bit more of photography. At least it makes it possible to appreciate good photos more than previously.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Exercise in postprocessing photos

Waterlily leaf, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

I haven't done much photoshopping with my photos, but this time i tried a bit of postprocessing. (Incidentally, not with Photoshop but with GraphicConverter.) I think there are better interpretations of the original photo, but I haven't found them yet.

Typical Finnish lake view

Typical Finnish lake view, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

This is a picture among millions, a typical Finnish lake view. (There
are 188000 lakes in Finland.) So, should one not take a picture
because these views are so common? I don't really know. But this was a
nice evening by the lake anyway.

No need to upgrade camera?

I have been looking at the current DSLRs, and they are tempting, except for a critical factor for me - size. I don't want to lug a big non-pocketable camera with me. Of the pocket-sized digital cameras none really appeal, not to such a degree as to tempt to upgrade from Canon Digital Ixus 400.

Why, why, why there isn't pocket-sized cameras with a bigger sensor? The Sigma DP1 was a failed attempt (big SLR-level sensor but much too slow), and the forthcoming new cameras may not really answer the need. A 25 mm or bigger sensor would be nice, perhaps even a 17 mm (2/3 inch) sensor if there wouldn't be too many pixels crammed in.

I'm cautiously optimistic about the upcoming Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3. The price in Finland seems to be about 500 euros, so this is not cheap. But if the image quality delivers at the ISO 400 level, then this camera is tempting. But who knows, perhaps Canon has a suprise to announce as well. That is, something else than continuing the megapixel race.

When you think about it, the current situation is suprising. Why the DSLR sensors are not used in non-SLR cameras as well? There seems to be something strange going on. In the 35 mm film era there were all kinds of cameras available, from big to small. Why not now?

In any case, I think I'll continue to use my Canon Ixus 400 for a while. In fact, I ordered a 2 GB compact flash card and a new battery for the camera. The old 512 MB card is too small (but it cost something like 100 euros when new). Also, I have already used up one battery, and a second one is now getting a bit weak in power. With these additions, the camera may serve for a couple of years still.

Update: It seems I was a bit mistaken in my thinking, thus I wrote some updated thoughts on the sensor sizes.

Grill in the garden

Sausages and corn-on-the-cob, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

We did some traditional (Finnish) grilling today, not fancy but tasted good nevertheless.

Look outside

Window, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

View from a window at the Naive Artists Exhibition at Iittala (Finland). This is a school building, mostly empty during the summer.


Welcome, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

There is a Naive Artists Exhibition at Iittala (Finland) each summer.
This year was 20th in the series. These are gift shop items from the exhibition.

Friday, July 25, 2008

A naive photo of a naive artist's work

There is a Naive Artists exhibition at Iittala (Finland) each summer.
This year was 20th in the series. This is a naive photograph of an
artwork from the exhibition.

Incomplete fence

Incomplete fence, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

A new fence was in construction along a road, beside the embankment of an artificial lake.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Lilies in the evening

Lilies in the evening light, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

I went for a walk this evening, and there was a nice collection of yellow lilies lighted up by the sun.

Bridge over river Vantaanjoki

Bridge over river Vantaanjoki, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Due to the recent rain, the water in the river is higher than it was early in the summer. Brownish water. Currently the drinking water in the Helsinki area is taken from the river.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Reddish barn

Reddish barn, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

I noticed this old barn when riding a bicycle along the river Vantaanjoki.

One of the 188000 lakes in Finland

Lake Myllyjärvi, Espoo, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

This is the other of the two lakes named Myllyjärvi, "Mill Lake", in Espoo (this is the northern lake). It was a nice day for swimming - air was warm, water was cool.

Look at where I live

View to where I live, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

The place where I live is near the horizon on the left, hidden by the woods. This is capital city region of Finland - not very populated as can be seen. Picture is taken from the Malminkartano hill in Helsinki. There is a gravel-producing plant beside the hill, busy with the construction going on in the Helsinki area.

White flowers

Unknown white flower, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

This is one of the abundant flowers on the Malminkartano hill in Helsinki. Haven't seen this one anywhere else, which does not mean it is not common. Lots of these nice white flowers grow along the path to the top of the hill.

Learning from many mistakes

Lately I have been taking a lot of photos compared to the usual rate. On Tuesday I snapped about 200 photos, and on Monday about the same. Within the month I have taken over 2000 photos. Of course, most of these (about 80%) went to the trash, but still there is a quite a collection. Have to see if I can sustain the rate. In any case, I have learned a lot from the mistakes. But the learning rate is slow in terms of getting really good photos. Often some technical glitch spoils an otherwise good shot. Such as focus a bit off, or the horizon not quite horizontal. Well, you learn from the mistakes.

Stairs with a view

Stairs with a view, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

View from a small (artificial) hill in the northern part of Helsinki, in Malminkartano. The hill offers a nice variety of flowers in July.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Feather on blueberry

Feather on blueberry, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Feathers from a killed bird were spread around in the forest. It started to rain.

Green juniper berries

Juniper, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Fresh green berries of common juniper (Juniperus communis).

Making sense of the digital camera sensor sizes

Digital Photography Review has a nice summary of the sensor sizes in digital cameras. The sensor affects the noisiness (how small pixels), the depth of field, the crop factor, and the focal length multiplier. Here is a short listing of typical sensor sizes (diagonal measurements) in compact digital cameras:
  • 1/2.5 inch = 10 mm
  • 1/2.33 inch = 10.9 mm
  • 1/1.8 inch = 14.1 mm
  • 1/1.7 inch = 14.9 mm
  • 1/1.63 inch = 15.6 mm
  • 2/3 inch = 16.9 mm
  • 4/3 inch = 33.9 mm
Of these the 4/3 inch sensor is already in the digital SLR area, a quite big sensor. As the area is proportial to the square of the diagonal, the noise characteristics improve dramatically with bigger sensors. On the other hand, depth of field and focal length multiplier decreases, so there are drawbacks (if you think this as drawback).

It seems that soon there will be interesting new cameras on the market. Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3, annouced yesterday, has a 15.6 mm sensor. And it is speculated that we will soon have also a Nikon P6000 (with a 14.9 mm sensor) and a Canon G10 (14.9 mm). These cameras may generate competition in the more serious compact cameras.

Update: It seems I was a bit mistaken in my thinking, thus I wrote some updated thoughts on the sensor sizes.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Is the new Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 a sign of the end of the megapixel race?

As it happens, just as I wrote about the increasing megapixel competetion in digital cameras - making them more noisy all the time - Panasonic today announced a new LX3 camera. The specs include: a ten-megapixel 1/1.63 inch sensor, a wide 24-60 inch lens with 2.0-2.8 max aperture, a new processing engine etc. If this camera works as advertised, it certainly interests me. But Panasonic has a history of noisy cameras, so the claims have to be tested before trusting. In any case, LX3 is a good indication that camera manufacturers may have seen some sense finally.

Spreading bellflower

Spreading bellflower (Campanula patula) produces beautiful light-blue flowers. Here the color is darker because of photographing against the light.

Sign on asphalt

Signs on asphalt, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Time has made its mark.

In the shadow of the megapixel race

I'm still pondering pros and cons of getting a new camera. It would be an investment not only in money but in time. Do I want to start studying the features of a new camera and learn all kinds of new skills?

I'll probably go and check one one these entry-level DSLRs at some point. I understand that Olympus E-520 is quite small, and with a fixed lens almost pocketable. However, the Olympus lenses are expensive and a bit limited in variety.

One of the negative aspects of a compact is the slow focusing and shooting speed. I take a lot of photos of our children, and it is sometimes almost as difficult as I imagine sports photography to be. Often only one photo in ten is somewhat acceptable.

My Ixus 400 has a 4 megapixel 1/1.8 inch sensor, which is quite nice at ISO 50 or 100, but not so great at 200 and above. I read somewhere that Canon later changed the sensitivity ratings so that the old ISO 50 became ISO 100 and so on, a change in the worse direction. This is one reason why I'm not so keen on getting a new camera. A compact with a 2/3 inch or bigger sensor would be nice, something like in the Fujifilm S100FS has, but in a more compact form.

White butterfly hiding

White butterfly hanging in hiding, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

This butterfly was resting under a leaf, flapping its wings occasionally. Later I thought that I should have taken a photo from the opposite direction as well. I took multiple shots, but only one got the focus reasonably right. Not easy with a point and shoot camera.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Too much photography - whence goes the art?

The Online Photographer ponders the effect of there being available a massive amount of photos. What will happen to the concept of great photography?
Technology is leading to a sudden photographic efflorescence, a thousand points of light if you will. That's cool in some ways - but it means real quality is getting lost among the profusion and the massive increase in supply is cheapening the value.
I'm currently following about 20 blogs about photography, and many of these are posting excellent pictures weekly or even daily. And there is an endless-seeming collection of nice-looking photos at sites such as Flickr and Picasa. But will this mean that the art of photography will disappear behind the massive scale? Will the norm be somebody taking a good photo by accident vs. doing photography by skill and art?

Ancient seashore in Finland

Ancient seashore in Finland, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

These mossy rocks are former seashore in the Helsinki region in Finland,
from the last ice age. The land has risen considerably since the ice melted.

Wood sorrel formation

Wood sorrel formation, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Common wood sorrel (Oxalis acetosella) is common in the nearby woords. It has several names in Finnish, pointing to foods. It is mildly poisonous, salty tasting, due to the (COOH)2 content. Formerly it has been used as a spice.

Three kinds of photographers

What kind of photographers are there, anyway? So far I have determined three types: 1) device lovers, 2) photograph lovers, and 3) collectors.

The device lovers focus on the cameras, lenses, flashes, tripods etc., seeing photography in terms of technology. The photograph lovers don't much think about technology except as a tool, focusing instead on the art and skill of photography. And then there are the collectors, who can collect different kinds of things: cameras, photos, stories about cameras, stories about photos etc. For the collectors, photography is an avenue of fulfilling the collector's instinct.

What kind of photographer I am? I used to be a device lover (loved my Minolta XG-1 and lenses), but now I'm more like a photograph lover (browsing through the photo galleries of good photographers). And perhaps I'm a bit of a collector as well, taking a lot of photos daily, and storing them on the iMac.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Lizard on wood

Common Lizard (Zootoca vivipara)
Originally uploaded by jiihaa

This Common Lizard (Zootoca vivipara) had black color, so it was probably a young individual. It was surprisingly unafraid, allowing to get close. Or perhaps it just liked the warm and dry spot.

Mast and clouds

Mast and clouds
Originally uploaded by jiihaa

There are telecommunications mast all over Finland. This was on top of a nearby hill. We had nice cloud formations today.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Dinosaur exhibition at the Natural history museum in Helsinki

Dinosaur exhibition at the Natural history museum in Helsinki
Originally uploaded by jiihaa

I visited yesterday the Natural history museum in Helsinki. There is a big dinosaur exhibition, where the lights have been used to create atmosphere. Perhaps a bit scary for the smallest visitors.

Mosquito and Lily of the Valley

Mosquito and Lily of the Valley
Originally uploaded by jiihaa

A mosquito is hanging from a Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis),
the national flower of Finland. The berries are raw - and poisonous,
as is the whole plant. Early this summer there were few mosquitoes,
but now - thanks to rainy days - the situation has normalized.


Originally uploaded by jiihaa

The weather this summer in Finland has been varying, from dry spells
to rainy weeks. Plants manage to grow nevertheless.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Brown Knapweed

Brown Knapweed (Centaurea jacea)
Originally uploaded by jiihaa

Brown Knapweed (Centaurea jacea) will produce a lot of flowers this summer. Here is one of the first flowers. This flower has been investigated as a biomass source for energy production.

Tatar Maple

Tatar Maple (Acer tataricum)
Originally uploaded by jiihaa

Tatar Maple has now yellow and red colors in the seeds to complement the green leaves. Earlier in the summer the tree is not so remarkable.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Peach-leaved Bellflower (Campanula persicifolia)

Peach-leaved Bellflower (Campanula persicifolia)
Originally uploaded by jiihaa

The Peach-leaved Bellflower (Campanula persicifolia) is impressive. Here the flower is accompanied by friends of a different kind in the background.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Impression of a mosquito launch from Cow Parsley

Impression of a mosquito launch from Cow Parsley
Originally uploaded by jiihaa

This is a story of a death. I use a compact digital camera, which makes it difficult to react fast, especially when there is less light. Canon Digital Ixus 400 has a 1/1.8 inch 4-megapixel sensor, which in principle should be nice, but the sensor is unfortunately a bit noisy. Thus I like to use ISO 50 or ISO 100 sensitivities. Here I was using ISO 50, and didn't have the time to change settings. A handheld picture at 1/20 second exposure gives an impressionist feeling to the photo. The mosquito disappeared right after the picture, but a few moments later it (or a colleague) bit me in the arm, with fatal consequences for it.

What a difference light makes (2/2)

What a difference light makes (2/2)
Originally uploaded by jiihaa

This is a photo of Homerton College (Cambridge, England) taken with Nokia E90 mobile phone on April 11th, 2008. When there is enough light, the three megapixel sensor produces satisfactory images. Not bad for a camera phone. But in low light the sensor is extremely noisy.

What a difference light makes (1/2)

What a difference light makes (1/2)
Originally uploaded by jiihaa

The Finnish folk-rock band Lauri Tähkä & Elonkerjuu in concert in Levi, March 13th, 2008. In low light the Nokia E90 mobile phone does not produce good photos, despite (or because of) the three megapixel sensor. But when there is enough light, the situation is very different.

Wet leaves

Wet leaves
Originally uploaded by jiihaa

After a rainy night, leaves in garden started drying.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Lil Guppie and bigger tool fight

Lil Guppie and bigger tool fight
Originally uploaded by jiihaa

Photo taken with Nokia E90 mobile phone, not bad but not especially
good quality either.

Butterfly & blades

Butterfly and blades
Originally uploaded by jiihaa

This butterfly is quite unafraid of the camera allowing to get close.