Thursday, April 30, 2009


Skyline, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Spring greenery, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Matters of health and wellbeing cause surprises every so often. Thus, for the next few weeks I have much less time for photography or blogging than I used to have. And as I mentioned earlier, it may be that I won't have time for the SoFoBoMo project either.

In the long run, this break (or slowing down) may be a good thing for sustaining the interest in photography. I have been stuck in a rut, or at least I have been feeling recently that I'm not progressing much.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Slowing down (or temporalily stopping) blogging

Blue anemone (Nokia E90 photo), originally uploaded by jiihaa.

For certain personal reason I'm going to either to slow down blogging here at Light Scrape, or make a pause of a few days or even weeks. Also, starting the SoFoBoMo project on May 1st seems to be uncertain. I need to do other things than photography for a while, depending on how things develop.

The photograph shown here was taken hastily today by a roadside with my Nokia E90 phone, as I didn't have a real camera with me. Spring progresses, although I may not be able to document it in photographs.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Life is good (when you aren't too busy to notice)

Wood anemone, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Crooked pine, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Fields, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Birch, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Sometimes there is no reason to complain. Today we had a nice meal with the family, self-made chicken fajitas, a little bit of dry apple cider to drink, and coffee plus blueberry pie for dessert. And listening to Anne Briggs singing.

An enjoyable day. It is pity you are often too busy to notice how good life is.

Later today we had a long walk in the fields and forests, enjoying the sunshine. It was a bit colder than yesterday, and there was more wind, but it was nice. Together with the children we spotted signs of spring: flowers, leaves, grass. Soon it will be summer.

Here are four photographs taken today. I'm once again carrying the LX3 from a neck strap instead of putting it into a coat pocket. It is time of getting rid of coats.

I'm now keeping the extension tube on all the time. It gives protection to the lens, and makes it possible to use filters when needed. I have also noticed I'm now handling the LX3 the same way as I used to handle my SLR, with two hands, although the small size of the camera makes this unnecessary.

There are only a few days left until one can start with the SoFoBoMo project (May 1st). I'm not yet sure whether I'll start taking photographs for the "35 Trees" project right away, or wait for a suitable weekend.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Enjoying the spring

Running together, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Two hats on a bench, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Willow, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

We had today the warmest day so far of this spring, almost 20 °C in the shadow. And bright blue sky and lots of sunshine. This is a story in photographs of today, nothing fancy or especially noteworthy, just enjoying the day.

How to catch difficult subjects (practice for SoFoBoMo)

Spring sunshine in a fir forest, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Young birches in spring sunshine, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Certain things are difficult to catch in a photograph, at least for me. One such thing is a high-contrast forest landscape. Even though the scene looks good to the eye, the resulting photograph often disappoints. Here are two images, in which the original photograph was nothing like the original scene. But I managed to bring some of the original back in post-processing with LightZone.

In the first image, I increased the contrast (both local and overall) but quite a lot, and the result is close to the way I saw the scene. The bright green of the branches is in contrast with the dark bark of the tree trunks.

In the second image I was much less successful. Here I must admit that shooting jpeg is one cause for the failure. Although I tried to preserve the highlights without losing the details in the shadows I didn't manage too well. RAW would have helped. But I'm almost incurable jpeg shooter, so I have to cope with the limitations.

One thing which I didn't anticipate regarding my "35 Trees" SoFoBoMo project was the great amount of light we have in May here in Finland. I must discover some ways of coping with high-contrast scenes. The best time for shooting trees would probably be during lightly clouded or even slightly rainy weather. But I'll try even in in conditions such we had today.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Simple view

Shadow on red, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Greenery, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Today evening I was tired and had stamina for only a short walk outside. The sun was low on the horizon and greated long shadows. Although I had the camera with me I didn't start exploring the views in earnest, instead I took a couple of snapshots and that was it.

Although I'm now tired I'm quite pleased with this week. There were several moments at work when I managed to provide some insight on a situation. It is a good feeling to be able to do this.

We are an IT company but we have a higher percentage of PhD's in the staff than many research institutes. I'm very much relying on the experience, intellect and insight of my colleagues in getting things done but sometimes even they can get stuck. And when this happens the challenge can be at first overwhelming. But nowadays we are getting good at working together.

The two images here are from today, showing different aspects of the evening sunshine. This was a good day, and it will be getting even warmer tomorrow: 15 °C and sunshine.

Not to forget: the Panasonic LX3 got the number one spot of recommended compacts at Serious Compacts. And it also got the number four spot of top-ten recommended cameras at The Online Photographer. Good choice! (42,590 photographs taken so far...)

Update: I created sets of my top 12 most viewed and most interesting photographs (as reported by Flickr). The only photograph on both lists is a black and white photograph of a pier. I haven't done much b&w photography but perhaps I should. A surprising photograph on the most viewed list is an image of the droppings of a European hare. I think this is due to the name I happened to give to the image, not the image itself.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Being able to do something

Reflector, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Towards sunlight, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Waves on the sky, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Earlier this week I was frustrated at work because the amount of tasks grew to overwhelming proportions. Well, today I more or less managed to catch up. But the best thing were those couple of times when I was able to really contribute something, make things to take shape. And I felt there was value in what I'm doing.

We went for a walk with the family today. It was warmer today, and the wind was no longer chilly as it has been recently. Today it felt that spring has started to speed up. Bees were visiting flowers and some trees were starting to open their leaves. There have been a great variety of different cloud formations on the sky recently, and today was no exception.

Here are three photographs, in which I was exploring different styles and topics. I'm not too keen on getting started with SoFoBoMo, but it looms nearer all the time, so perhaps I should start to develop my "35 Trees" project idea further.

On the other hand, I'm still a little bit exhausted because fo the work pressure. It remains to be seen what I'm able to do during the next weekend. It will be warmer according to the weather forecasts, so spending time outside sounds promising.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Taking photographs and being exhausted

Curves, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

This has been an intensive week at work, I have been lagging behind in things to do all the time. Usually I manage to focus on the important stuff but now there has been so much of it that things have been piling up.

Doing things on the critical path... Cutting-edge information technology is not easy even when things work well, but when something breaks it is a nightmare.

And there has been an overwhelming about of trivial and non-important stuff also to go through. In addition, I have somehow managed to be included on Finnish spammers' (or marketers) mailing lists with 1-2 dozen extra e-mails to my inbox daily. These e-mails are not yet caught be the antispam measures I'm currently using.

I commuted by bicycle today, which was a nice counterbalance to office work. I have managed to get 1-2 hours of exercise most days lately, so I'm slowly coming back to shape. But I seem to be hungry all the time, especially at lunch.

Photography was today in the back seat. I managed to take some photographs, but with scant results. The image shown here wasn't too bad though. The evening sunshine generates nice patterns on the curtains this time of the year. The image didn't need any post-processing or cropping either.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Landscape photography from the hip

Cut tree, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Red bush, apple trees, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Roadside trees, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Today while getting a bit of exercise by walking in the nearby woods I decided to try taking landscape photographs by shooting from the hip - not stopping to make a careful composition but instead point the camera to the general direction of the subject and shoot on the go. There was enough light to get 1/100 second exposure, so most images were sharp enough (thanks to image stabilization).

Here is a short story in images of the walk in the forest. Most photographs were not interesting at all, but there were some which weren't too bad. The non-typical composition makes the images more fresh than most of my more carefully framed landscape images. These images were not cropped afterward, so you get the full benefit of the random shooting. Of course, there was quite a lot of selection afterward when I deleted most of the images, but that is another matter.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Search, aim and jump

Searching for Zorro, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Aim, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Jump, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

It seems that I can't stop taking photographs even though I occasionally feel non-motivated and lazy. But always I manage to take the LX3 with me when going for a walk or a car ride or something. And when I start taking photographs it is hard to stop.

In addition to shooting blue anemones I took today photographs of various other things on the way. Someone had lost a cat named Zorro and seemed to be keen on finding it. Also, the spring is a great time for the children, as there are new things to be found all the time.

Spring is good also for us adults, especially the light. The length of day here in Vantaa, Finland is now 15 hours 4 minutes, and the day will keep on getting longer for a while yet. It is now approaching that time when there is daylight when you go to sleep and there is daylight when you wake up.

Time of the blue anemone

Blue anemone in triplicate, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Stages of the blue anemone, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Blue anemone leaf, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

One of the first spring flowers here in Finland is the blue anemone (Hepatica nobilis). They are now to be found in many places here nearby. Although the flower is a rare one, it doesn't seem to be on the way to disappearing.

It is not a flower to be picked and put into a vase filled with water, as it doesn't survive long. But out in the nature it is a lovely thing, with a multitude of blue hues, from almost white to deep purplish color. Also the leaves of the flower are beautiful, and they survive the winter. Some of the leaves are reddish instead of green.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

From sunny to clouded and back again

Car window view, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Cloud gathering, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Crocus, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

This morning we had sunny although cool weather. After noon it started to get clouded, with complex cloud formations, but later the sky cleared up again. It was cool all day, so the spring is not progressing very fast.

I changed the tires in my car today, from studded winter tires to summer tires. The two last times I had this done by the pros, but this time I decided once again to do it myself.

The weather was nice for this, dry and cool enough not to cause a lot of sweating. Changing tires is not a very demanding task, but you need to be careful to avoid mishaps. I have found it pertinent to take it slowly, and to plan in advance how you are going to do things, so that you don't find that you need to go back and undo some steps you have made. For example, when the tires need to be rotated, you need to know that the tires are replaced in the right order.

After changing the tires we went visiting relatives. It was a good test drive. After using the studded winter tires for months it was blessedly silent when driving faster than 50 km/h. You get used to the noise level, and only changing back you realize how much better it is with the summer tires.

Here are three images from today. I didn't have much energy left for photography after the various activities of today.

At one point today I was planning to do another SoFoBoMo practice book, using the photographs from yesterday as the material. There were about 40 images, which I felt would be good for this. My plan was to finetune some things of the layout which were unfinished in the first practice book, and also try to understand what it is which makes a set of photographs into a photobook.

But then I had a look at the images from yesterday and realized I had only half a dozen images fit for using in a photobook. There were too much similarity between the images to make it possible to build a book out of them.

It was an interesting idea but I guess it is better to wait for the SoFoBoMo project than to make halfhearted attempts beforehand. Also, I need to think a bit more carefully what kind of variety I need in my images in the actual SoFoBoMo project.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Colors rule once again - going through favorite photographs

Every so often I go through my photographs on Flickr and select some of them into a "favorites" set. I did this today, going through images between December 2008 and March 2009.

It is an interesting exercise, as I usually notice things I didn't notice when I took the images. Some photographs contain faults which I didn't originally notice. Things which shouldn't be there are sticking in from the sides etc. Some images are flat uninspiring. But then there are some that appear much better than I remembered.

Looking at the favorites set as a whole, it is apparent that color is one thing which often makes an image. I'm clearly partial to color, although I often try to work with gray tones and sometimes even black and white images.

The images in the favorites set are from between 08 Jun 2008 & 31 Mar 2009. I think I'll make a much tighter selection when one year of using Flickr comes up, selecting top 20 or top 30 images only.

In any case, I see photography as a process, not as a permanent record to be archived. I hope I'm continuously developing as a photographer. Some day I may even get inspired and perhaps achieve a personal vision and style. But for now I'll just keep on taking photographs and try to learn from them.

A visit to lake Myllyjärvi (and a possible SoFoBoMo project)

Sunshine on firs, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Wall of ice, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Blue anemone (Hepatica nobilis), originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Lake Myllyjärvi, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Pier on ice, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Forest hillside, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Today was another cold but sunny spring day. It was also windy, so we went for a walk to lake Myllyjärvi. The area is forested and hilly, so the wind doesn't have much effect there. I should note that there are several lakes with the same name here nearby, this one is located close to lake Bodom, which is a big one.

There was still some ice remaining in the shadowed rocky hillside, making complex melting patterns. I have several times tried to make images of the ice formations, will little luck so far. I'm not sure what is the problem, perhaps I just don't have the aptitude to see this place in the right way.

In the forests along the path to lake Myllyjärvi the first blue anemones (Hepatica nobilis) were flowering. The blue color has proven a bit difficult to capture right, and this time there wasn't much time to try to take photographs as the children were eager to go to the lake.

At lake Myllyjärvi it was sunny, and ice still covered most of the lake, although near the sun-warmed shore there was a bit of open water. While we were there a couple arrived and went to the pier, where they started to cut a hole in the ice with an axe. Apparently they wanted to go swimming into the icy water. It makes me shudder even to think of this.

While returning from the lake, the strong sunlight generated patterns in the thick forest. It isn't easy to get the exposure right, and you need to think a bit of what you want to show: shadow or light. But I think some of these photographs succeeded well.

During the last week I have taken a lot of photographs, between 100 and 450 per day. The spring inspires. And the best time is just starting.

Come to think of this, lake Myllyjärvi (or any other of the nearby lakes) would make a nice subject for a SoFoBoMo project. Out of the 400+ photographs I took today about 40 were worth saving. But you need more than images to make a book.

Friday, April 17, 2009

A walk on a hill

Clouds and shadows 1, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Dark hill, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Yellow, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Today was such a bright day that it was impossible to resist going for a walk. There is a small hill nearby, where the ground has now dried up after the snow melted away.

Perhaps the best thing about today were the cloud formations, which changed fast thanks to the vigorous wind. Also thanks to the wind it was chilly but that is a problem solved by the right clothing.

Here are three photographs from today. Not much of a story in them, except that all are different.

Perhaps you care to guess what the "dark hill" in the middle image is mostly made of?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Waiting for spring

Spring landscape, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Bud, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Black paths, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Today was another cool day, not enough warmth for spring to proceed, but at least it was a nice dry weather for walking outside. I'm trying to spot signs of spring and to take photographs as evidence, but there wasn't too much of that kind of things available yet. But here are three images anyway.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Commuting by bicycle and watching for signs of spring

Angled, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Stream, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

I have started to commute by bicycle, after pausing for a while. Today I also went for a walk with the family during the evening, and got quite a lot of exercise. So much that I'm feeling reallly tired.

I didn't take a lot of photographs today, despite the bright blue sky and a lot of sunshine. I was hoping to see more signs of the coming spring, but not yet, not yet. Days are getting longer, but the sun is still low on the horizon.

Here are two images from today. In them I was mostly interested in the straightforward shapes. Not too much complexity for the tired brain.

Update: I forgot to note that I invented yet another potential SoFoBoMo project: environmental portraits of my bicycle. The idea would be to go to perhaps ten different places per day, and to take landscape/environmental portrait photographs where the bicyle would play different roles. In a few days there would be enough images for the SoFoBoMo book.

However, I'm still sticking with my "35 Trees" project. I have some other project ideas in reserve as well. "May in blur" - using my ND4 and ND8 filters to take landscape photographs in bright light using motion blur effects, especially moving the camera during the exposure. "Accidental still life" - accidental combinations of man-made and natural elements, seen through the human viewpoint. And then there is an idea of documenting the effects of time at different scales at a local lake.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Length of day: 14 hours 31 minutes

Pod 2, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Buds, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Car wash, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Today I had a short walk outside with the children. It is starting to look like spring, the first buds are opening in trees. But signs of the winter are still with us, it is not completely over yet.

Also, I went to a car wash to get the dirt off.

These three images contain a photo story of today, and this was about it. I guess I'm still tired after all that driving during the last few days.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Celebrating 40,000 photographs taken with the LX3

Rowing boat at Iso Teerijärvi, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Bent and rusty, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Silo, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

I wasn't going to make another posting today, but then I discovered some additional images from the four-day trip around Finland. Thus here are three more images.

First, I have an additional image taken today at lake Iso Teerijärvi, which is at Orivesi, near the city of Tampere. It is a nice place, popular for swimming during the summer.

The second image was taken in Jyväskylä, at the center of the town. I like images showing tear and wear, or as in this case, rust and moss. Time is visible.

The last image was taken in Kajaani, a town farther north from Jyväskylä. Kajaani is where I was born, and went to school. The subject of the image is not from that time, it is quite new, hardly showing any signs of being used. But time will conquer even this.

Finally, as the subject of this posting indicates, I have taken 40,207 photographs with the Panasonic LX3 since last September, in a little over half a year. The little camera is still going strong, and I keep learning new things about it.

Nowadays I'm keeping the extension tube attached to the camera, which makes it a big larger, but I have decided to keep on experimenting with the filters I have - UV, CPL, ND4 and ND8. And the camera isn't big even with the tube, it fits nicely in a coat pocket.

Update: Alain Briot has written a deep and rewarding essay on photography practice, titled Finding Inspiration. A great read, makes you think about the priorities in life.