Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Is there a Finn on board?

Road, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Fields, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Sunset, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Lights, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

I'll come back to the title of this posting, but first another matter. My posting from yesterday was titled Cold, and it did get cold, more than expected, inside the house, as there was an electrical fault in a nearby powerplant and the disctrict heating went off during the night at 22:55. The heating came back ten hours later, at 9:00 in the morning. The temperature dropped well below 18 °C inside the house. Outside it was -17 °C in the morning. A representative from the energy company noted that "it is cold outside so the temperature inside houses may drop". Well, that was some insight!

Do you believe that a governmental committee might once in a blue moon produce something creative and original? Well, this happened here in Finland, when the so-called "Country Brand Report" was made public last week. The report has several titles in succession, "Mission for Finland! How Finland will solve the world’s most wicked problems. CONSIDER IT SOLVED!"

The committee was chaired by the ex-CEO of Nokia, Jorma Ollila, and the report is funny, thought-provoking, practical, controversial, and in parts quite origical. Here is the leading thought: "Finland’s greatest strength is the unbiased, solution-focused approach to problems, which derives from our history and culture. When faced with an impossible situation, we roll up our sleeves and double our efforts." - So, when faced with a hard problem, ask for a Finn to solve it.

The funny parts are mainly due to not smoothing things over too much, showing also the darker and more critical views of Finland and Finns. Here is a great quote from UK:

You could argue that for anyone other than a Finn, it is a disaster to spend three years in Finland, as I have just done. Finland is flat, cold and far from the busy centres of European life. Nature has not favoured Finland, nor has art for that matter. Up until quite recent times, the residents of Finland have included peasants, hunters, fishermen, and a small group of foreign rulers who spent most of their money elsewhere. The rich cultural history of Europe has left fewer marks in Finland than anywhere else in the Western world, perhaps excluding Iceland. Finnish cuisine deserves an extra punishment for its barbaric dreadfulness: only the mushrooms and crawfish are worth mentioning.

- Sir Bernard Ledwidge, Ambassador of the UK, on Finland in October 1972

Here is a fine way to end a posting about Finland, quoting from the report: "In 2030, Finland and Finns will play a prominent role in finding solutions to the world’s most wicked problems: together with others, teaching one another and focusing on the solution. That is, blatantly, openly and sometimes in a somewhat strange manner. The way only a Finn can."

Monday, November 29, 2010


Street, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Lights, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Birches, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Snow, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Trees, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Length of day is today 6 hours 30 minutes. Temperature has been -13...-16°C. Cold, and it won't be getting much warmer tomorrow. This is real winter.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Batteries in a glove

Marks, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Oak, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Fields, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Rose, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Wall, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

I went for a walk this morning when it was -16 °C outside. It is a bit challenging to take photographs in such cold weather, and this is a skill which you tend to forget during the warmer months. I had thick gloves on, and using the camera controls was a bit awkward in the beginning, but then it went smoother.

I wonder how well the LX5 would behave in such a weather when operating the camera with bare hands is not an option. The control stick on the LX3 is a bit awkward with thick gloves, but you learn to operate it. How about the control wheel on the LX5? I read some reviews where they said it is difficult to operate with gloves, but this is not the same as impossible. Has someone tried it?

Another matter is the batteries. My two batteries for the LX3 have now about 150-200 recharge cycles, so they are not yet at the end of their lifetime, but a little bit worse than in the beginning. Today one of the batteries went soon dead, and when I tried another, it too was dead, as I had forgotten to charge it. But then I warmed up the batteries in a glove (with a hand inside of course), and managed to get several dozen exposures. You had to do the warming trick again and again, but it worked all right.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Path, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Fence, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Pitkäkoski, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Ice, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Trees, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Sun, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Today was a bright day, a little bit of cloud cover but not too thick. Here are some photographs from Pitkäkoski, "Long Rapids", of the river Vantaa. There is plenty of snow, although the depth of it has decreased thanks to compression. It was quite a change to have so much sunlight - I have been using exposure lenghts of 1/2 second, today I used 1/1000 second.

Update: Speaking of fast exposures, this is something else: "Professor Anne L'Huillier of Lund University in Sweden has been awarded one of five L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Awards for 2011. She won the award 'for her work on the development of the fastest camera for recording events in attoseconds (a billionth of a billionth of a second),' her citation read."

Long night

Car, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Reeds, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Fresh ice, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Here are some photographs from yesterday and last night, when we had the Christmas party in our company. Kulosaari is an island with really beautiful views, even at night, as you can see here.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Christmas party

Snow, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Just wanted to let you know that today we have the Christmas party in our company. Have to see whether I manage to take photographs tomorrow. This photograph is from yesterday.

Oh yes. Please remember that today is BND: "Buy Nothing Day (BND) is an international day of protest against consumerism observed by social activists. Typically celebrated the Friday after American Thanksgiving in North America and the following day internationally, in 2010 the dates are November 26 and 27 respectively."

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Flowers, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Resting, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Snow, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

I attended today a funeral in Lahti, a city 100 km north of here, acting as a pallbearer. There was a bit less snow there, but quite like winter nevertheless. Here in Vantaa we have about 30 cm of snow. The official depth of snow at Helsinki-Vantaa airport was yesterday 38 cm, a new record for November.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Snow storm

Steel and glass, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Lights, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Pier, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Ice, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Water, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Shadows, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

We got a lot of snow in 24 hours. There was a strong wind, and near the coast it gained quite a force, piling snow here and there. Above are some photographs from yesterday and today. As you can see, we now have quite a winter landscape, even at the seaside.

Reviews! And lots of them. Lets start with the ugly one, namely The Worst Cameras of 2010. Sadly, there are more than one manufacturer featured on this list: Olympus, Casio, Samsung, Fujifilm, ...

But lets go to more positive matters. Thom Hogan has reviewed the high-end compacts, namely Canon G12, Nikon P7000 and Panasonic LX5. And quite a thorough job he did with the review, although the results aren't simple, as none of these cameras shine in all areas. Which of these you prefer is quite up to the preferences of the photographer. All are good choices.

And then - some would say: finally - there is the Dpreview group test of Canon Powershot S95, Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 and Nikon Coolpix P7000, which are given the label "2010 enthusiast compacts". And if you were expecting big differences between the cameras, you might be disappointed, as all have some drawbacks and all shine in some areas. The best grade goes to the LX5, and the S95 is right behind. Both are great cameras, and so is the P7000 if you like what it does best.

Interestingly, Dpreview tells us that you can get good photographs with these cameras up to ISO 800 (and higher if you use RAW). This is something which would be interesting to test in practice, as it would mean that one could take handheld photographs in quite dark conditions - such as what we have here in Finland right now. With the LX3, I very rarely go above ISO 200, although ISO 400 may work in some situations.

Today I discussed cameras with some colleagues, as it seems quite a few people are getting interested in buying a new camera (of the enthusiast compact type). If your criteria is good image quality and pocketability, the S95 is the way to go, but if there are other factors, such as usability or suitability to a particular purpose, then it not so clear which to choose. In any case, it is worthwhile to go and try out the various choices.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Short days

Glass, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Fence, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Fields, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Path, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Length of day was 6 h 59 min today, which means going to work before sunrise and coming back after sunset. Luckily the snow brightens the landscape a bit, reflecting light from the street lamps upwards, and back again from the clouds. The first photograph was taken yesterday, the rest today. Tomorrow will be a long day, and probably no postings here.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Lake views

Shore, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Pier, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Snow, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Birches, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Here are four photographs from two different lakes, taken today while getting some exercise. The weather is getting colder. Today there was a biting wind which made it tough in wide open spaces. But still, it is good to have snow, it makes the landscape feel so light.

By the way, the New York Times discussed today the matter of Google generation a.k.a. digital natives, in an article titled Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction: "Students have always faced distractions and time-wasters. But computers and cellphones, and the constant stream of stimuli they offer, pose a profound new challenge to focusing and learning. [...] Researchers say the lure of these technologies, while it affects adults too, is particularly powerful for young people. The risk, they say, is that developing brains can become more easily habituated than adult brains to constantly switching tasks — and less able to sustain attention."

As I wrote earlier, this is an important and interesting topic. Are we getting dumber, and the young people most of all?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

More snow!

Trees, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Bow, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Field, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Forest, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Water, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Ditch, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

We got some more today. It is good. Here are six photographs from today, from a two-hour walk outside while it was snowing.

Friday, November 19, 2010


Light, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Birches, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Twigs, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Snow, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Trees, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

As promised, here are some more photographs taken today, using a mini-tripod, as it was too dark for handheld photography. I feel these are not too bad at all, although it may be that tomorrow I'll think differently. However, I still feel there was something magic happening today, photographs just constructed themselves whenever I took out the camera and pointed.

Of course, the internal critic soon came out and said that these photographs are nothing special, at least here in Finland. There is all too much of snow, and thousands, millions of photographs of it, and people are tired of them. But perhaps there is some point in taking more photographs, at least it seemed to be worthwhile today.

Also at work this was a good day - problems turned into insight, discussions lead to decisions and solutions, meetings were a pleasure; in all, today everything seemed to move.

Well, I guess everyone is allowed to daydream every once in a while, what do you think? Probably things didn't go so smoothly after all, misunderstandings happened, new problems turn up, and everything has to be evaluated once again. - - - But at this moment, I feel good.

Have a nice weekend!