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All posts for the month September, 2008

I saw it already from the weather (well, if I may believe the stories it’s been fall here ever since the beginning of June), but nature itself wasn’t really sure yet what to do.
This afternoon I drove by this house and noticed this beautiful Thicket Creeper creeping up along the facade. You can really see the colors go from green to a deep burgundy red and it makes the house pop out instantly, even if it’s a bit further off the main street.

And I guess it means that fall’s really begun now.
I’ll probably get a lot more photos with all different kinds of colors. Looking forward to it.
If only it wouldn’t rain this much…

D200, ISO100, 1/45 sec @ f/4, Sigma 10-20mm

D200, ISO100, 1/45 sec @ f/4, Sigma 10-20mm

Right off the bat, straight in your face:

D200, ISO100, 44 sec @ f/27, Tamron 28-75mm, off-camera flash SB-800, remote shutter release, tripod

D200, ISO100, 44 sec @ f/27, Tamron 28-75mm, off-camera flash SB-800, remote shutter release, tripod

I’d seen it lying there already for a couple of days. The poor thing.
In this day of hurry, stress and lack of time… In this day of hi-tech, of big, fast cars… In this day of quasi interest in the environment… We develop cars that run faster and more economically with less fuel. To save the environment. We’re all in a green stage where we care so much about the hole in the ozone layer and where we care so much about preserving our nature (for the sake of our kids, or so we say).
But do we really care? Do we genuinely care? Or does it just come in handy that that green car allows us a tax bonus? Or does it just come in handy that that green car uses less fuel because the fuel prices stink like a buffalo with diarrhea? Or does it just come in handy that that green car brings us home just that bit faster so we can stay at work that bit longer (or stay in traffic jams that much longer and pollute the environment anyway)?
We race from here to there, killing our environment on the way and we don’t even care.
This poor little creature didn’t stand a chance. It wasn’t even given a chance. And it probably got a figurative kick in the back afterwards, because it damaged someone’s f*cking green car!
That’s how much we care.

This entry’s dedicated to a person who DOES care. In the 2,5 months that I had the privilege spending with him, I got to know him as a funny and caring person and an artistic photographer with a keen eye for detail.
This kind of photography is his idea, and I’ve been trying to tell him that, even though it’s shocking, and even though some might find it morbid, it makes a very important point.
You know who you are, buddy. And I still think you should do something with your photographs. They’re so much better than mine. I hope that my blunt statement here will get you going.
And if you have a story to tell, if you make a point of it, it will be accepted, no matter what.

Note on post-processing (yes, there was post-processing on this image):
It’s this blue for a reason.

Ever since photo editing software saw the light of day the discussion has been going on whether or not post-processing is acceptable.
Many a “photographer” firmly believes that you’re not a good photographer if you can’t do “it” in-camera.
I think the whole discussion is too hilarious for words, if not even hypocrite.
I might not be the best person to get this discussion going, since I’ve been an avid Photoshopper (whooopsie! According to Photoshop’s Permission and Trademark Guidelines we’re not allowed to use Photoshop as a common noun or verb) ever since version 2, but what the heck… I’ll get it going anyway.

So… Why do I think it’s hilarious or even hypocrite?
Ansel Adams was a darkroom master. And he was a post-processing master. He dodged and burned the living daylights out of (or into?) his photographs.
Oh, but he used FILM! That’s different!
Yeah, right.

What about all those film photographers who pulled out their Velvia film, which was supposed to saturate the colors more?
The only thing that’s changed in the digital world is that we don’t pull out the Velvia film for extra saturation BEFORE shooting, but we go into Photoshop or Lightroom and do the saturation afterwards. And clean up some beans that got stuckon our sensor.

Oh, and all you photographers shooting JPG.
What do you think happens in-camera with the image when the data is processed into a JPG format? There’s a good amount of contrast added, a good amount of saturation, a good amount of sharpening.
But I guess that doesn’t count, because YOU’re not doing it, right?

I absolutely agree that editorial images should be untouched. That’s the golden rule.
But if you’re a landscape photographer, or any other kind of photographer…
Whatever it takes to make your images look good (just be careful not to overdo it) and makes them sell.
I’ve had discussions with people about this and even if I agree that you can’t make a good picture out of a bad picture, no matter how well you know Photoshop, you can enhance pictures.
If you get to know the possibilities of software like Photoshop, you learn to see potential in images that you didn’t see before. And you learn to create a unique style to your images if you’re going towards a more fine-artsie look.

And well… Be honest… Which one would YOU buy (if any)?

Before editing

Before editing

After editing

After editing

Or which one of these?

Before editing

Before editing

After editing

After editing

Note that these changes are all very minor changes. We’re not talking radical changes here, like one of my other creations:

Now this is Editing with a capital E. It some Photoshop knowledge and a peak in your other half's underwear drawer ;o)

Now this is Editing with a capital E. It requires some Photoshop knowledge and a peek in your other half's underwear drawer ;o) (source image courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox)

A screenshot of some of the Photoshop layers that were used to make this image

A screenshot of some of the Photoshop layers that were used to make this image (yeah, yeah, I know, not all the layers are named... ;o) )

Ok, it definitely is not the highest quality shot, nor the most creative one, but it was fun (getting the finger from quite a few people when I was preparing the camera for this, zig-zagging from left to right on my lane steering with my knee while doing that 😀 ). Sometimes reactions to your photography from your environment are more fun than photographing itself.

D200, ISO100, 16 sec @ f/27, Sigma 10-20mm, remote shutter release (I was THAT clever at least ;) )

D200, ISO100, 16 sec @ f/27, Sigma 10-20mm, remote shutter release (I was THAT clever at least ;o) )

The setup for the shot, taken with a samsung U600 camera phone. If you plan a shot like this, take your tripod and anchor that in the car. And for god's sake! Be a pro and wait until dark :oD

The setup for the shot, taken with a Samsung U600 camera phone. If you plan a shot like this, take your tripod and anchor that in the car. And for god's sake! Be a pro and wait until dark! ;o)

So: put your camera up on the dash board (or on the tripod anchored in or on your passenger’s seat if you’re better prepared than I was. Wait until you drive into the tunnel, press the shutter release, keep it pressed (or lock it) until just before you drive out of the tunnel.
And if you’re smarter than I am, and not so impulsive, wait until dark. It’ll be easier, and better.

Don’t try this at home if
1. you don’t have a driver’s license
2. you can’t multi-task
3. you can’t photograph
4. you are easily offended by fingers 😀

WARNING! The cruise control is NOT an auto-pilot.
I repeat: The cruise control is NOT an auto-pilot.

The small print: You’re responsible for your own actions. You can’t blame me if anything goes wrong. I might’ve given you an idea, but you are the one who voluntarily wanted to execute it 😉

When the weather’s so bad that you can’t go out to shoot pictures, you have to find other things to occupy your mind with.
I sometimes go to places where I can make my own weather. My good friend Photoshop has helped me several times to create my own little planet. With good weather.

My own personal planet, with good weather

My own personal planet, with good weather

It doesn’t work with all images, but if you have the right image, you can make something fun out of it.
You need a panorama for it (don’t tell Middleton! 😀 ). The best would be a 360° panorama, but with some tweaking a bit smaller would work just as well.

It’s a pretty painless process with only 5 steps:
1. Open your image in Photoshop
2. Make sure that the left and right side of your picture line out, i.e. if you have for example a city scape with buildings, make sure that the building on the left side is equally high to that on the right side, or if you have a water scene, make sure that the water on the left side of your picture is on the same height as on the right side. Use the guides (you can pull them from the rulers on the top of the screen, View – Rulers or Ctrl+R if they don’t show) to check if your image lines up.

Line up the ends of your image

Line up the ends of your image

3. Make the image as high as it is wide (Image – Image size). Don’t forget to uncheck the box “Constrain proportions”.

Height = Width

Height = Width

4. Rotate your image 180°, so it’s upside down (Image – Rotate Canvas – 180°). It will also work if you don’t rotate it, but then you will have the sky in the wrong place. Try it out and see what happens. It gives funny effects some times.

Rotate your image 180°

Rotate your image 180°

5. Apply the filter Polar Coordinates (Filter – Distort – Polar Coordinates). Check “Rectangular to Polar” if it’s not already selected.
Make sure that your color mode is set to 8 bit, other wise this filter doesn’t work.

Apply the filter "Polar Coordinates"

Apply the filter"Polar Coordinates"

Select "Rectangluar to Polar" if it's not already selected

Select "Rectangluar to Polar" if it's not already selected

Click ok when you’re done and voilà, you have your own little planet (the voilà might take awhile, depending on the speed of your computer)!

Supposedly the most popular place for picking berries and mushrooms in the greater Helsinki area. I went there with my better half for a good hike and some more colorful pictures than edible mushrooms. The lush green of the moss for example. It’s so soft that you have to suppress the urge to just lie down and go to sleep in it (I’m still not completely rid of my jet lag, so it really was tempting).

D200, ISO100, 3 sec @ f/13, Sigma 10-20mm

D200, ISO100, 3 sec @ f/13, Sigma 10-20mm

The marshes (Mustalampi) also looked very tempting. Looked, though… step in it in the wrong spots and you’ll be in water all the way up to your knees, if not higher.

D200, ISO100, 1/6 sec @ f13, Tamron 28-75mm

D200, ISO100, 1/6 sec @ f13, Tamron 28-75mm

D200, ISO100, 1/6 sec @ f/13, Tamron 28-75mm

D200, ISO100, 1/6 sec @ f/13, Tamron 28-75mm

And many other colorful and less colorful things. If only we had more time… the 10 km walk that we did took us a good three hours. I take all the blame for it.

D200, ISO100, 1/90 @ f/5.6, Sigma 10-20mm

D200, ISO100, 1/90 @ f/5.6, Sigma 10-20mm

D200, ISO100, 1,5 sec @ f/13, Sigma 10-20mm

D200, ISO100, 1,5 sec @ f/13, Sigma 10-20mm

D200, ISO100, 1/30 sec @ f/5.6, Sigma 10-20mm

D200, ISO100, 1/30 sec @ f/5.6, Sigma 10-20mm

Recently there’s been a whole riot about Google’s new browser Chrome. Or rather… Its terms and conditions.
Most of the people just sign up, register, and check the box I agree for for a wide range of different things and applications without actually reading the small print. In most cases that’s ok, because most people don’t really have anything of value to share.
But if you’re a photographer and you have your “Content”, as they officially call it, posted on a website, it’s darn important to know what you sign up for.

Take for example Google Chrome. In point 11 of their first version of the Terms of Service it read

By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any content which you submit, post or display on or through, the services. This license is for the sole purpose of enabling Google to display, distribute and promote the services and may be revoked for certain services as defined in the additional terms of those services.

Thanks to the people who actually DID read the Terms of Service and started making a big deal out of it, this was changed into something a lot more agreeable and a lot less dodgy:

You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services.

This is still quite an open book, but at least if you catch them using your pictures without permission, you can knock on their door and hold up your hand.

But then the other big fish… Facebook.
I usually don’t put any pictures of importance on those kind of sites anyway, but I must shamefully admit that this one also slipped through my attention. I didn’t read the Terms of Use on their website when I signed up.
But here, all you photographers, I know you’re on there, so read this, and read this carefully. This is an excerpt from Facebook’s Terms of Use:

When you post User Content to the Site, you authorize and direct us to make such copies thereof as we deem necessary in order to facilitate the posting and storage of the User Content on the Site. By posting User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part) and distribute such User Content for any purpose, commercial, advertising, or otherwise, on or in connection with the Site or the promotion thereof, to prepare derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, such User Content, and to grant and authorize sublicenses of the foregoing. You may remove your User Content from the Site at any time. If you choose to remove your User Content, the license granted above will automatically expire, however you acknowledge that the Company may retain archived copies of your User Content. Facebook does not assert any ownership over your User Content; rather, as between us and you, subject to the rights granted to us in these Terms, you retain full ownership of all of your User Content and any intellectual property rights or other proprietary rights associated with your User Content.

This basically means that no matter what images you post on Facebook, they can use them whenever, wherever, how ever, how much, and in what possible edited way they want, and they can even sub license YOUR images. And you’re not getting paid a dime.
So really, what you want to do if you must post images on Facebook and they are sellable and precious to you, is either make the resolution so low that they can’t really reproduce the image, or put a big fat watermark right in the middle of it.

Ok, maybe the chances are slim that they will actually use the pictures, but I know I would be seriously annoyed if I’d find out about something like that and there’s nothing I could do about it.

What the h*ll's going on?? Do you have the right??

What the hell's going on?? Do you have the right??

Anyway….
Some food for thought.

As a good friend of mine tought me to say. Big ones!
After all this time of rain, clouds and overcast weather I got up this morning at 5am to shoot the sunrise. And what do you think? Not a cloud in the sky! Not ONE cloud in the sky! So I didn’t get to shoot anything worth posting.
That’s happened to me a good number of times now and it’s getting annoying. But I’m a patient guy… I’ll try again and get more annoyed 😀

Owwell… I’ll give you something else. Earlier this week my new toys arrived and I tested it out on our two kitties.

D200, ISO100, 1/60 sec @ f/2.8, Tamron 28-75mm, off-camera flash with Photoflex softbox

D200, ISO100, 1/60 sec @ f/2.8, Tamron 28-75mm, off-camera flash with Photoflex softbox

D200, ISO100, 1/60 sec @ f/2.8, Tamron 28-75mm, off-camera flash with Photoflex softbox

D200, ISO100, 1/60 sec @ f/2.8, Tamron 28-75mm, off-camera flash with Photoflex softbox

After 10 days of continuous rain (it’s actually been 6 weeks like this I’ve heard, but I’ve been here only for the past week and a half to witness it) it actually stopped raining! And not only that…. there’s actually some blue in the sky! Maybe we’ll get some sort of, well, not summer, but, well… you know what I mean…

D200, ISO100, 1/500sec @ f/4, Sigma 10-20mm

D200, ISO100, 1/500sec @ f/4, Sigma 10-20mm, circular polarizer

Nature hasn’t really decided what it’s going to be. Some extended summer, fall, or winter. At this particular moment the sun is shining behind the clouds, but it’s cold for the time of year.

D200, ISO100, 1/250 sec @ f/2.8,Tamron 28-75mm, off-camera flash SB-800

D200, ISO100, 1/180 sec @ f/2.8, Tamron 28-75mm, 36 mm Kenko extension tube

D200, ISO100, 1/180 sec @ f/2.8, Tamron 28-75mm, 36mm Kenko extension tube

D200, ISO100, 1/60 sec @ f/3.3, Tamron 28-75mm, 36mm Kenko extension tube, off-camera flash SB800

D200, ISO100, 1/60 sec @ f/3.3, Tamron 28-75mm, 36mm Kenko extension tube, off-camera flash SB800

After spending the summer in Missoula, Montana (where the temperature during the day usually didn’t go under 25° Celcius (77° Fahrenheit), and the last two weeks of August in California, I’m back in good old Finland.

Weather shock!
It’s said that this has been the worst summer in decades, and well… seeing that it has rained the whole day every day, since we came back last week’s Tuesday, I can only agree.
As a “sad reminder” of how it could’ve been, had we not returned from California:

Sun, beach and rock'n'roll

Sun, beach and rock-n-roll