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All posts for the month February, 2012

I mentioned before… I think I also mentioned in one of them that I was waiting for some blue lights from ambulances or fire trucks. Well, I got my wish. At least partly. Usually they always speed by, which would give a nice blue stripe in the picture, but now they were all gathering across the street here.
An extra bonus was that there was a tram coming out of this street, which it usually never does.

And again it’s a whole different world…

Traffic

D700, ISO200, 20 sec @ f/11, Nikkor 50mm. Bits and pieces put together from six different images in Photoshop.

(In the mean time this is growing into a nice little collection. Exhibition material maybe?).

Facebook has been flooded with them. Up to the point of nuisance some times.
But there have been some really funny ones among them. And -I can’t quite remember what triggered it- but I made one myself. Several times it’s been that I (over)heard people say or say it straight in my face that everyone can take pictures if they have a good camera.
Of course…. Everyone can take pictures, but that doesn’t make you a photographer. It’s been one of the lines I’ve been using for quite awhile: Buying a (big) camera doesn’t make you a photographer, it makes you a camera owner.
People think they are a photographer, because they have a big camera. They think that if you have an expensive camera with a high pixel count, you make great pictures. They think with a big expensive camera all you have to do is lift, aim, press shutter and you have a perfect picture. Sure, the image quality gets better with a bigger camera, but that doesn’t make the photographs any better. If you don’t have the eye, if you don’t have some sort of technical knowledge of what you’re doing, it makes no difference if you have a big or a small camera. The photographs will be crap no matter what. And Photoshop doesn’t help there either. You can’t make a good picture out of a bad picture.

So for all those who think they photographers are photographers just because they have a big camera, I would like to dedicate this to you (click it, like it and share it, if you will):

The pretentious wannabe photographer

I pass this place frequently, and I’ve been meaning to take a picture of it already for quite awhile. Not specifically because of this, for this blog, but just because it’s such a cute, almost idyllic place.
Maybe in this particular form it’s not really such an idyllic place, but it shows well how looks can be deceiving. I wondered about it when I first saw it.

Idyllic place

D700, ISO200, 1/180 sec @ f/8, Nikkor 50mm

Here’s one where I stepped to the left a few meters:

Idyllic place

D700, ISO200, 1/180 sec @ f/8, Nikkor 50mm

That’s one of the chimneys of Helsingin Energia in the background. The exhaust is especially pronounced in winter, during those cold and crispy days.
(oh, and yeah, I did some stuff in Photoshop on the top one. It’s hardly noticeable, but I thought I’d mention it ;) )

The sunrises in the posts before the previous one (the one with the ferries) were shot on Tuesday 7th of February. I was well in time, well before the Civil Twilight set in. I was on location at around 7:15 am and it was still dark. Then I planned to go shoot another sunrise with a friend of mine on Friday 10th (the pictures below are from that day). He asked me what time we should meet, and with the “7:15 still dark” in the back of my mind I told him between 7:00 and 7:15 would be just fine. But then Friday came and I was driving down to the location and Civil Twilight had already set in around 7:05. We missed the prettiest part, unfortunately :(
So within three days Civil Twilight had come about 20 minutes earlier…

Not all was lost, though, and even though the sunrise itself wasn’t as spectacular as the Tuesday before, the images still came out nice.
And there’s one of the moonset, too, which happened to be at the same time, in the same location, but then on the other side. I considered trying a 270° panorama, with both sunrise and moonset in one picture, but didn’t do it in the end. You’ll have to make do with separates.

Lauttasaari sunrise

D700, ISO200, 1/10 sec @ f/16, Nikkor 14-24mm

Lauttasaari sunrise

D700, ISO200, 1 sec @ f/11, Nikkor 14-24mm

Lauttasaari sunrise

D700, ISO200, 1 sec @ f/11, Nikkor 14-24mm

Lauttasaari moonset

D700, ISO200, 1 sec @ f/11, Nikkor 70-200mm (two images merged in Photoshop)

 

I didn’t realize when I was out there, that I was so close to the route of the cruise liners that go to Estonia and Sweden from Helsinki. So it was a nice surprise when they came by.

Cruise liner going to Sweden

D700, ISO200, 30 sec @ f/22, Nikkor 70-200mm

The next one was a bit more complicated. I had to run close to the water and set up 14 flashes which I could remotely trigger, so that the ship was lit up sufficiently. I nearly drowned in the process, but I survived.

Cruise liner going to Tallinn, Estonia

D700, ISO200, 1/60 sec @ f/2.8, Nikkor 70-200mm

Okok… I lied… I didn’t use flashes, I did it in post-processing ;)

I can just hear you think: “Pff… That guy is ranting all the time about how not to overdo it with the saturation sliders and all, and look at him, totally out of control there!”

But no. I wasn’t. What you see here, is pretty much what I saw out there. It was beautiful. It was breath-taking. It was like the sky was ignited. I took the last image from the previous blog post. Check it out from the screenshots below, and you’ll see that I didn’t touch the saturation sliders to saturate the colors. I even DEsaturated the blues slightly.

Lauttasaari sunrise

D700, ISO200, 1/20sec @ f/11, Nikkor 70-200mm.

What you see above here is the original. The untouched, unedited RAW file. I underexposed it on purpose, because I didn’t want to blow out the shades in and around the sun. Shooting in RAW will give you so much leverage that you can easily underexpose with a few stops without the risk of screwing up your image.

I imported the image in Lightroom, where I tweaked it slightly. The screenshot below shows I didn’t touch the saturation sliders. Just the lens correction, some fill light and some clarity, which made the image look like this:

Lauttasaari sunrise

The original image after some minor adjustments in Lightroom

After that I opened it up in Photoshop. The first thing I did was pull up a curves adjustment layer and gave it some more contrast:

Lauttasaari sunrise

A curves adjustment layer to give the image a bit more contrast for that little punch

See what that does to the color? This would almost go for a saturation increase, wouldn’t it? That’s what contrast typically does to a picture, it gives it that little extra punch that makes it from flat into… well… flamboyant :D

The next thing I did, that’s a personal thing, I guess, is desaturate the snow at the bottom. Even if the dark clouds above reflected their deep blue hue in the snow, and it really looked blue, I don’t really fancy it. So I made that look a lot less blue (as I did in all the images from the previous blog post. I think in the first one it shows most clearly).

Lauttasaari sunrise

A hue/saturation adjustment layer including layer mask to desaturate the blue tone from the snow in the bottom part of the image.

And finally a levels adjustment layer, also for the snow at the bottom part, to lighten it up a bit so it didn’t look too grey. Be careful not to lighten it up too much, otherwise it’ll look unnatural with the rest of the image.

Lauttasaari sunrise

A levels adjustment layer to brighten up the snow a tad bit, so that it doesn't look grey after desaturating the blue.

So there you have it. The end result. No out of control saturation stuff. Just the way it was. And gorgeous it was! Worth withstanding the cold every second.

Lauttasaari sunrise

D700, ISO200, 1/20 sec @ f/11, Nikkor 70-200mm

… you gladly return to freeze your ass off. Seriously!
The forecast was bad. The forecast was full cloudy, with chances of snow. But I had to get up early to bring the Better Half to the airport, so I figured I could take the camera anyway. To drive down there, have a looksie, and if it wouldn’t look good, go home and back to bed.
It didn’t look good. You know… for once… the forecast had a point. It was cloudy. Very much so. But owwell… I was awake and cold (the temperature was only -4°C, but that wind… that wind was MEAN, I tell you!), so it would be stupid to go back home and to be now, right?

Right! Good things will come to those who wait. Patience is a virtue. And so on and so on.

Lauttasaari sunrise

D700, ISO200, 10 sec @ f/6.7, Nikkor 50mm

I was out there well before the sunrise started. It was still full dark. But when the light hit through, it started out like this. The sky opened up slightly for a moment, which was when I shot a few pictures like the one above. Then it got totally cloudy again. But then, when the actual sunrise started, it opened up again slightly.

Lauttasaari sunrise

D700, ISO200, 1/10 sec @ f/11, Nikkor 70-200mm

Lauttasaari sunrise

D700, ISO200, 1/20 sec @ f/11, Nikkor 70-200mm

Lauttasaari sunrise

D700, ISO200, 1/20 sec @ f/11, Nikkor 70-200mm

Late nights can be just aswell.

A few days until full moon

D700, ISO200, 1/4 sec @ f/8, Sigma 170-500mm, 1.4x teleconverter

Winters here are harsh. We’re talking temperatures close to -30°C in southern Finland at the moment. And colder during the night. And even colder when you go more north. Last year I posted a few pictures of the Sininen Hetki, the “Blue Moment”, kind of like the Civil Twilight, but in terms of colors you only get it during very cold and clear nights. This deep, deep, almost tangible blue which is touched by the colors of the sun rising or setting. It’s magical.
I’ve been planning to go to this particular spot already for several years, but for some reason I never did. Last week I tried, but since it’s been snowing her pretty much non-stop for a week now, there wasn’t an opportunity to get this Blue Moment.
Today there was, though (on a Sunday, of all days… ;o) ). Dark moments here in Finland, short days, with not much light and not much sun. But the positive side to that is, that you don’t have to get up at 3 o’clock in the morning to shoot a sunrise. So I got up at 6:30, looked outside and saw that it was good. Looked on the thermometer and saw that it was not so good, but owwell… You can dress for cold weather and I’ve been out in colder than -24°C. Got dressed, packed up the gear (and put some batteries in my pants pocket, just in case) and left for the location I’ve been wanting to go to for such a long time.

Thermometer may have pointed at -24°C at the outside of the apartment, out of the wind in between apartment buildings, but I tell you, it was NASTY cold out on the sea (yes, on the sea. Here the temperatures drop to such foul levels that the sea freezes over).
But once you’re out there, out in the middle of nowhere… Where not only the colors are almost tangible, but also the silence… You could just lose yourself in the nothingness that surrounds you. Every now and again a bird chirps (probably also complaining about the weather) and the creaking of the branches of the trees back on the shore). Solitude is a warm blanket of peacefulness when taken in the right amounts and in the right locations.
That in itself is already a reward for withstanding the freezing temperatures and the tempting covers of a warm bed. But when you see the sun come up slowly and you see the colors change…

Sunrise over Lauttasaari

D700, ISO200, 3 sec @ f/11, Nikkor 14-24mm

Sunrise over Lauttasaari

D700, ISO200, 1/20 sec @ f/13, Nikkor 14-24mm

Sunrise over Lauttasaari

D700, ISO200, 1/3 sec @ f/13, Nikkor 14-24mm

I wrote about hi-contrast black and white late last year, when I shot a picture from the window of my apartment.

I shot a bunch of images from this window (all posted here on the blog), which I figured I could turn into a series I named “Between the corner of the street and the sixth floor” (or in Finnish “Kadun kulman ja kuudennen kerroksen välissä”). Don’t ask… ;)
Anyway… I was missing one image still, and I had some idea about it. And I thought I could implement one of the most cliché things in photography. It was kind of inspired by that court case about copyright infringement which has just been in the news in the UK about the black and white image with the red British bus and the Big Ben in the background (totally stupid, something so moron-ish I thought it could only happen in the US with their farce of a justice system, and all of us photographers could just as well pack up our photography bags and hang them in the trees with an outcome like that, but let’s not get me going, that’ll just ruin my day).

I was looking for people crossing that same pedestrian’s crossing, but in winter, with snow, and dressed (partly) in red.
It’s surprising how many of those are walking around here, I must say. It wasn’t at all hard to get. Hence I ended up with a good number of pictures in just like half an hour or so. Now I’m considering making this a whole new series in itself :D

Crossing

D700, ISO200, 1/60 sec @ f/8, Nikkor 70-200mm

Crossing

D700, ISO200, 1/125 sec @ f/8, Nikkor 70-200mm

Crossing

D700, ISO200, 1/125 sec @ f/8, Nikkor 70-200mm

Crossing

D700, ISO800, 1/180 sec @ f/8, Nikkor 70-200mm

Now I just have to keep my fingers crossed and hope I won’t be hauled to a UK prison and be dragged into court for copyright infringement. Because that church in the background (which is just outside the visible area) does look a lot like Big Ben. And I gotta say that some of the people in these pictures really do look like a British bus…
But owwell… Let’s see.

Oh, and if you happen to recognize yourself in the picture do drop me a line and I’ll send you a print for free. I didn’t think it was a good idea to yell six floors down and ask if it was ok to take the picture while you were standing in the middle of the road… ;)