I’m proud to say that one of my pictures has won the gold medal in the Bulgarian “The Wild” photo competition. Check out also the other winning images. Great stuff there!

Siberian tiger leaping out of the water of a shallow pond

D200, ISO100, 1/1000 sec @ f/2.8, Nikkor 70-200mm

Last year a bunch of photographers decided to participate in the Help Portrait project. In short: a photographer takes a picture and provides a print (or two) without any charge for time or material for someone he or she believes is in need. The “rules” also stipulate that the photographer is not to write about it or add the images to a portfolio, but I asked for and got the parents’ permission to write a blog post about this, because to me this is such a special situation (I’m sure everyone participating will say that about their project).

So… My “project”…
It’s always a bit tricky to ask something like this from someone in your direct circle of friends, especially in a case where the “need” is so hard to define, so at first I wasn’t sure if I should ask Max’s parents at all if I could do it. But they thought it a nice idea, except the timing wasn’t all too good.

Max is probably one of the bravest little fellows you’ll ever meet. He’s a, now, 5-year old boy who was diagnosed with a malign, inoperable brain tumor a few months before we decided to participate in Help Portrait.
The shock for us was already significant. Someone so young being faced with such an unfair, harsh future. You can imagine (or actually I doubt if anyone can who hasn’t been through it themselves) what impact this must’ve had, and still has, on Max’s parents and sister and environment.

Around the time I asked Max’s parents how they felt about me doing this Max was in the middle of his radio treatments. He was sick, nauseous and exhausted all the time and didn’t at all look like himself because of all the medication, so we agreed to postpone the whole thing until Max was feeling a bit better.

A lot of things have happened since, and even though the medical world is kind of helpless in this case, Max has been doing relatively ok, and I had the privilege to be invited to his 5th birthday party just last weekend. He was looking fabulous, and if you wouldn’t know something was wrong, you wouldn’t have been able to tell. He was just like any other 5-year old, playing, laughing, running around…

Max

Max

Max

Max

It’s hard to know and accept that that’s basically the only thing I am able to do for them, when there’s so much more you wish you could do.
The only other thing I can say is Respect, with a capital R, for Max and his parents and sister.

Max had another MRI yesterday to see what’s going on in his head right now, and if you have a spare moment, I’d like you to send your prayers, good Karma, positive energy to Max and his family.
It’s the only thing we can do to help.

If you’re interested in following Max and his family or if you personally want to leave them a few words of support, you can sign up for the Facebook group Miracle Max: http://www.facebook.com/robert.gerritsen#!/group.php?gid=159940013092

Tsk tsk tsk…
There I was, reading through one of my photography magazines. I ended up with the back cover, checking out how Nikon presents one of its new lenses to its public. Lo and behold, and imagine my surprise, when the ad showed a beginner’s mistake in its copy text. Of course, this kind of error doesn’t show up in the automated spell-check, because both its and it’s are spelled write.

One would think that, with a company of this size, probably hiring services from a well-paid agency, these kind of miss steaks wouldn’t occur. They’d be pulled out in the first correction stage. But nooo….
Shame on you, Nikon!

(the whole sentence reads: It’s huge zoom range brings distant objects right up close.)

Nikon ad

image: courtesy of Nikon, scanned from the back cover of Practical Photography, May 2010 issue.

All you need is a dinner table, a willing family member, an Ikea light and a camera. Et voilà.

Butterfly lighting

D700, ISO3200, 1/125 sec @ f/4.8, Nikkor 50mm

DNA-results are printed straight from the laser printer within a couple of minutes ;)

No, seriously…
Sometimes the boss has to go to work in the weekend, and since I have nothing better to do in the weekends I’m a good boy and drive her. As a reward I get to shoot some pictures.

Reaction vials on a tray

D700, ISO200, 1/125 sec @ f/2.0, Nikkor 50mm

Reaction vials in a basket

D700, ISO200, 1/10 sec @ f/8, Tamron 90mm macro

Cryogenic vials

D700, ISO400, 1/125 sec @ f/4, Nikkor 50mm

A month or so ago I wrote a little post about HDR. A little post about what HDR really is and how it should be used in order for it to be called HDR, and how the biggest part of the people confuse HDR with cross-processing.

I decided to also do a little post about cross-processing. Now, this cross-processing has nothing to do with combining shots which are taken from a series of photographs with different exposure times. It originates from the film days (you know, that funny plastic stuff with a light-sensitive emulsion layer, on which you took pictures in the previous century ;) ) when photographers – by accident or on purpose – e.g developed on the “wrong” photographic paper or with the “wrong” chemicals. Cross-processed images are/were typically recognized from their unnatural colors and high contrast.

In the current days of digital cameras and Photoshop cross-processing has gained a stack of new possibilities. Blending modes in Photoshop are a great way to cross-process images. They’re a great way to get those unnatural, muted or seemingly super-saturated colors.

Under here I put a couple of pictures that are cross-processed (nothing over-done, mind you, I have the sliders and blending modes well under control ;) ). On the left the unedited, straight out of camera RAW-file, on the right the processed image in Photoshop. This isn’t just a matter of boosting the saturation. If you were to do that, you’d lose all the detail.

Cross-processing

Original image info: D200, ISO100, 1/180 sec @ f/2.8, Nikkor 50mm

Cross-processing

The final result

Cross-processing

Original image info: D200, ISO100, 1/180 sec @ f/2.8, Nikkor 50mm

Cross-processing

The final result

You might want to click the images to see the details in the Photoshop settings. And if you want to try yourself, just scroll through the blending modes in the layer palette to see what effect it has on the image. It’s the best way to learn what the different modes do to the images.

After Midsummer Vappu (Labour Day, 1st of May, for ye who aren’t from around) is probably the most looked-forward to national holiday in Finland. The night before the actual Labour Day is the night to party (although it starts already well before the “night”).

Last year I mentioned already that people consummate a vast amount of alcoholic beverages, but aside that every year it’s one big dress-up party and a lot of “standard procedures”.

Gorillas and humans side-by-side like friends

D700, ISO800, 1/320 sec @ f/11, Nikkor 50mm, on-camera flash (fill)

God-lovers and anarchists demonstrate side-by-side like they would be the best of friends…

God-lovers and anarchists side-by-side like friends

D700, ISO800, 1/250 sec @ f/11, Nikkor 50mm

But the trademark Finnish Vappu is best know for is the graduates, from all ages, coming downtown with their funny white hats.

Silly white hats at Vappu

D700, ISO800, 1/250 sec @ f/11, Nikkor 50mm

And lots of these (in many different sizes, colors, shapes and with ridiculous price tags)

Balloon

D700, ISO800, 1/320 sec @ f/4.8, Nikkor 50mm, on-camera flash

Soo…. after a long aversion against Flickr I think I found the golden path through the middle, and with the help from a nifty plug-in provided through Photoshelter I can directly upload my images to Flickr, of course fully watermarked, bang across the middle, which seems to be the only sufficient way to protect your images from being stolen.

I do it mainly for the exposure, to get the stuff out there, and lead potential clients back to my portfolio and what better way is that to do it through websites like Twitter, Facebook, and (heaven help us) Flickr.

There’ve been many discussions going on about how Flickr is the image-thieves-walhalla, and sure, if you don’t protect your stuff it is. But it’s the same with your wallet on the street (not in Finland of course, there you can leave your wallet on the bench at the bus stop and it’ll still be there if you come back for it the next day**). If you keep it in plain sight, it will be gone the next time you look at it.
Anyway… The other day, in my in-box, I found a mail from Ms Emma Williams, who is, according to her e-mail footer, Managing Editor at Schmap Guides, which is an American (NC) based publisher of digital travel guides for 200 destinations throughout the world. She was writing me the following:

I am writing to let you know that one of your photos has been short-listed for inclusion in the eleventh edition of our Schmap Paris Guide, to be published mid-May 2010.

http://www.schmap.com/shortlist/yadayadadee (<– deleted for obvious reasons)

Clicking this link will take you to a page where you can:
i) See which of your photos has been short-listed.
ii) Submit or withdraw your photo from our final selection phase.
iii) Learn how we credit photos in our Schmap Guides.
iv) Browse online or download the tenth edition of our Schmap Paris Guide.

While we offer no payment for publication, many photographers are pleased to submit their photos, as Schmap Guides give their work recognition and wide exposure, and are free of charge to readers. Photos are published at a maximum width of 150 pixels, are clearly attributed, and link to high-resolution originals at Flickr.

Our submission deadline is Friday, April 30. If you happen to be reading this message after this date, please still click on the link above (our Schmap Guides are updated frequently – photos submitted after this deadline will be considered for later releases).

Note the bolded part.
Also… When I clicked the link and read through the more extensive Terms and Conditions I was told that when I agree I would give them a perpetual, royalty free rights of use for this image. The rest was pretty ok, no sublicensing, credit to the photographer, link to the file on Flickr, etc. etc.
But still… I’m a photographer. I sell stock. I make money with my photographs (at least I’m trying to). And if this would’ve been some sort of charity, I might’ve considered. But it isn’t.
Although Ms Emma Williams politely stated that the guides are free for their readers (except for the premium version, which might be coming in the near future according to their Terms of use), I have no doubt that Ms Emma Williams is paid handsomely for her job at Schmap Guides. And that all the other people at Schmap Guides make a good living with what they’re doing. So why would I have to do MY job for free? That doesn’t really make much sense, does it? At least not to me.

And sure, I believe there are enough “photographers” out there who would be proud to see their name in a release like that and who’d be gullible enough to give away their pictures. I’m not one of them, though (not to mention the fact that this particular image is far far from being even close to one of my best…, but that’s a whole different thing ;) ).

Sacre Coeur in Paris, France

D200, ISO100, 1/125 sec @ f/5.6, Sigma 28-200mm

**) This, of course, is a metaphor. A matter of speech, to illustrate the relative safeness of Finland. I cannot be held responsible if you actually try this and your wallet is gone the next day ;) )

Awhile back I wrote a little bit about our godson. He’s the cutest boy you’ve ever seen. Recently me and the better half have been so busy that we haven’t really had time to meet up with godson and parents, and you know how kids in that age grow and change in an instant…
The other night mom and godson came over for dinner and I managed to quickly grab a few shots. And the little guy is just getting cuter and cuter!
Love him! :)

Noah

D700, ISO400, 1/125 sec @ f/4, Nikkor 70-200mm

Noah

D700, ISO400, 1/125 sec @ f/4, Nikkor 70-200mm

Did I ever mention how much I love my 50 mm f/1.4? I didn’t? I must’ve! Well, if I didn’t…: I love my 50 mm f/1.4. And why, would you wonder…? Because the right subjects shot with an aperture larger than f/2 give you this magnificent depth of field, this sweet bokeh which is such a feast to look at…

Red rose

D700, ISO400, 1/125 sec @ f/1.7, Nikkor 50mm 1.4

Red rose

D700, ISO400, 1/125 sec @ f/1.7, Nikkor 50mm 1.4