Some things you just don’t do by yourself. You need someone else to invite you to it, and then you think “Hmm… that may actually be interesting”.
Even if I’m Dutch, I’m not a football (soccer, for you Americans 😉 ) fan. I don’t care about the leagues. I may watch the match when the Dutch national team is playing but that’s about it. I’ve never been to a football stadium in my life other than for a concert or a festival. And it would never have crossed my mind to do a “tour” in the Amsterdam Arena (I actually never had been there before even for a concert), so when some friends told us they were going to do the tour and asked if we’d like to come along we did think “Hmm… that may actually be interesting”. So we went. The day before the Campions League match between Ajax and Manchester (which Ajax miserably lost, by the way). Preps were in full swing and well, you gotta give it to them (even if the guy was so happily (and funnily) full of how Ajax was the best, and how the Arena was the best, and how the Grass there was the best, and how they have 1400 seats more than their direct competitor in Holland – Feyenoord Rotterdam): everything did look perfect. And we did get to see some parts of the stadium that you usually don’t get to see.

The Ajax Arena - football stadium in Amsterdam

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

Ajax and Manchester United flags in the Ajax Amsterdam Arena football stadium

D700, ISO400, 1/250 sec @ f/1.7, Nikkor 50mm

A classic picture of birds sitting on a fence. And more classic images of swans. But well, you gotta have them in your portfolio, right?
And try to give a bit of a different swing to it than everyone else.

Seagulls

D700, ISO200, 1/1000 sec @ f/2.8, Nikkor 70x200mm

Swan

D700, ISO200, 1/500 sec @ f/6,7, Nikkor 70-200mm

Swan

D700, ISO200, 1/500 sec @ f/6,7, Nikkor 70-200mm

The last time we were in Holland we spent a few nights at friends with cats. It’s funny how cats always seem to notice that you know how to handle them, or that you have (had) cats (before) yourself. These two are also a couple of funky little creatures, with their own little attitudes 😀

Swiffer

D700, ISO800, 1/250 sec @ f/1.4, Nikkor 50mm

Dani

D700, ISO200, 1/1000 sec @ f/1.4, Nikkor 50mm

Did I ever mention I luuuuuuuuuuv my 50mm f/1.4? Love the depth of field, love the bokeh, love its sharpness… If you don’t have a 50mm prime like that, go get one. Now!!

I need not repeat anymore that anything is a potential subject, especially in macro photography. You can turn pretty much everything into some sort of abstract, you just need to be able to visualize it for yourself.

Iron wire

D700, ISO400, 1/125 sec @ f/4.5, Tamron 90mm macro

Cleaning rags

D700, ISO800, 1/125 sec @ f/4.5, Tamrin 90mm macro

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 😀

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