Summer Giveaway!

The Kinkakuji temple in Kyoto at sunset

It’s been too long since I’ve updated the blog, but I hope a giveaway will make up for my absence. I have been planning to write a post to explain what I’ve been up to, but I just haven’t found the time to do so yet.

Anyway, to keep things simple, I’ve decided to make this giveaway an Instagram exclusive. This is the biggest giveaway I’ve had to date, and one lucky winner will receive two prices.

The first price is a 16″ x 24″ (approximately 40 x 60 cm) print of the above image of one of my favorite places in Japan – Kinkakuji, or the Temple of the Golden Pavilion. The print will be mounted on foamex board, signed and numbered. In addition to the print, the winner will also receive a cute little emperor tamarin figurine. It is a unique piece hand-crafted from polymer clay by Mai Darling Designs. The tamarin’s crown is made of Swarovski crystal. If you like the figurine, go see more of Mai Darling’s work on Instagram and on her Etsy page!

An emperor tamarin by Mai Darling Designs
As an additional gift, I will also make a unique A4-sized (about 21 x 30 cm / 8 x 11 inches) print for a friend the winner has tagged on the competition entry on Instagram. I will ship all prizes to the winners free of charge.

To participate, all you have to do is

1. Follow me on Instagram: https://instagram.com/theexplodingfish/ (@theexplodingfish)

2. Leave a comment on the competition post saying you want to participate. To participate, see the competition post on Instagram.

3. If you know someone who would also like to have this image on their wall, tag that person in your comment. If you win, your friend will also win an A4-sized version of this image.

You do not need to follow Mai Darling Designs on Instagram to participate, but since she was kind enough to donate the figurine to this giveaway, you can go on her Instagram gallery and show her some love!

Feel free to share this post, but sharing is not required to win.

The giveaway will end on 11 September at 12 a.m. CET and the winner(s) will be notified through Instagram.
The image will be mounted on 5 mm Foamex board laminated with a satin heat seal that makes it durable. The A4 image will be printed on high-quality Canson paper. The prints will be signed and numbered.

That’s it! See you on Instagram and good luck!

A classic view of Kyoto

A view of Kyoto

This image was taken at the Kiyomizudera temple on a path that leads from the Oku-no-in hall down to the Otowa waterfalls. It’s one of the views of Kyoto that most visitors probably photograph (just do a search for “Kiyomizudera” and “Kyoto cityscape”), so I wanted to try to make my version a bit more personal.

The image was taken at noon and the light was a bit hard, so I softened in by applying one of DxO’s classic film presets on it. I then added a couple of paper textures on the sky in Photoshop and a third texture with a warm tone on the foliage to soften it a bit more. I don’t remember an image of this view with similar treatment or tones before, so I’m quite happy with the result. I might even end up printing this for my study.

Shōren-in temple

Stairs leading to the Shōren-in temple

Shoren-in temple is one of the five Monzeki temples of the Tendai sect in Kyoto. It was built in the late 13th century, and it was formerly the temple of the imperial abbot of the Tendai headquarters on Mount Hiei. After the Great Kyoto Fire of 1788, the temple was used as a temporary imperial palace. The temple is known for its garden, massive 800-year-old camphor trees and a pond called Ryujin-no-ike filled with large stones.

Like the previous image, I did a just a few basic things in the post-processing. I started with basic raw conversion Lightroom, removed some cables from the stairs in Photoshop and finally Then I opened the image in OnOne Perfect Effects, where I applied a couple of textures selectively on the image. The main reason for using the textures was to add texture to the white sky and the temple wall.

I’m currently running a giveaway! where one my Facebook or Instagram followers can win a unique fine art print of one of my photos from Japan. Check it out if you haven’t done so!

1.10.2009 – Day 4: Dancers at Sendai Station

Dancers at Sendai Station

See this photo on Flickr

The great thing about traveling is that you never know what happens next. When we got to the station, we noticed that it was unusually crowded and there were a dozen mascots standing in a row inside the station. It seems that the city of Sendai and Miyagi prefecture organized a tourism promotion campaign and we happened to be there on the opening day. After the big-headed mascots a few dancers and finally a group of musicians with drums and flutes entered the stage that had been built inside the station. The dance performance looked fun so we stopped to watch it for a while. Unfortunately the local media had taken the best places in front of the dancers so we mostly got photos of the backs of their heads. The video below was shot by my sister and she’s kindly given permission to use it.

Tomorrow everything will be better

Tomorrow everything will be better

I’m still working on bringing my old travel blog over to the new site, but I’ve also been working on some old images. This one was taken in Sendai and I intended to process it as a “realistic” travel image until I realized that there was a person in this image. I can’t believe that it took me four years to notice that little detail, but that changed the way I saw this image entirely and I decided took make it dark and moody. Once I’d decided to ditch realism, I went ahead and removed a utility pole that I didn’t like and applied split toning to give the image the look that I wanted.

I also decided to give the site yet another facelift. It wasn’t too long ago that I changed the theme and restructured the site, but I found that the theme I was using didn’t met neither my needs nor my expectations. It was a pain to update and customize so when I had a chance to try the current theme from Graph Paper Press, I didn’t think twice about switching it. I really like the new simple look, and thanks to the responsive design, now the site looks great even on mobile devices! And there’s more! I’ve also added a new page that displays my latest Instagram images – you can access it from the left sidebar menu. Hope you like the changes.

Endless horizon

Endless horizon

I know I promised to upload travel photos, but I stumbled upon this image from the flight from Helsinki to Paris and wanted to upload it first. I didn’t actually get to see Paris, but we had a short layover at Charles de Gaulle airport when we visited Japan in 2009. I was going to delete this image first because I had much better images of clouds with more texture and a few where the landscape was visible, but then realized that it kind of resembles Hiroshi Sugimoto’s seascapes and that I could actually take this image into that direction.

I didn’t do much processing on this image, as it was quite abstract as it was, but I did emphasize the original mood by removing Clarity in Lightroom and increasing the exposure in the center of the image to soften the horizon line.

If there’s anything to be learned from this, it’s that it might be a good idea to let your images sit for a while instead of rushing to upload them to the Internet as soon as you get home. It’s also a good idea to wait until deleting images that at first seem like failures. After a while, when you’ve got over the initial excitement or disappointment you feel towards your images, you’ll be able to look at them more objectively and you won’t be held back by emotional baggage when processing them. I often find that only then I can get really creative with my images.

See this photo on Flickr

This photo is published under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 license. Click the above link to download the original full-size image from Flickr, if you want to use this image on personal projects such as your blog or make a print for your own use. If you use this image, please give attribution to Sami Hurmerinta / Explodingfish.net and if possible, link the image to http://explodingfish.net.

A fireweed flower on a meadow

A fireweed on a meadow

First of all, Happy New Year!

This image of fireweed flowers caused me some grief because I wasn’t sure what to do with it. The original framing left too much space around the flowers and there was nothing in the image to catch your eye. After trying a few different cropping options, the square format solved the composition problem. I then started to experiment with a new texture pack I got a couple of days earlier to see if I could add interest to the image with it. I applied the texture on the entire image and then painted a part of it out to reveal one flower that was in focus. This helped to draw attention to it, tone down the colors and to give the image a more serene look. If you like this one, I have uploaded a few other images from the same shoot on my Instagram account.

I was first going to write a longer recap of last year, but I think it’s better to just get it over with by saying that in terms of photography 2013 was a good year for me. From all the good things that happened last year, I feel that there are two thing worth mentioning. First of all, I redesigned my website completely. It’s not finished yet and I plan to keep improving it this year, but I like the new layout and larger photos better. Secondly, I some of my images are now available for licensing. It’s something I’ve thought about for a while, but last year I finally made it happen. At this point my images can be licensed from Getty Images and Alamy. I’ll keep growing my portfolio on both sites but I’m also planning to add more licensing options on my website when the time allows.

I’m not going to make any promises for 2014, but I would like to make this blog more active and post images to other social media sites more regularly. In case you didn’t know, you can also follow me on Google+, Tumblr, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

If you’d like to see more images than the ones I post on this blog, follow me on at one of these social media sites. I like to keep my feeds more interesting by uploading different images on different sites and most of these images never find their way to this blog. I know some of you might already follow my personal Facebook page, but I have also created a new Facebook page for my photos. It gets updated more frequently than my personal page and contains more images.

Well, that’s it! I wish you all a good year and hope I’ll see you here also in 2014.

See this photo on Flickr

Heikki Hallanoro at Bar Vakiopaine

Heikki Hallanoro at Bar Vakiopaine

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I was going to see a friend of mine play at a local bar and promised to post some images later. It took me a while, but here’s one of my favorites from that evening. Needless to say, the show was great and entertaining as he was not only playing and singing, but also reading short passages from his first novel. If you want to know more about Heikki, you can find his website here.

Walker

Walker

Here’s another image from 2007. Google was kind enough to give me a free copy of Nik’s plugin bundle and this was the first image tested it on. I used a very randomly selected set of filters from Color Efex to get this look and the image instantly became one of my favorites.

As a side note, I’ve created a Facebook page for my images. If you don’t like RSS feeds, you can now keep keep up to date with this blog by liking the page. If you like the images there (or here), feel free to share them to your friends.

I’ve still got loads of exciting news to share, but I’ll try to keep my posts short, so more on those next time.

See this image on Flickr