One-year review – construction time again

Perno Shipyard in Raisio
A long exposure photograph of the Perno Shipyard, owned by Meyer Turku Oy, in Raisio, Finland.

I think I promised one year ago to keep you up to date on how the freelancer life was treating me, but as often happens, when things got busy the blog was the first to suffer.

In case you’re new to the blog, I left my job as a translator in a translation/localization agency almost exactly a year ago and started a business. So, to cut the long story short, things have been busy ever since, and I think this first anniversary is a good time to reflect on how things have gone and where I should head next.

I probably said this a year ago, but I didn’t expect to start working full-time from day one. I thought I would have a lot of spare time and my plan was to do all kinds of things I like, trying to build my business little by little. Having said that, I’m not complaining about getting my business off the ground so easily. Now that things are running smoothly, I could just settle for what I’ve managed to achieve and keep working like I’ve done for the past year – but I tried settling for ten years in my previous job and I know that I couldn’t be happy if I did. I just seem to change things and learn new skills from time to time to keep motivated.

So, what next?

 

Basically, there are two things that I want to do during the next year: I want to grow my business (who wouldn’t) and I want to work on projects I actually like. This past year I have already reached the limit of what one person can do, and I found that a lot of the work I’ve done has been tedious and not something I am really passionate about or want to continue doing.

In regards to my first goal, it is clear increasing revenue by putting in more hours is not humanly possible. Besides, I’m not the kind of person who would break his neck for a few extra cents. I’m also not willing to start hiring people to expand my business, and I’m not even sure how that would play out anyway.

So, there are two things I can do:

  1. Find work that pays more.
  2. Find additional income.

Luckily don’t have to choose, so I’m currently working on both. This also ties in with the second goal I’ve set for the following year – to find customers with whom I will be happy to work and/or find other work that I enjoy. During the past year I have had to postpone a lot of other projects that I would’ve wanted to work on, such as photography, that would not necessarily pay the bills. (I’m also assuming that photographs and travel stories are the main reason you are reading this blog.) The thing is, I’m not that enthusiastic about making more money if it means doing more of the things I abhor, and I realize that the only way to do what I need to be doing now is to cut down the amount of client work and focus more of my time on my personal projects.

One of the ideas that I’ve had for a long time but I always brushed of was making videos. I started shooting video years ago with my first digital camera that had any kind of video function, but apart from a few travel videos that I posted on YouTube years ago, I’ve never really done anything with them. If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I relocated from Central Finland to the city of Turku on the southwestern coast of Finland a couple of months ago. This gave me the impetus to start to document my life and the places I visit here. No need to worry, though – this is still going to be mainly a travel and photography blog. However, making these videos gives me a good opportunity to learn more about filming and editing. Anyway, here’s the first video. Let me know what you think about it!

Turn and face the strange

Morning mist at Jyväsjärvi in Finland
A misty and foggy morning at Lake Jyväsjärvi, Finland

First things first: the giveaway has ended and I have picked two winners who will receive the prints. It was great to see so many people participating!

If you are following me on Instagram, you might already have read about a recent change in my life. I wanted to blog about it earlier, but things have been rather busy for me during the past four months. Anyway, to cut a long story short, in mid-May I found myself in a situation where it seemed better to leave my job and start my own business. I had thought about it for a while, so it wasn’t a hasty decision, but when the time to decide actually came, it felt like I was jumping out of a moving train to catch another one.

Now, four months later I know I made the right decision, and although I’m very happy about how things have turned out, I’ve also been busier than ever before. Unfortunately this has also meant that I haven’t picked up a camera as often as I used to since what I do now is not photography-related.

I took the image above was taken on a foggy morning almost a year ago while riding my bike to work. Just a few minutes after I took this, the fog became so thick that it was difficult to see the other shore or even a few meters ahead. I didn’t have a DSLR with me so I just used my phone to take the photo and edited it in Lightroom afterwards.

I’m thinking of writing another update when I’ve spent a full six months as a freelancer. Is there anything in particular that you’d like to read about? Meanwhile, I’ll try to update this blog more often from now on!

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!

Winter Giveaway

Nine of my most popular photos in 2015

It’s time for another giveaway!

The images above are nine of my most popular images on Instagram in 2015, and looking at them made me think how much fun it would be to make prints of those images. Then I thought it would be even more fun to give the prints away!

This time, I’m giving my away two prints, one on Facebook and one on Instagram, and I’ll let the winners decide which of the nine photos they want.

To participate, all you have to do is

1. Like my Facebook page: Explodingfish.net on Facebook.

2. Like the competition post: Print giveaway.

3. Leave a comment under the competition post on Facebook saying which of the nine images you want to have on your wall (there are more detailed instructions on Facebook).

Easy!

I’m also on Instagram, so if you want to double your chances of winning:

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

3. Leave a comment on any of my images saying which of the nine images you want to have on your wall. For more instructions see the competition post on Print giveaway on Instagram.

1. Ghost
2. Tree
3. Boat
4. Pier
5. Night
6. Ducks
7. Squirrel
8. Moat
9. Shrine

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

The giveaway will end on 15 January at 12 a.m. CET and the winners will be notified through Facebook or Instagram.
The images will be printed on high-quality Canson paper at A4 size (about 21 x 30 cm / 8 x 11 inches).

Print giveaway!

Shoren-in temple

It’s giveaway time!

A couple of days ago I noticed that my recently posted image of the Shoren-in temple in Kyoto was getting more attention in social media than most of what I post online, and it turned out to become one of my most popular images. What made me even more happy about it is that this is also one of my personal favorites from the images I’ve published this year.

I thought that since you people seem to like the image, I might as well make a print of it and give it to one lucky person!

To get to the point, if you’d like a chance to win the photo do the following:

1. Like my Facebook page: Explodingfish.net on Facebook
2. Like the competition post: Print giveaway

I’m also on Instagram, so if you want to double your chances to win:

1. Follow me on Instagram: Sami Hurmerinta on Instagram
2. Comment on any of my images there

The winner will be selected 16 June and notified through Facebook or Instagram.

The image is printed on high-quality Canson Infinity BFK River paper at A4 size (about 21 x 30 cm / 8 x 11 inches). I guess you can say that the print is unique, because it is very unlikely that I will ever print this image on the same medium again.

New year, new tricks

A Bullet Train to Kyoto at Tokyo Station

We’re already well into 2015 and I’m ashamed to notice that I’ve let this blog and my other social media endeavors wither as I’ve become busy with all kinds of work and photography-related things. That is about to change, however. As an unofficial new year’s resolution I’ve decided to post more images this year and also resuscitate my Tumblr and Facebook accounts.

I’ve had big plans for this website and my photography for a long time, but never really got around to implementing any of them. So this might as well be the year to do that. As a first thing, I’ve added links to the sidebar to my images that are available for licensing on Getty Images and Alamy.

If you’re on Instagram, you can go to my account to see some travel photos that don’t end up in this blog. That’s also the place where I’m currently the most active and where I post new photos first, so if you want to see what I’m up to, follow me there. Even you don’t have an Instagram account, you can go to the Instagram page on this website to see the latest images.

The photo above is from the shinkansen (bullet train) platform at Tokyo station. I took this a few years ago when I was traveling around Japan. We were heading to Kyoto but had to wait for the staff to clean the train before we were allowed to board the train.

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.

Evening flight

Summer evening flight

I’m slowly working through my back catalogue of images and although I’m not finding as many gems as I wanted, there is an occasional image that I like. This was a pretty simple image to finish. I cropped the image to square format to get rid of the needless space on the edges and removed some of the trees at the bottom of the image in Lightroom. Then I moved to Photoshop where I cloned out the logos of the balloon company in Photoshop and finally accentuated the colors of the sunset in Nik Color Efex Pro 4 by adding a violet/pink bi-color filter to the image. I could have done a more careful job on removing the logos, but it’s not too bad.

I was out shooting with a friend one evening because I wanted to test a Sigma 150-500mm lens he had for sale (and which I later bought). It was already quite late in the evening and the sun was setting when we saw this hot air balloon taking off a couple of hundred meters from us. I shot a few frames as it floated by just above the trees. After flying a few hundred meters, it suddenly shrank and fell down to the woods on the other side of the park. I don’t know what happened and we never found out whether the people in the balloon were ok, but I don’t think they were in any danger. It looked like a relatively soft landing.

Finally, if you’re one of the people who started following this website back in 2009 when it was still a travel blog about Japan, you might be happy to hear that I still have quite a few photos from that period that I haven’t uploaded here yet. I’ll start working on those images next and I’m really excited to visit them again! I’ll be posting the travel images in the Travel section under “Japan 2009” and return to this blog after I’ve dealt with those images. If you’ve subscribed to the RSS feed from the front page of the blog, you should receive see those posts as usual in your reader.

See this photo on Flickr

A bumblebee on a Tansy

A bumblebee on a Tansy

Bumblebees are busy little fellows and surprisingly fast when you try to capture them. I wasn’t even using a proper macro lens, but the depth of field was still narrow enough to make it difficult. After an hour of trying, this was the best image I got. I took this on the same evening as the previous fireweed image.

See this photo on Flickr