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.

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A couple looking at a bonfire

A couple looking at a midsummer bonfire

The holiday is over and its time to head back home. This is the last image from the midsummer series, but I’m going to stick with the summer images for the time being. With the temperature being above zero and the constant rain there isn’t much to photograph right now.

Unlike the previous image that I made to look like a silhouette shot in Photoshop, this silhouette was created in camera. I took these photos with a 70-300 lens I borrowed from a friend but since I’d never used it before I missed a lot of shots that night. I think it was worthwhile to try a new lens because I did get a couple of nice shots that I couldn’t have taken with my own equipment and I had no pressure to succeed anyway, but if you can’t afford to miss an important shot, it is better to stick to the equipment you’re familiar with and comfortable using.

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A midsummer silhouette

Watching the fire

Here’s some light for your Christmas eve. It’s not a very festive image, but I don’t have access to my images at the moment as I’m not home during the holidays. I’ll take a couple of days off from blogging during the holidays and return with more images after Christmas. Meanwhile, have a Merry Christmas, everyone!

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Midsummer bonfire

People looking at a midsummer bonfire

Here’s some light for the darkest time of the year. It’s interesting how old non-Christian traditions like burning a bonfire still live on in a society that has been prevalently Christian for hundreds of years. I hope these traditions continue to be part of our lives in the future. Happy winter solstice, everyone!

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Midsummer eve

Midsummer's eve

It’s almost time for winter solstice, but my image editing odyssey has brought me to a set of images from another of our great pagan festivities, midsummer eve. I took these a few years back in Kuokkala where the city of Jyväskylä was burning a bonfire. It attracted a fair number of city-dwellers and provided a nice background for candid shots.

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Waiting for the train

Waiting for the train

I don’t consider myself a street photographer, but I like to photograph people in their environments, especially when I’m traveling. I saw this young woman waiting for a train at Helsinki railway station from the platform I was standing at and thought that the train cars provided interesting frames for the image. I didn’t see what she was doing on the bench, but I thought she was probably checking her mobile phone.

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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.

Quiet sunset at Lake Tuomiojärvi

Summer evening at Lake Tuomiojärvi

A simple click of Lake Tuomiojärvi I made during an evening walk. It’s a shame I didn’t take more than one photo of this beautiful scene, but then again, this one photo is all I need to remember the moment.

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Autumn leaves in the wind

Autumn leaves in the wind

Here’s one more autumn image to start the week. One of my goals this autumn was to photograph leaves flying in the wind. There was a strong wind on the morning I took this photo and I knew it was probably one of the last days before all the leaves were gone. I saw these trees next to our office and started working on different angles. I finally settled on the one you see above and began to wait for a gust of wind that would blow some leaves off the trees. It turned out to be more difficult than I thought and I kept missing the shot because of the slow response time of my phone camera (I’d left my DSLR home in the morning). I stood there a good while, trying to anticipate the right moment until I finally got a couple of promising images.

I took the one I liked best and blended in a couple of leaves from another shot to fill some spots in the sky I thought were too empty. I’m not sure if this was really necessary, but it made the image look more balanced to my eye. I then finalized the image by increasing color contrast and adding some vignetting to the corners in Nik Color Efex Pro. Although this might sound like a lot of post-processing work for a mobile phone image and the image was by no means bad out of camera, these final post-processing steps really made the colors pop – and more importantly – they made me happier about the image. Even if you’re not shooting in raw, there’s a lot you can do to improve your images afterwards with software such as Snapseed, Lightroom or Photoshop, and I see no reason to settle for what the camera offers you.

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Maple leaf

Maple leaf against the sky

A quick update for Friday afternoon before I have to get going.

Here’s the second image from the autumn series I shot a month ago. When it comes to autumn and mobile phone photos, a hand holding a maple leaf against the sky or sun is probably one of the most common photographic clichés. Still, the weather was so nice and the leaves so colorful that I had to make my version of it. I’m not sure if I was able to bring anything new or personal to this shot, but at least its my hand in the image. I’m also happy about the color contrast between the blue sky and the yellow leaf.

That’s it for today. Have a nice weekend, and if you’re in Jyväskylä, come and see singer-songwriter Heikki Hallanoro, a friend of mine, perform at Vakiopaine tonight. I’ll also be there to take a few photos. Hopefully I’ll have some nice ones to upload next week.

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