Prayer plaques at the Heian shrine (and a giveaway!)

Prayer plaques at the Heian Shrine
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First things first: I’m currently running a giveaway on Google+ and Instagram! A Japanese friend of mine sent me a few copies of his band’s new album “Adaptation”, so I decided to give them to someone who might like the music. Participating is simple and doesn’t require you to follow anyone if you don’t want to. The giveaway ends next Sunday, so if you’d like to get the album, go to Google+ or Instagram right now! The album is also available for listening on Spotify.

Here’s a music video for the song Ruri by Panic Soup:

The image above is one of the places at the Heian Shrine where people can hang small wooden blocks called “ema”. People can buy these wooden plaques from shinto shrines, and write their wishes on the plaque and leave it to the shrine in the hope that the gods will grant their wish. In the one in the image, a person wishes her mother good health.

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.

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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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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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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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Autumn at Lake Palokkajärvi

A boat covered with autumn leaves

Autumn is almost over and the leaves are already gone, but I haven’t had time to post any autumn images yet. I’m going to fix that by posting a series of images I took on a beautiful morning in early October. This boat is one of many boats on the shore of Lake Palokkajärvi. I walk by it almost everyday during my commute, but this time the golden leaves and the morning light created such a beautiful scene that I had to stop and try to capture it. I took a number of shots from different angles, but this one stood out.

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Long and winding road

Winding dirt road lined with trees

I’m trying to catch up with posting images I’ve post-processed recently. I took this one in May only a few hundred meters from where I live. I liked the original version, but thought it was a bit too light. Because the image already had a painterly quality to it, I decided to emphasize it by adding a texture on most of the image. I think it worked nicely, making the image a bit darker and giving it a more tranquil mood.

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Pappilanjoki River on a sunny spring day

Pappilanjoki

This image was pulled from the previous version of this blog. I took it in Rantasalmi, my home town, a few years ago on a sunny spring day. There’s a small river called Pappilanjoki (Parsonage’s river) that connects two lakes, Lake Kosulanlampi and Pieni Raudanvesi.

Both Lake Kosulanlampi and the river have become eutrophic due to the surrounding agriculture and municipal waste waters. On the right behind the trees, there’s an old parsonage built in 1870. Because of quality of water in the river and the lake, there’s a lot of vegetation on the shores and riverbanks, which has made this area an important resting stop for many species of migratory birds.

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Apartment buildings lit by the setting sun

Kuokkala

Sunset reflecting on windows of apartment buildings in Kuokkala and apartment buildings reflecting on Lake Jyväsjärvi. This photo was taken on Kuokkala bridge from where there’s a nice view to both the city and the lake. This in an older image that I’ve previously published on the old incarnation of this website, but I recently reprocessed it and decided to post it again.

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