Monday, May 30, 2011

Feeling empty


I don't know why but today I felt weak and clumsy. Even walking the stairs at work was exhausting. And at home I made two cuts in my hand with a knife. Well, I guess this also will pass.

Here is a collection of photographs from today. Tomorrow is a travel day, so there will be a break in the postings here.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Seven weeks without a bathroom

This weekend we had reason to celebrate, as we finally - after seven weeks - have a bathroom at home. It took a long time to get the renovations done, and all this time we had to find ways to cope without a bathroom. As an example, we went one weekend to a hotel in Hämeenlinna, and you can guess what was the first thing on the agenda when we arrived at the hotel.

But now we have a bathroom, and a sauna, once again. There were big and small problems all the way, and some still remain, but at least we can finally get a shower and use the sauna. It is surprising how easy it is for things to go wrong when doing renovations, mostly due to miscommunication: things are not clear between the plumber, the electrician, the tile-installer, the painter, etc.

Coming back to photography, I have read and re-read the posting by David duChemin, who didn't like it when someone claimed that "The x100 is just a $1200 point and shoot camera."

I think I mostly agree with what duChemin writes, especially this part: "But as far as I know, beautiful photography has been created with pinhole cameras, antique rangefinders, and iPhones, as surely as a Ltd. Edition gold-plated Leicas and $10,000 pro-bodies have produced an astonishing quantity of crap." The camera does not make a photographer, that is for sure.

But here I have to disagree: "Leave the pointing and shooting for others. Your photographs are judged on their own merits, not the tool you used to create them."

Namely, my approach to photography can be summarized as point-and-shoot. I guess I have to explain. There are two types on automation here: one is the one where the camera decides what will happen when the shutter is pressed, using all kinds of "intelligent" automatics. This is something I hate, really, deeply, profoundly. Don't give control to the camera!

I use aperture priority and turn of all the unnecessary automatics, so that the camera is easy to handle, and I'll know what will happen when the shutter is pressed.

But at the same time, I'm trying to avoid too much thinking when taking photographs, preferring to take photographs intuitively, so that the conscious mind doesn't manage to get in between the intent and the act. So, I "point and shoot", trying to make decisions below conscious level.

This is not easy, and most often I need first to take 50 or 100 photographs when I'm getting "into the flow", and only then things start to happen. Well, there are exceptions, and sometimes it may be the first photograph taken after stepping out of the door which is the best of the day, but this is seldom indeed.

In summary, I would say this: Don't rely on the intelligence of the camera, and not on the intelligence in your head either. Embrace the flow.

Far or close

I couldn't decide which one of these is better: far focus, or close?

In the world of flowers

This is now the world of flowers. And how much of this people don't see: it is the world of creatures much smaller than us, with different sensitivities.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Flowers of summer

A collection of flower photographs, of this summer which has provided quite a variety of weather so far.

Trouble getting to the air

Air travel seems to always pose problems. At least the Icelandic ash went away just before my trip to Bristol, but other problems appeared.

I flew via Brussels, and it turned out that one hour is not really enough in between to catch the shuttle to Bristol. I managed it, but only just, running the last hundred meters. And there were passport control and security checkpoint in between as obstacles.

Returning, I had five minutes more in between, but there was the problem of not being able to check-in at Bristol for the flight from Brussels to Helsinki. However, there happened to be a strike at Helsinki airport, which caused the plane to be late. So, no hurry after all. I even managed to eat a first warm meal of the day at the Brussels airport. But I arrived in Helsinki well after midnight.

Getting lost in Bristol

I spent a couple of days in Bristol, in a green ICT workshop. I have found that the best way to learn to know a city is to get lost in it, and this happened also in Bristol.

Of course, I wasn't really lost, as I had a map of the city, and there was a good map also in my Nokia E7, but it was interesting to walk without looking at them, trying to navigate in an unknown environment.

I have grown fond of the feeling of being lost. It is a fresh feeling, of seeing the world anew. How many times do you have this experience in your normal daily routines?

Bristol is a green city, with hills all around. A place that seemed to be the right size for a city, at least so it felt.

But some things weren't so good: late at night there were drunken young people on the streets, shouting, singing, vomiting and fighting. (We were told that it is much worse during weekends.) My hotel was in Clifton, a quiet area, but some colleagues whose hotel was in the center of the city had difficulties in sleeping because of the noise from the street.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Flowers, hurried

This was a day with little time for admiring the summer. But here are two photographs, of flowers, eagerly popping up everywhere.

Addendum: I'll be traveling the next few days, if Icelandic ash doesn't mess things up. So, we are having a pause in the postings here.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Motion blur as texture

I experimented once again with motion blur, trying to achieve an interesting texture by walking at the same time while taking photographs in a forest. The results were sometimes surprising.

My intention was to combine out-of-focus with motion blur, insprired by the nice results Andreas is getting with his bokeh experiments, but that doesn't seem to be something that would work. Or maybe I haven't yet found how to do it. So here I used autofocus to get some part of the photograph sharp.

Summer rain

Today we get plenty of rain, and wind. It was a nice change, and made the landscape look different. It not only washed away the dust but also dropped flowers down from the trees.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Summer, passing by

It seems that tiredness caught up... I was going to write some thoughts about photography, but that has to wait to another day. But still, we have summer.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Seeing summer

Summer feels fresh - and it is, spring is hardly yet gone. Mosquitoes are starting to bother while going for a walk in a forest, but that is a small nuisance. The best thing is that there is so much new to see and explore with a camera.

I have been thinking about my Nokia E7 mobile phone every once in a while. I'm getting used to it, which doesn't mean that I won't get angry with it now and then.

Adam Greenfield - who was head of design direction for user interface and services at Nokia in 2008-2010 - made an insightful posting about the culture inside Nokia, check it out. Here is a quote: "Another, blunter way of putting it: there’s nobody with any taste in the decision-making echelons at Nokia. And this is especially unfortunate and ironic, given that elegant, simple Finnish design has tutored generations in what taste means."

Indeed, the Nokia E7 gives the user a feeling of bad taste. But then there are the good moments, when the phone actually works. And some applications, such as Sports Tracker, of which Greenfield also writes, which are good indeed.