A Belated Postcard from Vienna

Not often have I take the liberty to show images here on the blog that are something different other than the usual landscapes. Every now and then though I take images during a trip which I find so inspiring that I find them worth sharing, even though they are not, well, landscapes in the traditional sense. These are some of those.

A belated honeymoon to the beautiful city of Vienna offered these possibilities. While I focused for the majority of time on the vintage architecture I also played around a bit with street photography, which I am not very familiar with but surely had fun doing it.

Once I read someone quoting that Vienna is a feast for street photography, something that I, even after this rather short visit, can subscribe to.

Whilst a huge part of the images is of more private nature I do have a nice collection of images from this trip together, which I will publish in two or three posts.


The Wide(r) North

We began our trip just behind the Finnish/Norwegian border in Skibotn up to the northern spot on the European continent, the Nordkapp1. I find the wide open landscapes in this area to be very visually appealing and the resulting images reflect this in more streamlined and simpler compositions.

To capture these wide open spaces, I focused on creating panoramic images exclusively, something that I haven’t been doing for quite a while. It seemed though necessary as I had not the feeling I couldn’t capture the feel and atmosphere of the landscapes in a single frame. Looking back at the resulting images it proves me right.

My approach to photographing landscapes has changed quite a bit during the last two or so years as I have grown accustomed to the fact that the experience of being in a place is far more satisfying than the act collecting as many images as possible. Also I started to learn to deal with whatever the weather conditions are at the moment and stopped hoping or waiting for the right light.Right can mean a lot of things, and I think when it looks great, the light is simply is right.

During the short stint at these locations, many views have been left un-explored but I have the distinct feeling that this wasn’t my the last visit around there.

  1. And yes, I am aware know that it in fact not the most northern point, but who cares. 

Mänty-Sketches #3

Most of the snow in this area had finally given in, accepted that it’s time for Spring to get into business and melted away. The conditions are about to get better and I start to get back into the business myself again and keep my blogs running again.

Before continuing with fresh material, it’s time to publish and put a lid on the Mänty Sketches Project, if only for the next few months.

Before I get caught up with writing, I’d rather present you the last few images for the project.

For more images from this series feel free to visit the gallery.


A Case Of “Drive-Through” Landscape Photography

The sea, the coast, rocks and mountains are surely my favourite subjects in the landscape and luckily all of these can be easily photographed in Norway. I quickly learned this during my first, and admittedly very short, visit to Norway three years ago. Ever since I have returned to different parts of the country at least once or twice a year for a more or less extended photographic journey.

During this year though I haven’t had a chance for a real photographic journey in general and specifically for a visit to Norway whatsoever 1. A few weeks ago though, a work trip though brought me to the city of Narvik for something along the lines of 36 hours.

Since the nature of this trip, was purely a work related (that is, if one can actually call that what I’m doing as work, but that’s of course a totally different story), the chance to pursue landscape photography was very small one to begin with. To reduce luggage I in fact didn’t even bothered to take my gear with me. The thought of carrying a 10 kilogram backpack (plus tripod of course) while already being aware that I most likely wouldn’t have a chance for serious photography, wasn’t so nice and motivating after all.

Naturally though, I didn’t come totally un-equipped and took my Ricoh GXR with me. In Narvik itself I had no transportation available and the only chance I actually had to take at least some pictures was during a quick walk to the harbour just before breakfast. The outcome of those images isn’t worth mentioning in fact.

Things were a bit different on the way back though. Whilst the trip to Narvik led us first through heavy snowstorms and later for the greater part through the dark, the way back to Finland on the other side was a rather smooth ride in the bus in nice morning light in mountains. Since this was the only chance I had to do at least some photography during trip, I spent some time taking pictures out of the driving bus. This is surely something a lot different from my usual way of working.

The result is this little series of images, which I find interesting since they are of a slightly more playful character, a tad out-of-the-usual. At the same time they are taken from an angle I am usually not able to take images of. The slighty higher seating position provided often a better viewpoint (often over the tree line) than I would be able to work off would I have been working with my tripod from ground level.

Somehow I do enjoy the more documentary feel of the images, which somehow is supported by occasional reflections in the windows.

To me it feels that landscape photography is something that one really needs to actually want to do. It requires passion and ever so often, a lot of time. While I’m not lacking the passion, I am severely lacking time to pursue my photography. Sometimes small projects like these help to see a silver lining on the horizon and that soon more photographic opportunities will come up.

  1. Last year at exactly the same time I have been visiting Norway and photographed what would become one of my favourite series of images, the Mountain Sketches

Thirty-something Below Zero

The coldest days of winter are long over by now and the sub-freezing temperatures are long forgotten, the beginning of February though had been very cold time. In fact, on one those days we had the pleasure of having the coldest spot in Finland just here. I’m not sure about the exact temperature, but it was something in the vicinity of minus 32 degrees celsius.

It was on a day like that, on a Sunday, when after a long period, available time and beautiful weather conditions came together. Moments like these have become a luxury but one simply has to wait, and eventually things just work out.

I grabbed my bag and decided to go out an work primarily on my Mänty Sketches project. Since I already had an image and location in mind I knew where to go to. It was in fact so easy, it almost took the fun out of it. But on the other hand in conditions like this you don’t want to aimlessly run around and look for something to photograph either. After warming up the motor of the car, I finally head out to my planned location to take the image.

The only few kilometers of distance to my planned location led me over the motorway where the glowing tree tops along the river caught my eye. From my experience it’s usually best to stay focused and stick to the plan, but this view was just too nice to ignore and I decided to take advantage of this. I take the next exit of the motorway and get back to the same vantage point on the bridge over the mainly frozen river.

In temperatures like this, live-view (which I am now using almost exclusively) proves to be very useful. Not only does it make composing the image easier, it also prevents the breath to immediately freeze on the camera. This happened to me a lot on my previous camera models during winter time. Another positive side-effect is that by utilizing live-view, especially in a magnified view (5x or 10x), it is most obvious when the camera stops shaking.

After all I am standing on a bridge here and it is interesting to notice, that even though (or maybe even because of) I have the camera on a tripod, how much vibration is introduced on the camera by trucks crossing the bridge. The amount of vibration of a bridge is somewhat scary and really makes one trust into the construction of these things. This kind of camera shake, ruined an similar photograph of mine almost exactly a year ago. Then it was though the vibration of my shaking legs on another, very light bridge.

Usually I shy away of images within the city but I am rather satisfied that this time I didn’t. I get a few interesting compositions before continuing with my trip to my planned location and get the images that I have planned.

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Mountain Sketches – The iBook

It was just a few weeks ago I that I wrote about my planned re-design of my e-books after playing a bit with Apple’s iBooks Author application. The chance of getting closer tho what I indented my books to be in the first place, seemed to be worth the effort spending a few hours of doing that work.

My original intent was to start with the re-modeling my first e-book, Cornwall – A Photographic Journey, and as you can see from the screenshot in that post I already started to work on it. But, as so often the case, things come in different as planned around here, and today I would like to announce the 2.0 version if you will, of my second e-book Mountain Sketches.

Aside the obvious format change (PDF to iBooks) I have added an audio commentary, did some (minor) adjustments to the overall design and both the gallery and the exif data are kind-of interactive now [1]. In fact I didn’t add much to the original design, as I found it after another revision actually rather pleasing.

The Process

Producing this book was in fact a rather easy task as iBooks Author is a fairly easy to use tool. Being already rather familiar with Pages or Keynote, the iBooks Author app feels like the lovechild of these two and is very easy to get along with. Aside a few more tools, widgets for interactive and multimedia content come to mind, the controls and the workflow are essentially the same as in aforementioned applications. The familiarity with these two and the newly introduced multimedia widgets made the creation of the galleries and in fact the whole book a breeze. The content naturally was ready before and I merely needed to worry a bit on the design of the book and add the audio commentary.

If you are not owning an iPad, you are of course not left out and you can find the same audio comment of course also on the Mountain Sketches project page.

Creating the audio commentary was a somewhat lengthy, yet amusing task. The commentary, roughly 3 min in length, created many times that much worth in out-takes filled with obscure noises and yet to be invented words. For the sake of everyone’s mental health these will be stored in a password protected, encrypted hard-drive and buried in a secret place.

Overall I am rather satisfied with the resulting book considered that iBooks Author is, as you probably know, not targeted to produce text-books rather than photo-books like this one. But with some creativity and compromises one can get around so some of its limitations. I hope that with upcoming releases of the software Apple losens up a bit and opens the software with tools going beyond the creation of textbooks.

Coming up next:

In the end I chose to publish this one first, as I wanted to use the re-issue of the Cornwall e-book to also do some fresh (re-)processing of the images and do some fixing where necessary. Also the production of the video which I plan to include will take some more time. I will keep you posted once that’s done, most likely some time after Lightroom 4 is officially released.

But now I would like you invite over to my e-book page and download the iBook version of my Mountain Sketches e-book (or is it now iBooks?) for free from this page. I hope you do enjoy it.

  1. I have to admit that the exif-solution is a bit cumbersome, but I couldn’t find a decent solution I was satisfied with.  ↩


The Mänty Sketches #1

It is now two years ago that I launched a project, which I called the Winter Trees-Project, which is, as you have guessed already, about trees, well, in Winter time. The project did though not really progress much during that time. Truth to be told and good idea aside, nothing really happened.

When I initiated this small project I thought it to be a good idea, as

  • there are trees literally everywhere around here, and
  • I am not very comfortable photographing them, hence it would be a good project to develop my eye.

The Mänty, or Scots Pine, is probably one of the most common trees around here and once covered with freshly fallen snow, they often are exceptionally beautiful. The reddish colour of the trunk, the muted dark green of the leaves create a beautiful contrast with the fresh snow.

Back then though, my vision appeared to be not clear enough and the results weren’t really satisfying. It felt like, pardon the pun, I didn’t see the forest for the trees. During the last two years my eye and mind seemed to have been working in the back of my head and even though I wasn’t actively pursuing the project, my vision, or the idea, got clearer until it struck me and eventually started to see these images.

Now it’s merely an issue of waiting for the snow to fall, which for some reason this year hasn’t happened much, finding the right views or simply trees that have character.

Many of these images were taken during heavy snowfall which gave the images occasionally an impressionistic impression. Due to this I chose to entitle the series Mänty Sketches similar to my previous winter related series the Mountain Sketches.

The project is still in it’s infancy and more images will be added over the next few weeks and months in individual posts. A compilation, the best-of or portfolio if you will, you can find on the projects page.


My Best Of 2011 – The Photographs

Sometimes it is hard to believe that yet another year is soon about to be referred to as last-year and it’s that time of the year again to sit down and do a little recap, just like last year. This first post can be referred as the photo-edition.

In photographic terms it was a pretty successful year, even though many things and trips that I had planned didn’t quiet worked out the way I hoped for. As opposed to the previous years I had only limited time and possibilities for extended photographic journeys, yet I returned from most of these trips with successful compositions.

The two larger trips to Norway were symptomatic for this year: Successful in terms of produced images but not really in terms of execution and both ended much earlier than intended. Rather unfortunate, yet beneficial weather conditions and an drained car battery in Lapland come to mind. Still the images and the two projects which came out of these failed trips are amongst my all time favorites (at least so far).

Feel free to visit the Mountain Sketches, Falls and Poro in Motion projects to view some of these images within context.

Luckily not all trips turned out to have an unexpected twist and we had time for a road trip through the north and east of Finland in which I could contribute images to my Falls-Project and further explore the Finnish Lapland. Most of these images are still waiting to be processed though.

This year also was interesting since I started to work both technically and concept-wise a bit different from the previous years. For starters I definitely used my 70-200 what felt almost exclusively which led naturally for much different compositions. Getting a bit away from the usual ’wide-angle’ compositions presented itself as a welcome refresh to my work and opened up my eyes and compositions a bit.

Technical aspects aside, I started to think more in terms of projects, stories or series other than searching for the one image, and I have to say, this approach had a liberating effect to my work. Working, or better thinking more in creating a series of images, telling a story and creating a ”body of work turns out to be very inspiring. A first glance at works like this you can find in my articles An Evening At The Harbour, A Violin Teacher’s Room and Kiutököngas – A Series which are just the beginning with more to come in the future. Also the yet to be released “Winter-Trees” and “Lamp-Squirls” are very interesting, at least for me. But those will be out in the beginning of next year.

In an upcoming post I will reflect a bit more on behind-the-scenes-kind-of topics but until then here are my ten personal favourites from this year.

Just as last year this post will also contribute to Jim Goldstein’s Blog Project. Read more about the project on his blog