Thursday, 26 December 2013

kata ja kataja

One night I experimented a little and this is what I got as a result.


I hope all of you have had the kind of Christmas you wanted! I have enjoyed myself, watched films and eaten chocolate... and I've finally had some time for new photography. I very very much like frost blankets with (electric) candles.

Now I shall return to my mystery project... 

Saturday, 7 December 2013

trench coat and the gigantic fish trap

In Tornio, Kukkolankoski, there is this pecuiliar piece of art. It is big (at least 10 meters long and 2 meters tall and wide) and made of branches alone. The shape is tube-like and it looks like a weird cage. We quite didn't know what it was, who put it there and why but we thought it looked nice and interesting so we parked our car, got out and took photos.

It was quite hard to make the scene look as interesting in the photos as it was really was. Also auto focus didn't work in the branchy setting so I failed some photos because of focusing by hand. The first one here however ended up looking so good that I am intending to put it in the university application.


Here are some additional photos with the trench coat that didn't end up too special, but I like the light in them.

In the end we decided that the pecuiliar thing might be intended to be a fish trap.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

there's no return

No return I

So, I cut my hair. From the length of 35 cm to 2 cm.
I can still remember the situation in which I got the idea: I was trying to study in our kitchen, but when I realised I could cut my hair, I couldn't concentrate on school things anymore but I caught myself from having stared 10 minutes out of the window thinking about hair instead of psychology. I had no idea if I was going to like the result or hate it, but the idea was so tempting that I couldn't stop thinking about it.
I had been very annoyed because of my longish, curly hair. It very rarely looked good and I didn't enjoy taking care of it.
I waited for a couple of weeks to see if I still liked the idea, and I never doubted one second. One night, then, I went to my friend Henna's place and in their bathroom I took the scissors and cut. Thank you, Henna, for excellent finishing.
No return II

Why, might somebody ask. Yes, I've been thinking about that myself too. Usually I've replied "because it seemed like a good idea" because I didn't know what to say and because it was true, but that's not all there is to it:
I wanted to cut my hair because I don't want my beauty to be determined by my hair. I want to be as beautiful without long hair as with it. I also don't want my hair to determine who I am, I wanted to prove that I look as much like myself with hair and without it, and not depending on if I have done my hair or not.
The result proved everything I wanted it to. I look just like me, maybe even more than before as there's no hair to hide my face. In my own opinion I even look better with short hair because "bad hair day" means something quite different now. It's just my face that determines me now, and those actions of mine that other people associate with my face. (Yeah sure there's clothes and jewellery but it's hair-talk now.)
I wanted it to not be a big deal, and in the end it wasn't.

Now, then, what am I going to do with my precious hair? I'm not going to throw it away, and apparently nobody wants to buy it or take it as a donation. Very much by accident I noticed that photographer Laura Makabresku announced on her tumblr that she collects hair. So, now that I've taken benefit from the hair myself, I want it to end up to somebody who finds use for it.
I am going to send my hair to Poland.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

lady red birch part II

When Magdaleena and I were shooting in the botanical gardens of Oulu university, we fist got photos that were beautiful and nice. They were okay. We then continued to another batch of the red birches, and by some magic unknown to me we started creating these shots below.
I don't know what happened, but the result totally amazed me. The light, the leaves and the branches suddenly started working perfectly, and the background too with the help of an umbrella. It wasn't easy as I had to work on manual focus but I am very pleased with the result. (I can't wait to shoot with Magda again!)
Often I feel uncomfortable when the photo shoot becomes successful due to some ambiguous factor that I have no idea of. I am of course happy that I got good photos, but I feel extremely unprofessional and powerless. The success feels like an accident.
I hope I will gain more skills to see what works and what doesn't simply by practise: shooting and evaluating my photos.
Of this set I prefer the two last ones, the 3rd photo for it's dynamics and the 4th at least for its successful editing (which is a terrible reason to like a photo, but I will not go any deeper into that this time) and the setting.

Even though these shots look rather autumnal, they were actually taken in the end of the summer. Today the nature took a whole new look again. To be honest I did feel quite cold when shooting for 2 hours.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

sonja and the look

 -- At the moment I am awfully busy with school work (that's not going to change very soon) and my university application as well as the (Finnish high school) arts diploma work (which I will discuss here too, eventually). Please take a look at my portfolio and tell me which 2 are the most interesting and which 2 least interesting! --

This photo was taken in the photography camp in the summer. For the whole camp I wanted to try artificial lighting (in addition to the street lamp in Jenny shots) and an opportunity that matched with my vision was given to me in a studio setting.
We were in a hurry so I didn't get to participate to setting up the lights as Sonja and I were busy with the hair and make-up which was exceptionally essential in this photo. I first got the idea when I saw a dead butterfly on the ground. I was also inspired by this photo.

The reason for publishing this photo so long after the camp is that I haven't felt very comfortable with the edit. Below is the photo straight from Lightroom and below that an additional edit I tried and didn't like. The one above is better than the two below but I'm not completely satisfied with the clouds either. I still wanted to get the photo out, not just leave it deep in my computer to rot for forever. Again, this is more like a diary of development rather than a show-off for perfectly commercial material.

I felt quite lost with the photo; it didn't feel finished with just the white background but I didn't know what to do with it. Usually I would have taken a photo like this outside in the nature and in that situation I never have to think about what to do with the background. (Maybe I should?)

I've been dreaming of a hair stylist and a make-up artist who would make my visions true better than I can. Maybe some day that'll happen!

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

lady red birch part I

When I visited the botanical gardens of Oulu University, I was rather sure I was going to have a photo shoot there some day. There are these lovely bridges and weird plants; there's a great variety of nice places for photos. What most delighted me were the red birches. Now they might easily be mistaken as a product of autumn but actually the leaves are red even in the summer when everything else is green.
Finnish summer is rather nice-looking but as a photographer I'm definitely not a fan of grass green and leaf green. They're too... joyful? usual? boring? This must be one of the reasons for why the red birches caught my eye.
So, red birches. Red is dramatic. Who would be adequate for a dramatic photo with the red birches? Magdaleena.

The birches weren't the only beautiful thing in the garden but we found other nice spots too:



You know, Magdaleena bought that dress for 6 euros. I sure love second hand clothing stores.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

girl in the lake

Aino and I got this idea in the summer, I guess. Back then it sounded so simple: Aino climbs down and swims a little and I shoot. At some point we understood the fact that it might be dangerous: the water is awfully cold. I can't thank Aino enough for being so brave. Another whole thing is that you can't even see that she's cold at all.
So, as it really was a little (or a little more) dangerous, we did prepare: first of all we didn't go alone and we had some of these with us. Yes, they were very colourful. And of course we had warm clothes and tea for Aino.

If somebody would ask, I'd tell them that it was an artistic choice but honestly I failed with all the photos. During the photo shoot I didn't notice anything (I should have checked and probably will in the future) but when I opened the photos on computer I saw that in each and every one of them the focus was on the rocks and not on Aino. I don't think I could have been any more disappointed (well maybe I could have but I don't want even to imagine such a situation). Every photo had a tiny bit of rock in the bottom like in the last shot here and in every photo the focus was there instead of Aino who was in the middle of the photo.
I was too busy shooting as much as I could when Aino was in the freezing water. I would have felt huge guilt for just browsing the photos when Aino was in the water. Now I ended up feeling even more guilt about not checking. Aino was in the cold water and I couldn't do even this one little thing right.
Now that I got these five out rather nicely I don't feel so bad. The fact still is that these could be sharp and there could be so many more of finished photos if I had done my job right in the photo shoot. I had to abandon many photos in which Aino had done very nicely.
I am still very disappointed but it could have been worse. It could have been that there wouldn't be a single photo to use. I'll just have to remember this in the future, especially when doing something as extreme as this.

It isn't cold so what now?

Having shot Aino in this magnificent lake-like thing I can't wait to do more with water. I've been dreaming of a camera that could be used underwater and I'd like to shoot with more control in a less extreme location like a swimming pool. Though this location had those awesome rocks, swimming pools don't have such things.

If you yet haven't noticed, here you can see the white dress in action. This is what it was bought for and I think it worked quite well.

Deep Down


With these shots I think I did quite good job in Lightroom. It's still relatively new thing to me to manipulate photos at all and now I've got the heaven of colour adjustment and the heal tool. Call me lazy but I open photos in Gimp (replacement for Photoshop) only in super extreme cases and I don't have too many of those. There's the Dream photo II that has the touch of Gimp on it and another one you haven't seen yet.
So, here's one of the photos after cropping and after colour adjustments but before heal tool. I'm not saying that the result (second photo) is professional looking but I'm proud of myself.

To still lighten up a little this tone of disappointment I can tell you that yesterday we bought artifical blood.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

white dress

I have been planning a photo shoot in which I'd like to use a plain, long dress preferably off-white or of warm colour. A very easy thing to find isn't it? Well, visiting a Salvation Army second hand store I found one. It's of a perfect shade of white with nice design and almost perfect lenght.
Aino and I went to test that dress to a near breakwater with cool bushes, beautiful shore and big rocks.

We didn't have a precise goal so the photos ended up being rather beautiful and nice but nothing more. I became puzzled because of this. Well, not particularly puzzled but I had to think it through. This wasn't the first time we had gone to shoot with no plans but never before had the outcome been so neutral. It could have been that this shoot had nothing even close to extreme (except for one position on a rock that Aino bravely held) or new or exciting.
Thus I've started to think what it is that I want to capture. What is the thing that makes a photograph good? I've thought about a few definitions, but I don't think either one is good by itself. Even all of them together don't explain everything there is to this:
I want to capture something special and beautiful.
I want to get a photograph that shows the best of what is in front of the camera.
I want to capture something that could not be seen in reality.
I want to get a photograph that is more than the reality in front of the camera.

This clearly is an issue I still have to think about. I sure like it when I get a good photograph when I didn't expect it but random disappointments are not nice. I'm not saying I'm disappointed in these shots, no way, but I didn't get thrilled the same way I usually get when shooting. I don't want to lose that feeling so I want to know where it comes from.








On tumblr I was asked about inspiration. What makes me inspired? Such a huge question needs a proper answer, but for now I can give this: my favourites on flickr.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

curtain, our dear friend

I often think about the stories in my photos: Where do they come from? Are there any?
There isn’t much I could relate with; I don’t know much about how other photographers' work on their stories and I don’t know how much I should try to learn from America’s Next Top Model. (If a right person reads this: this is an appeal of help for a proper photography tv show.)
I often see comments to other photographers about their great expressions of stories but usually it’s not anything that I could see in the photo. I don’t know how well I can see the story unconsciously but I don’t stop to think about a photo’s story when I see one. Maybe the most powerful photos do stop me but when they do I just don’t know why. This is something I really have to start working on: I don’t want to do "just pretty” shots for the rest of my life.
Though there’s another thing to this: how consciously have the stories in the great photographs been created? Have poets thought about everything people can read from their poems? I don’t think so. I don’t think I’d ever want to do a shoot in which I am in control of everything. This of course isn’t an excuse for why my photos might seem flat but I am not a person who will do preparations too far. I simply don’t work that way. I don’t yet know if this is a trait or a bad habit.
I should stop doing the thinking while I’m writing (because the text will be messy and weird and might not make sense due to sloppy writing) . This text would continue to perfectionism, obvious and subtle stories and who knows what else. I have written about this before and I have thought about this much more but I feel that I can’t handle the whole or finish the thought not to mention the text. Maybe writing is my way of processing thoughts?
I feel very incomplete. I feel that I don’t know what I’m doing or thinking or where I’m going. I often notice that I don’t know myself very well. But hey, isn’t that why I started this blog?
Enough of deep and troubling thoughts for today: here's something "just pretty" by which I here mean that there's no ideological background for these photos. We just wanted to play with the curtain and the sun and a reflector (in the last photo).




I promise: this is not the last time this particular curtain will be seen in my photos. Aino and I like it very much.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

dream photo II

On the last shooting day of the camp we drove to Atte's summer cottage - an amazing place with the cottage, a garden, a lake, normal forest, rock (big and smaller) and very neat forest which I chose to be the location of my photo shoot (though in the photo you can only see rock).
I guess the assignment surprised everybody: another dream photo. It wasn't the only surprise but we had to use balloons in the photo. That confused me a little, I wouldn't have chosen balloons for my dream photo shoot, but I didn't get stuck. I got an idea.
Even the balloons weren't the last surprise: we also had to use a smoke grenade. Unlike with the balloon, I couldn't have hoped for a better component!

Considering the whole camp this was the day when I best succeeded at working with a vision. It wasn't as clear as the shoe advertisement vision but it became clear enough and I didn't have to show too much uncertainty to my team. Luckily everything worked very well and I got a shot I actually could call something like a dream photo.

Dream Photo 2

This was the first time I got something productive done in Gimp. The whole camp was full of experienced and beginning photoshoppers so I had to try when I had people around me giving advice. I'm rather proud of myself though adding some smoke is probably quite easy in the photoshop scale.

Here is a behind the scenes type of a photo. In this you can see the string holding the balloon and how the smoke wasn't too easy to control. I guess I should add that the smoke also wasn't too pleasing to breathe so huge thanks to the whole brave team!

Where are you?
I'm going to have to order some more of those smoke granades, that's for sure.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

jenny and the frog

The third day of the NVK photography camp was the tough day for me. I thought a fashion advertisement would be very easy as an assignment - I still think it is - but getting a male model just wasn't something I had prepared for.  For why there is a girl in the photos you have to read further.
I actually got a rather clear vision of what I wanted to do with him: a shoe advertisement. He jumping off a (small) cliff, the shoes clearly visible and on the go, his hair and upper body painted so it didn't look too much like traditional gender roles.
I think I tried to fool myself for the whole time about that it's going to be so cool. I made myself excited about it and it went all wrong. Well, nobody did anything wrong, in fact, at least he didn't. It just wasn't like I imagined it. I couldn't have made it much better with Lightroom either. On the first day I learned that if I'm not excited when shooting, I'm not going to be so excited when lightrooming.

After I had seen it wouldn't work with the shoes and the cliff, we went to the water and he jumped in and out of the water but I couldn't make it work. I felt really bad: I felt sorry for myself, I felt sorry for the model and the team for trying to help me and doing all those things for me even if it was for nothing because of me.
I'm still not quite sure what I could have done better. I'd like to be able to do things that are totally out of my comfort zone. Maybe if we'd had more time or if I had had a better vision. I hope it'll come to me one day, why was it that it went wrong.

What made the evening good again was another photo shoot. Two photographers were planning to shoot a new photo for the other one and they wanted an assistant. I wanted something else but my failure to think about and went with them. The idea was really good, the place was really good, the model and the styling and the lighting and the photographer were all really good and we succeeded in creating something very beautiful.
After that very successful photo shoot I felt much better. Jenny, the photographer modelling in Juuli's photo, and I decided to go to shoot a photo for me too. We walked for a while, found a frog, experimented and I finally had a photo. It's not a perfect advertisement or perfect otherwise but I'm eternally thankful for beautiful and fearless Jenny.


I sure hope the little frog survived its scary scary adventure with the giants. And don't ask what the photo is advertising for.

Friday, 19 July 2013

hidden by the light

The assignment for the second day of the photography camp (see my photo and read my thoughts about the first day here) was a movie poster or a promotional photo for a movie. Our group (= 2-4 photographers and a model) got the imaginary movie "Hidden by the Light". There were also others such as "The Lord of the Light" and "Alice in Lightland".
I sort of got an idea right away. It wasn't a ready idea, it was more like images, feelings and thoughts that didn't form one vision but they were separate. "How could you be hidden by the light if you couldn't see the light? Or the shadow", was one of the thoughts I had and as the thought became visual I wanted to cast a shadow of patterned cloth on the model's body.

I had had the idea of a shadow pattern on skin for a while and I must admit that I got the idea from America's Next Top Model: in the photo shoot they used things like tablecloths in between the sun and the model, like in this photo. My photo shoot worked pretty much the same way though we only had a dress, not a whole tablecloth.

Hidden by the Light

The resultant photo doesn't quite match with my vision but I like it very much anyway. We would have needed a tablecloth to implement my vision fully and we didn't have one. Luckily I had Sonja whose skills as a model compensated the lack of cloth quite nicely. Very nicely.
Sometimes it's hard for me to see why a particular photo is a good or a bad one. I don't like the dream photo too much because I feel that it's only a good photo because Erika did well in modeling and I didn't fail completely whereas this one I do like because I can very well see that both of us succeeded. Also this is the first photo with which I did magic in Lightroom.
In case you haven't noticed, I have updated the portfolio page! Also today I edited something that might get in there soon.

Friday, 12 July 2013

dream photo

On the first day of the NVK photography camp we explored style: what is my style, how can I find it and how would I describe it. Going through my favourites on Flickr I wrote down the things I like in the photos and appear often. I wrote down words like

warm colours
extraordinary positions

I also like the idea that light could be visible in the photo, not just a tool to bring out the subject. I can also see softness and girls. I also find that I don't need anything to be happening in the photos. If my style is and will be something like this, I'm pretty happy about it though I'm worried about that where do these things come from. Why do I like these particular photos and features? Is it what I really like or have I just seen photos like these too much? Do I dare to admit what I like? Do I want to like all of these things?
I'm afraid that I've seen too many tall and thin girls, too much certain kind of beauty. I don't necessarily want to have the traditional gender roles presented in my photos, but I'm not sure how to break it with taste. And I'm not even sure do I want to break the tradition, I'm just afraid of being bound by it.
Now that I have thought about what my style could be and can do conscious decisions about it, I'm not really sure where to take it. Each and every photo shoot is going to take my style forward as I stay on the bus. But which bus?

The assignment for the day was to create one's dream photo. It was a rather scary task to be the first one, but using the words I had written helped. Maybe I wouldn't call this the photo of my dreams because there's something in the photo that I don't like. It could be the 2-dimentional feeling, I don't really know, but for some reason I feel that only the model succeeded at this one.

Who is the photographer whose style you like the most?

Sunday, 23 June 2013

bottled fun

On Tuesday Aino and I thought about a nice idea for a photo shoot and I suggested a tea party in a swamp. So, on Wednesday evening we drove (I passed my driving test!) to Pilpasuo and had some very good time! I used my 50 mm 1.8 lens and I totally love it, and Aino too. These must be the best photographs I've ever taken and that makes me sad and super happy at the same time. Obviously I'm very happy and proud of myself and Aino for such good photos but now I also feel that all of my previous work is shit and I've got nothing to put in my portfolio except for maybe two photos from this shoot. Though I still think the photo I started this blog with is very good and that's definitely part of the portfolio.
As I feel like I have developed as a photographer in the actual photographing area these photos are also revolutionary in another aspect: I edited my photos for the first time. I downloaded the trial version of Lightroom and I like it very much. It's just that I am very unsure about the result. I know these look good, but I have no idea whether they could look even better. The thing is that when I look at a photo I get used to the colours and contrasts and all and can't think of improvements. I can see the difference when comparing the finished and the original photo but the finished photo is a result of trials and errors and not a realisation of a vision. I guess I'll just have to do this a lot more and I will start to see things, but now it feels very difficult and I would be glad to hear what you think.
Oh and if you haven't noticed yet I added a page for my portfolio draft and a link to my brand new Flickr page into the top bar!

Actually we never got to the tea party part and we have to do that one later. I am definitely going to use that bottle with the candle again.