Sunday, 7 December 2014

white eyelashes are cool

A new self-portrait! And another! I am so shocked I don't really know what to say! Perhaps that is because it of course isn't very shocking or surprising but quite the opposite. I recently took a look at my Flickr photostream and I couldn't but laugh a little when I saw how many of my 15 newest photos are self-portraits.

Our final project for this semester was to remake 5 images that inspired us. These two are not any of those. (I would very much like to publish them but I still have to figure out how the copyright thing works.) Instead, one of the remakes involved face paints and window light in solitude of my room, and I got inspired especially by the white paint (probably because of Kirsty Mitchell's Wonderland series), and when I was finished, I washed off what I had painted for the remake and started playing.
I had my setting ready from the previous shoot: my chair on my bed to support my black sheet as the background, me sitting on my bed with a remote control wired to the camera and the camera wired to the computer on which a tethered shoot in Lightroom. This solved the problem of getting off the bed to go behind the camera to see the pictures, and the problem of not noticing incorrect focusing. And oh boy, getting the focus right was hard. I have come to dislike noses a lot because of that shoot as they tend to steal all the attention.

Despite of the disadvantages of taking self-portraits, sometimes I really do like being just by myself. I don't have to please anybody else, I only need to focus on what I do, I have all the time in the world and I have nobody else to let down but myself. One of the reasons I like photography is that I can interact with my subjects, but also there's something magical in exploring alone, it's a bit of healthy me time (opposed to Facebook or general procrastination on computer).

I was just randomly playing around, but I guess I subconsciously went for an appropriate-ish theme with both looks: a frostbite traveller and a catatonic clown-like something. (For those of you who don't get to those temperatures: when it's as cold as -20 degrees celsius, the vapour from your breath does sometimes freeze on your eyelashes and eyebrows.) Lately I've thought about the purposiveness of photography a lot (without coming to a conclusion so far) and in my own work I seem to have judged a photo to not to have had a purpose unless I wrote the purpose down on paper. That of course is not the definition of a suitable purpose, but I'm going to think about this more later and finish wrapping some Christmas presents!




When I was finished with the shoot, I didn't want to wash my cool paint off right away so I started to cook and forgot I didn't have the cream I needed so I went to a nearby Sainsbury's with white lines on my face. I'm still not quite sure if you're expected to blend in the crowd more in this country than at home, but at least I didn't get arrested.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

embrace the accidents!

A brilliant accident occurred once more. This time we had a lighting workshop and I wanted to try long exposure with a flash, but the flash didn't fire. I'm glad it didn't.


These accidents keep occurring. I mean, of course they do, accidents are part of exploring and I'm happy they are, because they are sometimes brilliant, like this one. I do, however, feel bad when I'm not in control of the accident, and can't recreate it, because it makes me feel like the picture isn't the product of my efforts, I just happened to be there and happened to press a button.
But maybe I should just accept that these things happen (at least now that my technical skills aren't very sophisticated yet) and enjoy them. I guess it's hard to fight back when your opponent is something as random and unpredictable (and nice) as (nice) accidents are. And after all, accidents are an inevitable part of life, and one of the reasons I love photography is its profound link to reality.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

work of a genius, eh?

We have a lecturer who has frequently told us, first year photography students and film students, that we are not geniuses. (What does he know, we might as well be!) As I have understood, his point is that creative work is not a product of a genius or magical powers called creativity and inspiration, but rather hard work and planning. I think it is a very good point but I find it funny that just the fact that we chose to study something creative and related to arts makes us appear arrogant. Despite of not being completely serious he seems to have a consistent need to say so. Yes, sometimes I am very proud of what I have accomplished in terms of photography but I try to be healthily modest about it, and I by no means think it has anything to do with any superiority to normal (= non-photographer) people. Also, I am often very careful to not to think or claim that my work is art in order to stay away from the confusing stigma of arrogance related to the current conception of 'art'.
I thought I knew what he meant so I didn't think much of it. However, it turned out I did not fully understand and I had to learn it the hard way.

We were assigned a portrait project, and I was very excited and wanted to prove my skills and passion to myself and our lecturers. I knew that that wasn't what I was supposed to do, but I waited and waited and no inspiration came to me. I wanted to succeed so badly that I was afraid of not fulfilling my own expectations, which almost left me with no portraits whatsoever.
I finally forced myself to create a plan for the images. I thought it was a good plan, but I wasn't completely sure it would be good enough for me, but I did my best to make the plan into images. Eventually the plan failed because I had waited so long to execute it and I ended up just taking whatever portrait type shots I could the day before the deadline with a friend from my course.

So, here's another assignment photo that turned out to be very different from what I planned it to be. This time the change wasn't due to lack of technical skills but the lack of emotional intelligence and brain in general.
Given the circumstances I like the image very much. That, however, has nothing to do with being a genius, nor does it have anything to do with hard work and planning. Thus I am rather confused with the lesson I should have learned. One thing I promise, though: one day (hopefully soon) I will publish a photo that has for its existence to thank me and only me, not an accident, not an unexpected event. I will have planned it, executed it and faced and fixed the problems regarding the execution, and it will be my creation* and I will be proud of it. I will produce a good photograph with hard work and careful planning and see how it turns out.

*Doesn't mean that I would have to do it all alone, but that the creative choices will all be mine



Monday, 6 October 2014

reflective approach

For years the approach I have taken in planning and executing a photo shoot has been simple: I take a model, some cool clothes and a great place with some exciting props and try to come up with something that works for us. That is not a very good approach, though I guess it matches my aim of just creating something visually appealing - kind of. The only good things I can say about that approach is that I hopefully learned to be spontaneous at a location. Otherwise, that's just a very efficient way of creating meaningless photos.
The reason why 'pretty' and 'visually appealing' alone are not enough is that they do nothing. People might give the image a glance and think 'yeah that's pretty alright' and never think or take a look at it again. Nothing altogether has been accomplished.
I might be wrong with this, of course. This might just be a stage in my thought process, and later I might come to the conclusion that if something is not pretty enough, it's meaningless, but when something is absolutely beautiful, the human eye and the brain are by some evolutionary reason simply drawn to look at the image and absorb the beauty into their souls and never be sad again...


What would be a better approach, then? To have the story ready before the pictures? To have a noble cause and to look for a story and a way to put it in a picture? To see or experience something intriguing, and to study it and to capture the feeling into pictures?
There might not be a right answer to this. (Too obvious, huh?) For pedagogical reasons I have already been put outside of my comfort zone to use very different approaches for my university assignments: technical, observational, careful studying. I would assume that I will have to try many more approaches, and hopefully learn to use the one that I need each time.
Whatever the approach, some of them will require planning. However, all of them have to have an aim*. The success of an image can only be compared to its aim. Does this fashion advertisement increase the number of sales? Does this family portrait reflect life at that moment? How well does this portrait describe the subject? The aim is the way we judge the result, and the approach should support the aim. (And if the aim isn't very high, that might be reflected in the approach, as in the first approach discussed.)

*This, of course, applies not only to photography but to all creative processes, and is not limited to them only

The two images in this post are from the same photo shoot which I conducted in my shower. I had a certain aim, which was to use slow shutter speed in a meaningful way. From that technical aim I proceeded to a semantic and a conceptual aim. Because of the lack of technical understanding I completely failed to create that image. After deciding that it was no use to try to reach that particular aim in the current situation, I changed my aim and tried a couple of other things just to play and explore, as I already had my camera on a borrowed tripod and my black sheet was already wet.
Maybe this is a demonstration of how I succeeded in improvising in a situation that didn't seem promising to what I had planned. Eventually I did not reach that, but I got something else.


I feel like I just wrote all of that above to state the obvious. However, I am writing this blog for myself, and if this is what I need, this is what it shall be.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

pleasantly windy

Hi, I am Katariina. Three weeks ago I moved to Edinburgh, and I am now studying photography in Edinburgh Napier University. Some people tell me that I am very brave for daring to do all this, but that is not true simply because I was never afraid. That is necessarily not a good thing, but this time it was. You know how people have dreams? I am currently living mine.


Actually it sounds rather weird to 'live a dream', but that's what this is. It's a dream I've had, and it's wonderful, weird and blurry, but it's also true. It's my day-to-day life, it's success, it's failure, exciting, boring, lovely, hurting, easy and difficult. I go to listen to a lecture, and while I'm sitting in the lecture hall, and I'm being given homework and the same time I can't believe that I'm actually there, in that lecture hall, being given homework by a lecturer of the university in which I got in to study photography, in Edinburgh.

When I came to Edinburgh for the first time, three years ago, I fell in love with the city and told my friend: 'I'm going to live here some day'. And now I do. On that trip I bought a little Nessie sculpture, and now that Nessie is swimming above my bed to remind me of that trip.
I have always wanted to learn and liked school, but the biggest reason to make me excited to be here is that I actually get to study what I love. For the first time in my whole life I get to study not for the tests and the exams, but solely for myself. Yes, there will be tests and displeasing assignments, and I'm not interested in all aspects of photography, but I want to learn that stuff too, because if I didn't, a 'self-taught photographer' would have been enough for me and I wouldn't have applied to university.


So far we have been given two photography assignments. Both of them give us quite a lot of freedom, in a way, but I think they are rather challenging as well. This is one of the pictures I have taken for the first assignment.


Friday, 1 August 2014

new perspective

I was privileged to take part in a rather special experience, surprisingly smooth and less exciting in relation to my expectations, and this is what I got out of it in terms of the camera.












And in case you didn't guess or look well enough, let me make it clear:



Saturday, 12 July 2014

alexander

These are the very first graduation photos I have ever taken, and I'm happy that they turned out to be fine. I was anxious because of the brutal sunlight of the super sunny day, but the green and the wooden stuff out there helped a lot with that.
Alexander gave me a lot of freedom with the "artistic execution", but it was a new experience to photograph for somebody else's needs. It was the first time that I actually could disappoint another person if I didn't do well enough, and that sure did motivate me to do better especially with Lightroom. It was refreshing to have to think about the process from a new point of view, but I think I still concentrated too much on things like the background rather than the whole photo and its purpose. Practice makes perfect, right?



I'M MOVING TO SCOTLAND IN TWO MONTHS
(I'll clear my head and then I might be able to produce more than one sentence at a time about the topic. So, more about that later.)

Sunday, 6 July 2014

forward

Forward

I'M GOING TO EDINBURGH TO STUDY PHOTOGRAPHY

Sunday, 29 June 2014

determination

For the whole June I've been seriously busy doing absolutely nothing. Even though I pretty quickly understood that after the exams I don't have to feel the weight of school stress on my shoulders any more, getting used to this freedom has been a rather extraordinary experience.
One might think that "busy doing nothing" means the opposite of being busy, of course, but it doesn't. I haven't accomplished much during this month, even things I can't wait to start with. Going back from "constant stress" to "life" is much, much harder than I thought it would be.

One week from now is a day I fear. That day, the things (IB results) that are revealed then, will determine a part of my future.
So yay, here are some (partly really bad) scanned film prints because I am determined to learn the use of film as a part of my actual personal projects rather than just snap shots of some random things I have done. And it seems that some of them are from events I've told you about.








Photo by Henna

Photo by Henna



And here's one more: a random, weird shot that I am very happy about. If you try hard, you can see my face three times. And the great thing about this shot is that it was a total accident.


Monday, 26 May 2014

pink hair and syrup

Once upon a time it was a surprisingly sunny Sunday, and what did I do on that particular Sunday? I sat on a lump of cloth, played with honey, flour and face paints, and used those to dye my hair pink with my best friend. Unfortunately it's quite easy to guess that we did all that for a photo shoot.

This is another photo I created for the photo series describing an event, the first one presented in the previous post. I would never have succeeded without help: the syrup was unbelievably sticky and extraordinarily eww.
Whereas the first photo was about the dull despair of the endless amount of the stuff I'd have to study and learn, this photo describes an emotional roller coaster: the week wasn't just dull despair, it was also very active despair and frustration as well as hysteria (in a kind of a positive way) and joy.

I felt this to be a more challenging photo, as my plan required quite a bit more of manipulation than just of the crop and the colours. Also, I'd have to manage to try to express emotions in an exaggerated but not overly pretentious way.
When we started, I had no clear picture of what I was aiming for and absolutely no knowledge about how the face paint and honey (with flour) with work on my hair. Well, for starters, the flour and the honey were a catastrophe. Overall it was hilarious. Because I had not planned the facial expressions very carefully, I tried all kinds of things with the majority being just for fun. And we did have fun. At some point I laughed almost so hard that I thought that I'd die. I mean, I laughed so hard that it actually became uncomfortable, but I couldn't stop. It was hysterical, just like it should have been to get the right kind of photos.


I was quite pleased with the result, though it required many hours of work and some accidents to guide me. This process was clearly out of my comfort zone, and because it is also not conforming to my style, the photo feels rather distant to me. The colours are not what I'm used to, similarly to the strong facial expressions. These are not necessarily bad things, but still, this photo feels like a good idea that is only half way there in the execution.
 
Here are a couple of photos that have not been touched with Lightroom or Gimp, reflecting the situation, though from these you can't feel how yucky and funny it felt when the syrup was slowly running down my face and neck.
Try it. I can guarantee a new and exciting experience. Please don't put it in your eyes. I'd say mouth is okay.
 
 

 

Sunday, 18 May 2014

one and one is more than their sum

Quite a while back I applied for a photography degree in a university that asked me to send them a series of photographs describing an event of my own choosing. The time I chose to create the series was a holiday week that was dedicated for studying for the mock exams of our IB2 year, and there weren't too many events that I had planned to take part in during that week... except the week itself. As I actually didn't spend the holiday at home, and it was the most relevant thing in my life at that time, that week became my event.
The activities to which I engaged to during the week were simply boring: eating, sleeping, crying (fortunately that's exaggerating), studying, procrastinating and doing something relaxing to let go of all the stress. The emotions we (or I) felt during that week were another thing completely, much more interesting: excitement, frustration, exhaustion, anxiety, despair and so on. So that's what I started to build my series on, emotions.

It was both a challenge and a refreshing experience to try to plan everything beforehand. Usually I have an idea without a goal, and now I had a goal without ideas. First I came up with all kinds of frustratingly obvious things, but after all I came up with three components; one very simple for its documentary nature and two that needed a lot of preparation.


The night Aino and I took this one, we tried to create the two bigger concepts, but the first didn't work out, at all. (It would have been awesome to have a photo about the game nature of IB, but actually my idea for portraying it wasn't a good one so it's good that it didn't work.)
This one was a tricky one at first, too, because it was very clear to me that I wanted to portray the endless amount of studying that was needed and the dull despair of that by positioning to mirrors face to face. Executing that was more difficult than I first thought, but in the end it worked perfectly with Aino simply sitting her back against a bigger mirror and holding a smaller one.
I'm very happy with this photo; it ended up reflecting the emotion I planned it to. I also had dreamed of using mirrors for quite a long time, and I was very happy for succeeding in using them at the first try.


As I was there taking the photo myself, I can't say if it's easy or difficult to comprehend the setting from the actual finished photo, so here's a kind of a BTS photo that only reflects the camera through one mirror.


Two more final exams to go and then I'm FREE

Saturday, 3 May 2014

anni of pine cones

Hello again! Life has been quite hectic recently, and that's still not going to change until a couple of weeks from now when the final exams of IB diploma programme end. (I'll have my first exam on Monday.)
It's totally weird to be so excited and afraid of the near future. I'm so happy to let go of the source of endless anxiety for just a while even, but before that I really have to take part in the exams and ace everything. And to be honest, right now I don't feel like acing math and physics.

Nearly a month ago I was asked a question: "What kind of novels would you choose if somebody were to buy them for you?" I knew what I wanted to give as an answer, and that's what I told them, but I also had to say that I can't remember when I last touched a book that didn't have anything to do with school.
That's when I again realised that I have given up a lot of things for school, not just novels but also sports, photography, blogging, hanging out with friends and enjoying things in general. Now it feels liberating, exciting and also weird to be soon able to slowly start living again.


To celebrate my hibernation (or rather its coming-to-an-end) I am presenting photos that were taken during the last days of last year.

Even though it's been a while since taking these, I still haven't quite figured out why I'm not confident about these photos. I like the elements of the setting and Anni performed beautifully in spite of my messy and poor guidance. However, the photos were taken in a poor lighting (I really should stop using reading lamps) and the ended up being flat. I'm just not yet sure what I should have done better, which is why I feel weird about these.


I really do like the setting; the pine cones, the golden whatever-they-are and Anni's gaze, for that matter. Maybe it would be good practice to try to recreate the setting with some essential improvements to the execution.


Thursday, 3 April 2014

hallaharso

For a couple of years my friends and I have had a Pumpkin Feast (food, a pumpkin, candles and deep gratitude for the existence of the Harry Potter novels) instead of a "traditional" Halloween. In Finnish homes it is not particularly easy to imagine being in the Great Hall of Hogwarts, so we have had to make a dramatic but relatively simple change by decoration. The most important factors in this are candles and frost blankets, hallaharso.
At every Pumpkin Feast we have covered the roof by frost blankets, maybe not creating a Hogwarts-like atmosphere but definitely increasing the magical feeling. For a long time I have longed to have a photo shoot with frost blankets and candles, and so Aino and I did it.

I like eyes. Eyes are pretty and looking at something, someone or somewhere particularly is an effective way of creating meaning - as well as covering the eyes is. I would say that usually covering a part of the body that is essential for identifying the person and/or emotion (such as eyes) leads to anonymity or silencing the person. Anonymity I find handy, but I want to be very careful with silencing because of the belittling effect of it.
I like this photo very much because it's neither anonymous nor belittling, but quite the opposite: Aino succeeded very well in creating an atmosphere or power even though her eyes cannot be seen at all, and that's what makes the photo what it is. (Though also the frost blanket worked just as beautifully as I imagined it to.)

Untitled

As we are still young and hold our lives dear, we didn't use candles and fire but Christmas lights instead. Here you can see our setting which is super-professional once again:


One day of school left!

Saturday, 22 March 2014

juniper (again)

Last summer Henna and I were spending some quality time far away from the city, and I wanted to practice modelling. So, we climbed up a side of a big hill to a huge rock wall (which you actually can't see in the photos but I swear it was huge).
Henna hadn't held a camera for a while and I didn't really know what to do so I guess in other circumstances it could have been more educating. As the time I've spent on that side of the camera is rather limited, this ended up being quite an important experience anyway.

I want to learn to model for two reasons: first of all, I want to be able to guide the models better and I think knowing their perspective helps with that, and secondly, when I want to photograph and don't have a model, I want to be able to use myself.
I often wish I could be both the photographer and the model at the same time, see how my movement looks in the camera just then. It would be super cool.


I've heard that a model in a comfortable position only gives you a comfortable photo, which would be the opposite of interesting. I felt very uncomfortable climbing under that juniper, but I'm pretty sure that that fact alone is not why I like these. And it's not even the long hair: even when looking at these, I can honestly say that I have absolutely no regrets.




Photographs by Henna

Saturday, 15 March 2014

dance!

For quite a while I've done very little else in terms of photography but personal work, so it was quite refreshing and educating to take my camera with me on Valentine's day since that was also vanhojen päivä, the day when the second-years become the oldest students in their high schools (except these guys are not the oldest until the 4th of April when we finally leave the school).
This glorious day is celebrated with beautiful dresses, gorgeous suits and a dance.

I didn't prepare my camera bag very well for the dance and as I am not very experienced event photographer, my photos from the actual dance didn't end up being particularly world-shaking. However, what I enjoyed more was taking portraits for the dancers. I really like that big, round window.

 


 

 
 
Here are a couple of extra photos and gifs from the dance.
 


 
Just a few more deadlines left and then all that remains are the last of the mock exams and then the final exams!

Saturday, 1 March 2014

one whole year

I have now had this blog for one year. So much has changed and yet so little.

One year ago I already knew that I wanted to study photography in Scotland. Now the application has been sent.
One year ago I wrote "I'm going to proceed with as little words as I can". Ha ha. Like I had even tried.
One year ago I had photographed so little that I find it amazing that my dreams of studying photography have not changed in any way, though maybe now I have a better idea about what it is going to be like.
One year ago I started this blog to develop as a photographer and write about my journey.

This is what the first year of my blog looks like:




 




 
 



 




 
Juniper

No return II
 

 
 

 

One year ago I started this blog so I could now see the development, and I think I have developed the ideas I have for the photos as well as the visual representation of those ideas. Back then I just thought it was nice to take nice pictures, but now I have matured and my goals are now clearer and more realistic.
Thus I think it's time to stop jumping around and start to call this blog Juniper Photography instead of Juniper Jumper, and I can't wait to see what Juniper Photography will look like after another year.

Thank you for all of you who have shared this journey with me so far! Thank you for participating in my photography projects as models and assistants, and thank you for giving feedback and you for reading and simply existing. This blog wouldn't be the same without all of
you.