Thursday, December 29, 2005

Latokartano Spirited Away

For several weeks now I have looked at this scenery from inside a bus and thought of how it reminds me of Hayao Miyazaki's movie Spirited Away. Or more precisely a certain scene of the movie, the one where Chihiro attempts to run back home and finds herself at the shoreline looking towards lights of a distant town.

Unfortunately for me though, despite using a tripod I still managed to get the picture shaken. Thanks due lowlight conditions the exposure time was long and only too late I realized I could have used the timer to get the picture. Actually it wasn't too late since I took the picture using timer too and tried to under expose it to get it more darker.

Well I got it darker and I got the picture sharp too but I think this picture is more worth posting for couple of reasons. First of all this reminds me the most of the movie. Second this reminds me to use timer when shooting with long exposure timing. And third this picture helps me to visualize the result in my mind better before shooting. I thought that underexposed photo would look better but to my sincire surprise it did not. It does have nice contrast and all but all together this picture has better atmosphere. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Studies on golden section

Here are three pictures I used to try and study the golden section. The first one is original and the latter two are cropped from the original.

I am not quite sure what to think of the results. First of all the original picture does indeed seem a bit dull after looking at the two cropped ones. There is way too much black around the candle but then again when I tried 10x15, 13x18 and 20x25 dimension on cropping the candle itself became way too dominant when trying to remove the excess black.

I suppose rational choise would've been to use manual cropping but that would have caused some troubles for my studies. Therefore I decided to use the 20x25 dimensions and ruthlessly crop out part of the candle and keep the focus on the flame instead. And so I tried two different croppings: a horizontal one and a vertical one.

On both pictures I tried to align the edge of the candle and the black background at the approximate 5:8 section of the picture with the flame slightly off the center. More so on the latter picture.

But as I said I don't quite know what to think of the results yet. They were done quite quickly and only like and half an hour ago. I have to just look at them and think over the way the picture is different with each cropping. I think I am on verge of getting the grasp on this but I still need more practise. Most of all I have to start taking my pictures so that I have more room to retouch and crop them later even though I strive to take such pictures that the cropping would be unnecessary.

It seems I have to find balance between cropping the picture while shooting it and cropping the picture later while retouching. I have a long path ahead of me.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

88th Independence Day

Today 6.12.2005 Finland celebrates its 88th Independece Day. After over hundred years of Russian goverment and more than half a millennium of Swedish goverment before that have left their marks to Finnish society.

Common Finnish grunt dispises Swedish people and Swedish speaking Finns and scorn the Russians and youth doesn't like to study Swedish which is Finlands other official language. I can relate to that since I was't too happy to study Swedish either. But now ten years wiser I have little regrets for not studying Swedih more. If I had studied Swedish harder I could speak three different languages rather fluently (Finnish, Swedish and English) and would understand the basics of two more (Spanish and Japanese).

Oh well. What is past is past and cannot be changed but we can learn from the past. But it is one thing to learn from the past and to apply what you have learnt. I leart to study more when I have the chance but have I done so? No. But I do have rather good excuses for that since my own and my wife's health took a dive during the time I was supposed to study. And our heatlh had priority over the sutdies. Besides I didn't quite like what I was studying. And so I have come full circle. I wonder if I learn anything from history this time. Posted by Picasa

Monday, December 05, 2005

Misty winter morning

We had snow for some two days before it all melted away and it began raining water for about a week. Depressing since the snow makes a day so much brighter. I am rather glad I took this picture to remind me of the proper winter scenery.

Even though it is December I think it is a wee bit early to wait for the snow cower to be permanent here in southern Finland. As much as I dislike the cold I truly have to admit that having snow on the ground is something very special.

With a slight horror I observe the development of wather patterns over the past few years. Snow cover comes later and later each year and the snow melts away earlier and ealier each spring. At this rate we will not have any snow at all during winters. Now that would just plain suck. For the three darkest months of the year atleast. When there is more light during daytime I don't mind the lack of snow cower. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The yellow-orange carpet

When winter draws near and autumn comes close to ending the ground is filled with leaves. Even a single tree can drop a tremendous amount of leaves and forms an rustling carpet around itself. The carpet can be quite thick even when it is composed of leaves of a single tree. But when there are many trees there will certainly be lots sand lots of leaves.

Such was the case close to the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry of University of Helsinki in Viikki. There are about a dozen of maple trees and when they all started to shed their leaves the result was a large and thick yellow-orange carpet. Walking amid those leaves and listening to the rustle is actually quite therapeutic and relaxing. You should try it some time if you the chance.

For some strange reason I managed to contain myself from running around kicking and throwing the leaves into the air long enought to take a couple of pictures. I was a bit sceptic about the composition of the picture since it is taken rather close to the ground but I think it turned out quite nice. Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 28, 2005

It's coming right for us!

Once again I found ourselves taking a stroll at the Malmi cemetary just enjoying the warm and calm summer day and looking at the squirrels play. For some reason there have been a lot of squirrels at just about ever single cemetary I have visited. Maybe it is because there are lots of trees and bushes and few people at least here in Finland.

We stopped at some bech to relax for a while my wife and I and there were all these squirrels all around. I couldn't resist and just popped out my camera are walked a bit away from the bech to a quite large grass area and sat down. At first the squirrels were frightened of me but I just sat still and waited them to come out and play again.

It didn't take long for the squirrels to come down from the trees but it took a while for them to approach me. They ran and jumped all around me keeping their distance forcing me to switch to burst mode to have even slightest hope capturing them on "film". After a while one brave squirrel started approaching me and took everything out of my objectives limited zoom and shot away. At home I found this photo of the squirrel taking a little aerial bounce.

Yet again these squirrels have something to teach us. It is ok to take shelter from new and scary things but there is no point in awoiding the unknown for ever. Someday someone should and will have the courage to reach out and figure out the unknown. Not all unknowns are against us. Not even the majority by far I believe. Posted by Picasa

Birds over morning mist

One of the few benefits of having the balcony on the east side of the building is the chance to see very nice sun rises. Such was the case when I got myself up surprisingly early to witness a flock of bird flying over the rising sun. There was still mist on the ground which gave the scenery a slightly mysterious look. It was a pretty morining and lucky for me it was late enough in the autumn that the sun didn't rise too early.

I am a very sleepy person. I need like a nine hours of night's sleep and still I am a poor person to get up from the bed. Any how as I was saying the sun doesn't rise too early here up north during late autumn, winter and early spring. Even further up north there is a season called kaamos (don't know what it is in english sorry) when the sun won't simply rise at all. Now how depressing is that? Fortunately down here in southern Finland the sun does rise every day even if for a short while. The shortest day in Helsinki is around December 21st when sun rises at 10.24 and sets at 16.11.

On the other hand then. In the mid summer the sun won't set at all in the northern Finland and even though here in south the sun goes below the horizon it doesn't get dark at night. Which has it's benefits and disadvantages. For a while now I have wanted to take pictures of passing trafic with long exposure timing and to do that it naturally needs to be dark enough. And when it is dark enough outside it isn't warm enough for me anymore. Bummer. Oh well more clothes I guess. Posted by Picasa

Cathedral, Senate Square, Helsinki

This is propably one of the most famous buildings in Helsinki and certainly seems to be one of the most photographed buildings here too. I have to admit that the church of Nikolai is very impressive building and clear blue sky gives very nice contrast to the white walls.

I am not a religious person myself and I have never been inside this cathedral but I hear it is as impressive inside as it is outside. And according to what I have heard it is pretty much booked up for weddings every summer. No wonder I must admit. I once happened to be around when a just married couple came out of the church and decended the long stairs to the senate square. It was a moment that made me consider to have a church wedding myself. Only if I wasn't married already. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Land of the rising sun

Yes well ok. The land of the rising sun is Japan but never the less that phrase is the first thing that comes into my mind from this picture. I have to admit that this picture remind me of the flag of the Japanese army and navy during WWII. I surely can understand the inspiration for that flag.

War aside now. Japanese and Finnish people are very similiar to each other I hear. Both are rather reserved and official in their behaviour. At least when they are sober. When drunk japanese become merry, talkative and inclined to sing a lot for all that I know. We Finnish are are quite different. Some of us became even more quiet and reserved when drunk. Some do come merry and talkative like yours truly but what comes to the stereotypical majority of drunk Finns... Violent, stubborn, idiotic and such. Very big chunk of public healthcare expenses are because of drunk people. Most of the few homicides done in Finland are done drunk. And not to mention most of the men that drown during the summer have their fly open...

And the gloomy things aside! Think merry thoughts and be happy! I would love to visit Japan one day. I like the language even if it is rather difficult. I like the people they are both nice and beautiful. I like the Japanese architecture and landscapes and I have been fascinated by the history of Japan for quite some time now. One more plan for the future I guess. Posted by Picasa

Celebration of autumn, part II

Here we have a more traditional looking outfit of the autumn ball. Green base with red and orange highlights is rather usual for maples. The dress is very colourful and elegant.

I like this picture because of its colours but the high tension powerline in the backround is very very annoying. Sure I could photochop it out of the picture but there are two reasons for why I will not do so:

a) I do not believe in photochopping. Sure the colourbalance can be trimed with appropriate software and cropping of the picture is ok by me. But taking out of entire elements? I think that is just plain wrong. One should be able to take a succeful picture with all the element in the viewfinder.


b) I am not that good with retouching the photos and that is why I have deviced point a). I am planning on learning the fine art of photochopping and retouching someday since it is part of todays digitalphotography. But for now I hang on to point a) and try to take pictures that require as little retouching as possible. Besides cropping of course. Posted by Picasa

Celebration of autumn, part I

Every year the nature gives a farewell party for the summer. For this party every tree and bush with leaves dress up and wear the most dashing attire they have. Every plant has their own style of dressing and their own colour scheme to follow. Some wear red others wear yellow or orange or other shades of the like.

But this tree here wore something quite different that I hadn't seen before. Nice red outfit with green lining gives the tree a very interesting and good looking attire. Not the most traditional look I would say.

After a nice and warm summer I think these kind of parties on the behalf of nature are quite fitting way to turn the season over to winter time. Celebrate and remember the good things of the past season and prepare for the next. Posted by Picasa

Little bushytail

I saw this squirrel running along the grass next to our home building close to the road. He (maybe I should say it since I do not know its gender) ran and bobbed stopping every once in a while. Sometimes just to eat something and other times to look around.

After a while he ran across the street next to a stonewall pretty lose to the halfway of it. First he ran to the left about a quarter the way and then stopped and looked aroung looking rather confused. Then he turned around run about halfway the wall's lenght and stopped again and looked around still looking confused. Yet again he turned to other way and ran to the half-way of the wall stopped turned around and then ran to the end of the wall up the stairs and dissapeared out of my sight.

I guess the little squirrel was a little lost. He was so small that I think he was offspring of that summer running outside the nest for the first times. Looking at the squirrel made me think. Every now and then we all get a little lost and confused. Some of us might grow uneasy of the feeling some of us might fear the feeling of being lost and some of us just might not even notice of being lost. For those of us who do notice of being lost this little squirrel is quite an example. Do not panic, look around for familiar things and after a while you find your way again. I think this little advice works for the situations of being lost in the enviroment and for being lost in life. Either way a little orientation just might do the trick. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, November 26, 2005

First snow

Today we had the first real snow cover for the winter. It had rained a little snow earlier this week but it never coated the land this thoroughly.

I myself aren't too big fan of winter. It is too cold for me. Of course I can and will put on a lot of clothes when going out but that is just the thing. The time I spend on summertime for grocery shopping just about goes to get dressed warmly enough to go out. Ok so I am exaggarating a bit here but the dressing up warmly enough just takes way too long. And I still manage to shiver outside.

The thing is that I have poor blood circulation in my hands and feet (no I do not smoke) so the gloves aren't helping much. And then there is the thing with face. I just can't cover it warmly enough without being mistaken for a robber. Ergo I shiver from cold during winter.

The winter is beatiful season though. A clear late winter day is as gorgeous as it is cold. But I'll manage and try to take the most out of this cold season too. I am rather enthuastic downhill skier although I haven't been able to get into any decent ski resort for the last five or so years. A shame really. Posted by Picasa

Peacock Butterfly

Here is another butterfly picture of which I am pretty proud. The peacock butterfly is a very beautiful butterfly and I have seen more of these over the last years than I have seen the small tortoiseshells. I mention this because I think when I was a child the small tortoiseshell was the most common butterfly I saw. Not anymore.

I hear that the more there are peacock butterflies the less there are small tortoiseshells. A real shame really sinse they bot are very beautiful. But as always one can not get everything. These two species of butterflies are both very beautiful in their own ways and I just wish neither of them become extinct.

Hmm. I wonder if neither of them are even endangered species. Hope not. Posted by Picasa

Small tortoiseshell

This is one of the best butterfly pictures I have taken. You can trust me when I say that taking a picture of butterfly isn't as easy as you might think. If you get too close the butterfly flies away and then you'll have to chase it who knows where! And when the butterfly lands it most likely shuts it wing to blend into the surrounding...

But patience is the key to victory. Sooner or later the butterfly will open its wings and then you must be ready. And as you can see the patience is revarded in the end.

Luckily for me this specific specimen was easier to shoot. It was just basking in the sun and didn't mind me in the least bit! I managed to take some decent shots of it and here is one of them. Posted by Picasa


This ladybug was next to the little critter in my previous post. I thought that maybe I'll snap a shot of the bug but the little bugger was quite fast. Unforunately the focus is a bit off in this picture but fortunately it doesn't show too obviously in this smaller version!

Anyhow I think this picture is rather successful despite the little problem at focusing. Posted by Picasa

A cute little critter

On one of our walks at the park my wife noticed this cute little creature at the side of the road. It didn't move at all and we thought the poor thing to be dead! We knelt next to it and looked closer and noticed it was moving ever so slightly back and forth. Guess it was alive after all!

Just to make sure my wife took a straw and stroke the back of this rodent. At first there was no reaction but after a while the creature moved a bit and later a bit more and started eating something.

At that point I had taken my camera out and gone on all fours. Keeping my camera at the ground level and my backside up I must have looked pretty amusing. At least some of the people who walked past us chuckled a bit. I shot couple of dozens pictures of this cute little thing and I think this is just about the cutest I got. Posted by Picasa

And we have a winner!

I participated into a photo competition held in a small computergaming community (discussion forums of Pelit-magazine) under the topic of "summer". And guess what? I won! Okay maybe the topic gave away a bit.

I think this picture radiates summer. The flowers, the bumbelbee, the colours. The summer. Last summer here in Finland was actually rather nice. Warm and it didn't rain too much unlike the summer before. I honestly feel like the summer 2004 was the rainiest ever. I can hardly remember a single dry day that summer. Of course it didn't rain all summer but it sure rained a lot.

But oh the summer '05! Warm and nice all together. What made last summer even better was that for me it kind of began almost three months early. How is that I hear you ask. Well thanks to our balcony which has glasses. Even when the temperature outside was still barely over the 0 degrees centigrade the glassing of our balcony let the temperature there rise to nice and cosy +25 degrees centigrade. Only for as long as the sun shone to the balcony of course and that was for the first couple of hours after sunrise. But that was enough for us. Posted by Picasa

Storm's arising

I was walking in the park one day in the summer and saw the dark clouds comong forth. The weather front is quite distinct here. The weather was nice and sunny just a moment ago now the thunderstorm is coming!

I had to stop and take out my camera and shoot a couple of shots since I don't think that something like this isn't going to come along too soon again. I saw the rain pouring down and the storm was rushing towards me but I didn't mind. I was close to my home and even if I got wet I could change to dry clothes soon enough. I just wanted to stay and see those clouds pass right over me. It was quite an experience. And yes I did get wet. Posted by Picasa

Beauty of the nature

This flower was actually quite small only a centimeter or two in diameter. It is so small and fragile yet so beautiful. I like the colour of the petals and the small green star in he middle.

I think that everybody should every now and then stop and look around a little. Life is too short to be rushing around all the time. Stop for a while and look around. Look and see all those little things you most likely have missed in the hasty life of yours. Look around and appreciate the small and pretty things you see.

Life and the world around you is full of amazing things just waiting for you to find them. Posted by Picasa

Rays of light

I honestly don't know what to think about these kind of magnificient sights. They look absolutely beautiful and a little mysterious too but it makes me think that if the rays of light are so visible what makes them so? I mean if the air is totally clear these rays wouldn't be visible. What makes them visible as far as I know are the small particles in the air. I wonder if those particles are pollution or water vapour. Most likely both.

Anyhow in my opinion it isn't too good a thing that you can see the air more and more ofthen these days. But as they say "even the darkest cloud has a silver lining". Even if the reason for these rays of lights being so visible is pollution at least it makes nice lightshows from time to time. Posted by Picasa

Malmi cemetary

About five minutes walk away from my home there is a cemetary. It is quite large for a Finnish cemetary but is still rather peaceful place to take a walk. There are quite many squirrels running around the grass and jumping from tree to tree. I suppose people feed the a lot since they are quite tame. The come pretty close to people and rather obviously wait us to feed them a little. Unfortunately we didn't have anything edible with us so these little creatures didn't get their snack that time.

It was a quite warm day in the summer back then and I suppose all that running and jumping makes even the small squirrels thirsty. Good thing that the cemetary has these little wells all around the place so the people visiting the graves of their loved ones can get water for the flowers. And of course a little refreshing sip for the squirrels too! Posted by Picasa

Park close to my home, rapids in the creek

A short way upstream from my home there are couple of little ponds. After the last of the ponds there is still small and nice "rapids". The picture was taken during hot summer so there wasn't too much water in the creek and the rapids did look quite dry.

No matter I still ike the way it looks. It is nice and serene. Fits quite perfectly to the surroundings since it is next to a very beautiful church wich is coated with shingles. I'll have to see if I have any good pictures of the church. Posted by Picasa

Park close to my home, sandy bottom of a creek

I will post a couple more picture taken in the park. This picture is of the sandy bottom of the creek mentioned in the earlier post. I love the way the water shapes the fine sand. It is pretty much similiar to the shapes of the dunes in the desert. At least compared to the pictures I have seen of the desert dunes.

Anyhow I am quite fond of the running water. Let it be a small creek like this one or a bigger river I like to see the water flow. In a small creek like this one the water runs so merrily and in the bigger rivers it is fascinating to look how the sheer big mass of water flows slowly forward.

A few years ago I was sitting a the roof of my wife's childhood home looking at the Ounasjoki river under the midnight sun. The slow flowing of the water was really calming sight and somehow I long to see something like that again. Maybe someday. Posted by Picasa

Park close to my home, flower

There is a little park a minutes walk away from my home. It is still under construction since this area I live in is still developing. Here are still many apartment blocks being built.

In the park there is a small stream which runs along the border of the park. In the upstream is the developing area so there isn't grass yet just this barren looking clayey soil. But in this barren land there still was a single blooming flower. It's name in finnish is saunakukka or peltosaunio in latin it is tripleurospermum inodorum.

I found it to be very pretty in its loneliness. It kinda reminds me that there is always a little hope and possibilities in even the most dire situations. Posted by Picasa