Northern Lights, January 2012

I was making photographs for my submission for assignment three in Project52 when Anna told me that there was a display of Northern Lights outside. While this winter hasn’t exactly been slow in aurora activity, we’ve been under cloud cover for almost two months so it was the first realistic chance in quite a while to go shoot them.

Since the last location I shot at (see the pictures on my G+ profile) is a bit inaccessible due to the snow and it was -30°C, I didn’t even consider hopping into our car and driving to a different location so these have all been shot right at the edge of our property. Enjoy…

Project 52: Portrait of a Stranger

The second assignment for Project 52 was to take a portrait of a stranger. Considering that I’m not all that keen on taking portraits in general and I’m a true introvert, this wasn’t an assignment that I was looking forward to. Luckily I had a business trip to Helsinki with some waiting time scheduled at Helsinki-Vantaa airport on the way home.

I knew that the airport would offer me many strangers and having some extra time would mean that I couldn’t really avoid talking to someone and getting their permission to photograph them. So spotting a little labrador puppy at the airport seemed like a real blessing since now, as a retriever enthusiast, I had a good reason to start talking to the people with the puppy. Turns out the breeder was taking the puppy to his new home in Czech Republic, so the portrait has the breeder, puppy, and busy airport in the background.

My final selection is this one:

In fact, it was taken with a composition that I had previsualized while walking around the terminal, so I’m glad it was also the best photograph. The following to out-takes aren’t as strong. In both the sharpness of the puppy isn’t quite good enough and either the crop or contact with the subject is laking. But all in all, I’m satisfied with what I got out this assignment, even though approaching only one stranger for a photograph almost feels like cheating ;)

Book review: Making Light 1 & 2

As one of my goals for this year I decided to read at least one photo book per month. I started out light since a significant portion of my reading time this month has been taken up by the Fire & Ice series. And in fact in this review I’m cheating just a bit ;). My first selection was Making Light 2 by Piet Van den Eynde but I’ll be covering Making Light 1 as well which I read in December.

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Both books cover the use of small flashes – mainly speedlights – off-camera to assist or fully light the photograph you are making. I’ll admit to not being a stranger to the Strobist movement since I’ve been following it from sometime during the early ages of the blog and the initial Lighting 101. Admittedly though, although I’ve dabbled here and there and tried to understand what has been written I’ve spent too little time actually practicing my strobist skills.

I’ve liked the Craft & Vision books I’ve read so far so I grabbed both as they came out and finally started reading them now. Admittedly since I’ve been following a lot of the gear discussions on the Internet for so long, the general parts of the books didn’t really offer me anything new. But they were written extremely well and concisely enough to not bore a reader. What I liked most about both books were the case studies of individual photographs and how they were lit. The text and final image were also – in places – supported by photographs taken without the addition of light giving the reader an even better picture on what the effect of the lighting was.

As a bonus the second book has interviews of several Belgian photographers who use strobes in their work. The interviews offer an even deeper insight on how strobes can be utilized in personal and commercial work. And of course the pictures shown are absolutely beautiful and wonderfully simple gear-wise in their execution. It is so refreshing to see so many photographs that have only been lit with a few lights instead of the often convoluted lighting setups seen in many commercial situations.

After reading both books I feel like I have an even better understanding of what and how to achieve what I want. Now I just have to start really practicing my skills before submitting some poor souls to sit in front of my camera. If you haven’t already, I strongly recommend picking both e-books up. The total price of $10 most likely won’t break your bank.

Project52: Vision statement

So, the first assignment for the Don Giannatti’s Project52 was defining who I am by creating a vision statement and making a photograph that realizes my vision statement. The photograph was supposed to be taken at home or in my own yard and during the assignment period, so some limitations were set. Which was good, since it somewhat reduced the pressure in what should be created.

Although vision statements are not necessarily public, I don’t feel any need to hide mine. In fact, I feel that forcing myself to write it down in publishable format makes it a bit more real. And it forced me to spend a bit more time reflecting on it. So, here goes:

My work shows a glimpse into the character of my subject. It tells a story through the moods and atmosphere it invokes. The first sentence is what applies to my current work in photographing dogs, live music, and fire. It is a sign of a good action or unplanned shot. The second is where I am taking my photography in creating planned photographs.

Miss Mallorys Third Time Lucky "Topi"

The best of 2011

Since my look back had nearly thirty images and Jim Goldstein’s listing requires only ten, I’m bothering you with another post of an even more curated list. Of course, editing and selecting is always a good skill so it was great to narrow the list down even a bit more.

Update the list of all entries can be found on Jim’s blog.