Monday, July 9, 2012

Back with a vengeance

back with a vengeance  

"There's nothing as exciting as a comeback - seeing someone with dreams, watching them fail, and then getting a second chance." ~Rachel Griffiths

 My hiatus is over. I've been taking photos since late spring using a Canon EOS 600D. Shooting with a DSLR has been a bit of a struggle, but I am slowly getting the hang of it. I expected perfect results immediately because it is supposed to be a lot better than my compact point-and-shoot, however, I ended up getting frustrated. There is nothing wrong with the camera, it was just my lack of skill. The photos still pale alongside the work of Tedt, Roe, Dr Roland and the other guys. I am hoping that someday my shots would be better than theirs. Hey, a girl can always dream, right?

As expected, I started within my comfort zone: nature macros, using a Sigma AF 70mm f/2.8 EX DG macro lens. I like the bokeh that it produces. I first used more of the auto-focus because I didn't trust my shaky hands, but after tens of shots I finally got the courage to shoot on manual mode and some turned out to be okay. One thing I noticed is that the camera seems to scare the bugs away which makes my stalking twice challenging, I am hoping that they'd get used to it. Pardon my false hopes. 

Behold my DSLR macros:

My creation
1. blossoming, 2. balancing act, 3. killer, 4. searching

My husband was on a buying streak last spring, aside from the macro lens there are 4 other lenses in the camera bag. My new favorite is the wide-angle lens which I got to test drive while I was in Riga a couple of weeks ago. Sample shots:

My creation

I would like to test drive the other lenses as well, but it's quite boring to take photos of our backyard. I want to make a photography trip somewhere where I'd get to use all of the lenses.Too bad my summer is quite busy, no vacation at all. I hope I'd get to travel before the year ends while I still have the inspiration. I think it would be best travel on my own as it would be a sheer torture for any companion to wait for me while I take photos.Been fantasizing about that photography trip for weeks! 

Anyhow,  while I can't travel yet, I'll be on bug-stalking mode. Will be posting the photos on my Flickr photostream. They may not be spectacular, but watch me learn :-)


Saturday, January 14, 2012

In with the new

Happy new year

“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day.”
~Edith Lovejoy Pierce

Camera: Canon PowerShot A710 IS
Date and time: January 1, 2012. 0:11 AM
Location: Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Exposure: 2
Aperture: f/8.0
Focal Length: 5.8 mm
Exposure Bias:0 EV
ISO Speed: 82

I just came back from a 3-week vacation and my body clock is still messed up. Instead of wasting my time on reading some boring updates from social networking sites, I decided to bore others with my thoughts. So here I am updating my blog.

Before heading to the other continent, I planned to post my favorite shots from last year, but I didn't find the time to do that. The holiday activities kept my hands full. Anyhow, I mentioned last time I want to rekindle my love for photography, so kindly allow me to inspire myself as I look back at my personal faves from 2011...

My creation

1. see me through, 2. mysterious you, 3. almost there, 4. red and sweet are good to eat

Although I didn't take much photos last year, I realized that I still managed to accomplish the usual stuff in my bucket list: insect in flight, a survival-of-the-fittest moment, insect porn, and dramatic-to-me flower macros. My camera failed to focus a few times, but there were occasions when it was its usual self. Not bad at all. Although I failed to improve my photography skill last year, the few photos show that I haven't lost my touch yet, me thinks.

Self-praising, check. Now it's time to move on. As a photography enthusiast, I do have secret goals. They are quite far-fetched, and because of that I will never dare mention them here. My fading enthusiasm and procrastination prevent me from trying to reach those crazy goals, but I will do my best to get those hindrances off my system. Once they're gone, I'm off to the next level. You just wait and see :-)

Friday, December 16, 2011


just moping around

“Idleness is sweet, and its consequences are cruel”
~John Quincy Adams

Camera: Canon PowerShot A710 IS
Exposure: 0.002 sec (1/640)
Aperture: f/4.0
Focal Length: 5.8 mm
Exposure Bias: -1 EV
Flash: Off, Did not fire
ISO Speed: 75

When my camera was new I took hundreds of photos a week, nowadays I barely use it. I do have an acceptable excuse: the dark Finnish winter, but I still remember that 4 years ago, that didn't stop me from experimenting with macro shots. I bought flowers and took pictures of them from different angles:

My creation

1. Beautiful & calm, 2. Center of attraction, 3. mum, 4. Better late than never..

During the spring and summer months, I was always outside looking for anything worth taking photos of. By the end of the summer, the amount of photos kept me busy for months. This year, however, was quite different. The last time I used my camera was almost 7 weeks ago when I was in London. I think that somewhere along the line, I lost my enthusiasm. Maybe it's because my camera has seen better days and I am hating myself for being too stubborn to upgrade.

In my attempt to regain enthusiasm, I visit my web gallery every now and then. Sometimes I couldn't believe that I was the same person who took those photos, no kidding! My lucky shots and the comments of photostream visitors inspire me somehow.I know some people who got bored with photography, treated it like something that they had to try once, and then forget about it. Pardon me for making it sound like a one-night stand :-) I don't want to fall in the same category, I prefer a longer, and more fruitful relationship with photography. So while I am on hibernation mode, I will think of moving on to next level. My next steps would be getting a new camera, attending workshops, entering photo contests.. anything that will prepare me for a long-term commitment with photography.

For now, kindly pardon my idleness. I assure you that this just a temporary phase. I'm giving myself some room to grow, hoping that next spring I will fall in love with photography all over again.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Lucky bird

“Be as a bird perched on a frail branch that she feels bending beneath her, still she sings away all the same, knowing she has wings.” ~Victor Hugo

Camera: Canon PowerShot A710 IS
Exposure: 0.002 sec (1/500)
Aperture: f/2.8
Focal Length: 5.8 mm
Flash: Off, Did not fire
ISO Speed: 75
Modifications: adjusted brightness and contrast

Last week, for the first time this year, I heard birds singing. I think that was a sign which indicates either I have auditory hallucinations, or spring is just around the corner. My camera has been hibernating since the first week of January, but since spring will be here soon, it has to prepare itself for yet another nature photography season. It has seen better days, but it would have to do for the time being.

Time and again I hear whining about my Flickr photo gallery, like "bugs again? When will you ever get tired of those?" I never paid attention, but today I realized that some people really find them creepy. I don't want my gallery to be the reason why some people get nightmares or suffer from sleepless nights. I won't delete the spider photos, but just to prove that I do have a heart, let's skip the bees and talk about the birds for a change. Hope you like my lucky shots of bigger winged creatures:

My creation
1. Lucky bird, 2. Untitled, 3. by her lonesome, 4. Tweet!

They obviously didn't mind my presence because I was was able to take photos at close range. Either that or they were too confused to care. The 'lucky bird' was a poor fella because it had an accident, it hit the glass of our living room window while I was gardening. I took photos of it a few minutes after it had regained consciousness. The bird in the 'Tweet' photo was also a casualty because I think fell of its nest. It was too young to fly, and that was the reason why I manage to stalk it. Boy, it's so cool to be at the right place and at the right time. I therefore conclude that I'm one lucky bird, not the kind that eats bugs though :-)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Images of the night

When the dark unfolds its wings
Do you sense the strangest things?
Things no one would ever guess
Things mere words cannot express

~Beauty underneath, from the musical Love Never Dies

Love Never Dies
Love Never Dies
Location: London, UK
Date & time: 2 November,2010. 23:24
Exposure 0.017 sec (1/60)
Aperture f/3.2
Focal Length 8.3 mm
ISO Speed 400
Modifications : Adjusted contrast, cropping, noise reduction

No one can beat the course of nature, that's a fact. At the moment, the temperature here in Kerimäki is -4 degrees Celsius. That simply means that whether I like it or not, I won't see my favorite subjects for at least 4 months. So what's a shutterbug to do? Two things: leave, or live with it. I left gloomy Finland last week for the bright lights and lively atmosphere of London. Although I didn't manage to take nature photos on account of the weather, I'm still happy with the shots I brought home.

For the past few days, my Flickr uploads were mostly photos of London buildings. I reckon that most of my Flickr contacts thought they were visiting someone else's photostream. One even said that he misses my macro shots, lol! I miss them too, more than you will ever know, but I had to make do with the buildings. Why? Because they were the only available subjects after shopping or watching musicals.

I regret that you won't learn much from this blog entry
--surprise, surprise-- as I don't have much experience in night photography. I only get to give it a shot whenever I am in other countries (excuses, excuses!). Anyhow, I just created this blog entry to relieve me of boredom and to show you that the darkness can transform something nice into something majestic. Take a look at the photos of Royal Albert Hall below.

1 September 2010, 16:33

2 November 18:11
Royal Albert Hall

The second photo looks better by a mile, don't you agree? I rest my case :-)

I think anyone can take good photos of buildings at dusk or night time, but selecting settings could be a bit tricky for beginners. Since I can't be of help with tips, check out this site for some useful info.

If you're wondering how I managed to take some decent night photos, well.. I won't keep you in the dark. I'm known for keeping things simple, perhaps I owe it to my innate laziness. When taking photos at night, I choose the well-lit buildings as subjects. With my camera's scene capture type set to 'night' or 'fireworks', I find a good angle to shoot from, and then I take one or two photos. They don't always turn out great, but then again, that's quite normal. To minimize noise, I use Neat Image. My 'method' may not be the proper way to do it, but it works for me and my camera. I'm happy as long as the shots don't look too mediocre.

Below are some of my after 8 shots taken in London and Kuala Lumpur.

My creation
1. Her Majesty's Theatre, 2. National Gallery, 3. Dusk, 4. Just to break the monotony

I don't when I would have the chance to do night photography again. Actually, I don't know if I'd get to do any kind of photography for the next 4 months. If I will travel in December, for sure you would see new photos from me again, if not, then that means I'll be on hibernation mode 'til spring. *sobs*

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Summer report

“Review your goals twice every day in order to be focused on achieving them.”
~Les Brown

I had a lovely summer, it buzzed with activities and I enjoyed every minute of it. In three months' time, I worked in different health care facilities, took care of our garden, traveled outside Finland twice, and of course I took pictures of nature and some man-made structures. Looking back, I couldn't believe how I managed to juggle all of those. It was a fun and productive season, and boy it sucks how fast time flies.. sigh. Anyhow, in my previous blog entry I was brave enough to mention that I was getting bored with my photography style. I bet some of the people who has been viewing my work since I started showing them off on web galleries do feel the same. Because of that, I thought I should try my very best to make my macro photos look like art pieces, not just mere insect and flower photos that would look good on textbooks where kids could label every part. So... was it a success or a flop? You're about to find out..

A for effort
I tried my best, but I'm giving myself an F because I am simply not satisfied with how the flower macros came out. Yeah, my standards are way too high for an amateur, nothing can change that. However, I should get an A for effort and for always believing that my camera can do wonders. Actually, I deserve more than an A, I think I should get a medal for my false beliefs. I took at least a hundred photos of flowers, I set the aperture to f2.8, and voila! Only 10% turned up to be decent enough. Backed with my years of practice shooting on macro mode, I know quite well which part of the subject to focus on. The difficult part is adding drama to the image, allowing it to tell a story and making it look visually appealing at the same time. Since I do not excel in the creativity department, I ended up deleting so many shots because they looked so dull. Oh, I've still got a lot to learn. Below is one of the few photos that passed my standards, the aperture was f/3.5 though.

passion for detail
Passion for detail

I took that flower photo in a park when I was in a photowalk with my best friend. I was telling her about depth-of-field and its impact on the photograph.
For the record, I owe her big because she was the one who told me that I have to press that tulip button on my camera if I want to take close-up photos. If not for that tip, I probably wouldn't discover the wonderful world of macro photography. It's just but fitting that I share with her some photography tips, just the basic stuff because that's all I know :-)

A for confidence
Some hobbyists have inferiority complex secondary to the use of less expensive gadgets. Oh am I ever so glad I didn't develop that condition.
In fact my 'student's camera is way better than mine, but that didn't bother me at all. I gave her macro tutorials in the lovely parks of London. I enjoyed it so much because it made me realize that I actually know some photography stuff. I owe it to the people who take time to comment on my photos. My lack on insecurity as far as cameras and gears are concerned, also plays a significant part. I don't mind rubbing elbows with DSLR users, in fact the best part of my vacation in the Philippines has always been the photowalks of Pinoy Macro, my favorite Flickr group. I bet not all point and shoot users would feel comfortable being surrounded with guys using heavy cameras and powerful lenses, but I've got confidence in me :-) Most of my favorite shots were taken when I was with those macro masters. Perhaps it's due to the positive energy that I get when I hang out with them. Check out the photos below, you non-believers.

Bonding session
Bonding session

My creation
1. in the spotlight, 2. I'm a lady!, 3. Steady, 4. exotic little thing

A for going beyond macro
Whenever I travel, I see to it that butterfly sanctuaries are part of the itinerary. Sometimes I take the beautiful man-made structures for granted. Last summer, however, was different. I finally gave in to the long overdue request of my sister who wanted to see the more photos of the places I visit. So I revisited the buildings of the Finnish capital, took photos of the London street scenes, castles, and other lovely sights. It went well, me thinks. After all, buildings and bridges do not move. It was just a matter of choosing the best angle to shoot from.
Parliament House
Parliament House, Helsinki

My creation
1. Buckingham Palace, 2. London bridge, 3. Hampton Court Palace, 4. View from London Eye

Straight A's? That's too good to be true, so to balance things kindly allow me to bash myself as well. I already mentioned one F because I failed to deliver impressive flower macro shots, but it doesn't stop there.

F for post-processing skills
The functions of most stuff in the photoshop tool box remain a mystery to me. I can't even upgrade to newer versions because of my fear that it would again be a struggle to learn the basics. I barely exert effort on learning photoshop because it's time consuming. I would rather take new pictures than sit down and try to make an old one look better.

F for technical knowledge
I've been shooting for 4 years and I’m still confused about ISO. My attention span is exceptionally short for articles that mention numbers. I asked my husband about that many times, but I can't remember much about what he said because I always get lost in his beautiful blue eyes. I just end up saying: to hell with ISO settings, the world will not end if I don't know how to adjust it :-) Moral of the story: don't get tutorials from handsome guys, you won't learn much. Don't say I didn't warn you.

So there you have it. Now you know how this shutterbug spent summer. I tried, I failed, and I've still got more room for improvement. Oh, and I have always been a lady, haha! I had to point that out because one forum member once called me 'sir'.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Back to life

“Nature gives to every time and season some beauties of its own; and from morning to night, as from the cradle to the grave, it is but a succession of changes so gentle and easy that we can scarcely mark their progress.”
~Charles Dickens

It's been almost half a year since my last blog entry. I can't believe I didn't even write about spring this year. Well... a lot has happened, I didn't even get to take photos for about 2 months. That was an extremely long break for someone who normally shoots almost everyday. I'm not about to reveal the reason behind the hiatus, as I'm not comfortable announcing every bit of my life's details to everyone. That's not my thing, perhaps it will never be. I created this blog for my nature photos and its purpose should remain the same. And so without further ado, let's get down to business...

Since the last week of May, I've been taking photos whenever the weather is right and I am not busy with part-time jobs. Yeah, back to the old ways, but I've got a confession to make.. I'm getting bored with my style. I'm bound to take photos of the same flowers and insects every summer as long as I live, and as early as now, it feels like my bag of tricks is already empty. I really need to try new things.

I would still love to shoot on macro mode, because that's all I can do. I've been thinking about nature abstracts. Roe, one of my Flickr contacts has a very impressive collection and I wish I could be even half as good as him in that area photography. However, there are a few obstacles, and the most significant is my lack of artistic ability. Macro abstracts are not just about details, it involves a lot of drama, that's why it's not going to be easy for my robotic self. It may also require Photoshop skill, that's also something that I don't have. Moreover, the limitations of my camera may keep me from producing impressive shots. Oh well, I'll try not to let such hindrances to keep me from learning about macro abstracts. I need to unleash my artistic ability, whether I have it or not :-)

I think this flower close-up isn't too bad:
hieroglyphics of angels

Hieroglyphics of angels
Camera: Canon PowerShot A710 IS
Exposure: 0.001 sec (1/1000)
Aperture: f/4.0
Focal Length: 5.8 mm
Exposure Bias: 0 EV
Flash: Off

I can't wait to experiment more on flower close-ups, but right now we still don't have much flowers in our backyard. It would be quite boring to look at photos of yellow weeds all the time. I'm waiting for the lupines, poppies, daisies, and lilies to bloom so that I can try the tips from this site. It's cool to learn something new again, it somehow reminds me of my first few months of exploring the complexities of insect photography. I think that if I would devote time on learning about nature abstracts, producing decent shots should be an attainable goal. After all, it shouldn't be as physically challenging as chasing bugs. In case it won't work after millions of tries, I can always go back to my photogenic tiny creatures who are also back in business at this time of the year. They're too cute to ignore especially when they don't mind my presence. The butterfly in the photo below, allowed me to take more than 10 close-up photos. It seems that my lucky star is also back :-)
her good side
Her good side
Camera: Canon PowerShot A710 IS
Exposure: 0.002 sec (1/500)
Aperture: f/4.0
Focal Length: 5.8 mm
Exposure Bias: -1/3 EV
Flash: Off