Let there be light…

•28 October 2012 • Leave a Comment

Let there be light…, originally uploaded by mjiphoto – Mika.

This was taken on a recent trip to Barcelona, inside the Sagrada Familia. It’s an absolutely stunning building, and considering the construction began in the 1880s, somehow ‘modernism’ just doesn’t quite seem to capture the architectural style…

I just wish I had brought my wider-angle 12-60mm lens. I went on the trip expressly choosing the Nikkor 50mm f/1.2 to force myself to look for different angles and perspectives. Which by and large worked. But a few wide angle shots inside this masterpiece by Gaudi would have been phenomenal…


Nordic autumn…

•6 November 2011 • Leave a Comment

Nordic autumn…, originally uploaded by mjiphoto – Mika.

Hmm… It’s been a ‘little’ while since I last posted on my blog… Interesting times though…

I took this shot while on a long weekend in Finland for my little niece’s christening. It’s been quite a few years since I last was in Finland in the autumn, and I guess I’ve forgotten quite how pretty it is. The colours this time of the year can be amazing – a sea of greens, yellows, oranges and reds, both on the ground and in the trees… And a fresh and brisk wind that drives them on droves, as if they were ripples in the sea.

Autumn often gets bad rep for being rainy and cold. But I think it masks a hidden beauty. You just have to look around you.

The building of the Shard…

•26 June 2011 • Leave a Comment

It’s been a while since my last post… From mid-February until the first weekend in June things were taken over by studying for the CFA while working, and I barely got my camera out at all for a good couple of months. Happily, the exam is now done and I can do something else than work and study!

I’ve been thinking for a while about how to get a good shot of the Shard while it’s being built, but it seemed like I was always either too far or too close to it. Since it’s in the middle of a fairly crowded area as it is, and other building work going on to increase the capacity at London Bridge rail station, it always seemed too cluttered.

So when I took the Thames Clipper instead of my usual bus/tube commute on a sunny evening, I was pleasantly surprised when I spotted a few angles at which I could get a shot of the building in a light and at an angle I found interesting.

This is a HDR shot of five exposures at + or – 1EV steps, stitched together in Aperture with the Photomatix plugin. I chose a HDR shot because of the angle of the sun and the contrast between the sky and the shadow side of the building itself as well as the foreground.

And I thought this one worked out decently well in the end.

An educating lens experience

•13 February 2011 • Leave a Comment

A mistake of my own doing granted. I had my Zuiko Digital 12-60mm lens attached to my Olympus E-1 camera, on a monopod. I went out in the evening to take a few pictures, as we had only just had a lot of snow (by a lot, I mean 5-10cm) come down in London, and I wanted to capture some of the lanscape around Greenland Dock. Why I didn’t just take my tripod, I don’t know, but I took my monopod and leant it against support for long exposures while holding my hand close to it to ensure I could catch it if it fell.

Except the one time I turned away for a matter of seconds. It started sliding, and I had that awful slow-motion experience of watching the whole rig crash down on the ground from a 6 foot height, and there was nothing I could do. Nothing quite prepares you for the sense of horror as several hundred pounds worth of glass and metal make that horrible crashing sound.

When I picked the camera up, I was amazed that there was no major structural damage to either the lens or the camera. But there was a major dent on the side of the UV filter ring, and the glass of the ring was shattered.

Before and after:

Fine, I thought. I’ll take the filter off and see if the lens is damaged, I thought. Except the filter ring was bent, and no force I was prepared to apply to the lens was enough to pry it loose. (I also tried putting it in a plastic bag in the freezer to see if the metal would contract enough to pry it loose, but to no avail)

To cut a long story short, it happened the weekend I was meant to go off to Finland for Christmas holidays. So I had no time to send it for repairs, and resigned to the fate of only having one lens with me, the 50-200.

Yet there were positives from the experience. It took nearly a month and a half to get the lens sent back and repaired by Olympus (a combination of taking my time to send it, Olympus taking their time to log the lens and inspect the damage, but once it was done the lens was repaired and returned to me in a week). And in that time, I had no choice but to use a telephoto lens for all of my photography.

What did I learn? The first important thing it taught me was to get close to my subject. I ‘knew’ it before, but it’s one of those lessons you don’t fully appreciate until you really learn (well, certainly was for me at any rate). I have had both lenses for some time, but as the 12-60 covers such a wide range, it really sat on my camera for 80% of the time. And it’s easy to get in the habit of trying to get too much in with a wide angle lens. It can be used for that – particularly in landscapes. But a wide angle lens really comes to its own by getting close to a subject, and getting both the subject and its context in a frame. The old adage of a shot with a fantastic background but with nothing interesting in the foreground becoming a bit bland does hold.

Second – I learnt just how sharp a lens the 50-200 really is, and how well it’s suited for portraits.

So will it change my photography forever? Probably not. But it did teach me some valuable lessons to put to use. Which I tried to do in this shot of the London Eye. A subject that has been photographed to death, and hard to do something interesting with. I hope I had at least a modicum of success.

And I suspect that while the 12-60 will still stay on the camera for a majority of the time, I’ll definitely find more uses for the 50-200.

Cathedral at night

•10 February 2011 • Leave a Comment

Cathedral at night, originally uploaded by Mika_I.

So, here we are again, mucking around with OmmWriter…

Well, I recently went through some old shots I’ve taken with one of my previous cameras. I should say that one of my favourite pasttimes is just going around for a walk in some part of London with my camera in hand. Usually I don’t have a fixed aim to shoot anything in particular, but see what inspires me and what I see.

On this occasion, I was walking around the river Thames near Borough Market, after sunset and with some residual blue glow of golden hour still remaining. I can’t remember that it would have been cold, but I remember walking around Southwark Cathedral, looking at the impressive building at different angles, inspecting the way the lights fell on the building.

As a structure, it is incredibly well decorated (by which I mean the stonework is tryly great), and has a magnificent gothic feel to it at night time – the arches and the shadows they cast see to that.

In this shot, I was attempting to capture the elongated shape of the building, and some of the shadows that were thrown on its sides. And as I’m writing this, I’m thinking I should try a black and white conversion…

Technical details:
Olympus E-520
Zuiko Digital 12-60mm f/2.8-4 SWD
Focal lenght: 12mm
Exposure: 1/13, f/2.8 and ISO 400

About OmmWriter

•8 February 2011 • Leave a Comment

Testing out something rather different today… I discovered an app called OmmWriter, and while I thought the advertising spiel was a bit naff, I thought I’d give it a go and see if it really does what it purports to do. And so far, it seems it does.

By removing all the reminders, the popups, the email boings, the multitude of windows and distractions… It actually helps me think. Concentrate.Let my mind roam free, or focus relentlessly on one task, one topic or one thought.


I’m not usually one for superlatives, but it really does seem to work.

So what’s my thought for the day? It’s simply this – I don’t spend enough time thinking.

And, so, rather randomly I arrived at the above picture. I took it a last week on a short walk around my area. It was a beautiful, if a bit nippy, day, with the sun starting to slowly set over the horizon. And as I was walking around the riverside, I spotted this… thing… The plastic bag in a tree. And thought rather sarcastically about how the plastic bag was ‘in its natural habitat’, ‘roaming around its suburban surroundings’… But perhaps, rather than draw on the negatives of our impact on the environment (not that that is in any way to be ignored), I should look at it as inspiring to roam around my own habitat more often.

Because just as I haven’t been taking the time to think often enough, I haven’t been grabbing my camera often enough

So far, my impression of OmmWriter is rather positive. That, in of itself, is hopefully an inspiration for me.

Technical details:
Olympus E-1 with HLD-2 grip
Zuiko Digital 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 SWD
Focal length: 160mm
Exposure: 1/250, f/5.6 and ISO 400.

Sunset over South Dock Marina

•2 February 2011 • 1 Comment

Sunset over South Dock Marina, originally uploaded by Mika_I.

Every now and then I like to walk around the River Thames and the docks around the Surrey Quays area. Living near Greenland Dock obviously makes this rather easier, which is a definite bonus attached to the area. I took this particular shot while taking a walk this weekend, for once deciding to walk southwards. It was getting towards the end of the walk, with the sun setting across the marina with a wonderful sky. At first I was shooting the sky directly, but as I gazed across the water and the boats in the marina, the reflections on the water struck me as far more interesting. The colours, the waves and the silhouettes somehow blended into a rather hypnotic mix, which I tried to capture here.

I’ve always lived close to the water – I grew up on the west coast of Finland and have always loved the sights, sounds and smells of the open sea. And while living in the UK, most of the time I’ve lived close to a river. The Thames may not quite be the sea, but occasionally with a breeze blowing from the east you can just about get that salty scent of the North Sea. There’s just something about water that captures my imagination. Always has been, and probably always will.

Technical details:
Olympus E-1 with HLD-2 grip
Zuiko Digital 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 SWD
Focal length: 50mm
Exposure: 1/50, f/2.8, ISO 100