•29 January 2011 • Leave a Comment

Portrait, originally uploaded by Mika_I.

This is the first time I’ve actually tried to do a bit of post processing specific to portraits – learning using some tutorials on Apple’s website and youtube for Aperture 3.

The shot itself worked really well – shot in available light, with the sun slowly starting to set in the background (actually, the sun is in the direction of the shot, but direct light was blocked by a park, and the glow was reflected from the sandstone walls of the nearby buildings).

To be fair, the subject was a bit reluctant – she thinks her big brother’s a bit of a paparazzi when it comes to taking shots of family. :p

The post processing was done in Aperture 3, beginning with a very slight curves adjustment. After that, I applied Aperture’s skin smoothing brush to the skin tones (the Zuiko Digital 50-200mm is a ridiculously sharp lens, even wide open) to give a softer tone. After that, I applied a sharpening brush to the edges around the eyes and eyelashes. And that was all that was needed, really.

I love learning something new, so hopefully I’ll experiment more with portraits going forward!

Olympus E-3
Zuiko Digital 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 SWD
Focal length: 120mm
Exposure: 1/160, f/3.3, ISO 800


Hallowed ground

•20 January 2011 • Leave a Comment

Hallowed ground, originally uploaded by Mika_I.

When I shot this photo in Finland over Christmas, I didn’t intend for it to gain any other meaning. It just looked visually pleasing at the time.

However, after the passing of my youngest sister’s maternal grandfather, it put me in a contemplative mood. He was for a time like a grandfather to me too, and his passing made me reflect on how I let that relationship slip. And I can’t really think of anything that doesn’t sound like excuses.

But I will remember him as a warm and gentle man, and my thoughts are with my sister and her mother and cousins.

Chilling out

•13 January 2011 • Leave a Comment

Chilling out, originally uploaded by Mika_I.

Aah, a rare treat – a picture of my sister’s elder (of two) flatcoated retriever, Jedi, resting. Most of the time he is constantly on the move, wagging his tail. Sort of like a duracell bunny. The boy, even at 8 years old, has more energy than most cubs. It took a one-hour walk outside (in freezing temperatures, I might add) to tire him out enough to get this pose!

It is funny how pets have personalities. Jedi does like people, but he is fiercely loyal – when my sister is out, he keeps an constant eye on the door for when she gets back. He can be a little bit clumsy, but always means well. And he’s very easy to play with. When he carries something in his jaws, all you need to do is to stretch your hand out towards him and he’ll turn away. It’s like a game for him. But one he’s very happy to play.

What a character.

Technical details:
Olympus E-3
Zuiko digital 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 SWD
Focal length: 96mm
Exposure: 1/200, f/3.2 and ISO 250
Flash: Olympus FL-50R, set to TTL metering and bounced off the ceiling.

The harsh grip of winter

•10 January 2011 • Leave a Comment

The harsh grip of winter, originally uploaded by Mika_I.

I took this shot while walking my sister’s dogs with her, well dressed for the hour or two that we took.

It was a bit nippy (-20 centigrade), and I thought the frozen plants gave that sense of a harsh winter holding nature in its cold grip. I can see why the winter was seen as a harbringer of death and destruction in lore and legend. In Nordic countries in days long since gone, it was a time of survival rather than jubilation – and celebrations of the darkest days of winter as festivals bringing hope seem very natural.

But the winter does have it’s own cold and harsh beauty to it.

Technical details:
Olympus E-3
Zuiko Digital 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 SWD
Focal lenght: 200mm
Exposure: 1/640, f/3.5 and ISO 1600

To be honest, exposing this right for the foreground meant the background was underexposed, and at ISO 1600 on the E-3 it means noise. So I had to apply Noise Ninja to it, and then use Aperture 3′s brush tool to brush in an edge sharpen effect to recover details on the subject itself. A bit more post processing than I usually do, but it seemed to have come out ok.

That winter feeling

•8 January 2011 • Leave a Comment

That winter feel, originally uploaded by Mika_I.

Right, after a few test posts. let’s try a proper one. I’ve been thinking a while about starting a blog, and though I’m not sure where it’ll all end up, I decided 2011 might as well be the year to do it.

On to the topic at hand. There is something visually pleasing about winter, especially in the colder and more Northern climes. Being born and raised in Finland, cold weather is pretty much the norm in winter (especially the last few) – and while living in the UK I often get disbelieving stares when I say the temperature dropped to -26 degrees centigrade when I went there for Christmas.

But then, winter in the UK is often dark, wet and windy. Even at 0, the humidity and wind chill means it does feel cold. Finland, by contrast, is less humid and the wind doesn’t blow straight over from the Atlantic ocean or the North sea. So -10 or even -15 might not feel as bad. Try telling that to most people though…

What I mean with visually pleasing is, of course, the snow. A cold winter with plenty of snow is, at least where I grew up, definitely preferable to a warmer and snowless winter. Why? Because the snow reflects light, which means even in the middle of the night it isn’t pitch black. Star light, moon light and light pollution near cities make sure of that.

What does that have to do with the shot? Well, just that when I looked out and saw a scene of plentiful snow, a setting sun and the warmer tones it brought, I felt I had to capture the essence of that positive winter feel. The snow, the warm sun light against the brick wall on a clear and cold (-20) winter day just brings back memories of childhood – being out in the cold but not feeling cold, the scrunching sound of frosty snow under the shoes, and the brightness, even at night, of a snow-filled vista.

Technical details:
Olympus E-3
Zuiko Digital 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 SWD
Focal lenght: 67mm
Exposure: 1/200th, f/3, ISO 100

Christmas spirit

•7 January 2011 • Leave a Comment

Happy Christmas!, originally uploaded by Mika_I.

By candle light

•7 January 2011 • Leave a Comment

By candle light, originally uploaded by Mika_I.

Well, the first post while simultaneously testing how the Flickr link works.

I thought I’d start with a more contemplative image – shot during my Christmas holiday.