Merry Christmas

23 12 2012

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!


( Nativity set by Aarikka, Finland )


Chill out

22 12 2011

Time around Christmas and New year is relaxing time for me. I spare at least a week of vacations every year for this time. Year end is usually busy time of year and as this year has been very busy and hectic I really enjoy 2 weeks at home with my family now. Pushing thoughts on work out of my mind, enjoying the Christmas mood – beautiful sweet smell of Christmas cakes, decent light of colourful bulbs on a tree and jingle bells playing in the background, this and priceless presence of my wife and children, that’s what makes my Christmas and what I cherish above everything on this world.

Too bad that it runs out so quickly but it’s one more reason to enjoy every minute.

( Thanks for arrangement goes to my wife )

I wish you to spend your Christmas time with your most beloved ones and exactly in the way how you like it.

Well thought out?

22 06 2011

As a response to my previous post my fellow photographer Tracy Milkay (her great photo blog here) wrote

“You can tell they [your photos] are so well thought out – from composition to finishing.”

This statement evoked following questions: “Can I?” “Are they?” “Really?” It brought me to thinking about whole process of photo creation more deeply and to wondering if the process is similar for other photographers, no matter how experienced.

So are my photos well thought out? Answer to this question isn’t so easy. The closest simple answer would be probably “to some extent”. I’ll try to describe the process of creating my photos and leave the answer to you. I’ll describe the process in 3 steps:

1) subject study – this is necessary and very important step before looking through camera viewfinder at the subject. Time needed for this study depends on time I can spend with the subject (minutes in case of time pressure or unknown environment on one side of axis, even weeks or months in case of flowers in our home or garden on the other side of axis) and frequency of using the same subject by me or other photographers while the latter variable is in direct proportion to the needed time. The more common the subject is for other photographers or even me the more time I will need for coming up with something original.

2) taking photo – this is usually quite straightforward process and it is basically consisting of looking for suitable composition and light and taking photo(s). If I had visualized the photo before taking camera in hands I start with this photo first and then continue as described in preceeding sentence. If I can’t come up with anything “decent” I play with other techniques such as panning and zooming. Sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t but I must say that I end up with decent to great photo much much more often than with nothing. Frankly, I don’t remember when I deleted all photos from a photo session for the last time.

3) photo processing – I like realistic photos, meaning that I don’t like to adjust them too much during processing phase. It means that I usually don’t want to change what came from the camera too much. I turn my photos into paintings, I use textures, you may say. Yes, I do but really seldom. I turn my photos into black & white and give them colour tones sometimes but this is in cases when I either want to emphasize the shapes and colour isn’t so important or when colour is distracting. The conversion to black and white is not always intended from the beginning. Sometimes I take some photo with intention to have it in colour but then when looking at it on monitor I don’t like it in colour or it looks just ordinary so I try colour adjustments such as conversion to black and white and toning. This is the case of photo called Daisy trio from previous post.

Well, enough of theory, let’s show it on example:

~ Violet explosion ~
1/2 sec., f/16, ISO 100

~ Entrance ~
2.5 sec., f/22, ISO 100

My wife got this Dendrobium orchid for her birthday in March. I see orchids as very challenging subjects for taking photos of them and moreover I don’t like this Dendrobium sort much. We had the flower in our bedroom for maybe two months and then my wife moved it into our dining room and placed it so that the accompanying palm leaf was proped to the window. When sun lit it from behind one afternoon I liked the fresh green colour of the leaf and how the intense violet colour of the flower stood out against it.

The study period here was more than 2 months! I saw the flower every day and I asked myself how would I photograph it in original way very often. When I took the photo that I visualized in my head earlier (the left one) I thought that it might be good to take a macro shot of the flower and I really liked the details in central part. When I saw it on a monitor then I knew that the first photo (the left one) is quite ordinary but presenting both together as a diptych could work nicely. So here it is. And by the way the left photo was created from 2 photos, one at f/2.8 for background out of focus, second at f/16 for the blossom entirely in plane of focus. These 2 images were then taken into Photoshop as different layers (f/16 as background layer) and then I masked the blossom from f/2.8 version with f/16 one. This is technique which I use quite often when I can’t get desired DOF with a subject.

This is nice example of a photo(s) that was thought out even though not completely visualized during study process.

That’s it. I would like to know if your process of taking and creating image is similar or different and if different then where it differes and how. I’m really looking forward to your response.

Have a nice end of the week!

Technical information: all photographs in this post were taken with Canon EOS 450D camera and Canon EF 100mm USM macro lens, in natural conditions.

P.S. I know why I was so reluctant with taking photo of this orchid. There was so much specks and dust threads on petals that merging those 2 exposures together and cloning out all the dust took me almost 2 hours!

Awakening interest

9 02 2011

My goal in photography for this year is to start offering my images for sale. I am thinking about the best way how to do it for some time now and it lead me to a question: how to attract possible viewers? How to awaken interest for my photos in them?

I don’t plan to make photography for a living. I want to take photos as I’ve been doing and I also think that my photos can make someone’s living place nicer or it can just make someone happy so why not to offer a print to them?

I’m thinking about possible communication channels which I can use for promoting my work not only for sale purposes but also for “showing my work to wider audience” because if something makes me happy in photography, it’s not when I take a good photo but it’s when others appreciate it or, on the other hand,  pinpoint to my faults so I can avoid them in future.

1.6 sec. @ 100mm, f/20, ISO 100

I am already using some ways of promoting my work such as posting on this blog, posting on flickr and sporadical posting on some forums of photographic communities. I must say that I was quite happy with my achievements in past but now I’d like to move a bit further.

When I was thinking about possible things that I can do, I got to a following list:

  • Posting photos on well known photo forums such as
    I did this in past but the community is usually either so diverse or often so huge that it’s almost impossible to “be spotted” with so specific sort of photography that I’m creating. 

  • Create my own web page only about my photography.
    This is something I am seriously considering to do during this year. 

  • Organize a photo show in some gallery or public place.
    This is something that some of my friends and fellow photographers did and do but I don’t feel for it. I feel that the time and energy spent on organizing such an event will not pay back. Maybe I’m wrong. 

  • Offer my photos to some image bank or to a company printing photographs.
    This is also something I’m seriously considering. I plan to offer my photos via printing firm with which I have great recent experience and which offers reselling  photographers’ work. 

  • Harold Davis in his great article “Finding an Audience for Your photos” published on mentions e.g. promoting your work by sending emails to a possible audience group but I would really feel like a travelling salesman when doing this which idea does not makes me very happy.
  • Searching for web sites of other photographers and commenting their work hoping for gaining some attention of the photographer and her/his readers.
    I used this in past and I gained attention of some of you this way, for which I am very happy, but in general I think that this doesn’t work and it is quite time consuming. You can get few new contacts but very probably not more.
  • I can’t forget to mention social networks such as twitter or facebook.
    We hear about them all the time but to be honest nothing convinced me to use them so far. I see them as another black hole consuming more of my free time which can be spent more reasonably. Maybe I don’t only know what I am missing?
  • Last thing which comes to my mind now is participation in some photo contest.
    This is quite hard for me because of specific kind of photography I am focusing on. Most of contests that I saw had wide range of topics (portrait, macro, landscape, wildlife etc.) or only one topic but quite general such as “nature”. It is truth that I haven’t searched for any specific contests though. I can imagine that positioning in top part of some rather known contest is good door-opener to wider audience.

1/25 sec. @ 100mm, f/2.8, ISO 100

Now I would like to ask you for sharing your thoughts about this. I guess that some of you were or are dealing with the same question and I would like to know your experience and recommendations on what may work and what not.

Thank you for your tips in advance and enjoy winter!

Technical information: all photographies in this post were taken with Canon EOS 450D camera and Canon EF 100mm USM macro lens mounted to a tripod, in natural conditions, indoors.

The Nature Conservancy’s 5th Annual Digital Photo Contest

7 02 2011

Today I have received following letter prompting me and my readers to vote in photo contest so I am sharing it with you here.

Dear Thomas,

From now until only noon PST tomorrow, you and your readers have a great opportunity to choose the winner of The Nature Conservancy’s 5th Annual Digital Photo Contest. Monday, February 7th is the deadline and we need your votes to make sure the best photo wins.

Please help us gather as many votes as we can by posting this link to where your readers can pick their favorite. Every vote counts!

Great nature photography inspires people to go out and appreciate wild places or to just take a closer look at what’s right in their own backyards.

For more details, please see below and feel free to contact me with your questions.

Thank you for your participation,

Midori Matsuyama
Online Outreach

Background on Photo Contest:

You play a critical role in choosing the winner. This year, we received over 26,000 entries which have been narrowed down to the images of thirteen talented finalists. Their spectacular photos celebrate the natural wonders of our planet and the creatures that live here. It won’t be easy to choose one winner so we’re really counting on votes from you and the people who follow your blog.

The Grand Prize winner will be announced on February 14th and the winning photo will be featured on the cover of our 2012 calendar.

You and your readers have only until noon, PST on Monday February 7th to cast your votes so please post today if you can. You can rate each finalist, submit your vote and see some truly exciting nature photography. In addition, you are encouraged to submit your own photos of our natural world for consideration as the photo of the day on My Nature Page.

Maybe there are also your photos in the contest, who knows?

1st Birthday!

1 07 2010

Yesterday it was one year since I started this blog and so here is a short summary:

  • total number of visits: 5213
  • approx number of visits per day: 14.5

I want to thank all of you who come to this blog regularly and also to all of you who are here for the first time or who come seldom. BIG THANK YOU goes to all of you who leaves comments which help me to be a better photographer!

Enjoy the summertime!

A tripod… ordered!

2 11 2009

When I started to focus on floral macro photography early this year I was very strongly AGAINST the idea of taking photos with a tripod. I was convinced that it would only slow me down and instead of taking 50 different photos I would be able to take only few  in the same time. Moreover I was convinced that a tripod is not necessary as I’m often shooting with low f-stops which allow me to have higher shutter speeds.

As time passed by and number of taken photos significantly rose I started to realize that sometimes a tripod could be handy such in cases with low light conditions or when  I had to be bent in a position which was painful or when small thing spoiled the composition and I noticed it only afterwards. In that time I started to consider work with a tripod for the first time and so I borrowed a tripod from my friend. Unfortunately it was a cheap one, nowhere near to sturdiness and reliability, and so I remained sceptical.

Sometimes in August a colleague of mine, also a photographer, bought a new tripod and I was happy being able to borrow it from him for a day. It was a Manfrotto brand (known as Bogen in USA) and it was completely different experience to shoot with it. I played with it a bit and was really excited! After this experience I started to consider buying a tripod for real.

Since that time I realized during almost every  shooting that a tripod would be very handy and so I finally decided to buy one. Just yesterday I ordered Manfrotto 055XPROB aluminum tripod with a Manfrotto midi ball head 488RC2 which is the same as I had borrowed from my colleague only with larger ball head.

I’m really looking forward using it and I will surely share my first experience here but until that time I would like to ask you for mentioning your shooting techniques with a tripod here. Do you look for a suitable composition without a tripod and after finding it you shoot it with a tripod or do you even look for a composition with a camera on tripod? Or do you always have the idea of image in your head and just go to the subject with a camera on a tripod, place it and shoot? I am really interested in your attitudes to this. Don’t hesitate and share it, please!

All images are linked to