Thursday, April 17, 2014

Photo of the Day #111: Sail Away

We were in Hanko last June and saw plenty of boats. The southern tip of continental Finland is quite unique by Finnish standards, as you can actually see the sea fully opening up, whereas the other coastal cities are either deep inside bays and/or blocked by myriad islands. Well in this picture you can't really see the sea, but you can definitely sense the anticipation of a voyage.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Photo of the Day #110: A Wave of a Tree

Just like yesterday's photo, this was shot in Villa Elfvik as well. I guess the picture speaks for itself: a bare wavy trunk of a tree reaching up to the sky just looks cool.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Photo of the Day #109: A Window in the Woods

I was visiting Villa Elfvik in Espoo last summer. It is a piece of the old Espoo in the middle of the highly urbanized city. Espoo doesn't seem to have many old places at first glance, but it actually has a centuries long history and was especially influential for the Finnish artists of the romantic era.

Built in 1904 Villa Elfvik isn't really especially old for espoo, but it portrays the past in a concrete way. This window isn't actually of the main building, but of a boat shed some hundreds of meters away from the main environmental education centre.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Photo of the Day #108: Peace and Superstar

Today's photo is a sister of the last photo of the day. This time there is no ambiguity on what the ring is for. If you look closely you can find both a peace sign and a superstar, and no we're not talking of Bono or Bob Geldof.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Photo of the Day #107: Pods Galore

Today's photo is of a very familiar sight to anyone who has used the ferries crisscrossing the Baltic sea. These containers (or pods?) obviously obviously have something to do with the safety on board, but looking at the picture, I just realized I don't exactly know what they are.

They could be an inconvenient lifeboat, but considering that there is no opening and as it looks very easy to capsize, I'm not so sure. Of course they could contain emergency supplies, but then again the coast is less than fifty kilometers away at any point, so stocking up doesn't seem to be that important.

In the end I tried to google them, but as I'm not exactly sure what they are called, I ended up with nothing. It's like Ylvis says "an ancient mystery that no-one knows"...

Friday, March 21, 2014

Photo of the Day #106: Aura River at Dusk

This is the sister piece of the previous photo, shot two hours after and more in the center of Turku. The Aura River definitely holds a similar place in the hearts of those who live in Turku as the Tammerkoski rapid does for the people of Tampere. Not bad.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Photo of the Day #105: Sunset Industry

Turku like many cities in Finland used to be dependent on industry for its economy to roll. Gradually as the country has modernized, so has the landscape of the old industrial areas. This photo shows three ages at once: the old era of the wooden ships, then the cargo cranes and finally the spanking new residential buildings representing the new knowledge economy. So in the end I'm not sure we should be sad about the changes, but I sure am glad that there are still signs of the past.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Photo of the Day #104: A Shack with no Amenities

Following on the Kakola theme, this shack is located right next to the castle-like prison. It must have served as some kind of a monitoring spot or suchlike. From the look of it, it hasn't been in it's proper use in a long time, but from the towel (?) hanging from the window it might have acted as a shelter for some poor soul quite recently. Everything in this picture tells of desolation, ruin and hopelessness. Still the picture is beautiful in another odd way.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Photo of the Day #103: Barbed Beauty

The Kakola prison, already mentioned a couple of days ago is an imposing structure. The prison is made from the granite of the hill it was built upon, making it almost grow out of the hill. A quick Wikipedia search says that it was designed by Ernst Lohrmann in the Round-arch style (Rundbogenstil). It is quite amazing how such a beautiful structure could have housed so many people yearning to get out. Of course the walls and the barbed wire diminish the beauty somewhat, but then again they bring the added contrast to the photo.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Photo of the Day #102: A Gas Ball and a Cylinder

I didn't exactly know what a gas bell was, before I saw these structures in Turku and had to look up what they were. Apparently when one uses gas for energy, there needs to be a storage facility for the gas, especially for the consumption peaks. The cylinder is the main tank and the ball is the spare tank for those extra demanding times, such as Christmas.

Well Turku isn't powered by gas anymore, so they've re-purposed the building to act as a heat battery for the district heating. Anyhow I like the combination of the two massive geometric shapes, not built as an architect's dream, but for an actual purpose.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Photo of the Day #101: Muddy Waters

The river Aurajoki (or the Aura river) runs through Turku. In Turku they define thing by saying "on the other side of the river" (or toispuol jokkee), which refers to the Aurajoki, but apparently they've never decided which side is this side and which is the other side.

Well at least the water seems very turbid, with a lot of humus (i.e. organic matter -apparently there isn't too much silt in the Finnish waters to cause turbidity). With the sun shining low and passing through a layer of water before finally reflecting out, the brown humus created a very surreal surface to the water.

Photo of the Day #100: Big Brother Ain't Watching No More

We were in Turku a few days ago, after quite a while, seeing how the previous capital of Finland fares.

The Kakola prison used to be quite notorious for including a psychiatric prison with the weirdest cases being sent there. The prison moved away from its previous location at the Kakola hill, leaving most of the protected structures waiting to find other use.

This old security camera with its cord dangling in the air is a reminder that nobody is watching you at the Kakola hills anymore.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Photo of the Day #99: Straight Tracks, Diagonal Horizon

This is the third photo of the day with tracks. The first tracks were regular train tracks, the second were tramway tracks, but this third photo is of something much more exotic: mountain train tracks.

Apparently since the French are too lazy to walk any significant distance they tend to build small railways even on mountains. These tracks, which look quite worn, were actually operational, with a small choo choo lugging tourists to see the mountain. In my opinion its much nicer to actually walk around and get a feeling of the place that way.

Anyhow the strong diagonal of the slope of the mountain work well with the strait tracks. And the cloudy weather works better in black and white.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Photo of the Day #98: Flying into the Sunset

The last photo of the balloon series is appropriately flying into the sunset. An amazing remark is that this is actually a handheld HDR photo with a nine yearold Canon 5D  (released in 2005). I just set a bracketing exposure series and voila: the only two item thats moved between the exposures were my balloon and the balloon in the photo. A simple auto alignment of the three exposures and choosing of the best exposure for the balloon enabled this ultra contrasty back lit shot. Probably way too much detail for the average reader, but I'm really proud of the shot.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Photo of the Day #97: Low Flying

There are several ways in which hot air balloons offer a unique flying experience over the more common means of flying. One of them is the ability to fly low. It seemed that it is just up to (or down to) the daring of the pilot how close to the treetops the balloon went... and it went close.

For us the closest was while we were descending onto a field right next to a small wood. It seemed that there were only a couple of meters (if that) between us and the treetops. Well we managed to clear the woods, but the landing was a bit bumpy. But in the end we survived...

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Photo of the Day #96: Spruce up the Shore

Zooming a bit closer to the edge of the Pyhäjärvi Lake one can see that Finland isn't entirely forest. There are quite a few smaller and larger piers for the myriad leisure boats, so popular in Finland. Even though these scene is from a price property just some kilometers away from Tampere city center, the town planners have decided that this is the acceptable level of building. I think it's usually not even allowed to build just next to the lake (otherwise the lake would be filled with such buldings, I guess).

Anyhow this all the better for me, as I much prefer the contrast between the evening lit spruces against the dark waters.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Photo of the Day #95: A Lidl Updraft

I already posted one photo of my first (and thus far the only) hot air balloon trip, but I think I got enough unique photos to post a couple more.

The July afternoon in 2011 was very warm and our two balloons with Lidl logos (to indicate excellent quality) soared up from the Vaakkolammi pond at gradual pace. It seemed that anywhere you looked, there was water, from small ponds to large lakes. The sun was already quite low on the horizon, giving off pleasant warm light.

As the other balloon floated right next to us, I tried to use it to the best of my ability as a focal point in the photos. Here the scene would have been nice without it, but the balloon was a yellow cherry that topped the cake.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Photo of the Day #94: I'll Jump -Don't Try to Stop Me

We had a lovely balcony garden at our home in Pau. The balcony itself was a crude construction: one meters by eight meters of pale yellow concrete. Our way to mask the crudeness was to grow flowers, herbs and vegetables (eggplants and tomatoes) on every available square meter.

The plants were soon crawling with all manner of critters, such as aphids, spiders, lady bugs and grasshoppers like this fellow here. The larger insects were okay, but the aphids and other small critters did their best to try to kill all of our plants, so we were at constant war with them.

This grasshopper didn't seem as much intent on destruction and mayhem of our plants, but it did look a bit suicidal, as if it was saying "I'll jump -don't try to stop me".

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Photo of the Day #93: A Mountain in a Puddle

The last photo of the current Ossau series is at the same time pretty ordinary, but at a longer glance has a bit more depth.

When returning to the valley, most of the photo action was left in the distance and the foreground became a bit bland, with patchy grass and shadowy woods. Luckily an unassuming puddle came in to my way with a delightful view. It looked as if the peak in the distance had an identical twin growing through the ground and the puddle was a window showing it.

Well I do have an active imagination...

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Photo of the Day #92: Walking with the Sheep

After descending a steep slope we reached the sheep munching on the grass, completely ignoring us. For me it was all the better, as I could compose this picture with my friend Alan walking in his mountain gear, and a magnificently fetching hat, along the path past the sheep.

Alan, being a retired engineer, has about as much to do with shepherding as I do, but in this photo you could believe him to be the wise shepherd to the flock, showing them the path to the next pasture. In reality the sheep can easily cope by themselves most of the time, without the constant presence of someone.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Photo of the Day #91: A Sheep Slope

Okay -I could have been a bit more creative with the title, but I just can't help when I see a nice pun coming along.

The other side of the Pic du Midi D'Ossau isn't apparently exactly public land anymore, but belongs to someone (or several people?) who tend their sheep on the slopes. Well we got to seem them close by (see tomorrows photo), but even from afar they added a nice touch to the scene. The bulb-shaped shadow comes from the Pic du Midi itself.

As a side note this photo was a bit of a challenge, as the contrast between the area basking in the sunlight and the shadow was way too much for my camera, so I took several pictures and stitched an HDR photo from them. Nothing too unusual there, but to be able to show the sheep and still have a realistic looking edge between the bright and the shadow proved to be more than a bit difficult. Now the photo looks quite unrealistic -I'll probably redo the photo again and try to be a bit more realistic.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Photo of the Day #90: Flower Power

Climbing again a bit higher up the Pyrenees, the ground becomes almost void of anything but grass. At circa 3000 meters above sea level the thin strip of soil can't provide much nourishment and the rock prevents roots from finding ground.

Nevertheless I found these flowers (probably crocus vernus) basking in the magnificent sunlight at the top of the Pyrenees. Life truly finds a way.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Photo of the Day #89: A Steep Slope

Following from yesterday's trek, a bit higher up the Ossau trail the track turns a bit steeper and a bit more of the scene opens up. At this point you don't feel that high up, even though in actuality you've first ascended a over a thousand meters up by car and several hundred by foot.

But wait just a while longer and you begin to see the foothills and tens of kilometers onward right up until Pau fifty kilometers down the valley. At least by then you're awestruck by the splendor of the Pyrenees.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Photo of the Day #88: Peak Perfection

Today's photo is from one of my favorite spots. Pic du Midi d'Ossau and the surrounding hills are in my opinion the jewels of the Pyrenees. The mountains are high enough to be impressive, but still have vegetation, almost up to the top, creating a very personal style to them.

For this picture I was able to frame one of the rocky peaks with the tree lined foothills and the valley below. The light wasn't perfect, but I managed to create some interesting contrasts, accentuating the peak, while still keeping some details in the shadows.

Photo of the Day #87: Rocky Road

On our way to rocky mountains, we first had to traverse a rocky road. The path to Circue du Gaverne was partly paved, but partly sprouted these oddly organic looking rocks. I guess that it would have been more trouble than use to get rid of the rocks, so the builders of the path probably just decided to leave them be. And I'm happy for it -the rock works wonderfully as a foreground to the autumn trees and the edge of the path.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Photo of the Day #86: Rocky Mountains

As well as  Waterfalls, Gavarnie has a spectacular view of the Circue and the surrounding Pyrenees. For perspective you can just see my French friends jogging up the path up to the falls.

Well to be honest, the rocks in the foreground were relatively small, but the cliff face has a drop of over 400 m at its highest.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Photo of the Day #85: Gossamer Thistle

Spiderweb is a challenge to photograph. Oftentimes it's easy to see spiderweb in nature, but usually it's just too thin and not easily separable from its background. What one usually seeks is a nice dark background and a back lit or side lit web.

I can't say that this would be the perfect spiderweb photo, but at least it's very close to something presentable.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Photo of the Day #84: Fragile Façade

It is curious how living in an altogether historically rich country alters ones perspective. France is so filled with historically important locations, that they don't have the financial means to maintain them. This trench lined wall is belongs to the Pau Castle and is actually inhabited.

From a Finnish perspective the building looks like it has been abandoned for centuries, but actually you can see people through those windows, living their lives, minding their business. How do they cope during the relatively short winter (about a month of below 10 C) is a true question mark.

It is understandable that the historical facade shouldn't be destroyed, but somehow it seems that something has to be done. Perhaps tomorrow, or demain, as they would say in France...

Friday, February 14, 2014

Photo of the Day #83: Crooked Water

I was in Biarritz at the end of October 2011, showing the South of France to my parents and my sister. It was the last really warm days (25 C or over -what we Finns call helle, or hot weather) of the year and the seaside resort town was showing signs of slowing down, at least a bit.

One of the rocks jutting out of the Bay of Biscay was definitely odd. It looked like a sinking ship with layers of strata at a tilt to the water. Additionally the rock was jam packed with seagulls, like the passengers of titanic, but unbothered by the pending doom.

So I decided instead to tilt my camera to emphasize the angle. A friend of mine said that two thing bothering him about the movie Titanic were inaccurate Morse code and crooked water. I can understand that he could spot the bad Morse, as he had some training on it, but I never understood how the water was crooked. Surely it was just the camera...

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Photo of the Day #82: The Beacon of Capbreton

We were touring the South West of France in late November of 2011. We had already been to most of the major tourist destinations and we were left scouring the province of Aquitaine to seek hidden gems. This emerald green beacon is the Lighthouse of Capbreton. Capbreton with its 7500 inhabitants is a second cousin to the world famous Biarritz just 40 km south along the Atlantic coast. Especially during late autumn the town didn't hold the glamour that Biarritz does, but it had its charm.

I think the bleakness and the rough weather works well with the lighthouse theme.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Photo of the Day #81: A Terrace to Remember

Today's photo is already the third one of the day trip to Pyrenees. But along with stunning mountains and graceful birds there was so much more to offer. The south of France is famous wine growing region, but I'm not sure whether they grow grapes in the mountains. However these terrace bring me in mind of the slopes closer to home at Pau. There's just something magical here.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Photo of the Day #80: Cloud Number Nine

Lately I've been a bit critical of shooting just clouds, as I've felt that they aren't sufficient by themselves as subjects of photographs. However coming across this photo shot in August 2004 I have to disagree with my current self. Clouds are so malleable and can display almost any color and most vividly. This photo reminds me of a Michelangelo painting. And all I did was be there, point and shoot.