Friday, March 07, 2014
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Thursday, January 23, 2014
On the theme of colors, today's color is orange. Sometimes subject matters don't need to be very special to make an impact. This silhouette of trees with a fine line of an airplane flying over a sunset just seemed to work. Nothing much in line of photography technique, just the magic of the moment.
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
It is amazing how colors can look different in different countries and circumstances. It was definitely so on my trip to Crete in 2005. The sun in Greece seems to shine a hundred times brighter and clarify everything. The Cretan architecture has a lot of white and blue hues, which somehow emphasize the blueness of the clear skies.
This blue orthodox church was on top of the village, up a steep slope, with a magnificent vista of the Mediterranean opening on us. I didn't go for the traditional post car picture with the sea looming behind the church. I decided to see what the interplay of the blue hues of the sky and the church would look like.
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
For an Englishman today's photo might look just a bit boring, as this sight can be easily be found there. However for me I was forever amazed by just different England looked to Finland. What is exotic for Brits in Finland is mundane to Finns, and vice versa.
It just might be that this is a slightly saturated version of the original, but even there the depth of the color green was something out of this world.
For the life of me I can't recall the exact location of the picture, but as I've marked the image England, I can guess that it's not from Scotland or Wales, where I also visited on the same trip (June 2004).
Sunday, January 19, 2014
Nighttime shots can be challenging, but when they work, they're just as rewarding. They're very often artificially lit, which poses all kinds of problems. In this photo the main source of illumination was from the street lamps, which were much lighter than the rest of the image.
One option would have been to crop them off, but in this case the sky lit by the dwindling light of the setting sun would have disappeared from view. So I chose to include the lamps, which in the end became a strength in the photo rather than a weakness.
With the constant stream of cars it was easy to form two white streams of light from the lights of the incoming cars and two red streams from receding cars. At least I'm quite happy with this.
Thursday, January 16, 2014
At my 2008 trip around Ireland I saw many beautiful sight of nature and stunning buildings. However sometimes one sees things of beauty that are a bit more modest at first glance.
This rather run down looking fishing boat was waiting for better days on the shore. I guess most people would have just walk past it, but I saw something else. I did apply a Photoshop filter on the picture afterwards to emphasize the harsh colors, but even without it the picture caught my attention.
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Even though I take my fair share of panoramas, I'm seldom really happy with the results. It's quite demanding to fill an ultra long photo with truly interesting details, so one ends up just playing the "look at what I can do" trick.
On one sense this is an example of that, but not in the normal sense. My parents had rented a summer cottage in 2008 and while I was visiting them there, I was impressed by the tall pines right be the lake shore. The space was so cramped that I couldn't get the proper distance away from the trees to have them fully in the picture. So I decided to do something different and took a vertical panorama.
I do have to say that I am a bit bothered by the composition and the distortions at the edges, but the picture does look very unique this way.
Tuesday, January 14, 2014
The shoreline of Iidesjärvi lake is quite fluid, in a very literal way. In the spring the boggy ground swells into patchy lake by the melting snow and leaves the trees stranded.
Even though everything is very brown and grey, the combination of the evening sun with the reflection from the lake make for quite a unique photograph.
Monday, January 13, 2014
My first chance to be a passenger of a small (general aviation) aeroplane was in 2006. Unfortunately the weather was pretty awful, so all of the pictures turned out quite bleak. However some, like this one, looked nice regardless.
The trip was from Pirkkala airport to Hämeenlinna and then back. It's quite different to be on a plane which flies over just a couple of hundred meters over the ground at the lowest, compared to the several kilometers up of a commercial jet.
Sunday, January 12, 2014
I have seen this site a gazillion times and now that I don't see it much at all anymore, I can appreciate it a bit better.
The Ilves Hotel (Lynx Lynx in Latin) is a landmark in Tampere, as it one of the tallest building in the city center and is purportedly the fanciest hotel in the city. Even with the grey concrete facade, it has its rugged beauty...
Thursday, January 09, 2014
Continuing on the theme of Bordeaux, today's photo is of its tramway tracks. The tramway is quite a prominent feature of the city and the silently gliding Citadis trams make the city center surprisingly peaceful, especially as many of the streets are for pedestrians and trams only.
The paved streets and the highly ornamental facades create a highly personal look to the city. Apparently it has been an important factor in rejuvenating the city center.
Wednesday, January 08, 2014
It's always hard to photograph someone statues, as one faces the question "what makes this mine, and not just a reproduction someone else's art". These two ladies playing peekaboo somehow pass that test for me.
While living in the south of France, we visited Bordeaux, the state capital of our adoptive state Aquitaine. The city, while not actually being that large (the size of Espoo, our current home), has an incredible history, which has resulted in a myriad of impressive parks, buildings and especially statues.
Place des Quinconceshe is the largest city square in Europe and the The Girondists monument at the center acts as a beacon for all local residents. The ladies are probably a familiar sight to everyone who passes by, but I wonder whether they've really looked at them?
There's just something alluring in their gazes. I guess they are meant to represent the fallen republicans during the French revolution. Is her face meant to portray courage under immense brutality, or something completely different. We'll never know, but we're certainly left wondering.
P.S. This might be December 27th (or 28th)